Posts Tagged With: sacred reciprocity

Spiritual Integrity and Preservation

In 2009 an important tradition began, first started by Hopi elder Harold Joseph who accepted an invitation to accompany me on my spiritual travel program Entering the Maya Mysteries. As his religious leader’s emissary, the purpose was to reconnect with relations, those from Hopi migration paths. When I make these invitations on behalf of Kenosis Spirit Keepers, it’s without expectation of outcome. I’ve come to know that as long as we within the circle hold the container sacred…what fills it is rich, often with significance I never could have predicted.

The effect Harold had on Don Antonio Martinez, the last Lacandón Maya elder maintaining his timeless traditions, during a very vulnerable time is well documented in my article The Last Spirit Keeper available for download here. Equally significant are the indications Harold saw during our travels through Mayalands that validated his people’s oral history and common thread with these relations of the south. At certain sites he made offerings and prayers. Over these years several other Hopi Spirit Keepers have replicated what Harold started.

Don Antonio Martinez and Harold Joseph

Don Antonio Martinez and Harold Joseph at the Lacandón Maya village of Najá in 2009. Photo credit: Darlene Dunning

This coming January, Merle Namoki, Sun Forehead Clan, from Shungopavi, Second Mesa will continue the tradition, strengthening the bridge of relationship and respect, laying down prayers. A few years ago, Merle said to me, “…We all need to pray to keep our Mother Earth and Father Sky in balance…”

Mike Weddle is a member of the Kenosis Spirit Keepers’ board who, for more than twenty years, has immersed himself in the sacred ways of the Maya of Guatemala. In his essay Are the Maya and the Hopi Two Branches of the Same Ancestral Tree, he compiled examples of common practices linking the two. He also talked about the protectiveness that Hopi people have over their sacred traditions—in order to preserve them.

The intent I hold for spiritual travel has remained the same from the start. It is not to co-opt Indigenous traditions. It is to offer respect through our presence and to hold space that these sacred ways continue. Merle stated the need so well. If in the process we visitors are deeply touched—and we are—we bring this difference home. Who we are in the world is influenced…and felt by our families, friends and communities. Core spiritual elements are strengthened.

The anniversary of an important date is coming up for me. In late Spring 2008 I held my breath as I opened an envelope from the IRS…and exhaled with great relief to see that Kenosis Spirit Keepers was given status as a charitable organization, our nonprofit extension. It was signed and dated October 15, 2007.

Kenosis Spirit Keepers logo

In this post about the continuity of traditions, I also want to express much appreciation to those who have made donations over the years, and certainly to those who have traveled with me…holding reverence, making the circles and sponsorships possible. Through your spiritual integrity, this work continues. Last but certainly not least, the folks who have served on the board since the inception of Kenosis Spirit Keepers, worked hard and assisted with direction and decisions…I have gratitude.

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If you are drawn to support connections between the Hopi and Maya peoples, join us January 18-28, 2015 in Chiapas, Mexico for Entering the Maya Mysteries. A portion of tuition is tax-deductible to support the travel of Hopi Merle Namoki and the humanitarian healing work of Don Sergio Castro in impoverished Maya communities.

To read more about the unusual occurrence that inspired the founding of Kenosis Spirit Keepers see The Ninth Evolution of the Spirit Keepers Journey (with video).

To learn more about the Maya worldview, listen to an excerpt of my interview with Tat Apab’yan Tew, K’iche Maya Daykeeper, who is part of the Maya spiritual travel program.

 

Categories: Gratitude, Hopi, Indigenous Wisdom, Lacandón Maya, Maya, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Energy That Finds Its Source

Sometimes it’s powerful to change things up in your geography, to experiment and see how you may further engage creativity…and The Muse. In the last several months, I’ve done just that—albeit unknowingly—and have been fairly astounded at what has unfolded.

I meditate first thing in the morning, usually before dawn. Over the last thirty years of doing so, it’s set the stage for my days and provided a consistent segue for insights, higher guidance. But I’d never considered using it as a tool for my artwork. It happened accidentally.

