Wiwila Oyate

All over the world, on every continent and in every culture one can hear stories of a tiny race of people who live underground. Through the illustrations of children’s books one can see that this belief survived the Inquisition and the domination of Christianity. The Little People may be small but their presence is strong among those who have seen and encountered them. Like the Tree Spirits (Fairies) and the Sasquatch (Bigfoot), many cultures share the lore of these mythical beings, even into present day.

Lore of the Little People, Elves, Leprechauns or Gnomes is so incredibly vast that it would take a lifetime to record all the known stories of them. Like the Tree Fairies and Bigfoot, the stories continue as people encounter them. One theme that remains constant in all cultures is how these mythical being are visiting us less and less as we recede away into the realm of logic. The more domestic we become, the more preposterous these old stories seem.

Wiwila is the Lakota word for Spring, a place where water flows from the earth. Wiwila Oyate is one of several names for the Little People, The Spring Nation. The Wiwila are said to have been created before humankind. Made to regulate the seasons, the movement of the planets, the waterways and springs, these people are some times seen by others, reminding us of the stories of old.

Whatever the culture, the stories of them usually include the granting of a wish, some sort of trickery or a combination of both. Always there seems to be an element of danger or harm that may befall one who harasses them. It is believed that when venturing into the wilderness one should take heed not to trespass into Wiwila territory or suffer the invisible arrows shot by little men. While the Wiwila is feared and avoided in most cases, there is a time and place where they are still called upon for help, Yuwipi.

Nowhere is the Wiwila more prevalent than in the Yuwipi and lowanpi Ceremonies. They can be seen, heard running about and are often felt and recognized by their tiny hands. Usually one would not speak of them, let alone write about them on the computer! Now we have reached a time where we must remind the human race about the servants of the earth and of the other beings who live in symbiosis with us here. It may seem unreasonable to modern culture that they exist, but the fact remains that they do.

The Wiwila, among other beings, are said to have inhabited the earth before humankind, at some point they are said to have called us, or wished us here with their intention, drawing us from the Pleiades. This is not just Lakota myth, many cultures believed this at one time. It is said that the creator gave us intelligence to appreciate his artwork, but it is also said that we were given intelligence in order to communicate with the divine beings. So that when the Wiwila needed help in regulating nature, they could call upon the humans for help.

As a race, we seem unable to hear them now but they are calling to us still, even through the chatter of our own minds. Around the industrial revolution there are literally thousands of stories of warnings from the Little people all over the world. It is so strange that these stories are so obscure and hard to find because it was not so long ago that the Industrial revolution began. In Germany, each town and province has stories of their warnings, that the they are leaving because of the construction of some machine or factory in the area. There are literally thousands of such stories across Europe.

Could it be that the modern concept of aliens is none other than the original inhabitants of this world? In Native American understanding, the Star Nations (wicahpi Oyate), are the the gods and goddesses who live in the heavens, not alien races. Obviously there seems to be life everywhere, but these alien characters seem more like elves than astronauts! Whatever the case may be, their message is clear to those that listen carefully.

Reclaiming our Moon Lodge

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As our Grandmothers have done since before recorded history, we the women enter into our own Ceremony each month. Flesh and blood, these physical manifestations of Spirit have the incredible capability to give life. Not to be taken for granted, moon time (menstruation) is a special time when our power is so great that our energy may inadvertently take over other Ceremonies. One egg dies each month while a cleansing of our bodies, minds, spirits, and emotions prepares us for yet another cycle. The womb of creation resides within each woman whether we choose to give birth or not. Cycles continue in the circle of life regardless of where we come from or how we live our lives.

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Are we aware of this power that naturally unfolds as we enter once again into our dark inward phase each month? It is our responsibility to learn what it means to be gifted these incarnations as women reclaiming our Moon Lodge. How do we do this? The answer is simple but seemingly difficult for our domestically trained minds in an increasingly technological time. We are living in a male dominated culture when production, efficiency, science, and reason are the focus. Feminine qualities which were once revered such as intuition, receptivity, and artistic expression are now viewed as a waste of time, frivolous, and lazy. While mother qualities are encouraged such as cooking, cleaning, and caring for our children, a balance is needed for us to have the energy to lovingly nurture others. Moon Lodge is a space where we can retreat from all responsibilities. Moon time is just 4 days out of each month when we, the women may recharge so that we are strong and empowered, ready to fulfill each of our specific life purposes while caring for our families in a joyful manner.

