Native American Teachings
This page is dedicated to the teaching of Native American cultures as those teachings have been presented to me and as I have understood them.
These medicine teaching are a compilation of Native American teachings as I have learned and personally experienced them and how I have subsequently applied them to my personal life teachings. It is not my intention to interpret or to provide a definitive explanation of any Native American beliefs or teachings. An interesting site you might want to explore is http://www.dreamkeepers.net/3765/
My Awakening Navajo Hopi Prophecy
Arvol Looking Horse Fools Crow
How did I begin this journey?
Many years ago I discovered that Native American teachings had retained some of the truths and ways about being human on this planet that Western Culture had long since lost. I am speaking mostly of "medicine ways", ways of connecting with spirit that are deep and powerful, that have been set aside as myths and superstitions.
My personal story began with an otherworldly experience on the Mescelera Apache Indian reservation in New Mexico. As we human beings remember more and more who we are, it is not so uncommon to hear of people having experiences similar to what happened to me. There are many books on the market about transformational experiences that defy explanation through logical and rational thinking. I am not going to tell my entire story, it is included in a full length book I have been working on for years.
In 1982 I was living in Odessa TX ... married ... children, had just finished my Masters Degree in Counseling and was "set" in life. My aspirations were to work with a private counseling practice. I was well on my way to being established. I continued to study in my fields of interest including: the influence of color, music, light, sound, and all aspects of our environment. Now they would call that environmental psychology. I made new discoveries almost every day. Within those discoveries, I found that Native Americans had utilized all the elements of the natural universe within their teachings. I was aware the most of what I learned from the books I was reading dealt with a past time before "the white man" came on the Indian scene. All this remained an intellectual undertaking until a visit to central New Mexico took me into previously unexplored realms.
I had traveled to the area to locate a place for a women's retreat. At least this was what I believed. Forgoing all the details, I found myself in a small Apache town offering a "ride home" to a small, round, Apache grandmother. In the brief 10 minute ride, I asked about dances. She said to come back next weekend. I dismissed the suggestion as impractical; too far, not a good idea, and an assortment of other reasons. Needless to say - I returned. I found no dances, none scheduled, and gave in to the feeling of a wasted trip. I went into the only cafe, ate, and returned to my car. Waiting beside the car was a woman, perhaps the same woman, perhaps not - I don't know, it was very dark. She instructed me to follow her. With almost no questioning, I did. A short drive away, she led me into a small local home... dark and isolated. There were five women waiting inside. The two of us joined them and ceremony began. This was before I had any idea about what "ceremony" was.
The "journey" they took me on that night changed my life forever. The result was an unending quest for more experiences that could take me to farther and farther realms of consciousness. They helped me to "remember who I am and why I came to this earth realm". They stretched my limits of thinking, of feeling, of experiencing, of knowing and remembering beyond all that I had ever previously known or understood.
One of my first pursuits of knowledge led me to the teachings and prophecies of the Hopi people.
For a more complete description of my initiatory experience click No Sane Person.
Navajo Ceremonial Basket
Through my years of living here on the Navajo reservation and through my ongoing study, these are a representation of the ceremonial basket that is used in most if not all ceremonies. They are often referred to as "wedding baskets".
Each of the inner six points (usually there are six) represents
sacred mountains. The center of the mountains and the center of
the basket is the place of emergence, the place the Navajo people
believe they came from originally. The outer twelve points are both clouds and feathers and have a far deeper meaning than can be presented here. The inner partial circle is red and represents a rainbow. The opening is just that an opening - never closed. It is always placed to the East, the place of the rising sun. Baskets are traditionally made of a local sumac bush and retains the sumac smell for many years. When the last and outer ring is put in place it must be completed in a single day. This is very basic and minimal discussion but gives the reader a beginning point of understanding.
The Navajo people like other Native American tribes are very complex and have an equally complex belief system. The eagle feather is sacred to all Native Americans and is shown here with the ceremonial basket. The feather like the basket is used in a ceremonial way.
The rock are pictures I am including are from an area that the Navajo people believe was the place of emergence from the third world - the world before this one. These are in place I have been and have shared prayers as well as corn pollen and tobacco.
Traditional Navajo Prayer
Hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shitsiji' hozhóogo naasháa doo
Shikéédéé' hozhóogo naasháa doo
Shideigi hozhóogo naasháa doo
T'áá altso shinaagóó hozhóogo naasháa doo
In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
The picture at the left is of one of the oldest city with the longest continuous occupancy. It is one of the only places remaining that has chosen to remain free of modern influences. There is no electricity and no running water, and no indoor plumbing. Outhouses are visible on slightly lower levels of the mesa with precarious trails leading down to them. Some of the most sacred dances and ceremonies are held here.
