Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sweat house part six: final chapter or just the begining

The light was dim inside the hogan, just a small fire in the middle of the floor. More people had come, some I knew, some I didn't. But there was an underlying commonality among all present. That was the well being of Frank. People had come from far and wide to help. Frank is loved by many people and the call was answered.
After awhile the blanket was drawn over the door and some more wood was placed on the fire. Long sticks of oak about three feet long and maybe four inches across are used to feed into the fire. By this time the fire had taken on its own character. Dancing and singing, I guess it wasn't going to wait on us. For some time Wilson discussed many things that at the time didn't seem to go with what was going on. It wasn't until some time later that it all made sense to me, and what was freely given to me I will freely give to you.
The things that he talked about was the concept of first words. Better yet, "FIRST WORD." What this means is that all things were created by a spoken word. And that as this creation was being spoken into existence, special words, HOLY words were used. Words that can cause energy to form into what we perceive as matter. Many things were spoken into existence including "The people." In the beginning we were taught these words so that we as humans could be "good stewards" helping things remain in a state of balance. Somewhere along the way mistakes were made, ( not on purpose, but in the course of human events.)
And that was part of the problem, somewhere along the road, mistakes were made that caused Frank to be out of balance. Small missteps that seem little at the time lead us into a completely different direction later. What was going to be done was this...
Songs that bring healing and balance back were going to be sung. Sounds like a small thing, but remember the universe as we know it, was spoken of as though it already existed before it came to be what we see now. Songs that are centuries old, sung true to form, without mistake, can and have created new realities.
after Wilson was through speaking, he got up and went clockwise around the room, pausing at each person, giving a blessing and feeding several slices of cactus to each of us. When he got to me, I was completely amazed. Wilson's face had taken on a glow like I had read about Moses when he returned from the mountain. His face looked younger, and his smile had such a reassurance that you knew that it was going to be a wild ride but somehow, someway all things would be alright.
As I chewed on the peyote, it tasted like I was eating a dirt clod. and immediately I remembered doing that very same thing as a small boy and began to laugh. Wilson just winked a shoved in several more. By that time I looked up and Frank was watching me and he was laughing also.
Further evidence that all was going to be OK. Several times over the course of the night, Wilson would "take a break" as he would put it... when things would be getting alittle intense. It's an amazing thing when your entire being is totally one with all things and everyone involved.
Beautiful songs and the constant beat of the drum would at times seem to give you the glimpses of the way that this whole universe really is. And it is far more incredible than we could ever imagine. I just want to make one thing clear about peyote and its use in sacred ceremonies. It is not used for intoxication or anything close. Most Dine' pride themselves because of their sobriety. You can't walk in beauty that way. What this cactus does is allow you to concentrate ALL of your mind and spirit to the worship of God. And that is the main purpose of the whole thing. Leaving your flesh behind into true spirit taught behavior, which is the healing of others through unselfish love.
I have participated in enough peyote meetings to know that it is not a "heathen" activity. I have never felt the Lords' presence as much as I have inside the circle.
I hope I don't sound like I'm preaching but I truly believe that if people could actually see and hear they would feel the same as I do.
Throughout the night several special songs were sung by Wilson directly over Frank. Each time you could see burdens being lifted, peace returning, and balance being restored. How can that be anything but HOLY!
When I think back on the things that I have seen with my own eyes, i am truly humbled.
I have seen the Enemy Way Sing, ( Squaw dance for us non natives). The last night consisting of a fire three stories high, hot enough to do way more than singe your eyebrows. Yet clay covered dancers getting so close it scares you for their safety. One throwing himself down on his belly and stretching out a willow and lighting it up. Same thing later in the night but with shreds of cedar bark, lit in the same manner, and then the dancers whipping each other with the flaming bark. Called fire dance.
I have seen when the dancers gather around a century plat and sing over it and then reveal that the plant had a bud spike on it. then crowd around with more chanting, step back and see that that bud spike had completely flowered out. The spoken word creating a new reality.
Through the many wondrous things that occurred during those years, I was given a new set of eyes to see with, a new heart to see with, and a new mind to see with... and a new spirit to live with.