I would undertake my daily ritual in the back room, sitting cross-legged with straight back, always in the same spot for as long as I’d lived in this home, an anchor to the process. One morning for no apparent reason, I chose to meditate in the front room. Whenever I feel complete, I come back with “soft eyes”…slightly defocused…slowly returning, integrating the state with my day ahead. That morning my gaze came to rest on the easel and canvas I’d been painting for a while. And suddenly I experienced the piece in a whole new way. I saw things I hadn’t seen before. I felt a previously undetected presence, perhaps waiting until I’d opened a door and it could reach through and guide me. I’ve continued this change in geography while keeping my long-time meditation ritual. My artwork has more depth and meaning. I feel the intent of pieces is coming across in a way I’d just hoped for before. I had the beautiful feedback from a couple from Canada who approached me—after seeing My Magdalen Heart in person—saying they’d experienced the piece literally speaking to them.

The Inner Chamber

The Inner Chamber
Mixed media on canvas
©2014 Carla Woody

People have puzzled over the creative process for eons. Some ascribe to a belief that the source of creativity rests within the self absolutely, which places enormous pressure if you find not so much coming through. Others are certain it comes from another source, perhaps a higher power. Author Elizabeth Gilbert spoke eloquently on TED regarding this controversy.

I believe it’s a combination of the two. First, I have the choice to say “yes.” Then it’s a matter of showing up consistently, having faith that something will be delivered…and being patient with the process. I recognize that I’m a vehicle. I’ve chosen to develop certain skills. But, for me, there’s no mistaking when I’ve tapped into another realm entirely outside myself that moves beyond the mundane. My senses are heightened and the energy moves—whether through brush on canvas, fingers on keyboard…whatever the art form—to find ground. There’s a distinct collaboration…and it’s something else again when your subject matter starts communicating with you. Strange as it seems, that’s how it’s happening for me these days.

When I was writing Portals to the Vision Serpent my practice was to begin writing after meditation, at least five days a week for at least three hours at a time. Again, I didn’t realize at the time I was accessing my craft through an altered state of being. It was as though I watched a movie and wrote down what unfolded in front of me. One day I reached a point in the book where I needed to get a main character down to the rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico but had no idea how. Within a few days, a completely new character stepped forward to introduce himself from the shadows where he’d been hidden. It turned out that he provided the way; the novel moved on.

The poet Mary Oliver said, “…The part of the psyche that works in concert with consciousness and supplies a necessary part of the poem—the heart of the star as opposed to the shape of a star, let us say—exists in a mysterious, unmapped zone…Say you promise to be at your desk in the evenings, from seven to nine. It waits, it watches. If you are reliably there, it begins to show itself—soon it begins to arrive when you do. But if you are only there sometimes and are frequently late or inattentive, it will appear fleetingly, or it will not appear at all…”

If it hasn’t yet happened for you in the way you desire, I believe it can. It means opening yourself up, stepping outside your comfort zone, changing up your geography. It’s an agreement you make…an intent you hold…and then let go.

Such an energy finds its reciprocal Source.

Categories: Arts, Creativity Strategies, Meditation, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Evolution, The Writing Life, Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Shadow Dancing

Invitation to Shadowlands

Invitation to Shadowlands
©2005 Carla Woody

Shadows are a slippery aspect of human make-up. At times, we hear their whisper from the background. Other times, they bellow in the foreground. When the shadow side gets triggered we’ll know it through heavy emotions, bodily felt sensations and self-talk we experience. The trick is to recognize what’s occurring and the source. When we attribute the cause to another person and respond in a negative way, be assured: The cause resides within us, not them. Understand this isn’t about condoning true detrimental behavior on the part of someone else. It’s about separating out what’s ours and what’s theirs in order to heal.

Shadows are the parts of us that we’ve disowned and repressed because we don’t like to experience them and what they bring up. Some examples would be: a part that has the need to control, or is critical, or feels like a victim. The source has to do with unconscious limiting beliefs, most often developed early in life. It’s possible to turn these around.

There are also shadow parts that may be underdeveloped in other ways. For instance, there may be a part that aspires to something like creative expression or leaving the “day job” to move into “lifework that matters.” But to date, the aspiration remains fallow, and we focus instead on all manner of rationale not to take even the first step.

Shadow sides usually manifest through relationships, whether with an individual or group. There is a mutual attraction that fulfills a need somehow. Like attracts like in an often, strange convoluted reciprocity. Here’s what I tell folks I work with…

If there’s no investment, there’s no effect.

