Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Moon of Inter-Relations.

I recently promised I would write about the Moon of Inter-Relations; which happens to be the Moon we are experiencing right now until the Full Moon of March (2016). I specify the year / or date because according to a Moon calendar based on the Blue Moon cycle -- the Moon of Inter-relations doesn't always fall at the same time during the year.  The Moon of Inter-Relations is the 7th Moon, found in the South of the Medicine Wheel.  She is definitely influenced by the elements of growth, trust and love. 

It makes sense doesn’t it?  No inter-relationship can survive without these three elements.

When I was a child I loved dolls.  Each doll had a name and a story.  It was only after having children that I noticed they too adopted the same kind of behaviour.  They didn’t need anyone to teach them how to connect to the World around them; they related to their toys in the same way that I had once did.  I believe that children are born knowing about  “their fragments.”  They are somewhat aware that they’ve existed before and that they carry within themselves countless pieces of the past, present and future. I remember when CT (my son) was 7 years old.  He woke up one morning explaining to me that "he spent the night running after a part of himself who was always 24 hours faster than him."  

Such comments from our children do make us giggle but when they are common enough to occur all the time and with every child -- they are science. It’s our job as adults to confirm and validate our children's experiences even if it may be unlike anything we've experienced or seen before.  I also believe that our physical body is designed to archive, trigger, and give us access to these inner characters and their personal stories.  They hold keys to a bright or difficult future.  No doubt they are the roots to learning and healing.  The whole point perhaps is to bring resolution and closure to a cluster of legends.

All 7 year olds learn the same basic lessons; but they all come about these lessons differently.   When working with Moons I often ask my students to remember and share one story for each Moon.  These stories often reveal very unique and sometimes eccentric characters who have particular habits, struggles, and even abilities / skills.  It’s through remembering our inner children and their realities as well as how they dealt with them that we can best get to know ourselves.  I often suggest some distance when exploring fragments so that we can truly hear them speak and share from their perspective rather than our expectations and ideals. 

The idea of soul retrieval isn’t to control our personal story and rewrite it.  It’s to develop the ability to listen and to truly hear what different members of our inner community are sharing.  They have numerous functions for which the ultimate one is to bring us to wholeness and what we call “Oneness.”

It’s only once we can “inter-relate” that we can truly “relate” to the World around us.

At a recent Grandmother Lodge gathering, I explained to our Circle that the Moon of Territory was teaching us about how “we take space, have roots, and are fundamentally connected to the land we are born on…” I have several ladies in my group who are from France, Ireland and other Canadian Provinces outside of Quebec.  Each of these women has strong ties to what they call “home.” Do they still call their native land home because their parents still remain on the territory or is it because a part of themselves hears  “a call” from the land and its ancestry? 

( I leave it to these ladies to answer the question in the comment section of the blog. Some stories should always be shared first hand.)

Since all Moons are connected within a cycle and influence each other, you need to explore the Moon of Inter-Relation by considering the Moon of Territory.   Imagine yourself holding two skipping ropes with the help of a partner.   The rope, its movement and rhythm represent the Moon of Territory.   We as the actors of our Wheel are the “jumpers;” we incarnate a story for a lapse of time.  The people holding the ropes represent the Moon of Inter-Relation (a fragment):  They hold space (so to speak). 
In most instances we have no idea who is at the end of “our rope.” Every day, we create movement, and rhythm in our lives.  We are the creators or instigators of experiences and stories; which inevitably brings us to learning, healing, and growth.  As a traditional Dreamer I approach life as if it was a constant series of dreams.  I pay attention to the synchronicities (what some call “omens) and inherently interpret the details / hear the messages hidden in my every-day-story.  I’ve come to see “life” as Mystery and phenomenon. 

Today at the age of 50 years old there’s no doubt in my mind that what holds the other end of my rope loves me and works along with me.  God, Spirit, Creator, or Guidance – these are a few names I’ve given my partner on the other side of “my rope.”

Yet, there were days during the last 50 years where all I could see or say was: “I’m at the end of my rope.”  I didn’t always give one end of my rope to God, Spirit or Guidance.  There were times when “my rope fell in the hands of people” who didn’t have ME in their best interest. 

