Tuesday, April 14, 2009
A Sweat Lodge in Parabiago Italy
For the fifth year, I go to Parabiago to conduct the ceremonies of the four directions unity bundle. We will build a new sweat lodge and go through the dream ceremony. A small group of people coming from all over Italy will attend these ceremonies. These will be the first ceremonies since I have finished writing the book Roots of the Sacred Tree…as well as the first since turning 60 years of age.
We are started working some ceremonies in a new community near Farrara. However, the space and the principles organizing this work have proven to be unsatisfying, requiring that we postpone and rework what may or may not be future possibilities for work in this region.
This has been a winter of pretty strong changes and challanges. My health continues to be a problem. It has gotten better on some fronts, only to present new problems on others. The biggest one at the moment seems to be in walking. I cannot walk very far before my left leg cramps up with a great rigidity in the muscles and great pain as well. My movement has become restricted, perhaps in a dangerous way. Other more subtle problems persist. At the moment my spirit is quite ready to get around the world but for my body it may in fact be impossible until there has been a stronger change for the better.
Lately my dreaming has been dreams inside the regular world. The world we see inside modern life. The most unusual development has been the arrival of a large 18 wheel truck which has had various parts in my recent dreaming.
Realizing so much of my dreaming has been inside modern society, I have asked my dreaming to change this. The results so far have been interesting. A few nights ago I was in a regular sort of house. My late father arrived and changed into a loin cloth and a big feather bustle. The bustle was a unique design. It had many very large feathers, with small feathers, like dongles, one hanging from each big feather. He actually started dancing and said to me “now I get it”. I actually started dancing with him and happened to mention to him that the old Indians figured these sacred feathers were just as important as the King James Bible he had so much affection for when he was alive. Well, this ended the dancing straight away and the dream became a big argument that woke me up. His dance was very good, a traditional style that really set off his feather bustle in a good way. This may be first dream I have ever had where my father presented himself fully as an American Indian man. In terms of the inner emotional journey I have made with this man, it was perhaps even a breakthrough.
Friday night. One man who has arrived early has settled into a very strong yoga practice that involves strong vocalizations. As I sit and listen to it I am not disturbed or irritated but not entirely comfortable with it. I will have to enter an instruction once the fire is made that only the practices we are here to share can be conducted. At the moment he is on free time. Once the fire has started he needs to go on Indian time. I have had encounters with strong yoga students who behave rather competitively or who seek to impose their schools of practice into the ceremonial work. The American Indian elders have always believed when you arrive in their lands, that you place yourself under their direction. This is all together a curious question which must sometimes be considered when working with people from diverse cultures and experiences. In these mystery life teachings I usually consider everyone present a white belt beginner.
This round we need to make a lodge for 14 people or so, or at least that is the rumor. (Ended up being 11-ed)
This round I will seek to bring forward the rule of silence in a strong way. `Much of the ceremonial space is an opportunity to clean out the back of the brain. `If there is to much talking, the noise of that prevents the subtle energy from getting to the back of the brain. The silence has a great power, between the singing, putting tobacco into the fire and the other elements of ceremony…properly these things can be tied together in a powerful way in the rule of silence, and kept from linking entirely by to much frontal brain noise…so, creating and maintaining that opportunity is always a big burden of the work.
I recently gave my wife an Eagle Feather. In this ceremony, I will ask her to be the one who touches the people with Eagle Feather. This will be the first time she takes her eagle feather into a ceremony in this way.
We are building a new sweat lodge this season. We have found a good group of hazelnut trees which have given us the wood for the frame. They are very fresh in the spring season, flexible and willing to work for us. We had to sneak up on a public park in the night to get these saplings. That is how it is in the city life. You have to make an expedition to find what you need, and you have to be careful doing it.
12:30 we have finished making the sweat lodge. The unusual angles of wood growing in the city creates an unusual shape this time. By the time we were finished it resembles an egg somewhat more than a circle. The wood has a fierce energy. Some of the saplings have many little flowering branches which I did not remove. It gives a great sweet sense of life to the completed frame. The egg-shaped frame.
1:30 before we have the lunch, we are covering the sweat lodge. I tell the Italians we have transformed a place on the earth into the womb of a sacred woman, that it is up to us now to understand this and make it true.
3 pm. We begin by seeking agreement. I am old, you are young. You are over there, I am over here. We cannot agree intellectually or culturally. We define ceremonial space in terms of where it is possible to agree. We can agree at the level of breathing together. We can agree using the rattles, using our silence. We can agree to enter the sweat lodge together. We can agree to dream close together. So we begin by standing together at the fire. In this round I will have them go one by one to the fire where they will see two fire keepers, women. One will touch them with an eagle feather and the other will show them the tobacco and the way to make an offering into the morning fire. They will come from there to the sweat lodge stones waiting for the fire. As they return each will will take a rattle and start shaking it. When the group is completed, we will al go together to the tobacco fire and place in tobacco all together. I will take fire from the morning fire and use it to start the sweat lodge fire and we will have started in the formal way. The sky gate will be open at that time.
8:30 pm. We talk about putting something in. I tell them if they put something in there, if they open up and put something in that ceremony they will get something back. This was just after asking two men who had traveled a long way to go away, without any explanation to anyone, even them. I did not even ask my brain why I told them to go. If after all this time I cannot trust my instincts and my spirit I am in the wrong line of work. I believe you should do the best you can. If you do that and the answer is no, even so, you should be ok. Though we do not speak the same language I told them that was unimportant. I do not need language to understand what is going on with people inside a ceremony. Once they cross the line of the sacred morning fire they pass under my direction and I see them clearly. Language at that point means nothing…at least not anything important…it does not have to stop our progress.
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