 This is what I mean by that statement: If we’ve transformed those parts of us that need healing, then someone else’s behavior is no longer a negative mirror. We don’t project onto them what we need to attend within ourselves. We know we’ve moved on when we can be in their presence without responding as we previously did. We notice the behavior, but it has no effect on us, other than awareness. We can go on about our business without getting triggered and responding in the old way.

In healthy relationships, people support each other in positive ways. Support does not mean taking over a role for the other one. It means encouraging and teaching each other through role modeling or, if asked, directly rather than just assuming control when there are no agreements. It means allowing each other to stumble, to see the positive intention behind the behavior, and have empathy. It means being unconditional with each other, even when it’s difficult and where to go from there is yet unknown. If we hold a space toward opening, all benefit.

We’re all in this together. The outcome begins with each one of us. Look at your own life. Explore the dynamics of your relationships. If your shadow side gets triggered in some way then ask these questions of yourself.

  • What do I want from that other person that I need to develop in myself?
  • What do I dislike in the other person that I’ve disowned in myself?
  • What messages from that other person trigger a negative response within me?

Truthful answers to these questions are markers of progress on your own spiritual development, fodder for the deeper journey and healthy relationships that come as a result.

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If you’d like information on Navigating Your Lifepath with self-guided or private mentoring options, go here.

Categories: Compassionate Communication, Healing, Healthy Living, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Lifepath Dialogues Interview with Maya Daykeeper Apab’yan Tew

Apab’yan Tew is an Ajq’ij, a Day Keeper, spiritual guide, dancer and musician, of the K’iche’ Maya tradition from the village of Nawalja’ in Sololá of the Guatemalan highlands. He approaches his sacred calling with humility and passion. I am honored that he’s part of my spiritual travel program in Mayalands during which he shares openly and holds a fire ceremony to send prayers and call upon the ancestors.

In November 2012 I interviewed Tat Apab’yan on the subject of Maya worldview, farming practices and the GMO issue. I included many of his words in Seed Intelligence: Indigenous Perspectives and Our Collective Birthright published in the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) Farming Curriculum developed by Honor the Earth Foundation for Tribal Community Colleges.

His words are so important for our understanding of the integrative way traditional Maya people live, as well as other Indigenous peoples. I’m sharing an excerpt of our two-hour conversation with you here with his complete permission.

In just this short excerpt Tat Apab’yan covers a lot of ground. He chuckles over the wave of ‘organic’ farming in the West—as though it’s something new—when his people have had such practices for time immemorial. He puzzles over the Western way, now predominant, of dividing land into property when “…the Sky has no conditions…the rains are for everything…” and discusses the sacred sense of reciprocity in everyday Maya lifeways. “…We plant five seeds…only one is for us…”

I hope you enjoy the excerpt and take his words to heart as I did.

To learn more about Spiritual Travel to Chiapas, Mexico: Entering the Maya Mysteries in February 2016, go here. Join us and experience Tat Apab’yan’s teachings in person, along with those of other Maya spiritual leaders and healers who serve their communities. A warning though: It’s life-changing. Tuitions support the continuation of Indigenous traditions and help the spiritual leaders, their families and communities. A portion is tax-deductible through Kenosis Spirit Keepers, the nonprofit extension of Kenosis.

Categories: cultural interests, Gratitude, Indigenous Wisdom, Interview, Maya, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Book Review: Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

200px-QuietBookCoverPeople are often surprised when I say that I’m an introvert. They’re fooled by the fact that I’m articulate, do public speaking, work with groups and engage socially. They assume that I’m an extrovert. I can do the things I do because I’ve arranged my lifestyle to support my biological make-up and preferences. I love to engage when they’re things I care about deeply—BUT I retreat to regenerate myself. Whether you lean toward introversion or extroversion primarily has to do with how you expend your energy and the way you renew it.

However, our culture values extroversion. There must be something wrong if you’re not talking: You’re secretive, have nothing of value to contribute and probably not so bright.

As a child there were countless times when I heard I was “too quiet.” Not by my parents, who are also introverts, but mostly by teachers, causing me to retreat even further into my inner world. As a teenager, it was even more hurtful, especially when it came from friends. All that input translates to: You’re not good enough. It haunted me for a long time.

