Heart Like a Wheel

leavesOne of Thirty

How many days into autumn are we? Seems I started seeing the leaves fall a while ago. Now it’s October. Back when I was falling in love it was before the spring, When the green was starting, but short of the official okay of a date. It wasn’t April 21st then, like it’s not September 21st now. It’s October. We’re past the heat. Then, we were before. Any day I expect to hear the sound of leaf blowers. I think I have a rake in the shop.
Never liked the sound of those blowers. Never liked the harshness of it. At least around my house, things should be done by hand. The leaves that had done their duty should be met with some kind of honor of exertion. Yes, and honestly, I like the feel of the ache in my shoulders as I wade into the effort. I like the feel of the handle in my hands.
These days there’s a good chunk of people who don’t believe in rakes, who don’t believe in love. They’ll point out how it never lasts, how you’re blinded to peoples faults, how childish it is to dream. They’ll say you shouldn’t rely, you shouldn’t give up, you shouldn’t … you shouldn’t. And when the summer comes, they’ll tell you you’re tricked.
Still, you suck up the sun, lay on the beach, open up your arms and let it take you all in. Regardless of what they say, you still do it. It’s because this stodgy goo that is our everyday perception wants to jump. It wants to move and dance and fly, to be away from this sameness, to hunger for the other -and feed.
They’ll say there’s more than one, that it isn’t just the heat of the sun, but the smell of the flowers -just like in the greenhouse – or not the warmth of the day -just like what you can get from the fireplace. They’ll say that to be balanced and healthy you have to enjoy everything.
But more than anything, they’ll say that, once again, you’re wrong. That to be normal and healthy, like everybody else, you have to do what they say. Don’t love.
But These leaves keep falling.
Wrong doesn’t matter. Wrong doesn’t care. Wrong is it’s own kind of glory, like those leaves. They did their duty, with no one telling them it wasn’t worth it. There’s cycles to this. Giving into what you want, letting go of all the should-of-beens, it’s kind of all the same thing. And with each pull of the rake the body remembers.
It’s like those nightmares. Have you ever had those nightmares where you’re falling and there’s nothing there to catch you? The kind where only dying is at the end. And if they last … yeah, I know, crazy. If the terror lasts, right? But if they last, if you let go of the fear and turn in your dreaming eye, … if you can do that, you’ll find
… you’re flying.
And the seasons turn and the wheel creaks. It’s the cycle, it’s the circle of things that we’re made for … not to measure up to someone else’s description of better or best. And the honor and attention that we give to these falling bits of ourselves, and the thrill of the wind tearing it all down in a sudden … all of that required a beginning.
“If you’re brave enough, often enough, you will fall.” – Brene Brown
And the leaves are everywhere.

30 Days, 30 Posts for Hugo House. Help me pick the topics

Priest30 days, 30 posts.

Seen this yet? During October, I’m raising funds for my fav writing space: Hugo House​.

First off, if you want to write, write more, go here.

Second off, enjoy dabreez, and maybe during this next month, drop some cake here.

Third, before you’re off. If you want to help me choose topics for posts, here’s some in the list below: drop me a comment (here or on FB) on which ones you want and I’ll work it up.

