prayer

This ancient statue is The Aztec Medicine Goddess. She Is poised in the usual Peyote fashion. This statue used to hold a staff and Gourd rattle.

Prayer is communicating with the divine. Each one of us has an integral connection with the Creator. Everything animate and inanimate is directly connected to the very center of the universe. This is the meaning of Mitaku Oyasin, we are all relatives, all of us and everything. We all share the same spirit. Spirit is the one thing that science will never understand, no one ever will. Spirit is formless, colorless, odorless, timeless and yet, it is one thing. it is everywhere but also lives independently within everything. It is through our spirit that we are able to reconnect to the source, for strength, direction and prayer.logo FSICC,9

Prayer is more complex than than just communicating through the spirit though. Prayer is something that all living beings do. All animals have a form of prayer and meditation. Even an atheist will pray and talk with the divine with out really knowing it. We all have a voice to talk to each other. Our voice is sacred and was given to us to express ourselves. Star Quilt

It is said that long ago, that the creator wanted to create a being that could artistically appreciate the art of his creation. The human was destined to artistically appreciate nature and to be a guardian of it. For that reason we were given intelligence. To see this world in yet a different and unique way and also in order to communicate with divine beings. The Creator wanted us to safeguard nature, a being that could hear the divine beings, understand them and do what was needed. tipi

We may have lost the ability to hear the spirits clearly but we still have the ability to to speak to them. As a species we have become self absorbed. we confuse the words of the divine beings with our own thoughts. We talk to ourselves almost incessantly, so much that we can barely hear the words of the spirits. Other animals use there voice to speak to each other, to the spirits, but not to themselves. rainbow

After the creation of humankind, another type of being was created. angelic beings known as Wakankin. One specific type of Wakankin was designed to hear the people and to help them. They could carry our messages to the gods and goddesses and help us when we need it. For this they were attuned to the human voice. This is why it is important for us to pray out loud, to reach this particular type of angelic being. So although we may have lost the ability to hear these spirits well, they can hear us very clearly. These Angelic beings were created for the specific purpose to help the people (and all the other animals) when ever they need help.Fire

We can pray at any time and in many different ways. Special times and places can make the act of talking to divinity more special and powerful. For instance, praying from a mountain top or by a sacred spring. One can make prayer more effective by singing a song with a specific intention. The use of sacred objects or by praying in a ritual can help. Ritual is, after all, a form of prayer. Just by drawing a design into the earth with your prayer can give it much more substance.Crestone

Praying with the Chanupa, making prayer ties with tobacco, doing Hanbleceya (Vision Quest) or greeting the morning star can all help in projecting your intention. It is not just the act of prayer that gets things done, it takes sacrifice. A ritual is a form of sacrifice, but there are many things that you can do to as a sacrifice. Putting out water, food offerings, a feather or even a shell. depending on the purpose of your prayer, you could offer things in many different ways, to the fire, in a tree, on an altar or just upon the earth.sunset Whatever the case, it is said “be careful what you pray for”. Prayers can be answers in many ways. Whenever someone prays in arrogance, for example, they could expect an outcome that may teach them a lesson. Especially when praying at a time or place of power, it is advised to be careful with your words.floridadecjan0809 092 On the subject of praying, there is much that can be said. The most important thing is your intention. What are you praying for and why, is it selfish or selfless? You do not have to wait for a good time to pray, you can pray at any time, just address the divinity. Most importantly, know that you have the ability to pray effectively. Each one of us contains the very center of the universe, each one of us has a direct connection to the source of all life. It is your birthright to have your voice heard in times of need. Feb. 20 017 It is always good to have others pray for you and with you, but do not be fooled into believing that you need someones permission to pray. Your words may gain more validity as you become more humble, but every voice is heard!

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

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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Spiritual Experience

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Have you ever felt like you were paralyzed while falling asleep? Have you ever felt a hand grasp you or experienced levitating over your bed ? How about a strange tingling sensation that began covering your body? Certain people at some point in life’s journey have experienced such spiritual contact. Most people can recall having an out of body experience or some other unexplainable event. A common occurrence is having a strong sensation that someone is standing at the foot of your bed or even seeing someone there. Also, feeling a hand grab you, the “touch of a velvet glove” or a thick dark liquid like substance covering your body. If you have had such visitations you are either ready to take it further or real scared or both!

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Particular spirits work with specific people, it is the mission of these spirits to help those who have the potential of attaining Immortality through the dream world. These spirits have a symbiotic relationship with humans that can be enhanced by training us to enter their realms. In other words this whole religious idea of attaining heaven and immortality is part of the creators plan for human’s potential. When one has the potential for such work, the spirit of the earth and other immortals will test the prospective apprentice. This can happen through having flying dreams, lucid dreams and other indescribable phenomenon.

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A big issue people have with this theory is the question of why fear plays a part of this process. Fear is seen as a negative force and generally as a natural warning of danger. Fear is also a necessary defense mechanism, one that is needed in order to survive on the other side. In the same way that danger exists in this world, dangers and predatory forces exist on the path to the other worlds. It is common for the spirits to stop working with an apprentice who becomes fearless. A soul traveler with out a healthy sense of fear has no survival value on the other side. The spirits will not train someone who has no sense of fear. It is crucial for a student of astral travel to be able to detect danger.

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Japan’s Ainu Bear Ceremony

This issue presents a contradiction in the minds of many spiritual seekers. The perception of good and evil is confused with other things. The only true force of evil in the universe is human ignorance. Then there are things that are harmful to us, things that are bad for us. Cats are bad for mice, this does not mean that cats are evil. Some natural beings and animals are harmful to us here in this world, likewise in the other realms some beings may seek to devour us. These beings are no different than earthly predators. These beings are the same as animals and are otherwise innocent. Sharks that eat people are not evil, they are hungry and it is useful for us to fear them.There is no organized force of evil other than the ignorance of mankind.

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I think the concept of good and evil came about among the mystics and magicians of the past. It was a code of conduct for retaining and cultivating spiritual energy, something that is essential for lucid dreaming and out of body travel. One can easily see that the earths’ population of people desperately needs a code of ethical conduct, this has nothing to do with the ancient art of spiritual assention and it’s do’s and don’t’s.

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One of the greatest spiritual tests that can confront a prospective immortal is if you are shown some thing so wonderful, like a physical teleportation through a dream, will you seek to duplicate the experience? Oftentimes things are done to us to make us seek, call it inspiration. A person can be taken out of their body and shown how to fly. Such an experience is comparable to a baby having a dream of walking. We learn to walk in this life, walking is a useful tool after you have past through the veil of this world, flying is even more useful. Everything we learn in this life can be thought of as tools for the afterlife.

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Far more valuable than flying or sensing danger is the act of sustaining a lucid dream and maintaining the dream. The art of sustaining the energy of a dream is the cornerstone of physical immortality. In order to preform such a task one needs perceptual energy otherwise known as detachment, will, motivation, a sense of purpose and unshakable determination. In the early stages of dream work a person is usually tested to see if they know weather or not they are dreaming. To be aware that you are dreaming is the first step of consciously dreaming.

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This is a type of dream you are experiencing now. To put the same attention to your sleeping dreams as your awake life is paramount to walking into another dimension. The problem arises in the dream world is that we tend to return to this world, or wake up. The significance of sustaining and maintaining a dream is that you could conceivably do so indefinitely. Another facet of this process is the concept of blending the dream world with the awake world. If you can fly in a lucid dream, you can conceivably merge the dream world with the awake world and fly here. This is the key to magic, the miraculous.

