Welcome to this edition of Notable Blogs! In this edition we look at Autumn, explorations of death through ceremony, the power of stories, and the presence of Bear.
Autumn, here in the northern latitudes seems inevitably to bring us to the consideration of death. Saving Home took part in a shamanic death ceremony recently. She noted humor managed to insinuate itself into the proceedings !
It took most of the afternoon for me to dig a grave big enough to hold me through the 10 hour ceremony I was about to take part in. I was incredibly grateful for the company of my fellow Ovates as I heaved dirt, rocks, roots, insects, worms, more rocks, and more dirt. The atmosphere was lively. I felt as though we all understood the gravity of our situation (pun intended), but that it was important for us not to bury our senses of humor along with our bodies. It was reassuring to understand I was not alone… that these people digging and dying beside me were loving companions who were as committed to this process as I was.
I found myself, several times, telling Coyote stories this week. One of those stories, in which she steals Death, and brings it to a drastically overcrowded world, seemed to surface repeatedly. As with most Coyote stories, humor, even about death, plays a major role in the story, in which Coyote goes to the land of the spirits and steals Death to bring relief to the people. The authoress of Saving Home had the good fortune of being in ceremony with others. Still, she showed courage and humor in completing a grueling task.
Rose’s Blog reminds us that stories keep us alive as people and cultures. We are getting on towards the time Native People traditionally tell important stories. (Of course, we tell stories all year, but there are some stories that are traditionally told only during the winter.) She invites us to a festival and workshop..
We at WISDOM are preparing for our upcoming Northwest Indian Storytelling Festival on October 13-16…..We are also holding the Emerging Tribal Storytellers Workshop on Saturday and Sunday, October 15-16. We want the elders and master storytellers in our tribal communities to participate and share their wealth of stories with their younger tellers. Those attending this workshop will be guided to learn and tell their own personal story, their tribal history and traditional stories from their own heritage. Stories help us solidify our identity as Native peoples and help us live a happier and more fulfilling life. Please register and join us!
By the way, we will be holding the second of our Fall Storytelling Circles at JourneyWorks Sunday, October 23rd, from 3-4:30. Please join us ! Bring a story to share, or just come and listen.
Autumn turns our thoughts to Bear. Here in Vermont, there is a brief bear hunting season. Then the bear den up for the winter. For a while, it’s safe to put seed in the bird feeders! Of course, Bear stories are often sacred stories for First Nations people. We tell stories about the intersections of Bear and our personal and tribal lives. Often Bear guards the path to the Mythic, and to Healing. Jane Street Clayworks tells a tale of one encounter:
Today’s post was prompted by a bear sighting yesterday. My friend Tamina and I were slogging through the rain and were near the end of our four-mile walk. A new immigrant from Germany, she said she recently read a brochure about how to act if you saw a bear. We walked on. After a fashion, I looked up, then quietly said, “There’s a bear.” She glanced up, saw it, then we both started walking backwards slowly, which signals that we are in retreat. It was a lovely bear!
…..Last evening, I was sitting on the couch thinking of bears. Then I thought of clay and bears. Take a gander at the bottom of the Moonbear Pottery & Indian Arts site. Her bear and salmon vessels are exquisite. Here is the linkto her Bear Wall Shield, on her Etsy site. Seeing it reminds me of a bear’s rolling gait; it’s almost liquid. One of the best bear sculptures I ever saw is at the arts centre, done by a child. It is a polar bear on its back, head lifted up with a salmon in its four paws. White, white bear and red, red fish.
Finally, Willow Books recently reviewed The Moon of Letting Go, and Other Stories, by Richard Van Camp (Dogrib Dene).
An intimate first-person voice breathes life into each of the stories, and at the end of the book, you feel like you have had a glimpse of, and maybe acquired some understanding of, a different world.
Maybe that is what all great stories offer us, a glimpse into a different world that is also our own.
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