Posts Tagged ‘native american’

Just after finishing the last blog entry I headed to the Santa Cruz Mountains for a week with women, indigenous and non- indigenous, at the 1000 Hummingbird Gathering. What transpired for me during that week was profound and the week following I spent in retreat for myself – nurturing, sleeping remembering and clearing. All ending just after the powerful new moon/eclipse in Gemini. A breakthrough and new clarity energetically imprinted internally.

I am not alone in taking deep inner and outer journeys as you all well know. So many of us in varying degrees of awareness are in the same place – you may be one of them!

Life is an experiential journey of lessons and understandings to be felt and seen physically as well as emotionally, mentally and spiritually. This is so for all of us, the fun or not is in how we do it and your make up!

Today I will share the experiences of the Women’s Gathering of the blessings and the challenges and pains I saw and felt. The location was amazing. The one thousand plus acre property in the Santa Cruz Redwood forest was once owned by HP Corporation. From the left turn off Highway 9 onto a single lane rough road winding and twisting a couple of miles to end at an open meadow with a single large housing structure. What a beautiful space! Our gathering was meeting further down the path at another meadow surrounded by glades, large open kitchen and seating, walk-in/freezer and prep kitchen, conference room and nature.

We would all be camping in the meadow. The land had once been part of the Ohlone People’s tribal land and like so much, it had been taken/stolen and abused by “white man” many, many years earlier – the pain and suffering still held below the surface.

One of the stories I received about this land was that several years ago the grandchildren of HP founders’ demanded this land be deeded to the State of California for the open use of all people for a return of respect of people and lands. The 1000 Hummingbird Women’s Gathering, initiated three years earlier by a group of Ohlone women was the first group to hold space and ceremony on the land since the new stewards had been in place – a significant happening all by itself!

The first group of women and one man arrived on Tuesday to participate in a three day drum making class. This time was also spent preparing the camp for the larger group arrival on Friday. I arrived not knowing anyone yet it didn’t take long to connect with a like-minded woman, with a similar “energy connection.”

The first evening during the opening circle around the fire introductions and sharing revealed much of the pains and judgments held by both indigenous and non-indigenous women. Few really knew each other yet assumptions were strongly expressed in comments and postures – non native women could not know or understand the ways, protocols, purposes and pains caused by those of the past. And those exact feelings were mirrored back through empathy, guilt, loss, pain and memory of the “outsiders” in so many ways. This should not be a surprise for this was the whole purpose of the gathering; to learn, understand, share, cry and rejoice as women, mothers, sisters and wives.

I am a person who helps everywhere. The first task was providing the only tow rope available to pull cars out of the muddy lower meadow.  Knowing my way around commercial kitchens and restaurant operations from many years of experience caused stress with some as “taking over” per se. Our chef did a wonderful job and provided excellent meals under a mixture of adverse situations, rain and cold being prominent.

Yes it rained! Tuesday while preparing the Arbor, Ceremonial Fire and canopies it rained – no, it poured and we were all drenched and in good spirits. At the lunch break my friend and I even drove the twelve or so miles into town to put our clothes in the dryer as everything else was wet!

Walking the paths through the Redwoods, most 200-300ft tall, are amazing growths of huge old stumps hit by lightening years perhaps centuries ago that were now surrounded, relatively speaking, by smaller new trees; deer families wandered occasionally watching us and then they continue to eat. Crows, ravens, hawks, turkey vultures, dozens of other birds and hummingbirds were present in flight and song.

Wednesday came with a slight breather from the rain. Preparation continued and drum making started. (That was a separate and profound experience I will share later.)

One of the reasons I needed to attend this women’s gathering was to connect with women in many different ways, to walk through my stuff, provide medicine and healing in different ways and be vulnerable to true authenticity and open heart connections, especially when appearing to be pushed away. The way my heart and soul are made up I connect to what is on the surface and what is deeply hidden and old. This is the magic of medicine woman work.

Gopher medicine was well at work the second night. In the wee hours of the morning I was awakened by something pushing at my hips, through the sleeping mat and bedding. At first I thought I was dreaming so just shifted body position. Minutes later it returned with more force to the point I thought this critter was going to eat through the tent floor. I shuffled around, it moved with me still pushing – he/she wanted me out of there! So in the darkness I emerge, pull all the stakes up and pull the tent a good three feet away from that spot. Reattached everything and slept peacefully.

