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
One night, as I sat watching the “Return of the King” (the last in the trilogy of the Lord of the Rings), a particular scene in the movie caught my attention. Aragorn and his friends enter a cave that holds the cursed spirits of a long dead army that betrayed their promise to fight for the King of Gondor in his hour of need. Aragorn…who has been given a mighty sword that represents his reluctant acceptance of his destiny as the new King of Gondor…comes to this place of the dead to demand that the spirits make good on their old promise and thereby win their freedom from the curse. When his friends tell him it is madness to go into such a place, Aragorn suddenly holds up the sword and with great determination simply states “I am not afraid of death” and strides purposely into the darkness.
At the end of that scene, I was struck by one thought: “I once felt that same sense of ‘destiny’ in my life’. That lack of fear, not only of death but of anything that tried to sway me from my purpose. Just remembering that time hit me with such force. There in Prescott, I felt so far away from that time…that faith…that strength…that ‘knowing-ness’ that I was truly following my destiny. Back then, anything I did I knew with a certainty that I was doing what I was meant to be doing. And I always knew that it would all work out in a good way. I did not fear death during that time because, for me, I was following what the Creator wanted me to do. And it was that sense of destiny, culminating in 1996, that stayed with me through the cancer and afterwards…at least, for awhile. If I strayed from my spiritual path, the Visions, Intuition and Dreams always brought me back.
After getting off of disability in the early 2000’s, I had to return to work…the stress of bills needing to be paid took precedence over my spiritual path. That is the year I began to feel “not needed”…being rejected over and over by employers caused me to wonder at my worth…and that’s when the fear started to creep in…and set up housekeeping. Unbeknownst to me, it became my roommate.
I always wondered why the Creator had guided me to Prescott. I, like many others in my circles at the time, had been having dreams. I felt ‘pushed’ to leave. I believed that there was some great disaster coming and that my family and I needed to leave. When we made the decision together to go to Prescott, all the ‘warning’ dreams stopped so I felt that I was meant to be there. However, to be truthful, I had reservations. I had just gotten a really good-paying position in San Diego and had only been there for 6 months and I had this feeling that I could stay there as long as I wanted. I was treated well and they were generous. Having just struggled through years of poverty, it was good to have abundance again and I was reluctant to give that up. But I left anyway and to be honest, I went partially out of fear.
Perhaps it was no surprise then that I struggled there. No friends, no ceremonies, no spiritual community and more importantly, no work. The lack of work really took its toll on me. Some months I barely made it…other times I almost lost my place and wondered if I’d be out on the street the next month. Fear was taking everything. More importantly, there were no Dreams, Visions or Intuition to guide me there. I felt lost.
Then in December of 2006, during a 16-day Hopi ceremony known as Soyal, the Dreams came again. One in particular was extremely important. In this dream, I was shown magma running under the mountain of Prescott and I was told that Prescott was a place that sucked the life-energy from the People. That elders couldn’t feel the drain because they were close to crossing over and that the families with children didn’t feel it because the children had such an abundance of energy that it camouflaged the feeling. I was told that those who were single would feel the ‘drain’ the greatest and that it was a place of ‘Give-Away’. That people came there to get rid of those things that kept them from progressing and that once they got rid of them, they could move on. This was an important Dream to me and actually gave me Hope that there would be an eventual end to the misery I was experiencing.
Seeing that scene in the movie seemed to shake me out of a spiritual fog. I had been walking down the memory lane of my early 40’s…the highest spiritual time of my life…wondering if I would ever feel that way again. Had I simply just moved over to the other side of that mountain, relegated to a spiritual life of ‘kibbles and bits?” Had the Creator discarded me, having now served my purpose? Was I was just marking time until the end?
That scene jumping out at me with such strength, forced me to consider that word “Destiny “ carefully. What did it mean to me? Did it mean that there was a pre-destined path to our lives and that you got ‘smacked upside the head’ if you failed to follow that path? Was Surrendering to the Creator following my destiny…or was it fulfilling some kind of contract I had made with the Creator?
Finally, after a night of Dreams, I came to understand what Destiny meant to me…Destiny is doing what you really want to do. Now, you may say to yourself, “Well, I knew that.” Yes, I guess we all inherently know this at a cellular level. But I got caught up in the “Your will, not mine” mantra. I was trying so hard to figure out what the Creator wanted me to do that I simply forgot what it was I wanted to do. No wonder I wasn’t ‘getting it.’ Hearing that one statement from the movie, “I do not fear death”, made me think that perhaps following our heart’s desire is the Creator’s will.
When I thought back to the 90’s, and that strong sense of Destiny, I realized that what I felt back then came from pursuing a dream of mine that I’d had since my teens…and I was going to attain it no matter what. I was doing what it was in my heart to do. I was fulfilling my Destiny…and at the same time…following the Creator’s will by using my own free will. While it’s true that Destiny is sometimes thrust upon us…and maybe that’s part of the ‘contract’ we make with the Creator…it’s just as true that we are happier when we are doing what we truly want to do.
