Friday, December 18, 2015

Happy Solstice 2015

With the approach of the Winter Solstice coming up this weekend, I’ve been reviewing the last year and envisioning the next…  One of the most repetitive questions when it comes to Shamanism or traditional Spirituality is “why do you celebrate the Equinox and Solstice? And what do these celebrations mean to you?” Every year I give similar answers; but since Shamanism relates very much to experience, my perspectives always seem to come from a very particular context.

As most of you know the Winter Solstice relates to the “longest night of the year.”  When we celebrate the Winter Solstice we are actually standing in “the darkest moment of the year.”  18 years ago give or take a year GĂ©rard and I spent time with some Huron friends during the Winter Solstice.  As with many traditional First Nation people it is custom to have elders tell stories during festivities.  At this celebration some of the stories that were shared spoke of famine as a common occurrence for Huron ancestors during the darkest time of the year (winter solstice).  What I found most remarkable through these stories was how these people had to find strength and faith to survive their ordeals.  Dark moments in our lives often reveal the most surprising light in each of us. 

EC a Passamaquoddy friend and teacher of mine once shared that “she adopted the ritual of fasting during the Winter Solstice” because it allowed her to truly understand what it means to “be empty.”  For her the Winter Solstice meant, “looking at the emptiness, loneliness, and darkness” within herself.  Through the years of celebrating this time of year with my First Nation family and friends, I learnt to respect, and truly value “darkness” in my life.  Where most people are eager to rid themselves of darkness or ignore it altogether, I was taught to accept it as a natural occurrence; experience it as I would experience light; and truly give it the “value or worth” it deserves.

In ancient times, many First Nation people did “prayer bundles” especially during the Winter Solstice and hung them in trees.  Prayer amongst traditional people has always implied a communication to Spirit; but also translates a profound communion with Creator and Creation.  It’s not just about “prayer” as a tool or medicine / power, but also about “prayer” as a deep personal experience.  Prayer can represent man’s personal, medicine story if we deliver ourselves to it.  Prayer bundles embody this complete significance of “prayer” and so, when they hang from the trees they are like “stars in the heaven” shining a mysterious potential of light through the darkest of times.

After almost a decade of sharing blog entries with you, I’m sure many of you have a strong idea about “me” and my interests.  Since January 2015 I’ve been incredibly busy with my dogs (beagles).  Murfle my senior dog was diagnosed traditional cell carcinoma (bladder cancer) last year.  We committed to oncology visits and chemotherapy for months and celebrated in August a complete remission.  Unfortunately, in early September Murfle started bleeding from the vulva and revealed another and more aggressive cancer.  She passed away in late September. 
I often refer to 2015 as my “prayer bundle” experience because it seems like every event; every lesson we learnt; and every dark moment delivered us to “some kind of light: Unexpected breakthrough and insight / consciousness.” 

Believe me when I say – “We were incredibly conscious of the dark this past year and very much involved in the notion of “prayer”. “ 

From a cosmological perspective it seemed we were destined to experience “the reality of darkness” since we moved through a few dark moons at the start of the year. What was even more impressive was when we took notice that this year’s Winter Solstice falls on the Full Moon of Omnipotence (as per our Moon calendar and tradition).  Cosmology in 2015 was telling us to “make peace with the dark and come out of it – BRILLIANT!”

We all have guides, teachers, or guardian angels; who show us the way when there are some hard times.  I’ve always been a dog lover; but this last year helped me delete the word “pet” from my vocabulary.  Murfle, Bella, Sunny, Freddy, Stella and now Oliver have been the best of teachers, companions, and even god / goddess presence in my life in 2015. 

In 2009 when the Dark Moon Journey started I told my students “not to approach this time of darkness with fear and apprehension but to embrace it; surrender to it; and have faith in the final outcome.”  I basically invited everyone to believe in the darkness and what it would bring to emergence. 

“Discover yourselves as children of the Dark Goddess,” I often affirmed and even lectured.  A part of me no doubt had an understanding of this statement but it wasn’t empirical until September of 2015 when Murfle died.  Murfle embodied the Dark Goddess in every which way and I didn’t realize until the end – that Murfle claimed me as one of her children.   I had to show her that I wasn’t afraid of the dark…

Through the 49 days of passing, many of us had dreams of Murfle.  Many of them were quite scary and nightmarish.  So much so that some of us were worried.  Again I remember encouraging people to “have faith”. 