The next morning I found two big gopher holes and tunnels right where I had been lying the night before. I took this as a very metaphoric message and it also provided a lot of laughs the next morning. This actually happened twice yet the second time I asked gopher to allow me that small space and they could have the rest of the land. All was quiet after that!

To be continued in a day or so…………

Due to the protocol of Sacred Native Gatherings and Ceremony, photographs are not encouraged or wanted so I took very few during the entire week. (more…)

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A writing feast or famine!

Last week when driving through Utah I was reminded of a very special life changing experience Jerame and I shared in July of 2001 (I think that was the year). We went to spend four days at the Lakota Sundance Ceremony, a ceremonial weekend being lead by Lakota Elder Red Earth, my teacher and friend.

Approaching the Ogden exit I called Jerame and asked if I could share this and he agreed. Once again there are great lessons in the ways the weekend played out for us and most especially how “unrelated fears and pain of different people can and do have a physical effect in completely unsuspecting ways. Life is a constant learning and refining experience!

I do not have any photos to go along with the story therefore forgive the mass of words!

Sundance of Thanksgiving

The Sacred Fire burned. The Sacred Tree was in place. The dancers who had been in preparation for a year were anxious with anticipation, fear, power and honor. All the dancers, friends and supporters were required to pass through the gate to receive the ceremonial smudging with sage, the purifying smoke that frees impurities and negativity to the heavens of The Creator.

My son Jerame had joined me on the trip to Utah to experience the Lakota ceremony of Thanksgiving known as Sundance. In the beginning his reasons for coming were (1) to get away and (2) so Mum didn’t have to drive alone! The drive from Denver took us through the beautiful landscapes of Northern Colorado, fields with buffalo and elk grazing in Wyoming and into Utah. The camp site and ceremonial grounds were tucked away in a quiet, beautiful valley surrounded by craggy high ridges of small mountains filled with ancient and painful memories of village massacres and spiritual wisdom from the Ancestors.

After arriving at the camp, setting up and meeting with some other attendees, Jerame began to see power-plays between some on the young Lakota men and the white visitors. He became quite angry at what he saw as their unnecessary arrogance and rudeness, deciding he wanted to leave rather than have his buttons pushed! Several calming mother/son conversations later opened the way for Jerame to experience a weekend of many powerful awakenings.

The Sacred Ceremony of The Sundance represents the Native American tradition of Thanksgiving. This particular Sundance was being lead by my gentle teacher, Red Earth, a Lakota Sioux Elder who stepped into the position due the illness of Chief Richard Swallow Eagle, respected elder of other past Sundance ceremonies. It was an honor for me to learn and support my teacher during that difficult time.  Ceremonies such as Sundance, Ghost Dance and the cleansing sweat lodges had been forbidden for many years by both the government and “do good” Christian missionaries, all done under the guise of disempowering and saving the souls of savages. It is such irony that so many now seek to learn more of these ancient and earth-saving wisdoms.

The warriors who ‘dance in ceremony around the Sacred Tree’ are giving of themselves in gratitude for their lives and giving to impact the greater tribe, in essence, people from everywhere. To end the long preparation all the dancers have fasted for several days, having no food or water at all, this fasting continues until they have fulfilled their sacred Sundance commitment. For four days the power of this sacred experience as sounded through the beat of the Mother Drum which builds as each day the dancers who have chosen this path surrender themselves to the Sacred Tree. On the fourth day those who have chosen are pierced with small pieces of  bone through their chest or back skin and tethered to the Tree for as long as the journey of surrender takes. The dancers are surrounded and supported by family, friends, tribe elders and teachers, along with the Ancestors watching from the craggy rock walls surrounding the quiet valley. Each day is filled with several ceremonies, some lasting three hour plus at a stretch. The sound of drums, flutes, rattles and voices transport all present in ways they cannot avoid but be moved and changed so very profoundly.