And that’s what I forgot. I had been so worried about getting a job and paying the bills that I forgot what was in my heart that I wanted to do here. I’m not here to just mark time until the end. I’m here to do what is in my heart to do.
Moving once again towards the desires of my heart…I feel Destiny moving in my soul and I know now that “I do not fear death.”
Love and Destiny to us all.
“There will come a time when the Earth grows sick
and when it does a tribe will gather from all the cultures of the World
who believe in deed and not words.
They will work to heal it.
They will be known as the “Warriors of the Rainbow”.
~ Cree Indian Proverb~
The Cree tribe tells of an old woman named “Eyes of Fire”, who prophesied that one day, because of the white mans’ greed, there would come a time, when the fish would die in the streams, the birds would fall from the air, the waters would be blackened, and the trees would no longer be, mankind as we would know it would all but cease to exist.
There would come a time when the “keepers of the legend, stories, culture rituals, and myths, and all the Ancient Tribal Customs” would be needed to restore us to health, making the earth green again. They would be mankind’s key to survival, they were the “Warriors of the Rainbow”. There would come a day of awakening when all the peoples of all the tribes would form a New World of Justice, Peace, Freedom and recognition of the Great Spirit.
According to Manataka American Indian Council, “the “Warriors of the Rainbow” would spread these messages and teach all peoples of the Earth or “Elohi”. They would teach them how to live the “Way of the Great Spirit”. They would tell them of how the world today has turned away from the Great Spirit and that is why our Earth is “Sick”.
These Warriors would give the people principles or rules to follow to make their path light with the world. These principles would be those of the Ancient Tribes. The Warriors of the Rainbow would teach the people of the ancient practices of Unity, Love and Understanding. They would teach of Harmony among people in all four corners of the Earth.
Like the Ancient Tribes, they would teach the peoples how to pray to the Great Spirit with love that flows like the beautiful mountain stream, and flows along the path to the ocean of life. Once again, they would be able to feel joy in solitude and in councils. They would be free of petty jealousies and love all mankind as their brothers, regardless of color, race or religion. They would feel happiness enter their hearts, and become as one with the entire human race. Their hearts would be pure and radiate warmth, understanding and respect for all mankind, Nature and the Great Spirit.
They would once again fill their minds, hearts, souls, and deeds with the purest of thoughts. They would seek the beauty of the Master of Life – the Great Spirit! They would find strength and beauty in prayer and the solitude of life.
Their children would once again be able to run free and enjoy the treasures of Nature and Mother Earth. Free from the fears of toxins and destruction, wrought by the Yo-ne-gi and his practices of greed. The rivers would again run clear, the forests be abundant and beautiful, the animals and birds would be replenished. The powers of the plants and animals would again be respected and conservation of all that is beautiful would become a way of life.
The poor, sick and needy would be cared for by their brothers and sisters of the Earth. These practices would again become a part of their daily lives. The leaders of the people would be chosen in the old way – not by their political party, or who could speak the loudest, boast the most, or by name calling or mud slinging, but by those whose actions spoke the loudest. Those who demonstrated their love, wisdom and courage and those who showed that they could and did work for the good of all, would be chosen as the leaders or Chiefs. They would be chosen by their “quality” and not the amount of money they had obtained.
Step forward, Warriors of the Rainbow…help our Mother Earth…help The People and All Relatives upon Mother Earth!
Looking back, I guess I was always destined to follow a spiritual path…it was just a matter of which one. I remember lying on my bed when I was 10, reading a book on Joan of Arc (for which I won an award for the fastest reading of a book). I admired her courage, her faith and was horrified that the God she obeyed and listened to, would let her come to such a horrific ending. But what astounded me more is that she was ‘told’ she would come to that end…and could have walked away but didn’t. Creator had given her a mission and that mission required that she die. As she burned in the flames, I cried deeply…the sorrow lasting for many days.
I remember wanting to be a Nun…apparently, a common ‘call’ with most of my female spiritual friends. And when I started dating in high school, I was drawn to the boys who followed a religious path. I think I was ‘shopping’ even then to find where I fit in, spiritually. But ultimately, Creator did not ‘speak’ to me thru those ways.
And then in my 30’s, I heard the ‘call’ of the Lakota/Nakota ways (the Sioux). Thru a series of coincidences and chance meetings, I was given the opportunity to learn their true teachings. My spirit was captured by the way they honored Mother Earth by trying to live in balance; of how they spoke of walking in a good way with the Earth and with each other; and of the Honor, Respect, Courage, Generosity and Compassion they lived by. These teachings not only gave me a strong spiritual foundation but ultimately they gave me what I had always wanted since I was 13…I wanted the Creator to speak to me.
…and so it happened, in a variety of ways: thru dreams, visions and spoken words.
