Muslim Prayers in the Longhouse!?!

Yesterday were at the monthly Longhouse celebrations at Wahta. Our Sachem (Faith Keeper) is since recently teaching some courses on Native studies at Georgian college in Barrie = 100 km south of the res. and from the course had invited some students to come up and join us for the celebrations this month. The students he invited however were newly landed immigrants– from Pakistan and Syria. Only as soon as they came through the door it was clear, that few of the Longhouse participants had any idea, about what it means to BE Muslim.
5 young guys had brought their veiled women and small kids and also 1 set of doting parents and a friend from Syria, that was in the country less than a week and spoke no English. So I ended up explaining to everyone, that, no, there is NO pork in any of the pot-luck dishes, we had Beaver stew, Venison and Moose.

What what IS Beaver??? Is it halal?
What is venison?? What is a moose????? Is it halal?
I explained, that all meat is blessed by the person that killed it using the smoke of Cedar and Tobacco and the Spirit of the Animal is send home to its Ancestors, to be born again. So happily our friends dug in.
They however had brought a rice dish that blew everyone’s mind, it was so spicy!
Then, no sooner were tables and dishes cleared away to make room for the round dances, that it was time for our guests to pray.
They asked, can we do this here in the Longhouse??
Our Sachem  is– aehmm…. – not known for being a very flexible adaptive person.

After all he has to “hold on” and keep the Faith pure against all outside influences…..
So no, you can not pray in the Longhouse!
But now praying outside – in the snow that was coming down – and in the pitch dark cooooold?????
When I offered to give them a large comforter as a blanket to kneel on, they asked the Faith Keeper, iffff the shaman lady is willing to be helpful and accommodating, could not he too…….
He said nothing and they just knelt down right in front of all of us and prayed.
I am sure, it gave all the usual Longhouse visitors an opportunity to think and reflect…….
I decided to also pray, quietly– for cross cultural understanding and tolerance.

Then we proceeded with the usual “Standing Quiver Dance”, followed by traditional teachings – this time around Beaver and Deer hunting, Corn bread and marriage customs, when the woman goes out to choose a husband -among others…..
Our Muslim friends were all encouraged to join in the dances. The men did with gusto and also used our horn rattles in the Women’s Honour Dance.
The women did not dance. It took a while until my Mohawk friends understood, that Muslim Women are not permitted to dance in front of men. – So I went over to them to talk and teach. They told me, that they were astounded at Native customs and the matrilineal Clan system and the leadership of the Clan Mother.
I took the time to show them around the Longhouse, pointing out all our beautiful Wampum Belts and explaining their history and specific meanings. I let them reverently touch the mighty Wolf fur at the side of the Wolf Clan and explained our ceremonial Turtle Shell Rattles and a few other things.

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There was also the “thing with the Red Indians”
“Red Indian” is not an appropriate term – rather use Native American or First Nations Person….”
“Oh” said one of the ladies, “That is the same as people calling us Pakies”
Yes!
(Oh maaan, I do not even know, how to write that word…)
And trying to explain that Ojibwa and Mohawk and Sioux are not different casts, but tribes, formerly independent Nations, now coexisting within Canada (or at least try to…..!!)
At the end of our gathering, after the last Stick Dancer gave up hollering for more songs and the Clan Mother did the Closing Prayers, we go around in the circle and everyone is giving everyone else a by by hug.
Of course the Muslim ladies can not allow another man to hug them, so after I explained that to the Clan Mother, everyone agreed, that a handshake would be good Medicine as well.
I hope we see our new friends again next month.

HIAWATNA WAMPUM BELT

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Reflections

Soooo – I think, it is time for a little update as to what I am up to the days.

Well, busy for sure. Now in late October whenever the weather is halfway decent Peter and me are working hard – getting winter wood ready. Recent storms have brought down some huuuuge Maples, that we cut and carry out of the bush, section by section…..

Then there are a couple of craft shows coming up and while it is raining Cats, Dogs and Howler Monkeys – or rather Chipmunks, Weasels and caterwauling Catamounts we are making jewellery, lots of little things, that are fit for small budgets. Many of them are inspired by the recent trip to Bon Echo and Algonquin Park:DSC_5927

Spirit Boat petroglyph:

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 I am also making a few nice Medicine Pieces.