As an energy healer and Reiki Master, I was honored to be asked to offer work with the dancers during their breaks, giving them an energetic boost and support as the days of fasting and dancing moved on. During these days I had two profound yet very different experiences to show me the power and unseen hold of emotionally energy and fear has on people, and to see the beauty and flow of new life energy.

Dancing Through Fear

The sound of drums began to die down as the Grand Entrance Dance drew to an end and dancers made their way to the cover resting space adjacent to the sacred circle. Some looked exhilarated, some dazed and still others exhausted yet there were still many hours and days of ceremony to go.

Red Earth had approached me and two other visiting women healers to help the dancers during these breaks. I was very honored by this request. Quietly I approached the first young man who was more than happy to receive a nurturing and tender boost to his energy. Just five to ten minutes was all that was needed most of the time. As time was short, Spirit turned up the power as I opened as a willing conduit. A couple of times my offer of help was refused and that was fine. I moved from man to man as the time allowed.

Then I felt a young man’s eyes seeking me out. “Oh yes please, I would be grateful of some energy!” was his response.

He lay on a blanket and I gently did my work. He drifted off to another place and then came back with a quick “thank you, work on someone else now”,ot up and moved away.

I spied a man in a chair about ten feet away. He did not look good, stress and fear oozed from him. He gladly agreed to my offer of help. Because of his exhaustion I said he could stay in the chair but after a couple of minutes he nearly passed out so I moved him to the ground. I knew something was very wrong with him yet no one else appeared concerned!

I began my energetic work on him. His fear was monumental yet I didn’t know why at that moment. As the drums started up again and the dancers moved out into the sacred circle, again his body began to freeze up. I called to another healer to help me. She moved to his feet and grateful follow my instructions. We worked in silence and in unison. The music in the background would come and go in waves of loudness. The man’s body would also respond in degrees of tension and fear and I still did not understand why.

All this time my back was to the circle of dancers so I could not see what was happening, I only heard the drumming and the songs. Again the drumming, singing and sounds of support grew louder, faster, louder, faster. And correspondingly the fear and tension in the man on the ground echoed. My helper stayed silent. I began to talk and coach the man through the breaths, to use the energy to move beyond the place he feared, a crescendo of drums, sounds and pain built, the combination of awe and fear kept us going, the three of us working as one.

I could feel the peak was coming and knew I had to stay calm and focused on the channel of energy being generated. The peak in the sacred circle was also being reached and suddenly out of nowhere drums and sounds of joy rang all around us. And at exactly the same moment the man shuddered, cried out and released what was holding him. His face was dazed and tears steamed from his eyes. I thanked God he was safe!

I turned to see what was happening in the circle, the sounds of joy and relief were everywhere, and then I saw why and I was shocked!

A young man celebrated his feat. Trickles of blood run down his back, yet the light of his faced was what I caught. On the ground of the circle lay two lengths of leather with seven buffalo skulls attached. I later learned that “dragging the buffalo skulls” is done by only a few men and represents “the dragging and finally releasing past generations held in pain, anger, violence, wrongdoing and death, giving thanks for their sacrifices and now for a new beginning.” The young man in celebration was the same young man who had searched me out earlier.

My attention returned to the man on the ground. He was quickly reviving. I shared what I had just seen and he began to cry, really cry which I allowed him to do. “I was so afraid for him. I was afraid of the pain for myself and I could not continue. And I was afraid of the pain for him. I let him down!” he sobbed.

Now the dancers were moving from the circle for a well-earned rest. I went to the joyful young man and asked if he would see his friend, he has something to tell you! Moments later these two men are hugging each other and crying. When the truth was shared more tears and the relief was palpable and affected more than just these two men. Healing was returning to the man who now sat on a chair in the shade.

“I need to share something else with you if I may” he said to me.

“Two weeks ago my father died and I have been in so much pain and fear of losing him ever since. I didn’t know how I could go through this without him and then after he died I couldn’t let him go. I was holding on so tight but now I know he is with me in a different way and I don’t have to fear or hold on!”

To say the least I was moved to tears also but for another reason. Alongside my son Jerame, we had been honored to witness the evolution of the warrior’s spirit through ceremony of song and dance, pain and joy, strength and vulnerability, fear and peace, holding on and letting go, of the male and the female balancing and supporting each other as needed.

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