Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Ceremonial Morning Fire on Pantelleria

20 August

inside a good feather
the heart may float
freedom coming from emptiness
fullness is a river
drowning the fire
roaring through its sacred silence
inside a good feather there is a moment
of emptiness
a moment without blame
a moment where nothing is missing

(Sacred Fire of Pantelleria)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Havana Club
I was suddenly surprised to realize that I can know the products of Cuba here in Italy. First up was some unusual named Rum Cubano at my DR's house. He suddenly appeared with this brown, elegant bottle and looking at the label realized it was cuban rum. I had a Cuban cigar a few years ago but am not really a cigar man. And probably I carried it around and smelled it and touched it for a few months out of the humidor before I ever fired it up. But this Cuban rum was like a carmelized kiss and yet a little saucy with a warm jolt. I was cautious but willing to flavor across my palette some of the essence of Cuba. Now a few days later I sit doing my computer work on a hot hot day and sipping Cuban rum in a large wine glass. As always a lot of new things keep coming to pass. Presently the information may be about the house and it being sold; of course we would have to find another place. The emotion of letting this place goes go turns out to be very strong for Silvia and I. I am also getting a strong look into Sicilian behavior, which is never casual about such things. It is complex and dangerous and filled with love and is circular and appears to arise as spontaneous natural behavior yet is it particular…..and possibly outside of English to explain.

So Silvia carries the meetings and I sit with the volcano and sip Havana Club while I think and wonder where my Dr friend got his rum cubano. It is hot. It is impossible to say where the sea begins and the sky ends….yes. I smoke and drink. Some days I smoke 2 packs of camels. Drinking in Italy, on Pantelleria is a transformational, social act. In a Sicilian culture there are Sicilian subtleties which Silvia sees as if they have a blinking light and which go straight over my head. I drink some very exceptional Sicilian wines. One of my favorites is a very dry zeibebo. Its color is like a shimmering pearl. This and Passito. Passito is a force all its own. The Passito grapes, the Zeibebo grapes, are coming in now and are being taken up and laid in the sun. People show up from around the world, in small numbers, to help their friends bring in these grapes.

When we think of closing the fire here and moving to another house, I realized in the emotional force of that idea; the fire here has moved slowly, lightly. It has accomplished some work for the people and some work for the island. Maybe we are doing acupuncture on her with these movings around. It is not certain I guess that we will move on. If we do not it means we will fight the landlord, or we will come up with $200,000 in cash in the next few weeks. I am sure something will continue to happen. The tiny fire made ceremonies in four seasons. It made ceremonies with the rising of the sun and the rising of the moon; their setting moments as well. And equinox and solstice. I rember with some vividness the ceremony of the spring equinox last year when i was very sick. The ceremonies made tobacco ties and songs, and knew the breath of the sacred pipe. Language is an issue in talking about these is easy to start poetry, to start singing, to say it is a good day to be deleted.

This dialogue is just an idea and a thought. No one was named guilty of anything. If something stinks it is ok to comment on the odor. We keep a small american indian fire here on the island. All the way over here on the back of a turtle. We are trying to move this sacred fire ceremony around the earth.

Pretending to be.......

The fantasy that you can be a shaman appears to be nearly of epidemic proportions inside western cultures. It seems based on the following theme:

Let us kill all the indians, then we can use their drums and songs and feathers and then we will be the indians.

Pretending to be something is not a new dimension in western culture.

The fantasy that you can be a shaman unfortunately appears to be nearly of epidemic proportions inside western cultures.

For example, here on Pantelleria, the island at one time was incredibly rich in obsidian. Even today much of the island is composed of an ore blend of obsidian and basaltic stone...not so flashy as the pure obsidian. Answer...pretend. The only local man who is an artist here imports obsidian from Mexico and sells it as Obsidian of Pantelleria....because it is on Pantelleria I guess, he feels he is not saying anything incorrect and is quick to remind you that this good Mexican obsidian is very much like the obsidian found in the past on Pantelleria...etc. The dumb ass people who buy this obsidian from Mexico from Pantelleria have, like all of us the power to be informed about the nature and composition of this earth. By knowing nothing they allow the man of Pantelleria to pretend.

In American Indian culture the same rules holds true. To see some modern man or woman pretending to be a shaman is like buying a bowl of rice and reselling it as tiny white crystals. In other words, this behavior of modern people pretending to be shamans is (1)impossible, (2)a sham, (3) delusional but accepted behavior by an unknowing public. Good intentions, when they are in fact destructive and delusional, are not good intention....they are a mistake at best and mental illness at the other end of what is possible.

(for example......)
Movies: After I saw “Apocalypse Now”; a movie about the adventures of one Special Forces Army Captain; for over a year I met so many men who told me they were “captains in the special forces”...for example.

Recent studies in “false confessions” to crimes has revealed some intensely interesting ideas about the suggestability of people. There is a whole personality configuration that lends itself to acting out perceived vs real information.

The cultures which actually contain Shamanism produced the urge by some within the culture to “help” the people. The strong and focused ability to try and help other people is the purpose of this line of work.... to help other people.