It was on this narrow peninsula to Walpi where I encountered the clowns (keepers of the law) coming over for ceremony. They surrounded me and took my walking stick, that was somewhat snake-like in shape, and danced around me singing the snake dance song. This was an obvious poking fun at me, my staff, and "touristiness". It is and was in good natured fun in the way of showing one (me) how foolish one (me) can be. I remember that one of the women I was traveling with was extremely concerned and would have been frightened had it happened to her. I took it as a gently reprimand to not try to become "Indian" in my actions and thinking. The Hopi are a gently and kind people that are actively trying to work with the healing of the entire planet.
The Hopi like the Navajo and most other tribes have history and teachings expressed in rock art. The Hopi carry a story, a belief, a prophecy that is literally chipped in stone. This stone is called prophecy rock. I first heard about it from a tape by a man named "John Kimmy" about his interactions and learning through a Hopi man he referred to as Grandfather David. It was many years later that I learned that he was David Monongye. Grandfather David was one of the Elders that carried the prophecies. The teachings affected the entire planet and its potential destruction - not unlike the prophecies in Revelations in the Christian Bible. Among his pursuits was working to get a meeting with the United Nations in the "house of mica" to relate warnings about the need to take care of the planet and to wake up to our responsibilities.
Many years later, another elder who held the teachings, came to Navajo Community College where I teach. He spoke to all of us about the teachings and what our responsibilities are. This man was Thomas Banacyca. When I saw him, I knew that he was one of the elders that came to me so often on inner planes of interactions to guide me as I walked my path. He had a skin with drawings that replicated the drawing on the prophecy rock. He displayed it and told us the story that had been told among the Hopi for centuries.
Thomas Benyakya had a great influence on my life. I had heard the story of prophecy rock previously but hearing him in person with the passion he carried touched my heart in a deep and profound manner. I continued to work with him on an inner level for many years ... both before and after his death.
Dan Evehema is another elder that has held the teachings and helped to bring the message to the world. He did this in a more public manner than others before him. He facilitated the book by Thomas Mails "The Hope Survival Kit". I thought the title was a bit flip when I heard it, but the reading leaves no room for anything less than deep serious contemplation. The book re-stress guidelines that were published in a somewhat "underground" Hopi newspaper. The elders that published the paper literally put their lives on the line to get this information out. Many of the events that they warned about are coming to be true.
I have not seen the original rock art. The drawing here is somewhat different than others I've seen but the essence remains the same. This drawing is a combination of what I have seen in books and what I remember seeing on the hide art that Thomas carried. The main point is that almost all life will stop on this planet unless men comes to know that everyone must learn to live in peace and harmony with each other and with nature. In other words our current global path is one of self-destruction. This destruction will manifest through floods, eruptions, famine, earthquakes and other forms as a result of the harm/damage that we have inflicted on "our Mother the Earth".
In the drawing, the top line where all the people are is the "modern" path of technology and it has no respect for the earth and no spiritual balance. It is primarily a white man's path. It is difficult to see in the drawing but none of the men have their heads attached to their body. That statement is easy enough to understand. We separate our "heads" or mind from our body and soul. Red men are rapidly forgetting the red road and walking the white mans road, the lower line. The end of the road turns to an unstable wavy line with an unknown future.
The lower line is a path of spirit, also referred to as the thread of the sacred way, - the red road. The old man is shown leaning on a cane or staff pointing to corn, the staple food, that is dying. It is said the he is alone because he is the last on the path. Fewer and fewer native people are on that path. There is a vertical line that connects the two paths. It is path of possibility. It is a way that we can bridge the two opposites, to move from destruction to peace and balance. It is a way to join the two and return to caring for the earth.
The lower figure is said to be great spirit and his bow and (shot) arrow is our sign to put down our weapons. The circles on the lower line is that two great shakings of the earth - the two world wars. The circle on the line after the joining of the two paths is either the great purification or a return to wholeness. The swastika is the sun (life) and the Celtic (?) cross represents the two helpers of the Hopi people. There is much more information available in books and on various websites. It is easy to find and well worth seeking.