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For thousands of years people have been known to be able to preform miraculous deeds, turning into animals, flying across the sky on a broom or on a flying carpet. Oftentimes these acts were performed with the aid of mind altering substances. Things that meld the dream and reality together in such a way that they are indistinguishable from “reality”. Perception is what we sustain our life’s reality with. We “are” because we are aware. It is perception which upholds this reality as well as the dream. If you put your attention on science and it’s reductionist assumptions you will likewise fall into it’s limitations.

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Obviously any substance which acts upon the human body in such a way is of little use to those who seek to survive beyond the physical body. Such substances have served ancient seekers and modern alike to break through perceptual boundary’s. Such things are counterproductive when they become indispensable and can damage one’s ability to sustain a dream’s energy. Controlled substances use dream energy, they are catalysts for our existing energy, not sources of energy. Your ability to naturally sustain awareness in a dream depends largely upon the amount of potential energy given to you through your parents act of conception during copulation. The key to proper spiritual cultivation is a sense of aspiration, an uplifting sense of beauty and celestial spender. To seek to emulate the heavens, symmetry and order. In essence this is the act of forming alliances with the divine, making friends of angels.

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This process is no different from how you make good friends here on earth. By showing charity, having faith, by always having hope, being strong, by practicing moderation, being just and by being a balanced person. What impresses angelic beings the most is to aspire to the point of defying the boundaries of this reality. It’s impressive when someone wins an Olympic medal, a lot of people will be attracted to you for such an achievement. Similarly, in the spiritual realm, a meditation feat of Olympic proportions will impress the gods and goddesses and may enlist their help. Meditation, austerity and self sacrifice can be seen as as a way of proving yourself more than the means to go beyond this reality. A magician who walks through walls does so with the help of spirits. A yogi mystic who can levitate does not do so under his own steam, these things are done with the help of friends.

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It is of utmost importance to avoid being judgmental. We should discern by having healthy boundaries. We should not be in judgement of anyone practicing magic of any form, for at this point in human history, it is far better for a person to overcome the limitations of reason than to remain in the darkness and ignorance of the mundane. As was mentioned earlier in this article, true evil is the dismal ignorance of mankind and the disbelief that we possess a spirit. It is they who are lost. Witchcraft and sorcery can no longer be classified as unproductive. Especially if it may lead to some form of liberation no matter how crude, such things are on the brink of extinction! It seems we are on the verge of becoming a race of atheistic zombies.

What tools does an atheist have for the afterlife? There is the knowledge of walking, of moving about and that is real important. It seems that most atheists stay put after their demise. This results in metaphysical entropy, the breaking down of the soul and the losing of ones will. With out the will, the soul becomes a ghost, a spiritual zombie, such beings, without receiving attention, will eventually stop moving entirely.

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If you experience a shockingly vivid experience in dreams or between dreams, take full advantage the moment! If some force grabs you in the night let it take you. Don’t feel shame in your fear of the unknown, bask in it. Strive with all your might to overcome the fate of the unbeliever. Reach out to god, to rise above the limitations of the profane and fly to the heavenly realms.

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Children

Children are sacred and are exempt from all religious rules and dogma. No one should put ever put religion or spirituality before children. Contrary to a lot of faiths, we should strive to see the divine through the children and never compromise their comfort for our spiritual indulgence. Children should contribute to religion through their example of connection to nature and with their innocent spirit. We the adults have much to learn from the spontaneity and honesty of kids, especially in terms of the unknown realms of the spirit.

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Children should not be forced to endure any kind of indoctrination or molestation of any kind. Kids should not be taught about religion of any kind, they should be entertained through stories and songs. They should be taught about nature, plants and animals, the natural world. Especially in the city it is important to talk about nature and how, for thousands of years, people lived. If a kid asks you what you believe then you should tell them. If they reply in some coy or irreverent way, consider their wisdom carefully. The children’s reaction to dogma may provide valuable clues to the truths of the spiritual path.

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Have fun with kids and don’t impose any belief structure upon any of them. It is our job as parents to protect their sanctity and to learn from them. If we indoctrinate them into a faith they may never have the chance to accept a better path when it does come along. Teach them to keep an open mind while at the same time questioning authority. They should rely on their own impressions of divinity from within their own hearts. It is more valuable that they be inquisitive than faithful. It is better for them to freely doubt than to blindly trust and that goes for us adults as well.

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Warn the children of danger, tell them the difference between the divine and human traditions. In terms of spirituality tell them to rely upon natures’ instruction rather than peoples instruction. You can explain why things are done a certain way but do not suppose that any book or persons teaching is above the creations’ wisdom. Do not assume that your child shares your spiritual tendency. Not every one is destined to walk the Red Road (spiritual path), but know that all our interactions with children is a divinely guided test. They are here to remind us of the truth and innocence that is inherent in the creation, especially before we, as adults, judge and label it.

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Our church is dedicated to to the free minds of our children. If they think what we do is silly, then we should find out why, they may be able to enlighten us! Too many children miss out on being kids because their parents were too busy with religious obligations. An adults’ belief in no holidays should not be imposed upon their children. Kids should not have to wait in the car while their parents preach from door to door. As spiritual people we must understand that the children are a divine blessing to us and we should never compromise their attention or safety for our spiritual practice. If you have children of your own, you have been bestowed with a divine mission. Children are the spiritual path of parents. Do not neglect the path that the creation has given you, instead, celebrate them as the keys to your spiritual affluence.

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The young ones are closer to the other side just as the elders are. they have a sacred perspective and sacred position in life. Some old habits and attitudes fall away from a person when he or she becomes the elder and wisdom is born. With the child no old habits or patterns are really there, so we can see another type of wisdom known as innocence. In our way of life the child and elder both are exempt of ritual protocol and rules. If the elders or children begin to express discomfort in ceremony we fix the problem, even if we have to skip that part of the ritual.ccsCCS

In Indigenous Culture there exists many different denominations, things are done a little bit differently everywhere. We are child oriented. At a community feast, some feed the leaders and elders first, we feed the children first. If a baby decides to crawl across the altar, we let them, It is a sacred and profound act to us. If an elders’ speech goes unheard because a baby is crying loudly, we will contemplate the deeper significance of this. The divinitory meanings, omens and divine humor that children add to the ceremonies overrides that of the leaders in a purely magical way. Children are pure magic and even in seemingly irreverent acts, they always bring spirituality into better focus.

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Ritual abuse is a serious problem in all cultures. It should be our responsibility as mature adults to grant them the dignity of freedom of choice in spiritual matters. In Indigenous American culture we must rely upon nature for direction, not books. It is important that we get instruction from spiritually advanced teachers, but trust above them what your divine parents show you. Your Mother Earth and Father Sky know much about what is right for you than any spiritual leader. A spiritual leader with integrity will give you the freedom to see the truth for your self and should be mature enough to know that you may receive a different message. In these ways we hear our elders and consider what they say, but do not assume that they are the absolute truth.kids!

Native American Spirituality

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During the Industrial Revolution Native American Culture was persecuted to the point of near extinction. Unknown to most scholars, American Indians would have suffered total genocide had it not been for Christian protests, Theologians, Religious lobbyists and Lawyers. It was public outrage that saved the American Indian, not our prowess on the battlefield.

In the 1890’s, James Mooney, an anthropologist from the Smithsonian Institution, attended Peyote meetings among the Kiowa and the Tarahumara. Finally, in 1918, after testifying in favor of American Indians at Congressional hearings, Mooney advised various tribes to obtain a legal charter to protect their religious freedom. With Mooney’s help, the Native American Church was officially incorporated in 1918. Today it is the most widespread Native  American religion in the world.

When most people think of Indigenous American Spiritual practices they think of the The Sun Dance, Vision Quest and Sweat Lodge. These ceremonials are gaining in popularity but are actually very rare. Very few Sun Dances exist, with around only 300 annual Dances. For the Native American Church on the other hand, there are probably a minimum of 300 Ceremonies every weekend in North America. That sounds like a lot, and compared to The Lakota Sun Dance and Sweat Lodge, it is. For the most part, Indigenous Spirituality is very rare.