“Trust her: Trust the Goddess of Darkness,” I repeated constantly, sometimes not quite convinced myself.

During these 49 days, Murfle guided us to two other dogs (beagles).  Stella and Oliver appeared in our lives and showed us the “outcome at the end of a dark tunnel.”  Stella was particularly important for Sunny, a senior dog that we adopted 5 or 6 years ago after he was abandoned in the woods near our house.  We fed him and took care of him, to eventually adopt him in our community.  IL and her children are his family.  Sunny has never felt completely integrated.  A part of him stayed “judged as useless; rejected and abandoned.”  It’s as if we needed someone or something to reach out to him in the dark and bring him Home. 
Honestly I saw the scene as a Dreamer (of course) and envisioned the scene as the “hand of the Dark Goddess delivering a puppy to us.”  This female beagle pup appeared with a personality to bring any dog home!! J  Sunny who doesn’t do well with new dogs fell in love with Stella.  It was amazing to watch this small, Beagle puppy teach a Senior Golden Retriever how to let go of fear and trust…

Oliver appeared in our lives and became Bella’s new companion after Murfle’s passing.  I really had the feeling that Bella proved herself to the Dark Goddess like many of us; and in return the Goddess was kind and generous.  Oliver appeared with a lot of enthusiasm and affection.  He brought livelihood to Bella and triggered in her some of the wisdom and motherly teachings that Murfle had shown her…  Bella seemed genuinely happy with the puppy and was able to let go of the loss of Murfle.

There’s nothing more difficult than to loose a loved one.  Darkness comes in all kinds of packages: Divorce, illness, death, betrayal, loneliness, fear, etc….  It’s part of life and our incarnation experience to move through darkness and hopefully find some light.  For me 2015 has been one experience over another about “darkness.”  I truly and literally touched all of the “words / experiences” I’ve mentioned in the second sentence of this paragraph.  In the end, I’m left with profound insights and a sense of “prayer” that I never had before.  I see more clearly and I stand in gratitude of not only the results or outcomes of darkness; but especially the journey:  The details that brought us here –  now. 

Happy Winter Solstice to everyone. 
·      To those who stand in the dark – “it’s time to look up at the stars and believe in them.”
·      To those who are journeying towards “prayer” – don’t stop exploring, experiencing and trusting.  The end is worth the journey.
·      And to those who are looking forward to the next frontier – breath in the unknown, and Mystery!  A part of you already knows where all of this will take you.  Sit in the unknown with a sense of all knowing and you’ll bring your circle home….


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Halloween 2015

I’ve never been a fan of horror films; but I always admired my paternal grandmother because not only did she love Halloween and scary movies; but she taught my siblings and me how to deal with fears and tragedy with strength and courage. Because of her unique perspective of Halloween, we received life lessons; which I believe serve us still today.

In most Christian, North American families during the 1970’s Christmas and Easter were the most important celebrations; but in my home Halloween took a life of its own.  These days we spend a lot of time decorating our homes; finding the proper costume; and stocking up on candies for the trick-or-treaters. Yet when I was young I spent every Halloween weekend with my grandparents who had endless stories about ghosts, aliens, demons and monsters; which could rip our souls apart.  Even when it wasn’t Halloween my grandmother shared stories with us about entities; which could rise with the dead and make people’s existence a tragic experience.

It was only once I started studying First Nation traditional stories and hearing them first hand from elder storytellers that I discovered some of my own cultural background.  My grandmother never talked about our family heritage and I never knew as I was growing up that my paternal grandparents were First Nation.  Lets put it this way: My grandmother never said “what we were”; but she constantly shared skills, stories, and personal beliefs; which were handed down to her by her mother and grandmother.  As far as she was concerned we were receiving exactly what we needed to know “who we were and where we came from.”

Throughout my life I often dreamt of an ancestral language, waking up with foreign words, and jotting them down.  In time, with research and luck I was able to identify this language as Micmac, Wabanaki.  In time, with the help of First Nation friends / family I was able to recognize that many of the characters in my dreams, the stories they shared, and the lessons they imparted were related to DNA.  In other words, I didn’t need to be told “who or what I was” – it was all there, in ME!  

