Sunday, September 22, 2013

Equinox Twenty Thirteen

©2013 Silvia Santi: Dream with a Raven

September 22 Equinox Twenty Thirteen:
Opening the Human Heart.

Four times each year the mother earth opens her heart into deep gateways called the solstice and equinox.

Modern people have forgotten how hard humanity worked for thousands of generations to know when these moments would arrive. Humanity no longer remembers why our ancient ancestors did that.

The old American Indians would call the equinox and solstice “Gateways”. Capital “G”. A way of passage. Going from one place to another place. Modern people do not do that either. They stay where they are. Maybe that is OK. After so many centuries, humanity in its modern form has stayed where it was, where it was.

Inside the house of the paymaster, a solstice or equinox is just another day to do business.

To the old Indians, a Gateway has eight sides. All sacred ideas are eight-sided. A human being trying to understand this is called “an eight-sided person”, or, a person who has an “eight-sided character”. Only people who are know to have an eight-sided character are permitted or endowed with the rights to hold sacred ceremony and carry sacred objects.

The human heart has four gateways, called chambers. Four Gateways, Four Chambers. Modern people don’t think there is a connection. Probably it is something they never think about.

When I think about the sacred of the old Indians, the first idea is always about the human heart. How do we open it? How do we protect it? How do we heal it? How do we empower it? How do we learn how to use it and believe in it? These are the questions that come up inside the old sacred ceremonies of equinox and solstice. These are ancient questions. Honest questions.

A good gateway has a “key”. The old Indians tell us the key to the Gateway is in fact the human heart. The eight-sided key to the human heart might look like this:

Effort (Doing Something)

These sacred forces have been at the root of every hero, every saint, every savior, every great leader, every act of courage….and absent in evil people, corrupted in damaged societies. Their presence ensures prosperity and joy…their absence leads to desperation, death, oppression and failure. Sickness and evil. Cowardice.

The human heart can be opened and made truly great by applying these eight sacred properties. Many ancient ceremonies of ancient people were designed to invoke, refine and develop these qualities. They are the root, the foundation, and the fruit of all ancient tribal ritual.

Today, these Gateway Ceremonies of the American Indian are often called “correction ceremonies”. They are an opportunity to evaluate, assimilate, adjust, polish and deepen. These qualities were present in the original instructions that came with and was brought forward by the religions of humanity. All of them.

Today the religions of humanity, like modern people, no longer remember these things. The churches of the world have become multi-national corporations. Corporations are not people, my friends. They are instruments of the paymaster. They are temples to the parking meter. They have only one side. Flat. This is why they no longer work very well. This is why they have become a refuge for pedophiles, favors, contracts and something called political influence.

The sacred Gateways of equinox and solstice are mighty doors, and they are locked, unbreakable. They can only be opened with the key, the eight-sided key. That is the only way you can open them and pass through. Everyone is given this key when their bodies arrive on the earth from the wombs of their mothers. If you look carefully in the mirror you will see that this is the truth. It is right there.

No one can pass through for you. A priest cannot do it for you, or a president or a godfather. We pass through one by one. By our own efforts. There are no lines to wait in, no fees to pay, no permits are required. You are there, or you are not there. There are no apps for that. There are no discounts. It requires no technology, not even an education.

You do not have to travel to the gateway. You are already there.

6 billion human beings live all alone
inside a world with no prince
drifting in a sacred mother ship with no captain
dreamless throughout the night
our churches filled with rage and indifference
our governments stuffing the cash in their pockets
while children without food or hope
cry themselves to sleep
where our elders stand with their hands in their empty pockets
inside a dirty sky, filled with smoke and oil
standing at the shores of the great sea
stinking and burning from the black money
of the paymaster
as birds fall from the sky
and dead sea animals float to the shore
twenty thirteen
another gateway in the mystery life of time
the sacred doors broken
closed and deserted
the silence screams
the hard works pays nothing
and the food we eat is trucked in
from big steel buildings
the seeds owned by lawyers and empty men
dressed in gold and resting on silver
no one looks back to remember who we were or where we were going
the sun never sets and the moon never rises
the shadows grow longer, and longer still
and no one wants to look in there
so the shadows grow and grow

i was there looking into the darkness
I was there remembering where I was going
I remembered where I had been
my heart was holding a song, so i sang it
my dreams were carrying me, like a great wind
my hands were open and the earth was holding me
and in the darkness I wept
i have come so far
but nothing has changed
and it is easier and safer to stand still
and not risk moving forward
in case the police decide to shoot me dead

yes my friend
when I look in the eight directions
with my eyes open
my heart beating
my feet on the earth
I pretend to believe we are all good people
we are all doing what we need to do
we have peace in our heart
we are not against the others who are not like us
we hold our families close
yet my eyes cannot close
I cannot stop seeing the shadows growing
I cannot hear 
the prayers of god

Equinox Mudjeekwas
9:44 pm CET, Pantelleria Island

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Nine Eleven || An American Indian At Ground Zero

Ground Zero NYC 11 December 2001 ©2013 Turtle Heart

I was having my first cup of coffee that morning. As was my habit I turned on the cable news channel to see what had happened in the world during the night. I was in New Mexico, the little historic village of Taos. I was not dressed. I had my old Indian blanket wrapped around me in my old chair, sipping the coffee in the early morning chill of the high mountains. I was generally paying attention, also checking my email and doing those little things a modern person does in the morning…when the breaking news appeared.

