A Year's Journey of Initiation
Invocation Blessing Song
Behold Great Mystery, Creative Force, Spirit That Moves Through All! We call to the Seven Directions of the Sacred Wheel!
We turn to the Keepers of the East, direction of new beginnings, of inspirations, of illumination and creativity, of the dawn and spring, new births, and childhood. Be with us, teach us, show us your ways!
We call to the Keepers of the South, direction of vitality, of high noon and hot sun, of summer and vigorous growth, of youth and passion. Be with us, teach us, show us your ways!
We invite the Keepers of the West, direction of introspection, of the evening, of autumn and maturity, deepening and ripening. Be with us, teach us, show us your ways!
We respectfully summon the Keepers of the North, direction of the night, of winter, of wisdom and transformation, of dropping inessentials to reveal the core. Be with us, teach us, show us your ways!
We look up to the sky and call to the Beings of the sun, the moon, the clouds, the stars, and the endless blue, and we ask that you bring your spaciousness and mystery to this work. Be with us, teach us, show us your ways!
We put our hands on the ground and ask that the great substance of the Earth give grounding to the work, and that the Earth’s beauties give us beauty and that the entire world—the animals and plants and rocks, mountains and rivers and seas, the elemental forces of Earth and Air and Fire and Water, and all the human beings, all the elders, children, teachers, all the red, yellow, black, and white—join in this blessing. Be with us, teach us, show us your ways!
We call to the Sweet Mystery that is the Sacred Center, to hold us and cradle us in your divine protection. Be with us, teach us, show us your ways!
We claim this work to serve, to bless, and to share knowledge for wisdom building and for bringing wholeness to our hearts and to our world. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
(Note: The beginning prayer and a final blessing appear at the beginning and end of each lesson, respectively. These prayers mark the cycle of energy within that lesson and create a circle of connection.)
REGENERATION AND CREATIVITY
The concept of “Unto the Seventh Generation” is an ancient teaching that was a guiding principle of the councils and governments of many Amerindian people. This important concept, captured in four small words, has been established as a guiding principle for any decision. This concept means that before making any choice, we must ask, “What will be the effect of this decision on my grandchildren’s children, and their children, and their children for seven generations to come?Will this serve them?” This concept is a simple statement and concept, and yet if we were to hold this concept now, and had been holding it for the past two hundred or so years, our world would be a much different place. Technology and “progress” could continue, and yet their consequences would be different.
An easy example to point out is the development of nuclear power plants. At the time the technology for making electrical power through nuclear fission was developed (and this is still true today), there was/is no safe way to dispose of the massive amounts of toxic waste products created from this technology. Either the developers didn’t think the issue through, or they knew about the problem and thought they would tackle the problem after the plants were built. Another issue was/is the incredible danger an “accident” at one of these plants poses to life—until the end of time! In any case, if they had applied the principle of Unto the Seventh Generation, they would have thought this through before the plants were built. They would have realized the effects and harms this mass of toxic material would cause, not just for seven generations for millions of years to come, and they would not have built the plants until technology had come up with a safe answer for the waste disposal. They would have weighed the accident risks against the electrical benefits and the monetary benefits for the company, and they would have deemed the risks to be far too great. Had they applied this principle to their project, they would also have had to ask whether the need was truly for more electrical energy. Maybe as a people, what we really wanted was to concentrate on learning how to live with fewer material comforts. Maybe.
The problem, you see, was that this principle was not applied to nuclear power plant development, and we are now left with the consequences. One of the consequences that is having effects of which we are not even fully aware is what is happening to the reindeer herds of the far North. On the physical plane, the herds were contaminated by the fallout from the Chernobyl “accident.” The effects of that contamination are now being recognized through the number of birth defects in the calves, and many were concerned that this might render the herds extinct; however, the defects didn’t appear in subsequent generations. The poisoning of the Sami, Lapp, Siberian, and other people who depend on these herds for sustenance is known, and the reindeer herds are now controlled by law because the herds decreased greatly. As well, there are the many square miles of Earth around Chernobyl that will never again be safe for habitation. As an effect of the1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, nuclear fallout poisoned fish, meat, and berries. Lichens and mosses are two of the main forms of vegetation in the Arctic and are highly susceptible to airborne pollutants and heavy metals. Because many lichens and mosses do not have roots, they absorb nutrients and toxic compounds through their leaves. The lichens accumulated airborne radiation, and in Sweden alone, 73,000 reindeer had to be destroyed as “unfit” for human consumption. The government promised to reimburse the Sami people, and that promise was not kept.
