Memories of Maestro Don Howard Lawler
Austin, Texas, USA
Don Howard, maestro, hermano, and friend, transitioned from his body this morning. He said he hoped he would pass during the day of a Huachuma Mesada, the 3,500-year-old tradition of serving medicine that he resurrected through 50 years of service. Today his daughter Selva is holding his place at the head of the Mesa, and the legacy of healing continues at SpiritQuest Sanctuary.
If you wanted to meet a man of greater dignity, you would find none.
If you wanted to meet a man of greater wisdom and courage, you would find none.
If you wanted to meet a warrior more dedicated to the good of all, para el bien de todos, you would find none.
The last visit I had with Don Howard, I was riding behind him on a boat and I started to weep, thinking about his eventual death. He came to me in vision, and he said “Where do you think I’m going brother?” He had a twinkle in his eye and a wry smile. I started to chuckle, because of course he wasn’t going anywhere. He’d always be with us, in our hearts, our deeds and in his True form — unborn and undying.
I haven’t always been the best at remembering and practicing everything he taught me. But as he once told me, the warrior's heart beats as one heart. So now mine will beat a little stronger, knowing that the world lost one of the greatest today.
I love you always Maestro, hermano. Thank you for everything. I won’t forget
Austin, Texas, USA
Early this morning, a man who changed my life passed away.
Last year I went to SpiritQuest Sanctuary to dance with Huachuma, and the single most transformative moment of that week was Don Howard looking into my eyes during the second ceremony and slowly pointing to his temple and shaking his head "no," then smoothly bringing his finger to his heart and nodding "yes."
He saw me. I cried. And since that moment I’ve done my best to live his advice. Don Howard, you have ushered an entire generation of healers into the world. Your spirit will serve as Advisor and Court Magician in the psyche of thousands. The example you showed simply in your Being will stay with me my entire life.
I don’t know what happens when we die, but I know people live on in my psyche. I know I’ll have dreams where Don Howard will visit me and teach. I know I’ll have psychedelic experiences where he will guide me. I know my body will eventually begin to give way to entropy and I’ll summon the image of divine masculine grace I witnessed him embody and let it inspire me. The dead are resurrected when we embody what they taught us.
Don Howard, thank you for your being. You’ve gifted a generation of Bodhisattvas-in-training with a guide star. You have shown me the power and grace that is possible when one truly, deeply, divinely embraces their Hero’s Journey. And each of us who have loved you will honor you by doing the same — by radically living the life we know we are called to.
Para El Bien De Todos.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I was 47 years old when I met this man in the Amazon jungle, who was the archetype of the wise man. Life must have deduced I was finally ready. He was a man who exuded this grandfather wisdom and I hung on his every word. He was very low key in how he worked, opening the hearts of as many as he could. He did it in a subtle way, always letting you take the next step on and of your own volition. He passed away recently, leaving a great legacy behind and a warmth in the hearts of those that got to know him over the years. When I last saw him I knew he was in failing health, and when I said goodbye to him for the last time I told him the next time I see him I will look towards the heavens and will have no doubt it is him because he will be shining the brightest. Don Howard is a man I want to emulate in my life. I remember at our jungle camp I was assigned a room that was away from the main group and had no access to the limited wifi available. I remarked to him that I was glad I was at that place because I didn’t want be distracted by the internet. He wryly responded in only the way he could, penetrating right into the heart of the matter, “Or you could practice self-discipline.” That lesson still rings true today. On the second to last day of the last retreat I attended with him, his message of love radiated through the whole group. He talked of having courage to live your life that way, head up and heart forward. In fact, one of the guys got up and admitted he’d never told anyone before he loved them but now told us all he loved us. Love is the elixir that will change the world and wake us from the divisiveness that rules our world. He ended his talk by referencing The Beatles and their song "The End" with the quote "And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.” There’s reciprocity at work as well as reminding us that if you want to be loved then be that love.
Rest in Pride Maestro!
