from my Medicine diary……
Thank you for the healing!♥
The other day, Peter and me were invited to a Christmas party.
It was nice: friends and acquaintances, good food, laughter and fun. Fun especially, because there were “Christmas party games”
As you know, we are anything but Christians and not very familiar with all the customs of the seasons, so we both drew blanks when it got to a game where one has to recite or even sing one many of the popular Christmas songs.
The only one I knew was Rudolph the red nosed Reindeer – (I HAVE to know that one, 🙂 my paternal Siberian Ancestors were / are Reindeer herders from the north side of the mighty Yenisei river in north-east Tuva.) And of Silent Night I only know and could sing the Cree text…..
Some of our friends were surprised and one of them suggested I should come and sing it like that in his church.
I do not think it is my place, to sing a christian song in a Native American language in a church – after all what the churches did and still do to Native Culture……
The next morning at home I had a bit of a migraine (repercussions for eating the delicious cheese appetizers) and so instead of rushing around, I had to sit still in the semidarkness of dawn– and had time to think.:
How much acculturated am I?
What other X-mas songs do I know?
What are the songs of the Winter Solstice of my own Siberian culture?
My Ada was anything other than a singer, he rather hollered and growled to the stomping rhythm of his large shaman staff witch had rattles and bells attached. A rather frightening ruckus he made with it!
I also do remember the Solstice Chant, that calls the Owl Guardians, asking them for protection through the long icy winter nights. I also remember the trance rhythms we are to drum, when the shaman walks around the village, asking for Blessings and protection and then sits out the long and frigid night up on a snowy windy rock promontory or even atop a tall Tree chanting and praying for everyone in the hamlet. This after all was my great grandmother Ulali’s job.
I also know, that when the Wolves do answer or join into that lonely chant, it is seen as VERY fortuitous for the new solar year.
It is a velvety soft pulling thing/ feeling, when the trance comes in – and takes hold.
Somehow the melody and words of the Huron Carol floated into my mind…..
Then the scenery before my eyes changed.
A wintry night
deep snow, the moon up, full, just before midnight
Ice crystals glistening on all the Spruce Tree branches, bark cracking in -50 below
This is HOME = Siberia…….
entering the clearing filled with more than Moon and Star light…..
and then the words came in
on the melody….
A female Elder’s voice…..
T’was in the Moon of Wintertime
an old Wolf this way came
He had a ragged mangy coat
and on one foot he was lame.
He had a rotten toothless throat
and a stomach full of hunger pain
He knew that Death would be a grace
to an old wreck of his mighty race….
So he walked towards the Morning Star – – –
-and was surprised what he there saw- –
A beautiful glittering Reindeer dame
A Spirit with her antlers aflame
Life Magic from her heart did glow,
Love and mercy in her eyes did show,
She touche him with her sacred hand
to send him off to Never- Land…
But oh– he felt the Magic swell…….
the old Wolf changed to young and well!
His coat aglow in the sparkling snow,
his teeth all trim, feet fast and slim
Deep in his heart the Wolf did know
that never again old and frail he’ll grow
For all time he’ll wander through the night
all lost Souls home her was to guide
Sooo thankful for this Sacred Gift
into the air his snout he lift
and sang the first chant ever done
That on Solstice night
Star Maiden would come
To take away all pain and fear
So you all too live another year
So sing with me the Börü chant
that it will ring across this land….
Much much later, tears streaming down my face, hands still shaking, but migraine gone completely,
I managed to write it down, in 1 uninterrupted “flow-stream”…..
Still tears of thankfulness dripping onto the paper……
They are coming back, as I am sitting here now, typing it.
I know, the song, is based on one of the many E’eren Börü, legends of my Ancestors.
I also know, it is not for me alone, it is given, so I can share it with the community.
It says, “So you all too live another year!”
It is a little like something my Great gran Ulali would bring back from her midwinter night ordeal, to share with the people……
So you all too will live another year!