There is another issue that is not of the physical plane that we would like to point out. The Samis, Lapps, and other people of the Norse peninsula have a different worldview than “modern man.” Rather than believing that humans are the pinnacle, they believe that the reindeer
are the greatest of the Maker’s creations. They cannot understand the idea of reindeer being for
the use of humans. They believe that humans were put on the Earth to care for the reindeer. The
effects of the decimation of the reindeer from the Earth may have consequences we cannot even
begin to imagine.
Concepts that allow disasters such as that of Chernobyl must be switched. This kind of
thinking of “the modern world” must change. Taking a stand for change is one of the goals we
would like you to entertain in this course. The dominant worldview must be changed if we do not
want to suffer the consequences. We must move into consideration “Unto the Seventh
Generation” if we are ever to get out of the dilemmas we have created. How all of this applies to
the East is this: The East is the direction of creativity. We share with “the Gods” the power of
creation, and with this power comes profound responsibility.
Change and Choice: The Bowl of Your Creation
Because primal thinking is based on movement, rather than concentration on form, the
transformation of one thing into another is not extraordinary to these people. This way of
thinking is just part of the process—the continuum—the way it is, and transformation is
therefore not at all something to fear. Therefore, the idea of a person, or anything else for that
matter, changing in outward form, is natural to primal people. Change is accepted as natural,
which is why things such as aging, death, and shapeshifting are accepted as part of “the great
A potter has proof of this with each bowl or pot made. The clay at the bottom of the
riverbed lies in an unformed mass waiting for transformation. Once gathered, fashioned into
form, and fired so that the clay will hold its significant order, the clay transforms into a thing, or
being, of power. And as part of the continuum, the clay will one day return to the bottom of the
riverbed. Like so many things in Wheel work, there are four aspects to change: 1) intention, 2)
alignment, 3) embracing, and 4) action.
Intention to Change
Inherent in the intention to change is first the recognition of the desire and then the commitment
to change. Without these in the beginning, the process of change has a very hard time getting
started. Therefore, the first question you must ask yourself is whether you really want the
situation to change. Next you must ask yourself what payoffs you get from the situation the way
it is now, what effects and consequences (Unto the Seventh Generation) are possible when this
change occurs, and whether you are willing to do everything it takes to make the change.
Once you 1) recognize your desire 2) state your intention to the Universe, and 3) make
your commitment, support will come to you from other realms. Remember: do not pull out of
your commitment if you expect Spirit to lend a hand. First, through the vehicle of your
subconscious mind, your energetic or Spirit body shifts to search for and allow circumstances to
manifest that would facilitate change. This is the time that the unexpected often occurs. This is
also when we sometimes question whether we really want the change because of what may
manifest. Because the support from this realm is unexpected, unless we are very awake, we often
will not recognize it and therefore not take advantage of the support offered.
If our Spirit is strong, allies and Spirit Helpers will take notice. Coyote, the trickster, loves to facilitate change, and it is now that the cosmic pranks are played. This is when it is important to stay lighthearted and open and not to be too sensitive. If we take ourselves too seriously, the prank ceases to be fun.
Alignment for Change
Once your intention is clear, the next step is to enlist agreement, and therefore alignment, in three spheres of influence. The first sphere of influence is all the parts of yourself. There are many aspects inside you that make up the totality of who you are. Everyone has a little child inside. Many also have a critical parent and a wild woman or wild man (or both) and a responsible or irresponsible adolescent. The list can go on and on. Some of these parts may be skeptical or fearful of the change, and some are usually very comfortable with things the way they are; this is because the status quo is familiar, whereas change is an unknown. These parts will tend to sabotage change unless we get agreement from them. Therefore, we often find ourselves in front of a bakery after we decide to release weight. Exercise 2 will provide a process to support getting agreement from all your “parts.”
After we get agreement from all our parts, we need to also get alignment and support from the people close to us. The same dynamics apply here as above. In addition, the unknown is often a source of fear for our friends and relatives. You can ask for their support and commitment outright, and you can also communicate with their energies or Spirit bodies. You do this in the mythical or imaginal realm by having your Spirit body call forth their Spirit bodies. In this process, you sense or see yourself and them together in your mind. Then you show them with this special kind of vision what you want or desire to accomplish.
The last, or possibly the first, sphere of influence you contact is your own Higher Self. You can use that same special visioning to communicate with your Spirit self to get alignment (see Exercise 2).