Boulder, Colorado, USA
My favorite memory of Don Howard was when we were concluding a huachuma mesada. We were all standing around the mesa and I was directly to his left. As the magic and medicine lingered, we all held hands and closed our eyes, taking in what I felt to be a sense of absolute connectedness and deep knowing. It was a remembrance that was akin to returning home after years of wandering astray.
I opened my eyes a bit to look around at all the beautiful souls sharing this moment with me, and when my gaze landed on Don Howard, our eyes met. As he gave my hand a squeeze, his eyes were sparkling with a sense of wonder and they seemed to say to me, "If you think this is great, wait until you see what's next." His smile was a mixture of mischief and joy. He was glowing and I caught a glimpse of the boy inside the maestro standing before me. He was an old soul and young at heart. His eyes sparkled with both a child's wonderment and an elder's wisdom. I was filled with hope and inspiration in his presence, and in awe of his level of servitude to our collective and his dedication to the individual. He poured love and light along with his medicine, and my heart was filled to the brim.
I am deeply honored and eternally grateful to have known him. Don Howard made the world a better place and inspired myself and many, many others to open our hearts to receive the bountiful gifts life has to offer. I am forever changed.
"Para el bien de todos." For the greater good of all.
Austin, Texas, USA
I first visited SpiritQuest to seek relief from very serious PTSD and lifelong depression. After realizing the unbelievable results the first visit, I returned every year for three years in a row in order to continue deeper and deeper healing work. My life force was recharged and increased beyond what I thought was possible. I was always so happy to be able to see my dear friend and teacher Don Howard Lawler again. I am very grateful that Selva and Parker are carrying the SpiritQuest torch forward. SpiritQuest is my favorite place to visit in the entire world.
I was also so very blessed to be at the Sanctuary when Don Howard passed on, and I was present that day for the Huachuma mesada (ceremony) that day in his honor. Don Howard always envisioned - and told many others - that he would die on the day of a Huachuma mesada, and that's definitely how he wanted to be sent off. That day was a day of Miracles and one in which I really felt Don Howard's presence from the Other Side.
Some of my observations of Don Howard are that:
He walked the walk. A lot of people talk a good game, but talk can be cheap. Don Howard simply walked the walk.
He loved and was utterly devoted to bringing out the best in people.
He fully embodied patience and unconditional love.
He dedicated his life - even at the risk of his own health - to service, healing, uplifting humanity, and championing the preservation of Mother Earth.
When I first met Don Howard, I was amazed by his intelligence and competence. He was a Master’s Master. A real-life Sage. He was in his element during ceremony, rock-solid and unwavering. Unshakable. He was exactly the kind of person you would want as your guide while navigating the supernatural realms. He was a Force of Nature, humbly and patiently holding the space to allow us to be healed. He encouraged others to live both humble and proud, and his own shining example demonstrated how those two characteristics are not mutually exclusive.
I was continually awestruck by his presence. Don Howard was by far my all-time favorite teacher, with the deepest knowledge of the most fascinating subjects I have ever heard of. I loved hearing him speak. Profound profundities streamed from his lips, and resonated directly with my heart. Truth bombs. Grandfatherly advice. He spoke to us like the future of the world depended on us. At the end of a session of work with our hearts all charged up, and just before we left to return to our respective homes, he would say, “Now go make the world a better place!”
This man was the definition of class and integrity. He had a heart of gold and had a wonderful sense of humor. He had a genuine love and respect for his fellow brothers and sisters around the world and delighted in helping people reach their highest potential. He believed Shamanism was a universal concept and always had an inclusive mindset about bringing everyone into his circle. He helped us find and deeply connect with the love that is hiding inside of us.
Don Howard had a sincere concern for our wellbeing and did his very best to alleviate our suffering and connect us with the proper tools to avoid the same pitfalls and to support our personal empowerment. Instead of having us become dependent on him, he showed us how to connect directly to Spirit.
To say that Don Howard was a special human being would be the understatement of the century. Needless to say, I will never forget him.