Archive for the Sun Moon Dance Category

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…

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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…”

A Matter of the Heart…

Posted in Healing, Shamanism, Sun Moon Dance on August 21, 2013 by Standing West

How can one find proper words to adequately describe the opening of one’s heart?

In healing work – especially when dealing with intrusions of a spiritual nature – one learns quickly that one must take precautions to guard one’s self against possible invasion – or worse yet, possession.  One calls upon one’s Allies for protection, and steps forward into the abyss trusting that they will be there when they are needed.

For such a practitioner, the opportunity to open completely and without concern is more than a gift…it is a blessing; and such was the blessing I received in the arbor at the Sun / Moon dance.

I became aware, as my hands first touched the Tree, of a downward flow of energy, like a steady but gentle rain, entering my heart.  This divinely feminine energetic movement is what Grandfather Joseph refers to as “The Descending Light”.

As I turned from the tree, I felt the energy flowing outward from a heart filled almost beyond capacity, and entering the entirety of Creation, that the People might live.

From Thursday evening until the Dance was called on Sunday morning, I experienced this inhalation and exhalation of love every time I approached and left the solitary Maple at the center of the arbor.   And while the intensity and beauty of such a thing cannot be captured by words alone, its true impact continues to express itself from day to day in the simplest of revelations, one of which I will now share with you.

A couple of days after the dance, my wife and I sat down at the table to eat.  We held hands, as we always do, and bowed our heads in silent gratitude for those who sacrificed to bring the meal to our table.  We’ve done this for pretty much every meal we’ve eaten together, but this time it dawned on me that partaking of this meal was dancing to the Tree to receive the Descending Light; and that our actions, fueled by its energy, were simply that light flowing out into the Universe for the greatest good of All Our Relations.   I also understood   that the difference between the flowing in and flowing out was simply a matter of perspective, and that one could in no way exist without the other.  Outward and inward, giving and receiving, Masculine and Feminine:  all these impulses depended merely upon one’s location in the process.  One claims nothing.  One is simply the gateway through which the energy flows; the lens through which the Divine Light is focused.

Realizing this, one learns to see the world in a different way.  One’s occupation with the darker energies begins to dissipate.  One certainly is still aware – and needs to be – of the negative forces at work within the world; but now instead of obsessively railing against them, one begins to perceive them simply as places into which the Light has yet to flow.  And having understood this, one comes to know one’s self as Blessed for having been chosen as a vessel of that Light…

Falling in Love. . .

Posted in ceremony, Healing, Shamanism, Spirituality, Sun Moon Dance, visions on August 8, 2013 by Standing West

This past July at the Sun Moon dance, I spent nearly four uninterrupted days immersed in the awareness of Grandfather’s love.   This is not to say that the Creator’s love isn’t always there.  What I’m offering here, is simply that for the first time since I’ve been dancing, I recognized, physically as well as emotionally, the presence of a force I can only describe as limitless, unadulterated love, flowing downward through the tree at the center of the arbor, and entering the ever expanding vessel of my heart.

One becomes aware, at times like these, of many things seemingly heretofore unnoticed.  And yet, this awareness is not so much the grasping of a new idea as it is a coming home, a re-membering of components as vital to life as the very air one breathes.

How can one, after  literally feeling Grandfather’s energy holding him up as his body – hungry, thirsty, and sleep-deprived – shambles its  way towards the tree and back,  not come away from the experience altered on such a fundamental level as to feel as if his very soul had been transfigured?

We dance for the life and well-being of All Our Relations.  We dance that the People might live.  And in this dance, we sometimes fall into vision.   It is a moment of transcendent beauty when a dancer meets the Earth.  It is akin to nothing so much as a child falling into the arms of its Mother.

Witnessing this, the heart opens, and one feels the continuous ebb and flow of life.  One comes to understand that one is merely the gateway through which the Creator’s light manifests into the experience of creation.

Beautiful Painted Arrow tells us that the songs with which we dance are ancient beings.  They come to honor our sacrifice and share their wisdom.  I have come to believe the same thing about visions.  We do not go out to seek visions for our people.  Instead, the visions themselves, powerful and ancient as the one who imparts them, stand at the threshold, beckoning  us to unlock the door through sacrifice and intent, that they might enter; and in doing so, bring sustenance to a hungry world. . .

Making my ‘scape…

Posted in gardening, Spirituality, Sun Moon Dance, yard work on June 12, 2013 by Standing West

I realize, on an almost daily basis, how long it’s been since I’ve posted something on my blog. To be quite honest, I’ve really had nothing to say. This is not because there hasn’t been anything going on. Nor is it because there hasn’t been the time.

I’ve been entering uncharted territory with my practice lately. My meditation has grown deeper, and I find myself having some difficulty with assigning labels to the experiences I’ve been having. I’ve chosen, instead, to let them simmer a bit.

