Wednesday, August 22, 2007
A life with the Sacred Pipe, all life long
©2007 Turtle Heart.
I grew up with the sacred pipe in my life every day, since I was a very young man. Through many talks, some of us came up with the idea to take the morning light, or first light of day pipe ceremony aound the worrld. Sometime we got really excited about the possibility. This was almost 30 years ago now. My father was an Ojibway Indian man. I was never sure about his enrollment status. He hated being an Indian. He was one of the ones they sent to indian school in Illinois. It ws an ugly thing to do to an entire generation of American Indian people. I came to know other relatives of my father’s family when I was younger and this is what brought Sacred Pipe into my life.
The idea of taking the Sacred around the world appealed to me as an Indian boy then, and now as an Indian man I feel the same way. Back then the first thing we needed to do was take the first sacred pipe we had (now we have 14) and take it to as many elders as we could for their blessings and support. I took on this work and travelled all over the United States at my own expense. I sought out elders who would listen to the idea and support us with their blessing. In 12 years of work and travel I gained the support of 38 tribal elders, men and women. I believe in these people. We did not make any PR statements or make any great public notice of this work. That does not seem to be so important. We have this blog and website up now. Rather than being publicity, we hope the internet resources are a collecting point for the documentation of this traveling sacred ceremony.
We have kept good records and by now we have a fantastic archive of photographs, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, poems, writings and journals and recorded conversations. As we travelled around inside of tribal countries of North America the Sacred Pipe slowly became the Four Directions Unity Bundle. Medicine people of many different tribes, cultures and beliefs contributed to these bundles. We also gained the blessings and support of some respected people in other religious faiths. We had the personal blessing of His Holiness the Dali Lama, as well as Budhist, Jewish and Christian leaders at various times. We have gained some interest from and support from psychologists and medical doctors and some university programs that look at social change and movement. Our compiled records from the web site, one of the earliest web sites on the internet, have been archived in the Smithsonian Collections of the Museum of American History Computer History Permanent Exhibit (what a mouthful huh?)
At the moment I am on my fourth month of assembling a long narrative with all the stories and ideas of the Four Directions Unity Bundle with all the multimedia attachments. I think this work will take about one year. After this time everything will have to be edited and the parts all gathered towards delivery to a publisher.
Very probably AICAP will produce and release a DVD multimedia disk of this publishing project sometime next year, possibly in the Winter.
It is hard to imagine that now it is 30 years later. I can almost feel the wind and feel the earth from those early days when we sat together and dreamed and had so many creative insights into life itself. Sacred Pipe has carried me all along, every step of this journey. A lot of stuff has come up and been passed around. My job is to nourish the beauty and positive. That is what is inside these ideas and these objects of the Four Directions Unity Bundle. It is not a smbol of what is Sacred. It is the Sacred. And that also is what is inside this “bundle”.
“Be like a baby when you look at the Sacred. Know nothing at all and believe in Everything….” Such a moment is possible. For everybody.
To embrace the Sacred is an act of choice. As an act of choice it really benefits from consciousness. The talking heads, for example, who represent the highly paid professional media, are unconscious. A father burying his dead children from the bullets of war is fully conscious of many things in that one moment. There is usually a gigantic disconnect that happens between the bullet which kills and the media which reports. Our powers of observation are being shaped in a rather shallow way while Rome burns, so to speak.
When I sit inside the meditations of the bundles, my spirit expands and feels and soars. I get all sorts of inspired ideas for poetry, prose, paintings and even stone carvings. It is like passing from one place into an entirely different place.
Many generations of tribal teachers have aspired in their suffering, and at the hands of a racist genocidal culture, yet prevailed in their essential truth and dignity.
Drums, sweat lodges, sacred pipes, eagle feathers and mysterious original instructions have never been silenced, have never ceased to be there to help the people. I have never heard a person speak to the mystery life while holding the Sacred ever blame anyone of anything. The Sacred things are from the voice of the earth and on the earth is where at least most of us still live.
I have always felt that a good Indian is really someone who works for the Mother earth. It is my own private meditation. In all my work with my teachers and my elders, it was learning to listen to the Creation, the Earth
that made it all such a fantastic revelation and adventure. It was in fact that ability to speak as one with the Creation that captivated me and changed my life when I made that journey back into the roots of my family so many years ago and saw a bunch of Indians standing there.
As a young man an elder once told me this, “look over your shoulder at what is behind you. If you see someone there you must turn around an see what they have to say to you. If you do not see anyone, you are free to make your own way.” Well, I turned around and looked and saw these old Indians. Think fast now. Who is that behind you?.
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