Every Medicine Tool has its own story:
Maybe you remember the post from about a year ago, when I found the frozen little Green Winged Teal / small female Duck and promised her, to use her beautiful wings well, to make a smudging fan to honour her life.
Well, here is the oooold blog post:
And here is, what I created from the little wings:
Prayer and Smudge Fan Female Green Winged Teal
In Honour of Ee’ren Ödürek, the Siberian Spirit
that created the Land
Yes, there was the “Big Flood” Water was EVERYWHERE – and the animals had nowhere to go and were in danger of drowning. Here in North America it is the Muskrat, that dives down to the primordial bottom to bring back up a small piece of mud that then was spread over the back of Mother Earth the Mighty Turtle. Among my Siberian ancestors and for my Family Clan this important job was accomplished by a small Duck, that then subsequently was allowed to reside in the Sky World and was forthwith known as Ee;ren Ödürek. Since then Duck feathers are highly regarded as preventing misfortune and calamities.
So it stands to reason, that, after I discovered this sad little Green Winged Teal, my Heart cried and I had to honour its life in a meaningful way……
Deer Leather: Ghülbüz lives in the dawn of the East, greeting the Sun every morning.
Fur of Sha-qua sho, the Mink, messenger and go=between the Land and the Water Spirits
Bone carving of Butterfly for transcendence and transformation
Moss Agate carving of Thunderbird, who’s rock art/ markings in Siberia are identical to those here in North America, proving, that the Native People came from my Ancestral home Lands
Sterling Silver button with Ee’ren Adik, the Bear, Keeper of the Eastern Gate and protector from Albis and other evil and illness inducing boogs and other “nastys”
Peacock – the all seeing eye of the Spirit
Pheasant: Pride in one’s own heritage
Mallard – family values
Heron – leadership and chieftainship, wise council
I am very pleased, that the general shape of the wings suggested a Butterfly, as they are seen as Spirits of transformation and beauty. A little searching on the net led me to a blog post from Robert Moss:
quoteing Robert Moss:
MONDAY, JANUARY 18, 2016
If it looks like a duck,
it could be a Celtic goddess
At the shrine of Sequana, at the source of the River Seine in the Dijon area of France, ancient Celts came to seek healing dreams in the sacred night. Cloaked pilgrims journeyed with their offerings, which included models of the organs that needed healing, carved from oak or stone. They bathed in the sacred spring, prayed to the goddess, and placed their offerings beside a sacred pool. They entered a long portico or dormitory, hoping that in the night – during sleep or in the twilight state between sleeping and waking that the ancients knew is especially propitious for contact with the more-than-human – the goddess Sequana or her emissary would appear to them.
No magical power, other than simple cleansing, was attributed to the spring itself, but the waters were regarded as a source of creative flow, and as a portal to the Otherworld and its powers.
We know the name Sequana from nine inscriptions found in the area. It has been suggested that it means “The Fast-Flowing One”. Sequana is the goddess of the River Seine, which flows through Paris, and (according to Strabo) was the patron of the Sequanae, a Gaulish tribe in this region. Her special companion animal is the duck, and in a statue now in the Musée archéologique de Dijon, a crowned Sequana is depicted riding in a duck-headed boat.
Only the foundations of the healing shrine of Sequana at her spring, the Fontes Sequanae, survive, but we can glean a great deal about the ancient practice of dream incubation for healing from the contents of two pottery vessels discovered at the site. One contains more than a hundred carved effigies of eyes, breasts, limbs, heads and internal organs. A second vessel contained more than 800 similar carvings.
Pilgrims who needed healing for the parts represented ascended a series of terraces, pausing perhaps to drink from streams and cisterns containing the sacred waters, before reaching the main sanctuary and being admitted to the place of sacred sleep. Grateful travelers paid for inscriptions at the site thanking Sequana for gifts of healing, evidence that we have here a Celtic parallel to the practice of Asklepian dream healing in the ancient Mediterranean.