I hope that you have enjoyed this walk through my past... I am what I am

Sweat house part five: Sight with new eyes

His truck was parked outside, in true humbleness he waited for me to come outside. Old timers like Wilson would never come and bang on your door, (impolite), but rather just sit and wait until you notice that he's there. Yah ah teh shi chei! what can I do for you? His reply was direct and to the point... " Time for a meeting, sweat on Friday, meeting Friday night." It had only been a few days since I had last seen Wilson, but it seemed as if we hadn't seen each other in years. It was always nice to see that old man whenever possible, never know with some of those old timers, just when they might decide to take flight across the great divide. A mutual friend was in desperate need of a healing. And Wilson was gathering the "troops" so to speak. I felt so honored and humbled at the same time that he would consider me as a friend, and somebody that could contribute. He said that we "need to have as many eyes as we can get to see the problem more clearly." "You have new eyes, its time to use them!" He always had a way of building you up so that you could approach any situation with confidence. So we made plans to meet at my mother-in-laws sheep camp on Friday afternoon after I got off work. I was excited about the whole thing, a chance to sweat again, and partake in an exceedingly holy event. Friday rolled around and when I got off work I went straight to sheep camp. The fire for the sweat was already lit, and I could see Wilson talking with several other men including my father-in-law, Frank. Frank is the one who gave me my name, "Dah ga shi chee", means, "My mustache is red." Frank and Wilson were friends since they were kids, and now both were in their late seventies. Well over one hundred years of experience of traditional healing between both men, I was in good company. Introductions were made, and the "patient" was introduced... it was Frank. He was suffering from what is referred to as "Moth Madness". A condition where your thoughts flutter like a moth in the fire light. Some would call it adult attention deficit disorder. It had been going on for some time and it was really affecting his life. This sweat was going to be a difficult one. It was going to involve the use of special teas to induce vomiting during the suffering that would already be taking place. But here's the thing. done properly, one would come out with a clean mind and spirit... a perfect canvass for the "nazai" medicine to weave a painting through, over, under, around, and inside ones entire being.
We were inside the sweat once again, since then it had become a familiar place and felt like going into a place of real safety, and connecting with the grandfathers. It was a labor of love, so I didn't mind throwing up a few times, it was for somebody that I have great affection for, and that makes all the difference in the world. Four rounds, each one hotter than the last, until even the tiniest bit of self pride was gone. It is then that one can see with spirit taught vision. And can also see what you've been eating for the last couple of days, some of which I didn't remember eating. After the sweat, which was used for purification, we sat around the fire for some time just drinking water and telling stories. The water was "prayer water". It had been prayed over and left outside, for when we got out of the sweat. Kind of like "Holy Water" to a Christian, but not splashed on externally, but drank so that it would help sweep out your heart of all things negative.
Inside the hogan Wilson's' wife was preparing the peyote buttons for the meeting. Someone was getting the other hogan ready, and it seemed as if things were going to be OK.
One of the reasons that the purification sweat is necessary is that the medicine is going to seek out all the things "unclean" in your body and spirit and force them up and out. Without the sweat beforehand, sickness and vomiting can occur, so it's best to get that out of the way first, so you can concentrate on the matter at hand, which is the healing of a loved one.
The time had come for the "meeting". We entered the hogan, moving clockwise around the fire pit in the middle of the floor, we all took seats on the floor along the walls. With that I will leave you for now, but I want to say a few words about the time I spent in the arms of the Dine'.
For almost twenty years, they accepted me, with loving kindness, into their family and culture. Wilson has since continued his journey to the realm of "Long life happiness". I miss him, because he was a once in a lifetime friend and father figure. He taught me many things and opened my new eyes to a world of great beauty, able to see what I never could before.
Wilson, I miss you... but we will walk in beauty together as friends once again!!
