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Posts Tagged ‘international summit of the Rites of Passage’

At the end of the first part of this story I left the reader with many questions to ponder in relation to the Unseen World of Spirit and Light and Dark. As a reminder go back and refer to the questions posed and thus the reflections revealed!

To continue on……that first week at the Ojai Foundation was filled with serendipitous meetings and happenings. While I arrived late on a Friday afternoon, unknowingly the following morning the monthly Sweat Lodge was being held on the Upper Land. I would absolutely participate. I had experienced my first Lodge in 1998 with Lakota Chief Richard Swallow Eagle and Elder Red Earth (who later became my teacher.) From this beginning and all Lodges since, from Lakota and Cherokee and a mixture of other Traditions and Teachings I have grown to honor and respect those who hold the role of Lodge Keeper. More often than not, they will tell you “they were chosen, it is not their choice!”

I felt an instant rapport with Lodge Elder Paul (Eagle Bear) and knew it would be a powerful experience. My Medicine Bundle was placed on the Altar and my prayers requested clarity to be revealed. Along with the other dozen or so men and women who shared the Lodge that Saturday morning, we sat in the Womb of the Mother and were blessed in the darkness, the heat, the waters, the songs, the wailing truths and the unspoken secrets released…..we left changed as is the purpose of each Sacred Lodge Ceremony.

During that first week I also met and had wonderful conversations with two women on personal retreat from Sedona and two men and a woman all film-makers from LA. From these very simple meetings I am still in contact with several of them and those connections are part of the profound clues being revealed even today.

(I tell you all this and more in the hopes that the reader may begin to know how to see clues and patterns in their own lives that would not have been possible before without this reminder.)

Getting back to the Domes (previous story)…..That first Thursday saw the arrival of the first group of high school seniors for their 5-Day Rites of Passage Retreat. During the month three other groups would also come for the same retreat experience.

Rites of Passage in modern USA society and culture brings forth in dramatic realism scenes of drugs, sex, alcohol and hazing rituals. Great symbols of manhood, acceptance, very loose courage, power and horrific hangovers.

Whereas in ancient, older and traditional indigenous cultures these same Rites of Passage marked the evolving through life’s growth stages and the tests of courage and self-awareness and respect for the land and heritage were woven into the ceremonies.

For these seniors their days were filled with activities, lessons, sharing, doing and quietness. The highlight of their experience was always participation in the Sweat Lodge Ceremony the second to last day. Prior to the Lodge Ceremony, Paul spent time explaining the history, workings and expectations, everyone participate in dressing the willow frame with layer upon layer of blankets and canvas tarps to ensure total blackness within.

They had heard from others, they knew deep within that this was an experience to transmute and transcend fears and out-worn beliefs, to find their meaning of courage, to support their friends and to know that no matter what happened they are guided by Spirit and what is right for them in the moment. This was done with each group of young people.

During the ensuing weeks I did my work, shared, meditated, helped, walked the endless hills and laughed a lot. On the third week a major conference was scheduled to be hosted on the Land. It was a group of sixty people from many parts of the world – Australia, Canada, Europe and across the US – attending the International Summit of the Rites of Passage Leaders.

Wow…this is significant….especially as I was reminded that I wasn’t supposed to be at the Foundation until the following month!

Everyone… staff, work exchange, volunteers and some council members pitched in to help get ready. The Land was going to be supporting more than twice as many as usual and there were logistic concerns.

What an interesting, diverse and nice group of people. And all seemed to be so truly committed the success of the conference and purpose. So many cultures, heritages, social and economic backgrounds and work environments, varying religious beliefs, traditions, personalities, talents and knowledge were represented.

Granted I was not part of the conference nor attended any of the sessions yet each morning after meditation in the Council House I read the comments, points of reference, notes, etc. on the work sheets on the walls. Top references repeated were the need for common language, inclusion of different people, ideas, traditions, acceptance of where people are, high conscious awareness to the needs of people and planet, and the list goes on. Good stuff to be embodied and exampled world-wide.

The official conference ending was Sunday. On the Saturday evening, at 9:30pm there was to be a Sweat Lodge Ceremony for any of the participants wishing to do so. Paul would be Lodge Leader as with all Rites of Passages groups.

That same Saturday, beginning in the afternoon, Paul’s wife, Melinda held a Women’s Lodge. I chose to participate in this along with twelve other young women. Melinda also held a beautiful and powerful Lodge, honoring The Mother, the cultural diversity of the women present and honoring the songs and Rites she had learned over time.

The Women’s Lodge ended around 6:30pm and Paul who had been our Fire-Keeper busied himself getting ready for the Lodge later in the evening.

The arrival of the Messengers heralded a change that was not evident at first. This couple met with Paul away from everyone. Something was not right in the energy surrounding the small group. Dialogue continued and then dispersed. Paul was not happy about something. Word came back that the evening Lodge was cancelled at the very last moment. Why was on our lips!

Later it was learned that in an intense afternoon session “concern about the traditional authenticity of Paul’s Lodge” was put forth by a couple of people. Paul was hurt beyond measure by this comment as well as feeling all the other emotions to go with it. From within the group of sixty there had been approximately fifteen people who wanted to participate and were looking forward to the Lodge that evening.

The following morning, after meditation, I asked someone in attendance about the incident.  Indeed there had been heated discussion for over an hour on the topic and not from those one would suspect…those present who hold the heritage and cultures of Indigenous Peoples. The complaint came from several “white Christians! And they persuaded everyone to give-up the idea of the Lodge.

Here you have sixty individuals from around the world at a conference on Rites of Passage and expecting young people to live through these examples.

Individuals whose life work, beliefs, mission and financial livelihood are based on “building better communities, cultural understandings, acceptance of others that are different, have different beliefs, color of skin, status and affiliations.

Fifteen or so individuals who allowed a few fearful Christians to rob them of a very special personal experience by not speaking up for themselves!

In my view, this one act spoke volumes as to the failure of the conference as a whole. I did learn there were many who were not happy and disappointed with the outcome, as they should be! At first I heard some making excuses and my not so nice response was “they are hypocrites and how can there be respect from the young people they work with.”

And as for the “white Christians” stirring the pot and having no backbone, please prove me wrong! The years my former husband and I spend serving churches and congregations taught us well that most people are easily intimidate to change their minds or stance when social, financial or religious acceptance are pressure points.

If one does not like or agree with something…stay away or don’t participate. Do not deny others their own experience to learn and grow through diversity and difference.

Gladly I can end this piece on a positive note. I did learn that from this experience new dialogues were begun between Staff and Council members of the Ojai Foundation, several of the participants and leaders of the Rites of Passage movement with the intention of not repeating such an experience.

Therefore when the veils are pulled back from the Dark and Disruptive influences the Magic of Light affords change for all who choose to see!

The richness of my experience at the Ojai Foundation is still close. I am grateful for all of it and the people I met. The theme that revealed itself the first few days was “Birth through the Passages of Life to Unity.”

I am still following the threads even today…..more stories on the unseen and unknown being known are surfacing….stay turned!

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