What happened to this great precinct of dream healing in the realm of the Goddess when the Church arrived? One guess. The site was appropriated by the Church and re-dedicated to an invented male, saint, St Sequanus.
In reviving the memory of the “Fast-Flowing” Goddess, we take another step towards cultural soul recovery – and remember a healing practice that can transform our lives.
Fly well, Little Duck and Blessings to your species!
This time of year, late February, we should be having beautiful cooooold winter weather, but instead of that it is raining into our formerly 4 feet of snow that now is quickly melting away, especially because it also is +11 degree centigrade. 😦
All our outside chores like going out into the bush and getting our wood are on hold.
So I am sitting in front of a pile of feathers, furs and recycled leather and give new life and meaning to a few of the wild Bird wings I accumulated over the last few years.
Remember this post – about how to pin and dry Bird wings?
Here now is a nice Merlin Wing Smudging fan, just finished 🙂
Another wing pinned in the box in the above mentioned post is this following Sharp Shinned Hawk wing.Now it too is dressed up and ready to find an owner 🙂
And as always, to maybe go with these 2 treasures there are 2 Sweetgrass baskets dressed up and filled with Sage, Cedar, Juniper, some incense, some crystals and 2 different large shells suitable for smudging.
One of them is a LARGE clam shell found at the beach of Kouchibouguac NP in New Brunswick. The local Micmac people consider shells from there as powerful “Gebmeg” = good Medicine.
Facing the current situation takes gumption and resilience!
Several of my clients are in big trouble 😦
Well, to be honest, we all are in trouble.
But to keep informed about THAT kind of trouble you can check out the daily news……. It is a “daškaar men’ – trouble” something external to us, something not born within. (ištiki men’)
It does clash with what we all – or most of us – belief and what we stand for, what is good, balanced and “right”according to our personal world view and we are outraged, we protest, we talk about it, we write posts about it and so try our very best to deal with our anger, our frustration, our helplessness, our feeling of being run over by a horde of nasty dementors on their way to Mordor……
Some people however feel unable to even allow themselves to feel and acknowledge their feeling of frustration, outrage and anger, because THAT would be “negative energy” and their world view includes the strict avoidance of “any negative energy” for fear of being tainted and corrupted by it.
We all know a few of these “gentle souls”.
They do not watch the news, they do not read the papers, they do not allow any negativity or negative talk in their homes or in their presence and should “something “ come up in a conversation, they withdraw or simply leave…..
Generally this is a good and positive thing and keeps them healthy and it is a good strategy to mitigate anxiety if it were not for the denying of their own feelings.
It then can lead to a slippery slope, where healthy anger and frustration get further suppressed and denied, creating stress and pressure, that turns inward and eventually implodes, leading to anxiety attacks, nightmares, fear and ultimately also to depression.
Needless to say, that the afore mentioned symptoms are also seen as “negative energy” and so a nasty vortex is set into motion…….
Several of my clients now are stuck is such a nasty vortex 😦
What to do?
– I created a “safe space”
Candles, crystals, flowers…. things that THEY need to be there to feel safe (= this is not about what I may use or like or need or my tradition, this is about THEM!!)
– invocations of their Spirits – and mine, (who are never further away then the end of my nose anyway)
– induce a light trance
– then induce a psychological up-reaction
Yes, they will SCREAM
SCREAM THEIR HEART OUT!
Scream out all their pent up anger, fear and frustration
They will cry and yell and mourn and grovel and curse and scream some more…..
RIP apart a bunch of black cloth and TOSS it right across the room….
GRAB a bunch of rocks and TOSS it at and after all the shitttt they feel helpless about
then dissolve into another flood of tears…….
for the next 30 minutes…….
– then it is time for a cleansing.
– the Yak tail comes out, and also my Great Horned Owl wing
– a chant
– a closing prayer
– a smudge; Juniper berries, Mullen, Lavender and Cedar….
– another chant
– a hug…..