Most Native Americans are Christian. There are indigenous spiritual traditions in the United States, The majority of them are very small groups and are very secretive. The Hopi spiritual tradition is literally held together by a handful of people.These great traditions are dwindling because the younger generations are not willing to take part in them and because the elders are not willing to share them outside of their own tribes.

Indigenous Spirituality is wrought with problematic issues. Like most spiritual organizations, many people are attracted to them for the wrong reasons. There are many people who Sun Dance who are alcoholic and have other addictions. There are Native American Church members of 20 years who are not genuinely spiritual. This is an issue in many spiritual paths. On a positive note, Native Traditions have served to attract people from all walks of life to make major changes in there lives and taught many to pray and behave themselves in a spiritual manner when they would not do so otherwise.

The beauty of the Red Road and it’s spiritual journey rests in it’s ability to empower the individual. The seeker is to find his or her’s own answers through a direct connection with the divine. Not to say that there are no intermediaries or leaders, there are. Seekers must push forward on their own steam and make real and personal sacrifices for the spiritual connection. No one can do that for you, your spirituality rests upon you alone and that is a truly universal truth.

No matter what sacrifices you have made, how many dances you have completed, how many ceremonies you have attended, the fact remains that your connection is within you and is dependent only upon your personal effort. Spirituality is an internal process. You may have the great fortune of sharing and celebrating that expression with others within a group, but the genuine connection always occurs within.

At some point the light of spiritual awakening dawns within. At this point one may become aware that others are not sincere and may be involved for selfish reasons. This is an inherent problem in all spirituality everywhere and is all too evident in Native America. Spirituality is a process, so it is very important not to be in a place of judgement.  A path may have attracted someone with the romanticism of Native heritage or the allure of ancient mystic practices. Medicines like Peyote and Ayahuasca attract many people, some are beckoned by narcotic curiosity alone. Whatever the case may be, at some point the seeker is faced with the inevitable spiritual dilemma of one’s own divine connection.

Most American Indian Spiritual leaders hold other spiritual paths in the highest regard and are not in judgement of race. In this day and age it is of utmost importance for all religions to have respect for one another and to learn from one another as well. It is crucial now for us to see the bigger picture, far above our cultural influence and personal opinions is the bigger picture. What is the Center of the Universe’s view on Native Spirituality as opposed to anything else? What does God think about what kind of spiritual group you are a part of? what is important to our Mother Earth in terms of how we pray?

In Indigenous American spiritually we say that “there is no wrong or right way to pray” and “don’t make someone wrong for praying”. When involved in the task of spirituality it is important to keep a clear and unhindered perspective. beyond every thing you think you know, there is the reality of your connection to the divine. It is essential to strip your self of illusions about spirituality, to lay bare and honest ones intentions on the path.

Indigenous spirituality does this very well, but, for the spiritual seeker we advise you to learn everything you can about spirituality. Keep your mind as open as you can. All spiritual paths should lead to the same place and most of them may have some piece of the puzzle. Tolerance between the worlds’ religions may be the key for all of us to having a better relationship with the divine. Try for a moment to disregard the human concept of god and imagine Gods’ perspective of the whole issue.

There should be less emphasis on form and more emphasis on function. Having a pipe (Canupa) means nothing without being on the other end of it with a prayer. Whatever path you follow, others will criticize you for that and if we are to reach world peace , the criticisms need to come to an end. Tolerance, respect and love are what the spiritual paths teach and even an atheist will agree that these things are great. If you are on the Red Road don’t forget why you do what you do.

The Sacred

 

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We live in a world of rapid change, of changing priorities and changes in our perception. Have we as humans recorded this change, Have we measured the the passage of our perceptual change? How much has the light of knowledge dawned and to what degree have the shadows receded? We know there has been a change in the world around us, so what of the change within us? What is the spiritual significance of this change in our lives, for spiritual people?

For the spiritual seeker there is a clear distinction of what is sacred and that which is mundane. Our beliefs and our experience determine the degree and the extents of the boundary of the sacred. It is our perception of the sacred that defines the world around us, not only for the spiritual seeker, but for us all. The way we feel about things, our opinions and our perception paint the world around us. Perception is everything to us and it determines the quality of our life.

To our forefathers and mothers, the world around them was traced with certain dividing lines. There were places of great holiness according to the stories of old. There have always been those geological wonders that inspire in humankind a sense of divinity. Places, that according to the creation stories were blessed from some  divine event. Likewise, in the desolate waste land there exists a not so sacred place, perhaps a place of danger that is to be avoided. Perhaps a place condemned by myth.

For untold thousands of years we have lived with this precept of that which is sacred and that which is profane. In the minds of all of our ancestors were the dividing lines of varying degrees of sacredness, of sacred space. The ancestors listened to the teachings of the elders of the sacred center, Hocoka Wakan. Like the top of the sacred mountain. Not just the mountain that is sacred, but its’ summit. That pristine untouched place, pure and undefiled by man.

The lesson of the medicine wheel is one of sacred space and in it’s center is that neutral ground, the origin of all. From every place in the wheel the center remains, the scenery changes and our awareness of the center changes yet it is still the center. This central point represents the first place, the creators’ first perception, its’ first vantage point. I am here! This is the time before time and it deals with space, the center of the universe!

In all ceremonies you will find such a space, hallowed ground upon the altar, maybe even too divine to touch, like the sacred mountains’ peak! One can locate such places easily, even to the untrained eye looking within the center of the Sweat Lodge or out to the center of the Sun Dance. The elders tell us of the wisdom of walking with sacred foot steps from this center into the rest of our lives. Every foot step taken in humility and respect in a sacred way upon our holy mother earth. Here we define the limits of sacred space, push the boundaries of divinity with our own respect and love for Mother Earth.

In the Creation stories emerge all that there is from the center and then space is measured and divided as the body of the divine mother, made out of the very primordial essence of the Creator. So here we have that level of sacredness that pervades all space, with every thing as sacred and not merely by virtue of its’ origin but also by virtue of its existence. It is sacred because it is, because it is not void. Void, then, could represent the mundane, the boring, even with the understanding that these are special too. There is this sense then, that a cursed place of wondering ghosts and wicked spirits is within the realm of this holy creation even though it is profane and cursed.

Here we venture into the realm of consecration, the act of forgiving a place. This is the idea of lifting a curse on a broken space, of filling the void of desolation with love and the acknowledgement if its divine origins. In the act of forming the altar of soil we consecrate it and by showing its center with the placement of the staff or blessed object we affirm the center of the universe and the origins of all space. Making a place a physical representation of the creation stories, redeeming a mundane place by acknowledging it as part of the goddess’s body.

With our minds we cast the divisions of sacred places even into modern day. The most non-spiritually focused person will still have that special warmth for ones place of birth. Affinity for ones childhood home and places of play are sacred within the mind of desacralized man. De-sacralized : to have removed the aura of sacredness from; secularize. For those with no concept of holiness, some things are still definitely special and for them, and therefore, sacred.

Within all creation myth is that sacred point of beginning which is marked by the center. From that center something very special happens, Movement! Like the center of the Aztec calendar we can see the central glyph of Ollin, motion, the Lakota God, Skanskan. This speaks of movement that came from stillness and stagnation, time that elapsed after timelessness. Just as form came from the void, motion came to the stagnant.

Here we have another thing that can be measured and perceived. Like space, it is the quality of our perception that determines the relativity of time. If you are waiting in vain for a very late friend, that time spent can be downright nasty, not sacred! Finally when the point of meeting with your friend and joy begins, time quickens and is savored as sacred in every cherished movement.

