Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The idea for these pieces of jewelry came to me in a vision during a Native American healing ceremony. I was thinking and praying that the poverty concepts I’ve held onto for so long would be eliminated from my life. I prayed to bring in the qualities of abundance and prosperity. At the end of my prayer, I sat in peace and stillness for a few moments. I had my eyes closed. When I opened them, I saw the Prosperity pendant in the center of the ceremony altar. I heard a voice tell me to make these pieces of jewelry and to wear them. Then make more to share with everyone.
At first, I wasn't convinced that jewelry would help me change my attitudes toward money. But because it came through a vision during ceremony, I figured there was a fairly good chance for success. (I am such a doubter!!!)
Anyway, since the pendant is lightweight and comfortable, I wore it to sleep one night. My dreams were a little more interesting than usual. So, I decided to do it for several nights. After awhile I noticed my general fears about money and finances had definitely lessened. My thinking was more about abundance, prosperity and a healthy and generous life.
One day I went grocery shopping, my list was really long, and I wondered whether I had enough money to make all the purchases. I wasn't stressed over this as I usually would be. Interestingly, at the end of checkout, my cost was way less than I had anticipated. I thought I knew pretty much the cost of everything and was aware that prices were rising, yet my total was unbelievably small. Coincidence? Delusion? Who knows?
I'm still wearing the dollar bill necklace as a constant reminder that I have plenty of money. It is also a reminder to my conscious and subconscious mind that there is money on me and around me! I love these pendant necklaces and find I feel very empowered, as if anything is possible, when I wear them. Am thinking my next step might be to make on with a twenty dollar bill in it and then make one with a hundred dollar bill! O.K., so I'm not really ready for the hundred dollar bill, but it's a great idea to move toward.
My most sincere wishes and blessings to all, Paula
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Traditionally “Reading the Coals” is something the elder men do. But in these times when everyone is scattered and life seems so chaotic and unsure, I believe it’s wise to do this whenever we can and not wait for the tradition.
In general, reading coals can be done in a fireplace, charcoal barbeque, hibachi, or anywhere you can make fire. My family typically reads the coals once a year after “First Thunder”, which is early spring.
Reading the Coals is a ceremony anyone can do. It does not require special abilities, knowledge or complex environments. This is what I call a “lesser ceremony”. Although, lesser doesn’t mean less powerful. The major ceremonies are ones I classify as taking a day or more to conduct, a complex environment such as a special structure like a sweat lodge and involve many people, such as ceremony leaders, singers, fire keepers, door keepers and others to perform the necessary tasks. The lesser ceremonies involve very few people and take a few hours to conduct in a common environment.
Since I left the Reservation, it has been interesting to involve people who have no background in Native American culture or traditions. I still forget that not everyone grew up with American Indian concepts. Often I have left things out, because I assumed others had knowledge of something that they did not. So, today I try to write about the ceremony beforehand, which leaves me free during ceremony to do what is common for me and still allows everyone to be involved in something new.
First laughter and being relaxed are always good things. I used to get very intense and stressed before ceremony and my teachers would tell me, “Don’t start the ceremony before the ceremony”. In other words there's a time for intensity and pre-ceremony isn't it. 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 main focus 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. As we do this, our hearts and minds open up to the essence of fire and the spirits that come to it. It's also fine to go inside and not sit by the fire. 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, a pinch or handful of 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 or weaken the power that belongs to Fire.
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 ceremony. The images are meant for us and are generally not about the outside world as a whole. This is a very intimate ceremony and was used originally for the survival of the 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 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.
We are all related,
Read more articles and stories by Paula on her website http://www.NativeTalismanArt.com
Friday, March 20, 2009
Native American cooking and recipes cover a broad spectrum. From the east, south, west and northern regions each with their own indigenous food sources. This article covers the Western Plains Indians, specifically Lakota (Sioux).
Many techniques and methods of cooking are not used today except on rare occasions when a ceremony would require it. In ceremony, the food is cooked outdoors over hot coals or buried in the ground over hot coals. Originally, cooking vessels were rawhide containers. Heated stones were added to the mixture to heat. Most meat and produce were dried. So this method worked well since the ingredients were dried there wasn’t any “cooking” per se, just a heating of ingredients.
Most foods were eaten raw or dried, since the process of building a fire is time consuming and uses a lot of wood. The dried foods were not dull or lacking in flavor. They were mixed with other ingredients. An example of this is what many people know as “Pemmican”. In Lakota it is called “Wasna” (Was-nah).
