"a dedication to the Woodlands"
I see you,
So we remember,
Like our Ancestors knew,
But, we have forgotten
We see you,
With the Stone people,
So, so, long ago.
Please see us,
Please remember us,
As you have never forgotten !
from Walter Thornhill
The following is an excerpt from a paper Roland Hulstein wrote for a class shortly after attending Oracle.
In earlier times, California Indian tribes, particularly those in Northwest California, had organized annual Renewal of the Earth Ceremonies to celebrate the continuance of earths abundance for their people. This ceremony became of greater significance to me in the past weeks as I prepared and attended an International Gathering of Shamanic Circles in the Southwest near Oracle, Arizona.
The focus of this years gathering at Oracle was world renewal. All of us attending were holding prayers for healing, particularly given the past years changing events; those of September 11, 2001 and the expanding war in the Middle East.
Before our arrival we were encouraged to hold in our hearts and minds three images: the web that connects, needing mending; the hoop, which is the container, calling for greater acknowledgment; and the sacred tree at the center, inviting our nourishment so it may grow and fill with singing birds.
When we arrived we randomly selected from a large bowl a small folded paper which provided our choice of clan membership. These small groups of seven to nine members met daily throughout the weekend, providing an opportunity to engage with others for a common focus for the earths renewal.
A large world map, painted and constructed of sand, was created by self-selected participants for our ceremonial centerpiece. The map became the physical space to express our prayers for the world. At the center was planted the tree of life.
When we gathered in ritual space the first night, we brought small containers of water from our homelands and placed a small amount in one larger vessel, demonstrating our willingness to share and integrate our energies for the common good. These collected waters were later given to nourish the sacred tree.
From Friday sunset to Saturday sunrise a celebration of our earth connection was conducted. It was the ritual giving much preparation, both logistically and spiritually, since our arrival. The ceremony began at dusk with a silent procession to pre-selected site where we gathered in circle to light the fire with the beat of three large ceremonial drums. The drums and the fire would continue to be with us through the night. During the time of celebration and healing many of us brought our spirit to the drum, allowing the heartbeat of the earth to be in synchronicity.
A highlight of the night, for me, came early in the morning when the drumming faded to the background and Kate, skilled with the violin and familiar with the music of her Irish homeland, serenaded us with sounds most sweet and enchanting. Our spirits were aglow with the fire, the earth, a star studded sky and the magical strings. All of this, washing over us like a new fallen rain in a universe eager to give us home.
In the closing ceremony on Saturday night the clans had designed prayer branches to be placed on the map to honor various landscapes and elements of the earth, which had been given focus during our meeting times. The elements of air, fire, salt water, fresh water and the earths core were represented. Landscapes of desert, forest, grassland, ice, rain forest, shoreline and mountain were all given recognition.
I was a member of the mountain clan and with our prayers gave homage to the beauty and strength of these geological wonders. After placing our prayer branch we chanted our way around the map with the words: Come to the mountains, lay down your head, a song that had come to one of us through a journey.
Many who participated lingered into the night, singing and praying in those places on the world map which called for our attention; such as, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, Africa, Washington DC, New York and others.
On Sunday morning we gathered one last time to express our gratitude, for the spirits, our fellow participants and to a world that was our home.
The California Indian tribes, Yurok, Karuk and the Hupa, all celebrated some form of what anthropologist have come to call World Renewal Ceremony. Anthropologist, A. L. Kroeber elaborates on his findings regarding the Yurok peoples.
The major ceremonies of the Yurok reveal the following qualities: The motive is to renew or maintain the established world. The purpose includes bountiful crops, abundance of salmon and the prevention of famine, earthquakes and flood. Most of the rites are made in September or October, the remainder in April.
The esoteric portion of the ceremony is the recitation of a long formula, narrating, mostly in dialogue, the establishment of the ceremony by spirits of a pre human race and its immediate beneficial effect. This formula is spoken in sections before various rocks or spots that mark the abode of these spirits. The reciter is an old man, usually accompanied by an assistant; any prescribed symbolic acts are performed by them alone. The only offering made is of small quantities of angelica root thrown into the fire, or of tobacco. After the recitation of the formula, or the major portion, a dance begins, and goes on every afternoon, or morning and afternoon, for 5, 10 or more days.
For the Yurok, what was of greatest concern was salmon, their primary source of food. The assurance of the continuation of this resource called for honoring this connectedness with an attention to detail and an appreciation of the natural world.
For those of us in the desert; although, fresh water, clean air and a food supply free of contamination was given attention in our ritual, our focus was not local resources. Our underlying concern was listening more carefully to Spirits guidance when it comes to finding solutions related to global resource management.
We were asking of ourselves the spiritual task of being present to the web of life, honoring all that is. We were seekers opening our minds and hearts to thoughts, feelings and actions which would nourish the sacred tree which sustains all life forms. We were inviting ourselves to a part of the hoop and making home for all our relatives within this hoop, the winged, the green growing things, the mineral, the four legged, the creepy crawlers and the two legged.
These mythological representations (the tree, the hoop and the web) were brought forward in our ceremonies because of the healing quality these images create Our prayers around the world map, expressed the desire to be a walking prayer, as we live and move in this expanded universe.
Although, as ritualists and dancers we had concern for following certain guidelines, we did not have some overriding concern that a certain perfection must be applied to our movements, etc. An important distinction throughout the weekend was the lack of gender roles, as is reported for the Yurok. People gathered with a certain equality of feeling regardless of their sex and sexual orientation. Within the larger shamanic community, men and womens groups have formed over the years to support one anothers growth processes. These intimate circles which came to be a part of the desert experience were playfully interactive with one another, particularly during the all night ceremony.
