About Gabe Crane
Gabriel Sodetani Crane is a writer, teacher, facilitator, healer, and guide. A graduate of the East-West Psychology Masters program at the California Institute of Integral Studies, Gabriel is also a Yuan Gong (Qigong) Teacher and Yuan Ming Medicine Therapist, trained in the teachings of Ren Xue and the lineage of Yuan Tze. Significantly influenced by psychedelic transformations and extensive time in nature, his spiritual background also includes immersion within Judaism and Kabbalah, Buddhism and Daoism, the wisdom of shamanic and nature-based wisdom cultures, and transpersonal, participatory psychology. Gabriel has been trained in Hakomi, Processwork, trauma therapy, addiction and recovery, eco-therapy, and spiritual counseling. He has worked as a wilderness trail guide and for an ayahuasca retreat center in Peru, and been published on a range of topics. He holds a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Pennsylvania and is working on a forthcoming novel.
A Personal Journey: The Weaving of Broken Wings
Sometime near the end of high school, I started to go mute.
Before this happened, I was a prolific performer and writer, and a youth poetry slam champion. I routinely won spoken word competitions, performed in front of hundreds of people, and twice represented the Bay Area at the National Youth Poetry Slam. I had a debut album and chapbook, had produced two of my own plays, and was told by everyone that I had a bright future ahead.
But just as quickly, I lost it all. At the 2003 Youth Speaks semifinal in San Francisco, out on a night I was grounded by my parents, I was unexpectedly bumped in the first round. Suddenly I wasn’t invincible, or the darling anymore. And when you’re flying high it’s a long way to fall.
This loss, seemingly small, seemed to compound with other losses. I lost my virginity (ignominiously). I lost in my attempt to go to Harvard or Yale. And with a sinking dread that over the years I would come to know more and more, I took these losses as something that would forever mark me. They seemed to affirm the new narrative building inside me: that I was a loser and a has-been, a childhood star who had lost his touch and was destined now for a life of mediocrity and regret. Through the severity of my teenage mind, I believed I was scarred forever. Rather than work through these challenges, I learned to laugh at myself and not take myself seriously or think of myself as an artist. I transformed from a performer to a writer, and started to be quieter. Humbler, I told myself. Take a back seat. And in such a way, my fears became a reality.
In college, I experienced a series of soul awakenings through wilderness immersion and experimentation with psychedelics, initiating a new phase in my life. These experiences radically shifted my worldview, and helped me to see that my voice as it had been was just one expression of my soul’s true calling. I discovered qigong, the ancient Eastern energy arts practice, and learned how to access and transform the pain from my past into new patterns in my mind and body. I studied mystical traditions, particularly Judaism and Kabbalah, and made connections with Eastern meditation, eco-psychology, nature-based traditions, and Western science. And I was introduced to the vegetalismo traditions of South America, where work with the sacred vine ayahuasca took me deeply into the heart of my purpose and being.
These opportunities led to new successes and directions. Nonetheless, the inevitable pain from the stifling of my soul’s gift followed me. In my efforts to live small, I was living a life based on fear and others’ expectations. And as long as I unconsciously repressed myself, I acted out my pain in unexpected ways. I broke up with my fiancée. I quarreled with my boss. As I struggled with the denial and repression that accompanied these societal expectations and my core wound, I felt like I was going crazy, and found myself lost in addictive, dissatisfying patterns.
Eventually, avoidance was simply too intense and painful. During a dieta with a Peruvian shaman in the Amazon rainforest, the ayahuasca brought all of this even clearer. I was confronted with the basic truth that life is actually quite short, and that one unknown day I will die. Time is limited. My security is relative. I realized that holding on to the past out of fear only caused pain to myself and those around me, and as long as I remained cut-off to my soul’s deepest callings, I would fail to find true happiness. I decided to summon the courage to surrender and face the unknown. It was time to jump-off and fly.
At a ceremony in the dead of night, I asked if I could sing. Permission granted. And in the pitch blackness in which the ritual took place, I sat aghast as my voice poured forth in ways I did not know that it could. It was fierce. It was bright. It was full of soul, and alive.
This was a magic moment, a peak moment, but today, I am still working to rekindle the magic of my voice. The process now, however, is not at all the same. I do so now daily, in the spirit of inquiry and possibility, and in moments big and small, asking how this gift of beauty can be in service to the whole. It is not about standing out, but rather about facilitating and weaving through something larger than myself. It is not about becoming again that hot adolescent who, hurt and prideful, took for granted powers he did not fully understand. Rather, it is about bringing those tools forward as a mature adult for the true purpose they were always meant to serve.
Woven Wings is an outgrowth of my own soul journey, from flying, to falling, to redemption. Learning to fly again is different from the first time. You have to sit with the grief and vulnerability of failure, and touch the center of your pain. You have to take responsibility, and listen. You have to lovingly weave the threads of resilience with the trust that they will one day become wings.
While I may never be a spoken word champion or world-class playwright, what I have discovered in my own life is my true heart path. By letting my soul’s voice emerge, I have become a tender of beauty, facilitating this deep transformation and growth in others. As a professional writer, coach, and teacher of embodied arts, I have given my gifts a way to take flight, and been able to match my livelihood to my passions. I have been able to take that wounded boy hidden beneath all the layers, and given him a way to heal and once again take part in the world. And I am able to track a life of integrity, in which each component reflects my deepest values and purpose, as I work to embody the world I wish to see.
From my own experience, I know how important it is to dive deep into the unconscious patterns that rule our lives. It is so because this courageous act takes us straight to the soul’s calling, and in that, the most powerful hope we have for navigating the times we face. There is a need – a deep need – in this tumultuous time for people to engage profoundly in their deepest calling, their soul’s work. This courageous work, while never easy, is non-negotiable. We are at a tipping point as a planet and culture, falling over the threshold, dipping over the cliff, spiraling into the black hole of eternity and presence that will claim us one way or another. The question is how we will face this freefall – as lost children beyond saving, or human beings ready to take flight.
Within each of us, there is a small voice, still speaking. This part, the heart part: she says, “We have work to do.” She says, “I have a purpose to fulfill. I have something to say.”
To step out on your own journey, support is so important. If that’s you, please reach out and find your connection with Woven Wings.