Wasna is also a traditional food for sacred ceremony. When prepared for ceremony there are specific methods and actions required. I will write another article on Cooking for Ceremony at a later date.
The following is the traditional recipe for making this wonderful and tasty food called “Wasna”.
Dried meat without any seasonings, not even salt.
Canpa (choke cherry patties) or raisins
Kidney fat or lard
Put dried meat in a pillowcase and pound with a hammer until very fine. Put the
pounded meat into a bowl and mix in the choke cherries or raisins and sugar.
Heat the kidney fat , suet or lard until melted. Cool until you can handle it with your hands and
not burn yourself. Pour enough fat or lard into the meat mixture to slightly moisten and
mix well. You want this mixture to stick together only a bit for ease of eating. Eating is done with a spoon or pinched into the hand.
For a complete Native American cookbook please see my website at: http://www.nativetalismanart.com
Thursday, March 19, 2009
There are so many bird medicines. They are complex and tricky to describe. I have hesitated to write about them. Then the idea came that it would be better to start by sharing a few and then adding other stories later. The one’s I know are from personal experience and training.
These are the birds that dive to the bottom of lakes and rivers and deposit on the shore the medicines we need for healing. Water birds are one of the important and significant medicines of the Native American Church or Peyote Way.
These are the birds that give us songs and enhance our voices with power to heal and strengthen the people. Some of these birds are the Blue bird, the Eagle and Finches.
The eagle has many uses in traditional Native American life. When it comes to singing they bring songs to the singers. That is why northern singers such as the Lakota sing at a very high pitch. They are imitating the sound of the eagle.
These birds are generally birds of prey such as eagle, owl, and hawk. Eagle takes our prayers and thoughts up to the higher realms where the "helper" spirits live and also is great protection. Hawks deal more with the earthly realms in areas such as food and shelter. Owls are not just messengers, they have healing ability in their talons, and they guard us.
There are individual types of birds that give us medicine. Their medicines usually come through the usage of their feathers, rather than their songs or behaviors.
Flicker – Flicker feathers from the tail, because of their sharp point at the tip, are used in doctoring to open the area on the body that needs something removed. Such as a blood clot, tumor, or a foreign object. I use the term “foreign object” rather than what Indian people know as “Bad Medicine”. Bad Medicine is when a person “shoots” something into another’s body or sends a spirit or other type of entity to make the target victim ill, to make them die, or to cripple them. Unfortunately, this is quite common.
Flicker feathers are also known as “Love Medicine” which supposedly brings a lover into someone’s life or finds a “soul mate”. This type of medicine is considered lower level of usage of a powerful medicine. I often call this type of use, “manipulative magic”. Because of my lineage and training I am forbidden to use this sort of medicine. I can never change, alter or influence a person’s life without their permission and the permission of the “Tunkasilas” ancient spirits. Manipulative magic doesn’t ask, it invades and is very harmful.
Raven - Raven is a “trickster”. Raven appears in a variety of forms making us think they are another type of bird. Their voice can make us think they are human. They often appear to be another color instead of black. The “trickster” keeps us alert and aware. Honing our skills of observation and broadening our personal perspectives. If we communicate with Raven it is best to remember that they are true “tricksters”. Sometimes the answers they give are straightforward and other times the messages are the opposite of what it should be. The listener must be very in tune with which type of message the Raven is giving. Raven will show us the brighter side of life with sparkling and shiny objects in its beak or when it dives repeatedly at a shiny object on the ground. When raven does this, it is such an uplifting experience and so necessary for our well being in this illusionary world. To read more see my article and personal story of the Raven Heart Woman. NativeTalimsmanArt.com.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
This is a talk about "Inipi" or Sweat Lodge Ceremony. In Native American traditional ways we learn by listening to our elders talk and tell stories. This article is meant to be just that. I will tell the story as my teachers did and then at a later time I will add more to the knowledge.
Imagine we are sitting around a fire maybe at Powwow or maybe Sun Dance, or even in our own backyard. The hour is late and everything around us is still and quiet except for the crackle of the wood burning. A voice begins to speak.
Did you know there are different types of Inipi (Sweat Lodge) ceremonies? Many think the Sweat Lodge is only for cleansing and purification. But, this is not true; there are many kinds of Inipi or Sweat Lodges.