  1. Who Watches the Watchers – watchmen’s blues – or stepping away from suffering, like revolution, sometimes its required.
  2. The Children of the Interpreters – the new job, holding space for people who don’t think like us.
  3. The Atheists Creed – why atheists and humanism are so important to the faithful.
  4. Zen mind, Zen Bank Account.
  5. A Little Bit of Crazy – why Ecstasy is so important.
  6. Touch Me There – the fine art of walking out of the labyrinth that is ourselves, as told by a drunken meanderer.
  7. The Farmers Blow.
  8. Her. The Real Goddess Down the Dark Street, or why we need Aunties.
  9. Why falling in Love is Like Dying. Why it’s required.
  10. Salish Sequins, the cost of a colonial mulligan.
  11. The Hero’s journey is the Hero’s job. Making mythbuilt.
  12. The Rational Pagan.
  13. Where the Lines Are. The Nordic in Scotland. Racial myths, Or why I’m different (better) than you.
  14. Where the Boys Are, when coming out means coming in, fiddlers delight and the street simple.
  15. The Slacker Rebellion: why happiness is overblown, and how I learned to relax and love the growler.
  16. The Hard Body Type. Practicing breaking through walls and staying soft.
  17. The Line Between Empire and Rebel. How the typecast sucks when applied to self. Just say no.
  18. When Life Isn’t Turn Based. Oh yeah, like all the time, getting to all the time.
  19. A Feeling Called the Blues. My first Chord.
  20. Monkey Mind and Lizard Tales, why the forgiveness gene is important.
  21. Waiting for the Fire Eaters.
  22. Epigenetics and the Battle for Evermore..
  23. Salish Drums and Flip Flops.
  24. The Sheets Journal, coming out on top.
  25. The Green Way, more Shaman than witch, more scientist than cowboy.
  26. Roll Down, sexing it up in the Mississippi mud.
  27. The Green Way, making a trail, taking a walk, and riding a bike into the heart of darkness.
  28. New skins, Old Ways, Bet you weren’t ready for that.
  29. Came Marching, skipping out on seminary in the days of disco.
  30. The One You Won’t Tell Your Friends About.
  31. Stacking Up the Greens, calling bullshit on the disaster drivers.

Those Hearts of Mine

In the early morning sparkle,
I heard her song while I worked among the turnips
While each bit of dirt clung to fingers
And weeds were moved to give room.

On my knees next to the water trough
I saw her dress, white gossamer flowered thing,
Cross my vision through the spray and splash
I made

Heard her song drift through each part of home.
Smelt the scent of her legs telling of the heat of the coming day
I heard her drift to the hills

And from the ridge,
While I brushed the roan mare,
Felt my muscles tense and work and sweat
And begin to ache for her,

I sensed her top the hill, she moved and slipped,
Away from me.

The day, her day, slipped past with each stroke of the brush,
this thing we call life,
Calling her.

Til slowly sinking
into the supporting weight of the beast
In front of me, to the pony of my dreams,
Legs finally too tired,

Tears too.

I wrapped my arms around her, felt the soft strength and
Patient heart next to me,
With every beat of a great heart,
With every sunrise,
And every spinning planet,
Moving and dancing
Away.

To the Ridge where my spirit still goes,
Come night, come a festival day,
To dance with her and them and those

Hearts of mine,
Always calls

Me away.

The Weight of Time

Tolmie on the Salish
Tolmie on the Salish

I’ve been working an effort with a friend that has to do with ancestor healing. How do we heal the scars of the past that go back generations? How do we reach across time?

And I’ve been getting this sense from somewhere deeper down. It’s been coming through over and over “Your problem is with time.” I’ve been writing it just like that. I’ve been hearing it as from a spiritual messenger. And it’s come across as a riddle. I knew I wasn’t quite understanding it, until now.

I’d thought it was about aging. I thought it was about me realizing I didn’t have as much time, that the time in front of me was likely less than the time behind. This morning I realized how wrong I was, why the sense of me not getting it was prevalent.

It isn’t about time that I get.

It’s about the weight of time sitting on me, about me letting it sit on me. Getting older means acquiring wisdom; we all tell each other this. But what we call wisdom can be full of so many things that just aint so. And the weight of all that past knowledge wants to compete with what we’re living right now. Past knowledge wants to rule the roost of who we are now.  It’s time to let the “now” in.

Yesterday we went to Tolmie State Park. We’d started out looking for a beach, and I went quickly through the checklist in my mind before suggesting T – longer shoreline, not so rocky, beach close to drinking water and restrooms, she added. It was awesome, still don’t know why more people don’t go. Oh yeah, very limited parking.

But, I’ve been there so often in my life. Let’s see. First time there I was seventeen, thirty seven years ago. Since then, I’ve walked the loop countless times. Only swam once before yesterday.

These days, I’m enjoying the benefits of lost weight. One of them is looking better. And looking better in swim suit, without my shirt, in the sun. Yes, in the sun. Seems so odd for me, Northwest boy that I am jumping all over that. But I am. There I said it.