At first I thought I had the wrong channel. What my tricked out brain saw was a tiny airplane fling towards the world trade center. It looked tiny to me, like a little old bi-plane. My first impression was that it was a promo for something. But then it changed. The picture and my mind came into focus. It was real. I sat stunned and watched the scene unfold live over national television, like so many others. I watched people jumping from the high building. Smoke rising, talking heads unclear about what was happening. Boom. The second jet slammed into the other tower and it was clear something beyond imagination was unfolding.

My friend Kristin came into the room about this time and we watched the towers burn and smoke. We used to live in Manhattan about 15 blocks up Broadway from the towers. She took one look at the burning towers and said emphatically, “they are coming down”. A few minutes later they did.

It was one of those moments one never forgets. At the time, living in Taos New Mexico I had many friends at the Taos Pueblo American Indian community. Every year at this time in the pueblo there is a week long ceremony and feast. People come from all over the world to watch and share in this event. The highlight is a pole climbing, a very old and sacred ceremony, where a person must climb a very tall, fat pole planted in the ground. At the top there is always a magical bundle of precious things, this varies from year to year. It is a ceremony conducted by all 22 of the Tewa-Tiwa American Indian tribes.

On September the twelve, as thousands of people watched, the events of the day before on everyone’s mind, the ceremonial climber reached the top of the great pole in the earth and drew forth an enormous American flag and waved it dramatically and beautifully into the wind. It was an amazing moment and everyone cheered…not a few of them wept openly.

The Taos pueblo is treated very poorly by the United States government, both at the state and federal levels. No one at the pueblo ever has much good to say about the United States…you have no idea how badly they are treated even to this day. Yet, through all the terrible history, even the American Indians of that little, poor and oppressed village felt a great loss and a great love for the country that is after all the home we American Indians share, for better or worse, with all Americans. When I remember that day on nine eleven, I always remember that ceremony the next day.

On December the 11th I traveled with the Sacred Pipe Bundle to New York city, with a single companion, who donated the travel costs. I made my way through roadblocks and police checkpoints. At each stop I told them that I was an American Indian who has come to make a ceremony at Ground Zero on behalf of my tribal elders. At every checkpoint I was passed through quickly.

When I arrived at the so-called “viewing platform” where so-called VIPs walked onto a small platform to view the caranage below…there was a circle of security people. I addressed the uniformed NYPD officer present and told her my story. She was a little sour, but she called over a uniformed US Army Colonel and I told him my story. He asked me what I needed and said go ahead. I went out onto the platform and opened my bag. I changed right there into my ceremonial clothing, putting them on over my steet clothes. I opened the little bundle holding Sacred Pipe and stood at the edge of the platform making a silent prayer. Workmen down below stopped what they were doing and looked up the whole time.

I sat down there, it was a small space, about ten feet square. I took out an old Peyote rattle and started a song, calling out the healing powers of the Mother Earth and calling out the names of those tribal elders. I opened my eyes after some minutes of singing and looked around…around me in a circle where all the uniformed and plain clothes police and security people. They had their eyes closed and their hands crossed at their waists. It was really a very moving moment.

I stood up and took the one photo, having my companion hold up the Old Man In Charge Of Dreams ceremonial mask.

I then went to ring my “tinksa” bells from Tibet. They are very old and have been personally blessed by Dalai Lama of Tibet. They normally ring for some minutes, very clear and dramtic. On this occasion they just thumped. They did not ring at all. It was very strange, and the only time in my life that happened.

I removed the ceremony clothing and silently went back to the public area, and back to the airport, going home on the next flight.

Turtle Heart
Keeper of the Four Directions Unity Bundle
Ojibwe Artist

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Cooperation, Personal Accountability, and Dreaming Together

Dream Image by Dreaming Ceremony

The history of Christianity, of Judaism, of Islam, of Buddhism, and all the world’s principle religions are well documented in thousands of books. Almost nothing is published about the origins, evolution and structure of American Indian religious and spiritual practices.

American Indians used collective cooperation, an expectation of persons being personally accountable, and dreams to build their complex and beautiful, rich religious life.

