The Medicine Wheel and My Spirit Flag is South

I was married just a week when Melissa, a good spiritual friend of mine, called me one day and asked if I’d be interested in joining a tipi talk, medicine wheel evening with John Two-Hawks, a Grammy award winning musician and his wife, Peggy Hill at their home near my new mountaintop home in the Ozarks. Melissa said she thought I would get a lot out of it, and especially Kevin, my beloved new husband, who has a very nature based belief in God, Source, and Creator.  I immediately said, “YES! But let me confirm with Kevin, first.”  Kevin was immediately enthusiastic, and we signed up to be one of a total of nine people on June 27 in Two Hawks’ medicine circle, learning the Lakota ways, the Lakota beliefs, and how we must live with Mother Earth in a respectful way.

We arrive at Two Hawks’ tipi and are escorted to a circle around a not yet ignited camp fire for introductions and small conversations. Two Hawks appears dressed in  his Lakota Medicine Man hides and beaded chest coverings with his hair braided back. I am in immediate awe of his calmness. I am glad we are here in his and his lovely wife’s presence on their land, Creator’s land, about to have a spiritually filled night. Kevin and I learn that  the home of the Lakota is a tipi is not spelled with “e” but with  an “i” and that the medicine wheel is one of contemplation, prayer, and connection to spirit. Two Hawks teaches us the Lakota way of prayer ties, the path of red or the path of black or blue in life which we much choose, and how to construct a prayer tie properly with a pinch of tobacco and simple cotton cloth in one of the four colors–red, yellow, white, or blue.  We all make a red prayer tie to honor the nine recently killed victims in the St. Louis hate based church shooting and one more for a personal prayer. Kevin and I choose yellow for our prayer ties to represent new beginnings, new love, future.  The prayer ties each of us did for the shooting victims are in red, for blood, passion, and forgiveness. The powers we have as humans are to change, to evolve toward love and compassion. The Lakota knew this century before, and the prayer wheel represents a union of all races and all beliefs, as Two-Hawk explains each color’s significance. We adjourn from the introductions and are instructed in prayer ties, and begin our entrance after a sage smudging into the prayer circle walk.   As I walk around the stone enclosed prayer circle, stopping at each position to feel the peace, I look to see where I will tie my prayer ties to overhanging branches, In front of the next to last direction, the white prayer flag, the point of spirit, south’s sacred vibration, I feel my heart buzz and expand in my chest. There is not a doubt in my mind that this IS my place in the world.  I am happy and circle once more to the overhanging oak branches at the entrance, which is East, to place my prayer tie for those who died in the shooting, and then again I circle to the pines near the West  and the South prayer flags, representing the storms of life we must overcome, to place my yellow prayer for a good future, half way between the South and the West, as I see my marriage, so many storms passed, and so much “new life”  —spiritual life after the death of  my former dreams. It is all good, and Creator blesses us with a conversation and very touching historical talk from Two Hawks, a campfire song in Lakota, and his flute music filling our ears and hearts with love.

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Lakota Medicine Wheel

Medicine Wheel

The medicine wheel is a sacred symbol used by Plains tribes and others to represent all knowledge of the universe.

The medicine wheel consists of a circle with horizontal and vertical lines drawn through the circle’s center. Sometimes, an eagle feather is attached in the wheel’s center.

Design Meaning
Circle – The circle represents the sacred outer boundary of the Earth often referred to as the Sun Dance Circle or the Sacred Hoop. It represents the continuous pattern of on-going life and death.

Lines – The horizontal and vertical lines represent the sun and man’s sacred paths, respectively; the crossing of the two lines indicates the center of the Earth where one stands when praying.

Feather – The eagle feather is a sign of Wakan Tanka’s – the Great Spirit’s – power over everything.

Color Explanation
The directions, as they are called upon in the medicine wheel, are often associated with a sacred color. Each direction has a messenger.

Color placement on the wheel varies based on individual band customs.

East:

  • Color – Yellow
  • Messenger – Brown Eagle
  • Associated with the sun, brings light to all creation.
  • Because the sun travels east to west – in a clockwise manner – all good things conform to the same pattern.
  • The Morning Star – the star of wisdom and new beginnings – comes from the east.
  • Elk people call the east home.