In essence, the act of ceremony is the re-enactment of the creation stories. The religious rite is now enacting the dawn of time and space. In the Sweat Lodge, Yuwipi, Sun Dance and every spiritual rite in every sane and sacred tradition one can find this division of sacred time and space. For the ancestors, the beginning of time was a holy time and the act of ceremony transformed the mundane time into sacred time, The consecration of time!

Our ancestors had a lot of sacred time. The four sacred divisions of the day and night, the dawn of light being the beginning of time and a space between time. The midday when the shadows are smallest and mark the apex of the sun, then dusk in its calmness and rest, also a space between time. Then midnight ( some say 2 or 4) when all is at rest and the Eagle is said to take a drink of water and the Mole ascends to feel the air. As it is with space, in the big picture we can see that all time could be seen as sacred by virtue of it not being non-movement.

For the Spiritual, time is a sacred movement of Great Mystery from beginning to end, from the time of the creators first awareness until the very fulfillment of that awareness all the way into omnipotence! From the first motion until that point that every thing that could have been done, moved and realized has been done. So the ancestors listened to the wisdom of the storyteller account that each passing moment in this life is to be lived in respect and honor and that each transition from one moment into the next is a sacred dance of the divine.

To modern man time is limited and not as vast as it was for his ancestors. It is measured by its limit and not by its infinity. For him time is running out and he is waiting, waiting for that place in time that, to him , is sacred. We live in a time where special time exists in leisure, after work. For our ancestors work was sacred, ritual drama and thought were seen as sacred acts and not as mundane things. To the original ancestors, leisure was more mundane than the hunt and the work.

Rather than speculating through the lens of our myopic spiritual opinions, let us look at what can be measured and counted with scientific processes. The elders speak of vast expanses of space and time as being sacred, The Sacred Mountains. Now they are seen more as national resources and places of leisure rather than the breasts of Mother Earth. Time can be counted for the domestic human in terms of seconds, minutes and hours rather than by experiences.

For industrialized humans, all time is mundane until those special moments finally arrive. Now the sacred has become the weekend, the party and for him the only true rituals are weddings and funerals. Most of the time is in passing now and in wait for something not boring. Such sacred events such as giving birth have been reduced to a medical procedure. The holiest of holy, in women’s time, the menses or moon-time is seen with shame and embarrassment, especially the first Moon-Time. Time is slipping away for the domestic human, and yet it is a dance for the aboriginal. Time always seems to be running out for those attempting to not be late and for Industrial man, death awaits him to mark the end.

Lets look at the modern spiritual seeker and domestic man on the timely path of salvation and redemption. Here we can easy measure that sacred time has been scheduled as a day of the week and sacred space has been confined to the inside of a church building! Even for the religious, the sacred has receded, it has been extracted from within the home. The personal shrine within the home and hearth and has been placed behind lock and key under the charge of a “spiritual middle man” who will intercede with God on you behalf. The spiritual path has devolved into an academic pursuit rather than being measured in terms of experience alone.

At the center of spirituality as well as life it’s self is our perception and our perception determines what we are aware of. Like all domesticated animals, we are focusing on our thought rather then our emotions. domestication is where neurosis are born and the mind prods and judges the feelings (which is the reverse for the untamed). The intellect is over shadowing bodily awareness and it can be proven scientifically. At the expense of our direct instinct we seem to be trading our knowing-ness for reflection, thinking about things.

Our modern cultures’  pursuit of intelligence may cost us our symbolical mind altogether. The symbolical mind has receded into our subconscious with the increase of language, meaning that we think more and more with words and less and less with symbols. This allows humans to be more intellectual at the expense of our ability to directly perceive things. This is scientific fact. What people are not measuring scientifically (anthropologically), are the changes in spiritual experience among domestic culture.

We now live in a world where the earth itself is seen as profane and something to be harnessed and dominated. With our perception we paint the world around us and as we open our minds to rationalization we can also be seen as closing our our minds to the Spiritual. The spirit is outside of math, measurement and logic. The spiritual defies the mind just as the void defies form. The Sacred is becoming superstition and collectively the human race is shutting itself off from non-rational possibilities. “Miracles” are quickly becoming “impossibilities”.

It is up to us to keep the dream alive and who knows what fate awaits our kind? Do not rely too heavily upon the mind. Many wonderful things are coming from the organization of human affairs, let’s not cast ourselves into the mundane in the process. Hold on to the magic unbridled, release everything you think you know and deify the unnatural ways though which you have been conditioned. Arrive alive in sacred space and time. Here and now, everywhere and forever! Shine as brightly as you can.

Show Father sky and Mother Earth your urgency, live life aloud and rise above your petty comfort zones. Resist being comforted into a state of complacency, refuse being lulled away into the suckling comforts of domesticated inertia. Fight and overcome what is rightfully yours as humans, for the wildness and unpredictable spirit untamed. Reclaim what you really want of your selves, feel the power of Nature and the timeless connection to the very center of all that is. You are an Immortal being, fearless and impervious to everything on this earth.

Claw through your thin domestic veneer and be who you were always meant to be. Come alive and face the storm with abandon. Show some backbone in your life and roar aloud! Be bold and real, stop cradling your precious internal dialog and false self image. Go beyond all that and break through to your savage, real and animal connection to your Mother Earth.

Aho Mitaku Oyasin!

 

SPIRITUAL ADVICE

SPIRITUAL ADVICE

PETA WAKAN

FOR THE SERIOUS SEEKER

1. Be connected. Understand that you have a direct connection to the divine and that you are ultimately responsible for your spiritual growth. The native path is about tapping into the connection you already have. Seek advice and learn from others, but know that you are the only one in charge of your own spirituality.

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2. Be honest to yourself about your spirituality. Don’t believe anything you are told, especially about yourself. Question everything you think you know. The allure of fantasy is very potent because it make us feel special, Be humble and be simple. Take it all with a grain of salt, even the truth. Contemplate that the most valuable truth is wordless.

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3. Have courage, Work hard, pray hard and be inspired. Dig deep within yourself and muster up every ounce of of volition that you can. Be excited, feel yourself being filled with charismatic enthusiasm, dauntless unwavering unbridled ferocity. Claw through your fine domestic vanier and unveil your true self, the untamed, unattached nature of your immortal spirit!

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4. Ask for help, tell Wakan Tanka what you want. Tell all the spirits what you want and tell them to prepare you. Ask them to lead you to the right teachers, to just go ahead and give you the magic (if possible). Use your voice (which was given to you for this purpose), cry out into the heavens to receive what you need for spiritual empowerment.powwow 2012 069

 

5. Be a selfless servant with ruthless boundaries. Be humble and kind without being stupid or gullible. Practice kindness, gentleness, nonviolence, and be in harmony with nature. Do not judge or assume, be nice. Among other things, the spiritual path is a matter of attracting the right friends (spirits), you won’t be able to do this if you are erratic, violent and arrogant.

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6. Make sacrifices, put out water for the spirits. Take the time and effort to spend good quality time pursuing your goal. Do Hanbleceya (vision quests) and other rites. Show the center of the universe how much you want it. Show them with your blood, sweat and tears, and do so with a prayer. Be practical with your offerings and never boast about what you have done!

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7. Honor the children. Never allow your spiritual work to compromise children. Take care of the children first, for they are the most important thing on the spiritual journey.  Children and elderly are exempt of all ritual obligations. Never put god\goddess before your children! If you don’t have children, make sure that children benefit by what you do, they may become your future.

