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Posts tagged ‘Native American’

Water is Sacred

“Water is sacred. It is the first medicine. Without water there would be no life.” These are only a few of the statements and teachings about water that were offered by the Native American Elders I’ve been blessed to encounter.

Their reverence for water compelled me to view my use of water in a whole other way. Prior to their teachings I had not given much thought to water and its role in my daily life, let alone the impact of water on all of life. I would say much of my limited awareness was related to water always being there. In my corner of the world water was clean and easy to access. What would happen if that changed?

Right now in the United States there is a major threat to the purity of water. Indigenous people are gathered to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) because it threatens water sources, including the Missouri river. The same people who are implementing the DAPL have already had a devastating spill in another area.

The protesters have been maced for their stand against the pipeline. One journalist was brought up on charges of trespassing for reporting what is taking place there. Those charges were thrown out by the judge, but those gathered still face fierce militant opposition.

I’m writing to bring more awareness to the issue of safe water. Think for a moment how life would be for you if the water was contaminated, or if it were not freely available. What would you do without water?

We can all offer our support of clean and free water. Please take time today and in the days that follow, to offer thanks to the water. Pray in whatever way is yours and if you don’t pray send a thought, that the water always be pure and freely available not just for yourself but for all of life. I ask that your also send love and peace to the those gathered to protect the water. Visualize a quick and peaceful resolution that protects the sacred water for “without water there is no life.”

Aho Mitakuye Oyasin

 

 

The Importance of Ritual

All around the world and throughout time people have been engaged with ritual. Whether these ceremonies are elaborate or disarmingly simple they play a vital role for the human psyche.

Ritual allows us to step out of ordinary time. We pause and connect to something much larger than ourselves that also dwells within us. During ritual we seek the stillness that encompasses all. In essence we are creating a conscious awareness of the sacred.

This cognizance is easily observable in shared rituals such as: marriage celebrations, baby showers and even with funerals. Communities mark events as important by creating a formal way of acknowledging and experiencing that revered connection. Some rituals are done alone and may not be visible to others. Praying the rosary or lighting a candle can be solitary rituals.

Regardless of how many people are involved or the intricacy of it, ritual gives us space to offer our celebrations, our gratitude and our hope. It has the power to calm us and bring us to our center when chaos holds sway. The promise of returning to such a dwelling is why ritual continues to be practiced in its many forms.

If you don’t already, give yourself permission to incorporate ritual into your life. Discover some that resonate with you or create your own. Let the practice of ritual direct you in entering the place where connection, peace and hope reside. You will be glad you did.

The Shoulders We Stand On

I’ve been giving some serious thought to a concept shared with me many years ago by a Native American Elder. They said, “We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.” At the time I likened this to my upbringing that taught, “respect your elders.” I did my best to honor and care for them.

Interestingly, the teachings continue to deepen and unfold as you move through life’s cycles. This specific one has returned to me as I look around and observe life today.

Surprising to me is the realization that I am now one of those who has the next generations standing on my shoulders. From my place in life, I also see at least two generations living here on whose shoulders I stand, so do you. Recognizing that I have new ones standing on my shoulders has prompted me to look at myself and my life.

I’ve wondered what kind of foundation I’m creating for them. Will they be standing firm and strong or ungrounded and shaky? Is there a recognition of the beauty that life holds? Do they feel a part of a healthy community that values each being? Are they respectful of all life, including Mother Earth and her creatures? Do they feel supported in their endeavors? Are they growing and blossoming? Is the world they inhabit one of kindness? Do they see with eyes of compassion? Can they say that they love and honor themselves? Are they happy and wanting others to be happy too? Do they offer gratitude for what life has given them?

In all honesty, I know that there is work to be done for them to thrive and make the world a better place. That work starts with me and with you. Let’s observe how we are in the world and how we are with ourselves. Is there room for improvement within us?

My plan is be be kinder, smile more and share of myself in a compassionate and loving way. Additionally, I can teach what I’ve learned by living it each day. I will strive to create an open environment that supports and encourages the next generations, two of which are here for me.

Perhaps you have more or less in the way of the next generations living here, based on where you are in life. In truth, we all have responsibility to the future generations for our actions because we are shoulders that they will stand upon. Together we can bring joy, love and beauty to them by our conduct today. I invite you to join me.

Clearing the Air and Energy

Have you ever found yourself feeling overcome with emotion? Maybe you have walked into a room that feels like the air itself is pressing down on you? These can be indications of a room or space that needs a good clearing out.

