Archive for the prayer Category

Medicine…

Posted in ceremony, Healing, prayer, Spirituality on August 5, 2016 by Standing West

Relaxing after a good week’s work; flanked on either side by a sleepy house cat.  Had a nice fire last night, and we’re off to see Star Trek later this afternoon.

Taking care of the spirit by tending the physical.

“Honor your vices,” a teacher once told me, “because this work is so hard.”

Who am I to argue with my Elders?

So often on the path to healing there’s the urge to chuck everything that isn’t “spiritual.”  But when it really starts to click – and things begin to align – we come to realize that there is no separation; and something as simple as a cup of coffee or an afternoon of cleaning out the garage becomes good medicine.

We make a little space by getting rid of the things that no longer serve us.  We take some time to cultivate the things that do.  We go looking for things to get rid of and find only  vague outlines in the dust on an otherwise empty shelf where once they were kept. . .

 

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So…life stuff…

Posted in gratitude, Healing, prayer, Spirituality on April 8, 2016 by Standing West

I’ve been spending a lot more time outside lately.  Replaced some old fence panels, and set up a small grape arbor.  Mulched and weeded.  Cleaned up the herb bed, and fine-tuned the Sweetgum tree in the front yard.

It’s taken a little while for me to fall into this lifestyle – or perhaps just to realize that I’ve fallen into it.

Sometimes the tightrope seems as wide as a two-lane; sometimes it’s narrow as a thread.  But truth be told, it’s wonderful being here.  I’ve let go of some things, and glimpsed the depths of my faith.

There’s been sadness along the way. We recently lost an Elder (the man who taught me most about the sweat lodge and the sacred pipe; and married us in the Medicine Wheel on his property).  We loved him dearly, and came to look upon him and his wife as our parents.  We’ve dealt with family health issues and the challenges of our own spiritual work; but there’s also been some joy bubbling up between the cracks.

In short, it’s been a time of moving balance.

If I say that my prayers have been answered, that would imply that I’ve imposed an outcome upon the things I’ve prayed for.  Instead, let me just say that allowing things to be as they are and being grateful for that has taught me how to become a contented man.

My teacher asked me something the other day that blew me out of the water.  Towards the end of our session, he sat back in his chair with a grin on his face and said, “Are you really ready to let go completely, or do you need a bigger God?”  After I chewed on the question a bit, I heard myself answer, “Yeah…” as if something deep within me had already resigned itself to the prospect.

Doors have closed, and doors have opened.  I’m certain of little other than the fact that they’re not the last to do so. Regrets have vanished like smoke on a morning breeze.  And the earth feels cold but yielding in my hands.

Although recent weather may try to fool us into believing otherwise, green things stir from their slumber in the soil.  They push their curious faces skyward, perhaps shivering a bit, and stretch to greet the sunlight of another season…

Pruning the garden…

Posted in gardening, Healing, Initiation, prayer, Sun Moon Dance, yard work on July 7, 2015 by Standing West

There’s been a lot of new growth around here these last few weeks.

The two timid strawberry plants I stuck in the ground a couple of years ago have exploded into a patch that yielded us 6 gallons of berries by the end of this year’s harvest. A multitude of tomatoes and peppers hangs fat and lazy in the early morning sun, and spaghetti squash – an unexpected discovery rescued from the rotary composter – proudly distend their mottled bellies among the dandelions and the  ghosts of last year’s onions.

The new herb bed out front is bursting with life, secure behind sturdy walls lined with Marigolds unfurling their orange and yellow banners defiantly against the ever-present threat of hungry rabbits.

And although we’ve certainly been blessed with abundance, our space here is limited. The success of our harvest is due in no small part to ruthless and diligent pruning.

I see the recent changes in our lives reflected in the garden. May 21st marked my last full day of 9 – 5. My position was phased out and so I left a job I’d held for nearly ten years. I’d sensed for some time that it was coming; not only from the slowing down of work, but also from the subtle – and not so subtle – nudging of Creator to plant my feet firmly upon the spiritual path, tend to my own self-healing, and simply let the rest take care of itself.

For the last two or three years I’ve been praying almost ceaselessly for the removal of anything that might interfere with this journey. During that time, friends have gone their way, habits and hobbies have waned or disappeared, and interests once deemed vital have completely flickered out.

