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All Our Relations:  Exercises In Earth Awareness For Children

Stories, activities and songs about the Web of Life, All Our Relations and the Medicine Wheel written especially for children. 100 pages, spiral bound, not illustrated……………$17

ORDERING INFORMATION

Please enclose check or money order for $17.00 made out to "Cash". (We can't cash checks made out to "Spider")

Postage (US):  Include $5 for the first book, and $3 for each additional book. Please note, books and herbs will be shipped in separate packages. Please contact us for International postage rates, spiderherbs@gmail.com.

Mail to: Spiderherbs, PO Box 51, Fredonia, NY 14063

 

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Come Join Our Council Circle

If you lived long ago, you would very likely find yourself sitting around a fire at nightfall, listening to the Old Ones tell stories about how the Earth came to be.  Or, you might be dancing in a circle with your family and friends, clapping your hands and singing a song about one of Our Relations.

There was once a time when the Two-Leggeds could talk with all the Creature Beings.  They learned the stories of MotherEarth from listening to the Stone People.  The Standing People, Winged Ones and Four-Leggeds taught our Ancestors how to survive and share the Earth.  When someone was sick or injured, the Medicine Plants spoke and gave away their gifts for healing. 

Our Ancestors also listened to the wind, so they always knew when changes were coming. They observed the cycles of Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon and used these cycles to tell the passage of time.  When they traveled, our Ancestors watched the sky and saw the stars as a giant map to guide them on their journey and safely home again. 

The Standing People and the Creature Beings taught our Two-Legged Ancestors about the circle of life because they gave away their lives so that the people could live.  Our Ancestors realized that they were connected with everything around them in a grand, invisible Web of Life where each Creature was depending on the others for survival.  They created ceremonies, songs and dances to honor All Our Relations and the gifts that they share. 

Our wise Ancestors felt MotherEarth’s heartbeat under their feet and saw All Our Relations around them everywhere they went.  They knew that they were all part of a larger family of MotherEarth and FatherSky.  Our Ancestors also knew that the Two-Leggeds were to be the caretakers of MotherEarth, so they walked gently and considered how their actions would affect All Our Relations.

Our Ancestors passed their teachings and stories along to their children and grandchildren.  Native Americans and other Earth connected people continue to pass along the teachings, stories and songs of All Our Relations and the Web of Life.  This is an oral tradition, still told by grandparents to their children and grandchildren.  But many grandparents have forgotten the ancient stories and songs that tell us about life.  So, recently these are being written down and shared so that every Two-Legged from every land can remember the special connection that we have with everything around us. 

As you begin to read this book, imagine that your grandmother is coming for a visit and that she knows all of the stories about All Our Relations.  Then, walk through the pages of a modern day adventure where some very ancient teachings and stories are being passed along to you.


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Every mountain is a sacred mountain

Every tree is the Sacred Tree

Each stone is a wise Ancestor

Each spider is Grandmother Spider

All Creature Beings are our teachers

All Winged Ones are messengers of peace

Our Relations are each one of these

All of the stars shine the wisdom of the Universe

All water everywhere is the nectar of life

Every breath that we take is the sacred Breath of Life

Each step we take connects the heartbeat of MotherEarth

We all weave the Web of Life

All future children are our grandchildren

Great Mystery’s light is within each Creature’s center

Every moment of every day is a sacred gift

Recognize your family all around you

Celebrate the generosity of MotherEarth

Honor the Ancient Ancestors

Awaken to the voice of inner guidance

Share your gifts

Walk in peace

 

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Chapter 7

Listen to a Stone

Joe and I walk in the woods every time we get a chance.  We have lots of favorite trees along the path that goes up to the top of the ridge.  Yesterday, we started building a playhouse inside a cluster of three oak trees using fallen tree branches tied together with grape vines. So this afternoon, we couldn’t wait to finish our chores so we could go back and complete our playhouse. We head down the stone path and almost reach the end of the garden when suddenly we hear a voice calling to us from the path under our feet.  It is a Stone Person with a message.

“Listen to a stone,” the Stone Person calls, “go on, pick me up and hold me in your hand. Please, please, I have been waiting to speak for so long.  Good, you stopped walking and now you are looking at me.  Maybe if I shine with all of my rainbow light you will notice me and think that I am special.” 

Joe and I stop walking.  We sit down in the soft grass beside the path and listen to the story of the Stone Person.

“I am one of your oldest Relations,” says the Stone Person. The Stone People are your great-great-many time’s great grandmothers and grandfathers that make up MotherEarth’s body. A very long time ago, when MotherEarth came out of the Great Mystery’s dream and went through the Doorway of the Seven Stars, this planet was covered with water.  There was no land.  Then the seeds of the Stone People began to awaken inside MotherEarth’s Sacred Cave.  Great stone giants rose up to make the mountains. Smaller stones and even smaller pebbles gathered at the bases of the mountains. The Stone People made a place for the plants and trees to grow and for all of MotherEarth’s Creature Beings to walk.  All of the stones that you see around you today have been here since that time.  We each remember a part of the story of the evolution of life on the Earth.”

I pick up the stone and hold it in my hand.  “Ah, the feeling of a cool stone held in the palm of someone’s hand!” the Stone Person exclaims. “I am so happy you picked me up!  Feel my energy pulsing and glowing.  It might be the strong, bright light of lightening during a storm, the soft coolness of the forest floor or the smooth rushing of water from a stream.  Or perhaps I have the energy of another place on the Earth. Can you feel my energy?  How do I make you feel when you hold me in your hand? Happy, sad, tired, bouncy, strong, proud?”  I feel the energy in the stone for awhile and then hand the Stone Person to Joe so he can feel the energy too.

The Stone Person continues, “Now, close your eyes and look with the eyes inside your eyes. What do you see?  Perhaps I was on a path long, long ago when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Or, I was bounced and carried on the waters of a flooding stream. Maybe I sat on a mountaintop and reflected the light of the Moon and stars at night. You might even be able to see the darkness of MotherEarth’s Sacred Cave through my stone vision.  Look closely and you will see some of your Ancestors and Relations that have visited me before.”  Joe and I take turns looking at the stone with our inner eyes.  

“Now, listen with the ears inside your ears. Do you hear the roaring waves of the ocean?  The quiet rustling of leaves in the forest?  The sounds of many footsteps?  Listen well and you will hear the voices of Your Relations speaking through me. They are all part of my story.”  The voice of the Stone Person becomes silent.  Joe and I listen to the stone with the ears inside our ears.

Grandmother tells us there are different kinds of Stone People. Crystals are clear but if you look closely, you might be able to see the whole rainbow inside of them. Crystals hold MotherEarth’s love and make sure that her heartbeat is steady. These Stone People are usually found deep inside the ground close to the Sacred Cave.  Grandmother says that if you find or are given a crystal, it is an extra special gift. She says you can feel MotherEarth’s heartbeat when you hold the crystal. Grandmother tells us we can send all of our love to MotherEarth through the crystal.