This is quite unique among the cultures of the world (though consistent with all indigenous populations around the world).

Part of the problem is tribal diversity. The Lakota are as different from the Hopi as the French are different from the Swedish. Differences in culture, in food, in social habits, different in religious expression.

However, just as we can find common elements of humanity among all the cultures of the world (family loyalty, work habits, vacation behavior, etc), the careful student can find shared elements among all the world’s tribal cultures. One of these is the “clan system”, another is attitudes about “dreaming”.

Clan System
Every member, historically, of every tribal culture around the world was organized and lived within a clan system. It is very difficult for modern people, even trained specialists, to understand what the clan system is, what it means, and how to understand it. One of the first great casualties of the influx and imposition of modern cultures was the denigration, weakening, and in many cases, destruction of the clan system.

Historically, one might say traditionally, each person is born or birthed into the clan of their mother (in most tribes). The actual number of clans in tribes is variable, from a few, like seven, all the way up to forty or more.

Most clans are of the animals, but some include plants and even so-called mythical creatures. Animal clans are the most common. The most common are bear, turtle, eagle, fish, salmon, goose, weasel, otter, badger, and so forth. The most ancient of the surviving clans appears to be the fish clan. This clan is concentrated in the pueblo tribes of the American southwest but can be found in other large tribes around the world. Other clans types might include teh Arrow Clan, Big Earring Clan, Ear Clan, Butterfly Clan, Fire Clan, Water Clan and so on. Each addressing a different element of the environment, wildlife and plant life and so on.

Clan membership determines who does what ceremonies, group leadership, liaison responsibilities with other tribes, who attends to what duties and responsibilities and many other subtle and detailed features of both daily and religious life. Fo example, in the Ojibway culture it was the responsibility of the River Otter Clan, sometimes mistakenly called the Weasel Clan, to make all important ceremonial objects (and no one else). Clan members also had ceremonies, objects, clothing and ritual movements unique to their clans and very different from other clans, usually marriage to members of the same clan were prohibited. Another feature is that each clan contains a piece of the tribes total ceremonial knowledge, no one clan being responsible for all spiritual and ceremonial events.

This is a cooperative (not competitive) element of absolute beauty and power. The clans each taking parts of the ceremonial life creates a rich and complex tapestry of spiritual practices that easily, without central leadership, advances the spiritual life of the tribe through the four seasons. In this, as well, great balance was achieved as one clan would manage water issues, another the hunting, yet another the training of children, another deals with the plants, and so forth. Clans are specialists. Unique specialists. It was a way of addressing the entire circle of creation.

The absolute failure of modern research to understand the structure and value of the clan system is an intellectual disgrace. Its importance and significance has been and remains routinely ignored, almost invisible, while it remains, at the same time, the essential element with tribal ceremonial structure.

Dreaming (Together)

The dreaming was of great value, interest and focus in all ancient tribal cultures. This was another element in tribal culture that was devastated by contact from modern society.

Rock art around the world (petroglyphs) are tools used by tribal spiritual leaders to record group dreaming. No one knows this fact, and for decades science scratches its collective dense heads trying to figure out what petroglyphs are all about. You read it here first.

Tribal cultures dreamed together. For thousands of generations human beings slept together in big stacks and piles. This collective act of sleeping together is likely the process that evolved dreaming itself. Tribal cultures took dreaming very seriously. Dreams were used to understand migration routes, hunting locations, names and the structure of ancient ceremonies, among other things. This process has been absolutely devastated by the emptiness of modern life. Modern people stopped their ancient practices of self-empowerment and traded them for the intellectual slavery of organized religions and governmental control…and that was it, a great gift that sustained humanity for thousands of generations was lost.

Ancient tribal cultures gathered all over the world to create dreaming together ceremonies that lasted for weeks. Now not one tribe does this. It is gone. Here and there are a few tribes with some pieces and parts of their ancient dream knowledge still at work…but no one is paying attention.

I have spent many years working to recreate and share the ceremonial structure that originally enabled dreaming together. I put groups of people in a big stack together and make twenty four hours of old ceremonies in an effort to stimulate the medula obligata, the part of the brain connected to this ancient resource. It has been long and lonely work, but has yielded some interesting results. It has also revealed how absolutely disconnected modern people are to the power of their own dreams. What modern psychology and behavior science has to say about “the meaning of dreams” is nonsense, a waste of time. Most people dream at such a weak level that their dreams are essentially meaningless. Dreaming has become like muscles that are never used, so they are weak and do not work very well at all. The ceremonies have taught me that, in fact, dreaming can be educated, evolved and made more useful to daily life, to deeper meaning by “exercises” designed to directly achieve this result.

Blog Archive