This season is a holy time for many peoples in the world. While multitudes participate fully in—what has become—frenzied materialism, others take a pause or at least strike a balance.
Hopi artist friend Filmer Kewanyama says this about December: “The earth’s crust is very fragile. For us, we are supposed to be quiet and reflect on who we are. It is a time for us to be quiet and listen.” This is when storytelling takes place, passing on oral history to the next generation, and the Soyal Ceremony occurs in the kiva, looking to the coming year with great spiritual focus. It’s when the men fashion prayers feathers. Traditionally when Hopi Spirit Keepers have accompanied my groups to Mayalands, they’ve given prayer feathers to those of us holding the center of the journey. The paho, or prayer feather, we each receive is from the roadrunner and meant to protect us as we travel and enter the new year. I wear mine throughout the journey and, upon return home, place each one in a special vessel I keep on my altar.*
This season has become a quiet time for me in the sense that I step back from external activity, a way to remember my own roots, an instilled period of reflection and solitude. And explicitly because there is such space and time for exposure, it’s become heightened with insights, dreams and creative surges for me. Messages come through from the Infinite and that still point inside is given voice.
In that spirit, I’m sharing a dream here that I had early Christmas morning. I was sponsoring an event, and the person who was to present didn’t show. I knew I needed to step in with an impromptu talk. The audience was getting restless. I thought to speak about the work I believe in: preserving the sanctity of Native traditions to inform the next generations, to bring us back to those core elements that hold the world together. But the words wouldn’t come. How do you express something whose meaning runs so deeply that it can only be felt, that words wouldn’t do justice?
I floundered. Anxiety was showing its face. Just as some of the audience started to collect their coats and leave, Native and non-Native people began to materialize out of the ether to stand on either side of me. Some I knew; others I didn’t. In turn they related the effect, tangible and intangible, that our projects and journeys had on them personally, the importance of continuity toward spiritual grounding, hope, or a wound tended that would otherwise have gone unhealed.
I came fully awake, feeling resolve to continue holding the vision, even when it seems like few others do, roadblocks appear, or I don’t personally see the ultimate outcome of the intent. For me, these are aspects of true faith realized in this sacred season.
Typically, I don’t remember my dreams. When I do, I know it’s from that invisible realm that retains more wisdom than I do on a daily basis. I would be lying if I said I don’t falter, feel like giving up many times and throwing in the towel. It’s a human condition, especially so when any of us hold a vision that runs counter to the mainstream world, and progress is defying gravity uphill. This is what I sense happens in the kiva: restoring of faith, strengthening of purpose.
True advancements come not from the mainstream but from a collective retaining the holy vision, with understanding how invisible threads may be woven.
That was the prayer feather of my dream Christmas morning that protected me from loss of faith. With renewed intent, I share it here as my own offering—for the circle of life—to guide the next year.
Kenosis Spirit Keepers is the nonprofit arm of Kenosis. To learn more about our work, please go here. Your end-of-year donation is tax-deductible and strengthens our mission to preserve Indigenous wisdom for a better world.
The words and artwork of Filmer Kewanyama are used with his full permission. To view a collection of his expressive artwork, go here.
*Most years Entering the Maya Mysteries spiritual travel journeys occur in January.
Thanks Carla! This resonates deeply in my current life space. It is a transitional time for me, filled with reflective opportunities that bring me back to many of the lessons I derived from various engagements with you! I deeply appreciate your message along with the images and words from Fil. I find renewed hope for the changes that will emerge in 2014. In love and peace – Bob