Monthly Archives: May 2019
You can seek visions, looking for deeper meaning, many times in your life. But once you have an answer, you can no longer claim ignorance. To receive a vision is to be responsible for that vision. You can bless a new born baby and give her a name, and try to help those first steps walk a path that will be straight and true, but the greatest work will occur through the choices she makes along the way.
Fulfillment of spiritual purpose received through vision is rarely an easy or a straightforward path. Very often it will mean a change in a living situation because inconsistency is a form of dishonesty. If you have a vision of personal wholeness, but your investments support practices that are destructive or your relationships fail to communicate and share your wholeness, you are not being true, nor doing honor to the visions you have received.
The universe exists in its own unimaginably complex rhythm and balance, contributing freely to our spirituality and requiring balance as its only return. What that means in practical terms is that those who participate in a traditional Ojibwe vision fast never pray for themselves alone, but for the People, the tribe, the nation, the animals, the plants and the blessed spirits. Though the specific nature of the vision might be a secret, its practical use is likely to aid the life of the people.
We have access to everything the world has known, if we can learn to listen to the stones and the stories they have to tell, if we hear the winds speak who have been everywhere and heard everything since the beginning of time. The world will always provide vision, if we allow ourselves to be alone, then open our eyes and look, as if for the first time, at what has been around us all along.
From: A Voice From The Earth
From the Sacred Path Cards, we have this Dreamtime Smoke Signal story by Jamie Sams.
On a night years ago, I was floating in a natural hot spring looking up into the fullness of Grandmother Moon high above me in the starry night. I had built a Fire twenty feet in front of me where the ravine was flat and treeless. I had gone to this special place alone to seek some answers for my hungry heart.
The tears of frustration rolled from my eyes and sent silver circles into the effervescent waters of the pool. I sought the answers of how to return to the city and deal with the lack of substance I found in those who were trying to be “somebody” instead of being who and what they were.
Then, I saw an ancient Medicine Man walk to my Fire and lift an old red trade blanket. He walked toward me and dipped the blanket into the pool, wrung it out, and moved back toward the Fire. As he turned toward the Fire and began to sing, I recognized Grandfather Taquitz, who is one of the Ancestors who guides my path. Grandfather Taquitz beseeched the spirits of the Four Directions. The energy began to build as he sang the chant in which he called to the Great Star Nation to hear my prayers and speak to my heart.
Each time I spoke an internal prayer, Grandfather Taquitz would move the trade blanket over the Fire and then raise it, allowing the Smoke Signal that represented my prayer to rise in the indigo night. At first, a stray Cloud Person or two drifted by and then others came to see which Two-legged and which Ancestor spirit had called them.
The Chief Cloud Person was to the right of Grandmother Moon and began changing form as the Smoke touched his face, producing the faces of Buffalo, Wolf, Eagle, and Bear. My Allies had come to greet me and give me answers! I was overjoyed and nearly missed the exit of Grandfather Taquitz, who held a gleam in his eyes and a knowing smile traced across his mouth.
I floated in the warm waters of my Earth Mother’s womb and heard the messages of my Medicine Helpers with my heart. Buffalo told me that Two-leggeds who hurt one another were those deluded by the fear of scarcity. These humans had lost their trust in Great Mystery and the Field of Plenty. Their need to be important was based upon the fear that their talents were not equal to those of others.
Wolf spoke and told me that the Pathfinders of my world would never need to boast about who they were or where they were headed. Those who broke new ground for others to follow were to busy to be hurt by another person who claimed, out of envy, to be who they were not.
Eagle spoke to me and said that true freedom was only to be found by those that found illumination through the truth that lived inside their hearts.
Bear then appeared and spoke of the strength I needed to find inside of myself in order to Walk My Talk in the city, away from the womb of my Earth Mother. Bear said that the tomorrows are met when each person seeks strength in the truth of today.
