Stunned Silence : Sacred Pipe Revisited
Sacred Pipe ||
The Original Instructions - Turtle Heart© 2019 Turtle Heart and sacredpipe.org. Original publication 2011. (repost).
Of all known religious, sacred cultural objects, Sacred Pipe is poorly understood and poorly represented out into the modern world. I sometimes speculate the in the present age it is possible for American Indian people and communities to do more to uphold the sacred objects of their people. I sometimes believe that tribal officers and advocates try something like this from time to time. The US Government and organized religions of all faiths do not listen to the indians. I wonder why the voice of American Indians cannot really
Following the smoke of the red stone I have traveled in eight directions. I have gone where I have never been before, where no American Indian has been before. It has taken only determination. There is and has never been a question about believing. I understand that my travels with this sacred bundle have
I have never been satisfied with the tribal reservation philosophy of more or less cowering before the modern world in paranoia and anger. I was never satisfied that my diverse ethnic origins, being part Welsh, Ojibwe and Catabwa would mean that any door in this world could be closed to me. Racial qualifications are a poisonous lie that celebrates fear over change and growth in my view. So no door has been closed to me. I went and breathed, looked into the eyes and lives of teachers from many American Indian tribes...and also from Japan, China, Tibet, South America,, Israel, Egypt and the Old South. I liked those homemade biscuits and the long dirt path to the houses of my old southern Catawba relatives. None of those people had automobiles. They lived deep inside the forest, not at the end of a parking lot like now. Yes, those old southern biscuits took me everywhere. Along with the tobacco that my old relations grew up from sacred beginnings, as food for heaven. There are many kinds of smoke my friend. If you follow smoke you will see this. Sacred smoke has its own color, movement physics and ambient. It is particular smoke.
Today, people listen to what is said from far away. There are no ears to hear what is being said right in front of you. I understand this. In the modern world heaven is far away, another place than here. Following the smoke of sacred pipe keeps me inside my body, right where I am, where I happen to be. I treasure this. For me, the answers are not far away. They are nearby.
The history of the ancient future.
Tribal North American Indians are drowning in an ocean of bad information, distorted information, the acted out fantasies of people without a culture of their own to teach them....on one hand. On the other hand they have divisive government policies, poverty , isolation, substance abuse and indifference, raging violence against each other...two rather severe struggles for a fragile minority in a powerful and modern society.
The first American Indians to embrace the Sacred Pipe were almost certainly the Creek-Catabwa, and their relatives, along the lower and upper Mississippi River, such as the Ahnishinabek-Algonquian groups. There is a direct river of ceremonies, language, corn, tobacco, and stones for ceremonial pipes between these groups, along this path, dating back more than 12,000 years. The archaeological evidence clearly supports this idea. The Plains tribes, such as the Lakota, received the teaching of Sacred Pipe less than 400 years, by comparison. For reasons not quite sound, the vast majority of published information addressing Sacred Pipe are attributed to, siphoned from, exploited by or associated with the Lakota. This imbalance or myopic fascination with one small group of people in a larger universe should be suspect, but it seems rather well accepted. The truth is, it is mostly nonsense. Quietly, off in the corners of American Indian country, Sacred Pipe works every day in ways the modern world, and the Lakota, will never know.
Sacred Pipe is a fundamental property and expression of what might be legally argued as a "Native American Religious Practice". However "religious" is not a natural tribal word. To most Native Americans religion is not faith-based; it has no hierarchy, and there is no central authority. Sacred Pipe is a way of life and a type of ceremonial behavior that is
I have been a keeper of Sacred Pipe since 1970. For many of those years I have traveled around North America, and the world, with what my tribal teachers have named "Four Directions Unity Bundle (A Sacred Pipe)". This group of tribal sacred objects includes sacred objects and instructions from many tribes. Tribal elders gifted these sacred objects to this bundle from all around North America. This is a very rare and beautiful situation. They understood that, in time, (such as now) I would begin to talk about my experiences, to talk about what they said to me, about what I felt and thought.
|©2019 Turtle Heart|
behavior and attitudes
uncontrolled objects is
uncontrolled. This has
disservice, but also
challenge to traditional
This confusion does not mean that the
In tribal society persons who hold Sacred Pipe on behalf of other people, for the waiting world, are bound by the laws and principles of the original tribal
In the literature that exists about tribal
The licensing system of Sacred Pipe is the permission, direction, and support of a circle of tribal elders who actually live or lived upon the earth and looked you in the eye and said you should do this work. Persons who hold any kind of tribal ceremony for the modern people and who DO NOT have this specific permission of tribal elders are behaving outside the law, outside of what is right. They are doing great harm.