Like this Rattle for example:

Shamans Rattle 1

here is another view

SR 2

While sitting on working on pieces like this, I again think back on the “Vision-Teachings I received at Bon Echo and I yet again find myself drawing the pictographs seen on the face of the rocks = or their counterparts shimmering in the water onto the leather of my Medicine items.

The sonorous voice of a long-time enspirited Medicine Person reaches from the beyond into my ear – or rather my soul:

They call it Bon Echo.

But not for the voices reflecting back from the rock walls.

The bon echo is the one coming of the Medicine Spirits as they dance in the Water and teach the People!”

I reflect about these reflections……..

Bon Echo indeed!

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Cultural Roller coaster:

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Healing Chants for D. on Lake Mazinaw

 

I am running up and down in my own living room.

What a contrast to the above image!

I feel full of nervous Energy!

Energy waiting for release and directions

What to do first,

What to attend to, what to leave for later, what can wait a day or 2…..

I am on a cultural roller coaster!

OK:

Let me tell you guys what’s up:

LongHouse

Culture 1:

Well, A week ago we were at the Haudenosaunee Longhouse teaching with our Mohawk friends and yet again received powerful teachings, feasted, laughed and danced……

I should sit down and jot down these teachings, so I remember –

– – the words…..

Mohawk is a tricky language and I only understand the Sache’m, when I go into trance and what he says comes in – in pictures……

Often later he or J. translates and then I am amazed, how accurate it is!

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Baby Snapper2

Late at night we rescued 27 freshly hatched baby Snapping turtles 🙂

Culture 2:

We were away on a mini vacation for a week – over to Bon Echo Provincial Park to canoe and see the pictographs that the Anishenabeg Ancestors drew into the mighty rocks rising out of Mazinaw Lake.

While there, I received a VERY powerful vision and Medicine Teachings directly from- –

? – Yea – where DID they come from?

The Spirits –

I can not classify it any better, because that would mean labelling the experience and thereby limiting it, make it smaller, maybe more manageable to my little Bird brain, but also “cutting it down”…….

As of right now, I do not dare to do that……

RL1

Culture 3:

Coming home from this trip we of course had to immediately attend to “modern mundane life” = yet another Farmer’s Market to go to, set up and sell our own handmade Bearpaw Jewellery…

Also of course finding orders in the e-mail, phone messages from family, friends, students and clients, deal with a broken down car and an empty fridge…..

Mergansas

Mergansas

 

Culture 4:

That out of the way I had to hustle and get cracking on my homework for my on line Curandera course and then write the exam for this last week…..

Mexican Folk Healing, Healing Plants, Temazcal teachings and Risa Terapia = Laughter Therapy….

The differences and the similarities of doing a “Limpia” = cleansing prayer over a patient – as done in Mexico versus how I do it in my own practice according to my Ancestor’s and my family teachings or how it would be done in Nepal……..

It all brought me back to the many winters in the mid 1980 that we lived travelled and worked in Mexico…..

I also much enjoy being able to use my Spanish language knowledge, that up here in Canada can easily get rusty…..

Never mind all the Aztec words I remember the yerberas and curanderas using, when selling the Herbs in the Markets……

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Well, my exam passed I now will go for a little walk out into Mother Nature, swish swush through a deep carpet of fall leaves, breath deeeeep, clear my head a little,and then –

– Return to write my Medicine Diary/ journal about what happened in Bon Echo and – eventually tell you guys all about it 🙂

 

canoe

Red Willow Bark:

