Skip to content
Medicine - General Medicine - Psychology

$25.00 Regular price
Unit price

Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality (Black and White edition)

ISBN: 9781734280012
Binding: Paperback
Author: David R. Kopacz, MD
Illustrator: David R. Kopacz & Joseph Rael
Pages: 535
Trim: 6 x 9 inches
Published: 3/3/2020

In a time when many are feeling lost, this second collaboration by holistic psychiatrist David Kopacz and Native American visionary Joseph Rael offers hope. Becoming Medicine takes us on a journey into the heart of the medicine wheel where separation and division are replaced by an experience of spiritual democracy and unity with all people, with nature, and with the cosmos. Following the ancient pathways of initiation of mystics, visionaries, and shamans we learn everyone can find a living spirituality—a connection to the source of all religions. Learning from mystics and visionaries such as Jung, Corbin, Rumi, Whitman, Alice & John Coltrane, and Miles Davis, the book brings together threads of ancient and modern wisdom paths. When we make the secret journey into the heart at the center of the medicine wheel, we are becoming medicine, becoming the healing that our world so desperately needs today.


David R. Kopacz, MD works as a psychiatrist at Seattle VA in primary care mental health integration. In his clinical work, he has been developing a holistic health class and a hero’s journey class, using mythology, narrative, culture, poetry, and art to help Veterans return home after military service. David is an education champion with the national VA Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation, where he teaches Whole Health to VA staff across the USA. He is board certified in psychiatry and holistic & integrative medicine and is an assistant professor at the University of Washington. He has worked in many different practice settings, including holistic private practice, community mental health, and as clinical director of Buchanan Rehabilitation Centre in Auckland, New Zealand. David is the author of Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine and Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD (with Joseph Rael). 

Joseph Rael, whose Tiwa name is Tsluu-teh-koh-ay (Beautiful Painted Arrow), is a visionary healer and artist. He brings together in his person Southern Ute (through his mother) and Picuris Pueblo (through his father) traditions and is a citizen of the Southern Ute tribe and the United States of America. He is the author of many books, including Sound: Native Teachings & Visionary Art, Being & Vibration: Entering the New World, Ceremonies of the Living Spirit, and Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD (with David Kopacz). He is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and holds a master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin. He has worked for HUD, the All Indian Pueblo Council, and the IHS, using Native American traditions and holistic health care to help those suffering from addiction. In 1983 he had a formative vision of Sound Peace Chambers and has overseen the construction of over 65 chambers on four continents, which led to him being recognized by the United Nations for his work for world peace.


"Becoming Medicine is a great compilation of contemporary medical science and ancient spiritual wisdom. This book is written from the heart like a prayer, if you are a seeker of a living spirituality and want to magnify your power to heal, read this book." CARL HAMMERSCHLAG, M.D., author of The Dancing Healers, The Theft of the Spirit, and Healing Ceremonies.

"This is a remarkable and deeply engaging account in which a Native American shaman and his psychiatrist apprentice plunge deep into the heart centre of a living wisdom. Replete with questor myths and mystical adventures, this passionate, richly cross-referenced and spiritually inclusive book becomes a vibrant junction of intersecting journeys from diverse wisdom traditions. Circling age-old themes of separation, quest and spiritual homecoming, it is an invitation to trust the non-linear journey of inner transformation — one that turns us, eventually, into our own medicine. Marked by an authenticity that readers will instantly recognize, here is a genuine watering-hole at which seekers of all persuasions can pause and ‘drink the light’." — ARUNDHATHI SUBRAMANIAM, M.A., author of When God is a Traveller, Sadhguru: More Than A Life, and with Sadhguru, Adiyogi: The Source of Yoga, editor of Eating God: A book of Bhakti poetry.

"Behind the words and images of Becoming Medicine is the wisdom of a man fearless enough to break down all the barriers between what he knows and what he is. Joseph Rael is a unique island of beauty and sanity in our crazy, uncultured culture. And that island that he is, is vaster than the whole world." — PETER KINGSLEY, Ph.D., author of Catafalque: Carl Jung and the End of Humanity, A Story Waiting to Pierce You: Mongolia, Tibet and the Destiny of the Western World, and In the Dark Places of Wisdom.

"In this wonderful book, Picuris/Ute medicine man Joseph Rael reveals that each of us is an embodied human being who is in fact a medicine bag, a container in which we carry sacredness. By walking into the center of ourselves, into the center of our hearts, we cease to be ourselves and are instead becoming medicine. It is something that is done every moment. Becoming Medicine means that we are becoming capable of being a place for the Breath-Matter-Movement of the vast spirit to manifest and reside for a moment. This is a fabulous book for our times." — HANK WESSELMAN Ph.D., anthropologist and author of nine books on shamanism including The Re-Enchantment: A Shamanic Path to a Life of Wonder, The Bowl of light: Ancestral Wisdom from a Hawaiian Shaman, the award-winning Awakening to the Spirit World (with Sandra Ingerman) and the Spiritwalker trilogy.

