Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sacred Tobacco

The first time I met a Wild Tobacco plant, I was leading a vision quest in winter near Virgin Springs, Death Valley. Nikki came back from her solo, carrying a bundle of full-grown Wild Tobacco plants she had picked in a rocky high-walled side canyon. They were beautiful plants, large-leafed and 3 feet tall. Nikki is an herbalist and intended to dry them and use them medicinally. I was shocked that anything other than creosote, barrel cactus, and desert holly could grow in that barren landscape.

A year or so later, I was hiking with Nikki and 2 other women in the Chihuahuan desert south of Silver City, New Mexico.
The land was Apache country in the old days...hunting and gathering country. Nikki was sure we'd find Wild Tobacco out there.
As I walked around a large outcropping of red sandstone, a lone Wild Tobacco plant glowed at me in the distance. I felt profoundly connected to that plant, for some mysterious reason. It seemed to have a golden aura around it. There were no other plants of any kind nearby.

I had a hunch, which I quickly dismissed, that Wild Tobacco was some sort of "ally plant" for me. At that time, I had little knowledge of traditional uses of tobacco as a sacred and medicinal plant.

In the summer of 2007 I was invited to support a Sun Dance on the Cheyenne River Lakota Reservation in South Dakota.
The Sun Dance Chief made traditional "Chanupas" (ceremonial pipes) for the support dancers, the bowls carved from beautiful red pipestone. He taught us the proper ways to the fill the pipe with tobacco and other herbs, and pray with it. Feeling awkward with the ceremony, I put the Pipe aside for awhile.

Sometime later, I was visiting a friend who was housesitting in Taos. For some reason, I had decided that morning to take my Pipe and some tobacco with me. As I stepped into the house, I felt assaulted by an extremely heavy energy in the living room.
I asked my friend if she noticed it, and she said she had, and that it was so strong she avoided going into that part of the house. I went out to the car, got my Chanupa, and asked her to pray with me in the living room where the energy was so bad. We both felt like someone had been injured or killed there. Not remembering the protocol, I filled the pipe anyway and we began our prayers. As we smoked the Chanupa, we asked Spirit to remove the energies from the house, and to transmute the negativity. Within 10 minutes the living room in which we sat felt completely different. My friend and I were stunned at how suddenly it had shifted from heavy to light energy. A few days later, she reported that the room continued to feel clear.

It was at that moment that I began to appreciate the tremendous transformational power of the Chanupa, and the sacred tobacco plant.

The Spirit of the plant has been badly misused by modern people. Addiction to tobacco is rampant. Large companies have made fortunes, while people die daily from lung cancer. Yet even with commercial cigarettes, it is possible to forge a
completely different relationship with tobacco, simply by lighting the cigarette and making a prayer for someone or for Mother Earth. In the instant of making a prayer, the energy of addiction and illness begins to shift into a blessing. Tobacco has been sacred for thousands of years. . We need to remember our ancient relationship with this plant, and return it to its proper place - that of ally and healer.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sun Dance - Healing Mother Earth

Last week, during the July Full Moon, we supported a Sun Dance on the Cheyenne River Lakota Reservation in South Dakota.
This ancient ceremony is one of the Lakota Seven Sacred Rites, and is dedicated to the healing of Mother Earth. Traditionally a dance performed by men and supported by women and other tribal members, this powerful ceremony lasts for 4 days and nights and the men "tied to the tree" do not eat or drink during that time. Each man prays for the earth and for a friend or relative who is ill. Most non-native people cannot imagine why anyone would want to engage in this difficult and arduous ceremony. Native plains people, however, know that enormous healing power is generated on the Sun Dance grounds, and miracles happen.

One man danced for his daughter who was told by her doctors she would never walk again. Her condition was healed. A grandmother with terminal cancer had a spontaneous remission. An infant with a serious illness is now a smiling, laughing year old baby.

Last week, the Sun Dance Chief was told by Spirit that the Dance had made a huge difference for Mother Earth, and that positive changes would now begin to happen all over the planet. For this news, we were grateful, and we vowed to return next year to support this ceremony and continue the healing of our Mother.

Drawings of the ceremony, as photography was not allowed, can be seen at Dans blog site.....

Saturday, April 25, 2009

As we move more deeply into the Great Turning, the paradigm shift that has been predicted by indigenous people for centuries, I am grateful to be able to participate in powerful earthbased ceremonies on Turtle Island and Heart Island, with amazing medicine people of North and South America. As a Vision Quest Guide, I see the transformation on the faces of people when they return from fasting and praying in the wilderness for 4 days and nights. As a support person at Sun Dance, I participate in the miracles of healing that happen there, from the girl who regained her ability to walk, to the grandmother cured of cancer.
In the Andes, I witness and experience the power of ancient initiations at the base of 23,000 foot Apus (glacier covered holy mountains). On a daily basis, I make offerings to the Earth Mother and to Father Sun for the incredible blessing of being alive on the planet at this time.

I pray every day that the transition be graceful and exactly what is needed for the regeneration of all Beings as we move into the new paradigm - predicted by our indigenous brothers and sisters to be a time of cooperation, harmony, and compassion. I was born to help midwife this birthing time...and so were you, if you are reading this!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Death Valley Vision Quest

Spring in Death Valley - a time of wildflowers, wind, warm sun, and rebirth. A time to fast alone in the wilderness, to let go of what no longer serves us, and open to what is trying to be born in us. Our small group of seven questers spent 4 days and nights in the austere beauty of Virgin Springs, surrounded by crimson cactus flowers, small yellow asters, desert holly and creosote. Stones of quartz crystal, volcanic pumice, and green, yellow, red and blue sandstone, made medicine walking a daily adventure. Ravens and hawks were daily visitors. The wind brought purification.

Every faster found something of profound value and returned home with stories to tell....stories of destiny claimed, or qualities of Spirit revealed.

The ancient ceremony of Vision Quest continues to astound me in its power to transform and heal.