It’s the first Halloween where I find myself missing the way of the past. Our World has changed so drastically that we no longer depend on our elders (grandparents) to get a glimpse of ourselves. We definitely explore our cultural backgrounds differently than when I was young.  Ironically these days, it’s almost a “faux pas” to approach a child and ask them about their cultural background.  More and more people believe that “we should be building a new World without cultural differences.”

We have never had more access to information than we do now. Yet what is unfortunate is that we solely depend on technology or search engines to find data. The facts and figures we collect are perceived through the “I”.  Less and less people are willing to accept a perspective that is different than their own.  We are no longer used to the voice of the teacher, or the elder, or the voice of  “gods / goddesses” (a force beyond our own).  It’s our opinion that counts and we can twist any story, or any information to fit what we expect or want.  Our World is not about “truth” or even about “reality” – it is about “fantasy, illusion, and manipulation.” We see this through our use of media, games, and advertisement / consumerism. 

Most students I meet today will ask me: “Can you recommend a book for me to read”.  They don’t have the time nor do they want to give their time away to “listening to me and my story.”  Knowledge in the 21st century needs to be written!

I found through my experience that Oral tradition provided me with a greater, deeper, and more thorough understanding of life, death and dreaming.  It taught me that awareness is made of different perspectives:

·      The perspective coming out of the experience.
·      The perspective given by others.
·      And my own perspective.

Modern men are definitely sedentary people but the fact that we can travel all over the World so easily these days has manifested in a new form the notion of “nomad”.  Here, out east many retirees and elders spend their Summer at home in Montreal; but travel to Florida or Mexico for the Winter.  These customs are no different than how the Iroquois or Wabanaki people used to live.  They may have had a broader sense of the land and a stronger connection to nature but the nomad in them was no different than the nomad in each of us today.  With or without the proper attire for the seasons – our bodies seem to tell us where they need to be or need to go to feel healthy and strong.  We are not realizing that we are repeating ancestral practices because the shapes they are taking almost seem like originals:  New human practices.

When I’m interviewed and asked about Indigenous Dreaming or what people like to refer to as Dream Walking – I’m often asked if “I learnt the skill and the tradition / teachings from my elders?” 

Looking back at my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents along with their children it is clear to me that I’ve inherited my dreaming skills:  Mostly because we all seem to have them. I’m continuing a long legacy of dreaming tradition and inherited skill because I intentionally chose to walk the path; learn everything possible about it; and focus on transmitting it to my children etc…  For me learning from my elders and ancestors is a given; but ironically, it many cases these individuals didn’t even know they were transmitting a dreaming lesson to me.

I learnt as a child that Halloween referred to a point in time mid-way through Fall where the veil between the Worlds was thinner.  During this time characters from different dream realities could be seen, sensed, or heard and in some cases even manifested into realities they didn’t belong in… My grandmother scared us to believe that during this time some of these entities could be dangerous even deadly. Most of the stories my grandmother shared with us gave us lessons about “what not to do” in certain circumstances and how important it always was to be attentive and alert to the smallest of details.  Honestly I never liked Halloween because too much of what she spoke of was incredibly real to me. 

All of us, my siblings and me were sensitive to the thinning of the veil and each of us every year experienced some kind of phenomenal story; which left us believing in the potential horrors of Halloween.  Still, we continue to enjoy this time of year in our own little way.  We celebrate the fact that we don’t have an ordinary “heritage” and that with or without a conscious awareness of the past and our ancestors, we are still connected and in communication. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Basics of the Medicine Wheel.

Lots of people have been asking me to return to the basics with the Medicine Wheel and Indigenous Dreaming.  I’ve been quoted a few times in the last month and each time it’s been about “concentrating on the foundation, in order to solidify the house.” 

One lady said: “I often feel anxious, scared and unsafe; but if I return to the basics and simplify my thoughts and expectations I already realize I can handle anything.” 