Knowing that my intent had reached the Sky Nation through Grandfather Taquitz’s Smoke Signals and songs gave me new inspiration and purpose. I was ready to hold my truth high and to use my intent to touch the hearts of my fellow Two-leggeds. I no longer needed to be hurt by lies or to take on the pain of those that “talked their walk” instead of being the beauty that Great Mystery had created them to be.
The Red Race has understood and utilized many unspoken languages for centuries. We have been taught to read the signs in the faces of the Cloud People; the changes in the weather; the movement of the herds; the habits of our Brothers and Sisters, the Creature-beings, the cries and howls of the wild; the messages in our Medicine Dreams; and the language of the heart.
Smoke Signals are another universal unspoken language of Native Americans. The Sky Language is achieved through lighting a fire of mixed green and dry wood and using a wet blanket to smother and then release clouds of smoke. In times of battle, each Tribe used different signals to mark a path of action or to change their secret plans. This constant activity kept the enemy bewildered and confused.
Smoke Signals are the bridge between the Earth and Sky. The smoke from the Pipe is the essence of our prayers in visual form, traveling to the Great Mystery. In this manner, All Our Relations are put on notice that the prayers of the People are traveling to the Great Star Nation to be heard. The Smoke Signals used in communication between scouts sitting long distances apart are no different than the Smoke Signals sent through the Pipe to Great Mystery. Both are unspoken languages that signal the sender’s intent.
Few people know that the first revolution in the United States began with two unspoken languages. These were the knotted cord carried by various runners to various locations and Smoke Signals.
In 1680 the brave, yet peaceful, Pueblo Indians had been made a slave race by the invading Spaniards. The Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico was formerly known as Aztlan. It was the homeland of the Aztecs long before Cortez and Coronado began their quests for gold. Each Pueblo had a different set of laws and a different language; however, all had lived in peace with each other and in harmony with the Earth Mother for centuries.
After many years of cruel domination, a Pueblo Medicine Man named Popi united each Pueblo and helped to orchestrate the revolt that crushed the hold of the Spanish. This brilliant plan signaled the return to power by those who lived with the land rather than taking from it.
Runners were sent to the first Pueblo with cords knotted in a certain manner but were caught and killed by the Spanish. The Smoke Signals that told of revolution were issued forth three days later. The runners’ attempt was pure subterfuge and it worked. The Spaniards had tortured two young runners who had carried knotted ropes and were told that the revolt would take place on the fourth day after the runners were shot. The actual revolt begun on the third day was begun by Smoke Signals.
The possibility of victory for the peaceful Pueblo people struck a chord in the hearts of the raiding Apaches who had plagued the Pueblos for many years. The Apaches joined the fight in some areas and the Spanish were ousted from the mountains and valleys of Aztlan.
The intent of the Red Race was to reclaim their right to their own Knowing Systems and to use their own Medicine. The Masks, Kachina Dolls, Rattles, Drums, Eagle feathers, and other sacred objects had been burned by the orders of the Catholic Padres in an effort to force Christianity upon the Pueblos. The Smoke Signals sent the intent of the People to the Sky Nation as a resounding cry for freedom and they were victorious.
The unity of one heart and one mind among the different Tribes who could not speak each other’s languages was accomplished through the unspoken tongues of Smoke Signals and knotted ropes.
Smoke Signals are the language of the Sky Nation that relay the intention of the sender to those spirits who understand the heart’s whispers. The answers to the Smoke Signal’s questions can be read in the faces of the Cloud People. When Smoke Signals are sent to Great Mystery via the Fire or Pipe, a seeker is asking for an inner-knowing about some question.
Smoke-forms are one way in which spirit can be visually seen by humankind and the manifestation of these Medicine Helpers can bring serenity to the heart of a seeker. If, on a Vision Quest, a person lights a Fire to sent the heart’s intent to the Sky Nation, the answers may come to that person in forms created by the Cloud People.