red willow in winterToday Peter send me this article, about an Archaeologist discovering pottery shards with residue of Red Willow Bark, a favoured pain reliever the world over.   http://westerndigs.org/prehistoric-pottery-found-in-colorado-contains-ancient-natural-aspirin/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_aspirin scraping the Bark Red Willow Bark is also a favoured ingredient of the Ojibwa smoking mixture” giniginige ” = to mix something animate with something inanimate”) meaning plants with Animal grease, which is seen as inanimate as long as it is not Bear grease….   The word “kinikinick” comes from “giniginige”. The making of kinikinick nowadays can be a well kept family -or Clan secret. These ingredients are most often found in varying concentrations:  Leaves or bark of Red willow bark, as mentioned, freshly dried Dogwood leaves, Arrow Root, Red Sumac, Blueberry twigs, Bear berry leaves, Raspberry leaves  Choke Cherry twigs, stems and dried berries, Juniper berries, Mullen and dried Yarrow flowers. As fat the smelllly musk from the gland of the Muskrat was so popular, there are songs and chants about it, but Beaver grease or Badger fat was used as well.   For those of us, who wildcraft, early to late summer is the a busy time to gather, dry or prepare all the different plants we need for our medicinal mixtures. steeping  Willow Bark

Summer Solstice Prayers for the Community and the Natural World

Summer Solstice Greetings and Gratitude to the Natural World:

 

In Canada, National Aboriginal Day has been placed onto the day of the Summer Solstice because since time immemorial prayers to the natural world were offered up on this day in all Native communities. Each celebrating in their way, in accordance with their traditions.

So, following these ancient ways, today we have come together to also offer up ancient and sacred prayers

so that they may unite us as people with the Natural World all around us.

Now, let us put our hearts and minds together as one:

 

In a sacred manner we wish to send greetings and gratitude to our Mother, the living Earth, upon who’s back we all live, who provides us with everything we need to survive and thrive and who right now is filled with an abundance of new life and is growing the new harvest, that will feed us and all living Beings far into the future.

Let us always respect the living body of Mother Earth and vow to protect her from all harm.

To our Mother the Earth we send greetings!

 

Let us turn towards the Waters of our World, the Rivers, Lakes, Streams and Oceans, the Rains and Mists and the Snows of Winter.

Water is life. Water is the Life Blood of Mother Earth.

Our own bodies are largely made of Water.

For that reason we need to protect the Waters and keep them clean and pure.

To the Waters we send greetings and gratitudes.

 

Let us also send our greetings and gratitudes towards the Fish and all the Beings that live within the Waters of this Earth. Many of them sustain us and all of them are our brothers and sisters.

 

Now with a prayerful mind, let us send greetings ad gratitude towards the Plants. They are the living dress of Mother Earth and they all are our brothers and sisters.

 

Let us honour all the many Food Plants now growing in the gardens and fields.

They are the ones giving up their life to sustain us.

For that, we send them greetings and gratitudes,

 

Let us also send out greetings and gratitudes towards all the many Healing Plants, that carry the Medicine, that restores our health and well being. We are thankful that they show themselves to our Medicine People and that they offer themselves up to us all.

May they thrive in Beauty and in Balance.

 

Let us also send our greetings and gratitude towards all the many different Trees, large and small. They provide us with wood to build our homes, with sweet fruits like Apples and Pears and with Maple sugar in Spring.

May they thrive in Beauty and in Balance.

 

With hearts full of love and admiration let us now turn towards the Animals:

All the 4 legged ones that live wild in field and Forest, let us honour them!

All the ones we keep in the stables and pastures -the ones we plan to eat – let us honour them!

The the Winged Ones up high in the air, let us honour them!

The Swimmers, the Shape Changers and Insects… let us honour them!

They are our older brothers and sisters, they were here first, on Mother Earth and each of them has a sacred Medicine to teach us.

From them we learn how to live in Beauty and in Balance, in Peace and so let us send greetings and our gratitude to all of them.

May they all thrive in harmony.

 

Let us now send greetings and gratitudes towards the 4 Winds and the mighty Thunder Beings that reside within them. The moving air around us brings us the change of the seasons. It also points towards the special Medicines of the 4 Directions:

From the East we receive confidence and courage and joy

From the South we receive patience, passion and compassion

From the West we receive introspection, strengths and endurance

From the North we receive wisdom Visions and dreams

For all these powerful gifts we are deeply thankful

 

Now we come to send greetings and gratitude towards our Grandfather the Sun , who provides us with light and warmth so sustains all life upon Mother Earth.

May he always be there, in Beauty and in Balance.

 

Next out greetings and gratitude goes out to Grandmother Moon, who rises in the night sky and provides us with a sense of rhythm and time.

She also guides the woman folk through First Blood, pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood and gives all of us sacred intuition and sensuality .