The tricky part is not to dwell on past darkness. Yes, I’m getting metaphysical here, slightly. No, it isn’t about depression, or the Seasonal something disorder I’ve heard attributed to us N’rwesters. Might be about Vitamin D. I don’t know. But first off, let’s get out there that much of life, and what goes on around being fully alive, I’m not going to know. I might “get it” briefly, struggle to remember it, but “know”? That takes some work, precisely what this is about.

Because, most (and I mean all) my life I’ve been overweight and hiding. Rarely going out. Then, if I did, I’d need copious amounts of alcohol to feel like I was blending with my counterparts, my herd. Don’t get me too wrong, here. As I aged, I gained enough confidence in myself to fit into my circles, to be happy. But just happy enough, like just healthy enough.

And if you’re just healthy enough, as you age, that will be taken away early. And if you’re just happy enough, well, that’s the malaise. Right?

Malaise; M-A-L-A-I-S-E: A condition of weakness or discomfort, often marking the onset of a disease.  A vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort.

It’s often used to describe a slump that other things go through as well, like a country, or a baseball team. So it is somewhat diagnostic, right? One Google link starts to talk about how when feeling this you should sit down on the couch. Yeah, there’s like a prescriptive side to it.

But now, wrap this around a life. Wrap this around your life. Then figure out the way out of that malaise. Seriously, figure, it’s doable. All around us are stories of people who improved their life, improved the lives of others around them too, of the tribe. And they did it in ways that just didn’t mean moving down the street and taking their bullshit into someone else’s space, trying to appropriate health and happiness. They don’t do it that way. I didn’t do it that way. Day by day, we don’t.

But looking back, when you realize, you’re happy, you’re healthy -maybe for the first time. When you look back, it’s too easy to let all of that -All the experience of unhappiness – overshadow.

That’s when I’m glad I’m a witch. That’s when I’m glad that my new love is too. So let’s unpack that a little. Let’s talk about witches enough to take the edge off for some folks.

What we claim, we modern witches (aside from working with unseen forces, which may fall under science as only a spectrum differential), is that we wholeheartedly claim the practical realm of worldly sensations and delights to help us define our spirituality, and we refuse the spiritual highways that are benignly handed down to us by our cast-in-place religious powers. We believe that our gods (or elements, or spirit guides) are with us in each moment. Everybody had this from birth. You get talked out of it. So claim your own spiritual authority, that’s all you need to call yourself a witch. You’ll be burned just for that.

Aside from all that, we work towards another thing: the ability to change our minds at will. When completely stressed and moving into some automatic “fight or flight” mode, when we know we are moving into those realms where we can act out the more destructive parts, we learn to shift. Put simply enough, to take a breath and relax, let our mind pull us away a bit, and relax, to choose happiness and fun. REFRAME. Yes, these are all cognitive habits. And many eastern, and mystical, practices share this with us, the witches.

But, there, ‘nuff said. So some can read on, because I’m glad my love is a witch, a holy woman (Wyna Wanka). That she matches me in this experience of

… having stepped out of the malaise.

Because, shadows can want to follow. Our minds, for years, build neurological pathways. We get used to thinking particular ways, to being a particular way – get this, to being a particular person. Yeah, you can call it personality. And part of personality is nature, as in inherited, or DNA. And part of it is nurture, as in created (and creating every second, like right FUCKING NOW), or RNA. Look it up, DNA, RNA. We’re writing the story of our RNA right now, every single cell of our body is handing on the story of us. To our next selves.

And we can influence that in huge ways. Try not to think of Trump when I say “HUGE ways”. See, I just fucked with your mind a little bit and influenced how you think of this. And we do that to ourselves ALL THE TIME. The cells of our body are taking part in this huge orchestra, that includes our thoughts.