Goodbye for now, I am what I am.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sweat house part four: Inside mothers' loving kindness

The rocks were red hot and glowing like they were alive. Changing colors as if they were inviting us to the beginning of all things. The time had come to enter the sweat. Wilson told me to crawl down inside, go clockwise, (the way of the sun), and sit and be still. He was going to bring in the rocks. When I crawled down into the earth, I felt as if I was somehow returning to the womb of my mother. As I sat motionless, here came the first rock. Wilson had dug it out of the coals with a short handled pitchfork. I found out later that you have to get really low to get that close to be able to retrieve the rocks or you will singe off your eyebrows and look pretty funny. As he laid the first stone in the little recess off to the right of the doorway, he said to greet your grandfather. "Yah aah ta eh shi chei", "It is good my grandfather". Each rock gets the same greeting, because no matter how smart we think that we are, NOBODY knows the true age of a rock. He's older than us by far and that's all that matters. The rocks were placed in all four directions and another in the middle. Having finished, Wilson climbed down with me into the sweat and threw the blanket over the door. It was DARK! Dark as I've ever experienced. My eyes began to adjust, and I could see the glow of the rocks and was already feeling their presence. Wilson began to speak very softly, like you would do at the bedside of someone who was sick. He was telling me things that were important enough that I needed to understand in order to live without the feeling of impending doom. Like failure comes when you hurry and there isn't enough time, or so we think, and we are frozen with inaction and fear... the only "clock" we need is the one that rises and falls every day. He said many things that were like living bread, and I was hungry, so I ate, and was filled up. After awhile he said that we were going to start sweating and I thought that we already were! It was beginning to get Really hot in there. There was a pail of water in the middle of the floor. In it was a tea like brew that Wilson had made of different kinds of sage and other plants. It was for putting on the rocks and for drinking. He said it would help with flushing me out. He said that I was full of poison, and had to get clean if I wanted to be able to think clearly. He also made a great point in which is this: toxins from the things you eat or drink are easily gotten rid of. It's the toxins that are created by the way we think and feel that are extremely difficult to get rid of. Those are the ones that we should continue to rid ourselves of, you know, "stinking thinking." By this time I was feeling better already, but that was all about to change. Wilson threw the first water on the rocks and it sounded like an rocket just took off. Hot steam billowed out and rolled up the walls and back down on us. I felt myself about to come unglued, when that same soft voice said "It's alright, this is not the end of the world, it's the beginning. With that he began to sing. Singing is VERY important in life. Listen and you will hear natures' songs from everywhere and every thing. Mostly while under duress and change ( listen to the wood while it is burning, the rocks when water is poured on, all things have a song to be sung and be heard by us.). The song that he sang was simple, and to the point. Basically here we are, listen to us. Even though Wilson didn't wear a watch he was very aware of time, just didn't worry about it. We were inside for what he said was only about twenty minutes... seemed like a couple of hours to me. He swung back the door and said let's go outside, gettin' hot in here. When we got out I felt a sense of relief, not from the cessation of the suffering, but from the words that I was fed. The sun was already below the horizon, and the sky looked as if were ablaze! Wilson gave thanks for the picture that we had been shown by our living mother the Earth. Was time to go back in and more rocks were brought in and greetings were made and the door was closed again. Wilson began to speak once again, but it was different this time. I realized that he was revealing himself to me in all his human weaknesses, and asking if I would pray for him. Being aware of things doesn't make you totally immune to their influence. After he had finished he said it was my turn to turn myself "inside out", in doing so a person gets a view of oneself that one doesn't normally get. This is the point of "special sweat". I will suffer for YOUR wants and needs and you will suffer for MY wants and needs. Sacrificing comfort for someones betterment. This time it was even hotter than before. He began to pray in Navajo, with what sounded like great earnest. He was obviously suffering for me. Pleading with the Creator of all things in my behalf. Wow, it was all clear, the same way that I prayed for others in the name of Jesus, he took one step further. Becoming the likeness of the One who had suffered in my stead. Great awe and wonderment filled my heart as I prayed in a manner that I had never before. Giving every fiber of my being over to the prayers themselves. Several times Wilson poured