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Regardless of the cycles taking place in our outer world, we must be aware of and honor our own cycles. Together we support one another while welcoming a return of this sacred space. Let’s turn off our cell phones, quiet our busy minds, retreat to our Moon Lodge, and listen to what the Spirits are telling us. In native teachings, spirit is in everything. We can keep trying to find that teacher or book but it all resides within each of us. The universe is one and the same whether it be from the Spirit in the from of a clear understanding in that “Aha” moment or in the form of a direct feeling from a tree or stone. During the dark phase of our moon cycle, when we are bleeding, women are even more receptive so it is extremely important for us to calm our minds and listen to the messages that we need to hear in order to help ourselves as well as our relations. This is a good time to pay particular attention to our dreams and write in a journal so that we can reflect on them later. When we are mooning it is an opportunity to pray for anyone that we might feel needs help. From deep within ourselves we may develop or give birth to something new and we are in tune with an inner knowing of what is and is not working in our lives. As the moon surrenders her light, women follow her example and prepare to shed their blood, retreating into the Moon Lodge to rest, reflect, and gather wisdom.

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Why do we call it moon time? The tides of the waters are regulated by Grandmother Moon and she watches over all the waters of the Earth. Just as Grandmother Moon watches over the waters of the Earth, women watch over the waters of the people. Feminine waters are always first followed by new life. The moon cycle is a gift to the women and we are especially close to Grandmother Moon because she governs the woman’s cleansing cycle. Second only to the ability of the Great Spirit to give new life, it is considered a time of extreme power. Some traditions believe that when women are on their moon time, the Creator comes closer to them. It is interesting to note that in the newer patriarchal religions the moon is seen as a dark satellite and bringer of negativity whereas in the older traditions of the Earth, the moon has always been seen as a life giving force.

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Not to be crossed with the masculine fire element, moon energy is cool and feminine. In general, women pray with water (moon) while men pray with fire (sun). A ceremony of men and non mooning women centering around a fire might be simultaneously taking place with a circle of mooning women nearby. It is the responsibility of women to focus on the water instead of the fire as an additional fire burning with mooning women could be extremely dangerous. An unnatural increase in the flow of blood by the women in the Moon Lodge could occur. Another outcome could be that the energy of mooning women could completely take over the efforts of participants in the other ceremony which is counterproductive. Many ceremonies include men, women, and children but when it comes to subjects concerning women, it is meant only for women while discussions around men are meant only for men.

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To understand the extreme power that exists during moon time as well as reverence for this influential energy, we can go back in time and explore cultures from around the world. All indigenous traditions would agree that a mooning woman’s energy could overpower a Ceremony and would encourage seclusion for any woman who is menstruating. From a Native American perspective, a woman who is on her moon time that is not being responsible can be detrimental to the entire tribe. It was believed that menstrual blood could interfere with the power that men needed for hunting. Because this energy is associated with the positive forces of life, it could overwhelm their power to kill. Hunters were instructed not to walk near a menstruating woman or to swim downstream from where she bathed. There is a mystical connection that is thought to exist between the blood of a mooning woman, the essence of life, and that of game. This would keep a tribe from acquiring the necessary food for survival. In Hinduism, moon time is recognized as such an essential cleansing of toxins (ama) and metabolic wastes that women are believed to outlive men. Apana vayu is an aspect responsible for the circulation and physical movement of energy, wastes materials and fluids down and out of the body. This is an excerpt from the Old Testament in Leviticus 15:19, part of Semitic mythology, “When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean until evening.”In Bali, a woman is not allowed to enter the kitchen to perform her usual duties, nor is she allowed to have sex with her husband while menstruating. She is to sleep apart from the family and has to keep her clothes that she wears while menstruating away from any clothes that she could wear to the temple.

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This small handful of examples from various parts of our world reveals the importance of this part of a woman’s cycle. Something to consider interesting about the times we are living in now is how little this sacred moon time is actually recognized and respected. Could it be that secluding women during menstruation is inconvenient? Would a lack of attendees in Church interfere with the overall amount of money given? Is our present culture so repressed and confused that there is literally no acknowledgment? Are we just incredibly lazy? How could it be that women still continue to keep going like this?

