Friday, December 5, 2008

Assimilation Blues

Grandmother, I am sad.
Come, sit, together we will be sad.
Bowed heads, silently honoring the Sad.
Sometimes a song, sometimes a story,
Sometimes silence,
Breathing the Sad,
Heads bowed sitting with the Sad.

The people come,
Tonight we sing until the sun shows,
Acknowledging Sad’s message received.
Tomorrow we laugh and eat,
Honoring the Sad;
continuing life.

Assimilation Mother, I am sad.
Don’t be sad.
Have something sweet to eat, something pretty to buy,
Forget the Sad.

Assimilation Doctor, I am sad.
Sad is not real.
Have a pill,
Hide the sad.

Assimilation Friend, I am sad.
Tell me about it, details, details.
Open the wound,
Cleanse the sad.

Grandmother, where are you?
There is no one to honor the sad.
Grandmother, I remember you.
Now I am Alone, with the sad.
Alone, with the songs,
Alone, the sad grows great.
Grandmother, where are you?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The History of Native American Bone Chokers

The History of Native American Bone Chokers: What they were used for – How they were made – What they were made of by Paula Bidwell Native Talisman Art E-Bay store owner, artist and indigenous healer.

Bone chokers originally were made from bird legs. They were seldom used as just ornamentation. They were used as physical protection for the throat from a possible knife attack. The jugular vein is in the neck and is lethal if cut. They were also used in conjunction with physical protection as a spiritual protection for the voice. Because most birds are noted for the sounds they make or for their singing quality. The spirit of the bird could be invoked to protect the person’s voice from ailments, jealousy or fatigue. There is also a cultural saying for men – “You become a man when you can speak your heart to the people - clearly and without fear - honor, bravery and victory are yours.”

The bird was not always killed to make the chokers. Most often they were found after a preditory animal had already killed them or they had died a natural death. This was considered a good sign when found. Not only for the people who needed the chokers but for the bird, so it’s life would be of honor, value and service. In all instances every part of every animal was used. Nothing was thrown away. This is done out of respect for the sacrifice the animal made and to honor it’s life.

In some cases, the leg bone of a specific bird was needed. Prayers were made to the bird (usually an eagle, hawk or owl). The hunter would fast and pray sometimes for days on end. He would wait until the bird came to him. A typical story of this sort of thing, is the bird came to the hunter and landed right in from of him and sat without moving until the hunter took it’s life. They say that while the bird sits in front of the hunter. They converse with their hearts. The bird has to willingly and happily give it’s life for the purpose needed or the hunter will not kill it. Among the people, giving of life so that others may live is the ultimate ending to our existance on the earth.

Bone chokers made from the bones of bird’s legs were practical. They already had a hole through the center where the marrow was. They were already cylindrical and only a little smoothing and shaping was needed. The leg bones were cleaned and smoothed and shaped by boiling them until softened. Flint was used to trim any irregularities and a smooth stone was used to shine and smooth the surface. Beads were smaller bones which had been sliced or cut. These bones were sometimes colored with a variety of minerals, most common was red earth (vermillion). The red earth was mixed with fat and then rubbed repeatedly over the bone while the bone was still soft from boiling. To preserve the color they were regularly rubbed with fat to create a shiny coating. This also kept the bones from becoming brittle.

Real sinew from the leg of a deer or buffalo was used to thread the bones and beads. Deer or buffalo sinew was chosen because the strips of sinew were longer than other animals. Before needles a bone awl was used to punch holes in the hide spacers for threading the sinew.

Each bone choker had very special and personal meaning for the wearer. Many times they were dreamed prior to their making. It was seldom that the wearer would make their own choker. There were specific people in the tribe that did this. Many times they were assistants to a medicine person or a medicine person themselves. On the occasion that the wearer made their own choker it was usually because they dreamed it this way. Although, much help and assitance was given to the dreamer while making the choker.

