Off The Mat

Remembering Chip Hedenburg

Sep 9, 2016 Michelle Dorer
Michelle Dorer / Remembering Chip

As many of you already know, the Spiritual Community of the Outer Banks has suffered a huge loss with the recent passing of one of its brightest members and leaders. Chip Hedenburg passed away from lung cancer on the Full Moon Summer Solstice on June 20.

This hit our yoga community especially hard as he was a dedicated practitioner and teacher at the studio. He also happened to be one of my best friends. After a lifetime of dedication to his spiritual path, he came to the Ashtanga practice in his early 50s. He loved the practice and quickly became one of my regular early morning daily Mysore practitioners. In fact, he loved the practice so much, he decided to buy a home that was around the corner, making it all more possible to live and breathe the tradition. He traveled to India to study with David Garrigues and took Tim Miller's First Series Teacher Training in Tulum, Mexico. It was not long before he started teaching and apprenticing with me in Mysore. Chip was someone I could rely on and he had a lot of grace and professional presence with the students. The entire community adored him.

Chip was a long- standing leader of the spiritual Drumming Community on the Outer Banks. His band Mamba Jamba has played at various events of mine over the past five years. In May 2015, he opened the grooviest Yoga Shop the beach has ever seen. It was his lifelong dream. Through his store, he was bringing together a lifetime of spiritual and esoteric passions of his and centering the Spiritual and Healing Community of the Outer Banks. His store was called Shiva's Drum Yoga Shop, and it was located in Nags Head, just one shopping center South of my Yoga studio.

My close group of friends and I have done much to honor Chip since his passing. However, Chip was well known far beyond the Outer Banks. He has touched many people's lives in a very unique and meaningful way, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on his incredible life...

Unique, is the word I would use to describe Chip. Quite frankly, I have never met anyone like him. He was grounded, stable, and extremely mellow. His presence was supportive, wise, and comforting. He was extremely passionate about several things; old world lore and ritual, drumming, and yoga. Chip spent the early part of his life researching his ancestry and heritage which led him to the Vikings. He was steeped in knowledge regarding this ancient culture. He even traveled to Iceland to explore the land.

I also have an interest in lore from the old world. I find it fascinating but was never as focused on one culture like Chip. This was truly our first connection. We would talk about the "Old Ways." To me, it felt like he carried it with him. I felt it was still alive in his presence. We bonded so much on the traditions that we began to gather up our group of spiritually-oriented friends to Celebrate the Wheel of the Year, and we made it truly a "Family Affair."

By the time we met, Chip had already well established his "Yule Party" and had a steady group. When we came together to take it to the next level, it really marinated. We brought drumming and dance into our gatherings. Our tradition was to gather, eat, conduct a short and simple ritual that was variant on the time of the year which we would decide together based on research into old world customs, and then we would drum, dance, and chant around the fire, celebrating the Sacrament of Life!

Chip embodied the Viking spirit. He was truly alive! The Vikings were a Spirited bunch that would rather die an early death than live a half felt life. Chip did that! He was always Spirit first! I loved it!

He was a man of very high integrity, and he had a very large heart. He was compassionate and kind, yet truthful. There wasn't a lot of "sugar coating" with Chip.

I would say Chip fathered many things on the Outer Banks in his time here on Earth. He fathered what we call the "Tribe," which happens to be a group of some of the finest healers, mystics, and seekers on the Outer Banks. We have found refuge in each other and our connection. Within each other's presence, we get to be who we truly are without bounds. What a gift! We also support one another in our own quest towards Enlightenment.

When Chip became ill and he had to make decisions about his medical care and the path he wanted to take towards death, he harnessed us all together. Chip chose to die at home in Nags Head with his dearest friends and family around. With the help of his sister Jodi McLaren and his life-long friend Tom Broido we set up Hospice for him, and as a group through fundraisers raised enough money for 24-hour professional caretaking. In this, the "Tribe" got to share and play a deep role in this beautiful experience we know as death...

I will say it has had a lasting effect on me. I have never been so deeply involved in someone's death experience before. Yes...I am missing him...so much...

Now that I have had a couple months to reflect, I can look back and see how precious that time was when we all pulled together to take care of him. We always said Chip was the center of the wheel. His death was that. He even said to me one day when I went to visit..."Yeah, I know. It is Chip Central around here!"

He was himself until the very end. He was surrounded by love. Both Soul Family and Blood Family were present, and we all worked together to give him everything he wished for.