“In the Lakota/Sioux tradition, a person who is grieving is considered most holy. There’s a sense that when someone is struck by the sudden lightning of loss, he or she stands on the threshold of the spirit world. The prayers of those who grieve are considered especially strong, and it is proper to ask them for their help. You might recall what it’s like to be with someone who has grieved deeply. The person has no layer of protection, nothing left to defend. The mystery is looking out through that person’s eyes. For the time being, he or she has accepted the reality of loss and has stopped clinging to the past or grasping at the future. In the groundless openness of sorrow, there is a wholeness of presence and a deep natural wisdom.”
~ Tara Brach
From the Sacred Path Cards, we have this Dreamtime Medicine story by Jamie Sams which helps to bring understanding of the Shield of the West in the Medicine Wheel.
The Bear came to me in a Dreamtime waking state several years ago and lumbered through my awareness to take me on a Dreamtime Medicine Walk. I found myself in a forest high in the Rocky Mountains by the old burial ground near Creede, Colorado.
The Bear wandered up to the spring above Moonshine Mesa and drank deeply of the cold, pure water coming from the Earth Mother’s breast. Then Bear turned to me and spoke.
“We used to use words like you Two-leggeds,” she said. “we retreated into our silence at the end of the Second World. When the Earth was cleansed by the great ice mountains your people had finally come together in clans and families. They had heard the tundra Wolf’s song and started to use words of their own.”
“We knew that you humans would not be alone and that humans would survive if they could communicate with one another. We Creature-beings had to leave the Two-leggeds alone so they could learn their own sounds and how to use communication.”
“Unfortunately, that was also the time that Two-leggeds shared so many of the opinions of others that they started to judge their personal truths. They began to worry about what others thought and failed to find their own answers within their hearts.”
I understood that Bear was trying to show me how we Two-leggeds sought approval, entangling ourselves with the fear of being different. If new ideas presented a threat, it could be hard for individuals to follow their personal truths.
Bear continued, “It was during those days of the ensuing cold that humankind learned to eat meat. In the first world, the Two-leggeds had been vegetarian. Fruits, berries, roots, and wild vegetables were plentiful until the cleansing of the First World.”
“When the great ice mountains moved across Mother Earth’s face, the plants, which had sustained all creatures, vanished. The Two-leggeds were starving until they learned to eat meat. The Creature-beings, who understood the need for balance and sharing, offered their bodies as food to the Two-leggeds. My Creature Ancestors gave the warmth of their bodies’ fur and the instinct of survival to the Two-leggeds. Then through consuming the meat of Bear, the West Shield’s lessens were learned.”
“I have a memory of the way our gift was received by a female Two-legged.” Bear said. “She was called Alona. Alona ate of the meat of Bear and sank into a fulfilling, deep sleep. She saw the memories of our Bear Clan and learned the three paths of the West Shield.”
I listened as Bear continued. “In the dream, Alona watched Grizzly as she ate all that she could find in the way of berries, honey, and fish from the stream. This giantess was filling up for hibernation time when she would have to live off her stored fat.
“Then Alona saw Grizzly go into her cave to sleep through winter’s white robe. In her dream Alona followed Grizzly and slept at her side. In the Spring when Grizzly awoke, Alona followed her into the deep green forest. Grizzly seemed very intent on rediscovering the forest and noting the changes in her favorite hollow logs. The deep winter sleep had propelled Grizzly into a new state of awareness.”
“Mama Grizzly had left Alona to her thoughts and had gone to forage through the forest continuing her routine,” Bear said. “It was only when Alona was left to her own devices that a tiny, still voice spoke to her silent heart, and showed her the value of Grizzly’s lessons. Alona saw that in tasting the fruits of all ideas, you could expand one’s outlook on life, just as Grizzly had done by eating all manner of foods.”