water on the rocks, and several times made me keep drinking to stay "wet" inside too. It's VERY important to keep the balance of water leaving and entering. Out with the bad and in with the good. At that point my concept of who God is and who the son Jesus is, completely changed. They both got MUCH bigger. Also that we are the same as the Son. With the same possibilities! Healing each other through loving kindness. Anyway after about twenty minutes or so he threw back the door again and just sat there for a minute, Wilson thanked me for my effort in prayer and I returned the feelings. It was getting cold outside, as it does at night in the high desert. Steam could be seen rising from our bodies. Wilson said that it was the things of this world that are leaving because they can't survive in a host that is waking up from a dream state, into what is real. We went in two more times, each time it was hotter than before, more prayers and thanksgiving, and yes, more singing. The songs that were sung were handed down through the millennium. Being true to the words and even down to the way the words were sung. After all it was the spoken word, first word, that created all things. Words have the power of healing, as well as being very destructive. That is why it is of the utmost importance to speak to each other with loving kindness, and beauty. Because they are words of life! After the last round, we gave thanks for a good sweat, went and rolled in the sand to clean ourselves up. Sounds funny but it works. We went back into the hogan were the only light was a small lantern, and the moon shinning through the roof. It took me awhile to soak it all in. I had just participated in something VERY special, and felt so much better than I had before hand. If I could let go of this thing that I had tried so desperately to control, than it would carry me with it, dancing to a new rhythm, that is from everlasting to everlasting. Deep down I think everyone has the same fear, "Will I last?" Well of course we will! How can a life that has always been and always be, be stopped? Don't even give it a second thought, enjoy this part of your journey, for this journey is without beginning or end! I am what I am.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sweat House Part Three: Earth, Wind and Fire

This story happened about ten years ago... There was a time when the world seemed to be spinning out of control, one thing after another was going wrong. Home, work, even relationships where no trouble had existed before. I was totally confused about what to do. My mother-in-law ( she was Navajo, and old enough to remember first-hand stories of Bosque Redondo) suggested that I speak to a friend of hers named Wilson. He was a "Road Man", a native physician who makes house calls. So I did. He came to the house and we talked for several minutes before he came to the point of his visit. He said, "Mike, I notice that you keep looking at your watch. Is there someplace that you need to be other than here?" " That's not a good thing to try to keep hold of. You strap time to your wrist as if it were something that you can control. When it slips away, you begin to worry... that's why you can't sleep, your stomach is all ways upset, and your heading for long term sickness if you don't learn a few simple things." Talk about a kick in the head! The old man was right on the point. What happened next is really cool. Wilson came back a couple days later. And told me that he had been thinking about the best way to go about fixing the problem. First thing he said is "you gotta go to sweat!" Then we will see what happens next. So on the day of the sweat, he came and picked me up in his old truck and off we went towards Navajo Mt. We got to his sheep camp about mid day and it was a beautiful sight. There were two hogans, both male and female, sheep pens and horse coral. And way off to the side, what looked like a big mound of dirt. Turns out it was the sweat house. We went inside the hogan and sat for awhile, neither of us talking and then I looked at my watch and he started laughing. It was then I took it off and gave it to him and said you keep it. He just smiled and said that I could take it up to the sheep, maybe they might want to use it. After what seemed like hours of sitting and doing nothing I was about to go stir crazy, just when he said," It's OK Mike, I know that you feel that you need to do something so we will." When we went outside, it seemed as if the sun barely moved. Over by the sweat house there was a huge pile of wood. "Let's go chop some wood for the rocks, then we'll get the fire going." So he started chopping and could tell that I wanted to get my hand in there too. So he handed me the axe and told me to take my time and he would be inside making something for us to eat. It felt good to not have anywhere that I had to be. Just swinging the axe, hearing it split the wood, and smelling fresh cedar. He called in a soft voice that I thought was wind for a moment. Only when I turned around did I notice that it was Wilson calling my name. I had a pretty big pile split by then, but he said come and eat so that would do for now. When I went into the hogan, I was met with the smell of hominy stew and fry bread. We ate, then he asked if I could use a