It is not my intention to focus on the prophecies only. Hopi live more closely to the original teaching than any other Native American that I have been fortunate enough to have interactions with. I have been told that they believe they carry the hope of the planet through the way they live their lives. I am reluctant to doubt that statement. Many of the older and more traditional Hopi live on high mesas parts of which are still with running water or indoor bathrooms. Outhouses sit precariously on ledges and outcroppings of the surrounding cliffs. I often recommend that visitors go the Hope Reservation to learn more. It was awhile before I began to realize that most "outsiders" didn't know to explore the mesas. They drove for hours in and around the area and didn't know to look upward to discover the homes on top of the mesas. They returned to tell me that they saw nothing unusual. I have since learned to tell people to "look up".
In addition to magnificent teachings, they have beautiful and unique arts.
To the left is one example of Hopi pottery. It also reminds me of Acoma pottery. Many of the pots are highly detailed and the workmanship is always exceptionally beautiful. In visits to the mesas, tourists are often invited into private homes where they can buy items made by family members. Pottery, katchina figures, rattles, and paintings are typical of the many kinds of art work for sale.
Hopi are well known for these figures called katchina. They are often referred to as dolls but that is a misnomer. They represent sacred beings manifest in physical form. One of the more common figures is the mudhead. The tiny mudhead figures come from a sacred dance where the masks are worn and the body is covered in red clay mud. The image is of a person made entirely of clay. Of course this figure is a stylized artists representation. There are many kinds of these small figures. Books are available with pictures and explanations of many of the figures as well as the particular ceremony that they represent.
*** MORE TO COME
This link will take you to my (Carol's) personal experience of a NAC/Peyote meeting.
Native American Church
Arvol Looking Horse
Arvol Looking Horse is the pipe carrier for the Lakota people. The story that was told to me about how he became a pipe carrier began with Arvol being confronted by his grandmother with the presentation of the pipe. Arvol was a "rodeo-er" and planned to make that his career. He told her that he was not the one to be the pipe carrier.
During the next rodeo, Arvol was very badly injured and lay in a coma. While in the coma, he had relatives come to him. He had been told previously that when relatives that have passed on come to visit it means death is very near. During this time there also were visions of four horses, four different colors, running in four different directions. That portion has become vague in my memory and I won't attempt to relate it.
As I was told, White Buffalo Calf Woman also visited him. She showed him the pipe and also showed him his own body lying in a coma. He saw that he had a choice. He chose the pipe.
It is never easy to accept that kind of responsibility. Complications began almost immediately. There were those in his tribe that doubted his role as a pipe carrier. Some thought that he was not the correct one. Another difficulty was financial. He has no monetary support from the tribe and earns money from working on cars and doing odd jobs. Yet, he follows the pipe commitment and travel where he is needed and serves those he needs to serve. When people drop in on him he receives them graciously.
I first met him at a gathering at the Taos people's land just beneath their sacred mountain. The gathering was created to honor all beliefs and all people. There were more than a hundred people. As it turned out it was very much "run" by a group of Lakota men, not Arvol. There were Jewish individuals, WICCA representatives, many black Americans, Hispanics, Christians, and a wide variety of other individuals.
The most impressive part of the weekend was the ceremony with all of us standing in a circle with Arvol in the center. He invited each of us individually into the center to address the four direction and say our personal prayers with the pipe. He impressed me as one of those very special, ego-less individuals that carry the power of spirit on the planet, the equivalent of the Buddhist masters.
For more information on Arvel Looking Horse click here: http://dreamkeepers.net/3768/3774/3786/
I never met Fools Crow ... but that doesn't lessen his impact on me. Most of what I know I read and what I read about how he did what he did touched me at a core level. It could come under the heading of "Create an Act of Power". I have found that for me the action of creation is a ceremony, a ritual, a way of connecting with spirit. Therefore, I make my own power items. Each of them is activated with my personal energy as I form them.
More to come.
These are a few of the books I recommend.
Profiles in Wisdom: Native Elders Speak About the Earth, Steven McFadden
Navajo and Tibetan Sacred Wisdom: The Circle of the Spirit, Peter Gold
Native American Prophecies: Examining the History, Wisdom and Startling Predictions of Visionary Native Americans, Scott Peterson
Black Elk: The Sacred Ways of a Lakota, Wallace Black Elk and William S. Lyon
Daughters of the Earth: The Lives and Legends of American Indian Women, Carolyn Niethammer
Fools Crow, Thomas E Mails (Teton Sioux)
Fools Crow: Path of Power, Thomas E. Mails
Yuwipi: Vision & Experience in Ogallala Ritual, William K. Powers
The Olmecs: The Oldest Civilization in Mexico, Jacques Soustelle
Meditations With the Hope by Robert Boissier
Hotevilla, Hopi Shrine of the Covenant: Microcosm of the World, by Thomas Mails and Dan Evehema
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