Born into a family of artists, Rashani was given the choice to write
poetry or wash dishes as a child. She began writing poetry and
studying sumi-e brush painting at the age of 8. A collection of her
illustrated poems was published in Contact magazine in 1964
when she was 12 years old.
A year later, after marching with Martin Luther King Jr, Rashani
began donating artwork to local exhibitions which were held as
benefits for the Civil Rights movement. This was the beginning of
her impassioned journey as a social/eco-activist.
Inspired throughout childhood by the art and calligraphy of
Sister Corita and by the collages of Matisse and Yanko Varda,
a family friend, Rashani studied collage and calligraphy with
Sister Monica Julie, a colleague of Corita's, in 1966 and '67.
During the summers of 1968 and '69 Rashani lived and worked at
the Lama Foundation in New Mexico. It was there that she began
sharing in group council, discovered meditation and her love of
building, spent time with the Pueblo people, and joyously washed
dishes for 25 to 30 people.
In 1969 and '70, Rashani raised money for war-injured Vietnamese
children through 'The Committee of Responsibility' and for a school
on the Rosebud Indian reservation in Carter, South Dakota. In
protest of the war in Vietnam, Rashani and her family left the
United States in June of 1970 and settled in Hampshire, England.
On several occasions she attended talks by Krishnamurti at
Brockwood Park. After 3 years in England, studying pottery,
training as a Montessori teacher and teaching in a Summerhill-like
school, Rashani moved to the south of France.
During the 70's Rashani was involved in the feminist movement in
France, England and Denmark and her life was impacted by several
prominent feminist theologians, activists and writers. Rashani also
discovered herbal medicine and homeopathy in the mid 70's when
her son was diagnosed with incurable eczema. She was introduced
to a grassroots natural healing community among the older French
peasants, elders with whom she spent considerable time.
In 1974, Rashani's brother entered a Zen monastery in Japan and
this deeply influenced her life. Throughout the 70's and 80's she
was ignited by the resurgence of women's spirituality, shamanism
and Buddhism and spent time at Tibetan Buddhist centers in
France, Italy, Scotland and India, visited women's collectives
in Europe, Canada and North America and spent time with Native
American teachers throughout North and South America. She was
adopted as a sister by Brooke Medicine Eagle in the early 80's and
a year later by Grandmother Twylah Nitsch, into the Wolf Clan
Teaching Lodge. Also throughout the 70's Rashani was involved
in Gestalt training, bio energetics, co-counceling and the
"Unlearning Racism" work of Ricky Sherover-Marcuse.
Rashani was based in France for 19 years where she and her son,
with the help of many friends, renovated a 17th century stone farm
house. Her home became the first Shanti Nilaya (Elisabeth Kübler-Ross)
center in France. During the 80's Rashani worked with the terminally
ill and assisted Dr. Kübler-Ross at her "Life, Death and Transition"
workshops. For nearly a decade she spent summers at Plum Village
and sang during Thich Nhat Hanh's U.S. retreats and public talks.
In 1992 she was ordained into the "Order of Interbeing".
In 1982, Rashani took refuge with Ling Rinpoche, in Dharamsala,
India, and has since been inspired by several Buddhist teachers
including Toni Packer, Peter Fenner, Pema Chödrön, Taitetsu Unno,
Thich Nhat Hanh, Gen Rinpoche and Chogyal Namkhai Norbu.
The following year she began studying psychosynthesis
Tom Yeomans who opened an important door into what became
for Rashani an in-depth exploration of transpersonal psychology.
Four years later she met Joanna Macy who continues to be an
important mentor and friend. Rashani has also been a student of
Faisal Muqaddam since 1993. Other influential teachers include
her son, Matthew Giuffrida-Ruggeri, Dorothy and Jim Fadiman,
Vimala Thakar, Ma Anandamayi, Emilie Conrad, Pua Kanaka'ole
Kanahele, Grandmother Twylah Nitsch, Brooke Medicine Eagle,
Ann Thomas, Marija Gimbutas, Byron Katie, Arnold Mindell,
Eligio Stephen Gallegos, and Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan.
The strong sense of social awareness Rashani has shown since
her youth is inseparable from her art. Her work is "engaged art."
Between 1986 and 1993, Rashani gathered songs from around
the world and recorded 14 albums of songs, chants and poetry three
of which were produced in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
Four of her albums are poems and songs inspired by the teachings
of Thich Nhat Hanh.
Her first album, a tribute to the Goddess, was recorded in 1986,
in French cathedrals and churches, including Rocamadour. In 1987
Rashani met Buffie Johnson who at the time was completing her
book, “Lady of the Beasts: Ancient Images of the Goddess and
Her Sacred Animals,” published by Harper & Row in 1988. Rashani
worked and cared for Buffie on several occasions and was greatly
inspired by her wisdom, creativity and devotion to the Great Mother.
Rashani's fascination with dreams led her into Jungian analysis and
to studying with Arnold Mindell for many years. In the early 90's she
was invited to co-facilitate councils with John Seed in Australia and
New Zealand. Discovering the Dreamtime was a turning point in
Rashani's life. She returned to Australia and New Zealand every
year for the following eight years to offer councils and spend time
with Maori and Australian aboriginal teachers. She became
increasingly aware of the struggles of indigenous people worldwide.
In 1999, Rashani spent two weeks with Byron Katie and underwent
the great "undoing." The following three years were a time of
profound deconstructive inquiry and inner focus which included
ongoing sessions of Peter Levine's somatic experiencing work.
Rashani's cards, known internationally, were originally created as
larger collages and were part of her personal healing process,
following the deaths of 4 family members. Encouraged by a
dear friend, Rashani began making her collages into cards in 1989.
She presently has more than 350 different designs. Two of her large
collages can be seen at Spirit Rock meditation center in Woodacre,
California and at the Unitarian Church in Berkeley, California.
Since the mid 80's Rashani has facilitated councils and retreats
throughout the world and currently resides on the Big Island of
Hawai'i. From 1992 until 2006 Rashani's home was Earthsong, in
Ka'u. Earthsong was a unique Dharma-Gaia sanctuary to which
hundreds of people from diverse spiritual and cultural backgrounds
came throughout the year to share, co-inquire and assist in the
creation of a remarkable vision. Rashani held monthly councils at
Earthsong for the first eight years, sharing her love of the deep
feminine, self inquiry, song and poetry, mindfulness practice,
dream body exploration, the enneagram and deep ecology. In
January, 2003, Rashani offered her first 4 week retreat/intensive
and continues to offer 4 or 5 per year.
Rashani began creating Kipukamaluhia in the Spring of 2003. For
18 months, her main practice was rebuilding ancient stone walls.
In February 2006, Kipukamaluhia became her home. Rashani still
travels occasionally to offer retreats off-island but her main focus
is stewarding the land and facilitating retreats at Kipukamaluhia.