A fresh box of cleanex and a cup of hot tea later
I may read the cards for them……
Then they go home, feeling better.
But then comes the hard task of bravely facing this new nasty world……
They know, I am just a phone call or an e- mail away…….
And I KNOW, that phone will ring……
I was born on the Winter Solstice 1955.
I cam out bum first. = breach
I almost did not make it and was blue and black from a bungled attempt with forceps.
But I had a tenacious and nasty scream so share with the world.
All this proved to my Ada = my father, that I would follow in the footsteps of our shaman Ancestors from his side of the tribe and so the very first thing he did is go and get a little Ee’ren Adik for me, for protection.
In 1955 that was not easy, but when he finallllly showed up at the hospital, he had all he needed: A bottle of vodka –as a gift for the Sky Spirits, a thermos of black tea for the Land Spirits and a jug of milk for the Milk Lake Mother, Keeper of our Ancestors , who had hand selected MY!! Spirit to be reborn into the family again!! 🙂
The little Ee’ren Adik, that he then subsequently deftly “graced” = infused with the prescribed assortment of fluids was not quite, what he had had in mind, but it would do for now.
It was a little Steiff Bear with soft brown fur loving eyes and fully jointed.
See, Ee’ren Adik is the “One who “Sucks his Toes”, while sleeping and dreaming of Healing Powers.
The One who protects the Eastern Door against Albis = nasty disease spirits that lurk in the yet unknown future.
The One and only Sky Spirit, who agree to come down to the Middle World to protect the People from Albis and Bogs and Bellegee’rs and the Schulbus and….
Do not ask; they are all NASTYS!!
My mother did not think much of the once cute and clean, now soaked and smelly bear, Ada put under my blanket. But she drank the rest of the milk and ate some of the honey Ada had brought for her, while Ada shared the rest of the vodka – and then some…. with his friends.
I have been told by Maeuzi, that the nurse kind of washed the little Bear and put it onto the radiator to dry. Then I was allowed to have it back.
It was NOT called Ee’ren Adik but Maeuzi called it “Petzy” after Meister Petz, the Gypsy Guardian of the Forest.
I was also told – by ADA, that ifffff they had NOT washed and rinsed off the offerings form that poor bedraggled Bear, I would have had more Shaman Power.
For the next years Petzy went EVERYWHERE I went.
Petzy was much loooooooved!!
Petzy lost his fur, but never mind!!
Petzy also got company…. But that is for another post……
Brittany, thank you for the little video!♥
Peter hated it, when I yelled that at the top of my lungs, – while we were driving top speed along one of the US Interstate highways, 18 wheelers roaring behind us and past us even faster with NO WAY to hit the breaks, pull over and survive……
But in most cases Peter managed to stop – in spite of it all – usually a mile or so further down the Hwy. Then I would grab a plastic bag and get out and track back along the shoulder of the roadway towards my often distant target. I usually had seen it only for a fraction of a second in the corner of my visual field, but I KNEW, what it was and that I had to “go get it”.
This is me, you are reading about, so this most likely has to do something with Owls, right?
While I stumbled along the road shoulder I most often passed other unlucky road victims: Deer, sometimes more than one, Coyotes, that had come to feed and became victims too, Badgers, Foxes, Vultures, Dogs, anything…..
By the time I reached , what I had seen, I usually was in tears.
But these Owls I could not just leave here, they had to be carefully taken up and a more dignified last Resting place had to be found. A song, a chant, for these Owls, their mates and for all the others, that I had to pass and had to leave there…..
Oftentimes there was a suitable place nearby in a field, under a Tree, facing East, out of wind and sun. Often there was not and I trudged back to the “Turtle” carrying my sad burden along a trail of death and sadness.
We then had to get off the hwy – fast- before …. the smell, you know…..
Find that little clearing with some Trees or Mesquit brush…..