For more advice, ask us a question:

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    lariat trail

There are many important ways we can progress on the spiritual path. first lets take a look at what that really means, to progress spiritually. One can rationally observe that every one is inherently spiritual, that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience here on earth. This leads to the age old question of why we are here. We are here to fulfill eternity, for Wakan Tanka to to be everything and experience infinity through everything. In the beginning was the void, and from that void of nothingness was an awareness. This awareness felt empty and soon it longed to aspire, to be somthing else. It strove to see itself in new ways, to grow.

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This, then, was the birth of inspiration, and reflects that spiritual urge to aspire and grow. This awareness then became the Creator by sacrificing part of itself. To make this story short, the Creator Sacrificed itself on and on, Transforming into water stone air and fire, and all that is. This process continues today, and as Wakan Tanka is infinite, one could say that God has already completed his task, and to some part of itself we are in the past. To another part of itself we are right here and now, from within every cell in our bodies and from every conceivable and inconceivable direction. All of everything is made of Wakan Tanka. So what is this spiritual urge? Why would we seek to come closer to what we could never escape? Everything is made from god and everything is god, and is independently divinely aware.

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The reason for our existence is to fulfil the creators destiny, we are all involved in this, every single thing that there is, is part of this amazing dance. To understand the spiritual path we need only to look to the old creation stories. Like the the Creator, we have this urge to grow and aspire, and we do. As human beings we grow and naturally reach out for more and more, until, as infants we can take the risk of standing on our own. There is the part about making a sacrifice, taking a risk to expand our view of the world. As we grow and learn physically we are also learning things that will serve us well after this life. In essence, the spiritual path is all about growth.

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Everything we learn here in this life are tools to serve us beyond this life. Avoiding danger, communicating, maneuvering, making friends and solving problems are all tools we will need in the afterlife. In all aboriginal spiritual traditions, we as human beings, eventually have to make the journey through the stars, across the milky way and beyond. It is a big universe out there and we’ll need all the experience we can get to be successful. Thats what we are learning, all of us are growing in a very practical way.

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What i am trying to say with all this is that by being spiritual and focusing upon spiritual matters, we are nourishing our souls. Indigenous rites like sweat lodge and hanbleceya (vision quest), for example, are tools designed to help us  fortify our souls. We are inspired, through nature, to sacrifice of our comfort zones and old ways of being, to grow and expand our horizons.

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We all know, deep inside, the truth that there is one spirit, indivisible, that is eternal and inexhaustible. Our souls are the vehicles that carry that one light of the spirit. Reflected within every soul is that divine life force that fuels us and gives us life. When we say Mitaku Oyasin, we are saying my relatives, all of them. We are all directly connected to the source of all that there is, body, mind, soul and spirit. We are all related, not just in that we are all made out of god’s body. we are all fueled by and connected to the very center of the universe. In essence you could say that we are each other!

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What makes us individual then, is our soul, which houses our spirit. By building upon our souls’ structure, we fortify the spirits’ container. This allows us to expand and grow as a reflection of the very journey that Wakan Tankan took in the creation stories. We do this through spiritually nurturing activities. We do this through aspiring to grow, through self sacrifice, and change. From this clear viewpoint we can see that the spiritual path is truly a very practical journey. The spiritual path has little to do with ancestry and culture and has more to do with getting the job done.

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Keep in mind that not all so called “spiritual paths” are beneficial. Many newer traditions are still in the experimental stage. A two thousand year old tradition is still in the stages of working out the kinks and may not even endure. When you think about it, even an eight thousand year old tradition is really not that old. In light of all this it would make sense to learn everything you can about the most ancient spiritual traditions of the world and make use of all the tools available to you. Do so with the clarity that sees beyond cultural romanticism. Learn, and regardless of anything else BE spiritual!

mitaku oyasin!

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12 Lakota Virtues

A view from the arbor

12 Lakota Virtues

Essential to balance and happiness, there are 12 Lakota Virtues that were a part of everyday life for our Native American ancestors. These are lessons that were taught by storytellers who lived the lessons they imparted. They practiced what they preached. These virtues were and are the foundation of Lakota culture. The teaching is that our quality of life is not measured by material possessions but by how well our life’s journey flows and dances through these virtues. In Lakota “wicozani” is a word which describes wealth by living a happy well balanced life with physical and mental health in harmony with creation. We remember how our ancestors lived, remaining true to ourselves and to them by listening to the stories while being mindful of these important specific teachings.

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These are the 12 Lakota Virtues:

1. Humility (Unsiiciyapi) – The first and most important step in life and especially on the spiritual path is humility which is the opposite of pride. In terms of spirituality, if the step of humility is skipped it results in delusions of grandeur. Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues. If you brag about your generosity then it spoils the generosity.

2. Perseverance (Wowacintanka) – In spite of difficulties we persist in our efforts which is a deeply empowering source of strength rising from within. To taste success we sometimes are forced to pick ourselves up and the gift is feeling how much life is worth living as we accomplish what we have set out to do. Many of our ancestors were faced with challenges that could only be helped through spiritual strength. This perseverance was what carried them through even to the afterlife.

3. Respect (Wawoohola) – A basic teaching among all tribes was that of respect towards all beings (sentient and insentient) which includes plants, animals, stones, wind, little people, and all of creation. In our present culture this important virtue has become lost with a general message of excess as well as intolerance for those who are challenged, elderly, or different in any way than ourselves. Our Lakota ancestors would ceremonially hunt their bison which would provide clothing, shelter, and food for the people. Every part was used and their spirit was honored by placing their skull facing east to meet the rising sun in unison with the rhythm of life.

4. Honor (Wayunonihan) – Being honorable means having strength of character by being a good person. Honor goes hand and hand with respect and many of the other virtues. To live the virtues it shows that someone has the integrity and dignity that makes up honor. Humility waters the roots of the tree of honor which then bears the fruit of love. By having honor means that one would choose the path of non violence and compassion rather than dishonorable actions.

5. Love (Cantognake) – More than just compassion, love is having the flame of emotion in one’s heart. Love rules over all things. The whole universe exists because of love, it is the motive of all creation.  It is not attachment because love can even be the incentive to be unattached. Love represents the balance that exists in everything. The warmth of the sun’s rays is the sun’s love for us. The ultimate love is spiritual joy which is responsible for life. Deep within each one of us and everything is this basic emotion known as Spirit.

6. Sacrifice (Icicupi) – Sacrifice is giving of oneself. The fruit of love is sacrifice. In the beginning the Creator sacrificed itself to make all that there is and through this humble act we can understand the significance of offering ourselves. In order to accomplish anything, one must be able to make a sacrifice. Whether it be the small sacrifices in your daily life or major sacrifices of your lifetime, we all reap what we sow by this fundamental act. We sacrifice our time and effort every day just to get things done but on a larger spiritual scale we can give of ourselves and give back to the Creator and Creation.

7. Truth (Wowicake) – Truth is being honest about yourself and the world around you. There is ultimate truth and then there are all of our individual truths. In this world of illusion we must rely upon our inner truth to know which way to go. Through gaining an understanding of life we learn to see beyond the illusions into what is real for us. We all have our own individual perspectives, it is relying upon our own perception within the greater reality that allows us to be in truth.

8. Compassion (Waunsilapi) – Doing what is right in caring for others as you would yourself is what makes a person compassionate. One need not feel sorry for or sympathetic to  anyone in order to live this virtue. In fact it is that inner strength that allows us to have the unconditional love that creates true compassion.

9. Bravery (Woohitike) – When an understanding of destiny and chance matures within the mind there is a dawning of faith within the heart. This is true courage. Bravery is born of the wisdom of life and death as well as one’s honor. It is not blind or reckless and can come from the very depths of our being in times of need. This open act of vulnerability despite circumstances can help us defy even the worst odds.