So when I say I’m glad my lover is a witch, it’s because she sees me working with these shadow selves, these past selves to strip away the past old “nurtured” ways. She sees me doing that and joins in, with insight and love, to honor and help. When this is happening those old selves aren’t condemned, they’re set free. We work to give them expression to give them new nutrition (new information about what life can be) and rewire the RNA (let’s say “realized state”) back towards the raw potential of my DNA. Click, click, click. Hear that happening in your head right now? It’s possible.

And I look for ways to dance with hers too. That act gets me out of myself, away from the self consumption. It fires off the mirror nuerons (look it up). There’s this amazing energy loop of attention and healing going on. It’s not always comfortable, but it’s real.

And what’s left right now, as her and I talk, and spell, and sing to each other. What’s left is this shadow work- and the glory of the dance.

Yes, you can’t make the past go away. It has weight. You can’t pretend you’re someone else. I will always be scary in anger. I will always carry my metal plate in my ankle, separated shoulder, and scars of barb wire. But, having taken the steps to get healthy, to leave behind old habits (and in the process, an old body), you can still love and be who you’ve been. I can still be me, Lyle E, Ten Crows, just someone more purely myself.

Because that old way of being, like an old skin (I’m laughing because this is literal), just falls away. I preen, I compete, I look forward to stepping out now. I dance with my old self, honor these older parts of me, and deal with some of the fears, in order to know it’s all complete, a cycle. Call it growing up, call it karma, enlightenment, call it just wising up, there’s so many words for it. It never stops, like the cycle of breath, or the wheel of the seasons.

The storm is where we came from. And we’re not afraid. Darkness has a story too. It’s full of as much love and meaning as the light of day falling on us right now. Right now has a weight too. NO FEAR.

Longer

bearbutteedit
Longer.

This could be longer. This could be a long time. I can see us for a long time. Longer.
The words flash by; they slide by. I feel the need to reach out, to touch her.

“Yes.” I know. I feel like I’m becoming visible. I’ve loved her for hundreds of years.

And my mind is catching on something. We’re caught in this ballet, in this sweet chaotic choreography of emotion, like birds in flight. And my mind, lost in the joy of movement, is having a hard time with time.

It’s always so.

I still play poker with guys I’ve known since I was seventeen.

Floyd, our family medicine man, told me last year “you’re the only one who still comes around.”

Time wants to have a battle with me in the badlands. I can feel it waiting in the ache of my bones, in the little heartache I feel when, far away, I wonder if she is okay. I sense it when my siblings, spread to the wind, are blinking on and off in my consciousness like Christmas lights.  Those are the hints on the horizon of that coming fight. Inktomi, the trickster, is there to witness. What time doesn’t know is that the trickster is on my side.

After my cousin’s open heart surgery, I kept flashing back to that time we walked down the street to go see a matinee in Greenwood, hand in hand. I was fourteen, he must’ve been 6 or 7. It was called The Sting.

Thinking of it makes me laugh.

I need to land for a bit, I know. She’s talking about day to day practicalities. She needs me to say something. I’m learning the ebb and flow of our dance.

“Wow”. Longer would be better. Time to heal would be better. No more battles, not for today -my love is here. Let’s make it a river. It’s so fucking me.

Then, I remember, I’m the one who mentioned time.

It’s why we have gods.

It’s a river, baby. “Looking like a big one,” he says with his gap toothed smile.

Darkness Darkness

The moon this morning was still full, the sky so clear, the world seemed cracked open under it’s soft yellow gaze. As I walked with Jake, I felt my body relaxing. This, in so many ways, is how I pray -body first.

Eventually I reached a point where I could stand and see the moon centered on my skyline, the trees opened up, and I stood up straight and reached out with my mind. I prayed some more. I felt the distance and the vastness, I felt that darkness on the far side, and longed for the flight around that far curving arc. That desire to know that space pulls at my heart. And so, feeling her power, I asked for a blessing on my new love.

“You have the legs for it,” I’d told her the other night, her arms wrapped around me in a dark corner of a local pub. She’d said “ I wish these were my legs,” as she aqueezed me. My mind was lost in the softness of that long sweep of her inner thigh.

Like that long line of sky traveling round to the dark side of the soft full moon on this morning. This is my track and my love, and so I pray for us now.