 Indeed, your biggest challenge may be to fully harness your strengths. You may be so busy trying to appear like a zestful, reward-sensitive extrovert that you undervalue your own talents, or feel underestimated by those around you. But when you’re focused on a project that you care about, you probably find that your energy is boundless. – From Quiet.

Later in life I have often been called “intense” as though something is wrong with that as well. But by the time I heard it the first time I’d begun to value my own sensibilities and could translate the meaning to “passion.” And the years I worked in a corporate environment…meetings were my most dreaded activity. Those who were most vocal blathered on saying nothing. It was an effort for me to keep in my seat. I wanted to jump out of my skin and flee.

Author Susan Cain has gotten a lot of play in the media since Quiet was published in 2012. It’s been on the bestseller list for many weeks running. Nevertheless, I didn’t know about it until I was perusing my local library for CD books to accompany me on a recent road trip to Utah.

I’m writing this review for those who missed this important book like I did. Whether you’re more introverted or extroverted, Quiet contains highly useful information for valuing both preferences. It also contains data on biological differences and distinctions of introversion. If you’re an introvert, it cites numerous studies and other pointers that will validate your value. If you’re an extrovert, it will help you understand the many introverts around you. I was horrified at one story about two extroverted parents who sought psychiatric intervention and medication for their introverted child. When one psychiatrist found the child to be normal the parents moved on for the next opinion.

My most transformative experiences have never happened in groups. That said, there is extraordinary energy that builds when groups entrain to strong spiritual intent, kickstarting a process of opening. Then integration comes through balancing the internal and external. That is the premise underlying any retreats and spiritual travel programs I sponsor.

The highly sensitive [introverted] tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions–sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments–both physical and emotional–unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss–another person’s shift in mood, say, or a light bulb burning a touch too brightly. – From Quiet.

The quote below was quite interesting to me. Such practices don’t just occur in Evangelicalism. I’ve personally had experience of being expected to utter prayers and entreaties out loud while in sweat lodge and other ceremonies, although not as common. I remember the first time it happened I was shocked at the intrusion on my privacy in a spiritual setting. To me, such things are so sacred they’re not pronounced aloud. Of course, the leaders didn’t see it as an affront. Now, if such a thing occurs, I pass to those who want to speak these things out loud and remain comfortable with my own way.

Evangelicalism has taken the Extrovert Ideal to its logical extreme…If you don’t love Jesus out loud, then it must not be real love. It’s not enough to forge your own spiritual connection to the divine; it must be displayed publicly.

 There is a compilation of quotes for the book on Goodreads. Ultimately, this is the teaching of the book.

We know from myths and fairy tales that there are many different kinds of powers in this world. One child is given a light saber, another a wizard’s education. The trick is not to amass all the different kinds of power, but to use well the kind you’ve been granted.

There’s also an excellent TED talk by Susan Cain giving an overview. Quiet is available on Amazon and elsewhere in print, ebook and audiobook.

Categories: Book Review, Compassionate Communication, Creativity Strategies, Healthy Living, Personal Growth, Sacred Reciprocity, Solitude, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How the Dreams of Chief Hawk Pope Came True

In the late 1980s after my return to Ohio, I took oil painting classes for a couple of years from Chief Hawk Pope of the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band. I valued his sheer presence and laser-like critiques. He was direct, something I appreciated. I was there to learn, not to have my ego soothed. When something worked, he pointed it out. When it didn’t, he showed how it didn’t and guided correction—explicitly.

I’ve learned that his methods are part of his personality, the make-up of a strong chief, not asking any more of his People than he demands of himself. But that understanding wasn’t even on my horizon when I knew him back then. My interest and passion for preservation of Native ways was yet bubbling beneath the surface, not to fully emerge until the mid-1990s. By that time we had fallen out of touch for some years.

But a strange thing happened.

In the first months of 2014, he began to cross my mind periodically. These occurrences were fleeting; I didn’t hang onto them or wonder why.

In early April I went to Ohio to visit my folks, still living near Dayton. As soon as I arrived I had an overwhelming compulsion to find Chief Hawk—if I could—and reconnect.