10. Fortitude (Cantewasake) – After learning patience and inner endurance one gains the strength necessary to have fortitude. Emotional stability, being alert, and having determination can help in having this persistent integrity. This is not an inflexible force. It is a quiet, gentle voice of a Grandmother with deep faith, trust, and understanding.

11. Generosity (Canteyuke) – “To have a heart” is the literal translation of this Lakota word which is a timeless virtue residing in the heart. True generosity has always been encouraged and exemplified in Lakota society while accumulating material possessions was greatly discouraged. As our Earth Mother gives everything, we should in turn do the same. True generosity embodies love and the understanding of impermanence.

12. Wisdom (Woksape) – Only after one has learned about life and is able to act on all the other virtues, can one be considered wise. First we attain knowledge then we learn to apply that knowledge. Wisdom is acting on what you know. Our gift to life is wisdom as well as life’s gift to us. It is knowing the difference between truth and the illusion. One can have knowledge without wisdom but one cannot have wisdom without knowledge. Wisdom is a reward from life for persevering through all of the virtues.

 

The power of Native song

Sept 09 054The power of Native song is felt not only in how it is sung but most importantly in it’s origins. Hearing someone sing Amazing Grace can be riveting and moving experience.  The reasons for this are found in the circumstance in which that song was composed like many old church hymns, Amazing Grace was written under conditions of great duress and emotional intensity.  When one hears such songs it actually invokes the spirits involved and the flavor of the moment that imbues the song with real magic. This can be seen as evident in a very pragmatic and scientific way.

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  A song of any kind represents a connecting link to a time and place of  it’s origins.  This takes place the way that electricity follows the current of a long copper wire.  It is simple to determine if a song carries power, what feelings does it evoke?  In our numb domestic culture it has become increasingly hard for people to sense the spiritual beings because they come as feelings.  In a domesticated world where most people aren’t even in touch with their own feelings, sensing the feelings in the wind like a wild animal does is quite unlikely.  Every so often you may sense a spirit without knowing what’s really happening.

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  Let’s say you’re going through some old boxes and you handle an old hairbrush.  You look at it’s color or design and put it somewhere else thinking nothing of it.  Later around dusk you get a peculiar sensation reminding you of the smell of soap that was in your grandmother’s bathroom during your childhood.  This scenario represents the visitation of a spirit.  As humans we may link the sensation we had of spirits in our grandmother’s bathroom with the smell of her soap.  This is one reason why aromatic smudge herbs are used in any ritual in any culture.

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Most people would think nothing of these kinds of feelings and would call them “memories”.  In a similar way one could get feelings handling a personal item that belonged to someone else’s family.  One may get an odd sensation or deja vu without realizing that they are sensing a spirit’s presence.  One too may assume, from the explanation, that the spirits sensed are ghosts, like the sensation of the grandmother.  What these sensations are, are elemental beings that follow an ancestral lineage like the water spirits sensed by the child in the grandmother’s bathroom.  Using this story as an analogy one may say that the smell of the soap or the handling of the hairbrush are like the songs in the act of calling the spirits.  Singing Amazing Grace in an all night Tipi Meeting you can feel the energy, or the flavor of the moment, dramatically shift.  Although the song is still within spiritual content it is still totally different in it’s origins and the mood from which it was born.

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In the sweat lodge when someone sings a European based pseudo Indian camp song it feels like the generated momentum of the lodge is all of a sudden  flushed away leaving the strange barbaric feeling of Spanish Conquistadors or the lineages of other early settlers. The spirits in this case follow the families, the languages and other European influences, as well as the line of the song.  What I mean by the line of the song is it’s history.  Like an electric wire this line has the means of transmission.

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There’s another aspects of songs where the concept of the “line of the spirits” is concerned.  Let’s say you made up a song with the intention of attracting a spirit.  Within the “flavor of the moment” that characterizes the spirits presence, you sing your song, and with it calling attention to yourself with this song.  You then have created a direct line to that specific spirit.  (Although this works do not assume that the spirits will behave the way you want or expect).  One could use a fragrance in the same way there is a connection between memory of smells with emotions.  In invoking spirits we are invoking memories, feelings.  The spirits are these feelings directly.  When you have a certain feeling of any kind you are actually embodying a spirit.  So by all this one can see that for a domestic human to summon the spirits of the wild, without a direct spiritual line of connection, is nearly impossible.  That is another one of our reasons for protecting and sharing these sacred ancient songs.  They can be of immeasurable aid to the future population of nerds that our culture is creating.  At a time when intelligence eclipses intuition altogether there can still be the hope of the spirits possible intervention.

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Taking a close analytical analysis of primordial spiritual songs we can find some very interesting points.  First of all, ancient spiritual traditions of the world use what is known as the pentatonic scale.  It is based upon the number five and it predates the harmonic scale.  Pentatonic scale is used exclusively for spiritual applications even in cultures predominated by the harmonic scales.  The pentatonic scale flourishes in American culture through Blues and Gospel music which have African roots.  In all indigenous cultures when invoking the spirits, a falsetto is employed.  This clearly illustrates an emotional relationship between man and spirit and it shows that some spirits are attuned to crying.

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Another marked difference in primordial spiritual music is the beat.  Domestic music uses a beat that is to the time of the song that is how children in industrialized cultures are taught to clap hands in school.  Native American music, like African and other aboriginal societies, utilizes the opposite.  Professional drummers from modernized cultures have to unlearn the tendency to clap to time, finding the heartbeat in the background of the song.singing andrea and Chris

In all Lakota spiritual songs and Native American spiritual music the songs start out high and end up low following the natural laws of gravity.  In hearing song birds in nature even when a bird’s song goes high it is always followed by a radical plummet back down again.  Even when the Catholic Church banned the pentatonic scale they still used it along with falsetto  and the high to low intonations for Latin prayer recitations._LAN9309

It is obvious that the difference in native dance music and others is that the volume is louder and the range is further breaking through the yodel all the way to the other side.  Anyone can do this with practice by building the muscles of the larynx and learning how to relax other muscles at the same time.  Lakota song, like it’s language, are toned from the center of the head rather than from the soft palate   This gives it a resonant nasal quality.  This is lacking in English where all the sounds are projected out of the mouth with the front of the mouth, unlike primordial languages.  In domestic society we have found changes in human language, our thoughts as well as our habits. An interesting change that has occurred is that the male alto voice types are becoming rarer.  This may be due to hormonal changes related to domestication.

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The most important difference in aboriginal music are the origins of the songs.  A song is a gift from the spirits.  A person receives a vision with a gift of the song for the people.  Most all of the native songs have come about in this way and not from regular composition.  This is illustrated by the lyrics which are in first person from the spirit’s standpoint.  This is a very important point to remember because it too defines authentic aboriginal song and is totally absent in industrialized cultures.  A Lot of people find our blog site looking for English sweat lodge songs.  There is no such thing as an English sweat lodge song nor is there such a thing as a Spanish sweat lodge song.  None of the Spanish and English so called Indian songs were gifted by the spirits, these songs were all composed.  None of these contemporary songs are in first person from the spirits point of view.  None of them use falsetto, pentatonic scale, have a back beat or go from high to low.  So if you hear someone singing a song claim to have been a Native American spiritual song yet it is in a harmonic scale do not take them serious.summer 11 151

To recognize a fraudulent song, as you can see, is very simple.  But there are other things that define domestic compositions.  “We all fly like eagles,  high above the earth, circling the universe, with wings of pure light”.  The example begins not only with a fantasy statement but also completely untrue in every way.  It expresses the need to be greater out of a low self esteem which is a distinct character trait of this modern culture.  It is common in the Lakota songs to hear this statement “I am a common man” or “a common man is saying this”.  The most prevalent phrase in Lakota songs is“pity me” (have compassion).  Secondly is “help me” as well as ”God I am suffering”.   This is reflected by most spiritual songs of any traditions regardless of age or culture.02907292013_1242

The purpose in making distinctions in spiritual and non spiritual songs is to defend true spirituality without allowing fraudulent mystics to damage the authentic power.  Even if it is done innocently and inadvertently, measures need to be taken to safe keep the ancient traditions of the earth.  In the same way there should never be a drive thru or email confessionals in the church, there should never be bogus Indian songs as part of any sweat lodge.  the reason for this preservation is not to stop the evolution of a native path but to stop the domestication of it.  That de-claws it making it an obedient pet rather than a fierce panther that inspires reverence and change.  It controls the spirit by denying it access to the people, it transforms the medicine power into a badge of honor rather than as a spiritual gift.