May she always be here for us, in Beauty and in Balance.

 

 

We also wish to honour the Stars that reside in the blue black blanket of Father Sky high above us.

The shining ones among them are the brothers and sisters of Grandfather Sun,

the dark and hidden ones are the brothers and sisters of Mother Earth and many of them carry life just as she does.

When we look up towards them, may we always remember, how small we are in the vastness of creation.

 

Let us now send greetings and our gratitude towards all of our Elders, our Medicine People, our healers, leaders and teachers.

May we absorb their wisdom, carry it within us and pass it along to our children and all young folk.

 

 

Now, with our choicest words and reverence in our hearts we send greetings and gratitude towards the Creator,

Shonkwia’ ti’son, Gichi Manitou, Gemne’do’o,

The Great Spirit, who is neither male nor female but

the very Life Energy, that is within everyone and everything

everywhere and at all times.

May this living Natural World be kept in Beauty and Balance for future generations.

May we and all our families and loved ones be kept save and in Beauty and Balance.

May everyone and everything upon Mother Earth be kept in Beauty,

in Balance

in Harmony

and in Peace.

Aho!

Shyan am!

 

May our harts and minds now be as one!

Gichi Meegweech

Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drumming:

About me and drumming:
To me my work with drums and drumming, is an inseparable aspect of being Shaman —
My people call a person that does the things I do a “Kham”, leading a Khamlanie = a healing and/ or other rituals. Udega is another Siberian word but it rather describes a person working with herbs and potions. 
Someone who uses drums and chants , who has one or more Spirit Guides, mostly in animal form that he or she contacts while drumming in order to find out what is wrong with a client is called a Kham. The word this culture uses is Shaman, also a Siberian word, Tunguse to be precise and descriptive for someone entering ecstatic trance in order to help, heal, or otherwise aid the community.
In this culture I claim this word as a befitting description for me because it points not only towards what I do but also to my Siberian heritage and distances me from the also often used term “Medicine Woman” that implies Native American heritage and incidentally would be analogues to the word Udega among Siberian people. 
Shaman however is not what I do, it is what I am.
It permeates every aspect of my daily life, my art, the way I teach at elementary and university level, the way I mentor my private students, and how I conduct public multicultural gatherings and rituals.
Teaching at the Pow Wow
………………………………………………………………………………………………….The musical aspect of my practice as a shaman involves drums and drumming as well as chants, traditional ones and others received in trance states and by extension movement and dance.
To me drumming in itself has different aspects that all fit onto a fluid continuum from light-hearted fun all the way to deep states of conflict resolution and healing.
Describing this continuum in more detail I want to first mention community based events that I facilitate and supply a multitude of drums and percussion instruments for:
There is the Bracebridge Drum Circle that gathers every Tuesday evening and provides everyday fun, good for you drumming. People come to jam together and also practice culture specific rhythms from around the world.

Next is my Frame Drum Circle, called “The Healing Drum” It is centred around spirituality and personal growth and I teach the use of the drum as a tool for relaxation and meditation, anger management and conflict resolution and -on occasion- I facilitate cathartic psychological ab-reactions for participants and lead them into profound healing states.

Next there would be the Native American ceremonies and other events I attend and also participate in as a teacher, setting up my teaching tent and bring drums for the people that gather around. Aside from other teachings I teach drum songs and chants. And we of course have the big Pow Wow drum there. I am a Drum Keeper, have received a 4 foot in diameter grandfather Drum from one of my clients… I bring that to events for the community to use. – See a pic about all the kids around it on the previous post about me in schools……

Here we are at home:
HealingprayersonthelargeMedicineDrum
 
In the Longhouse we sing and dance to the Mohawk water drum, that the Sachem plays. We accompany him with horn rattles..Even further along the continuum is my use of drums in shamanic healings. When I either drum with or for an individual client in order to put him/ her and me into trance, so I can “see” into the body/soul to find the cause of an illness or dis-ease.