Chip also fathered the store and the culture he created behind it. The store was the happiest accomplishment of his life! He would have drumming parties there and offer sale prices, of course. You could hardly walk in without touching trinkets, trying on clothes, and opening books. As we joked as a group...don't let him fool you, Chip was a "binness man!"

His store was the only place on the Beach you could buy high quality yoga clothes, mats, salt lamps, deities, mala beads, esoteric books, pictures, wall hangings, you name it, he had it! For once, I did not have to drive to VA Beach or wait until my trip to California to buy the stuff I like.

The third creation Chip Fathered was the spiritual Drumming Community. Chip was so passionate about drumming. He held monthly drum circles for years along with private drumming parties for the Holidays. His band Mamba Jamba had started booking professional gigs. They performed for years at my Solstice Celebrations and Parties. They were even at my 30th Birthday Party! It was very special...

Chip was also an avid fan of the Burning Man Festival held in Nevada. He attended three years in a row and drummed with a professional troupe of fire dancers. Chip came home and organized our "Tribe" to hold our own mini Burning Man! We actually called it Burning Duck because it took place in Duck, NC. It was four days long with lots of tents and a large man to burn. Chip was basking in happiness...I will never forget...

As you can see, this man lived !!! He really lived his life and was happy and brought so much to others...He was a multi-dimensional creature.

The good news is...

All three of his Creations are moving forward with greater speed than ever! I am thoroughly convinced the magic of his life and vision are moving onward through the force of his passing. It is as if his will has been planted and activated. He did choose to die on one of the most magical days of the year. In fact, the Summer Solstice was one of his favorite Holidays!

Where is this all going now ?

The "Tribe" is missing him, but we are so bonded. The way we came together to take care of him has cemented us as a solid support system. We are continuing to gather and celebrate birthdays, the Moons, Holidays, etc...

The store...

His buyer, Angie Gray, is also a dedicated student of mine. She has a full-time job, therefore, taking on the entire enterprise was unrealistic for her. What we have decided to do instead is...create a Shiva's Drum Pop Up Shop in my Yoga Studio! You can find many of the favorites from Shiva's at my studio! Angie is an extremely talented buyer with a great eye for fashion and her own artistic flare. We are going to have a Locals Launch Party on Friday, September 9 at the studio 5pm-7pm. We are offering 10% off all merchandise to anyone who Likes, Shares, or Tags the store on Facebook or Instagram. We will also be offering chair massages. You are welcome to stop by the studio anytime before or after a class to shop or make a private appointment with Angie. PM her on Facebook or email shivasdrumyogashop@gmail.com.

And, the Drumming...

Christine Davidson, one of Chip's original drumming students and band members, is carrying on the community drum circles. Christine is an incredible drummer and very gentle and special Soul. If you are interested in learning to drum or experiencing harmony and unity through sound, you can follow the drum circle on Facebook at Shiva's Drum Community Drum Circle. They meet once a month and the meetings are always announced on this page. In the warmer months, they meet at the Beach.

As for the band...Chip's dream is definitely being realized! I am happy to announce that Chip's band formerly known as Mamba Jamba has recreated itself. There are some new members including me, Kyle Carrigan, Matt Fleckenstein, and Jannie Kenyon in conjunction with the former members Christine Davidson, Jeff Hanson, and Sage Noriega. We have renamed the band Soul Tribe Evolution. We are a collective group of people coming from many different ancestries, musical, spiritual, and esoteric backgrounds, and talents. Our theme is tribal. We are spiritually based and our mission is to spread love, Enlightenment, and healing through sound and movement. We also have a new Facebook page and Instagram account: Soul Tribe Evolution. We perform at local gigs and festivals.

I will conclude by saying in the wake of much grief and sadness for the loss of my anchor, my rock, and my good friend, there is much blossoming and growth arising as there always is. I am forever Grateful to have been Chip's Teacher as he was happy to tell everyone that I was his "Guru."

It is with a heavy and loving Heart I pass on this little ray of light from a life lived full and well. There is so much love in my Heart for my Tribe, for my students, and for Chip...

I also wanted to take this time to thank David Garrigues for his loving support through this time. David showed me what extended Ashtangi Family really is. He offered me much support, wisdom, understanding and kindness. He even came to visit Chip before he passed away. Chip and David had a close relationship too. Any students coming to David's Intensive this year, we will be honoring his life at our annual Bonfire. I look forward to seeing everyone soon!

Cheers to the best of Us! Chip Hedenburg! We love you, miss you, and will always hold your memory dear in our Hearts.

With Love,

Michelle Dorer
Owner, Director, Teacher – Ashtanga Yoga Center, Outer Banks, NC

Categories: Off the Mat