nap, because he sure could. We weren't going to sweat until later that night. Wow, what a nap that was, in the cool of the afternoon, with no watch or alarm. Wilson woke me up in about an hour and said that we needed to go start the fire. The wood gets arranged standing on end in a circular pattern, layer upon layer until it's about three feet across. The rocks are put on top of the wood and the fire is lit, with prayer and thanksgiving more wood is put on and the fire grows and takes on a life of its own. A really beautiful sight when all you're used to is a city fire in a BBQ. The rocks are volcanic in nature, and as Wilson said, they are done being mad so it doesn't hurt them to get really hot. And throw water on them and make them sing. It took a couple hours to get the rocks to where you can almost see through them. During that time, Wilson spent time by singing and playing his drum. One of the most beautiful sounds I've ever heard. It was time to go in. And the monsoon had kicked up and it began to blow. A storm was going by a ways off in the distance, and lighting could be seen... Wilson called over to get ready, and he was already out of his cloths and had his Chicago bulls trunks on. Really cool. And here I was in my old gray sweat pants that were cut off at the knee. He threw the blanket back that was covering the door and said to crawl inside. Time to go for now, I am What I am.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sweat House: Part Two

I'm glad to see such interest in this subject. With what happened a while back in Sedona, I can understand why some would call it crazy. I've been chomping at the bit to dispel some misconceptions. First of all I can tell you what sweat house IS NOT. It isn't a contest to see who can take the most punishment, or who can last the longest. That kind of behavior is extremely dangerous, physically and emotionally. Besides there was only One who could take the amount of punishment some say we deserve. But that's a different story altogether, and that is not what sweat is about anyway. It's not a gimmick or fad to loose weight, or otherwise alter your physical being other than detoxification. It certainly does not make you something that you aren't already. It won't turn you into a "super saint" or anything close. Enough of the things that it isn't. Here's what I understand it to be... from my experiences. I have been lucky and privileged enough to participate in well over one hundred sweats. Some people might say that I've cooked myself a little too much on one side but I don't think so. The last thing I will say about Sedona is this: First off that man took money from those people, thereby making HIMSELF responsible for their safety. His approach was completely, in my opinion, false and constructed on a lie. There is where all the trouble started... remember the circles? Anyhow enough of that, HE has HIMSELF to live with the rest of his days! Now let's get to some good news... Sweat house has been in human kinds culture from the beginning... or there abouts. Many different cultures have them, and are found all over the globe in one form or another. What I'll be discussing is the Navajo sweat. The main purpose of which is purification, supplication and prayer. One way it is used is for the detoxification of the body in preparation for a peyote meeting. In that case, special teas are brewed out of different desert plants to help with the flushing out through sweating. It's considered good to be as clean as possible when partaking in medicine.
Other ways it it used is for special prayers when somebody is having trouble, (health issues, or just something bothering somebody. You know, life problems.). That's when I have seen very special things happen that I'll discuss at a latter date.
Got to go for now... geogypsy just got home... I am what I am.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sweat house... part one

The sweat house is a place where many things are done, learned, and undone. I wanted to do a series about this, as it is going to take some time to explain the history, meaning of all the componants, some of which I'm fuzzy on but I'll do my best. I'm learning to put pictures on a post, so I will show you some shots of the sweat house I'm building. Or maybe It's telling me how it wants to come into being. First I'll discribe it's construction, then its symbolisim. The health benifits, and yes the hazzards. Which some have ignored, and have and are paying the price. Even some of the old timers that I've had the priveledge of suffering along side of used common sense and knew not to stay in too long without a break. Any how... more to come in the next post after I get it all straight as to how I want to present the subject. Hope you are all interested... I am what I am

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ballancing Act