I’ve been teaching the Medicine Wheel and Indigenous Dreaming for close to 30 years.  We (G and I) mostly work with young people between the age of 19 and 30 years old.  Recently, we’ve noticed that we’ve actually gone through a few generations of young people in the last three decades.  The youth of 2016 has suddenly hit us with new challenges and surprised us with new and sometimes even foreign perspectives.  The World has changed and although “young people will always be young people” they are rapidly showing us that stories have shifted; stories have been resolved; and we are now looking at a completely new series of tales with new and improved characters!

One question will always remain because no matter how many times "life changes or evolves" -- the teachings remain the same:  “Who is holding the end of our rope?”

Did you trust and rely on one of your wounded fragments or did you depend on the wounded fragment of a parent, a sibling, a spouse, or friend?

When exploring the Moon of Inter-Relation you need to follow a few steps:

1  Do a bit of self-discovery.  Acknowledge your fragments and get to know them.
2  Give space to your fragments (territory).  Explore your origins and bring consciousness, learning, healing and growth to your story.
3   Trust the end of your rope to caregivers, teachers and guides who want your best interest.  Don’t let others or yourself disempower your Wheel.
4  And finally don’t be afraid of transformation.  Accept a new perspective of “death” – see your fragments as pieces of a bigger puzzle and find a way to accept that “returning to wholeness and oneness” doesn’t mean that you’ve lost your uniqueness and power!  (A topic for another blog…)

If you are struggling with relationships you may want to take a moment to look inside towards your inner community and its conflicts.  Call in what you need and you may be surprised by the results. 

A young man recently asked me: “Lisa do you pray?” 

“Yes, every day” I replied, “I learnt to pray as a child and never stopped.  It makes me feel safe, serene, and grounded.” 

What it also does is “give the end of my rope” to a higher presence.  It allows me to explore “the names and stories” of these divine entities who truly want the very best for me.  It gives me access to my “library of fragments” and helps me develop the skill to be conscious of the alleged “invisible.”

There’s a domino affect between the Moons and we can’t forget that despite the notion of “fragmentation” on our Wheel, there’s also a pull towards the collective.  This means that “inter-relation” may apply in dominance to the 7th Moon but it has been created through small dosages of “inter-relation” all through the first 7 moons.  Take a moment to remember “inter-relation” all through:

1  The Moon of Welcome (0 to 12 months)
2  The Moon of Affirmation (12 – 24 months)
3  The Moon of Drama (3 years old)
4  The Moon of Self-Value (4 years old)
5  The Moon of Omnipotence (5 years old)
6  The Moon of Territory (6 years old)

It’s important while working with the concept or philosophy of the Medicine Wheel that you acknowledge both the fragment and the collective; the individual and the communal; and the ME or personal with the idea of wholeness and oneness.  Each anchor on your Wheel must be set in order for you to feel safe, sound, and whole.

   East is about incarnation, self-discovery and exploration:  A beginning.
   South is about attitude, behaviour, skill / ability, work:  MEDICINE / power.
   West is about duality, death, letting go and preparing for transformation and renewal:  Endings, closure, integration and resolution.
   North is about path and purpose, destiny, acceptance, forgiveness, and wisdom.  Here we see our whole wheel: All makes sense.

Where there are 36+ fragments on every Wheel – there’s also 36+ fragments attempting to work together and create ONE WHEEL.   The Moon of Inter-Relation brings us the understanding and wisdom of such a concept.  Imagine it’s the 7 year old inside of us who opened up the possibility that “we are all and all is us.”  It’s not coincidental that some cultures call the 7th year: The AGE of WISDOM. 

Traditionally Medicine Wheels are built by kneeling in the South.  This way we can keep our eye on our wisdom in the North.  It’s wonderful to acknowledge that every stone / fragment / piece of my Wheel resembles the Cosmos and is sprinkled with stars.  Wisdom, inter-relation, growth, experience, and / or clarity --- all of the details on my Wheel hold a little bit of everything and each other within them….


Photos: I added a few photos taken from workshops we've given; but with years between them....  Perhaps, some of you will be able to add some insights on the lessons and experiences relating to "inter-relations?"

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Inner Community (Fragments).