“Then Alona remembered the retreat into the cave. Grizzly had taught her to go into the silence of her own Sacred Space to digest her ideas. The ideas that did not sustain her could be eliminated and the others would nurture her during the time of looking within. Alona realized that she could best meet her goals when she acted on the ideas that were most nurturing to her.”
I looked at Bear’s big brown eyes and smiled. I was beginning to understand the West Shield in a new way.
“So the three pathways to understanding how to look within and reach our goals are like the actions of Grizzly in Alona’s dream, right?” I asked.
“Right,” Bear replied. “Now you tell me how you see those paths.”
I thought for a moment and then spoke. “The first path is to enter the stillness of our Sacred Space. Basically, it is being willing to receive the answers made available to us through the experience of daily life. That is, allowing our female receptive side to come forward to magnetize or receive in the silence. So it is Entering The Silence.”
“Correct,” said Bear. “And the second path?”
“Well, I suppose the next step is digesting the answers that come and learning to feel which ones apply. So the second pathway is integrating the information and discerning what our personal truth is,” I replied.
“Right again,” said Bear. “It is on the second step, which nurtures the answers received, that the third path becomes evident.”
“Oh, I understand,” I said. “It is because the third path is structure based on personal truth. If we have a knowing about our digested ideas, we may then formulate a plan on how to attain our goals, that’s the structure. If our goals are based on our personal truth and desire, they will be approached with joy. They will be goals we want to nurture because they are truly our own, not ones that others have expected of us. That’s right, isn’t it?”
Bear chuckled and rolled over scratching her back on the boulder next to the spring. “You have the idea,” she mused. “All the actions of Grizzly will allow each person to tap their inner-knowing and like Alona of long ago, my Clan can give the strength necessary to meet each tomorrow with joy. There is no need to fear the unknown that future holds if you follow Grandmother Grizzly and digest the knowing of your personal truth.”
I thanked Bear for the lessons and began the journey of understanding my personal West Shield. May this sharing also aid you in your joy-filled sojourn to the land of the Bear and the lessons of the West.
The West is the Traditional home of Bear on the Medicine Wheel. The color of this direction is black, which represents the Void where the answers live within the dark cave of Bear. The ability to go within and to introspect is the female energy, which is receptive. The womb of woman is the place where all ideas, as well as babies, are nurtured and given birth. The darkness of the fertile womb is the place where each of us on the Good Red Road of physical life had our beginnings. We were the future generation to our parents. What Future holds is always in the West, the place of our tomorrows.
To understand the West, the “looking-within” place, we must first understand our natures. Unless we are connected to All Our Relations, the Standing People (trees), the Stone People, the Creature-Beings, Mother Earth, Father Sky, Grandfather Sun, Grandmother Mon, the Four Chief Spirits (Air, Earth, Water, and Fire), the Creepy-crawlers (insects), and all other life-forms from atom to Great Star Nation, we feel that the answers live outside of us.
If we understand that the spirit of all these other life-forms dwells inside our bodies, we begin to understand that we can look within to feel and know the answers. In our earthly bodies, our cells carry memory of all that has ever been. Answers live in our spirit’s knowing potential.
Some day, if you are lucky,
you’ll return from a thunderous journey
trailing snake scales, wing fragments
and the musk of Earth and moon.
Eyes will examine you for signs
of damage, or change
and you, too, will wonder
if your skin shows traces
of fur, or leaves,
if thrushes have built a nest
of your hair, if Andromeda
burns from your eyes.
Do not be surprised by prickly questions
from those who barely inhabit
their own fleeting lives, who barely taste
their own possibility, who barely dream.
If your hands are empty, treasureless,
if your toes have not grown claws,
if your obedient voice has not
become a wild cry, a howl,
you will reassure them. We warned you,
they might declare, there is nothing else,
no point, no meaning, no mystery at all,
just this frantic waiting to die.
And yet, they tremble, mute,
afraid you’ve returned without sweet
elixir for unspeakable thirst, without
a fluent dance or holy language.
