Thursday, July 29, 2010
Imagine a big, ugly person holding a fragile and delicate masterpiece of art, an ancient bowl filled with beauty and made with rare and beautiful care. Suddenly the person smashes the art into the ground and it shatters into uncountable pieces.
That big ugly person was Modern Man. The Art he destroyed was the civilization of the so-called American Indian.
Most American Indian people spend their lives trying to understand . To recognize, the little pieces they hold in their lives, in their spirits. I have spent my life looking for pieces, fragments, “shards” of time and art and knowledge.
Yes, the Winged Ones are very ancient. In those ancient times they taught the human beings living on the American Earth how to sing, how to dance, and possibly how to dream.
Today I heard an Ojibwe woman singing, it brought tears to my eyes. It made me feel lonely, so far from home, yet strangely satisfied to be a child of these ancient people, a child of Nanaboozhoo…not afraid to jump into the sacred winds and go out into the world. Yes, sustained and nurtured by those sacred powers even as I suffer loneliness and a mission no one but me and the old ones can understand. Alive in an empty world. Breathing in the vacuum of the dead world. Dancing in the stillness of that fear which rides the shadows of this world. A poet, a dreamer, a crazy man who believes what he believes—a student of the middle way.
I have six generations of a small bird family living with me here on the little island of Pantelleria. They have adopted my stone water bowl, which I keep at the eastern gate to my home. Lately I have heard the calls of a young falcon, a falcon has been indigenous to Pantelleria as long as anyone can remember. The shiny little water bowl is well-known to the birds of Pantelleria.
One of my teachers, years ago, could call particular species of birds using ancient songs that he held, passed down over the generations. The songs were long and melodic and step by step the birds he called would come close to us and sing back to him. He taught me a few of these songs. I was very young. One day deep in the forest, all alone, I sat down and started an owl-calling song. At first I was comfortable and had a great feeling. Soon I heard an owl calling from rather far away, then I heard others, from many directions. As I continued to sing the singing owls came closer. Without fully understanding why, I was suddenly filled with fear and more or less ran back to my auto and drove away. The memory of those songs left me at that instant and I have never been able to sing them after that moment of fear.
I am absolutely certain of the veracity, truth, and sincerity of my teachers on this matter. In my travels I have not encountered again a tribal teacher who would admit to this knowledge of calling the birds, but all confirm an ancient and very specific relationship at a social level with the Bird Nation, as we call it.
More in this series later on………..
Saturday, July 03, 2010
How would the old Indians feel if they could see us now? Would Grandfather’s smile show contentment?
They said they wanted the land. They said they knew what to do with it. They said we were savages and had no idea at all. Bleeding, one by one, bleeding all together we gave it up. That is what we did. With our blood. With our lives we stood in the way. We did not bend. And so we paid. And now you have it. Today.
Yes, what would Grandfather think of us now? They say when an old Wabeeno dies, a whole world vanishes forever. I am a Wabeeno, I am Ahnishibeg, Time has measured me on the short stick, my body has stumbled and my dreams grown to long. I am the one who made it this far. I did not do it my way. I did it their way, the way of smoke, the way of the old Indians. That way. That was the way I went. In another way, I was the one who went that way. For me it is OK.
First I covered my body with water. I made the songs of the water, water songs we call them. I made them directly up into the sky and the water touched my life. Next I covered my body with tobacco and made a song from the center of my belly. I made it in such a way that it went out into the world. Next I covered myself in corn and sent a song inside my body, I sent all around in there. Next I covered myself in smoke from the sage, cedar and sweet grass. I flew all over the place, I torched the flames making that smoke with the stem of an old pipe, the original instructions for the direction of that smoke, straight up and all all over the place. Straight up. Next I went dreaming and in my dreaming through the dark I addressed shadows down onto the earth, from the horse I was riding. I dreamed again and ate delicious soup. Magical soup. Finally I sat down and rubbed my belly. I breathed again, feeling that I was inside myself and everything was ok.
In the morning sacred pipe is carried outside, to rest with the sea and the sky, looking down the mountain. In the night the bundle of sacred intentions is carried inside to vibrate dreams out into the space, into the stones of the old walls of which the house is made. All this work takes place on the side of an old, yet steaming, volcano.
What did you do today?
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