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.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Prayer connects Earth and Sky

Original wisdom teaches prayer and ritual connect Earth and Sky, and doing so keeps us in contact with the great intelligence offered by a physical Earth backed by a universe filled with spirits and ancestors, visions and dreams. Our unique role as humans is to relay messages to and from Earth. Original wisdom assumes gratitude for the gifts from the Earth as part of ritual. I view this as prayer, but I have heard Native Americans insist that gratitude is gratitude and not prayer. Original wisdom assumes consulting with ancestors and spirit guides for help with decision making. Original wisdom waits a patient 4 days.

I woke up the first morning in the New Mexico desert with these words:

See what is unseen
Hear what is unheard
Feel what is unfelt
Smell what is unsmelled (sic)
Taste what is untasted.

In hindsight these words speak of my hunger for connection and understanding, my version of consulting with ancestors and spirit guides. I hadn't yet learned about beginning with gratitude. But i
t gave me a place to start. I practiced them every time a situation called for prayer. I still do. They feel comforting now, and remind me to tune in to what is in front of me, not the random and often busy thoughts in my brain. 

It was very soon after that a Raven started doing low flyovers while I attended my altar, often pausing with a squawk above my head--one time with a cracker in its mouth.

I gave thanks and promised to be open to messages, no matter who delivered them.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Song as prayer

There were signs.

I should have known that waking up most mornings for an entire lifetime with a song in my head was some sort of sign. I should have known that when I attended my first earth-centered spirituality information course in the fall two years ago that the most impactful exercise in the half-day workshop I attended in Portland's Hoyt Arboreteum was when I sang in a round ("beauty up above you, beauty down below you, beauty all around you, beauty from within you"). I walked next to a strong baritone and every note spoke to me like a distant native language resurrected. But then I saw an example in front of me that led the way.

While attending a spiritual group one Friday evening, a slender young woman with China skin, enlivened Robin-egg-blue eyes and dreds sang a song on the agenda. It was a call to action song, "People of the earth tribe rise up, people of the earth tribe rise up now . . . " I knew in that instant I must sing. Rather than stand up against what I loathe I must speak up for what I love. I must sing.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Selecting your arrows

There was an Indian brave who, when warned to take his family and leave because of the danger of an impending storm, says no. Instead he takes up his arrows and shoots them at the big black cloud looming over his home while his family is tucked safely inside. The brave uses the arrows not to stop the storm, but to raise his vibration in order to communicate with The Great Spirit. Of course, using his arrows, he and his family are spared.

Our Shaman insists we all must know our arrows; those tools that, in our hands, raise the vibration it takes to contact Great Spirit and Pacha Mama. His are tobacco, sage and his rattle. Through the days that followed I watched this man beckon spirit using each and every one. I suspected right away that one of mine is sage. I love the smell, even the ritual of burning it while spreading the smoke to all parts of the group and each body, even over meals.

Our assignment--"go to your altar, raise the vibration so you can be heard, and figure out how you will save yourself first"--before you act on behalf of Pacha Mama.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Presence on the prairie

How long
since you tasted 
the sweet smell of prairie grass
at sunrise?
How long
since you dodged swallows protecting broods
sequestered under gables 
in mud feathered nests?
How long
since you paused to spy on a grasshopper 
sunbathing on a blade of smooth brom?
How long
since you slept on the ground,
laid still enough
to feel the beating of your Mother's heart?