The Stone People that Joe and I find on the path are not Crystals.  Stones and pebbles that are a part of the land have many colors, shapes and textures.  We look at the Stone Person that I picked up.  Then, we turn it over and look at the other side. It is white, my favorite color. It is a round, flat stone. One side feels really smooth when I rub my fingers over it, and the other side has tiny bumps along the bottom. Within the markings on the white stone, I can see a bird flying over the treetops.  When I listen real hard, I can hear the soft blowing of the wind. I pass the stone to Joe.  He sees the sparkling lights of the stars at night and hears a secret word.           

Then, we want to see if there are any markings on the edges of the Stone Person.  But, when we stand the stone on its side, it wobbles and falls over.  Joe makes a place in the soil with his finger and then the Stone Person can stand up so we can see both of its sides and most of its edges at the same time.  Then, Joe rolls the stone along the path and pretends it is a wheel.  We look again at the markings on the stone and find a funny face laughing at us. 

 By now, we have put the playhouse project off until another time.  We are just having too much fun playing with the Stone people.  I wonder if we can find some Stone People in the woods that we could build with and Joe says that maybe we can make two stone towers for either side of the door.

The Stone Person speaks again.   “You can use stones to play games and write with in the sand.  You can pile us on top of each other to make a castle.  Every Stone Person has a different story to tell.  We can help you feel better when you are sick or sad.  We can sing and we can laugh.  We can even make you laugh.  Our favorite thing is to be carried in someone’s pocket for awhile and be a special friend.”

Joe puts the stone in his pocket.  We walk a few more steps and hear another Stone Person calling to us. I pick it up and we listen to this Stone Person’s story about the Earth.  I put this Stone Person in my pocket.  Mom calls us for dinner and Joe and I run back down the path to the house.  We can’t wait to share the stories of our Stone People with everyone when we sit on the porch tonight.

 

Exercise

Finding a Stone Person Friend 

There are many Stone People that can be our friends as we learn and grow.  If you want to find a Stone Person friend, go to a special place outdoors, sit quietly for a few minutes and ask in your heart for a Stone Person to come and talk with you. Then, go for a walk and listen with your inside ears for that Stone Person to call out to you.  Remember that the Stone People do not talk with words.  Be sure to feel the ground you are walking on with your heart and look for stones that shine.  You will know when you find the right Stone Person.  Pick up the Stone Person and you will feel its energy glowing.  If you have a friend that is also looking for a Stone Person friend, you will each find the right stone. If you can not find your Stone Person friend on this walk, try walking in another location or at another time. 

Remember that the Stone People are our grandparents. Take good care of your Stone Person friend. Never throw stones. Always keep your Stone Person friend in a safe place like your pocket or make a special space on your dresser.  Don’t be disappointed if you lose your stone.  The Stone People know when it’s time to go back to the Earth and sometimes they leave us so that we can find a new Stone Person friend. When your Stone Person friend stops talking to you, or if you get tired of the stone, put it back outdoors.  Be sure to thank this special Stone Person for being your friend for awhile.

Here are some things you can do with your Stone Person friend:

Healing Stones- (Very young children call these “boo boo” stones.) Stones have a great way of taking away pain.  If you have a headache, get sick or hurt yourself, your Stone Person friend can help you out.   First, hold the Stone Person in both of your hands and ask it to help you feel better.  Then, place the Stone Person on the area that hurts.  Do this as often as you want.  Be sure to clean the stone afterwards by rinsing it under cold water.

Time Out Stone- You can ask your Stone Person friend to help you figure out a problem or find the answer to a question.  Instead of letting someone make you mad, walk away from them, take the Stone Person out of your pocket and ask it to tell you the best thing to do. Then, follow the advice of your Stone Person friend and act with your good thoughts instead of your quick feelings.

If you are sad, you can ask your Stone Person friend to help you feel better.  Holding a stone can help you stay calm when you are afraid or when you don’t understand what’s going on.  When you sit quietly with your Stone Person friend you will feel MotherEarth’s heartbeat that brings love to All Relations.  Then you know that you are never alone.

Dream Stone- If you have scary dreams, you can put your Stone Person friend under your pillow at night or hold the stone in your hand when you go to sleep.  Ask the Stone Person to guide you to good dreams. Your Stone Person friend will bring you a good nights sleep with good dreams.

Stone Story Circle- Get your friends together to hear the stories of the Stone People.  Have everyone bring their own Stone Person friend or pick a stone from outside or from a basket of stones you have already collected.  Have everyone sit in a circle.  Each person holds a stone in both hands.  One person begins by listening to her or his stone and starting a story about MotherEarth.  The person to the left listens to his or her stone and continues the story.  The storytelling goes all the way around the circle clockwise (to the left).  Each person sitting in the circle tells a little bit of the story until the last person’s turn when the ending is told.  By listening to our stones before we speak, we are able to tell the story of MotherEarth as remembered by our great-great grandparents, the Stone People.

Stone Medicine Wheel- If you have stones in your yard that are large enough to sit on, you can make a Stone Medicine Wheel.  Do not try to move a stone that is too heavy by yourself. Ask a grown-up to help you move and place the stones.  You will need five stones for the Medicine Wheel.  Place the largest stone in the center and the other four stones in the Four Directions (see the diagram in the exercise for Morning Ceremony).

Your Stone Medicine Wheel is a special place.  You can do the Morning Ceremony here. You can also come here when you want to think of the answer to a question or to get away from things and just be by yourself.  While you are in the Stone Medicine Wheel, be sure to notice the marks on the stones and sit with each one to hear their story.

The Stone Medicine Wheel can be left in place indefinitely.  But, if you ever decide you don’t want it anymore, thank each one of the Stone People and ask them where they want to be. Then, put them back to new places on the Earth.

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We Honor the Spirit

Make up your own melody for this chant. Since the rhythm repeats, it’s a good song to use in a circle dance. Each person participates by singing a verse to honor one of the Relations that we share with in the Web of Life.

(Chorus)

We honor the Spirit, we honor the Spirit of Life.

We honor the Spirit, we honor the Spirit of Life.

We honor Great Mystery, we honor the Spirit of Life.

We honor Great Mystery, we honor the Spirit of Life.

(Repeat Chorus)

We honor the light of Grandfather Sun, we honor the Spirit of Life.

We honor the light of Grandfather Sun, we honor the Spirit of Life.

(Repeat Chorus)

We honor the faces of Grandmother Moon, we honor the Spirit of life.

We honor the faces of Grandmother Moon, we honor the Spirit of life.

(Repeat Chorus)

We honor the Sacred Breath of Life, we honor the Spirit of life.

We honor the Sacred Breath of Life, we honor the Spirit of Life.