On time, I “found” a Long Eared Owl just at the turnoff to a busy rest area and proceeded to carry him into the nearby woods, under the highest Tree. When I put him there, I discovered Owl Pellets. This was HIS Tree! Where he had roosted during the day and dropped his pellets. I was indescribably unravelled, emotionally, and cried for the better part of an hour…….
Yes, I also took some feathers, promising to create something beautiful and lasting in honour of all these Creature – and all that lived and died along with them.
But, having wild Bird feathers is prohibited in the US.
So there was – always will be the conundrum:
Law versus Spirit.
In instances like this, I HAVE to go with Spirit.
It is the VOICE OF THE SPIRIT, that showed me where that Owl was to be found, and to take a few feathers……..
And I am not the only one, that votes for Spirit and against the tight fist of the law:
On my sad walks to and from “my Owls” I also passed by Raptors.
Red Tailed Hawks, Swainson’s Hawks, Kestrels,…..
The large Raptors most often had the tail and large wing feathers missing. – So someone was here. Native Americans most likely, because sometimes there was a fistful of crumbled up cigarets beside or underneath the Bird. A gift in reciprocity for the feathers taken.
Often all I had to give in exchange was a chant and a more dignified resting place, sometimes a few Cedar twigs, collected for this purpose.
Another time, during a lonely drive on Hwy 87 from Clayton to Des Moines in New Mexico, Peter struggggeling to hold on, to force the motorhome forward against a blasting 40 miles/ hour West wind, white knuckled hands clamped around the steering wheel, the Turtle shaking like a bucking bronco, when I SAW HER!
Wrapped around a road sign post.
He did and I ran back.
She was still warm.
She was absolutely beautiful.
Large, well preened beautiful feather dress, silky soft.
I cradled her in my arms like a baby, my tears dropping onto her perfect feathers.
When I laid her out on the floor of the Turtle, Peter cried too.
What to do.
Gently straightening out her broken neck and singing it back together, singing her back to LIFE.
– If only shamanism and shamanic ways were like this, like in the books and fancy multicoloured magazines, in the tall tales of some practitioners……
But it is not. Death is our last friend, for all of us.
Death is her friend too.
Better like this, than slowly starving in the ditch with a broken wing.
We agonized over her for the better part of the afternoon. We could not bring her to some taxidermist to treat her and send her to Ontario. We could not, in this climate take her perfect wings and claws and do the work ourselves. We could only take a few feathers and then try and find a bush to put her under or into, away from the sand-blasting winds. It took 30 miles, to find such a place at the foot of Carpulin Volcano.
A Cedar bush, away from the murderous road and the murderous winds.
Through my tears I sang for her.
I also sang for a Fox or Brother Coyote, to come find her – for a meal for the Little Ones in the den……
After this gut wrenching encounter, the Spirits must have thought, that “I had enough”.
Enought tears shed and definitely enough feathers – in fact, waaay more, than I could handle, and so for the next month or so the “sightings” and the “Stop screams” ceased.
But, there were other “second sight” , that were happening. I will be back to bring these to (virtual ) paper.
What did I do with my feather treasures?
I have a few trusted students living in the US, that got strange parcels with mummified Hawk claws, Fox Skulls and of course Owl feathers. I also know quite a few First Nations leaders, that live and work in large cities and appreciate Hawk feathers for sprucing up their Gustowes and for the Feather Dance for the kids they teach.
A few treasured Owl feathers I send home.
They now eagerly await me working on/ with them.
Ultimately they wait for YOU, to own and treasure them as I do.
One thing about travelling is, that your daily spiritual practice has to go travel with you, to provide continuity. Some personal rituals may have to be adapted to fit seamlessly into the ever changing days of a traveller. Peter and me on the road in the “Turtle” quickly fell back into an old routine, established loooong ago, when we travelled the continent first in our old VW bus and later in the larger “Bumblebee, our Mercedes motorhome, that was roughly the same size, but had none of the comfort that a small modern motorhome has. Back room and space was at an absolute premium, especially because we had a full jewellery making workshop on board, but today there is no need for that and so there is space in the many cupboards for among other things a box containing my smudging shell, some herbs, a small Rattle and a small Medicine Pouch, things that will make up a portable Altar.
