In Native American cultures, The Great Spirit is a deity intertwined with the fabric of the Universe itself on the large scale and yet personally engaged with the web of living things and the world on an earthly scale. I am creating a spiritual practice by borrowing a little from the Buddhists and the practice of mindfulness, but mostly from the strong connection I feel for the worship of Earth as taught us by our first nations. For those who hunger for the connection of a spiritual practice from someone who is learning to braid her own.
Monday, July 24, 2017
Sitting cross-legged peering out of the window of my tent, savoring the prairie in the evening's perfect light, feeling the curve of the Earth under my sit bones--a breather from the tribe; first relief, then appreciation and melancholy . . .
How long has it been since you hiked along a rocky ridge to a perch on top of your world, sat quiet and still on the dirt just to witness the sunrise? Stumbled over a mound of bunch grass, flushed a sparrow's nest and investigated, just for the joy of laying eyes on the tiny bundles inside? Spent a week sleeping on and tasting, smelling, hearing and really seeing the land, cradled in the arms of your Mother? Pushed yourself uncomfortable, stood exposed in front of strangers and told them your untellable stories.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Monday, November 7, 2016
Heal thyself, with the therapeutic sirens calling from Mother Earth. Do you have a plant?
Sunday, August 14, 2016
I squish along on curious boots, tripod balanced on my right shoulder, Nikon and extra lenses strapped in a pack on my back. The hot dusty smell I remember from my visit a year earlier is replaced with a damp perfume of penstemon and lupine, lush with unseasonable rain on this sacred ground once home to the Nez Pearce. Out here on the Zumwalt Prairie, where scientists count and plant and monitor, there are mysteries that cannot be explained.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
a message about Prairie's reach
all background howls,
each bark and witchy screech.
what constrains a science lens.
on frequencies meant to be heard.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Instead of expecting others to speak their difficult languages tribes like the Paiute, Pawnee and Iroquois--our ancestors--created "rock art" using universal symbols to communicate with each other; the road signs or computer icons of today. These symbols expressed meaning but were not meant to be spoken. Using a few simple figures they were able to convey complicated concepts like the past and spiritual connection.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Last summer I had the privilege of joining an amazing writing community--17 including kitchen staff, biologist and writing guru and followers--for an annual conference event called Fishtrap. Our distinction as a group was in being the ones courageous enough to travel outside of Joseph, Oregon to the Outpost on Nature Conservancy property called the Zumwalt Prairie. Others camp and write in the state park in town. We came together daily to be challenged and encouraged, to experience the prairie and to write about it, hear others' work and read aloud our own. It is on the prairie I saw my first Nighthawk--a small owl-like bird known for its twice-daily feeding ritual of flight and sound and astounding aerodynamics.
I was a couple of years into my own exploration of native wisdom and had just returned from my second year at an intentional community in New Mexico where I spent a week with a Peruvian-born, Lakota-trained shaman who taught us about the meaning of animals intersecting our lives--in dreams and real life. There is the science of how and why Nighthawks fly--mating, protecting the nest, warding off intruders, and there's a more spiritual message.
It took a few days on the prairie for one of the writers-in-residence to admit that since arriving her nights were spent lingering in the swooshing and diving of the Nighthawks around her tent. As a city dweller all she had were the bats rhythmic hunt to mimic what she experienced on the prairie. Nighthawks are often mistaken for bats; they fly at tree level but then they dive making a whooshing sound, gobbling insects in their large mouths on their descent, able to pull out of a dive at the last minute causing an unexpected, unexplainable boom.
The Nighthawk conversation took place with most of the residents at the picnic table after dinner on an evening late in the week. I listened to the group debate the nature of the bird's motives, but no one ever wondered if on the Zumwalt, where the stars are bright, the frequency might be just right to receive messages from Spirit through the appearance of the Nighthawk. If you doubt such a thing, check out what one spiritual writer says about the connection between creatives and the message of the Nighthawk. I was flabbergasted a group of creatives hadn't even considered something more than science to explain the phenomenon.
In retrospect, it is likely the poor bird was trying to keep our tents and wanderings from destroying its home, which was likely on the ground nearby. However I am not opposed to taking other signs, especially when I pray for guidance in how I deal with predictable rough spots in my life. My ancestors would have made a prayerful request for guidance, and then waited patiently to hear the answers (through dreams and encounters with other relations that crossed their path). I'm not opposed to taking in the message a Nighthawk might bring as a sign my prayers are being heard, and confirmation that I am fine.
Fun factoids about Nighthawks:
- Fossils of Nighthawks, up to about 400,000 years old, have been unearthed between Virginia and California and from Wyoming to Texas.
- Migrating Nighthawks have been recorded as far away as Iceland, Greenland, the Azores, the Faroe Islands, and multiple times on the British Isles, thousands of miles from their nesting sites.