It is almost impossible for a modern western male to attain this state of awareness and service. I would make reference to and study a book called :Soma by R Gordon Wassen, which is arguably the most definitive examination of how, what, where shamans really exist....other than in the fantasies of modern men. The power of a shaman is held in balance by the obligation of service, helping other people is essential. Power holds itself in balance this least sacred power does.

we all live together on a tiny blue island in what we casually refer to as the universe. Upon this sacred earth the diversity and abundance of knowledge and experience appears to be limitless.

Automationism, the industrial schedule of commerce which really rules the rhythm of modern western people’s lives.....this is a formidable force under which Shamanic consciousness is impossible.

Shamanism requires life and death awareness few western minds can grasp. The knowledge of suffering and pain (the underworld) overwhelms and destroys most good candiadtes for this work inside tribal culture. Not so with modern people who read a few (very questionable) books, beat on a drum they bought in a “shamans supply store” and they are ready to be “the chosen” to take away suffering and pain.

What may be at the heart of this problem is the modern person’s hunger to feel “chosen”...the one special “star” apart from the others. In a good shamanic indian society everyone works together and there is no “chosen one”. In my culture we had a great society of shamans. If someone was very sick, we might call on 44 shamans to look into this suffering. This “please let be be Jesus” illusion seems to be at the heart of all this pretending to be shamans. This desire is essentially an underworld condition of Christianity and not shamanism at all.

(This is the first in a series of commentaries on shamanism)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Polishing the Soul

Yesterday, while hiking in a very remote part of Pantelleria, Sicily, we met two americans. I am an American Indian living here with my wife, who has been living here 10 years. We said hello to these two men, possibly a father and his older son. Naturally being well-mannered, we gave him our names. When he heard my rather american indian name he immeditaely began asking me about 20 racial, racist question: am i a full blood? is your blood from your mother or father? and other questions I have already emptied my mind of. Hello, I meet you out here in the wilderness and youy choose to not tell me your name or say anything friendly but to calmy grill me on the contents of my blood? He spoke without drama....without animation, like he was asleep.

To tell you the truth, I barely noticed and while I had an impulse to say something corrective or express my disappointment in this behavior, I was patient and kind to him. I am so used to this. Only from Americans do you get this behavior. I am so used to i barely noticed. Silvia, being from this italian culture, brought home the disturbing quality of this exchange by explaining and reminding me what would happene if two italian groups met while travelling in the wilderness of another country. There would of course be handshakes. These white men did not want to be touched. There would be names. These guys said nothing about themselves while wanting to know all about my racial composition....which seems like an intimate and invasive question, it feels invasive. If Italians had met this way, they would be having the diner together for sure. There would be touching and smiles and no invasive race clarification questions. This seems to happen only to indians being talked to by white people in america. I have seen it many times. It is endless. It also does not matter "how much blood" is involved....I have seen it pulled on every kind of indian.

What's the point? Just this....Americans seem so cold, so distant, so frightened. Being here in this culture of peace and respect for one another, I was jarred by being reminded how racist, how arrogant and empty the American culture is becoming. These two guys, after looking in my wife's eyes, I was ashamed for these two dumb and empty men.

I can polish my soul by breathing. By waking up in my dreams. By not being for or against anything. It is ok to speak your mind. I was happy to learn that their behavior did not make me angry. In the past such bullshit talk could really get a rise out of me. Now it was just an exchange of emptiness, a flatulence of the new world order.

Italian culture has taught me a lot about love, about accepting others, about what a good and healthy and joyful citizen can do and say to make life more sweet. The contrast is astonishing.

I remember everything.
I drop my heart inside these stones
and put them in the fire.
I burn, I dream, I become water.........

The place where we met these two ghosts is a very rare and spiritually charged place on the island. It is called "Favare Grande" and it has red stones and pale soil; the only place on the island like it. There are some stone feathures that are stunning. There are some man-made things here no one understands fully. It is an asonishing hike with both nature and history. It was no fun meeting dull bored americans with typical no-manners of american in a sacred space inside a culture which considers hospitality the fruit of a good life....and I'm not sorry I don't always capitalize my words like america...america has lost the big A in my heart......

Turtle Heart

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sacred Space: Ancient Space: The Ancient Future

I have stopped my ordinary life and now it is this work which will carry me to the end of my life. I am an old Indian man making a ceremony around the earth.

Building a sacred circle around this earth takes time.... time, step by step and part by part to build something precious and beautiful. Each person who shares in these ceremonies is becoming part of the building, the structure and energy of what we will have when it is finished.

Creator has given us a new world, yet also one that is dangerously dominated by old policies and systems...Over these many centuries people brought new religious thinking and scientific tools into the world community. Now the Sacred Pipe is moving in this world community.The sacred pipe ceremonies brings humanity to the center of these many philosophies and knowledge systems which have progressed humanity. Sacred Pipe is a teaching at the center of all these worlds, the 8 worlds of human history that has taken us to this is a teaching about living in your body and living on the mother is a teaching about unlocking the dreamer so humanity can go to the next level of consciousness and the next level of peace and knowledge....yes, the sacred pipe is here to unlock the dreamer unlock the memories, the songs and the visions that will carry us to where they need to be; a new experience we do not yet know fully but which is unfolding for us in the sacred silence of the mystery life......
Turtle Heart (Ojibway Wabeeno)

Turtle Heart published in Poetry Anthology

Turtle Heart was recently published with 4 poems in "Traces in Blood, Bone and Stone" an anthology of Ojibway Poetry edited by Kimberly Blaeser. This book is available from

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