Embracing change may be the hardest aspect of change to comprehend and to achieve. The idea of embracing change encompasses a real willingness to do whatever it takes to bring about the change, and that means letting go of fear. This is very hard for most of us to do. Life seems to be about being able to control ourselves and what happens to us, so embracing control is very threatening. However, embracing change is something that we must do, or change will never occur. Our best actions and thinking got us to where we are today. If change is what we want, we simply must be willing to allow new possibilities in. We must be willing to step beyond what is familiar and know we must let go of our scripts and tribal energy what no longer serves us—for new things to happen and for us to take advantage of the unexpected support that comes our way. What we think we must do and what we want to do for the change may be two very different things. With our mental capacity, we are only capable of knowing a small percentage of the totality of any situation. Only our spirit body can comprehend all the interrelated connections. Therefore, support from the spiritual realm is the only way that we can be sure that our change is in harmony with the highest good of all those involved in the situation.
All this loss of control can be a very terrorizing prospect to a little self that has been holding itself together by a thin thread for many years, and there is no way around it—embracing change is what we must do. We must trust a power greater than ourselves and take that first fierce step into the unknown.
First Steps for Change
Unless you act in the physical world, your intention remains in the potential realm of the Spirit world only. The spiritual realm does not impose upon the physical until we open the possibility for it, and that signal is action. The action can be on the physical plane; that is, we can make a movement toward change. Once it is made, the realm of the spiritual will then join in.
This of course does not release us of our responsibility to continue taking steps toward our goal. We often get in trouble here because the steps we take are a setup for failure. The steps may be too big for our capacity at the time, or we come up with the actions through the habits of the belief systems we want to change. The best plan is to set up small, manageable tasks, one by one, that will move you toward your goal, and then do them! Make sure they are doable tasks so that you do not sabotage yourself from the outset.
Exercise 3 teaches you how to make prayer ties, sticks, and flags. Shamans use these devices as their first steps for change. Making a prayer sick, tie, or flag is a physical action that by its very nature gives notice to the Spirit realm, and it is therefore a perfect first step. We hope you will choose to use them to support you with change and as part of your spiritual practice. The results can be truly magical!
Sweet Mystery that is at the Sacred Center, and all Divine Energies, thank you for holding us and cradling us in your protection as we bring wholeness to our hearts and to our world! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! It is good.
STUDY GUIDE: BUDDING OF THE TREES MOON
Week 2: Exercise 2
Obtaining Alignment for Change
What you will need: A candle and matches, smudge materials, whatever you use too call in the Seven Directions, your journal, a pen, and a medicine blanket (if you have one) or something that keeps you warm while you do the practice. Remember that body temperatures naturally drop when we enter altered states of consciousness.
- Read through the exercises first so that you are familiar with what is expected. Find a quiet place and a time when you are not likely to be interrupted. Sit on the floor and gather your blanket around you, or sit on a blanket if you want it for warmth.
- Before you begin, smudge or use some other form of cleansing, and state an intention (see the study guide to the introductory lesson for instructions on how to cleanse). Light the candle that will be kept burning while you are in this process; do not put off doing the exercise just because you don’t have a candle available. Call in the Seven Directions (see the study guide to the introductory lesson for guidance on how to do this).
- Begin with a relaxation technique that puts your body in a quiet, receptive, and centered mode. The exercises in the introductory lesson give some suggestions on how to do this, such as concentrating on your breathing and checking to make sure that all your muscles are relaxed, especially your jaw, shoulders, and stomach muscles. There are many relaxation techniques. You could also use this as an opportunity to connect to your personal well of wisdom by going inside and asking your Wise Self what you desire to do to become relaxed and receptive. Listen to what you are told, and notice how your body reacts.
- Choose a change that you wish to make, and state your intention as clearly and as specifically as you can. Make sure your statement of intention about the change is affirmative and that it moves you toward what you want, rather than against what you don’t want (e.g., “From this moment forward, I speak my truth and take care of my own emotional desires,” rather than “I don’t want to be shy anymore.”)
- Close your eyes and begin to envision your Spirit Self. Note that your Spirit Self may or may not look like your physical body—Spiritual body is often experienced in the form of a symbol as you are envisioning it. Allow your Spirit Self to ask all the parts whether they agree and if they are committed to change. Be sure to listen to discern whether there is any resistance or fear that comes up, and have your Spirit Self dialogue with these aspects. Explain your reason for the change, and ask the resistant or fearful parts whether they have any information for you as to why they are resisting the change. Ask them what the benefits are for them if you do not Listen with a compassionate heart. With this additional information, you may decide that the change does not serve you as well as you thought it would. Or you may find that you want to reformulate your goal in a way that the intention can be agreed upon. Continue this dialogue process until you get agreement from all your parts. If you are unable to get agreement, you will want to stop the process and work with the information you have discovered through the process. It may be supportive to record this in your journal.