We’re building a web of dark energy to sustain our magic, bar to pub, plant to tree, and watery depths. I know it was fueled by our darkness, our efforts to work out issues so hard and deep these past years, this in such close proximity to each other that our hearts seemed to be breaking from the acceleration.

“Dark matter is the invisible ‘web’ that holds galaxies together; … the even more mysterious force that is pushing the cosmos apart.” – Dark Matter Unveils First Results

 

Old With Want

I’ve been seeing more of a friend. Not like I’d meant to, only like she stepped into my field of view and said “here I am,” while I was looking at big posters of her, and little remembrances of scary things that’d happened in the past, and weighing so heavily all the things that weren’t her. She stepped up, I asked, and she pulled me through with her lips.
Through to a clearer reality, where we see each other not for what we think, but for what we are shown, and for what we experience together.
She came into view not a whole person or a whole impression in an instance. I had stopped looking at her -I remember. She came in first as eyes, then as a collar bone. I notice this small thing, then that, like my eyes are shy. Then a belly, a soft belly that I love.
That’s how she came into view, and still I don’t know that I see everything. I’m trying to do it with my ears, trying to remember each word.
Her lips fire off old neural networks in microseconds, me awkward, remembering, wanting to shake off this old skin, see and hear and breathe. just breath again.
I try not to think about love, try not to let it break me. Yes, I can say it. I will, and I do. But it’s me that does that. And me, and I, can be a scared moodiness. No, I want to do it with my life. Not wrapped around anyone, no, but drawn out and easy, with plenty of room for attention, dreams and desire. I want to see everything, piece by piece, maybe a whole life someday, but for now the parts of her coming together are plucking at my heart strings slowly, the dust falling.

You would’ve laughed to see me rise up this morning.
The dust, old with want, falling from my eyes.

Making Relatives

“How can you mend a broken heart?” -The Bee Gees

The body in the front room was still there, laying peacefully in the favorite chair. The air was still and the picture frames stubbornly holding witness with no crookedness. Everything stayed the same, heavy air feeling like it’s not even there -like nothing existed anymore.

But after almost fifty years, if it hadn’t moved by now, it wouldn’t. And the six year old boy in me had stopped screaming, and left, and ran, and crawled from home to home, love to love, since I’d found my father there. The world had given me a tribe instead of a father, I don’t complain. My fiery mother, already distant, would come get us and take us away, to the reservation. But to say a truth, on that morning with the mountain sun shining through wind kissed cedars, all I wanted was for him to take me with him.

I am always empty when wondering where to start a ritual. I’m vaguely aware of what I want, sadly unaware of what the tribe, or the circle of practitioners, needs. But, I’m learning that the process of opening up is the first thing (maybe the only thing). Clearing out, sensing down, to let an intention or desire be revealed.

Sometimes, oftentimes, it’s in the past.

1969, before the hard times.

Oglala Joe’s Clydesdales stood guard over my eight year old world.

in the sixties, at number 4 on the highway from Pine Ridge, Joe lived across the potato field from us. I would wonder down the boundary road, more a trail, lined by bushes and the buzz of bees, to visit him -he and his towering horses.

My older brothers, in years past, had ridden with, on his wagon into town, to pick up his lease check and get supplies. But by the time I met Joe he had stopped doing that. He would welcome me in and offer a cup of coffee, a magical forbidden elixir to a boy seeking big medicine. Age was sitting on him, and outside the clydesdales rested easy in their retirement. They looked down on me with shoulders and wise heads like living cathedrals. But one morning they watched me in the field from a different vantage point.

Pine Ridge clay stretches past the badlands, to the Black Hills and out to the mighty rivers, but that moment had me only concerned with the inches on and under my face. Inches of dry freshly tilled soil framed my face and body.

No stronger connection would I have than that, face down in the softness, the horses hoof on my back pressing me down momentarily, clearing me from the danger of the race passing inches above my head.