(Repeat Chorus)

We honor our MotherEarth, we honor the Spirit of Life.

We honor our MotherEarth, we honor the Spirit of Life.

(Repeat Chorus)

We honor All Our Relations, we honor the Spirit of Life.

We honor All Our Relations, we honor the Spirit of Life.

(Repeat Chorus)

Now, each person in the circle can sing a verse to honor one of Our Relations. Take turns making up a verse and everyone will repeat the verse and the chorus.

For example:

We honor the Creatures in the Water World, we honor the Spirit of Life 

We honor the Sacred White Buffalo, we honor the Spirit of Life 

We honor the gifts of the Sacred Tree, we honor the Spirit of Life.

Be creative and make up as many verses as you want. 

 

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Animal Teachers Cards For Kids (of all ages)

(For Information on Animal Teachers readings, please see readings page.)

The animals are teachers for us; they show us how to live in peace and harmony on the Earth. Each Creature Being was gifted by the Great Mystery with a gift to share with all the other creatures in the Web of Life and a responsibility to work for the good of all.

Here you will find excerpts from a yet unpublished book with 62 Animal Teachers stories and cards to do readings (illustrated by Julie Longhill). Let the Animal Teachers speak to you. Have fun getting to know All Our Relations!

ALL OUR RELATIONS

Did you ever wonder how you came to be here? Have you ever wondered why there are so many animals that live on the Earth?

The answers to these questions are the Great Mystery of life that brings each of us to live on the Earth and connects us all as relations.

A long, very long time ago, before there were any Creature Beings, or even any planets, suns or stars in the Universe, The Great Mystery slept and dreamed a dream.  It was a grand dream that lasted a long time.  While the Great Mystery slept, every planet, sun and star that would ever be a part of the Universe was imagined.  All of the Creature Beings that would ever live on all of those worlds were also imagined in the Great Mystery’s dream. 

The Star People, Cloud People, Wind People, Rain People, Thunder and Lightning People, Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon all began within the Great Mystery’s dream.  The Stone People, Water People, Plant and Tree People, Crawlers, Winged Ones, Four-Leggeds and finally the Two-Leggeds were all a part of Great Mystery’s dream.  All of the places and Creature Beings that the Great Mystery imagined in the dream waited in the Spirit World until it was time for them to be born.

When the Great Mystery awakened, the first planets, suns and stars went through the doorway of the Spirit World and began to dance in the Sky World.  Then, each of the Creature Beings that were to live on those worlds went through the doorway to begin their lives. 

MotherEarth went through the doorway of the Spirit World and then danced in her rotation for a long while before her children came to walk upon the land.  First, Grandfather Sun was born.  He went out to the Sky World to light up the day and then Grandmother Moon followed his path to light up the night.  After Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon were born, the Lightning People, Thunder People, Wind People and Cloud People went through the doorway of the Spirit World.  All of these children surrounded MotherEarth and lived in the Sky World.

The Stone People created land for the rest of MotherEarth’s Children to walk on.  The Water People came to live in the great oceans.  The Standing People, plants and trees, appeared on the land to become food for those that would follow.  Then, the Winged Ones, Crawlers and Four-Leggeds arrived.  Our Two-Legged Ancestors were the last to come into the Earthwalk.  The Great Mystery had dreamed of them all.  At the Council of All Creatures, the Great Mystery gave each species special gifts to allow them to live on the land and be the best that they could be. 

Can you guess which creature beings were given sharp claws or fangs to hunt with?

Do you know who has eyes that can see really far?

Who has eyes that can see in the dark?

You can probably name a few creatures that have warm fur.

Who has scales to keep cool? 

Can you guess who has sensitive ears that can hear sounds very far away?

How many creatures can you name that have feathers?

Do you know who has fins for swimming?
Name some creatures that have shells for protection.

Which creatures can spin silky webs?

Who has hands that can create many wonderful things?

It took a long time for all of MotherEarth’s Children to be born.  When each Creature Being came into the Earthwalk, Grandmother Spider wove it into the Web of Life and connected it with all the other Creature Beings.  The Web of Life is an invisible energy thread that is wrapped around each one of MotherEarth’s Children on the land, in the sea and in the Sky World.  The Web of Life reaches the whole way out to connect all the planets, suns and stars all across the Universe.

Every day, Grandmother Spider weaves the Web of Life around each new baby that is born.  You carry your thread of the Web of Life for as long as you live.  The Web of Life connects all of MotherEarth’s Children.  That makes you a relation with all of the other creature beings that share our planet.  Through the invisible Web of Life, all of your thoughts and actions touch every one of All Our Relations.

You began as a spirit essence within the Great Mystery’s dream and waited in the Spirit World until it was time for you to be born and begin your Earthwalk.  Then your spirit essence went through the doorway of the Spirit World and came all the way down to MotherEarth.  Grandmother Spider wove the Web of Life around you.  You found your mother and were born into a wonderful family, surrounded by a great big Earth Family that is All Our Relations.

Our Two-Legged Ancestors were given special gifts and the responsibility, or job, to take care of MotherEarth and All Our Relations.  Our Ancestors honored the Creature Beings. They watched how the Creature Beings used their special gifts, how they made their homes and what they ate.  When our Ancestors had a problem, or just wanted to know the answer to a question, they often went out and watched All Our Relations.  Sometimes, they spoke with these little sisters and brothers through their thoughts.  The answers were always there.

Since we are Two-Leggeds, we have a responsibility to take care of MotherEarth and All Our Relations.  We take care of All Our Relations by being aware that we all share the same place to live on MotherEarth.  We take care of All Our Relations by treating all of the Creature Beings, Standing People, Water People, Crawlers and Winged Ones as our sisters and brothers.  With good thoughts, good words, good feelings and good actions we can send our love to All Our Relations every day.

 All Our Relations can be teachers for us just as they have been for our Ancestors because they listen to MotherEarth and follow her cycles.  These Animal Teachers can show us a lot about the world that we live in.  All we have to do is watch our little brothers and sisters around us as they dance their dances, make their homes and gather their food.  All we have to do is listen for the songs of All Our Relations, to their soft footsteps on the Earth and their thoughts as they pass by us on the trail. 

All of the animals are teachers for us because they listen to MotherEarth and follow her cycles.  The wisdom that All Our Relations share tells us how to live in peace.  Let them remind us to be the best caretakers of MotherEarth that we can be.

 

 

c.2002, Julie Longhill

c.2002, Julie Longhill

BEE - TIMING

When life began on MotherEarth, the First Ancestors of all Creature Beings came out of the Sacred Cave and swam through the Water World until they reached the Stone People’s land.  The First Ancestors crawled out of the water tired from their long journey.  As they lay resting on the shore, they heard a message from the Stone People.  “A Council of All Creatures is to be held.  Come now.”