Today it is much the same. You can see all kinds of chokers with symbols and specific colors for the wearer. Wolf, bear and eagle are very common. Purchasing a choker from isn’t any different from the traditional way of compensation. Which would be supply the maker with a blanket, a horse, food, etc. Any thing that is necessary to maintain life was appropriate payment. So, today we have money.

As a person who makes these chokers, I consider it a great honor when someone purchases mine. Prays are made before I even touch one of the materials that go into a choker. Then songs are sung and more prayers are made for the well-being of the wearer as the choker is assembled. Choices in color and symbols come from deep prayer. As if I already know the soon to be owner. Interestingly, as soon as I finish one, an inquiry comes or a purchase occurs.

Please visit my E-Bay store at to see all my products – authentic medicine bags, spiritually inspired art with the stories of the vision or dream, and more.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's a Native American Medicine Bag?

A Native American medicine bag is a small leather bag or pouch that contains various healing objects. They are often painted or beaded with designs specific for the wearer. This is done to entice or invoke the spirit of the animal, figure or symbol.

What's inside is another story. A medicine bag can contain innumerable objects. These objects are as unique as the person wearing it. Many people add their own "medicine" or healing objects. Although, most often a medicine person or indigenous healer will make the bag and add the contents. Common medicine bag objects are stones, ash from a ceremony fire, roots and barks, herbs, feathers, dirt from a ceremonial ground, or wood from a tree struck by lightening.

Many people like their medicine bags very ornate and fancy, but in reality the bag should be downplayed. This is especially true when a medicine bag is made for protection, for instance, protection from jealousy, enemies, negativity, bad spirits, illness and the list goes on and on. A medicne bag is kind of like an "ace up your sleeve". Or maybe like a spray can of mace or another self defense weapon. You keep it handy, but you don't wave it around or threaten folks with it.

Medicine bags or pouches last a long time. They are made of leather and are extremely durable. But there comes a time when the medicine bag just wears out. The neck cord has broken so often it may look like a string of knots. The leather has worn down and looks like it's been left out in the rain too long. What do you do with it at this stage? You take the bag and it's contents to a remote location. Somewhere that people seldom go to. Then hang the medicine bag or pouch in a tree where it's barely visible. The helping birds such as ravens, crows, eagles, or hawks and the "invisible beings"such as angels or guardians will disassemble the bag and remove all traces of it. Some people have been known to bury their bags. But this isn't recommended. In the earth the bag will continue to exist and the special medicine belonging to it could be dug up and innocently or not so innocently misused. There are stories of ancient medicine pouches that were found, taken home or put in a museum and then all sorts of terrible things began to happen. Anyway, it is much better to let the angelic beings and our helper birds take care of something as precious as a medicine bag.

See more Medicine Bags at:
See more Medicine Bags at:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Early Medicine training

Crossing the Swinging Bridge Alone – just another memory

I must have been about 5 years old, because I remember not being able to reach either side of the rope rails on the swinging bridge. My grandmother had crossed before me, telling me to wait. When she got to the other side, she told me to come to her and then she turned her back to me. I think she was crying.

This little endeavor was very dangerous. The swinging bridge was old and unstable. The swing on it was wide and erratic. The river underneath was deep with a rapid current. I was so little…I was so afraid.

At such an early age, all I knew was I had to get to my grandma. If I didn’t get across I would become abandoned and alone forever, or so I thought. I thought about just sitting down and crying until somebody came and got me. But I looked around and there were no other people anywhere. Giving that up, I started across. The first thing I did was try to keep myself from falling off the bridge. The first step caused it to swing fairly strongly. I grabbed one side of the rope railing, but this caused the bridge to swing so hard it knocked me down. I reached for the boards on one edge and hung on until the bridge stopped swinging. Quite a few times I thought I would go over the edge. But finally, the swinging stopped. I gently moved to the center having learned my lesson. Staying in the center with nothing to hold on to was terrifying, even on my hands and knees. The slightest wind rocked the bridge. I thought about crawling across, but the boards hurt my knees. I got to my feet and began taking tentative steps toward my grandmother. I felt so abandoned, watching her with her back to me. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t come and get me so I could arrive on the other side safely.

