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!

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.

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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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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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!

Black Bear

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.