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Cat Smiles

I am Deerheart.

My name is Catherina. That’s pronounced, “Katrina.” I was named after my mother’s mother. She was Dutch. She died when my mother was young after having spent years in a Nazi prison camp. As a nurse, she refused to treat Nazi soldiers when they arrived in Holland, so they imprisoned her. I wish I could have known her. She was a social justice warrior and a healer, just like me!

My last name is Willard, from the British part of my father’s family. We are Tsalagi (Cherokee). I am an enrolled member of the Western Band of Cherokee. I wish I knew our Tsalagi names, from before our people decided that assimilation was their best hope for survival. The best I can do now is learn the language that was taken from my grandparents and continue living the way they taught me. I work to be a part of the revitalization of our culture and to keep our language alive! I grow my own food, like they did. I make the things I need, when I am able, like they did. My peace is my power, as it was theirs.

I grew up in Missouri and Oklahoma and Florida. I have lived in Seattle for more than twenty years. I came here to escape the socially conservative culture of the south. I have been Two Spirit (my gender is fluid, I embody both genders) my whole life and I have found the West Coast to be much more accepting of me in this regard.

I have always been deeply spiritual, have always been blessed to feel connected to a loving, incomprehensible force that holds us all. I have always been a spiritual leader. Nature is my temple; we are all relatives. All of life is Sacred. I studied Depth Psychology as part of the Holistic Human Development degree that I designed for myself at Antioch University so that I could learn about the rituals, ceremonies, symbols, and teachings in the stories from all around the world. I knew what I knew from my family, but I don’t believe there is one right way. The way that gets you there is the right way for you. My way is guided by my ancestors through prayer, dance, song, and meditation. I look forward to helping you find your way!