Monthly Archives: April 2015

Music Review: A Deeper Surrender – Kirtana

A Deeper Surrender

Eleven years ago I received this CD as a gift, and it never gets old. I was embarking on a solo camping trip up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The friend who gave it to me hoped it would help hold the intent of the trip—and indeed it did!

 The sweetness of Kirtana’s voice is enough in itself, and the love songs she sings automatically touch something inside. When I realized that she was disclosing the nature of her relationship with the Divine Beloved, it deepened the effect even more. Throughout my journey north and then home, this sacred music compelled me to witness evidence all around me and within me of That which permeates everything.

Available on Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.

Categories: Gratitude, Music Review, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Allies

In January I took a group to Nahá as usual during my Maya spiritual travel program. Nahá is a tiny Lacandón Maya village deep in the Lacandón Biosphere of Chiapas, Southern Mexico. We go there to be with Don Antonio Martinez for ceremony and show our respect that he’s still holding traditions when there’s so much pressure for him to let them go. We also visit with the widows of the late spiritual leader Chan K’in Viejo, as well as spending time at sacred Lacandón sites.

This time we stopped by Kayum’s home. I hadn’t seen him in years. Kayum Ma’ax Garcia is a Lacandón Maya artist of the monkey onen, or clan. He’s also one of Chan K’in Viejo’s sons. He works in acrylics on canvas. In his artwork Kayum conveys actual events, lifeways, creation stories and rituals of a culture nearly gone—as well as his dreams, an important aspect of traditional life. So, in his own way, Kayum is preserving the traditions of his people. I’ve always been fascinated by his art.

Kayum Art

Traveler Frostie Torres purchases a painting from Kayum during our 2007 program. Photo: Alonso Mendez.

But he has little exposure to the world outside his village. I thought to myself, it’s important for his work to get out there, not only to help sustain his family but for others to appreciate Lacandón lifeways and traditions. I suggested to him that he offer his work as archival prints through an online service as I do. But he has no camera, computer or technical knowledge even if he did. Aside from that there’s only Internet at the little lodge where we stay. And the connection is so poor it may as well be non-existent. He had no one to support this possibility, and it was something he really wanted to do after I explained it.

An opportunity landed in my lap, another one that truly matters. The group witnessed the process of this conception. They were excited. I went home and put a vote before the Kenosis Spirit Keepers Board.*

The Allies Gallery is now a program supported by Kenosis Spirit Keepers to sponsor Indigenous artists who have extremely limited capabilities to offer their work. Kayum is our first artist. Proceeds of any of his art sales go directly to him. The same will be true for any other artist we include.

Man of the Wild Acrylic on canvas Kayum Ma'ax Garcia

Man of the Wild
Acrylic on canvas
Kayum Ma’ax Garcia

Our online gallery is now up! You’re invited to check it out and support Kayum through purchase of his work and sharing Allies Gallery with others. We currently have prints available for four of his pieces, in various sizes and formats, and will add more as time goes on.

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Kenosis Spirit Keepers is the volunteer-run, grassroots organization I founded in 2007 to help preserve Indigenous traditions, a 501(c)3 nonprofit extension of Kenosis.

Categories: Arts, cultural interests, Lacandón Maya | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Learnings from Hopi: What Is Your Blue Star?

Since 2007 Kenosis Spirit Keepers has been sponsoring Hopi Wisdom Keepers on my spiritual travel programs to reconnect with relations along their migration path from South America.* As much as it’s been spiritually meaningful to them, it’s been an extraordinary privilege for the rest of us on those travels to witness how they find proof in the common symbols, creation stories and even Indigenous language in Peru, Mexico and Guatemala, letting them know—indeed—those were their origins.

One of my favorite memories from Peru is when Harold Joseph met Don Miguelito, an Elder who only spoke Quechua. Yet Harold understood him. Another is when the reed serpent-shaped boats on Lake Titicaca excited Harold. He brought a replica home and showed it to his late father-in-law, the last Hopi oral historian of his clan. Char Joseph told me of her father’s response, “It made him so happy! It proved to him that our stories are real!” All Hopis who have come on the Maya journeys as well have made the connection between the Jaguar Twins in Maya traditional stories and their own, along with many other commonalities.

When such things happen it supports spiritual grounding. Something intangible finds its inherent slot. It’s part of identity and who we are in the world. For so many of us today, ancestry is unclear… lost to time or hidden.

I can easily link my own migrations through this lifetime that have brought me to where I am today. But what about lineage? Mine is a mixed bag. Some can be traced back to the late 1700s through records that tell of my Irish and English ancestors’ wanderings from place to place. However, there’s a good chunk of my heritage only known through veiled family stories or random comments … untraceable. During the first half of the last century, my people were taught to be ashamed of their Native origins and perhaps attempted to pass for something they weren’t. And in earlier years, they were just trying to keep their lives.

What we know of our roots and what we don’t commingles and informs the stories we choose to create through the making of our own lives. And we can pay attention to what runs in our blood that needs no proof.

Pam Hale Trachta, a spiritual mentor and author of Flying Lessons, participated in my Spiritual Travel to Hopi program in March. She’s written a beautifully informative article that encompasses what I’m writing about here: Hopi migrations and our own guiding light.

What Is Your Blue Star?

Blue Star

Blue star petroglyph. Photo: Pam Hale Trachta.