We live in a society where everything is about performance, competition, and earning our place / and our salary.  There’s no doubt that having to prove ourselves is a constant source of stress; but it’s more then that…  Who doesn’t want to belong; to be loved; to be “enough”.  Having to fit in a World; which constantly questions who we are; what we can do; and how fast we can do makes it difficult to cultivate the attitudes necessary to feel whole and be happy.  How can we even begin to reach the heights of our dreams if we are constantly and inevitably working against them?

Last winter we discovered that our senior Beagle, Murfle had an aggressive kind of bladder cancer.   Since she was diagnosed is a specialized clinic we were seen immediately by an oncologist who quickly suggested a few treatment options.  At first glance we didn’t think of the money it would cost us.  Love and the fear of loosing her kind-of lead the way.  Fear, moral values and practical thinking were constantly debated during the months; which followed the surgery and then the chemotherapy. 

We constantly asked ourselves the question: “How do we make the decision to stop treatments; to accept cancer; and to choose euthanasia?”

What was incredible about this journey was how our family and friends rallied together and promised one other to be clear and honest about our feelings, our thoughts, and our deep down beliefs. 

The three first elements of the Medicine Wheel: Clarity, knowledge and illumination.

From the very beginning I made up a rule: “It doesn’t matter if we don’t see the same things, the same way and want the same results.  The idea is not to agree but to open up trails and trails of possibilities.” 

On a few occasions when emotions flared some people questioned my “genius”:  “How can it possibly help to have more perspectives then actual solutions and one clear choice?” 

The Medicine Wheel tells us that it’s not the outcome that is important but the journey.  The learning, the healing, the abundance, the beauty, the inter-relations, and the attitudes; which lead to gratitude these are the reasons why we are incarnated.  If we focus on how to manifest our basic desires they inevitably dominate us; but if we “circle around them” like animals do -- we uncover the secret of stepping into them.

If you have ever had a pet, you know that these animals often mirror their owners / masters / or human Alpha.  Contrary to humans animals are rarely selfish and self-indulged.  They please the people they trust and they grow into their basic desires of being loved; belonging; and feeling safe.  What makes them different than humans is that they surrender; and allow themselves to change.  

The second trio of elements on the Medicine Wheel:  Growth, trust and love.

Through watching Murfle in the last year, I realized we (humans) over complicate our lives.  We want to be heard, we want to fit, and we want most of all to be loved but we spend so much time “working at making it happen” that we don’t trust life to actually deliver it.  In the last little while I’ve had too many people tell me that they are giving up and that love, peace, and feeling whole doesn’t exist. 

Murfle was a wounded adult dog when we rescued her.  She was a work dog for a few years; and was abandoned into the dog adoption system moving from one foster home to another because of unfortunate human, life circumstances.  By the time we got her, she was 10 pounds over weight and didn’t trust humans. 

Everyone questioned why I picked her over some of our other options… 

Ironically it was all about Bella then…  We were looking for a companion for our over zealous puppy. The two dogs immediately bonded and in less than a year, something as simple as “playing and running” had skimmed 10 pounds off of Murfle and given her back hope. 

Through the last year, G repeated often the words: “Lets just make Murfle and ourselves HAPPY.”

Here, I was worried about money and about fearing the end.

·      How would she die?
·      Could I make the final decision?
·      How much would she suffer etc…? 

From the very beginning she told me through a dream: “Don’t worry.  I’ll die when it’s my time.  You won’t make the final decision and you’ve already taken away the suffering.” 

It took living the journey all the way to the end to believe in the dream.  Murfle brought me back to the basics and reminded me to listen to myself; to listen to the Universe; and to listen to the Wheel.  She taught me to “let go of fears, worries, anxieties.”  She gave me a glance into the Sacred Circle and showed me that through change there’s always renewal. 

The last elements of the Medicine Wheel: Renewal, purification and wisdom.

