2016, Interview. Angell Deer is a mystic, medicine man, teacher, permaculturist, beekeeper, international speaker, and lover of all life forms. He has dedicated his life to remembering, learning, and teaching ancient wisdom through the Andean Cosmology and Norse Shamanism lineages. His passion is to weave words and stories, people and places, darkness and light, wounds and love, ancient and modern times. Deeply committed to the healing of this world, he is heartbrokenly inspired by our shared humanity. He likes to dwell in the adventurous space of not-knowing, learning from his elders the mystery and magic of creation in the never-ending inquiry into a spiritual way of life. He is often found on the land of The Sanctuary in awe of the myceliumystic connections of life, tending to the trees and animals, and praying for a world where relationships, community, and deep care for life are a reality.
Angell is trained as a Veterinarian, Medicine Man, Breathwork Practitioner, Reiki Master, Meditation Teacher, Herbalist, Beekeeper, and more. He is an ordained minister and a licensed Wellness Professional. He founded the New York Bee Sanctuary, a national nonprofit advocating for the preservation of bees & pollinators.
He was an advisor to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for five years. He has spoken in front of global audiences at the French Davos forum, the French embassy in New York, as the nominee for Entrepreneur of the year by Ernst & Young, at Harvard Business School, Parson School of Design in NYC, awarded the NYC Venture Fellow for best Entrepreneur in New York City by mayor Bloomberg, and was recognized as “Earth Rockstar” in 2022 at the Global Concert for Earth.
The Sanctuary is a Shamanic Healing Center located in Callicoon, NY, on the 7 acres of land of the Sacred White Deer. The land is a safe haven for animals, plants, bees, and people. It is certified as Bee Safe by New York Bee Sanctuary, Pollinator Friendly, Wildlife Refuge, and as a Monarch Butterfly Station
Iliana Such: What does being Noble in the 21st century mean?
Angell Deer: To me, Noble means to be a vulnerable and loving human being. Noble is the awareness that with each meeting and path crossed, we share the human experience. It is the understanding that the wounds of others are also a reflection of my own, including the shadows. To be noble is to prioritize the well-being and happiness of others --- this is my driving force and mission in life.
Such: Can you reveal to us a childhood experience that influenced your business career, especially your relationship with bees?
Angell Deer: When I was 12 years old, Professor Sogorb, my biology professor, would take us into the forest to create various molds of animal footprints. He taught me to listen, identify the different sounds of birds, and examine them under a microscope to witness how a single drop of water drawn from a pond could contain thousands of creatures and microbes. He enjoyed raising all sorts of insects in our classroom. Being surrounded by nature, learning about many different species, and later training as a Veterinary Surgeon greatly influenced my connection with nature. It became my quest to understand and support all forms of life. This combination of interests led to my pursuit of bees, an integral part of our ecosystem. And it led me to another truth: our world would be very different without bees. I realized that they played a critical role in our world, influencing me enough to take action to help them.
Such: Can you provide us with an insight into the creative process behind the New York Bee Sanctuary? In a few sentences, why should people care? What do you recommend as a first step in taking action and getting involved?
Angell Deer: The creation of the New York Bee Sanctuary came from my idea when trekking the Himalayas in Nepal during a year of personal transformation. I realized there were botanical gardens to preserve and educate the public about flowers and plants, along with zoos or animal preservation centers. However, very little has been done on that scale for pollinators, especially honey bees. Bees are disappearing quickly, so it's a critical issue as wild, and honey bees are responsible for over 30% of our food supply in the world, allowing plants to make fruits and vegetables.
One of the first easy steps anyone can take is to stop buying insecticides, spray their flowers and gardens with those products, and plant flowers that are "bee-friendly." You can even register your garden or land as a BEE-SAFE certified land with New York Bee Sanctuary.
Such: Which philosopher has inspired you throughout your career? Why?
Angell Deer: John Muir; I like that his writings connect us to what is essential and real. In business and the modern Western world, we are often driven by success, fame, and career achievements, all of which are often the chasing of illusions. I have spent an enormous amount of energy doing all of this. I realized that none of this was a foundation for happiness. It can be an outcome but not the foundation. John Muir reminds us of this in his powerful writings about nature, civilization, and "modern" human societies. He invites us to be inspired by something more powerful, mysterious, and magnificent. I wish his teachings were offered in every business school!
