I am sharing this Lakota Prayer (one of many) for its deep connection to Spirit. I hope you find it as meaningful as I have. ~Lynn Manyfires
Soyal is a Hopi ceremony that begins on Dec 21st and ends 16 days later. The Hopi say that by performing this ceremony, we are creating the next year of our lives. I have celebrated this ceremony for the last 20 years of my life and there are many wonderful suggestions to ‘living’ this ceremony such as using wholesome words; uplifting and doing no hurt; asking the Spirits to listen to you to bring the rain of Loving Care down upon the whole world, etc. And while there are many worthwhile elements to this 16-day ceremony, what has been the most important to me has been the daily morning Prayers.
In the beginning of celebrating this ceremony, I offered to Pray for anyone who asked for whatever was needed/required in their lives. Over the years, I received many powerful visions and answers to those Prayer requests. As time went on, people did not ask for Prayers. Perhaps because they had ‘walked on’ from this world…perhaps because they felt they no longer needed or believed in Prayers. Whatever the reason, requests for Prayers trickled down to a few.
It was extremely challenging in the beginning to maintain the positive loving nature of this ceremony. The holiday season seemed to put such stress on people and I struggled to remember my focus. Some years, my life was so hard and disheartening that I felt too discouraged to even want to Pray. But every year I managed to get up in the morning and say my Prayers…and every year, it was truly worth it. Sometimes, I had to delay my morning Prayers for later in the day because of Life. I was loath to do that as I would often forget to do them. However, there were times that delaying the Prayers provided meaningful and powerful lessons for me.
2 years ago, I spent the night as an overnight host to the homeless guests of an Interfaith Shelter. And instead of early morning Prayers, I spent time with them and their families at breakfast. I was continually humbled by their courage and vulnerability and I felt honored to be there with them, witnessing their journey. Coming home, I thanked the Creator for letting me be there that morning for my Prayers were clearer, stronger and purer. Being there allowed me to see not only the compassion but the wisdom in serving each other. It keeps us truly connected to Spirit…and to each other!
In Love, I offer my Prayers…in Love, let them be known…and in Love, let them be done. For the good of All and harm to none and against no one’s will.
Excerpt: “It was about that time, that the Grandfather next to me spoke in my ear. With gentle Compassion in his voice, he whispered that when the heat became more than I could bear, to lie down upon Mother Earth, for that was where the cool air was, and that Mother would show mercy to one whose prayers were true. His last words were “When it gets hot,” he said “Pray harder.”
The following is my opinion only…
The first time I went into an Inipi…’sweatlodge’ (and I write about this in my book)…everyone spoke their Prayers aloud. Having been brought up a Baptist where our Prayers were unspoken, I worried that I would be judged on how I spoke with the Creator. What I heard that night humbled me and brought a new awareness to my soul. The Elder who poured the water that night told us that the spoken Word has power and he spoke of a quote in the Bible that states “In the beginning was the Word”. He told us that when we speak our Prayers aloud, it goes out into the world to be Created. That’s when I began to hold the idea that it was important to know what was in the hearts of The People by listening to our Prayers. I have this idea that speaking aloud what is in our hearts, can inform us what it is we TRULY think and feel. Some years later, I came to know another Elder that poured one of the most beautiful, one of the most loving lodges I ever experienced! In his lodges, I connected with the Creator in a very real and Sacred way. He would briefly share a teaching at the beginning/end of each door but most of the time he invited us to Pray/Talk with the Creator in the deepest way imaginable. He told me later that he felt it was his duty to provide a safe and Sacred place for us to Pray. That he felt ‘guided’ by the Creator to let each of us talk with the Creator…to truly share what was in our hearts. I owe much to these two Elders for this teaching because…for those who pour water and talk and talk and talk…all I hear is them…I cannot hear the Creator for all the ‘noise’. I came to know a long time ago that in our ways, we don’t need a “middle-man” to speak for us with the Creator. We all have a direct connection to the Creator…and sometimes all we need is the opportunity to hear and honor what is in our hearts by our Prayers. This is good for the Community as a whole. Yes, we have all needed the guidance of the Elders…and that will never change…but at a certain point, it is good to walk, and be guided by, the Creator directly. I, Lynn Manyfires, speak this in a good way…hetcetu. Haho.
The first Sun Dance (Wiwanyang Wacipi) I attended was in Marty, South Dakota on the Yankton rez. I had come for my Naming Ceremony and knew very little about Sun Dance and what it represented and I was most grateful to be invited by my new friends. It was a powerful, heart-felt and humbling Ceremony for me. Til the end of my days, I will always remember my visions there. One of the most powerful experiences occurred on the 3rd day.
I was in this meditative state from singing and dancing for the last 3 days…when I happened to look to the West and saw a massive Thunderstorm building on the horizon and heading across the plains very fast. Having a deep affinity for the rain, I was torn between wanting the storm to come and not wanting it to disrupt the “Healing Day”, one of the most sacred days of the Sun Dance. As it drew closer, the storm began to blow the tall grass almost flat and small pebbles and branches blew into our faces.