What I mean about a "ballancing act" is this... Seems to me that pretty much everybody is in agreement , ( ie. science, so called religion, you know what I mean.) That we as humans are constructed of the same matter as the basic elements, stardust, earth, ect. Then it also seems to me that in order to understand the universe, you have to first understand yourself. To care for the Earth, you have to care for yourself. You as yourself, are part of everything, and everything is part of you. You are one circle. The Earth and all that is on the sruface, and under, in its waters, and in its sky, are another circle. The third circle, and I make no bones about it, is God the Creator. The One who is called " Long Life Happiness, The Bringer of Joy". Here inlies the rub. What do I do with all three? Which one is more or less important? How do I even begin to see how to deal with theese things? Common questions. Simple answers, belive it or not. I don't have the answers to your questions, only you do. All I can do is discribe some things to you that are true to me. So here goes my attempt at a discription of a truth. Three things CAN and Will exist in one place at the same time if allowed to do so. Problems arise when one of the three circles is moved from a state of alighnment with the other two. It doesn't matter which one that it is, The results are the same, unballance, and catistrophic failure. It has been seen time after time! Problem one: Too much of circle one. The earth has become an idle, therefore causing suffering. Problem two: Too much of circle two. Human biengs have become their own idle, therefore causing suffering. Problem three: Too much of circle three. Humans have created something that didn't need to be created, ( the pot cannot create the potter.). Therefore causing suffering. Look at what happens when we consume the Earth like hungry wolves. "Dust Bowls" are created, men and women are lost in mines, at sea, great suffering is brought by actions done in greed. Same old story. Look at what happens when we put ourselves ahead of everything and everybody. Great suffering ensues. Look at what happens now and what has happened in the past, when circle three is out of wack. Again, great suffering occurs. This is why it is a hudge mistake to create an unballanced condition. Circle three in my opinion has caused the greatest suffering of all. War and all manner of calamity take place because of it. To me it all boils down to this: ALL THREE CIRCLES ARE OF EQUAL IMPORTANCE! ALL THREE ARE ONE IN THE SAME! The natural state of all three to exist , together in one heart that beats to its own rythem. Enjoy the Earth, for it is You. Enjoy your life, for it is of all things. Enjoy " Long Life Happiness, The One Who Brings Joy", for he is the Joy Giver. Walk in beauty.
I am what I am...

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I got up this morning and saw this happiness award on my blog page. What a way to start the day! The sun isn't up yet so I still have time before I go greet the sun and all it sheds its light on. When I was living in northern az., it was called " walking in beauty". One wakes before the sun, offers corn pollen to the creator and the creation. "Long Life Happiness", "The One Who Brings Joy", are names that refer to the One. All of the creation invites you to dance in beauty, singing songs of prayer and thanksgiving." The earth under bare feet, sky over uncovered head, air filling lungs with cool air, moment by moment, step by step, walking in beauty. Earth under my feet, you feel my steps, in beauty. Mountains, you see me walking in your shadow, in beauty. All living things, on the earth and in the air, you see me walking in your presence, in beauty. Rivers and streams and all the oceans, you see me walking by, in beauty. All the heavens and all you lights, you see me live and walk in beauty." This kind of thinking was completely forign to my mind for sometime, than I began to notice some certain things. First if you don't know who you are and where you fit in this whole of creation, you can't walk in beauty. Love is the key. Knowing and understanding love is what holds everything together in ballance allows one to see and feel true love from inside first, then from EVERYTHING else. When a Human Bieng is aware and full of this love that is brought by "Long Life Happiness", that person will natrually walk in beauty. There are many more facets, sweathouse, night chants,( nine day healing ceremonies ), herding sheep, chopping wood, even down to the way you enter somones house, all these things to be done in, for, and through beauty. When I began to understand some of these things, I couldn't help but to want to live in beauty. So people can do only two things. Say what you want, but it's true. You can ONLY DO TWO THINGS!! You can either choose to walk in beauty, or not, there are no other options. I'm not saying that you have to belong to a certain religion, or be of any religion at all. You are just better off if you understand that you are loved by all of creation, and can therefore can return that love to all of creation. It can sometimes be hard for us in western society to accept certain ideas like a rock has a spirit, but misstreat one in the sweat house and see what happens. He's going to get very aggitated, and maybe even explode. Or that by shaking a 500 year old rattle in rythem, and singing a certain song the right way, and dancing in the right way, could heal someones illness. Well I'm saying that it's all just as true as any truth of western society. Anyway, it seems as if I chased a few rabbits this morning. Thank you for happiness, and I wish ALL "Long Life Happiness"! Until next time. I am what I am