In the space that has opened up, two new studios have generously offered to accommodate an increasing number of appointments; and my wife and I have finally finished converting our downstairs family room into a home office. During this time, we’ve had ample opportunities to focus on our own healing work; and also to pursue our work with others in ways we’d never imagined.

As we enter the arbor in two days for the Sun Moon Dance, I’m keenly aware that as it’s my 7th time, I’ll be dancing in the West of the South: the place of sacred work in the direction of emotion, opposition, and the dying away of things which no longer serve. Admittedly, I enter the arbor this time with no small trepidation – even writing about it now stirs some tension in my solar plexus, and reminds me that the years that have passed since I first picked up the drum have led me to this place.

And while I feel the symptoms of deep and difficult work approaching, I’m no longer focused on the outcome.

I seek only to walk, and to work, and to serve; to prune away the dead and dying branches, that Spirit’s light might reach and nourish the rest…

Someone gimme a stone…

Posted in ceremony, Healing, Initiation, prayer, sweat lodge, visions on January 7, 2015 by Standing West

I’ve found myself being called upon to welcome the Stone People into the sweat lodge on a regular basis lately. As is typical when undertaking a ritual, one must be aware of both the practical or exoteric component, and the deeper or esoteric component that empowers the physical container with the Sacred, enabling it to become a vessel for the breath of God.

The Grandfathers leave the fire cherry red; the images on their skin whispering stories in the dark for those who will open themselves and listen. We receive the Stones from the pitchfork into a basket formed by interlocking the tines of White Tail antlers. Then they are placed into the pit to receive their blessing of herbs and the water which, in the form of steam, will carry our prayers to the Great Spirit for the good of All Our Relations.

On a practical level, the antlers are sturdy, resistant to heat, and fit together securely, keeping the Stones from rolling away and burning someone. They also provide better control over where the Stones are placed in the pit.

Symbolically the antlers represent gentleness. The fire from which the Stones are taken is a violent, masculine environment. Rather than bathing the participants in this emotionally aggressive energy, the Grandfathers are cradled in a softer, feminine energy before being brought into the lodge. Focusing on this, one transcends the self and becomes the instrument through which the process unfolds.

The last time I was asked however, a deeper level of awareness opened up. As we move through our lives, or rather, as our lives unfold through us, we will encounter difficult situations which will test us in every conceivable – and perhaps not so conceivable – way. We can meet these challenges carelessly, injuring ourselves and others in the process; or we can open up to them and receive them with gentility and grace, allowing their energy to serve, through our interaction with it, as a lesson for All Our Relations. . .

Keeping Up…

Posted in Healing, prayer, Sun Moon Dance on October 7, 2014 by Standing West

I guess I should begin by saying that I’m a very blessed man.

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything – except for my thesis and the occasional snarky (and in my humble opinion, devastatingly clever) e-mail or Facebook post – but sometimes I just get tired of the sound of my own voice and I have to let the echoes die down for a while before kicking the dust back up again.

I‘ve been involved in a lot of healing this year: both that of the people who’ve come to me and also my own; which exhibited itself in some illuminating – if not downright annoying – physical and emotional symptoms.  Still, it’s been a good and necessary ride.  And while the finish line for some of these things may finally be directly in sight, I’m also acutely aware that the deep work is just beginning.

Perhaps it’s my own ignorance, or perhaps it’s my faith in the Creator that brought me to this place, but I can honestly say that I don’t feel scared.  (I know, I know…this is the point where the veterans in the room shake their heads, smile, and whisper, “Poor bastard…”)  It’s not that I don’t expect there’ll be difficult times…I do.  And I fully realize that I CAN’T fully realize the severity of ANY healing experience headed my way.  It’s just that I’ve been praying for guidance for a long time now, and things finally seem to be moving in a certain direction…even though I may not be exactly certain what that direction is.

And maybe that’s the point.

Ever since the dance this past July, I’ve made it a practice whenever faced with a moment of anxiety or indecision to think of All My Relations, turn the matter over to a Higher Authority and ask, “What do They need?”

I‘ve also been repeating what a teacher of mine has referred to as a Warrior’s prayer.  Its simple humility both belies and accentuates its power.

I leave you with it in hopes that it may aid you should you need it.  And also perhaps to illustrate, if only to myself,  my willingness to enter gratefully into the next phase of this life, whatever that may be.