I googled his name and discovered his life had taken quite a turn in the 1990s and later. He’d provided vocals for one of the scenes in the movie Dances with Wolves and been extensively involved with the PBS documentary mini-series 500 Nations. In the book Imagining Native America in Music author Michael V Pisani wrote of the musical language he used in the documentary: …the singer Chief Hawk Pope relied on this melodic cadence to underscore moments of great sadness and tragedy such as the Trail of Tears sequence. I also noted he’d been on tour with Spirit the Seventh Fire, a multi-media production conceived by his friend Peter Buffet, with music written by them both. And the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band now had a home on original Shawnee land, previously lost as a result of genocide advocated through the Indian Removal Act, purchased back by the Tribe.

Shawnee SignI found contact information for the Tribe through their Facebook page and sent a private message explaining who I am and that I’d like to reconnect if Chief Hawk was interested. I got an immediate response from one of the Tribe asking me to come to the Zane Shawnee Caverns, on Shawnee land, a few days later for a meeting. Prior to the appointed day, my mom and I ventured out for a day of sightseeing and got hopelessly lost in an area of Ohio unfamiliar to us both. We ended up in the tiny town of Zanesfield looking for a museum we were told was at least 100 miles north. A few days later on the way to my meeting with Chief Hawk, I was astounded to end up in the very area my mom and I got lost, indeed going right through Zanesfield and drove just a few miles beyond!

I really had no idea why I received inner direction to initiate the request I did. I merely followed that strong, not-to-be-disregarded energy. When I walked into the Zane Shawnee gift shop for our reunion, it was evident that I was supposed to be there. The reconnection was powerful for us both. Beyond that day, I returned to spend another in deep conversation prior to my departure on other travels east. We agreed we’re going to work together—although neither of us know exactly what that means at this point.

Before I left I told Chief Hawk about my unprovoked thoughts of him coming to mind the months prior…then the inner urge to initiate a reunion…even getting lost in the countryside near Shawnee land…when I had no idea they were there.

He looked intently into my eyes and said, “Well, I’ve been throwing out a net these last months.”

I’m glad I paid attention and answered.

Below is an open article written in 1998 to his People in Tosãn Shawandasse, the official voice of the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band, beautifully illustrating elements of intent and belief.* What Chief Hawk doesn’t expressly share is the tremendous sacrifice he has borne through his 40+ years as chief since taking on this spiritual responsibility as a young man, given to him by his grandfather.

While directed to the Shawnee People, any of us can take heart and guidance here. His words are truth.

HawkArticle_0001

Some Dreams Do Come True

by Chief Hawk Pope

 

In order for a dream to come true, all it takes is the following:

– A real need.

– Believing you can meet that need even if that only seems to be a dream.

– The courage to go for it, knowing you could lose.

– Work as hard as it takes to make it happen.

– Get as many of the People as you can to make a team that can do the job.

– Do all you possibly can, knowing that if you truly do that, Creator will take up where your abilities leave off.

– Convey your hopes, dreams, and needs along with your love and respect to Creator and demonstrate that you are still His Children (The Shawnee). This you do in the way He left for us, the ceremonies.

– Rise above the criticisms and stumbling blocks thrown in your way by the petty, evil or just those much smaller than the dream. You can’t let their fear become yours, their criticism or lack of support shake your faith, or their jealousy pull you down.

– Stay the course, no matter what.

– Be grateful for each blessing, each dream come true, and never forget that your efforts were only half of what made it happen. Sometimes we come close to losing our way. Sometimes we allow ourselves or others to be part of a problem and not part of the solution. If this happens, we lose the blessing. We don’t meet the need. We give up the dream and we just plain lose. So far, by following this plan and philosophy, we have accomplished the following:

 — 1970: Reorganization of the people of the Remnant communities and reformation of the Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band.

— 1974: Formed an interim core Council and moved back to Ohio homeland.

— 1980: Gained State recognition as the descendant Tribe of the historic Shawnee in Ohio.

— 1982: Brought back the ancient ceremonies after 30 years.

— 1985: Constructed our first Great House since historic Lower Shawnee Town on the Scioto.

— 1989: Purchased the first 31 acres of Ohio Shawnee Homeland-Shawandasse.

— 1992: Built the community center, road, electric and well on Shawandasse. The Great House was moved to Shawandasse and original dress brought back to ceremonies.

— 1995: Total of 228 acres in 3 Ohio counties.