Surprised at the dirt in my mouth, I looked up at the horses and ponies rushing away, no wound from the step of the horse and rider that, moments before, had been behind me; leaving me wondering what had plucked me from my pony and left me grounded while my friends laughed and rode away to finish the race.

It wouldn’t be my first run in with a ferocious girl; my sister switched from her friend’s horse, where she’d grabbed me from behind as they pulled up to me in the field. I hadn’t even seen her there. From that perch she moved over to mount my pony.

Her horse, green broke and not ready for the herd, left behind in the pasture; I hadn’t let her ride all day. This was her way of telling me it was time. This was our way. Ride the reservation. Ride together.

I’ve been surrounded by warrior girls and women my entire life. I’ve been surrounded and cradled by a mighty tribe. The reservation welcomed me home. The joy at the air, the touch of my ponies mouth eating from my hand or when I’d lean into her, chest to chest, and let her match my beating heart was everything. There, in that field of galloping ponies and laughing children, I found healing.

Moments that sit like broken lenses in our lives are like this. My child self spread eagled in the reservation soil, watching my pony run away with my friends. The towering sky arching over Oglala Joe’s clydesdales at my back, down the road the mission where my generations had schooled, the graveyard where my ancestors lay, and the town where my great grandfather lived. This was my magical life.

Even in the solitude of riding alone into the hills, my pony carried me. There we’d found tribal members living where no roads led. And no harm could come, even to my reckless child self.

For my grandpa Joe lived in the town, and from a child, I learned to recite the lineage “I’m Thelma’s son, Jesse Richardson’s grandson and Joe Adams is my great grandfather.”

My Great Grandfather’s house was in Pine Ridge. Grandpa Joe was in his eighties when I met him, a man of the tribe. I stayed with him the summer I arrived at the reservation. It can be hard to pull up such young and tender memories, but it is needed. Grandpa Joe was hard and leathery on the outside, but he moved with the litheness of the young. He was slow and attentive. He lived by himself, drove himself, and took care of me and a developmentally handicapped adult male of our family. This was his heart. This was his example, to care for others; and in those days, we were a pair. He’d been a small boy at the time of Wounded Knee and I was a child of the sixties.

That summer, the annual Sundance was coming up and I was in his front yard pouting. My older siblings were working with beads and leather, bells and sheepskins, getting ready to dance. I, figured too young, had been left behind. He took the time to come and sit with me under the summer sun, and talk. He told me the story of a young boy who had nothing. The boy had gone to the dance, and unashamed of his near nakedness and unadorned self, had entered the circle and danced anyway. He danced so hard he lost himself in his dance and the whole tribe was amazed at the child. They decided, that year, that he was the best dancer among the entire tribe.

“Do you know why?” he asked me, while I still sat, head down, staring at the dust.

“No”, my sad voice replied.

“Because he danced with his heart.”

My grandpa Joe would have a story for each child.

My mother, the tribal judge, danced with her heart her entire life, raising nine kids, losing another, loving three men, driving and singing across the west. Her songs went on long after she’d become deaf. They still ring sweet in my ears. In the years we lived in the city she led a house not only full of her children, but other tribe and extended family, all colors, anyone that needed help, and every exile she could fit. Sometimes we partitioned the rooms with plywood to give everybody some privacy. When she wasn’t there my aunts were.

Aunt Jackie, my first second mother, taught me Lakota prayers, to stand up straight and wash my hands when I’d finally come in from play. She taught me the pride that I would search so long to find again as an adult. And as a 42 year old man, returning again from my beloved Salish sea, she taught me to pray again, to honor my mother’s passing.

Aunt Donna, my soul brother’s (and my next) mother, gave me humor and the sound of long passed relatives still arguing, even from her death bed, with my mom’s ghost, over some Lakota or Dakota inflection of a word. My cousin and I stood by her bedside and I thought my heart would burst with love.

But only grandmother Jesse’s Lakota voice trickles down the sensory stream at my back, and underneath me like a song to call me home.