If you hold any kind of tribal object that does not have the breath of a tribal elder or other clearly recognizable tribal authority upon it, it is a dead object. If a tribal elder has not looked into your face and given you the blessing of that tribal object, it is a dead object. Dead objects cannot be used for sacred work. This is the true law of tribal sacred.
Sitting Bull's Sacred Pipe || An exemplar
Theft and Profit and other odd characters of the broken sacred
A story I find curious was written by a woman, identified as such, who had
Sitting Bull was a Holy Man of the Hunk Papa Sioux. His Sacred Pipe would be the property, morally and legally, of those tribal elders. Some research on the
Tribal leaders at tribal nations like Hopi and Zuni have been very active and have had some successes with regaining control of their sacred objects. They have been able to confiscate sacred items of their people from private collectors, museums and citizens from around the world. The tribal leaders whose tribes have historic responsibility for Sacred Pipe have yet to make similar efforts on behalf of the Sacred Pipes held in private collections, museums, and by "carlo”. All tribes have historical claims on the many sacred objects held in the dead world. Some of us hope that step by step the tribes will get these objects back from the dead world....or maybe not. I wish more of them tried.
I have discovered that there are in several people claiming to be holding "Sitting Bull's Pipe". One guy explained to his listeners that Sitting Bull made many pipes and gave them away in his travels. These stories are impossible to believe. Yes, perhaps it is to late for Sacred Pipe. So many lost people are holding these portable objects that it may be impossible to extract what is true from the lies and delusions that put these tribal objects within such easy reach. I
There are at least as many lost and lying reservation people, as there are in any other village or community ...that is a large number. Strangely, a confused or deceptive American Indian often has a willing audience, all over the world. Meanwhile the humble keepers of the truth are more modest and more cautious...and have a smaller audience for their revelations. This is the nature of the strange broken world in which we all live now.
American Indian people have lost so much, and yet even now their religions and religious objects are being used by other people without their permission or participation. It is almost as if modern society is not satisfied with taking the land and lives of American Indians, but
The Sacred Rites and Sacred of the Lakota | | Yet another side of the Problem
One can be sympathetic considering the nature of the many abuses to the sacred that American Indians must endure. However, I have always felt information and education is better than war and rage. Some people seem to take these random Lakota hate documents as
Sacred Pipe and many other powerful ceremonies exist in many tribal cultures other than the Lakota. The Lakota are only one small tribe in a great world of over 500 tribes. These Lakota can only speak for themselves. Many tribal leaders and tribal elders support sharing and educating with the traditional sacred resources of their tribal community and
More than 60 Sioux Nations families live around the Pipestone Monument. These families make a substantial part of their living making "peace pipes" for the tourist market from the red stone found there. Indeed, most of the "pipes" made for sale are in fact made by Sioux Nation Indians who live near the source of the red stone. Why not? There are very few
Sacred Pipe is the Sacred teaching, not the Sacred Property.
Sacred Pipe is a ceremony, not a license. Sacred Pipe is a thread between
Sacred Pipe is a teaching of many tribes not just the Lakota. We cannot substitute the rage of justified or not made-up Lakota Declarations for the abuse and acting out of the tribal sacred by modern people. Two negatives cannot produce a positive. There is a right way to be in harmony with these sacred teachings. Rage is not part of that sacred process. Lies are not part of that sacred process. The Lakota Tribal Elders have never endorsed or written such angry and pointless declarations to anyone. Tribal Elders do not think this way.
The Lakota may need one day to ask how they have contributed to and been the main source of this abuse of the sacred for so long? If you ever have an opportunity to read one of the many self- styled rants about theft of sacred ceremonies, the people making pipes for sale to the dead world, are usually other Sioux Indians. What they yell about the loudest is the abuses perpetuated by their own relations, even though they point the finger elsewhere.
Most of the public information available about Sacred Pipe and other ideas, religious practices and theories of the quantum of tribal sacred are derived from numerous books published in the popular press. The majority of this toilet paper centers on historical ceremonial rites of the Lakota. I have read mountains of what has been published, where the subject might touch upon Sacred Pipe. I do not speak for the Lakota. I am an Ojibway man and I speak from that place. However, I am a free man and a thinking man also. I am disappointed in the mainstream media. I do not think the voluminous amount of published information on the Lakota has helped them very much. It seems to have created an uncontrollable force of imitation and confusion rather than clarity or understanding.....or respect for the diversity and clarifying differences between the many tribal communities in North America. We Ahnishinabek have our own very long history with Sacred Pipe. Sacred Pipe as an idea can be expressed this way : That Sacred Pipe in the hands of all those people from wherever they may be and whoever they may be is the same Sacred Pipe. The Sacred Pipe that is in the hands of a fool, and the Sacred Pipe that is in the hands of the enlightened tribal elders is in fact the same Sacred Pipe.
Sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman Sacred Pipe is the property and life of the Lakota and their relations. They have the right, and exercise it often, to speak or not speak about that Sacred Object. I claim or desire no authority to speak for that Great Bundle. However, I speak as Sacred Pipe from the Circle of understanding of my own elders and tribal teachers and have and will express my own views about Sacred Pipe. My words are my own and only I am responsible for them. My sincere respect and hopes are ever with the tribal elders of these tribal nations and the families who keep and protect their Sacred. The Great Sacred Bundle the Lakota hold and protect may offer some hope for all of humanity in the future, and its existence contributes to their own power to survive and endure. This is a great thing, if it is true.
The Federal government finally, in the 1970’s, stopped putting American Indians in jail for practicing their original rituals and ceremonies. Now, American Indians, after decades of conditioning and experience, have learned how to perfectly sabotage and destroy their own sacred lives and teachings without any help from the outside world. Every step a real or imagined “chosen one” out in the fake new age world takes must be measured by the field of death and rage through which the American Indian must pass, over and over. Never forget that most American Indians, consciously, or unconsciously , make this journey every day . How many have survived with their ethics, honor, and perceptions intact?
There are rumors of course that the so-called White Buffalo Calf Woman story is myth and
Other keepers of sacred ceremony would know about this if it happened.
Can any of our established religious and spiritual (so-called) leaders be trusted?
Today || Red Nation Pipes are Everywhere
Use of ceremonial Sacred Pipes is only formally organized as an element of historical culture in a few northern regions and the lower Mississippi River valley. Pipe is however a portable object and it has great appeal to tribal people and other kinds of people everywhere. Many tribes have some kind of smoking practice, such as the tube pipes of the Tewa Kiva. Right now people, who are seriously sustaining sacred rites as tribal Native Americans, and a huge number of other people from around the world, collectively claim to hold some kind of object they believe is a Sacred Pipe. Thus, for the last 50 years or so these pipes are now in great abundance. They have found themselves inside the lives of tribal and non-tribal people everywhere. One would believe most of these people probably think doing this is ok. As free people the sacred pipe police will not arrest them if they buy a pipe from the Internet or steal one from an old Indian family. Meanwhile, really old ceremonial pipes are auctioned in private collections for tens of thousands of dollars....each one the stolen property of American Indian families. I call this situation "sacred pipe in the mud". In this great abundance of personal freedom, salable tribal artifacts, proud tribal egos, and scarcity of effective spiritual resources; who can change this situation? The whole subject is shrouded in layer after layer of confusion, accusation, acting out, and cursed by intellectual analysis. The odds that one modern person can completely get away with this bad behavior have become the social status quo. They are doing it all over the world right now. This may demonstrate the possibility that the possession of something of the tribal sacred, because you have money or friends is not always effective. There are as well a lot of macho tribal members who believe if some other guy has a pipe, he is going to have one. This is a false sense of entitlement that leads to diminished returns as well.
Words such as "squaw" or "buck" or "savage"; terms like "peace pipe", are descriptive, empty words coined and used by a society dismissive and indifferent to the ideas of tribal societies. This kind of language has always been incorrect. It describes more an attitude than a description of what something actually is.It is possible for eternal enemies to meet and share one moment with Sacred Pipe, not that most enemies have so much clarity and character to think of such a thing.
If you pretend and lie and play make believe with the sacred nothing will
The Chosen One || Shadow Dancers
Grandfather uses Sacred Pipe and Sacred Work to teach us how to see as truly and
Sacred Pipe Goes to Federal Prison ||
I have participated with various tribal relations across the United States in helping American Indians who are in jails and prisons have some access to tribal religious activity and privileges. This has been some years ago now, in the 1970s and early 1980s.
When many years ago some American Indians began hoping for access to some
Much of the enormous amount of published information on American Indians is incorrect. Curiously, the more incorrect the information appears to be, the more passionately it is promoted and advocated. American Indians remain extremely curious about this circumstance. What is it about American Indian culture that has created so many confused and fanciful documents, promoted so much fabricated acting out?