Sometimes it is not enough to scrub the place clean. Many times the energies, spirits and/or emotions linger long after cleaning products’ applications have faded. This is when clearing the energy can help.

There are many ways to remove unwanted energy or energy that is stagnant or oppressive. One of my favorite and most effective ways to do this was taught to me by my Native American Elders. It involves the use of sacred plants and prayers or intentions. Often referred to as smudging; it purifies the space.

Let me share with you the art of smudging as it was taught to me. Gather your tools first. Collect together; white sage or ceremonial sage, matches, a shell or small fire-proof container and a feather or small feather fan. Put a few leaves of the dried sage into the shell or other container. Locate the direction of the East. You will begin your cleansing of the space and energy in the East.

Take your shell with the sage leaves, your matches and feather or fan to the area of the East in the space you are smudging. Light the sage pieces with your match. Let them catch fire a little then blow out the flames. I put the used match in the shell next to the sage leaves. Take your feather or fan and gently move the smoke up and down the walls of the space while praying or keeping an intention. This can as simple as saying or thinking, “Bless and cleanse this home.” You can substitute the name of the space you are in if it is not a home, such as an office, or you can simply say, “this space” instead.

Move in a clockwise direction as you move the smoke and repeat your prayer or intention. Complete a full circle. When you return to the East and where you started say, “Thank you.”

Extinguish any smoking leaves. I place the shell on my stove or other nonburnable surface until it cools. The shell can sometimes become hot on the bottom depending on the area I am smudging and how much sage I have used. Return you other tools to their storage area. Once the shell is completely cooled, I usually leave it at least an hour for safety, I put it away.

You can sprinkle the cooled ashes on the Earth or place them in a potted plant. Just make sure they are totally cooled by touching them with you fingers. Living in an arid and dry climate makes me especially cautious when handling fire and embers.

Now you are done smudging. I notice an immediate difference in the environment once I have completed this cleansing ceremony. Things feel lighter and more in harmony. You may experience a shift in the area right away or you might notice that you are less stressed, have more patience or it may dawn on you after a while that everything flows better.

If you are interested in using smudging as a tool begin with sage as noted above unless an Elder specifically tells you otherwise. Sage can accomplish cleaning the energy, lightening up the space and restoring harmony.

Sage sticks are also available. If you use a full stick I suggest carrying a shell under it as embers can fall while smudging. Doing so will help to keep this a safe process. Also when you extinguish a sage or smudge stick really grind it down into the shell to tamp out any smouldering embers.

It is important to be responsible and careful when using these tools and teachings.

Recently I’ve read some articles that indicate that smudging can remove germs from the air. These ancient practices hold more meaning and practical applications than generally understood. Be respectful in using this ritual.

Thank you to the Elders who have shared their teachings and ceremonies with me. Aho.

Coyote the Wisdom Teacher

Coyote is spoken of as the trickster in Native American teachings. I’ve heard the elders tell many tales of his cunning and foolish antics. They also hold coyote in great respect because he is a teacher. As one of the totems of the South, the summertime, coyote is hard at work in his role right now.

If coyote comes into your life it is usually to spin you around and cause havoc. You either end up with steam coming out of your ears or rolling on the ground laughing. Laughter is coyote’s intended result. That’s because when we become too serious or weighed down by life’s challenges we grow rigid. Laughter breaks that up and allows the light to permeate once more. It restores us to balance.

I’ve been working with coyote and the lessons that he brings for some time. I’ve realized that coyote is actually a Wisdom Teacher. Let me explain. It takes great perception, skill and awareness to understand exactly what each person needs to bring them to laughter.

That means coyote studies you. In fact, he is probably studying you right now. I can see him with his head resting lightly on his outstretched paws taking in each minute detail. He sees your struggle, your fear, all of your worries, he sees your doubt, your seriousness, coyote sees it all. Then he takes all that he sees and lays his plans.

If you find yourself spinning around, getting hopelessly lost while driving, or any other thing that throws you off kilter remember that coyote stalks you. He will not rest until deep belly laughter finds you. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear you report that you laughed so hard you cried. Only a master like coyote can bring you this gift because he is a true Wisdom Teacher. I, for one, am extremely grateful that it is so. Coyote, I bow to you.

The Four Directions of the Medicine Wheel (And How They Affect Your Life)

Do you want to better understand the wilderness along with your interactions and connections with Nature? Check out: We Are Wildness. Their mission is “to help improve the health of the planet by inspiring people all over the world to reconnect with Nature.” I invite you to visit their site to learn more.

