A Biography of The Reverend Billy Flying Red Horse Starnes +
(as posted at http://www.dirtylittlegods.com)
"The Reverend Billy W. Flying Red Horse Starnes + preached his first sermon at age 16 in a small Baptist church in south Alabama. Not long after, his questioning mind and an unwillingness to accept answers that defied logic and demanded blind faith (that, along with a healthy dose of common adolescent angst) led to an estrangement from organized religion that lasted the better part of 13 years. During this time Billy communed with Spirit as a songwriter and musician and later through the practice of the martial art Aikido. Aikido was the precursor to an interest in meditation and Eastern Mysticism. After two years of Zen practice and a formal conversion to Buddhism, Billy was ordained as a student teacher (known in Zen as a disciple) and became a staff member of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center in 1995 where he remained for 2-1/2 years. During this time a rekindled interest in Christianity led to the Federation of St. Thomas Christians and entry into seminary studies and ordination to the priesthood in 1997. Differences as to philosophical position on one hand and a desire to be rid of the mire of church hierarchy on the other contributed to a second estrangement from all religious form and regiment in 1999. During this time an encounter with a student of the spirituality native to the tribes of Turtle Island (North America) shed an entirely new and different light on Billy's spiritual journey. Exposure to the books SEVEN ARROWS, SONG OF HEYOEHKAH, and LIGHTNING BOLT caused Billy to seek out and become a student of their author, Hyemeyohsts (Wolf) Storm.
Red Horse teaches his understanding and experience of Earth Medicine and is currently writing a book on a spiritual approach to small business success.
Goddess only know where he'll end up next..."
Following are excerpts from an interview with Flying Red Horse by Enright House Press:
".... I’m Southern born and bred. My birth name is Billy, not William. I was named after Reverend Billy Graham…Not surprisingly I was steeped in the Southern Baptist Church…I and the Church came to a mutual and abrupt parting of the ways after I graduated high school…. I had too many questions the church couldn’t answer… Anyhow, after high school I joined the Air Force, did my time, then soon found myself slipping into the kind of life that I swore I would never live: the 9-to-5 grind…During this time [I] was playing guitar, writing music and my interest [was] in the martial arts. By the time I hit thirty I began to realize that something was really out of whack in my life…I felt like I was drifting. I did know that when I was on the mat practicing Aikido I felt at least something like direction. I felt peaceful…Aikido is the most nonviolent Japanese martial art there is. The focus is on balance and harmony, not resistance or conflict. The discipline and focus I learned by training led me to explore Zen Buddhism. I read and studied informally for two years before I began sitting regularly at the Atlanta Soto Zen Center.
….Basically, I knew I needed to address some spiritual issues, but I was determined to go into what I perceived to be the absolute opposite direction from Christianity to do so. Zen was a good fit and it helped me tremendously. The strange thing was the longer I sat in meditation and studied, the more I recognized certain things I had been exposed to in the church… I had read the Bible and…after I began studying on my own in the 30’s I made a conscious effort to delve into comparative religion and learn from the similarities of different traditions while ignoring the differences. It was this comparative approach that pointed me back toward Christianity. But I was determined to have nothing to do with any form of Christianity that would condemn my choices regarding Zen and the discoveries I had made about myself as a result of my practice.
As it turned out I soon encountered a sect of Christianity that came to America by way of India rather than Europe. The St. Thomas Christian Church had a decidedly different view on worship and God from anything I had previously experienced. About the time I was being ordained as a Zen disciple I was starting seminary studies in the tradition of Thomas the Doubter… From the moment I started studying Zen I knew I was going to be a teacher….
About this time I began reviewing what I had learned and, though I’d learned enough to help me on my way, there were still some gaping holes that needed to be filled. As has been the pattern in my life, this was the time I became aware of the Medicine of the Earth Teachers that shared these Teachings. I still had questions and I came to realize that Mother Earth had answers…. My teachers have all been of mixed-blood. The term is Metis. Earth teachings, at least as I have been taught and now teach, are not about tribe or culture. They are about our Mother, the Earth. These Teachings come from Her. These are Teachings that reveal more about what it is to be human than anything I have ever encountered before…. I find that the truths I encounter in one discipline only serve to reinforce the truths I encounter in others.
…. The lady I was married to at the time made an offhand comment one day that humans are really just ‘dirty little gods’. The phrase impressed…me and has stuck with me till this day. … [In regards to the subtitle of the book: The Musings, Rants and Rantings of A Heretic] I really identify with the Greek root of the word heretic. The root word is haireistha, which means ‘to choose’. I choose what is right for me….Dirty Little Gods is sort of autobiographical of my personal spiritual journey…. The Earth Teachings fragment is not unlike the Zen fragment. Words don’t do the experience justice. Earth Teachings are about balance, the equilibrium of masculine and feminine.
…. Stan Lassiter was my first real spiritual mentor…The next inspiration would be Mickey Elliston. Elliston-Roshi is the founder of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center…Mar Joseph Vredenburgh is the Patriarch of the St. Thomas Church in America. Mar Joseph is one of the most fascinating people I have ever met in my life. I’ve never before or since encountered a walking and talking encyclopedia like Dr. Joe. My first Medicine Teacher is still my Medicine Twin and partner in Life, Quetzal Moran.
Through her I met Thunder Strikes and discovered the works of Hyemeyohsts Storm. Grandfather Storm is my spiritual grandfather and his work continues to enlighten and amaze me…. There were a…lot more women that I was exposed to that taught me just as much… Dr. Joe’s wife Virginia Vredenburgh… Grandfather Storm’s wife Swan… and, of course, Quetzal.
….Personal healing is a demanding process…clearing away the clutter…[to] simplicity…What we do impacts ourselves, those around us and Mother Earth Herself.”
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