- Next, do the same steps with your physical body, part by part. If you come across resistance or tightness anywhere, do the same dialogue process given in Step 5 above.
- Once you have alignment in your physical and spiritual bodies, you may want to ask for support from the natural world. At this point you can ask for a power animal or ally to show itself to your imaginal sense if you want to. You can even ask to be shown you what your obstacles change are and what your next steps may be. Remember the embracing aspect, and be willing to let in what information comes from this journey, even if it’s not what you wish to hear. If you don’t understand something, ask for a better explanation.
- Be sure to thank your physical and Spirit bodies and any allies or Helpers, and then release the reaction and journal your experience with this exercise.
Week 2: Exercise 3
Making Prayer Sticks, Ties, and Flags
What you will need: For prayer sticks you will need a somewhat straight stick approximately 12 inches (30 cm) long and ¼ to ½ inch (1.25 cm) in diameter; a knife to carve with; cloth or paper wrapping material; scissors; crochet string, yarn, twine, thread, or leather lacings; marking pencils or paints and brushes (nail polish will work); and beads or other decorative materials. For prayer ties you will need cloth; scissors; crochet string, yarn, twine, or thread; and tobacco, cedar, or sage. For prayer flags you will need strips of white or colored cotton material that are 2 inches (5 cm) wide and any length you want.
Prayer sticks, ties, and flags are three forms of spiritual tools we can create to be a physical representation and carrier of the energy of a dedication or prayer. They are left at the spot where the prayer ceremony will be held, or they are carried to some sacred place and left as a token of the dedication/prayer. Each time the stick, tie, or flag is encountered again, it serves as a reminder of that dedication/prayer, and thus the dedication/prayer is fortified with the additional energy of attention. Through that attention, the dedication/prayer continues.
The peoples of the Southwestern states, Mexico, and South America use various forms of prayer sticks; in the Hopi language, these are called pahos. The word puppet evolved from the word poppet, a prayer stick shaped as a person. Other individuals, groups, and clans make specialized forms of prayer representations, such as the Ojos de Dios (Eyes of God) of the Huicholes. We are teaching the three forms presented here as representational examples. Be aware, though, that there are many forms and that one may call to you more than the others. That is your soul’s way of letting you know what serves it and your energy best. Do your best to experience each of the examples, and be on the lookout for others that come to you. A dear friend once made us a wonderful little prayer basket filled with feathhelpers, a stone, and a shell lying on a bed of lavender; tobacco ties were tied to the handle of the basket. Please note that if you choose to make a poppet, never tie an intention, no matter how good it may seem, to anyone except yourself. For example, if you want to improve your relationship with your daughter, the doll must represent you and you alone.
Prayer flags are strips of cloth an inch (2.5 cm) or so wide that are torn or cut in various lengths. It is the custom of many Plains Indians to use tobacco or prayer ties, sometimes tied to the ceiling of a sweat lodge. Celtic people hung strips of white cloth, called clouties, from trees near wells to aid them in ridding themselves of disease. The blowing of these clouties in the wind thus carried the prayer. Trees overhanging wells or springs are places of special power, and it is common even today to find clouties hanging over the water at such sacred sites. The ritual of “well dressing” in England comes from the ancient practice of cloutie tying, and the lights hung on Christmas trees originated from this ancient practice. In Japan, trees are decorated with pieces of white paper, or tanzaku, on which wishes are written. Amerindian people also use flags of cloth, such as those tied to the top of the Sun Dance center pole or tree, and Buddhists sometimes tie ribbons around the sacred Bodhi tree for the protection of family members. After a rash of violence against police officers in the St. Louis area following the Ferguson tragedy, blue ribbons were tied around trees in the neighborhood where one officer was killed to support the protection of law enforcement officers. Balloons are another way of sending prayers or well wishes into the heavens.
Make a Prayer Stick
- Begin with a stick that is about a foot long. Gently round the top end of the stick by rubbing it against a rock, and sharpen the bottom end so that it can more easily be stuck into the ground.
- Using nail polish or some other kind of paint with a small brush, make two dots on the “face” of the stick for eyes and another for the mouth.