In this 21st century many environmentalists, spiritual seekers, shamanic teachers, political leaders and others are interested in a renewal of spirit for the sustainability of our planet. The mind frame recognizes the earth as a living working organism; an organism at risk. For the Yurok, in their World Renewal Ceremony, a way of life was at risk and the ceremony assured a continued making of the world. Those of us who gathered in the desert this spring had the awareness that we are living in most challenging times; therefore, being connected to the Source (the sacred, the divine, Spirit) for guidance has important relevancy for the world to continue.
The words of Black Elk, as translated by Neihardt, on the subject of the sacred tree represent for me, in these times and all times, that search for deeper knowing and being in the world. Again, and maybe the last time on this earth, I recall the great vision you sent me. It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives. Nourish it then, that it may leaf and bloom and fill with singing birds. Hear me , not for myself, but for my people; I am old. Hear me that they may once more go back into the sacred hoop and find the good red road, the shielding tree!
I found this agave leaf (or it found me) at the Oracle campsite, and it spoke wolf/fox to me (and others). In the last hour of the conference Carol and Cheryl Ban tracked down a couple of extra earth marbles which he (the leaf) told me he'd need for eyes. Here is the result: an Oracle-inspired and manifested mask: Gold Fox (attached).
Also, at Oracle I met Pat Hohmeyer in Core Clan and she has generously hosted a web page for me http://www.soulretrieval.com/AnnKlein.htm. This is a testament to the power of co-creation, and so typical of how the energies at Oracle work.
I brought my art objects to share, and they are coming back 100 fold in so many interesting ways! Many of my new works include pieces (feathers, stones, etc.) that people gave me at Oracle, or that I collected there.
If anyone can connect me with someone who owns a male blue peacock I'd be most grateful.
Walk in Prayer!
The Turkey Vulture rises,
The Turkey Vulture rises
from the flames.
Fire surrounds his head,
black smoke shrouds his body
He ascends on the thermals
He ascends on the thermals
Soaring beyond the peak,
the peak of the highest mountain.
He flies toward the sun
He flies into the sun.
He knows no fear.
An Amazing Encounter
The Sunday after Oracle, April 14th, I took a walk, like many other Sunday mornings, in the three acre field in front of my home in Sebastopol, CA. It was a beautiful, warm sunny morning. With my cup of tea in hand I set out the front door and proceeded down the hill to the meadow. As I approached the meadow I noticed in the distance at the other side of the meadow, a single wild turkey. Wild turkeys are not uncommon on this land. In fact, it is not uncommon to see 40 or 50 of them crossing the meadow on any given day. A little uncommon is seeing turkeys by themselves.
I proceeded into the meadow and noticed the turkey notice me. He immediately turned towards me and began walking across the meadow in my direction. I also continued to walk towards him. My first thoughts were that from a distance he thought I was another turkey. But, as we got closer and closer I began to realize there was no mistaking me for a turkey! Now, I have lived here for 6 years, and for the most part, as soon as I would approach a turkey on the land, or encounter one by accident in the garden, they would run or fly off as fast as they could. This turkey was not acting like all the others in the past.
We each continued toward the other in that field of grass until a spark of fear welled up in me. Was the turkey going to attack me? Was I invading a nest or something? The fear grew as we each took another step toward the other until I could no longer trust that the turkey was not going to start nipping at my bare legs in some wild turkey attack. At that moment I came upon a pile of brush and diverted my intentional walk towards the turkey to hide behind the brush, putting something between my pursuer and me.
This did not faze him. He just proceeded to follow me around the brush. Walking in circles for some time, there was no mistaking; this turkey wanted me for something. However, his slow and deliberate walk began to feel more like a dance, and the fear within me dissipated. I decided to just stop and see what my friend had in mind. He continued his circling of the brush coming around to where I was standing. Walking behind me, he continued his walk around the brush and me, stopping occasionally to let out a very loud, Gobble, Gobble, Gobble.
At this point, I clearly realized he was not intending to attack me. I decided to walk away from the brush and out into the center of the field. As I expected, the turkey came around the brush and towards me. Was this the opportunity he was waiting for? It was, but not to hurt me, but to circle me. Which he did very deliberately. Taking 3 or 4 steps, stopping, flaring out all his feathers like turkeys do, and then shaking them as if to rattle me. (I can still hear the sound of his hundreds of feathers shaking.) He circled me so closely, about two feet from me, that when he stopped to rattle, I could have reached out and touched his feathers.
He circled me clockwise for some time, perhaps 10-15 minutes. At times, stopping in front of me, cocking his head to look up into my eyes. If ever there was a feeling of surreal, this was it. But, the feelings that started to come through were that this turkey was loving, blessing and honoring me. But why? Suddenly, the turkey stopped and turned around. He then began circling me counter clockwise. In that instant, my mind flashed to our All Nighter in Oracle. When sometime in the middle of the night our circling stopped and we too went in the reverse direction. At that point a clarity of the turkeys intentions and purpose came through. He was thanking me, us, for our work to heal the planet that week in the desert.
His circle dance and rattling continued counter clockwise for another 10-15 minutes. The suns intensity grew and as hard as it was to leave, I needed to find some shade. I thanked the turkey and began to walk away. He followed me for some time, but then stayed back once I reached the spot where I originally noticed him.
I truly felt that turkeys gratitude and love that unforgettable morning in the meadow. The animals of the planet clearly knew of our work, and were deeply touched and grateful that we gathered, in the desert, with our intention.