Somewhere between my two Joes and the tenderness of the grandfather’s teachings, between the windows of the souls of my mother’s house -overflowing with exiles, and my Aunts voices, I found myself again. I would come back to my birthplace in Seattle and the cradling mountains to step into manhood. But somewhere, the bonds of tribe and family were woven so gently as to let a child grow, in those riches I know, are not only mine, but all our souls and hearts. It is the nest we make for each other out of the songs and stories, the gestures and smiles, we call home.

It’s hard to put your hands around culture; it’s not copyrighted equations but simple rituals of the soul, passing so gently in every moment.

These are the things that cannot be taken, only given. In grasping for them, hands close on ashes and fleeing shadows of our true desire. We’ve evilly been taught the insistence of the consuming masses, our minds paled over by the merchants of anything but ourselves. Why do we stumble over something so hurtful as cultural appropriation? Why do the warriors mumble? Painting and feigning and acting out do not welcome us in, and in the attempt to take, we crush even more the thing we want … the thing that is real. Our souls, their souls, our hearts, those hearts of the peoples of the land that loves them. Appropriation only diminishes the stories and the tribes of our being.

It isn’t just the indigenous, but every band who is grounded, that seems to call to us. Even the wandering tribes, slaves and exiles, know connection. We desire what they have, not knowing why.

Forgetting this: to her dying day, the land will always love us. On whatever inch of soil our feet touch she welcomes us to continue telling her the stories that are sweet to her ears.

These are the things that cannot be taken. Only given.

We hunger for the gift of tribe, long for home and are left empty mouthed with heart beats that seek to be brought back, seeking the words to only, just, ask.

And this is the request. The first part of the ritual. My puppy diving to ground, his front paws splayed out in welcome, trying to get so far below me that I only float from his honoring of me, as he looks up with twinkling eyes that say “let’s go!”

And in the documented rituals and passed on formal ceremonies, yes even in the ones we are making today, I hope and pray that this will always be that heart, never stolen, never able to be stolen, and in the beginning of each tome will be that puppy, bowing down, asking simply …

to play.

Turning Corners

“Still, no one guessed what the fish had mumbled…” –The Warlike Seven

 

I was told I couldn’t be an elder. That, by a darker skinned who wasn’t even part of my tribe. I reject that with prejudice. I fucking belong. Repeat after me. “I belong.” On this mountain top, in this pool of slimy water, among these peeps,… yep, wash, rinse repeat. Then get to the business of paying it forward, passing it on. Seven on seven. You mad bro? You a wiley witch? A meekish monk? Stand up, brush yourself off, you’re only as broke as the world around you. Welcome to connectedness …

People live on the curve. But it’s the area under the curve that gets ya. Take a few classes in calculus. Follow it up with some applied stuff.  You’ll see. In hydraulics, it’s all that water coming at you, in a time frame that doesn’t seem to stop. In electrical, it’s the massed voltage that doesn’t stop.  A disconnected capacitor can kill you. In crossfit, it’s the work capacity, not the strength, you’re concerned with. In finance, interest over time, baby.

Time measures us (not the other way around). That’s why we need to derive and integrate, the two corner stones of calc. That’s why, in a social or spiritual context – those corners we need to get around- we may need to back into things, slip into them sideways. But backing into something, or glimpsing it peripherally, isn’t just free form thinking. Think of integration as sensing down.

It’s why elders were supposed to look backward (and forward) seven generations. Those were the patterns we were supposed to recognize. But people live on the curve. It’s hard enough (and definitely think of this in terms of personal life, social justice, and environment)… it’s hard enough to get a sense for where we are, and where we’re going. Understanding the area around us, the area under the curve becomes about limits, constraints. It’s about huge consequences that are not in our view. We see the line, it’s what’s around the line that affects us.

When we try to appreciate, and experience, other’s spiritual truths there’s some doors, some dark corners.  In terms of cultural appropriation, we’re surrounded by a world of gods and cultural mores. Direction wise, what we want is a web of connectedness, a interfaith highway system that ties us all together and allows our personal spiritual paths the freedom they need to establish personal authority. Each of us has our own relationship with mystery. This last part is so cornerstone that it’s hard to say how many have died just to simply hold onto it. It’s part of being human. And being human brings so much.

