The Twisted Hairs Lineage

The Eight Great Powers

We recognize eight main streams of sacred knowledge in the world. We call these the Eight Great Powers. Throughout history, each one of them developed a particular approach to connecting with Spirit, teaching ways to live harmoniously and meaningfully.

Our teachings come from the vast knowledge within the Turtle Island Power of the Americas, which is situated in the Southwest of this wheel.8_great_powers

We also incorporate teachings and wisdom from other traditions on the wheel.

The Sweet Medicine SunDance (SMSD) Path

Sweet Medicine SunDance Path is the name of our tradition within this Southwest power. We are guided by a Council of Elders ― called the Twisted Hairs Council ― who have formulated our teachings in ways that suit the style and thinking of Western people.


For thousands of years, medicine people from various tribes of Turtle Island travelled beyond their tribal boundaries to seek and collect knowledge from every direction of the Wheel of Life. In 1250 BC, these men and women founded a secret society called the Rattlesnake School. With the turmoil of the Spanish invasion, which started in the 1500s CE, the Rattlesnake School hid from public view in order to endure. Today it is known as the Twisted Hairs Metis Medicine Society Council of Elders.

In 1975, hearing the call of Grandmother Earth and seeing both the need and the readiness within the collective of humanity, the Elders began to release the teachings to whomever sought them.

Harley SwiftDeer Reagan (ThunderStrikes) was designated by the Elders to be our head teacher. ThunderStrikes is descended from Cherokee and Irish parents. His Cherokee grandmother, Spotted Fawn, a medicine woman, became his first teacher. ThunderStrikes’ primary teacher in the Sweet Medicine SunDance Path was Grandfather Tom Two Bears Wilson. Two Bears was a Navajo medicine man who also served as President of the Navajo/Dineh Native American Church.

Why ‘Twisted Hairs’?

For many ancient peoples, hair symbolizes knowledge. Twisted Hairs refers to those who take knowledge from many sources and weave it together, synthesizing and formulating ‘braids of truth’. Over the centuries, these ‘braids’ are tried and tested. Those that are found to be valid and in alignment with sacred law are retained and added to the ever growing body of knowledge. Those that do not hold up under such rigorous testing are discarded. So it has been for millennia within these ancient traditions of learning and journeying toward human enlightenment.

The Deer Tribe Metis Medicine Society

The Deer Tribe Metis Medicine Society (DTMMS) is a not-for-profit educational charity based in Phoenix, Arizona. It was founded in 1986 by ThunderStrikes for the purpose of gathering, translating, and teaching the knowledge of the Sweet Medicine SunDance (SMSD) Path. Mandated and guided by the Twisted Hairs Metis Medicine Society Council of Elders, the Deer Tribe also provides training and guidance for apprentices working the process of personal growth and spiritual awakening in this Path.

How does ICSS fit into all this?

ICSS is an independent educational centre. We are authorized by the Deer Tribe to share the SMSD teachings. The faculty at ICSS continue their training with ThunderStrikes in Arizona.

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