You will also find; The Four Directions of the Medicine Wheel (And How They Affect Your Life), a guest blog post, that I wrote for them there. Follow this link: http://wearewildness.com/four-directions-medicine-wheel-affect-life/ to read all about it!

A Gift of Fox Medicine

Each day I like to start my morning by being outside. Luckily, my balcony affords me a gorgeous view of the Briones, which are rolling hills in Northern California. I begin my day there because Nature brings me to balance and offers inspiration. I am normally gifted with something that helps to direct my day and life. I say that it does because this concept correlates to my own beliefs and Native American teachings that remind us that life is sending us messages, information and guidance. Our job is to learn how to receive and interpret what is being offered.

I’ve witnessed all manner of wildlife and things simply by sitting still and observing the view. Today’s gift on the hills was the sighting of a magnificent, red fox. I saw it only moments before it bounded away into the corpse of trees, confirming my suspicion that it held messages for me. This fox approached the forest with a sense of adventure and lighthearted play.

Fox carries many attributes according to Native American teachings. What I took from the visit from this specific creature was the reminder that magic, the feminine, intuition, charm and subtle playfulness are the order of the day.

As I watched it bound away, I thought, “Why walk, when you can bounce?” Incorporating an openness to explore while playing really could be the definition of fun, at least according to fox. That is not all that fox offers though because a true adventure entails discovering our courage while testing our mettle. Fox knows that beginning the adventure with optimism and playfulness opens the realm to wonders never imagined in our past.

I full expect that the medicine of the fox is telling me to approach life expecting that an adventure awaits me just over the hill. I would bet it is already on the way. That is ok because fox also instructs that I will find magic when I honor the feminine and follow my intuition. I wish you could see my grin as I say, “Bring it on!”

Lessons of Summer, The South

The adventure continues! I had the chance to write another guest blog post for We Are Wildness. Their mission is “to help improve the health of the planet by inspiring people all over the world to reconnect with Nature.” I find this a practical and inspirational approach.

I invite you to visit their site to learn more. My bet is that you will relish the time spent there! Take some time to explore their entire website, I did. The posting that I wrote, “Lessons of Summer, The South”, can be found through this link: http://wearewildness.com/lessons-summer-south/

Enjoy!

RED TENT MOONLODGE GATHERING: AUTUMN IMMERSION

Come and learn Native American Traditional Teachings regarding women, their “Moontime” and their importance within the tribe or community. Discover how you can apply these teachings to enrich your own life.

You are invited to join me on SEPTEMBER 20, 2014 at Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, Children’s Chapel from 12:30pm – 4:30pm (PDT) for a Red Tent Moonlodge Gathering: Autumn Immersion. The church address is: 55 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek, CA 94549. Register via Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church’s link: http://mduuc.org/religious-education-programs/register-for-classes or contact adultprograms@mduuc.org.

Women of all ages come to rest, renew and remember your sacredness. Join Shelly O’Connell as she shares Traditional Women’s Teachings with you. We will dance, drum and join together on a journey to embrace the true radiance within each woman. Autumn Immersion will give each participant the opportunity to put the teachings into practice immediately. Together we will go deeper into the teachings this season.

Women ages thirteen and older are invited to attend. Workshop participants will bring one symbol of yourself as a woman to place upon the altar which we will create together. Include a journal for notes and homework. Suggested attire is comfortable clothing; long dresses or skirts, if you like, to remind you of your femininity.

Shelly received the Traditional Women’s Teachings from Native Elders. “These teachings completely changed and enriched my life!” she writes. Shelly says of the teachings, “Following the Traditional Women’s Teachings centers you and allows you to step into your wisdom.” Are you ready to step in to your own wisdom?

This will be a four hour workshop offered each season; Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter with teachings related to each season. You may attend one workshop, a few or all, it is up to you. Suggested donation of $25.

*Painting by, Valoru*

Going Beyond a Walk in the Woods

A new adventure! I had the chance to write a guest blog post for We Are Wildness. Their mission is “to help improve the health of the planet by inspiring people all over the world to reconnect with Nature.” I believe this concept has merit!

I invite you to visit their site to learn more. Take some time to explore their entire website, I did. The posting that I wrote, “Going Beyond a Walk in the Woods”, can be found through this link: http://wearewildness.com/going-beyond-walk-woods/

Happy reading!