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A Blossoming Tradition

Who practices Modern Indigenous American Traditions?  People from all walks of life and all corners of the globe. Like all good traditions and spiritual practices, they have the tendency to grow. In terms of Native American spirituality, the Lakota traditions have done the best. This is so because the Lakota people have always shared with others, adopted people as family (Hunka) and have always helped others without hatred and judgement. That is why it is a blossoming tradition. The Navajo have had a hard time generating interest among their youth in the practice of traditional ceremonies. Since they have been reluctant to pass their sacred ways outside of their own blood relatives they have suffered the total extinction of many important rites in very recent years. Nowadays the Navajo are related to every race on earth and come from all walks of life. Like most nations of the earth, a small percentage of them are involved in Lakota ceremonials!

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There is this illusion that indigenous traditions must remain unchanged, like the anthropologist frowning over the Sun Dance Chief taking flesh offerings with a surgical scalpel instead of a flint knife. The anthropologist has totally missed the point and cannot see the practicality, wisdom, and level of detachment inherent in non-domestic spirituality (attachment and sentimentality are enhanced in domesticated animals).

The true indigenous spiritual leaders have the same ethics and humility as most of the world religions. In the first century, Christianity immediately spread from being Jewish to embracing Greeks, Ethiopians and any one else that expressed an interest, this is a natural phenomenon that can be seen everywhere. The Catholic Pope is nether Jewish, Greek, or Italian right now he’s of American Indian heritage! One might argue that Native spirituality cannot be compared to Christianity even though it is the chosen path of most Native Americans. Others would say that in the story of Christianity the Jews represented the good traditionalist, staying in line with the sacred ways. Nothing could be further from the truth because the Jewish tradition has always been open to the public. People all faiths continuously convert to Judaism and always have. It is not uncommon for a man to undergo a circumcision operation in the hopes of becoming admitted to Judaism. Like the Navajo they too are international, global citizens!

Like all paths to God, you’ll find a Catholic and Protestant versions of all of them. There are the purist fundamentalists, the spirit filled ones in rapture, as well as closet atheists who think they are spiritual because they are part of a religion. All of them play important roles as it truly takes all kinds!

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We are constantly reminded at our ceremonial functions of the strange circumstances of the changing world in which we live. There are a lot of misconceptions about spirituality in general and folks these days have allot of different motives for being involved. It is up to us that the coming generations not pollute indigenous ways by making them domesticated. This has been what has hurt the worlds greatest spiritual paths more than anything else. Domestication is warping our perception, the only thing we take with us beyond this life!

What makes Indigenous traditions, of any kind, so powerful is that they are wild and untamed. They access that part of the human psyche that is unmolested by industrialization.  It is ever important for the human race to hold on to the magic that is swiftly receding away from us. Many new age philosophies would disagree with this, but let me point out that they are a strictly domesticated variety of human beings. When any animal is domesticated, or even when wild animals are caged or subjected to routines, they tend to slip into neurotic behavior patterns, like living in a made up fantasy world.

Many do not realize that the Lakota Sun Dance is an international religion, for example. There has emerged many powerful medicine men and spiritual leaders representing Lakota traditions from the world over. Many people are against this (mostly nonspiritual people).  It is truly mysterious how the spirit moves, a person may acquire spirit helpers through association with a tradition, through marriage, by ordination and by birth. Sometimes it runs in the family as was the case with Daniel Dunglas Home and Carlos Mirabelli. There is also the case where someone is born with miraculous powers outside of spiritual tradition altogether.

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There are hundreds of cases of human foot prints fossilized in stone, any where from 1 million to 90 million years old, a testimony to the awesome mystery of human kind and what lurks deep within our human consciousness. Modern Indigenous American Spirituality is in constant flux as we our selves are redefined by what we know, and that goes for all of spirituality, everywhere!

Only the last remaining indigenous traditions of the world still have miraculous, seemingly impossible things as commonplace. Spiritual leaders of domestic religion, sadly, cannot begin to imagine the reality of  the aboriginal spiritual world (whats left of it).

ALTAR DESIGNS

ALTAR DESIGNS

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Often people ask us about ritual protocol.  Why are things done a certain way?  What color prayer flags (robes) go in which direction?  There are very specific reasons for these details but most importantly know that the rules vary from one medicine person to another.  In addition to this each root family or tiospaye has specific rules. An altar design from Fools Crow would differ from that of Henry Crowdog.  The directional colors vary as well as some of the songs that are used.  Each Medicine Man or Woman receives from the Universe a vision.  The vision usually instructs the changes that should occur in the altar design.  although the changes maybe slight they are powerful symbols to the spirits that they call.  So that’s one reason why an altar design is different from another, they call different spirits.  Such a vision (of an altar) comes with a song.  That is why the Yuwipi or Lowampi ceremony have different altar songs.

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So when attending a different sweat lodge don’t expect that the songs you are used to will be sung.  One word may be changed, there may not be a drum or there might be a rattle ( wagmuha).  The sweat lodge door may face a different direction. Generally, as with the Sundance, it faces west to call the Wakinyan or Thunder Spirits ( Lakota ).  

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If you are encountering difficulty or any problematic situations you can most likely look no further than the altar to find the solution. An altar cluttered with crystals and unnecessary items is usually the root cause of strife in any ceremonial event. Do not allow participants to place unrelated objects upon the altar. What we want here is a flow directed by the spirits themselves, so without proper instruction, having nothing upon the altar would be far better than clutter!

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Oftentimes we will sponsor a sweat lodge with other Pipe carriers and or medicine people.  We will have to ask them, what color prayer flags (robes) do you want and in what direction?  Do you want a buffalo skull on the altar and which direction should it face, toward the lodge or the fire?  Should we make prayer ties and what color?  After we find out which way everything goes, you can find out the reasons why things are the way they are.  The leader should know all the answers to the directional colors their presiding animals, spirits, the altar design, the meanings of the songs as well as when and why they are sung. 

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An All Night Tipi Meeting may vary profoundly from one Roadman to another.  This is especially so because The native American Church is an inter-tribal religion.  There are two branches in general the Half Moon and the Cross Fire.  Each Roadman / Roadwoman facilitates the ceremony differently.  Usually it is understood that at a different fireplace or altar the form of the ritual will be different in a lot of ways, yet basically structurally the same.  Even the symbolism can have different explanations.

Yuwipi/Lowanpi

Yuwipi\Lowanpi

        We believe in the night sing, the power of inyan, the stone, the miraculous healing power of the ancestors and the sacred songs.  We believe in the Wiwila, little people, animal spirits, and the various other Tunkasila (spirits). We believe in the emptiness of the Medicine Man as a hollow bone for the spirits’ work.

The Night Sing, or Lowanpi, is probably the most fascinating rite in the western hemisphere. Anthropologists believe that it has its origins in Siberia and that it spread from there to many places throughout the world. It is believed to have been practiced in Nepal and northern China thousands of years ago.  There are ancient traces of it among the Laplanders’, The Mongols, The Icelandic peoples’ and in Amazonia.