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On a practical level, we all need to make an effort to truly honor moon time by making some steps to change the recurring pattern of it being “just another day” and “just another moon time”. Not a time to be spent on the mundane of daily household chores, the veil between worlds is thin and is best spent in solitude or in a small group. Ideally we would have a house or room to return to each month that is clean, cozy, and accessible to rest and relax in. This is not always feasible so it is important for us to communicate with our families and friends about how important it is for everyone to acknowledge and respect this woman’s time. Perhaps, until this “space” is created we need to hang in there and with gentle assertiveness insist on some changes taking place in the home. Planning ahead helps so that when it is time to retreat, there is food prepared in the freezer or others in the house know that we are not responsible for everyone’s needs. What about the women taking turns feeding each other, doing laundry, watching kids, or other chores? Also, we each need to make this quiet time happen. Even if it is just for an hour, it is a start. It is perfectly O.K. to say no sometimes and we do not need to feel guilty for doing this. If we are routinely caring for ourselves then we will naturally have an inward peace that emanates from our being. The feeling of lack and overwhelm will be a thing of the past and then we have the energy to give to others.

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We pray for our sons, fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles, and nephews as well as for our feminine counterparts so that things can be brought back into balance. There is no time to dwell on the dysfunction of our world that we have collectively created. It is time to honestly look at ourselves and make changes where it is needed. The time of separation between women is over. Now we must, once again, connect with our fellow Queen Goddesses and create our Sacred Moon Lodge Temples. We are muske, sisters dancing together as we always have been.

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Rules for singing Lakota Ceremonial Songs

Important Details about Ceremonial songs

“Rules for singing Lakota Ceremonial Songs”




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  When singing this style of song, be sure to pay close attention to the drumbeat.  It is usually either a fast steady beat, Like a ruffle, or a slow thunder beat or like a heartbeat. In general there are these two types of drum beat with many different styles and variations, fast and slow. Some of these songs are hard to play without the right beat. Slow songs work best with a fast beat while fast songs seem to fit a slow beat  When singing along and not drumming it is helpful to tap along with the drummers. this will help to learn the correct rhythm.

The easiest mistake in the act of singing Lakota songs is singing to the beat of the drum. We are taught in school to clap to time with a song. In most drumming systems of Indigenous cultures and even our modern culture, we use an off beat. While clapping, most of us use an on beat rather than an off beat. An on beat is the opposite of an off beat.

Usually, when clapping one would start a song with the clap and the clapping would happen at each syllable, that’s the on beat. What you want is the drum beat between each syllable, starting the song after the clap and the syllables of the lyrics occurring between the beats. Lets use an example, the song “Mary had a little lamb”, what you want is to hear the drum beat * between the syllables. Ma*ry* had* a *li*ttle* lamb*. Like that.

A good way to get it right is to practice drumming with a heart beat (thunder beat), that’s a two beat. One two, one two, one two, the “one” being the loud beat and the “two” being the more quiet of the heart beat. Practice starting the song on the “two”. If you were clapping you would start the song when your hands are furthest apart and each syllable would occur when your hands are apart (the off beat).

 Another point of consideration is distinguishing between vocables and lyrics. Vocables are sounds and are not written among the lyrics.  Usually the syllables and melody of the vocables match the lyrical part of the song. Vocables can be compared to the European equivalent: Fa La La La La, La La La La (deck the halls).  Usually songs containing vocables, begin with vocables. Very rarely are the vocables after the lyrics or between the words.

When singing alone or without accompaniment you would sing the songs the way they are written.  When singing with others you would use a call and response.  That is when the song leader calls out the first line of the song; the group would then repeat that line. Ladies would join in on the third line, unless of course there are only two singers, a man and a woman. Some of these recordings have a call and response although they are written without it. As a rule of thumb with the call and response the group joins in just before the leader sings the vocable sound He.  This sound is found at the end of some of the sentences, He.