~ Geneen Marie Haugen
The Medicine Bundle is a collection of items that has come to you in a variety of ways and that represent the Totems of your Power Animals or Allies among nature. In a Medicine Bundle you might find a seed pod, a Tobacco tie, a ball of dried sap from a Pine tree, a scalplock, an Elk tooth, Horse hair, a quarts crystal, an Otter tail, a Stone Person, a special string of beads, and/or any other item that represents Medicine to the Bundle’s owner.
In ancient times many of the items were of special significance among the Tribes and Nations of Native America. For instance, the Crow believed that an Elk tooth was Medicine that would bring abundance in a material manner to the owner. A piece of blue cloth meant good luck, Bear hair and claws would keep a Warrior’s Horse in prime shape, and a Swallow wing would give the power to evade enemies.
Medicine Bundles were used for many different things. There were bundles for personal Medicine, Tribal Bundles, Warrior Bundles, Sun Dance Bundles, Giving Birth Bundles, Hunting Bundles, Dreaming Bundles, and Vision Bundles. Some Bundles would be created by a Medicine Man or Woman for special needs, or people could create their own. Some were passed down before death to a family member or worthy Tribal Member. This passing of the Medicine was to ensure the proper use and Guardianship of the Medicine Bundle.
Each Medicine Bundle came with its own set of rules.
For instance: if the owner had a Warrior Bundle that gave him great strength in battle, his Allies connected to that Bundle may have forbidden him to eat female Deer meat and never paint his face with blue. The gentleness that is a part of the Doe could inhibit his actions in Counting Coup. Blue face paint could draw him toward the Road of Spirit and might bring an early death.
Every Bundle has a specific purpose, and must have regulations that will strengthen the Medicine of the Bundle’s Allies. Thoughtless actions can create havoc in the harmony achieved between the Medicine Helpers and the person seeking assistance if there is no respect for the Bundle’s natural sense of order. The same rules apply to a smaller Bundle worn on the person, which is called a Medicine Pouch.
Medicine Bundle Copies
Some Warriors purchased special copies of a Bundle from another Tribal Member whom they respected. If these Braves had no vision of what their own Medicine was, they were left with no protection. The Allies of nature had been called upon but for one reason or another, some Warriors could not receive their Medicine Dreams. Possibly the problem was that they were not in touch with their female receptive energy due to the rigors of having to prove their right to be Warrior Clan. In any case, to be an unprotected Warrior meant sure death at an early age.
To lie about having received messages from your Power Totem or a vision of your path was to invite disaster, and yet for a Tribe to have a Brave without a Medicine was worse.
The predicament was solved by wise Medicine Men, Chiefs, or great Warriors. These men would accept Horses or other valuable items for a copy of their Medicine Bundle. The Bundle’s maker never put every object that represented his total protection into the copy. The reason for this was that to Give Away all of your Medicine would leave your spirit at risk. No one should ever know all the items in a Personal Medicine Bundle. If someone was trying to use bad medicine to attack a powerful leader in a Tribe, they could harm that person by knowing their Medicine and using sorcery.
The penalty for stealing another’s Medicine Bundle was death. Unless invited, it was forbidden to touch any personal possession belonging to another Tribal Member – man, woman, or child.
Different Types of Medicine Bundles
Tribal Bundles, called the Grandmothers, were the oldest and most sacred. Next came the Sundance Bundles and then the Warrior Bundles. This order of sacredness reflected the Medicine and strength each Bundle had provided the Tribe over long periods of time. Every winter that passed successfully gave further strength to the Bundles.
Individual Sun Dance Bundles were made up by each Brave’s sponsor, who was already acknowledged through acts of courage. The sponsor placed Totem objects into the Sun Dance Bundles that had been passed through many lines of Ancestor Warriors.