Little did I know this was an early part of Medicine training. When I was very young, probably as soon as I had some sort of command of language, I apparently talked about conversations and communications with the so-called “unseen world”. The world of ghosts, spirits, angels (or “helpers” as we called them), faeries, elves (or “little people”), sprites, and the innumerable other kinds of “unseen world” beings. This very fact is what caused the “swinging bridge” to be one of my tests.

I’m told that many are born with the abilities for medicine, and they are always tested to see if they have the qualities to carry forth the training and practice. I evidently proved my worthiness. I believe my greatest asset was the ability to stay focused no matter what. I seemed to have lost the focus when I grew up. I remember later in “Medicine training” I complained that I couldn’t stay in a state of “prayer” because there was too much noise and distraction in my home and neighborhood. My “teacher” looked at me sternly and replied: “You will never be doing the healing work in a place of serenity, people get sick and injured in the middle of chaos. Start practicing!”. Sigh…and I did…

I have remembered this incident many times. Sometimes, I think I was brave because of inorance…I didn’t know how dangerous life could get. I am much less brave in my old age.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Amethyst - The Talking Stone

Amethyst sends a voice out into the universe. Whatever you’re feeling and thinking, Amethyst will translate and send. This stone is especially good for people using mantras and the Secret or Law of Attraction. Use this stone carefully, whatever you think and feel, it will send and the Universe will manifest.

Wear it in a medicine bag or in a piece of jewelry. Or use it as a meditation tool to focus your sight on. Although, I caution whatever way you use it, use it only on days and times when you are focused. It is best to use in an uncut, unpolished, raw form. The “voice” in it’s natural state is clearer and louder with more force and power.

There are sounds and/or songs that resonate with every crystal, stone, rock or mineral. To find the tonal vibrations, hold and/or look at the stone in a meditative state and wait for a tingling sensation in your stomach (2nd chakra) around your navel. When the tingling begins, without thinking, open your voice and let the sound(s) or song come out. It’s a good idea to have a voice recorder, such as tape or digital . Since you are in a meditative state sometimes it’s hard to remember the earthly stuff.

After you have the sound or song that goes with your stone use it every time you use the stone. It will awaken the stone, especially if it hasn’t been used in a long time. Also, the sounds or song will help the stone focus on you, and not on other transmissions and interferences that may be in your environment. Living in a crowded environment like a city or apartment complex can buffer your intent because of so many other intentions in close proximity. Use the song to eliminate these interferences.

How do I know that? During my early training in the ceremonial ways of the Lakota, I found a particularly rare rock. My teachers taught me how to retrieve the song that belonged to it. I have used this teaching for every stone that comes to me. The method for doing this is basically described above, waiting for the tingling in your stomach navel area and then letting the sound out.

I was also taught several ways to talk with the “rocks”. Some rocks have ears, some have mouths, some you can put to your ear and hear a buzzing sound. Sometimes it takes years to learn how to work with a particular stone. Stones have a very different sense of time. Consider that they are the first living beings on the planet. Each one is eons old. Some of you may know the Lakota word “Tunkasila”, which is generally translated as “grandfather”, but the original word means “very ancient rock”. It was an analogy for the Creator, Ancient Mystery, God, etc. There’s a lot of wisdom and power in that. So, take your time. Make sure you get something authentic and not a creation of wishful thinking. I waited seven years for one particular rock’s song. And then it came out with so many songs, I couldn’t remember them all. Each song was for a particular healing modality. My teachers say that each of those songs is in my heart and I will remember them when the time comes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Reading the Coals

I'm just gonna' ramble a bit about my experiences reading coals.