North:

  • Color – Red
  • Messenger – Crane
  • North is home to winter and is believed to promote good health and growth.
  • Those who misbehave look to the north for the wisdom needed to walk a straight path again.
  • Home to the Calf Pipe Woman and the buffalo people.

West:

  • Color – Black
  • Messenger – Black Eagle
  • Connected with the power of rain and the purity of water; joy and growth follow the rain, releasing ignorance.
  • West is home to the Thunder-being. His wings produce thunder and lightening flashes from his eyes. The bird-like being stands again evil and ensures the respect of others.

South:

  • Color – White
  • Messenger – Bald Eagle
  • Associated with warmth, happiness and generosity.
  • Connected with life after death, directs men as they walk toward the next phase
  • Life begins in the south.
  • Nourishment of every kind comes from this direction.
  • Home to the animal people.

– See more at: http://aktalakota.stjo.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8592#sthash.52c8wIi8.dpuf

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Snowbound.

It is winter in Northwest Arkansas, and for the past four days I have been snow and ice bound inside my home in Fayetteville. It is a nice place to be when it snows, and when the power stays on, and the coffee is hot.  I haven’t been this inactive since the winter my  East Fayetteville home, in the posh neighborhood of divorced doctors and real estate agents had 17 inches of snow and an ice storm, and at that time I lived in a mentally and spiritually different neighborhood. I was not just on the opposite side of Fayetteville, I still was bound to a way of thinking just coming out of its frozen state.  I was and am still on the journey to self. That last huge ice and snow storm winter was a time of recovery –just recovering surgery,  from three moves in two years and a botched divorce,  —my fault, not my beloved lawyer’s fault. Shakespeare said “kill the lawyers…”  I say “kill the institution of marriage” from the standpoint it rests today. So many men and women—angry or confused or sad— stay past the due date has expired. It has been a transition of not only place in physcial space this snowstorm, but a transition of mental and spiritual space as well in this last six and a half years of my life. And,  being snowbound is one way to assess the temperature and state of my journey within. I am no longer frozen, a bit stiff, but certainly in the later stages of a glacier’s thaw.

This journey of my  seeking my temporate and warm Spirit started with a planned family vacatioin in June and July the year my oldest turned 17. The family trip was aborted due to too many “conflicts” with my then husband’s work and my children’s varied summer commitments. I felt that this  aborted family  trip was the sign for me to strike out on a journey alone, as many other things had been in the past–this trip was not to be denied–I was to go, regardless of my family’s wishes,  a sign of personal choice, a sign of impending growth and mistakes and joys and recovery.  This would be the true beginning, the true watermark of my journey that had began when my daugthers were merely toddlers as  I read for the first time A Course In Miracles and the series, A Conversation with God. Their innocence and my beginning in that moment, would change my life and theirs forever. From the realizations of selfhood as I saw it in 1995 to the realizations of selfhood in 2006, on that trip to Montana, I would take strides that summer that would change that present time’s stagnant status,  and that journey would be a miracle of sorts as seen in the future.  I hit the road to Montana alone that summer.

Faith gets us a lot of places in life, and during that mild June, in the  summer of  2006, I was in a place of not having a “google maps” or a Siri to guide me in a “soothing mechancial voice”  in my truck; what I did have was just an old fashioned Atlas, my mind, and faith that I could drive the 1698 miles to East Glacier Park Village, Montana alone and be okay. I had God. I had my map, I had my tears. I took off. Never did I even look back once that first trip. Not looking back, not turning around when I hit the main road from the narrow county lane that veered off in curves and swoops from my rock bound lake home, became the first step in a journey of 10,000 steps. I was alone, alone, alone.  I was going to experience a Blackfeet Sweatlodge, a Pow Wow, a friend who spoke brutal truth, and big sky. That was the apex of the beginning of an ending that birthed a newer way of belief and of thinking. That trip resounds in my soul, a church bell calling the community on an Easter Sunday. That journey was the toning of my heart toward the Om of my soul.  As Buddha says,

“On life’s journey faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him.”

My purpose here, in this post, and upcoming series of posts ,  is to begin to explore my joureny in life— a chronical  of experiences… not a pure and unstained journey, but a journey of love, compassion, and acceptance. A journey that leads the self from destruction into a place of contentment.

Namaste.

Shannon