The First Ancestors were being called to the top of a great mountain where there was a place for them to sit in a big circle.  The Great Mystery spoke to them through the Stone People.  First, a name was given to each of the First Ancestors so that each species would have an identity.  The sounds of the names were all very beautiful and the First Ancestors were happy that they now had a sound to know each of their Relations by.

Next, each species was given special gifts and abilities to help them live on the Stone People’s Land.  Fur, horns and claws were some of the gifts given to the Four-Leggeds.  Fins, flippers, shells and pincers were among the gifts given to the Water People.  The Winged Ones received beaks, feathers, and bones that are light enough to fly in the air.  Scales, fangs and tails that can grow again if they break off were given to the Crawlers.  The Insects received antennae, stingers and the ability to spin webs.  Finally, the Two-Leggeds were given creative thoughts and hands that could move in many ways to make whatever they envisioned. 

The gifts given to the First Ancestors of each species still help them to live and survive on the Earth.  Look at All Our Relations around you and see if you can name the gifts that their First Ancestors were given at the Council of All Creatures.

There was a place in the circle at the Council of All Creatures for all MotherEarth’s children.  Besides a name and a gift, each of the First Ancestors was also given a responsibility so that living could be orderly.  The responsibility is the job that each species performs.  Every species in the Web of Life has a job and each job is very important for the survival of all creatures.

The bees were very happy to be named Bee.  They danced a bee dance together and then went out to make their hive.  As they worked together, the bees shared their gift of timing.  Bees live and work in a community.  Each individual bee has a job and a sense of timing that works with all the other bees in the hive. 

Bee knows the right time and place to gather honey.  Bee scouts fly in all directions to find the best flowers and then return to the hive.  When all the bees return, they dance a rhythm that tells the other bees where they found honey.  The bees will dance until the rest of the hive knows what each bee has found.  The bees understand each other through the timing of their movements.  They respond to each other’s dances by dancing again.  When all of the bees have agreed, they will visit the flowers in the chosen location. 

Pollen from the flowers sticks to Bee’s sticky legs as she goes from one flower to another collecting honey.  This is how Bee participates in the timing of the seasons, for through this dance she pollinates the flowers so that seeds will form and new flowers will eventually grow.  The rhythm of timing that Bee dances is the rhythm of life.

Bee’s dance of timing is very important for it ensures that there will be flowers next spring.  The result of Bee’s labor is golden honey, sweet and delicious.  The next time you enjoy honey on your toast, take a moment to thank Bee for doing her job.  When you smell beautiful flowers, remember that Bee has done her part so they could grow.  If you see Bee at work, honor her dance of timing by staying very still or you may feel the sting that tells you “not now!”

Bee teaches that there is a time to work and a time to rest.  If you are putting a lot of effort into a project and nothing is happening, perhaps you need to stop for awhile, rethink your plans and begin again later.  Listen within to feel when the timing is right.  Look at your dance, your movements, and see if you are acting with enthusiasm or if you are tired and unmotivated.  Look at the relationship you have with others.  Consider alternative ways to get what you are after.  Be patient, try again and you will find your way right to the honey!

c. 2002 Julie Longhill

c. 2002 Julie Longhill

BUFFALO - SACRED GIVE-AWAY

Great herds of buffalo once roamed this land.  They provided food and many other necessities for the Two-Leggeds survival.  After the buffalo was skinned and the meat prepared, the Two-Leggeds used the thick buffalo hides to cover their lodges and make warm robes to wear in the winter.  From the bones, the Two-Leggeds made tools, like knives for cutting and scraping, needles for sewing and plows for breaking up the soil.  The Two-Leggeds recognized that the buffalo was a sacred gift from the Great Mystery and they honored the buffalo by using every part of this give-away so that it would not be wasted. 

Besides giving the two-leggeds food, clothing, shelter and tools, Buffalo gave his very spirit to the people.  Many years ago, the White Buffalo Calf Woman appeared and gave the Lakota Nation the sacred pipe and it’s honoring ceremonies.  When she left the people, the White Buffalo Calf Woman said she would return and then she turned into a white buffalo running with the herd. 

The ancient prophecies or visions of the future, of many Native American nations have foretold of a time when the White Buffalo would return to the people.  In August of 1997, a white buffalo calf named Miracle was born.  Since that time, other white buffalo calves have been born.  Now that the prophecy has come to be, the White Buffalo calls the people of all nations to join hands and live together in peace and harmony.

Let the spirit of the White Buffalo guide your good thoughts, good feelings, good words and good actions.  Remember that all Two-Leggeds everywhere are your family.  Everyone you meet is your sister or brother.  Throw away those feelings that separate you from your neighbor and replace them with love and acceptance.  Say a kind word to everyone you meet.  Do what you can to help others in need.  Reach out your hand to connect the Circle of All Nations dancing around the Sacred Tree.  Buffalo has given his very body and spirit for the survival of all nations, now the White Buffalo Calf calls the Two-Leggeds to join their hands for the survival of all Nations.

Buffalo lives each moment in gratitude.  This Animal Teacher gives us the Give-Away Ceremony that shows our appreciation by giving what we have to others.  Buffalo gives his very spirit and body away to All Our Relations.  Buffalo’s example shows us that what is given away always returns.  When we make a space by giving away our favorite things, that space always fills back up with other things even more special than those we have passed on. 

It is hard to think of giving away something that you like a lot.  Two-Leggeds become very attached to the things they own.  But when you give something to someone who is in need, his or her gratitude fills you up and your spirit essence grows.  Later, when you need something, the Great Mystery gives you what you need and maybe even a few surprises along the way.

The Give-Away Ceremony is done to thank the Great Mystery for the abundance we have and to thank others for helping us.  The family hosting the Give-Away Ceremony prepares a big meal to feed everyone in the clan.  After everyone is finished eating, the family gives away all of their possessions, keeping only some personal sacred objects and survival necessities.  Great joy fills the hearts of this family as they gift their special belongings to all of their neighbors.  Among Native American nations that practiced the Give-Away Ceremony, wealth was determined not by how much you had, but by how much you gave to others.

Abundance means trusting that when you need something it will be there for you.  Buffalo teaches that you always have more than enough to fill your needs if you share your gifts with All Our Relations.  If you try to keep your gifts to yourself and not share them, you stop new things from coming into your life and then you will have times when you do not have everything you need.  The more you give away, the more you will receive.

Thank Buffalo for sharing the sacred Give-Away Ceremony.  Give someone a gift every day; even if it is only a smile or a hug, and feel your heart fill with the joy of sharing.


c. 2002 Julie Longhill

c. 2002 Julie Longhill

CONDOR - HONORING OUR RELATIONS

In South America, the condor is the highest flyer that takes the thoughts and prayers of the people out to the Great Mystery.  The condor is the largest bird that can fly through the sky.  This great winged one can measure over nine feet wide with outstretched wings.  That’s wider than your father is tall!