First laughter and being relaxed are always good things. I used to get very intense hours before ceremony and my teachers would tell me not to start the ceremony before the ceremony. In other words there's a time for intensity and pre-ceremony isn't it. Although, there's a balance. Those that choose to sit by the fire or tend the fire, stay in a casual state of prayer. Talking and laughing are perfectly fine, as long as the largest focus in our thinking, actions and words is the sacred fire. What it's showing us, what's changing, such as the direction of the flames, or any oddities that might occur with the fire. Our hearts and minds open up to the essence of it, the beingness of it, and the spirit beings that come to it. It's also fine to go inside and not sit by the fire. Actually, everything is perfectly fine. There really are no rules. Our experience should flow with the energies surrounding it.

Also, before the coals are ready, you can put prayers into the fire with objects such as tobacco ties, or just plain tobacco, written petitions, prayer flags, and offerings of any sort. I think in Judaism they offer bread to the fire. Whatever comes to you is fine. You cannot hinder the power that belongs to fire with your offerings.

So, the fire has died down and the coals are glowing. We start with a formal invocation, such as a song or prayer or statement of intent. Then everyone becomes quiet, so as not to interrupt anyone who is getting a message or viewing images in the coals. We say out loud what we see, even if we don't understand the image. The image will be significant for someone in the ceremony, even if the reader doesn't understand it. We keep in mind that reading the coals is a tribal, family, clan ceremony. The images are meant for us and are generally not about the outside world. This is a very intimate ceremony and was used originally for the survival of the tribe, clan, or family. What will the weather be, where will the buffalo be, what obstacles can we avoid. Today, we are an extended family with few of us genetically related, but we still need to know what's coming, how we can make our lives better and avoid any obstacles that are not conducive to our life experience. (Although, messages from the fire are not always about future events, they can be about what is necessary now.)

It's really important that everyone understand that we can all do this. Reading the coals isn't for just for seers or specially gifted people. This is a family ceremony and the key is not to censor anything you see. Trust it and say it. Even if it seems crazy or silly. It will be significant for someone.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lot-A-Burger Bro

Standing at Lot-A-Burger
waitin' for french fries,
a brown skinned brother arrives.
My heart leaps, do I know you?
I'm so alone here, please talk to me.
But, we are both culturally shy.
Casting side long glances full of silent questions.
"Where you from?"
"What Nation?"
Our numbers are called,
Lot-A-Burgers in hand, we walk to our cars.
Eagle feathers hang from rear view mirrors.
Side long glances full of "later".

Mantra of Arrogance - "When will you ever learn?"

What a terrible thing to say!
"When will you ever learn?"
How condescending. How arrogant.
"Why do you say that?"
Because we're tired of seeing you hurt.
Who said I was hurt?
I'm just puzzled.

"When will you ever learn?"
Superior minds thinking superior thoughts
such as betrayal, lies, deception.
"When will you ever learn?"
That you are promoting a dismal and soul eating theory.
A theory that says:
"Never trust"
"Never risk"
"Take the well worn path"
"Learn from your mistakes"
What mistakes? I don't believe in them.
"When will you ever learn?"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cikala Necklace Bags

Cikala Necklace Bags are precious and small just like the beings that inspire them. These necklace bags are in honor of the Little People of all Nations, from Fairies, Elves, to Gimimila Wakan (Sacred Butterfly People).

These tiny necklace bags are meant for items that are special to the Cikala (Little People) or that serve as reminders of them, fairy dust, clovers, hummingbird feathers, butterfly wings, crystals or even a bit of dust from their dance grounds.

Medicine Bags

Made of deer hide. Copper wire hanger and brass beads. Painted with permanent waterproof ink.

These necklace/pouches are inspired and serve as a tribute to the original Shirt Wearers who were known for their exceptional acts of honor and bravery. They were also know to have extraordinary medicine abilities which they used to protect and serve the people.

Private talismanic drawings can be added. Please contact Paula with instructions and/or diagrams of personal talisman.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008

Talisman with red ink

Talisman written with red ink - Make ink by mixing saffron with egg yolk. Write the talisman on parchment paper or another paper that won't absorb water. Then run water over the paper and drain into a cup. Drink the water.