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You are invited by Chief Hawk Pope to visit Shawnee lands located at Zane Shawnee Caverns near Bellefontaine, Ohio. See their website for information on Pow Wows, camping, cave visits and other events and developments on Shawnee lands since 1995.

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* Reprinting of this open article was used with full permission granted by Chief Hawk Pope.

Categories: cultural interests, Gratitude, Indigenous Rights, Indigenous Wisdom, Sacred Reciprocity | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Unexpected Developments

Have you ever had a sense that something is bubbling beneath the surface? That you don’t know what it is…but something is getting ready to give birth…to step forward…to unfold? If you focus on it, you recognize there’s an energy building. It’s palpable. And then when it does present itself, you’re taken with the depth of feeling, realizing it’s come through you? If you’re reading my words here, then you’re likely one of those who has experienced this process consciously, perhaps in a variety of forms, and recognized the gift. If you look back in time, you could identify what kickstarted the process.

I’ve defined spiritual travel as any time you step outside the usual parameters you set for yourself to experience something that’s out of your norm—whether you choose it with intent or unseen forces push you. Either way it’s about growth. In Spiritual Travel: Destination or Process? I wrote about it this way:

 …Invisible to the naked eye…are myriad ways to be drawn into the deeper journey that define these potentially uncharted waters…enter aspects that: may have no words or audible sound, cannot be held in your hands, your eye can’t get a bead on, can seem ordinary but aren’t. Yet it produces something akin to a lightning strike that splits the rough outer covering and creates an opening, a probable pathway—and a tangible result. There appears a fork in the road inviting decision…

Breakthrough

Breakthrough
©2001 Carla Woody

On March 10, I returned from Hopi and my first spiritual travel program there, only made possible recently—with much gratitude to Hopi Spirit Keeper friends. From opening to closing circle, there was something greater than any there carrying us all. It felt as though another door had opened, some kind of emphasis marking out the great importance of honoring sacred Indigenous ways—now. If I ever had a doubt about the lifework I’ve chosen it was blown out of the water. Such a thing is bigger than any small-minded worry I’ve ever had. Intent gave evidence throughout our time there and unfolds yet in its effect.

An unanticipated gift stood out particularly: permission from Hopi religious leader Lee Wayne Lomayestewa for entry to Prophecy Rock. Such a privilege is not usually granted to outsiders. We all felt the honor, and I’d invited people to sit in meditation and open to whatever was there for them.

One of the travelers had been on a spiritual journey, involving extensive physical travel as well, since major life transitions in 2012. She indicated to me that, while what follows is deeply personal, it’s universal and gave permission to share. Relationship had become foremost in her awareness and the unexpected time at Prophecy Rock became her personal connections in prophecy. Climbing high, up beyond her comfort zone, to find her meditation spot, three figurative “drawings” forged by nature, on weathered rock, spoke to her: “…of prophecy, unity and stages of living and dying…” She said she could form few words to describe the experience, but “…words and song came forth. The experience is etched in my being.” I heard her song floating on the breeze. I tend to think it entered us all.

Since returning home, the group has communicated what continues to unfold for them. There has been talk about clarity and shifts in perception. Deborah Downs of Sedona, Arizona had to get her fingers in the dirt, along with a creative project that came unbidden. Liz Anderson from Prescott said, “…I have been to the Hopi reservation many times, but I have never had the privilege of seeing the petroglyphs or meeting so many fascinating Hopi people…There is a certain quality of the energy on the mesas that gives one the experience of being on truly sacred ground. I had forgotten how powerful this experience can be until this trip…”

Janet Harvey of Asheville, North Carolina said poetry began to pour through her and shared several. Piki Bread, the expressive poem below strikes me as a message about the beauty of simple actions that sustain us over time. They create meaning in life. She mentioned that the physical shape of the lines as they’re shown seemed significant. I told her it reminded me of the backboards worn in some ceremonies by Hopi dancers.

Piki Bread

For my part, I’ve noticed another level of ease appearing in my writing. It comes out as though waiting for me to take the initiative. With my artwork, an uncontrived process began shortly before our time on Hopi and has amplified since.

Testimony

Testimony
Mixed media on gold leafed canvas
©2014 Carla Woody

In the morning I began to sit in meditation near my easel, a different part of my home than habit for my daily ritual. And placement of images, color and symbolism, have been relayed to me during this time in a way I can’t describe except by sharing what I’ve recently produced. These pieces have taken on depth of meaning introduced from somewhere other than me. I don’t claim ownership.