The Intercessor (Sun Dance leader) asked us all to Pray that the storm would go around us. I did pray…hard…but the storm was so big and massive, I didn’t really believe it would happen. But I danced harder, lifting up my voice in song as the drum beat grew ever louder. I heard the faint cries of the People in the Arbor: “Ho Tunkashila…Ho Thate Topa” as the hail hit the camp grounds…hard! And then a great Wind came…and almost as one…the crowd held it’s breath….silence except for the wind and the trees blowing. And then, suddenly…the massive grey Clouds parted…and went around us! No rain or hail touched the Arbor circle. And once it passed us, the clouds closed up once again.
The Thunder Beings (Wakinyan) had heard our Prayers! We watched in awe as the fury of the storm flew on. And then a sudden surge of new Energy…new Life…flowed thru us all! We danced and Sang and Prayed with a Joy I had never felt in the entire 3 days. In Gratitude to the Creator for this amazing miracle, we raised our hands into the air and yelled as one “Wophila Grandfather…Wophila!”
Many years ago, when I first walked upon the Red Road, I self-consciously tried Praying. This was something I had not done in many years. Hesitantly at first, like a baby taking her first steps, I offered simple Prayers like “Please, Grandfather…I want to be able to attend these teachings.” And my Prayers were instantly realized! This filled me with a pure, spiritual joy I had never experienced. I felt a new hope and a sense of what Life could be. I Prayed more and Listened carefully. Looking back, I see it as a time of building my spiritual ‘Confidence’. I began to believe that the Creator truly favored me and I cautiously started to allow myself to be Guided.
It was around that time that people began connecting with those whom they called their “Guardian Angels”…many who carried Native names…who would share a person’s previous lives and their purpose here. Many of my friends and family had already noted that I seemed obsessed with the Native ways…and it was true. A fire burned soul-deep inside me…a fire that felt as if it had been there forever. I did not feel as if I belonged to this un-real world. I found myself spending more and more time in deep Prayer…which seemed to bring me into some kind of a ‘spiritual alignment’ with the Creator.
And that is when a Voice began to occasionally speak to me…answering my questions. My friends who were trying to help me understand what was happening told me “Perhaps you were an Indian in a previous life.” And so in Prayer, I asked if I had I been Native in a previous life. The answer came quickly. ‘No!’ My heart fell but I asked again…twice… to ensure that the answer that came was a true one. ‘No’ was the answer each time. Disappointment filled me. I had been so sure that this was the reason I had felt such a deep connection to these ways. A few days later, it suddenly popped into my mind to ask if I had a Guardian Angel and what was their name. Strangely, there was no response at all. Yet, the silence was deafening and the room felt ‘full’ as if a ‘presence’ filled every corner of the room. But still…no Voice came. And then…into my mind’s eye came a vision of a man. Silent. Strong. Powerful. Arms folded, standing next to me. I called him my “Silent One”. After that, I came to trust the Voice of the Silent One. There would be other Voices but it was the ‘Silent One’ that guided me in the beginning. After awhile, all that truly mattered was that I felt a sense of destiny in being ‘Guided’ towards whatever Creator had asked of me in this world.
And then…along with the Silent One’s Voice…the Dreams began.
And so it was one day, while searching for various beads and leather at the local Indian Store, that I was inexplicably ‘drawn’ to a rather thick book on Crazy Horse (Tĥašúŋke Witkó). My knowledge of Crazy Horse was limited to what I had seen on TV and I really wasn’t interested in spending the money. But each time I went around the store, the book ‘called’ to me. I didn’t really want the book but on the last pass before I intended to leave…the Voice spoke…but not in words…and I suddenly found myself with the book in hand heading for the cash register. What had happened? Why was it so important for me to read this book?
I flew thru the story of Crazy Horse and all that he had experienced…that he was called “Our Strange One”…his great sorrow at losing his wife and his child…and even though he was admired for his skill as a warrior, he was loved for his humility. He went quietly throughout the camp…helping an Elder here or speaking a word of encouragement to a young one. A mystic, yet, a man alone. And then to be killed by one of his own People after all he had done…the injustice done to a man who had faithfully served the Creator and his People…it was wrong.
That night, Crazy Horse came to me in a dream. There was nothing else in the dream except him…standing there, right in front of me…talking to me. He spoke of many things and the dream seemed to last the entire night. And when I awoke in the morning…tired from our night’s discussions…I could remember only this…be very careful of what you ask for…and that I had no need to be other than who I am. While I cannot remember all that he told me that night, I know he spoke of the Wisdom of our choices….of serving for the good of The People…of Prayer…and of Humility.
I shared this story with only 3 people…because I knew how it would look and I did not wish any disrespect. Funny that, even to this day, I feel a genuine warmth and closeness to him…as if he were my brother or a friend. And sometimes…in deep darkness when it is only the Creator and I…I wonder…was it he that was the Silent One?