When you’re privileged enough to read, you can step into an entire new world, worlds even, that will literally change your life. There’s a point of eye opening there. Someone had to establish that for you, you didn’t create language, or writing. If you’re privileged enough to have a state or national park near you with mountains that you can climb, you reap so much of the wonder of just simply being outside;and this, so amazing that few can provide the words (I know I can’t). Someone else established that too. We stand on the shoulders of not just giants, but everyone. Those who came before need to be honored. Being first is an honor, whether by luck or hard work; what, and who, came first need to be honored. Coming upon, and often enjoying, wonderful things is a privilege.

I say all this because I believe it’s critical to see privilege in a way that doesn’t harden our understanding. It isn’t, initially, about being over someone. Not in it’s natural state. I say it because it helps get at that area under the curve. See, the limits we’re working with are what was here when I got here (our best sense of first), and our gratitude (Do you know how privileged you are?) So, honor and privilege.

Living life to play trumps guilting to establish a predefined change every time.  The tricksters know this.

It’s what’s around the corner.

We need a way to get from here to there. We need an integration to get at the area under that curve, a way to recognize the patterns that will help us see, then move from one to the other. This to help us enjoy our own mysteries, as first and second, and to help us stay doing this together. We need a practice, we need a ritual …

Soon: Making Relatives, or How Orion ended up up there.

Feathers

I have a feather.

It’s long and black and white and gray. It has leather and beads on one end. It was given to me to honor my leadership. This was something I did not ask to do or receive, only acting out of my pain during a time of great loss. I did this to just simply hold things together for myself and others, to hold the circle.

The feather, in it’s current form, was crafted by a man of violence and misogyny, blessed by a holy man and given by a woman who’s known poverty, violence, love and pain her whole life.

And I look at it and wonder if I should have accepted it, having known the violence. Having been violent, I wonder if I should have kept it. But I know there is no other way, my violence in self defense is part of the dance that’s seemed to sunder all of us. I have my part in this, even though I’m not sure what. So I take it onto myself. We are strong like this. It should be accepted.

And I look at my feather and wonder if the Medicine man, honored to our family, knew the source and story as he blessed it. I wonder if his spiritual bells were going off as he did his work, or if that sense had worn off of him somewhere. I wonder if it had worn off of us. Maybe his Medicine was stronger, I tell myself.

If I can carry this like a Lakota, then I could finish the story, I know that; but every step I take on my grandfather’s side of the path decries every step I take on the other doubting, coldly consuming, western way of me. That is the other that, too, holds a value.

The feather brings me back to violence, heritage, love and doubt. It holds a lot for me.

The man who made it was Sioux, and so afforded some right to craft the thing, the gift of the sky, and our sibling spirit bird – his destructive violence somehow overlooked. But I can’t believe that – I think it’s carried in the eagle’s call across the land, splitting the sky.

The Medicine man was loved by me and mine, part of our family. I will never know, nor want to, what his spirit told him of this while he did the blessing. I carry that paradox as a door to my own spirituality. I gave up needing the right to call on the spiritual decades ago. Whatever I am, I am spiritual.

There is no badge or credential that opens the door. There is no feather or feathers we can cover ourselves with that will grant us entrance. No act of courage or leadership will allow us to say we’re forgiven, in order to simply keep on walking. It’s the stories that weigh us down, hold us back. They do that until, so sick of the morass, the same stories propel us forward to do, and be, something else.

There was a fence on the reservation that I needed to get across. I would ride my pony to my friends house, where we would all get together and go ride in the hills. Once you got to a certain point, it seemed like there were no more fences.

But, getting there, I had to ride along a fence to get to it’s end. And I would always wish I could just pass right through, take a straight line. But the poles were there and the wire. the barbs had already taken parts of me. I fear them.

So I would daydream that I could just float right through without being touched, me and my pony ( a mare named Mike). I could feel us just passing through, but it would never happen.

So my path became a fence, that called the pain. I know the answer, and I can sense a chap named Genesh on the other side.

But I need other feathers.