But perhaps the greatest gift came inadvertently from the Hopi Spirit Keepers themselves and expressed directly to me by the group in our closing circle. My Hopi friends opened their hearts, gave us their trust and spoke unequivocally of the real dangers acting against continuity of their sacred traditions. It was poignant.

This is a time to listen and integrate from those who, on a daily basis through their prayers and actions, hold the sacred threads that weave our deeper values. There are many voices to be heard, not just one. Hearing them lends respect and supports continuance. We who hold sacred witness become better for it. It affects us, too. Certainly it eschews any hint of commercialism but is rather something of deeper service. Somehow I have been graced with holding such a precious container. The group reinforced what I already knew but drove the point home succinctly in a way I couldn’t set their message aside.* The work continues.

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*Any of us experience doubt, particularly when we’re called to something. It’s only because we’re called that something steps forward to test intent. When internal conflict is resolved, you step through a threshold.

Note: By participating in our spiritual travel programs you support the ongoing existence of Indigenous wisdom traditions in danger of decimation.

Spiritual Travel to Peru, Oct 24-Nov 2, 2014: I have been invited to the Q’ero village of Ccochamocco, a real honor and rare opportunity. Tuitions help support: sponsorship of Hopi Elder Harold Joseph on this journey seeking prayers for his people from Q’ero relations; the new Q’ero Ancestral Culture Center and natural medicine clinic; and Grandmother Flordemayo’s seed saving program.

Spiritual Travel to Mexico, Jan 19-29, 2015: Tuitions help support sponsorship of David Mowa, Hopi medicine man, to share traditions with Maya relations; and the humanitarian healing work of Don Sergio Castro in Chiapas, Mexico. This program in final planning and will be uploaded here shortly.

If you’re interested in my artwork entitled Testimony or others, go here. Twenty percent of profits go to support Native traditions through Kenosis Spirit Keepers, the nonprofit arm of Kenosis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Gratitude, Healing, Hopi, Indigenous Wisdom, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel, Travel Experiences | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Indigenous Message on Water

Indigenous Message on Water

In 2012 a call went out from the coalition of Indigenous leaders of the Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace (IWFWP) to Native elders, writers, artists, activists—Knowledge Keepers—for poetry, art, chants and prayers on Water, expressions from their own traditions. Over the next several months, submissions poured in, pure harvest from tribes all over the world. The You Tube video below beautifully illustrates the intent to pull together an anthology on this life-giving element that would be called Indigenous Message on Water—and why its needed.

By January last year the editors had begun the process to ready contributions for publication. From June through August 2013 an Indiegogo campaign was opened to pull enough funds together to publish the book, in print and e-book formats, and send copies back to the authors to seed their communities and elsewhere with this important message we all need to hear and hold. They were able to raise $5,000 of their $10,000 goal. I was so glad I was able to support this valuable treatise, even in a small way, having received my copy a few weeks ago.

I am deeply touched by the words and art that leap off the pages from the contributors: Chamoru, Pinay and Maori peoples from the Pacific; Sakhe from Russia; Cree, Tsalagi, Cherokee, Yoeme, Anishinaabe, Lakota, Lipan Apache, Metis, and Gitxan from North America; K’iche’, Kaqchikel, and Q’anjob’al from Guatemala; Maya and Nahuatl from Mexico; Wayuu, Palenque and Kuna from the Caribbean; Uitoto, Okaina and Tikuna from Amazonia; and Kichua, Yanakuna and Mapuche-Huilliche from the Andes.

Spiritual connection and gratitude to Water are ever present in the anthology. It may be used to open community discussions, raise awareness, and as an offering. At the beginning of the book, Juan Sánchez, one of the editors, advises that the passages are meant to be read aloud to the Water; words have the capacity to heal. Grandmother Mona Polacca suggests, “…Once you read them, you may find that you can never escape them, or you may find yourself resisting the narratives in this collection, not wanting to deal with the reality they describe; perhaps it reminds us of our own vulnerability…”

Grief for scarcity, strife and loss of life over water rights is also prevalent in these pages. Forest without Destiny by Judith Santoprieto of Mexico is an example, dedicated to the Indigenous people of Bagua in northern Peru who were senselessly murdered by special forces police during a 2009 protest about natural resources rights.