The Hopi people we met in Arizona on a spiritual tour with Carla Woody allowed us to see and photograph a petroglyphic symbol of a blue star that appeared long ago, to signal their way home. The story they told us was that when they emerged through a sipapu or opening in the earth in northern Arizona, they met Masau, the guardian of the earth, who told them they could inhabit this world if they would abide by his instructions…He told them to make migrations into the four directions, and after spreading far and wide he told them they would be signaled back to the place of their emergence… Read more.

Pam also wrote about precious time we spent in the Harold and Char’s home. I wanted to include this, too, as added reading to convey how special it is to be invited.

Hopi Feast

Post-ceremony breakfast feast. Photo: Pam Hale Trachta.

A Hopi Feast

On a literal level, this feast was prepared for us by Charlene Joseph, a Hopi woman from the village of Moenkopi. We were welcomed into her home to learn about the Hopi way of life, which is all about Spirit. Perhaps you can’t see Spirit in the photograph, but it is the major ingredient–the primary flavor in every event, every “dish” that is part of her family’s life…This feast is a tradition the morning after the night Kachina dances, which we were privileged to attendRead more.

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*I founded Kenosis Spirit Keepers, the nonprofit extension of Kenosis, in 2007 to help preserve Indigenous wisdom ways.

Categories: cultural interests, Hopi, Indigenous Wisdom | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Film Review: The Wellbriety Journey to Forgiveness

I will tell you up front that this is a difficult film to watch and can bring up all kinds of emotion. But if you’re going to watch it, then do so until the end because toward its finish there is much hope conveyed.

During our recent Spirit Keepers Series held in Phoenix on the subject of PTSD and Native healing ways, I had invited Eli PaintedCrow, an Iraq War veteran of the Yaqui Nation and co-founder of Turtle Women Rising, to take part based on her own experiences and to frame further aspects of our Series. She showed a portion of Wellbriety Journey to Forgiveness, a documentary produced by White Bison, Inc. They’re a Native American-operated 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to culturally-based healing for Indigenous peoples.

The film starts out with a prophecy given by the Old Ones about the light skins who would arrive, create confusion and great destruction. How everything would be taken from the Native American but their spirituality. There would be tremendous suffering, genocide and a time of testing. But opportunity for healing would present itself. After this time of healing, the buffalo, Native people and all manner of sustenance would return. Harmony would prevail. Native people believe that we entered this time of healing in the early 1990s.

This is the story of that destruction, particularly centered on boarding schools and their effect. If you’re not familiar, in 1879 the first Indian boarding school was opened in New Carlisle, PA. Native children were forcibly taken from their families and shipped off to such schools around the US where they were stripped of their language and anything having to do with their culture. They endured ongoing violence and humiliation in silence—many didn’t survive—and it had horribly detrimental effects reaching all the way to today. This is called intergenerational trauma, certainly a form of PTSD.

As a part of the Wellbriety Movement, Native organizers undertook a 7000-mile journey all over the US to give Elders and their children a chance to tell their stories, perhaps for the first time, and express grief. In this undertaking they hoped to break the cycle of addiction and violence, begin the road to forgiveness and a return to spiritual traditions. The film covers Native values and how to live in harmony as taught by the Old Ones, along with a model called the Four Directions of Forgiveness and a call to Greater Purpose.

This is an extremely powerful film and could be called the Schindler’s List for Native Americans. It was created as an Indian Give-Away by White Bison for purposes of truth-telling and healing.

Whether you have Indigenous members in your family line who suffered the atrocities, have ancestors who perpetrated any part of it, or are born of mixed blood as many of us are…the message presented here is relevant to all. The effects of genocide, abuse and shame are equally carried through the family line. This is a film for anyone whose ancestors have experienced anything of the like. That doesn’t leave out many people on the planet.

This is a move for truth—no more secrets—and healing accomplished when we live in harmony as the Old Ones taught. Seeing the complete film instilled even more significance to me in how I personally live and greater understanding of the important work Kenosis Spirit Keepers does, even if we reach only a few.

This is a film for the Next Seven Generations. Critical mass is important. View the film for free on You Tube and share widely. Length: 1 hour, 13 minutes. Also visit White Bison to learn of their healing institution and classes.

Categories: cultural interests, Film, Healing, Indigenous Rights | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Way Before Me

In May and June 2015 I will be walking the Camino de Santiago. I’ve created a special blog just for this journey: The Essential Way – A Pilgrim’s Narration on the Camino de Santiago. It will be an accounting of that pilgrimage: before, during and after. I intend to record my reflections, trials, joys, practical aspects and interesting tidbits. I’ll mix in images I shoot and sketches for later artwork if the apps on my iPad turn out easy enough to use. I’m extending you an invitation to go to that blog page and subscribe if you’d like to keep up with me. I’ll be keeping it separate from The Lifepath Dialogues, which will be ongoing. Below is the first post for the Camino.

The Essential Way

The double entendre of this post title is intended. Standing in the shelter of a threshold I can look back to history as well as gaze forward into the unknown with expectancy. No longer hovering before the threshold, I took the step forward. I’m actively preparing. But the next big move is placing that first footfall on the dirt of the Camino Francés.

PilgrimScallopI can’t tell you exactly why I decided to walk the Camino de Santiago. When I think about it, I realize thoughts of the Camino had been hovering in the background for years—but without any aspirations or inspirations. I may have read about a book about it way back when. I do note that I used the term “pilgrim” as a thematic metaphor in my first book Calling Our Spirits Home. It’s not a word I could recall using before writing that book and haven’t…

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