People like to say things such as "red is the color of the east" in American Indian culture, for example. The truth is, the "colors of the creation" vary from tribe to tribe, individual to individual. People who assign these things to “the Indians believe” are missing the point entirely. Most tribes do have cultural teaching promoting colors. However, the ceremonies and ideas that sustain these behaviors encourage individual choice. Each individual has a unique place in the great circle of life, each person views this life from their place. Honest tribal people do not copy each other. Each tribal person who embraces their tribal ceremonial sacred is encouraged to awaken their own personal vision and perceptions from within. The tribal teachers believe this awakening of the individual is more important than the bizarre conformity that uninformed writers continue to attribute to tribal culture. That is the point. Perhaps modern society is itself so conformist that they imagine tribal people must be the same. They are not. Many people seize upon a single so-called "sacred fact" and use it like a club to beat down on the world their tiny view of a vast universe of possibilities. They seem somehow over-excited to have "discovered" some secret tribal teaching that they magnify it beyond all reason. This is profoundly true in the academic literature and pathologically true among Internet writers on tribal subjects. While the Internet is offering much greater opportunities to hear the news of the world, it also remains a shameless source of abuse of truth. The student must understand that the way forward is filled with danger. One of the greatest dangers of analyzing sacred information is that of becoming "moon struck". This is a condition that is delusional, when a person mistakes the reflected wisdom (light) from other teachers as his or her own. This is a condition that entraps many modern people when they consider the subject of tribal sacred teachings.
From the beginning of the first encounters tribal people had with
A battery needs to be fully charged to operate perfectly. A good map includes
It is common for people to have charms, talismans, good luck and feel good objects in their possession. This behavior appears to be as old as humanity itself.
Real personal power has nothing to do with controlling events or other people. Real power comes from understanding and knowing yourself. Inside your own being are great powers that remain unopened, unused, unsuspected. The ceremonial life teaches us how to gather up the great energy of nature, of the four elements and the vitality in the creation and put it to work in our lives and carry us to new levels of awareness. Such a life has no interest in manipulating, controlling or exploiting others. This is the real rule or law of true personal power. It functions only from within a matrix of self-knowledge and responsibility.
Sacred Pipe and the Internet ||
I maintain a Google alert to track stories appearing throughout the interwebs that mention sacred pipe. It is often a very puzzling, and sometimes, scary experience. The sheer volume of bizarre, well-intentioned trash that is posted on this subject must overwhelm, at this point, most efforts at a reasonable understanding of what is true about this ancient teaching and practice. Many people post stories about what they think they know about the Lakota pipes, or chanupa as they like to call them now. They talk about the White Buffalo Pipe as being the only American Indian pipe. They tell us it is thousands of years old. They tell us they can make you a sacred pipe for forty bucks. They tell you everything except what is real, what is contained in the original instructions. People seem to just be making up American Indian history as they write in their blogs and online forums. I have been following this Google alert for some years now. 99.9% of the thousands of references to sacred pipe are incorrect, or describe behavior that is not correct. That is, of course, my opinion but I stand behind it.
There are many wild ideas circulating about what is smoked in ceremonial pipes. The real story is that there is no “one” plant that is smoked in ceremonial plants. What is used de pends on an almost infinite number of possibilities.
Ceremonial gold leaf tobacco was clearly the first and remains the central material used in ceremonial pipes. The difference between the tobacco used in ceremonies in ancient times is not at all the same tobacco that is sold around the world today. The difference is like that between natural life and artificial life. Between something made on the land by hand and something made by corporations to make money.
Kinickinick is the one thing never
Blends of ceremonial plants were another category . The personal vision quest or revelations of individual keepers or carriers of ceremonial pipes may have had revelations about certain plants to smoke in ceremonial plants. In one exercise, for example, there is a ceremony where plants are gathered based on the timing of a ceremonial drum as people move through the forest. The refinements and sublime art of smoking mixtures in ceremonial pipes is beyond the imagination of modern people, and well beyond the grasp of the so-called publishers of misleading information on American Indian ceremonies.
In the modern age the original instructions have been over-written by babel and free will, free speech, do and say what you want. There is a great difference between what was and what is. Having said that, one should imagine that here and there are some ceremonial people who remember those original instructions and so preserve them.
The official nature of sacred pipe: there is not one.
There is no sacred pipe of any tribe, anywhere. All sacred pipes are in the hands of private groups or private people. This includes the so-called Lakota tribal bundle known as the White Buffalo Calf Woman Sacred Pipe, which is controlled by a private family, for example.
In terms of United States Law, there are rules (public laws) that protect, now, the rights of American Indians to hold and practice their religious and ceremonial rites. They make no distinctions between private individuals, or communities. The singular source for stones for ceremonial pipes is national park, controlled by the US Parks system, not by tribal people. Pipestone Minnesota is protected in some way, because of this, yet the situation is also problematic. The government runs the Pipestone Monument as a tourist attraction for Americans, not as a religious or cultural resource for American Indians. The objects produced at this park are sold to everybody and could be made by anybody.
So, anyway, now you can't say no one ever told you this.
©2010. Turtle Heart occasional updates