A crackling is heard in the surroundings

of a forest without destiny,

the first sign of the great uproar;

outside, the bullets:

the rainy season yet to come…

***

We can be reminded to embody the teachings offered.

 Water was our first medicine.

—Gideon MacKay, late Cree Elder, Canada

 ***

We’re called to cup Water

carry it carefully   cradle

within bare hands or ladle

wood to pour resplendence

from ama who makes us

human,  holds us here in

memory brings us back

into ourselves each time

we enter dipping seven

times until we become

who we need to be.

—Allison Hedge Coke, Huron/Cherokee/Cree/Metis, USA

 ***

My oldest brother was 115 years old and died because of his age, not because of illness and this longevity was due to the fact that he used to pray to Water. The Water sang to him. For him, Water was both male and female and, as he practiced meditation, Water rewarded him with a long life.

—Lorenzo Aillapán Cayuleo, (Bird Man), Mapuche Nation, Chile

***

The e-book version is available to treasure and consult. You may go here to download for the minimal cost of $7.00. When you do, you’ll know you are serving Water. The proceeds go to support the gathering of Indigenous leaders, over 60 organizations and other like-intended folks for the Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace 2014 held September 9-13 in New York that collaboratively seeks to resolve issues for the benefit of all peoples.  Read a 2009 collective statement from the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues about the need for the IWFWP. New information will be posted soon on the IWFWP blog. Go here to subscribe for updates.

Categories: Book Review, Compassionate Communication, Gratitude, Healing, Healthy Living, Indigenous Rights, Indigenous Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holy Intent, Invisible Threads

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 Ceremonial Calendar by Filmer Kewanyama

Hopi Ceremonial Calendar
by Filmer Kewanyama

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.

Acknowledge My Relations

Acknowledge My Relations
by Filmer Kewanyama

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.

Categories: cultural interests, Healing, Hopi, Sacred Reciprocity | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Interview with Dianna “Snow Eagle” Henry, Seed Saver

Flordemayo documenting seeds.

Grandmother Flordemayo documenting seeds.
Photo credit: The Path

Grandmother Flordemayo had twice mentioned Dianna “Snow Eagle” Henry to me during my visits to the Seed Temple in Estancia, New Mexico. Each time she lamented, “You just missed her! She was here helping but went back home.”  Home turned out to be Arkansas. When Flordemayo began to establish the Seed Temple, which Kenosis Spirit Keepers helps support, she called Dianna to consult her expertise regarding seed preservation. Dianna has gone back and forth providing service ever since.

The last time I was there, Flordemayo put a book in my hands. Dianna’s coffee table book Whispering Ancestors: The Wisdom of Corn is an illustrated treasure trove of information on Native varieties, some lost to time and then resurrected. In certain ways it takes you back in time by identifying which Native Tribes carried different strains, planting instructions—and hints at the esoteric, ancestral knowledge in the Seed Collective. I was intrigued.

Native Seeds

Native seeds.
Photo Credit: Wisdom of Corn.

Dianna consented to an interview for The Lifepath Dialogues. Below you’ll find the audio recording uploaded to You Tube. She graciously shares how the seed-saving path opened to her, rather unexpectedly as passions sometimes do, and the ways that spiritual knowledge from seeds began to come. One of the many things I appreciate about Dianna is her willingness to follow a path that’s unknown but fueled by intent. She shares it all.

Kenosis Spirit Keepers is pleased to sponsor Grandmother Flordemayo, Dianna Henry and Greg Schoen for events in Phoenix on January 31-February 1, 2014. Greg is also a respected seed saver with many years’ experience and will take us “down the rabbit hole” into the mysticism of seeds. You can read his article about Rainbow Corn in Mother Earth News here.

This Friday night talk and Saturday experiential workshop will directly benefit the Seed Temple’s preservation work. You’re invited to join us and know that—as you are receiving the teachings—you’re also benefiting the wider work of global consciousness.

(Note: The benefit dates mentioned in the recorded interview were changed so that Grandmother Flordemayo could also personally participate, offer her knowledge and prayers.)

Categories: cultural interests, Healthy Living, Indigenous Wisdom, Interview, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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