There are Sweat Lodge ceremonies held when a relative has died. These help the deceased person cross over to the other realm. They are usually held for four nights. Night is the time for the spirits of the deceased or "Wanagi". After the sun goes down, and especially between midnight and pre-dawn, they wake up and are moving around. The four days is the time when the newly deceased is able to communicate important messages and to say their goodbyes. These Sweat ceremonies are also for the mourners to end their official time of mourning. Which is usually 13 moons or approximately one year. The ceremony for the end of the time of mourning is called "Wasigala" and can be done without the Sweat Ceremony.
There are also Sweat Lodge ceremonies for the healing of illnesses. These are called "Doctoring Sweats". These ceremonies may only have the patient and medicine person in the lodge. The rest of us would stay by the fire and pray or be busy in the house cooking. Or sometime there may be a few singers and other people close to the sick person inside the lodge.
Most of us have been to Sweat Lodges that contact the Tunkasilas or ancient beings for advice and guidance during difficult and perilous times. It is said that in the Sweat Lodge we meet the Tunkasila or elder spirits half way. These sweats are usually very hot. They make us so uncomfortable that we are forced to stay in a state of prayer, which is very far removed from our everyday busy worlds. This is how we meet the Tunkasilas half way. Some us don't eat or drink so that we are even further removed from our material world. Many of us let our hair loose and unbraided or untied. This is another way to remove us from the material world. We are not concerned with how we look. That is why your elders may tell you not to wear jewelry, or make-up.
Then there are Sweat Lodges for activating, renewing or cleansing of sacred objects, medicines or canunpas (sacred pipes). In the case for cleansing, these are very serious ceremonies. It means that something has happened to the sacred object that has harmed or weakened it. The need to cleanse a sacred object is a very sad thing. Many tears are shed during these ceremonies. For the renewal of a sacred object or medicine is far less serious and is a little like breathing fresh air into it and letting the sun shine all over it. Activating a sacred object is another serious ceremony. It is necessary when a person takes the responsibility of carrying a canunpa (sacred pipe) for the people. This is best done where the Buffalo Calf Pipe resides in Green Grass, South Dakota. Although, I have heard of it done in other places when necessary. Activating other types of sacred objects or medicine can happen anywhere, but usually takes a Medicine person to conduct the ceremony.
Sun Dance Sweat Lodges are especially for the people preparing to Sun Dance they are held frequently during the time of preparation. Sweat ceremonies are also held during Sun Dance for the Dancers and for the people attending.
Hanbleceya, or as you may have heard it, "Vision Quest" Sweat Lodges are held during the one to four year preparations leading up to the Vision Quest. Also they are used just before the person goes on the hill for Hanbleceya (Vision Quest). And they are used immediately when the person comes down from the hill. As an important note, I have used the term "Vision Quest" only because it is so popular and understood by many. But you should know that in Lakota, "Vision Quest" is not the translation for Hanbleceya. The real translation is "Crying or Praying through the night". Ceya means both crying and praying as they are considered the same thing.
Wopila (Gratitude) Sweat Lodges. These are usually held within a year of a healing or another blessing. A big feast is held afterward and gifts may be given.
These are the most common Sweat Lodge ceremonies, but I'm thinking maybe some of you are wondering how to become a Sweat Lodge leader? This is a natural question. I will tell you how it happened to me. It took many, many years of attending the Inipi with my elders; listening to their stories, taking their words to heart and paying attention when they wanted to teach me. As the years went by I was given a variety of "rights" such as making sacred canunpa bags and medicine pouches, making a ceremony fire, cooking sacred foods, fixing eagle feathers for naming ceremonies, rights to ceremony songs and many others. But before I received the rights to anything I was instructed in all the history, the details, the materials, the origins of the songs and anything else you can think pertaining to the particular skill.
When I was around 35 years old, I received a sacred canunpa from my grandparents and asked to carry it for the family and all our relatives. I accepted. Then when I was visiting an elder relative and attended her Sweat ceremony, at the start of the Sweat she announced to the attendees that I was her equal and that I would assist in conducting this ceremony. Later, I was asked to conduct a Sweat ceremony for some elder women. After the ceremony I was told that I would be conducting these ceremonies the rest of my life. And I have.
This may sound all very complicated and almost impossible to achieve. But, this is how it happened for me and is not necessarily the way it is for everyone. My training was very strict and very lengthy. I hope I have not discouraged anyone. I live off the reservation now and attend Sweat ceremonies that are conducted by someone who although, Indian, never lived with his people or received any traditional training. He received a vision and that is the way he conducts his ceremonies. I attend and respect his ceremonies. They are powerful and serve the true purpose of an Inipi or Sweat Lodge ceremony, even though he wasn't traditionally trained as I was.
You are all my relatives.