"Tragically the odious divisive social diseases of the 1930s are returning. Nationalistic, racist and fundamentalist movements are rapidly dividing communities. Innocent people feel more and more lost, alienated, powerless, lonely. They yearn for healing. But how can this healing begin? This is why Becoming Medicine by David Kopacz and Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) is so timely. It is a truly remarkable book, so relevant, so grounded in experience. The medicine of healing begins within each one of us. There we discover our true selves, our unified oneness with all humankind and the universe itself. This is not a healing that is confined to one event. On the contrary, it is a call to a transformative, ongoing, lifelong initiation of discovery. Each discovery leads to a deeper personal and social healing." — GERALD A. ARBUCKLE, Ph.D., Refounding and Pastoral Development Unit, Sydney, Australia. Author of Fundamentalism at Home and Abroad: Analysis and Pastoral Responses (2017), Loneliness: Insights for Healing in Fragmented World (2018), and Humanizing Healthcare Reforms (2012).

"Like the wondrous journeys of the spirit it describes, this book escorts the reader along a path to new understanding and, ultimately, transformation. Along the way, we are reminded of our true nature, our kinship with everything around us, and our power to navigate through our own tumultuous times. The path can be bumpy. It can be circular. Sometimes it is dark. This book helps light the way, and every page is a step toward something meaningful. Where will your journey take you?" — J. ADAM RINDFLEISCH, M.Phil., M.D., Medical Director, Integrative Health, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.

"Becoming Medicine will help you think in circles, dream-journey in technicolor, speak your vowels with mystic awareness, listen to music with more heart, and feel your heartbeat with more awe. The wonderful paintings of Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) and David Kopacz are a generous offering to linger over. I am grateful for their creative friendship and commitment to share a depth of spiritual, psychological, quantum physics, and visionary teachings. Becoming Medicine is a call to community, not only so that we seek out companions to slowly explore the insights and stories in this book. But so that we each take an inner journey into our hearts and return as the visionary healers the community of earth is calling for." — SHELLY L. FRANCIS, author of The Courage Way: Leading and Living With Integrity (2018). 

"This is a book that can really change your life. David Kopacz and Joseph Rael’s Becoming Medicine is a remarkable collaboration between two brilliant and courageous pioneers. The information they provide opens a doorway to a healing path that unveils the hidden potential of the human spirit. Blending together knowledge that is ancient and sacred within the backdrop of modern-day psychiatry, it is deeply illuminating. It is a must read for anyone interested in embarking on a journey of transformation and becoming medicine for the world." — SHILAGH MIRGAIN, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Distinguished Psychologist, University of Wisconsin – Madison.

"Becoming Medicine byDavid R. Kopacz, & Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) is a powerful illustration of the title through the authors’ sharing of their own stories, beautiful art and text, using examples from scientific and humanistic/spiritual literature. Its message is not about becoming a doctor or a healer, but the path to becoming the medicine itself. This is a profound exploration of the journey to Become More — Medicine to self, others and the world, integrating personal examples with multiple cultural traditions present and past. In Becoming Medicine, Kopacz and Rael detail not only the journey for individuals but a path for a disoriented and fragmented world to engage in transformation towards wholeness and unity. Health workers and all seekers alike will benefit from this work." — MICHAEL HOLLIFIELD, M.D., (Long Beach, California & Angel Fire, New Mexico), President and CEO, War Survivors Institute, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

"Becoming Medicine is a bridge between many dualities including: the conscious and the unconscious, the scientific and the spiritual, the ordinary and the non-ordinary, and the Western and the Indigenous. Intricately referenced and yet personal in narrative, David and Joseph weave us through distinct world traditions to reveal the interconnectedness in stories of healing. This bridge is likely to most benefit those of us educated in western contexts, where our minds have been trained to neglect the wisdom of circles and spirit. Whether readers begin as healers or seekers, they will realize the congruence of these paths. Becoming Medicine inspires us into our own shamanic journeys." — NEETA RAMKUMAR, Ph.D., Lecturer, School of Social Sciences, University of the South Pacific, Fiji. 

"Dr. Kopacz holds the space between the mystery and majesty of shamanic tradition and the study of anthropology and medicine. His writing brings the reader into sublime experiences that Dr. Kopacz holds in his body. He walks the walk between the seen and the unseen, transforming life along the way. Prepare to be fascinated. Prepare to be amazed. You’ll return over and over to the information on the pages and between them." — HENRI ROCA, M.D., Functional Medicine Specialist, Shamanic Journeyer, Clinical Assistant professor, family and community health, Louisiana State University School of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

"The stories David tells will circulate far and wide. They will stay with us. They will change us. Their tellers will become part of us. And that is good, for it will lead us into the future, one of integration and cooperation among cultures and health care systems. I am pleased to introduce David’s work for you, the reader. (from the foreword to Becoming Medicine)" LEWIS MEHL-MADRONA, Author of Coyote Medicine, Narrative Medicine, and Healing the Mind Through the Power of Story. Associate Professor of Family Medicine, University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, Executive Director, Coyote Institute.