No Bundles, however, were more sacred than the Tribal Bundles. These Grandmother Bundles ranked highest in the most ancient, tried and tested Medicines and represented the combined spirits of all Tribal Members – past, present, and future generations. The Grandmothers were so named because they were Tribal Bundles that carry the nurturing Medicine needed by all their children. Like every grandmother in humankind, these Grandmother Bundles seek only the best for their grandchildren.
The Tribal Bundles have been passed down through a line of Guardians. At one time these Bundles had to have their own Tipi and were set up in the camp as a protection for that Tribe. These Grandmother Bundles were protected usually by Warrior Chiefs who had honored themselves and carried strong Medicine. The Tribal Bundles were considered living beings and were never left alone and unprotected.
Today the Grandmother Bundles have been secreted away and many are protected by Grandmother Elders as well as by some Medicine Men. These are among the most sacred objects of the Native American people and still hold the spirit of all the Native American Nations.
The Personal Medicine Bundles can be carried or worn on the person. These Bundles are called on when needed for strength and/or courage during daily activities. Some Medicine Pouches are worn around the neck and are smaller versions of the Medicine bundle. These Medicine Pouches are a reminder for the wearer of the talents, abilities, and Power Animals who will aid them in walking tall and in balance. They are also used for protection.
The Bundles carried by women are not spoken of very much in written history due to the secrets of the Medicine being reserved for the Sisterhoods. The Warrior Clan knew that the women were naturally more adept at receiving due to their female nature, and thus, the women were always honored for their inner-knowing and the Woman Medicine they carried.
These female Medicine bundles could be used to promote fertility, to aid the male Warrior who walked at the woman’s side, to seek new healing techniques with herbs, to aid in delivery of a child, to bring abundance to the lodge, or to maintain a happy family.
The women have always been separate in their use of Medicine and have honored their own societies. They have never had to go through the rigors of physical tests of strength to achieve vision. They are Mothers of the Creative Force of the Universe and naturally receive the messages of their Medicine Helpers to keep and maintain the strength of their Personal and Sisterhood Bundles.
Making and Giving Medicine Bundles
Each object that comes to you to be a part of your personal Medicine can be placed in a piece of hide and wrapped like you would cover a gift, folding all four corners of the hide to the center and then tying the Bundle four times with cords of buckskin.
Medicine Bundles vary in size from something that fits in the palm of your hand all the way up to the size of a newborn baby. Some Medicine Bundles are rolled and some are folded into the pieces of hide. You may want to put some of the smaller objects into a Medicine Pouch and wear it at your waist or around our neck.
If you want to make a Medicine Bundle for a special friend, you would need to look at what kind of Medicine you want to share. Then call on the Four Clan Chiefs (the Four Directions) to send you a dream or vision of what to include. This could be A Bundle for a young wife who fears her first pregnancy, a young man going into the armed forces, a newly-wed couple, someone buying land who would need a Guardian Spirit for the protection of that land, or a friend who is ill. Every kind of Bundle is a gift of Self and is only to be shared with those who will honor the sacred responsibility of the Bundle’s Medicine.
If you are an Elder, you may want to pass your Medicine to a younger person who you know will accept the responsibility with honor and courage. The Bundle may also be passed to another if you do not intend to Drop Your Robe (die). If a person should Drop The Robe before passing the medicine Bundle to someone else, that Bundle and all of the Sacred Medicine belonging to the deceased person should be burned so that the spirit will have no Medicine strings attached to this Wheel of Life and may be free to move on to the Blue Road of Spirit.
Accepting Medicine that has been passed from an Elder or another person with great strengths is not to be taken lightly. It is a great responsibility to respect the life and deeds of another person, carrying yourself in a manner that would allow the original holder of that Medicine to take pride in your action. If you dishonored the life of that Elder or the Medicine, you could receive your share of hard knocks from the Allies.
The Allies understand that all acts of physical life are sacred in their proper time. The allies teach us how and when to experience every act along the Sacred Path with beauty.
- Khetani Machangana: Learn To See