Murfle died September 26th, 2015.  She didn’t die of bladder cancer.  The surgery and the treatments actually worked; and she was in complete remission.  Instead, she died of internal bleeding due to a vulva cancer nobody saw until it was too late.  She didn’t suffer.  None of us had to make any tough decisions and she passed at the happiest point of her life.  It was one of those bittersweet moments where “you’re glad and your pissed all at once! LOL

Our minds create all kinds of stories and scenarios with the assistance of our aching and wanting hearts; but what if our hearts were synchronized to the rhythm of the Wheel and feeding our minds an infinite amount of possibilities?  The journey literally brings all the pieces together and if we can get the mind to listen to the heart; and the heart to listen to the Wheel / the dreaming / the Cosmos we inevitably grow, and mature allowing our basic desires to find HOME. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Grandmother Lodge

I’ve been hosting Moonlodges in the Montreal area for more than 25 years.  In the last 15 years, I’ve helped matriarchs from Europe, the U.S., and other Provinces of Canada start up their own Moonlodge Circles.   It’s been an incredible journey for women in the last century.  We’ve come a long way when it comes to healing and empowerment. 

On Saturday we celebrated the 1st Moon of the year, 2015 according to a Blue Moon calendar.  On our Medicine Wheel this 1st Moon is called the “Moon of Welcome” and refers to the 1st steps we take into a new season (birth / infancy, adolescence, adulthood and the elder phase).  Every year brings forth a different perspective of the 13 moons based on our personal story, as well as the cosmological, natural and human influences. 

I don’t think anyone will argue with me when I say: “2015 triggered challenges; which absolutely demanded our full attention.”  It’s not every year that we get blessed with “two dark moons.”  It seems planetary alignments and cosmological influences brought forth climate changes and environmental realities; which stripped us of all kinds of illusions. By Spring of 2015 – it was clear to pretty much everyone that we had suddenly stepped over a threshold and that life as we knew it was ending. 

It was important to me, and “our community” to truly anchor this “awareness”. 

We spent most of the Blue Moon exploring the idea of “what does it mean to be entering the 6th World?”  It seemed like every day we brought up topics about the environment; about society; about human behaviour; and even about science and technology; which deals with extinction and change.  I believe that by the Full Moon it became clear: “It is time to adopt new attitudes and new ways if we want to survive this new World.”  On the other hand, there is no ignoring the fact that animals are disappearing; the climate is more volatile; earthquakes are changing the face of the planet and even humans are “crying out for new visions”.  

The Moon of Welcome is speaking to us about “transitions”.  It’s not just about building tomorrow, it’s also about looking back at yesterday and contemplating over what is staying and what is disappearing or leaving (depending on your beliefs).  In honour of this perspective “our community” decided to let go of the Moonlodge and move into what we are calling the Grandmother Lodge. 

The 6th World needs men and women to gather together.  Like I was telling the crowd on Saturday “we will still work on ourselves as individuals; but if we want to save our relationships, our families, our communities and our Nation – we need to start thinking out of the individualistic box.”  Thinking about “ME, me, me” won’t get us anywhere especially if we want to preserve our World; produce enough food and water for everyone; and live in peace and harmony.  Over population will no doubt put a strain on a few of our human and environmental structures? 

We need to start thinking differently!

Both my maternal and paternal grandparents were involved in my life and upbringing.  My maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother had a bigger influence.   After they passed away, I remember being afraid of forgetting their faces or their voices.  ‘Til this day I can still picture them and I can still hear them speak to me….  They may have left this Earth and continued their journey; but I’ve consciously kept in “archive” those memories and details; which meant most to me. 

In the last few years more and more men have been asking to learn about their “moons”.  There’s a sense that both Adam and Eve (so to speak) are looking to return to Paradise.  Grandparents don’t make a distinction between their grandchildren.  They just give unconditionally to each of them (at least that’s the way it should ultimately be).  The idea behind the Grandmother lodge was that we would approach our inner children “as grandparents”. 

Encourage our Moons to grow up and to fit into a New World with an ancestral and historical wisdom and perspective.  In other words transition with consciousness.

The next three years will be about “remembering and sharing” our stories.  There is incredible wisdom, knowledge, and teachings hidden within the details of our life story.  It takes exploring and bringing to consciousness the different part of our Wheel. 

Our First Nation ancestors referred to the Moon as Grandmother.   The Moon has been an important influence on our Planet; but it has also been watching over our World and over us….  We just need to finally acknowledge HER hand in our life and HER help too.  HAU!

Suzi.  I hope you don't mind that I've used one of your beautiful moon photos???  If you do - just send me an email and I'll take it down.  
Suzi and I met through exploring each other's blogs.  She has the most incredible collection of Moon photos.  She follows the Grandmother month after month.  
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