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In the 1950′s it is said to have died out in Siberia but it has made a recent come back from North America. Versions of the Yuwipi/Lowanpi have long been practiced by tribes of the Northern and Eastern United states. The Tent Shaking rite among the Ojibwa were well documented in the 1800s, as well as the various plains tribes.                      

When the Medicine Man is tied and bound it is known as a Yuwipi rather than Lowanpi. It is this act of tying, untying, the frame drum, as well as the general events of the ceremony are what allowed Anthropologists to trace the yuwipi to Siberia and beyond. The Canli Pahta, or prayer ties are a purely Lakota element in this beautiful practice.

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Recently, people say things like “these ceremonies came about when our people had to hide their spiritual practices”. These views are inconsistent with Anthropological and Archaeological facts as the Yuwipi is thought of as the Neanderthal’s primary religion. There is no question that the Yuwipi/Lowanpi was never one of the Seven Sacred Rites of the White Buffalo Calf Woman. This suggests that the Prayer Ties and the use of the Sacred Pipe were, at some point, added to the Yuwipi. Similarly  songs as well as other elements have come from the Yuwipi/Lowanpi and entered into the Sundance.

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 These ways may have come from Siberia ,but the reverse may be the case just as well, especially in the case with mastodon hunters who followed the herds. It is believed that the yuwipi, the ceremony that truly defines Shamanism, moved with the migration of the mastodon. The Lakota primarily hunted Mastodon before the buffalo, as did various other tribes.

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The healing that occurs in these ceremonies  may not be accompanied by any tactile sensations. This does not affect the power of the healing.  The most difficult manifestation seems to be for the spirits to make sound. Auditory experiences seem to occur less (the singing or speaking of spirits) than tactile ones. There are no real generalizations though, it is up to the Spirits alone, next it is up to the Medicine Man’s relationship with those beings and last but not least the faith of the participants. It is strange to see the (new-age) shamanic drumming sessions that are so popular now. This practice is directly mimicking the ancient ways without any of the outward manifestations (or initiation  that are usual to these ceremonies. It is Interesting to note that certain individuals are born with, or acquire the ability to create situations characteristic to Yuwipi.

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Daniel Dunglas Home and Carlos Mirabelli are two individuals known to have brought about such situations. first thing one could experience in a Yuwipi or Lowanpi is levitation and movement the rattles and various other objects. Next would be flickering lights, rain, hail, wind and other similar sensations. The third type of manifestation one could expect is the touch of a spirit’s hand, the touch of an animal, Little person, or other such being’s touch.

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The Yuwipi ritual may be held for very specific purposes.  Among them are healings, finding lost or stolen objects, and finding solutions to problems.   It is part of a trinity of rights, Yuwipi, Sweat lodge and Vision Quest.  After performing a sweat lodge the right begins in a room in which all lights can be extinguished.  The leader or Yuwipi man is bound within a quilt and laid face down in the center of the room, (Yuwipi means they tie him up).  The room is plunged into total darkness as the lead singer begins to drum and sing with great enthusiasm.  In the darkness the spirits play the rattles and untie the leader.  The lights are turned on and the Yuwipi man narrates the events of the ceremony and the sacred Canupa is passed round.  This all takes about four to six hours and is an evening event.  Yuwipi is followed by a  potluck. The Yuwipi is an important Ceremonial that we are excited to have in our community as well as visitors from all over.

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Singing for Yuwipi / Lowanpi is a very serious matter. The lead singer and the accompaniment should not take it lightly. It is of utmost importance for the singer to be able to sense the man in the middle within the cover of total darkness as well as the coming and going of the various spirits that may be present. To get started the sacred Canupa will be filled with Cancasa with the accompaniment of the Pipe filling song or Opagipi Olowan. Sometimes two other pipe songs may be sung with it. Then for the tying this song can be sung although it is not necessary.

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It is important that this all happens swiftly and without delay (tying). As soon as the man is in the center face down the lights are extinguished and the directional song (Tatetopakiya Olowan) is sung. There are some very important things to know about this song. This song is received by the medicine man during vision quest and is his personal song. It is sometimes known as an altar song or as Wicakicopi Olowan (they call them song). This type of song can only be learned in person Unless a regular directional song is being used. A good example of this would be the directional song of the sweat lodge. Other spirits are called in now with the calling songs, the Deer, Mole, Bat and stone spirits’ (Yuwipi Wasicunwould take precedence for us. The calling songs can vary greatly with circumstance and the Yuwipi Bundle itself.

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A prayer song is sung signaling the time of prayer. This can happen in a number of ways depending on the situation. Basically this is when the spirits are asked for healing or the whereabouts of someone or something. The spirits may go look to check something out or retrieve an object or Ghost.  Healing songs would now be sung as the spirits get to work on the sponsor and whomever stands to receive a healing. This usually happens either by the sponsor, select individuals or by everyone.

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The spirits’ may perform tasks in answer of the prayers during the healing round but may continue working into the next set of songs. Depending on the medicine man a wide variety of songs can be sung at this point. Now it is common to hear Kettle songs, Ceh’ohomni Olowan. These are better known as Heyoka songs or Thunder being songs.

 These clown songs originally are used as part of the Kettle Dance and other Heyoka rites. It is said that the ghosts of the Heyoka Medicine men intervene in the Yuwipi /Lowanpi cerimony to affect a cure, who really knows? These songs may be sung solely to call the Thunder beings as well as other related spirits. Many other songs can be sung, there are the stone songs, spider songs, and all the various animal songs.

The spirits Do the untying with the untying song. This song is known as Wicayujujupi Olowan. Now Spirit dancing songs are sung. This songs known as Waci Olowan are sung in the sweat Lodge as well as the Sun Dance. In the lodge it is used in the most active time for the spirits which is the third door. During Sundance it is sung while the pierced dancers are breaking free or just after that. During Yuwipi this is at the point of untying. Sometimes in a ceremony such as this a version is used calling the stone spirits to dance, it is up to the Yuwipi man. At this point regular Sweat and Sundance songs may be sung for the spirits pleasure, for them to dance.

No matter how the ceremony progresses or how it is preformed or whatever, the Spirits go home song and the closing song are always song. Sometimes a few songs are sung just before this.

28. Closing Song           ( spirits go home song ).                  This is a must know song! For most every ceremony whether its’ for a simple Sweat Lodge or to end a Sun Dance!!!

Hot aninyan kin najin pelo, Hot aninyan kin najin pelo, Tunkasila ta wokonze ca, Lena cicu welo. Hot aninyan kin najin pelo.

English

As we leave our voices are heard, As we leave our voices are heard, It is Grandfather’s will, That I give you these offerings. As we leave our voices are heard.

Espanol

Mientras partimos, nuestra voces se eswchan, Mientras partimos,nuestra voces se eswchan, Es la voluntad de el Abuelo, Que te doy estas ofrendas, Mientras partimos, nuestra voces se eswchan, 

 29. Ending Song

Kola, lena cicu welo wayankiyelo, Kola, lena cicu welo wayankiyelo.

Anpetu okihica cicu welo, Kola lena cicu welo wayankiyelo.

English

My friend, I have given you these. Behold them, My friend, I have given you these. Behold them.

The day has made it possible to give you these offerings, My friend, I have given you these. Behold them.

Espanol

Mi amigo te e dado esto, recibelo, Mi amigo te e dado esto, recibelo.

El dia ha echo posible poder darte estas ofrendas, Mi amigo te e dado esto, recibelo.

Black Bear

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Rules for singing Ceremonial Songs

Important Details about Ceremonial songs

“Rules for singing Ceremonial Songs”


Click here for songs!

  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.

Kid's songs

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!