The message of Condor is honor.  As Condor flies through the Sky World, he can see all of the Creature Beings, Standing People, Stone People and Two-Leggeds below.  He knows every thought and action and how your thoughts and actions affect All Our Relations in the Web of Life.  Condor can see the love and peace that is shared when we are kind and caring for others.  Condor can also see the pain and confusion that All Our Relations feel when we are angry, violent and inconsiderate with others.  Because we are all connected within the Web of Life, it’s best to keep your thoughts and actions to those you wish to pass along.

Condor also speaks about permanence.  Once there were many condors that flew through the sky in both North and South America.  That number has been greatly reduced in the last fifty years.  The impact of the Two-Leggeds, by cutting down the forests, building cities and polluting the air, earth and water have threatened the lives of the condor and many other species in both North and South America.

Many of Our Relations have already become extinct.  That means that that entire species has died out.  There will never be any more of these creatures with us on the Earthwalk.  The condor and many other species are now endangered.  That means that there are very few of these creature beings left.  When you hear that a species is endangered, you are being asked to honor that Creature Being and do whatever you can to help these Relations survive and stay on the Earth.  Once they are gone, Our Relations can never return.  Extinction is forever.

Just as some of Our Relations have become extinct, wisdom and knowledge can be lost forever.  Our Two-Legged Ancestors knew a lot more about living in harmony with MotherEarth and All Our Relations than we know today.  Our First Ancestors could speak the universal language with the Stone People, trees and plants, and the Animal Teachers.  Our First Ancestors knew how to use their survival instincts and to create the future through envisioning good thoughts.  They saved their wisdom as stories and songs and shared them around the fires at night.  Some of these stories and songs have been passed down through the generations from our Ancestors to us along with stone carvings and gold pieces that they might have used in ceremony.  Our Ancestor’s knowledge of how to make gourd bowls, pottery and other things were also passed down as well as how to build simple structures from bamboo and banana leaves and how to use long spears for fishing.

The stories were told and retold.  The songs forgotten and much of the wisdom and knowledge of our Ancestors have been lost.  We can go to a museum and see many things that have been dug up where ancient people once lived.  But few of even our wisest scholars know the stories and songs that guided our Ancestors or how to use some of the tools that shaped their lives. 

A little bit more of our Ancestor’s wisdom and stories are lost with each new generation.  Within the past hundred years, fewer children wanted to know the ways that our ancestors lived.  They all looked towards new ways and felt that the stories were old-fashioned.  The modern way of life did not include gourd bowls, spears for fishing or bamboo huts.  So, the children were not interested in listening to the stories of the Elders.  But, the stories tell of the Web of Life and the Great Mystery that makes us all family.  If the Two-Leggeds forget this wisdom, we will forget the ways of living in harmony with MotherEarth and the Two-Leggeds will become an endangered species. 

Much of the wisdom and knowledge has been lost when the Elders pass back into the Spirit World.  But many Elders still have the knowledge of some of the crafts that our ancestors used.  Some Elders have mighty interesting stories to tell and teachings to share.  These old people still live in our neighborhoods and wait for someone interested enough to listen to what they have to say.  The next time you meet an Elder, ask what stories they remember and you may be surprised at what you find out.  If we honor our Elders, we can have the wisdom and knowledge to lead us into the future.

Condor’s message is to be mindful of All Our Relations with every thought and action.  Honor All Our Relations and be grateful that they are here sharing the Earth with us.  Each one of Our Relations has a purpose and is important to all of the other Creature Beings living on MotherEarth.  Even those Creature Beings that are scary, or that we don’t like, are very special and have unique gifts to share.  If even one of these Creature Beings, or Plant People or Tree People become extinct, the entire Earth Family suffers because they are no longer a part of the Web of Life. 

Every one of our thoughts and actions are permanent.  It is up to each one of us to honor All Our Relations every day.  It is up to each one of us to remember the wisdom of our Ancestors.  We cannot change the past.  But there are new possibilities that come with every day.  Condor calls us to look beyond where we stand and see the grandness of the Web of Life.  Condor asks us to celebrate and be grateful for each and every one of All Our Relations.  Condor reminds us that, with every thought and every action, we create the future for ourselves, All Our Relations and our Grandchildren that will live after we are gone.

c. 2002 Julie Longhill

c. 2002 Julie Longhill

DOLPHIN - SACRED BREATH OF LIFE

Dolphins are mammals like us.  Although they live in the sea and spend most of their time underwater, dolphins must breathe air like we do to survive.  Dolphins have a special rhythm to their swimming, breathing at the waters surface, diving to the ocean floor to find fish to eat and then returning to the surface to splash the water out of their blowholes and take another breath of air.  This water dance of the dolphin teaches us about the Sacred Breath of Life.

We call the breath of life sacred because it keeps us alive.  The Sacred Breath of Lfe awakened the spirit essence in your physical body when you were born.  With that first breath, you became aware of who you are and why you are here on the Earthwalk.  As soon as you were able to breathe, you reached out to communicate with others through your voice.  Your first breath announced to the world that you were alive.  You will continue breathing the Sacred Breath of Life until your Earthwalk is finished.  When you stop breathing, your spirit essence will not be able to stay in your physical body.  Your Earthwalk will be over and your spirit essence will return to the Spirit World.

You don’t have to remember to take a breath. Your body breathes without your thinking about it. If you are five years old, you have already taken millions of breaths!  You share the Sacred Breath of Life when you laugh, speak and sing.  You could also share the Sacred Breath of Life by playing beautiful music on a flute or diving and swimming underwater like Dolphin.  Through all of the activities you do, even work and play, you share the Sacred Breath of Life with All of Our Relations.

The rhythm of your breathing changes the way you feel.  Quick, deep breaths can make you tense and ready to run a race.  That’s how your body prepares when you hear the words, “Ready, set, go!”  When you are afraid, your breathing may become very fast and shallow and it will make your heart beat fast.  That’s when you hear a strange sound at night and feel your heart beating way up in your throat.  When you get angry, holding your breath will turn your face red and you may feel like you are going to explode.  It’s a good idea when you are afraid or upset to stop thinking for a minute and take five very slow, deep breaths.  Slow deep breaths will make you feel calm again or relaxed and ready to go to sleep. 

Breathing is one of the qualities of being alive.  None of MotherEarth’s children could live without breathing.  We need the food and water given to us by MotherEarth to stay alive as well as the sunshine and air sent down to us by FatherSky.  If one of these gifts were taken away, we would die.

FatherSky gives his gifts unconditionally.  That means that he gives his light and air equally to all Creature Beings on the Earth.  The air that you breathe is the same air that has surrounded MotherEarth since she began her rotation as part of the Great Mystery’s dream a long time ago.  Air is constantly inhaled, or breathed in, by MotherEarth’s Children.  After one of MotherEarth’s Children exhales, or breathes out, the air is inhaled, or breathed in by others. 