Perhaps this silence is also due in part to my preparation for the Sun / Moon Dance in July. I’m entering the South this year, and it seems as if my entire being is quieting down in order to pool its strength for the journey.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time in the garden. The last of the strawberries have been frozen and packed away. The tomatoes, peppers, and onions are beginning to stir. And the garlic is plumping up for next month’s harvest. The scapes are long and curly, and topped with seed pods threatening to burst at any time. I’ll most likely be cutting them off this evening so the bulbs can take full advantage of a last few weeks of sunshine before I bring them in.

As I ponder this process, I’ve also begun to look at my life, and to wonder just how much of it could – and should – be cut away in order not to tax what really matters.

I find many of my interests flagging lately, and I’ve decided that it really doesn’t bother me. What to some might appear as withdrawal, is really more of an opening up of space – a letting in of some much needed air and sunshine – and the changes it’s allowed for are of a very welcome nature. . .

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh…

Posted in Inspirational, Spirituality, Sun Moon Dance on September 12, 2012 by Standing West

“Took a look down a westbound road,
Right away I made my choice.
Headed out to my big two-wheeler,
I was tired of my own voice…”

– Bob Seger
“Roll Me Away”

Yeah, lately I know how that feels.  I’ve been AWOL from Blogland for a while now because, quite frankly, I haven’t had a whole lot to say…Nor have I really wanted to, for that matter.

This year’s Sun Moon Dance was, for me, a lesson in gentleness, and in letting go of my life-long struggle with the Monkey Mind.

I found it odd that Kristen, our Dance Chief, placed me in the West.  This was my 4th dance, and that should have put me in the North.  However, one doesn’t question the direction one’s given in the arbor, and in hindsight, my placement couldn’t have been more appropriate. West is the place of healing, and of sacred work, and I’d come to the Arbor prepared to do plenty of both.

I was dancing this year for the greatest good of the people – whether two legged or four, many legged or no-legged, winged or finned, tree or stone – and for the continued healing of our sacred Mother Earth. While the dances of those around me ranged from sheer rapture to near brutality, my own dance was slow and laborious, and all the while the Monkey Mind chattered feverishly and rattled the bars of its cage.

On the morning of the second day, the howling increased, and I made up my mind to lay down my guns and surrender to it.  I was weary of the battle that had raged my entire life – now it was time for reconcilliation.

As I sank into the presence of Spirit’s divine love, the voices in my head grew silent.  Suddenly the place which had only seconds before been filled with inane screeching was filled instead with a peace beyond imagining.  This respite was short-lived, however, and the hairy thunderer rose once more to bellow another challenge.  Again I sank beneath the waves of love.  Again the voice grew silent for a moment before clawing its way back into my awareness.

For three whole days we walked together, carrying the descending light to the whole of creation, until finally, on Sunday morning I felt myself beginning to separate.  It was as if a jolt of electricity shot forth from the ground and ran through the soles of my feet and out the top of my head.  For an instant I felt as if I might leave my body.  And then my footing grew strong again, and the dances, both internal and external continued.

For the remainder of the dance, I was overcome with gratitude.  My tears flowed freely at the ceremony for the rising of the sun.

Even now, the Monkey Mind still chatters, but because he retreats more quickly now, and poses less of a threat, the doors of the primate’s cage have remained unlocked. What was once a gladiatorial arena, a place of constant mêlée fought with weapons of denial and disapproval, has become for the most part a place of understanding…

Looking Northward. . .

Posted in ceremony, dreams, Inspirational, Medicine Wheel, prayer, Spirituality, Sun Moon Dance, visions on July 9, 2012 by Standing West

Today is July, 9th.  In 10 days I’ll be stepping into the arbor again for the Sun Moon dance at Birdsong Peace Chamber in Pottstown, PA.  Perhaps “stepping into” isn’t really appropriate, for I feel as though I’ve never completely stepped out.

This will be my fourth Sun Moon dance.  As the directions go, I’ll be dancing in the North, the place of spiritual healing, where the blessings of our visions are received.  I can’t even begin to predict what that might mean – not that I’d even attempt to in the first place.

Those who routinely read this blog have probably noticed a recurrent theme of late.  Over the last few months, I’ve been blessed with several important dreams, journeys, and visions during which I’ve found myself in the presence of indigenous Elders.  This, I’m sure, is not unrelated to the direction of the upcoming dance, because the North is also the place of Wisdom, and the Grandmothers and Grandfathers who carry it.

I’ve also noticed, for the last several months, that my heart is beginning to open in ways I can only describe as “magical”.  When the Monkey Mind starts chattering away and rattling the bars of its cage,   I find myself sinking into love, or rather, allowing the love that’s always there to move through me and out into the world.  With this the mind falls silent, and contentment floods in to fill the empty space.

I’m grateful for the teachings I’ve received, and ask only to become a hollow bone; that their wisdom and light might flow through this body and out into the world that the People may live…

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