For those of us who believe in the Way of the Sacred Circle – we believe in the concept that “we hold a whole community within us.”  The notion of “beliefs” especially for contemporary Westerners often falls under the heading of “figurative or symbolic reasoning,” yet for traditional shamanic practitioners it’s an empirical reality.  In other words, for people like me the belief of an “inner community” takes tangible forms. 
Many years ago when Gérard and I started our study of the Wheel we were very impressed with how each “moon” explored very specific characteristics.  When we mention the word “moon” we assume “cycles”.  Every moon repeats itself every 13 years.  In other words you’ll revisit the Moon of Welcome or the Moon of Affirmation for example every 13 years: As a child, as an adolescent, as an adult and as an elder.  Through exploring the Moons and their unique traits G and I eventually named the moons to represent these features, and to help our student better explore their inner fragments. 
Moon fragments are called “inner children” in the World of Psychology.  Of course the Wheel helps us to bring growth, trust and love (the south elements of the Wheel) to these children so that they may develop into functional teenagers, adults and eventually elders.  When working through fragments on the Wheel with the help of Moons – it’s more then just “inner children”.  It’s also “inner teens, inner adults and inner elders.”  Even before you become an adult or an elder these “inner members of your community” exists.  You can refer to them for wisdom, resources and to so degree you can also have some “power” over how they develop. 
Through researching myths and legends Gérard and I noticed how the ancients were aware of natural and cosmological influences and personified them through stories.  The Gods and Goddesses for example were the “fragments” of the cosmos.  Mountains, Rivers, Rainbows and Northern Lights became Spirit with stories.  Even these fragments exist within our inner reality.  I’ve met a few people who hold the Medicine of Thunder and Lightning…
Humans have worshipped “superheroes” for millenniums.  The “superheroes” were neither good nor bad / heroes or villains.  They were simply “complicated or complex” with dualities; which influenced them to make countless choices, and take endless actions within the stories they starred in.  Like the Hebrew God of the Bible – his fragments ranged from “being angry and vengeful; to being fair and merciful; to being loving and protective; or even judgmental and unforgiving.” 
It’s not surprising that the same kind of characteristics can be explored in humans.  Some will argue that man invented God; and that like every author since antiquity we write fantasy stories inspired by our personal struggles.  Others will debate the topic and explore the possibility that “humanity mimics nature and the stars: The true inspiration behind the gods and goddesses.”  One way or the other a rainbow of characteristics or forms exists showing that each our Wheel (personal, collective, natural or cosmological) holds an array of fragments…
As I was growing up my parents often made the mistake of pegging my siblings and me under static, negative human characteristics. My brother was often called the “cluts”; my sister “the drama queen” and I was “cold blooded.”  My life certainly became easier when I stopped needing an “identity.” 
It was clear to me that I was a little bit of everything.  What makes me – ME – is how these different ingredients come together: The dosages of timidity, abruptness, kindness, or even snobbiness. I found it exciting and even inspiring to explore myself through “fragments”.  It gave me an opportunity to re-examine my life story and pinpoint the birth of these “characters.”  When did I suddenly find self-assurance; or get a touch of vanity?  I was able to explore the emergence of ME through my “fragments.” 
There are so many different creative ways to explore “fragments.”  For example as a child I loved dolls.  They represented parts of me and I valued them through this perspective.  On some days, I preferred the dolls that were athletic and adventurous; while other days, I brought out the homemaker and caregiver.  Through games I explored “duality” and searched for ways to be both independent and dependent; selfish and generous; loving and self-indulged … 
There had to be some way where I could bring all parts of me together and I didn’t need to feel divided, sad, angry or lost.
The 36 stones of the basic Medicine Wheel represent 36 different fragments of the self.  These fragments are scattered over an immense territory divided by the four directions.   They tell a story.  They explain every consistent and inconsistent detail within what we call: Our Story.  They represent “ME / US”. 
Fragments speak of us now (inner children, teenagers, adults and elders), yesterday (ancestral fragments / past lives) and even tomorrow… They can be totems (vegetable, animal, or mineral); and describes us within a communal setting; hence, within relations / relationships.  In the 21st century we can even relate to objects and suddenly, we’ve added another spiral of depth to our Wheel.  Fragments are all the different parts of us.  Through them we learn about self-discovery and we attempt the difficult task of “coming into wholeness or oneness.”  With the help for fragments we become more aware of how we represent the Universe at the finite and infinite dimension. 

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 Gérard 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.