Take a big breath and know that this is the same air that the dinosaurs breathed long, long ago.  Take another big breath and know that this air you are breathing has once been the Sacred Breath of Life for people and animals that live on the other side of the world.  The air that you breathe today will be also shared with your great grandchildren far into the future.  When you exhale, the plants and trees gratefully wait to receive the air from your breath.  When they breathe, the standing people recycle the air so that the Two-Leggeds and Creature Beings can breathe again.  All Our Relations in the Web of Life share the Sacred Breath of Life.  Without the circle of sharing the sacred breath of life, the air would not continually be available.

Dolphin invites you to put on your swimsuit and jump in the water.  Be sure to splash and kick.  Roll over and tumble.  Hold your breath and dive under the waves.  Then come back up and breathe deeply while you float on top of the water.  Feel the rhythm of your breathing.  Play like a baby dolphin and have fun with the water.  Call Dolphin to guide you as you swim to the depths.  Learn Dolphin’s water dance.  Sing out to the Water World as you swim like Dolphin, celebrating every moment of life.

Dolphin reminds you to take time to share the Sacred Breath of Life with All Our Relations.  Do a ceremony to honor the Sacred Breath of Life each morning.  Before you get out of bed, take a big breath.  Put your rainbow into your breath by imagining all the colors swirling around the air inside your body.  When you exhale, send that rainbow out to touch All of Our Relations through the Sacred Breath of Life that they will share with you this day. 

When things get hard, stop for a moment and do another ceremony to honor the Sacred Breath of Life.  Walk away from the activity you are involved in and find a quiet place.  Put your hands on your center right above your waist, your left hand first and right hand on top.  Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose. 

Feel the Sacred Breath of Life flowing down your arms and legs, going all the way down to the tips of your toes.  Let the sacred breath of life fill you up with good energy.  Watch your energy sparkle and shine!  Take as long as you need to let the Sacred Breath of Life flow through your body.

When you are all filled up with the Sacred Breath of Life, let it come back out through your mouth.  Blow it out fast like a dolphin blowing through his blowhole.  Take five big dolphin-breaths, letting the Sacred Breath of Life flow through you and sparkle your energy.  Whatever was so hard will be easier to deal with now that you are filled up with the Sacred Breath of Life.

Let the Sacred Breath of Life take away your pain, frustration or anger.  Keep the good energy and good feeling that FatherSky sends with the Sacred Breath of Life.  Thank Dolphin for sharing the ceremony to honor the Sacred Breath of Life.


c. 2002 Julie Longhill

c. 2002 Julie Longhill

PARROT - INSPIRATION

Use a magic feather and it will bring

A poem to say or a song to sing.

Dance a dance and pretend to fly

Like a green sky parrot gliding by.

Land in a tree and fold your wings.

Ask for inspiration. See what it brings.

Write a scary story. Tell a funny tale,

All the words will come to you without fail.

Paint a pretty picture or make lunch today,

Mold a tiny little pot out of clay,

Weave a melon basket out of long brown reeds,

Or plant a leafy garden with a rake and some seeds.

Parrot will inspire your creativity,

To help you imagine what could be,

And make beautiful things for your friends to see.

Parrot calls you to celebrate your being through communicating and creating.  Go for a walk, watch a colorful sunset or listen to the song of the ocean.  Sit at your favorite place and think or watch All Our Relations at work and play.  Turn on your imagination.  Listen to the sounds around you and let words come into your head.  Look at the colors and movement of life and let them make patterns in your mind.  Hold a stone, listen with your heart and then dance your feelings.

This Animal Teacher tells you to let the world be your inspiration and then write, sing, paint, draw, mold and weave your feelings about MotherEarth and All Our Relations.  Open up your mind and let the ideas flow.  What do you want to create?  Gather your artistic materials together and then make an image to show your feelings and inspirations.  Your work adds yet another thing of beauty to the world.  Share it with your family and friends.

Ideas and inspirations are around us all of the time. Parrot teaches us how to use feathers to catch ideas and inspirations.  Take a long feather from any Winged One and hold it at your navel pointing upwards towards your face.  Remain quiet and still for a few minutes and notice what thoughts and images come into your mind.  How can you use these ideas?  How can you create from these inspirations?

 Wrap a string around the quill of a small feather and tie it onto your pencil, paintbrush, drum or guitar.  The feather catches creative ideas.  You can wear a feather in your hair or put a bouquet of feathers on your desk to help you get creative or to receive ideas for finishing your homework.  Any time you need inspiration, pick up a feather and hold it.  The ideas will start to flow into your thoughts.  Be patient with your ideas and open to new ways of thinking and doing things.  Your inspirations will tell you how to create beautiful things and teach you much in the process.

 If you find that the ideas aren’t there and your thoughts are closed, cleanse your energy with a feather.  Take a long feather and wave it in the air a few times before you begin.  Start above your head and draw the energy all the way down through your feet and back into the Earth.  Go the whole way around your body, drawing the energy of your back, arms, legs, head and chest down into the Earth.  Then, wave the feather again to ‘shake out’ the energy you just released.

Now, start at your feet and use the feather to draw energy up from the Earth into your body.  Draw energy up through your feet and legs, chest and arms, your back and head.  Do you feel different now?  Point the tip of the feather at your head and begin to “fluff up” your energy.  Use short, quick movements away from and back towards your body.  Fluff up the energy all around your body from your head to your toes.  You should feel fresh and tingly and ready to explore new ideas.

Parrot asks you to remember your rainbow and use it when you create.  Every person brings a rainbow, a song and a dance with him or her when they come from the Spirit World to the Earthwalk.  You can share your spirit essence with All Our Relations through the colors of your rainbow.  Your rainbow will make your creations unique, whether you draw the colors onto your creation or simply think about your rainbow while you work.

There are thousands of colors in the Universe.  Which ones are special for you?  To draw your rainbow, you will need a big box of crayons and a piece of white paper.  Lay the crayons out on a table and think about all the possibilities.  Which color is your favorite?  This should be the color that makes you feel the happiest.  Start drawing your rainbow with this color.  Then, pick another color that you really like and add that to your rainbow.  Use whatever colors you are most drawn to.  Add one color at a time until your rainbow has seven colors. 

Now, you have a picture of your personal rainbow.  Hang it in your room so that you can be reminded of how beautiful your spirit essence is.  Use your rainbow to inspire your painting and drawing.  Let Whale help you remember your song and use this song to create beautiful music.  Follow Grouse to discover your dance and use these movements to create a ballet or a play.