In another cabinet there is my bag with my travelling Drum.
This is the one I first created for the trip to Nepal and that has since then always been tossed into the back of one of our cars, when we were away for a few days – be it to an out of town craft show or a week’s vacation in Algonquin park.
Here is a post about this drum:
Here at home in Canada I can take along pretty much any “Medicine item” I want, but on this trip we were going across the border into the USA. That means we can not have any feathers or other “Animal products” on board and we and our vehicle have to weather hours of searches and interrogation before being allowed to pass.
NO FEATHERS!?? How am I ever going to do that?? Rip off all the feathers and fur off my drum?? NO WAY!
I decided to just risk it and leave the drum as is and ifffff custom rips the feathers off I would replace them with whatever I found on the road.
My beautiful Rattle however had to stay home…..
But for my Night Prayers, for my nightly “giving Thanks to my Miahanits and Ancestors” and my prayers for my clients and charges I realllly wanted to have at least 1 Owl feather – to focus my thoughts. So I hid one large Great Horned Owl feather among our travel brochures.
At the US border we ended up being rudely questioned as to our motives for travelling, finances, jobs, family situations, affiliation to bomb makers and terrorists for 5 1/2 hours. The Turtle was searched through – top to bottom twice. They did not confiscate my 2 onions and 1/2 cucumber, or our yogurt and 2 pieces of bread from the fridge, they did not care about that feathered noisemaker in a bag, they did not take away our 3 pieces of firewood from home…… They were just loooooking for guns and bombs. We have none of those.
Finally we got our visa stamped and were on our way.
What a degrading experience that was!
But that rainy evening, on a loud rest area South of Duluth I dug out my Owl feather and said Night Prayers for us and a safe journey, for everyone, that has to endure these kinds of indignities and for all the people that are being kept out of the ”Land of Plenty” bu bureaucracy and fear.
I have not posted in a little while. Now I can tell you why:
We were away from home and to a certain extend also from the internet.
A little well deserved break.
We took our mini motorhome, called “the Turtle” on the road for 2 1/2 months travelling down to Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and then up to South Dakota and sloooowly back home to Ontario.
It was WONDERFUL!
It was MAGICAL!
Many of you guys know, that we used to travel like this – first in our oooold beat up VW Bus, then in our little bigger but just as beat up Mercedes cargo van. From 1981 to 1989 we crisscrossed the country, spending summers in Alaska or the Yukon, in the fall went down to Mexico to create a whole bunch of beautiful jewellery and then sell it first in Florida between February and April and then on markets all across the US and Canada. THAT really was the birth of Bearpaw Jewellery.
But as you remember, that, when we settled in Ontario very soon Bearpaw Jewellery and our creations took over our life and I had to struggle fitting my shamanic clients and patients as well as teaching engagements, students and lots more in and between craft shows and art exhibitions…….
Well, now Peter is 63 and I will be 61 soon, so we decided, to “switch gears” again , demote the almighty Bearpaw to hobby status, quit a whole bunch of shows and galleries and do a few more things we reallllly love doing, like travelling.
For my shamanic practice that is a huuuuge switch as well:
I will not be home year round and available at all hours of day and night.
But on the other hand, I can stay in touch with my clients via internet, I can skype with them and some of them I also can stop by and visit.
Spirits of course travel VERY WELL!
Mine also like it, when I am on the road.
However some of my personal daily practice = interaction with them had to change around as well. – I can not drum in the motorhome late at night and keep poor Peter awake. Never mind neighbours on the campgrounds……
But I can find secluded places in Nature to do that.
So now, back home, I will
….. first have to catch up with all the stuffff that piled up, while we were away…..
and then I want to write a little about my experiences with “shamanic practice on the road”