The last on the continuum is me, alone, drumming and chanting, most every night to initiate and maintain altered states of consciousness and thereby see/find out about concerns I have for self and others. 
That is also where I receive most of my chants and where rituals are “born” as finished entities, ready to be used with the community and where the concept of much of my artwork comes from….. 
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Hemispheric synchronization
or 
How the healing Drum works
One of the most powerful aspects of drumming and the reason that people have done it since the beginning of being human is that it changes people’s consciousness. Through rhythmic repetition of ritual sounds, the body, brain and the nervous system are energized and transformed. When a group of people play a rhythm for an extended period of time, their brain waves become entrained to the rhythm and they have a shared brain wave state. The longer the drumming goes on, the more powerful the entrainment becomes. . All of the oldest known religious rites used drumming as part of the shared sacred experience. 
It is interesting to look at these ancient drumming practices from the perspective of the latest scientific research into the functioning of the brain. Using electro-encephalographs, scientists can measure the number of energy waves per second pulsing through the brain. A system of classifying states of consciousness according to the frequencies of these waves was created. 
Normal outwardly focused attention generates beta waves which vibrate from 14 to 40 cycles per second. When awareness shifts to an internal focus, our brain slows down into the more rhythmical waves of alpha, vibrating at 7 -14 waves per second. Alpha is defined by relaxation and centering. Dropping down to 4- 7 cycles per second the brain enters the theta state in which there is an interfacing of conscious and unconscious processes, producing hypnagogic dream-like imagery at the threshold of sleep. 

Theta is the source of sudden mystical insights 
and creative solutions to complex situations and is 
marked by physical and emotional healing. People with a preponderance of theta brain waves are also able to learn and process much more information than normal. Without some form of intensive training, it is hard to stay awake in theta–one slips quickly down into delta. This is the slowest brain wave frequency, 1-4 cycles per second, the state of unconsciousness or deep sleep. 
The brain is divided into two hemispheres that are basically split in their control of the thinking process. The right brain functions as the creative, visual, aural and emotional centre. The left brain is the rational, logical, analytical and verbal administrator. Generally, either the right or left brain dominates in cycles lasting from 30 minutes to 3 hours. While one hemisphere is dominant, the memories, skills, and information of the other hemisphere are far less available, residing in a subconscious or unconscious realm. Not only do the right and left brain operate in different modes, they also usually operate in different brain wave rhythms. The right brain may be generating alpha waves while the left brain is in a beta state. Or both can be generating the same type of brain waves, but remain out of sync with each other. But in states of intense creativity, deep meditation or under the influence of rhythmic sound, both hemispheres may become entrained to the same rhythm. This state of unified whole brain functioning is called hemispheric synchronization or the awakened mind. As the two hemispheres begin to resonate to a single rhythm, a sense of clarity and heightened awareness arises. The individual is able to draw on both the 
left and the right hemispheres simultaneously.
The mind becomes sharper, more lucid, 
synthesizing much more rapidly than normal,
and emotions are easier to understand 
and to transform.

User avatar
Mi-Shell
 

A busy summer :)

At this time of year our summer season with busy markets and art and craft shows is still in full swing. On top of that I am kept busy with students, bringing teachings into resorts and health care facilities and with patients coming to the house.

This is the problem with writing a blog about working as a shaman. Most of the “more interesting” things are strictly confidential. I can not write about the consultations with patients, about individual cases and problems or private hours with students.

Oftentimes, when I bring drums and teachings into groups and healing and recovery centres, I – and the students, that accompany me have to sign strict confidentiality agreements and especially taking pictures is prohibited.

At the same time however, it just may happen, that the caretakers themselves are videotaping the sessions and circle activities.

Sometimes that makes me wonder, what will they use these videos for?

Will they try to replicate my teachings?

Are they becoming part of the public domain?

Are they on U-tube somewhere??

Anyway…

Here a few pictures, that recently were put into one of the many public networking sites and so are OK to re-post here.

Thank you to the very talented photographer ♥selling my large Siberian medicine Pouch

Here I am on the annual Baysville Craft show, showing of my large Siberian medicine Pouch.

It worked! 🙂

I sold it! Yaaaaayyy!!!

Drums for recovery

Drums for Recovery

grandmother Drum at pickerel Lake

Buffalo Medicine Teaching Blanket

Buffalo Teaching Blanket

Bear Medicine Teachings

Bear of the west 2