Every time you take an idea and make it into something real using your hands, you honor Parrot.  Be grateful for your talents and the beautiful gifts that you can make and share with others.  Thank Parrot for teaching you how to use feathers for inspiration and healing.  Send your rainbow out to greet others every day.  Celebrate each day by creating beautiful things and sharing them with others.

c. 2002 Julie Longhill

c. 2002 Julie Longhill

SNAKE - EARTH HONORING

Snake is the symbol of MotherEarth for many Central American people.  Perhaps this is because Snake walks so close to the Earth that she knows all of Our Mother‘s secrets. 

In the planting ceremonies of the Taino people, tall sticks were used to make openings in the soil where the Sacred Foods—corn, beans, squash and cassava—were planted.  When the planting time was finished, the sticks were soaked in water to make them flexible and then each stick was wound into a circular shape to represent a snake biting her tail.  These stick “snakes” were carved and decorated with symbols that tell the creation story.  Then they were used in ceremonies to honor the cycles and seasons of MotherEarth.  The stick snakes were so important to the Taino people that they also carved them out of stone.  Special bamboo huts were used as homes for the stone snakes.  The people often went to the huts and honored the stone snakes as symbols of MotherEarth.

The round shape of the snake biting her tail represents MotherEarth and is the symbol of life.  Like the circle, MotherEarth has no beginning or end.  Our Mother, the Earth was here long before we were.  She has many children who are All Our Relations that we see around us.  MotherEarth takes care of them all.  Everything we need is all around us, gifts of MotherEarth for her children’s survival.  MotherEarth will continue to be here long after we are gone.  Like the circle, she is infinite.

All life follows the shape of the circle.  The planets, suns and stars rotate in a circular dance in the Universe.  Trees and plants sprout from round seeds.  Many creatures are born from circular shaped eggs.  Animals make their nests in a circle.  Trees grow in a circle and their rings reflect this shape of life.  Stones, clouds, and the shape made by the whirlwinds that rearrange life are all circular.  If you look around, you can find circles in the natural world all around you.

The seasons go around and around, like a circle following the patterns of growth.  Seeds sprout, grow tall and create flowers and fruit.  Then the flowers and fruit drop their seeds back to the ground, where they get covered with soil and rest until the light of Grandfather Sun and the gift of rain coax them to break open and send up sprouts that grow into new plants.  All of the cycles of growth follow the circle that represents MotherEarth.

The Taino people celebrate MotherEarth’s cycles on the Spring and Fall Equinoxes when the women dance the Snake Dance.  In this dance, the snake biting her tail is MotherEarth giving the gifts of the Sacred Foods to all of her children.  A woman who represents MotherEarth wears a special blanket and carries the planting staff.  Other women stand around MotherEarth in a circle, each holding a long piece of rope.  The women sing a special song and dance until the rope is wound into a long cord. 

While they sing and dance, the women weave their prayers for health and abundance into the rope.  The women also weave their gratitude for the gifts that MotherEarth gives to us.  When the rope snake is finished, all of the woman hold onto it and dance the winding slither of the snake, lead by MotherEarth.  Through this special dance, the women make sure that MotherEarth will continue to provide her gifts of life for all the people.

Did you know that snakes are the only Animal Teachers that touch MotherEarth with almost half of their body when they slither along?  Snake honors MotherEarth through her constant connection with the ground.  It’s almost as if Snake is giving MotherEarth a hug with every step of her Earthwalk.

 Lie down on your belly on MotherEarth and feel her strength and energy underneath you.  Take a few deep breaths and let your body relax until you feel strong inside and full of MotherEarth’s good energy.

Now, slowly begin to slither like Snake, hugging MotherEarth as you go.  (Remember that snakes don’t have hands, so see if you can slither without using your hands.)

When you get tired, curl up into a circle with your tail in your mouth and take a rest.  Think about all the gifts of MotherEarth and All Our Relations connected within the Web of Life.

Uh Oh!  Something new is happening. Snake is about to shed her skin and so are you.  What have you outgrown or finished with in your life?  Be grateful for your lesson and give it back to MotherEarth now.  Let you old skin, your old self, slip away. 

Watch Snake shed her skin.  Underneath is a shiny new skin, just the right size.  After you let go of your lesson, you will find a new you, a little stronger and wiser and ready to meet new challenges. 

 You can make a small Medicine Bundle to symbolize the give-away of shedding your old skin.  You will need a tissue, a piece of string and an object to represent your give-away.  If you are shedding some angry or unkind thoughts, you could use a feather.  Shedding a bad habit can be represented with a leaf.  Use a flower to symbolize letting go of a connection with someone else.  If you are shedding a limitation that will keep you from growing, such as the attitude “it won’t happen for me”, put a seed in your bundle, shed your thought and let your potential start to grow.  Spend some time thinking about what you are ready to shed and you will find the right object to use.

Hold the object in your left hand and cover it with your right hand.  Think about what you want to let go of and speak your thoughts out loud into the object you have chosen.  For example, “I am finished with being jealous of Susie.”  Put all of that energy into the object and say “good-bye.” 

Then, lay it on the tissue and tie your object and the tissue into a small bundle with the string.  Here is your shed skin.  Bury it in the ground or leave it under some leaves or up in a crook of a tree where Snake leaves her old skin behind when it slips off.  Walk away and forget about the thing you gave-away.  Don’t look back at the way things were.  Enjoy the new you.

Thank Snake and for helping you shed your old self.  See how beautiful you are underneath.  Share your beauty with everyone you meet.

c. 2002 Julie Longhill

c. 2002 Julie Longhill

WOLF - SHARING

Wolf is howling in the night,

Singing to Grandmother Moon so bright,

Calling us to listen within,

The journey is about to begin.

MotherEarth has journeyed through four worlds.  The First World began when water came rushing out of MotherEarth’s Sacred Cave.  Great stone giants rose up out of the water and formed the Stone People’s Land so that all of the First Ancestors would have a place to walk.  Grandfather Sun brought the light of life down to awaken all of the first ancestors who were dreaming inside the Sacred Cave.  But the intense light of Grandfather Sun eventually overheated MotherEarth and she began to shift and change.

When the shifting was over, the Second World began. The First Ancestors left the Sacred Cave and swam out to the Stone People’s Land.  The Council of All Creatures was called, where all of the First Ancestors were given special gifts and survival skills.  Then, each Creature Being went out to make a home on the Stone People’s Land.

The wolves journeyed way up on the high mountains.  They separated and went out on their own to make their homes.  For a long time, the wolves lived this way.  They had many children who also went out to live by themselves.  The Second World was dark and very cold.  Grandmother Moon’s light shimmered softly in the dark sky.  The wolves blazed a trail by the light of Grandmother Moon.  But they were cold and lonely.  The loneliness in their hearts grew. 