Other things to consider in singing these songs

Some of these songs are specific to particular lineages. In that case only one or two words may be different from one Tiospaye (family lineage)  to another. Most of these songs are general and are sung by many groups and at different ceremonies. An animal calling song is for calling in the power of specific animals. A stone song is for calling in the spirits of stones. Be sure you are not calling things unnecessarily.

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These songs are very powerful and not to be idly whistled or sung in the shower. Put down a pinch of tobacco as an offering first. This can be placed in a special spot, it can be rubbed or sprinkled upon the drum. A little water is good for the spirit of the drum, but before singing songs always put down tobacco. It is important not to “cry wolf” with the spirits. If these songs are sung idly too much the Spirits may stop responding.

By learning songs from a C.D. or computer they may only attract lesser nearby spirits. They may not have the same impact until they are sung along within a genuine tradition. The more powerful spirits follow an oral line of association that is lost without actual contact with lineage holders. By singing and learning these songs here the spirits may eventually draw you into the ceremonies and traditions that use them.

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Thunder Being songs are for addressing the Thunder Beings who are the law enforcement branch of the Creator.They sung to invoke the healing power of the thunders. Do not sing any thunder being songs at night out of context. Thunder being songs call thunder beings during the day and ghosts at night. Honestly, one should never really sing any kind of song carelessly outside at night. In the event of attracting ghosts sing the sending the spirits home Closing Song and the Ending Song. It is good to know these songs to send spirits back home, especially when it is helpful to them.

Thunder being songs include any Heyoka or “kettle songs”.  Heyoka people, or sacred fools, may sing these songs at other occasions. If you are not initiated as a Heyoka, meaning that if you have not performed a kettle dance successfully, you should avoid singing these songs out of context. Any one can sing most of the Thunder Being songs in the sweat lodge and yuwipi ceremonies provided that they are followed by the proper closing and ending songs.

When Heyoka people sing, since they are contrary to the proper way, they will use an “on beat” with the drum rather than an “off beat”. The dog song should only be sung at the Kettle Dance (Heyoka Initiation). Heyoka people may sing this song out of turn, don’t do this, it is asking for the spirits to “take” a dog as an offering.

Healing songs are for doctoring people. The songs themselves are a healing medicine. They can be sung in sweat lodge, Yuwipi, or on their own as a treatment. Canupa songs (pipe songs) should generally be sung when the pipe is present. If you carry a canupa it is okay to sing those songs whenever but always give a tobacco offering to the drum, especially when rehearsing. Pipe filling songs should only be sung while loading the pipe facing west. Again it is alright in the process of learning to sing the pipe filling songs, having offered tobacco to the drum and ending your lessons with the “Sending the Spirits Home” closing song.

There are various different closing songs when reaching near the end of a ceremony. For instance, in the fourth round of the sweat lodge one might sing a closing offering song. Be sure to check with your leaders about this as they vary from tradition to tradition. Some of our closing songs may not be used by other lineages to close. It all depends on what the spirit helpers of a tradition are used to. When visiting a sweat lodge you know little about it would be safest to not lead any closing songs at all.

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There are a handful of songs not available here that are too specific. These are the opening Yuwipi/Lowanpi songs for calling in the directional spirits. They vary from ceremony to ceremony and from one medicine man to another. To get these songs you will have to learn them in ceremony. That is the only time those songs are ever sung.

Always remember the origins of these songs, some of them are 12 thousand years old, some of them are relatively new. The important part is that they came to people through dreams and visions and were not composed in a mundane fashion. A song, then, connects to a spirit, a group of spirits and a person.

In essence it is not essential to know the meaning of a song for it to be effective. It is really good to know the meaning, but the songs are for the spirits. There should not be any element of performance in singing these songs. All these songs are for the sake of the spirits, not for entertainment purposes. Some domestic scholars are under the impression that the drum is used to lull the people into a “trance like state”. The drum is to call the spirits, any “trance like states” should be attributed to the presents of the spirits.

By learning all of these songs on our site we will become a Lowan Wicasa (song man) or a Lowan Winyan (song woman). Although not a prerequisite to being a medicine man or woman in the Lakota tradition you would have to be crazy to even attempt to embark on that path without most of these songs. Singers are integral to these ways, anyone knowing all of these songs are needed and honored regardless of race, creed, or color. If you put yourself out there you could at least get well fed!