John Muir, c. 1902. Unattributed, Library of Congress
Such: What is a good personal experience in defining The Sanctuary? What are your challenges?
Angell Deer: The Sanctuary Coaching and Healing Center was part of my personal "rebirth." I realized that many executives, CEOs, and leaders often feel depressed, stuck, anxious, angry, and "far from their life purpose." Though they might have had material success, they were not happy. I had a vision that the world will only change when we each do our own "work" - undertake self-introspection to heal our hearts and lives. We think war, conflict, and suffering are external issues. But really, these issues exist within each of us, in different ways and at different levels. We call ourselves "leaders," yet we often demonstrate poor inner leadership, which directs our emotions, mental ups, and downs. The main challenges are that CEOs and business leaders, especially men, are often not easily vulnerable or open to doing the required inner work. We often want to make everyone around us believe we have "everything figured out." We have to be strong. So, it leaves little or no place for inner transformation. It can be achieved, however, through a deliberate and often painful self-inquiry process. I have faced these challenges on my journey, and now I witness many others going through the same process. The Sanctuary was created to assist others in self-inquiry and inner work, a pathway towards inner peace.
Such: Can you tell us more about Sequoia Lab and the importance of aligning social values with a sustainable lifestyle?
Angell Deer: Sequoia Lab is a boutique strategic agency that houses a diverse team of business leaders, creative geniuses, and strategists. What brings this group together is the idea that business can thrive more if it integrates social values, sustainability, and a vision of a better world. Business not only "makes things"; it must serve others and the world. There is a small possibility that a business will thrive in the long term if it does not recognize the interconnectedness of all things. It is vital to create organizations that incorporate social values, ethics, and sustainable practices. All of my ventures are interconnected. The Sanctuary, Sequoia Lab, and New York Bee Sanctuary are all connected.
My logo is that of a tree, and I like to think of my work like this. The trunk and roots of the tree are the work done at The Sanctuary - looking at individuals, one on one, doing self-inquiry and healing. The branches of the tree are the work I do with Sequoia Lab. It brings business knowledge, coaching, strategic and venture experience to fruition - to extend the personal transformation work for each business leader and entrepreneur and develop skills and programs that bring results and harmony. And finally, the New York Bee Sanctuary is the foliage and flowers of the tree. It is the fruit of the labor, the giving back to the earth for all it has provided, and at the same time, serving the creatures that this world needs - our bees. All three organizations work in harmony. Integrating all of these elements is necessary to align your business and your personal life.
Such: It's interesting how you combine a "luxury lifestyle" with a more humble spiritual one. How do you balance these two opposing realities?
Angell Deer: I don't think I ever really lived a "luxury lifestyle." I never collected expensive watches, cars, or properties. I loved my expensive shoes and suits for many years, especially when working in the luxury fashion industry. But when I look back at it, it was more about wanting to "fit in" with a firm belief that it was the way things had to be. The more I advance in life, the more I simplify my lifestyle. Somehow living a simple life has made me feel more free and happy. And the more time I spend in nature or communities with a strong support system, the more I realize what matters most: family, individuality, and compassion. The simplification of my life happened as a consequence of my spiritual work.
Such: What is the single most inspiring video you have seen addressing today's biggest challenges, which include: climate change, food security, poverty reduction, and quality of life for all?
Angell Deer: The incredible speech of Severn Cullis-Suzuki at the Rio Summit in 1992. Almost 25 years ago! It has all the messages we need for today. The most tragic thing is that little has changed since then. Most of those issues, if not all, are in a much more dangerous place today.
Such: You have a creative and poetic soul. Could you describe for us through Haiku poetry your connection to mother nature?
Angell Deer: You are asking me to write Haiku! Wow, I have never done that; it will be hard but interesting!
Forest is asking
Our heart to open with Love
So our buds can bloom
Such: What role does music play in your creative process?