One night, one wolf raised her head up to look at Grandmother Moon and her feelings came up and out of her throat.  She began to howl.  Before long, she was answered by another howl.  Then, other wolves answered her call.  This wolf chorus was the first time that the Universal Language was spoken on Earth.  The wolves found each other and began to bond together.  Families of wolves would now live together as packs.  The wolves learned that sharing would keep their packs together and make sure that they each had everything they needed. 

From that time on, wolves lived together as a family.  They shared everything.  The pack slept together and shared warmth so that none of the wolves were cold again.  The wolves hunted together and ate together.  They howled at the moon together.  All of the wolves in the pack helped take care of the pups until they could survive on their own.  The wolves held council to make decisions so that all voices were heard.  They even learned to think together as one mind.

Wolf teaches us to share what we have with others.  When everyone shares what she or he has, then there is enough to go around and abundance flows.  It is wasteful to keep more than you need.  When you share, you make a space in your life that fills back up with new things.

Who is in your pack?  Wolf calls us to appreciate our family connections.  Your family can be your mother and father, and also includes an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins or close friends that live with you or share your life.  We are all a part of the Earth Family, all children of MotherEarth.

When wolves hunt, they communicate with their thoughts and never make a sound as the pack moves together to surround and bring down a deer.  This is because a wolf pack has a sense of intuition that allows them to think with one mind.  Wolf can teach us to go beyond words and listen to another’s thoughts and feelings when we are communicating with them.

Wolf calls you to share your thoughts and feelings with others.  Speak your feelings to others in a positive way.  Let them know you care.  If things aren’t going right, give others an idea of what you think would make things better.  Wolf talk is never criticizing or angry because Wolf knows that she shares the thoughts of the entire family.  If Wolf says an unkind or hurtful word, it will come back to her as well. 

Make a Talking Stick and have a council to share your thoughts and feelings with your pack.  Find a stick, about an inch around and cut it to about 12 inches long.  Decorate it with your colors, symbols that are important for you, and feathers, shells, fur and other objects to represent All Our Relations.  Don’t worry about putting too many things on your Talking Stick for they will inspire good thoughts and many stories. 

Call your pack together in a circle and pass around the Talking Stick.  There is only one rule.  You can only talk when you have the Talking Stick and you must listen and not interrupt while others are talking.  This rule makes sure that everyone will be able to share.  Use a timer so that each person has the same amount of time to speak.  Thank each person for sharing his or her thoughts and feelings.

Earth changes are happening again.  The Children of MotherEarth have left the Fourth World where people lived separately.  We now live in the Fifth World where harmony is created through thinking as one mind.  Wolf calls us to remember our Earth Family and to share with All Our Relations in everything we do.  When we share our thoughts, the circle of hands from all clans, tribes and nations will join together around the Sacred Tree.  Be grateful to Wolf for giving us the teachings of sharing that will help us think with one mind.

c. 2002 Julie Longhill

c. 2002 Julie Longhill

WOODPECKER - LANGUAGE OF HONORING

A long time ago, when our First Ancestors journeyed out into the four directions to make their homes, a little woodpecker lived in a forest.  Life was very different in those days.  The Creature Beings and Two-Leggeds did not know how to make sounds.  All of the Creature Beings spoke within their minds and hearts.  There was no fear.  Winged ones and tiny Crawlers, fierce Four-Leggeds and Two-Leggeds all lived together as relations and spoke the Language of the Heart.

Woodpecker however, listened to the Thunder People speak and realized that there was more to exchange with All Our Relations than just feelings.  The little woodpecker felt the Thunder People’s song in his heart and knew that they were honoring the Sacred Tree.  Woodpecker wanted to honor the Sacred Tree too, so he flew over to the Elder Guardian Tree and tapped his beak on its trunk.  No sound came. 

The Guardian Tree spoke to the little bird, sharing that the fire from the Lightning People was created with the give-aways from the Tree People.  Within those same give-aways of the trees, the sound of the Thunder People could also be heard.

Quickly, Woodpecker flew down to some hollow tree trunks that were lying nearby on the ground and began to tap.  What a beautiful sound he made!  Soon, Woodpecker learned a language that sounded like the voice of the Thunder People, yet followed the heartbeat rhythm of MotherEarth. 

Some of the Two-Leggeds heard Woodpecker’s music and came closer to see what was going on.  Woodpecker was so enthusiastic with his drumming that one of the young men picked up a stick and began to speak this language too.  This is how Woodpecker taught the Two-Leggeds the Language of Honoring, which is the voice of the Thunder People that speaks through the drum.

Tap, tap, tap.  Woodpecker’s song can be heard in the woods and also in your backyard.  Do you think Woodpecker is looking for breakfast in a dead tree full of worms?  Calling to a friend?  Or is Woodpecker teaching us about the cycles of MotherEarth and FatherSky?   Whatever his message, Woodpeckers rhythmic tapping reminds us stop and honor All Our Relations.

The first drums were hollow logs. Our Ancestors used drums to send messages to the people.  When the hunters returned from the hunt, or when visitors arrived or council was about to begin, the drummers would beat loudly on the drums.  Wherever the people were, they would hear the drums and come to gather.  Our Ancestors also used different rhythms of drumbeats to send messages to nearby tribes, often warning them of danger.

Most importantly the drum beats the rhythm of MotherEarth’s heartbeat, reminding us that we are all Relations.  Listen to the rhythm of the drum.  Listen to the heartbeat of MotherEarth under your feet.  Let your feet move with the heartbeat and remember how to walk gently on the Earth.  Dance with the drum and you will find that your own heartbeat is the same as the heartbeat of MotherEarth.

The drum is still the rhythm that holds our councils together.  At the opening ceremony, the heartbeat rhythm is started and then the beater is passed from person to person throughout the entire time that the council is held.  We wake up hearing the drumbeat and listen to it throughout the day as our Elders speak and while we laugh and dance with our friends. At night the drumbeat sends us to sleep.  When the council ends and the drum is put to rest, each person carries the rhythm of the council drum within their heart as they go on their way.

The drumbeat holds our ceremony circles together as we sing the songs of honoring MotherEarth and FatherSky.  The drum also calls the people to join the sacred circle and dance at our powwows.  It is an honor to be a drummer and keep the rhythm and songs for the people.

If you find a hollow log, a big piece of bamboo or even an empty oatmeal box, you can make a drum.  Take off both of the ends (and the bark if you use a log), lay your log, bamboo or oatmeal box sideways and find a stick that sounds good when you tap it on the side of your drum.  Pretend like you are Woodpecker.  Tap the rhythm of your heartbeat.  Tap the voice of the Thunder People.  Experiment with different rhythms and see how they make you feel.  If you were a woodpecker, what would you be saying?

When your friends comes to visit, make more drums or get sticks to tap together and sound out Woodpeckers rhythm.  Then, you can tap out a song and your friends can tap out an answer.  Have fun making your own tapping language.  Thank Woodpecker for teaching the Language of Honoring to our First Ancestors.