- Add yarn or your own hair to the top with a spot of glue. In Celtic tradition, a poppet was believed to have more power when dressed in the hair of the person it was intended to represent. Remember, it is considered an invasion of the other person’s spiritual will to make a representation of anyone except yourself. Breaking this rule brings serious spiritual consequences.
- A paper with a written prayer or with symbols of the dedication/prayer can be rolled around the body of the stick before the stick is “dressed.” Keep this prayer in your mind or speak your prayer out loud while you are making the stick, whichever feels most powerful to you.
- Next, cloth is wrapped around the body of the stick to fashion a “dress” or “coat” for your prayer stick. You can use a scrap from some favorite clothing of yours to include your essence in it.
- Next, wrap the stick with a cord or twine to make a “belt.” You can also use beads of a symbolic color, re, and other decorative materials tied to the stick with twine or leather.
- As you work, avoid distractions and maintain your intent in your mind; also maintain an awareness of the symbolism you are using. If you want to grow closer to Source, you may use colors that represent that to you. For example, if you want to enhance your creativity, you may choose to tie an orange belt around your prayer stick to align with the color of your second chakra.
- After you finish the stick, hold it up in front of you as a witness to the prayer.
- Next, poke your finished prayer stick (see the one on the next page) into the soil somewhere safe. If you live in a populated area, the soil of a potted plant will suffice. When placed into the ground, the prayer stick becomes a World Tree or a Tree of Life, a conduit by which the dedication/prayer is carried up to the Heavens and through which an answer is channeled back down to the Earth.
Make a Prayer Tie
- To make a prayer or tobacco tie, cut a 1- to 2-inch (2.5 to 5 cm) square piece of cotton cloth (see Figure a below). The color of the cloth can be any color that represents the dedication/prayer; red, yellow, black, or white (for the Four Directions) are most often used. Bundles strung together often have all four colors to represent a balanced Wheel.
- After you have cut the square, place a pinch of tobacco, in the center of the cloth as you say your prayer (see Figure b). The prayer is thus mentally placed with the tobacco into the bundle.
- Gather the corners up together (see Figure c), and tie the bundle at the top around the pinch of tobacco (see Figure d). Next, touch the bundle to your forehead at your third eye and say words of dedication that represent the quality of your mind in relationship to the bundle. Then place the bundle in front of your mouth and nose and breathe your essence into it with your breath. Next, touch it to your throat and speak about the qualities of your speech you make with this bundle. Then touch the bundle to the center of your chest with words about your heart. Lastly, touch your belly between your navel and your generative organs and speak about the qualities of creation and the power that goes with it.
- Many bundles can be strung together (see Figure e) and then wrapped around a prayer pole, or they can be strung into a necklace and worn during a sweat or other ceremony; they are then burned so that the smoke carries the prayers to the Spirit realm. If the bundles are tied to a pole, downy feathers are sometimes tied with them to blow in the wind so that the wind carries the prayer up to Great Spirit.
Make a Prayer Flag
- To make a prayer flag, cut a to 2-inch (5 cm) strip of cloth in a color that represents the dedication/prayer you have in mind. For example, for purification, you may choose to use a white cloth. Add your prayer to the cloth as you work.
- When you are done, tie your flag to a tree you will see every day. If you live in a populated area, you may decide to tie your flag to a house plant. If you do, see if you can place it in an area that catches the breeze occasionally, even if the breeze only comes from the opening and closing of a door. Remember that your intent and you’re seeing it every day is what makes it powerful for you. If you feel directed to do so, you can add a simple symbol to your flag. For example, a peace sign or a heart may remind you to walk a path of peace and unconditional love for other beings, or a flower may remind you of your Path of Beauty.
QUESTIONS FOR BUDDING OF THE TREES MOON: WEEK 2
NOTE: If you are seeking certification of any kind, you must submit your answers, along with your journal, to the Institute via your private account.
- Describe the concept of “Unto the Seventh Generation.”
- What are some aspects we must consider when deciding to change?
- How do some people of the Norse peninsula view the reindeer and their relationship to it?
- Describe the concept of flow, including its benefits, from the worldview of a primal person.
- Use some example from nature as a metaphor to describe your understanding of the four aspects of change.
- Why are recognition and commitment both so essential to change?
- Give examples of some of the payoffs a person may get from being ill or disabled.
- What must you do to be supported from the other realms?
- What can Coyote teach us?
- List the three spheres of influence and describe their importance when it comes to making a change in your life.