Angell Deer: I always listen to music in the background when I work. I was raised in a family with a musician; my mother was a great pianist. Also, I played the violin for over 15 years in an orchestra, which influenced my love for classical music and opera. Music helps me significantly through my healing and plant medicine work. It brings me to a state of flow, helping me to feel deep and receive messages from my spirit guides. Music infuses powerful energy into my work when creating plant elixirs for my clients. More recently, I have started drumming using a beautifully handmade shamanic drum. Drumming is now part of my daily practice; I use it in workshops. Also, I made it to the top 30 of the "New & Noteworthy" section of the iTunes Podcast on Spirituality. Later this year, I will release a CD of "spiritual sound healing" featuring my drumming.
Such: Was there a particular human exchange you can describe which inspired you towards taking charitable action regarding the causes you love?
Angell Deer: Jane Goodall inspired my interest in animal preservation and welfare, and Mother Teresa inspired me to help the poorest of the poor. I always saw these women as saints, dedicating their lives to others, either it be animals or humans, without expecting anything in return. It's a beautiful experience to witness someone fully aligned with their soul purpose in serving others.
Such: What advice can you share with the world on the importance of empowering others to reach one's full potential? How do you empower others in your daily life?
Angell Deer: We all have a note to play in the symphony of humanity and a song in our hearts to sing. We all have a calling; that is the reason we are here. Unless we can all express our purpose, the universe will be missing an essential note and a unique message within each of us. So our role is to empower everyone to express their "raison d'etre." I empower others by giving speeches and encouraging people to listen to their hearts. Also, I try to show my vulnerabilities so that others can feel understood and respected.
Such: You describe yourself as a spiritual person. Can you share with us one of your more profound spiritual experiences?
Angell Deer: I think it's hard to put the most profound spiritual experience into words because it is very personal and difficult, if not impossible, to put into words. However, I can try my best to describe one spiritual experience I had three years ago while volunteering at Mother Teresa in Kolkata. One day I felt a very direct, soul-shaking connection with Jesus Christ. I never prayed to Him before, nor was I raised as a Christian. Ironically, Christ came one day into my prayers with very direct messages, and for a few hours, I believe I had a "conversation" with Him. I journeyed to India to learn more about Hinduism; this was a surprise even for me. What happened after will forever be in my Heart. I know with certainty that prayers are answered when we ask from the depth of our hearts.
What is your message for entrepreneurs struggling to launch their ideas?
Angell Deer: I want entrepreneurs to realize that most, if not all, successful entrepreneurs out there struggle! They have all failed many times in their entrepreneurial life! Steven Jobs was fired from his own business. Jeff Bezos pitched to several investors who told him that Amazon was a stupid idea and would never work. My message is to persevere, learn from the fall, rise stronger, and try again, and you will succeed if you keep doing this. Hard work, focus, and belief are what it will take.
Such: What is your greatest hope for the future? What is next for Angell Deer?
Angell Deer: I hope that we come closer to each other as human beings. We finally understand that only love can get us closer and that the differences we "see" are never a reason for hate or anger. I launched the Gauthereau Group last year with the idea that we can foster a better world if we learn to cooperate for the greater good. I am focusing more than half of my time on mentoring, coaching, and doing healing work for leaders and CEOs. I believe the world will only change when those who lead it will have found peace, clarity, and compassion in their hearts. I launched a program called Awakened Leadership™ to help leaders discover ancient wisdom and practical tools to ensure their success leads towards a sense of purpose, inner peace, and happiness, not only at a personal level but for all those who come in contact with in their lifetime. Additionally, I am working on a project related to plant medicine and healing. I continue to be involved in the New York Bee Sanctuary, and the extension of BEE SAFE Certified pollinators friendly lands in the US and globally.
Such: How would you like to be remembered?
Angell Deer: I would like to be remembered as living a life based on the Prayer of St. Francis, as someone who cared to understand others more than to be understood, focused on loving others more than to be loved, and a great contributor of peace, harmony, and joy in the world.
Iliana María Such: Who are your top three living NOBLE thought leaders?
Angell Deer: My three top NOBLE thought leaders are: the Dalai Lama, Pierre Rabhi, and Jane Goodall.