“Bring me everything I’m ready for; but no more than I can handle…”

Spark. . .

Posted in Inspirational, prayer, Shamanism, Spirituality, visions on August 29, 2013 by Standing West

“There is a light that never goes out…”

-Morrissey

I have to admit that yesterday this whole issue with Syria had me feeling more than a little outgunned – no pun intended.  And while I’ve heard all the words before about “labor pains” and “shift of the Ages”; and said them to others countless times, it all got to be just a little too much to take.  We’re standing on the brink of World War III, the media seems to be changing its focus from “IF” to “WHEN”, and the biggest concerns of the day appear to be what Miley Cyrus did on the MTV Awards, and why Ben Affleck shouldn’t be cast as the new Batman.

So, yeah…let’s just say I wasn’t in the greatest of moods by the time I got home last night.

I typically work late on Wednesdays, so there’s not a lot of time for much of anything besides catching up with my wife and crawling into bed.  Last night, however, I decided to soak in the tub and read a bit first.  My mom was a firm believer in the fact that a hot bath could cure just about anything, and thankfully, she passed that belief onto me.

I got about 20 pages into Gregg Braden’s “The Isaiah Effect” – my second reading of the book in preparation for my Master’s Thesis – when I  felt the need to set the book aside to pray for a while.  I began to pray about the situation in Syria, and as I mentioned the word “darkness”, the power suddenly went out due to a heavy thunder storm that was passing through.  I sat there completely unfazed by the absence of light.  I continued to pray, and asked for a sign that the light of clarity would be brought to leaders of the world during these difficult times. Immediately my prayers were interrupted by a knock at the door, and my wife came in carrying a lit candle and a flashlight with a bright blue beam.

As she stopped to talk, the scenario took on a deeper meaning.

There is no need to fear the darkness of these times.  We must remain calm and centered, and allow  the Divine Feminine to re-enlighten us; to bring balance to the overly masculine tendencies of our culture, as represented by the blue light – the color of Father Sky and the Divine Masculine.

The answers are there for us if we’re open to receiving them.  In order to transcend these times, we must find the courage to walk through the darkness.  And we must also remember that no matter what happens, as long as one of us is willing to carry Spirit’s light, it will never go out. . .

In My Element(s)…

Posted in gardening, Inspirational, prayer, Shamanism, Spirituality, yard work with tags on April 22, 2013 by Standing West

A bit of an update, as it’s been a while. We’ve been quite busy lately with healing, work, and various social obligations, but this past Friday presented us with a few brief hours of respite, and gave me a chance to put my hands into the Earth again after what seemed like an eternity.

I love working in the garden.

What to some people may seem like just a few square yards of questionable soil surrounded by chicken wire and weeds is, for me, both Sanctuary and a connection to Pachamama’s greater Mystery.

I picked up the lettuce, spinach, onions, and tomatoes at the Lowe’s down the street from us, and I threw myself into the rototilling. After turning over the soil – a precarious mix of Jersey sand, hard pan clay, topsoil, and organic compost – I stood silently for a few moments, drew a small pinch of tobacco from my pouch, and offered a prayer of thanks to the Great Spirit and the seven directions before sprinkling the tobacco over the freshly tilled earth.

Soon the tomatoes and the leafy greens were in. The onions had been soaking for a while, and so I set to work placing them into their new home. Is I drew the loose soil around the last of the onions, I thought about watering them a bit before I mulched them. I remarked to myself that the first water that touched them should be rain. At that precise moment, a small raindrop splashed the back of my hand. I laughed, and thanked Creator and the Thunder Beings for their gift. I noticed that a very fine mist had formed, and reached down to find that that the lawn was soaking wet. In my absorption with the Garden, I’d failed to notice the almost imperceptible rain that had been my constant companion.

As I stood up to stretch, the sky, which had until that time been heavily overcast, parted to reveal a brilliant patch of blue, and the sun poked through for the very first time that morning.

I went to the hose to wash my hands, and a gust of wind nearly blew my hat away. As I headed to the garage for a couple of tools, something suddenly dawned on me. The Earth of the garden, the Water of the rain, the Fire of the Sun, and the warm Breath of the wind had all come to supervise my meager project, bringing with them the blessings of the Elementals and the reassurance that life is life, and that in the Creator’s eyes, all life is sacred…

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