In the mid-90’s, I was “guided” (pushed was more like it) to purchase a rather large book on Tsunka Witko (Crazy Horse). I was deeply into the ways at that time, praying and talking with the Creator several times a day. I began to have out-of-the-body experiences which were always stopped by a “parental” energy, as if I was a child, not ready for that yet…probably because about that same time, the Dark Ones started to take an interest in me. But more importantly, I was beginning to experience more and more contact with the Creator and with spirits.
I wasn’t really interested in purchasing that book. I honored and admired Crazy Horse but in a distant sort of way. Long story short, I ended up buying the book and learned a great deal about him. For a man who faithfully served for the good of The People and walked in a humble way, he suffered a great deal. I felt great compassion for him at the loss of his wife and young child and that he had been killed not by the whites but by one of his own people. 2 nights later, Crazy Horse came to me in a dream. It felt as if he talked to me the entire night but I remember little of what he said. There was one thing I did remember when I awoke: “Be careful what you ask for.” I thought at the time that perhaps he meant that I shouldn’t desire to be like him…and also, to pay close attention to words I spoke. I took those words to heart and always took care when speaking about what I wanted.
Crazy Horse has been on my mind of late…along with Joan of Arc. Two people I admire for their courage, their faith and their dedication to the Creator. Two people who ended up dying in terrible ways for that dedication. I have been feeling hurt, angry and resentful lately. In the mid-90’s, I told the Creator that I would serve him and The People. And I have been true to my word. One year at Sun Dance on the 3rd day, He gave me my Mission: “Tell others to Pray.” This I have done and continue to do…along with the duties of being a Cannunpa Yuha (Pipe Carrier), I serve The People.
So it was, when 3 Grandmothers came to me in a dream in Dec 2010 and gently asked me to quit a job I loved…after 2 weeks of praying hard about it, I did. Four years later, having lost my home, traveled to 5 states and 11 cities looking for work, had my family turn their backs on me, homeless on the streets for 6 months…I still struggle with no job and no income. And worst of all, I’ve lost hope that the Creator will ever return what I had to sacrifice.
I wish I had known the context of what Crazy Horse was sharing in that dream. I realize now that he wasn’t talking about me wanting to be some great spiritual leader. He was cautioning me to be careful in asking to serve the Creator and The People. And from all that I experienced, perhaps he was right.
Walking thru the Ocean of Tall Grasses
Pushed by an Impish wind,
Creating wave upon wave of flowing green
A meadowlark’s clarion call,
Summons all to join him in this still and reverent moment…
And as the Giver of Light and Warmth
Slowly moves over the Smoky Horizon
Those that fly…and walk…and swim…
And those that grow upon the land,
Pause in still Gratitude for this moment of Rebirth…
The place of Hope
Of a New Day…of New Beginnings
Each morning a gift of Renewal and Trust
A time of Enlightenment seeping into the Soul…
Awakening the awareness of something more…
Something Greater than.
All who attend this Grand Coronation
The Radiance carried gently
From one to another.
Each gently drinking their fill
And then passing it onto the next.
For All share in this Sacred Light.
And when it has been bestowed upon All,
The Light flies to the Four Directions.
And a gentle Wind follows.
Called the ‘Breath of God’,
Its ‘fingers’ gently touching the faces of the Postulants,
Speaking to each of its Delight and Wonder.
And as it races away,
Intent on ensuring that All Know of its Love
A sigh of perfect Contentment rises to the Heavens.
And the Day Begins.
One Lakota Creation story tells of how the Lakota people came into world thru a hole in the Earth. One person stayed behind and when he came out, he saw the people dying of famine and so he turned himself into a bison (Tatanka) and multiplied himself until he covered the Earth. While some tribes do not place an emphasis on sacrifice, in the Lakota/Dakota traditions, Sacrifice is Honored as an important Value to one’s character, as well as to the care and survival of The People. Waíč’iuŋyan (to sacrifice oneself) or Ič’íčhupi (to give oneself, volunteer or enlist) describes the basic understanding of how integral Sacrifice is to the Lakota/Dakota People.
Most people have some familiarity with the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers, a Warrior Society of extraordinary skill and courage. One of their roles as Dog Men was to protect The People at all costs, often in the face of overwhelming odds. If the situation looked hopeless, they would stake themselves to the ground in front of the oncoming enemy, knowing that it would likely be their last breath, in order that The People could escape.
The Sun Dance (Wiwanyang Wachipi), of which I previously shared, is a demonstration of Sacrifice. Sun Dancers dance for 4 days in the hot sun, with no food or water. Why would they do this? Often times it is to ask for a Healing for a Loved One or to offer Gratitude to the Creator for all the blessings they have received in the past year…but mostly, they Sacrifice to Pray for The People.
Perhaps, we have forgotten that we too Sacrifice. Mothers Sacrificing for their Children that they may grow to be healthy, fed and protected. Giving our bone marrow to save another life. Sacrificing our ‘normal’ lives to care for our aging Parents. Volunteering our time at local food banks and shelters that others may be fed and safe. Even the simple act of opening a door for an Elder. Often, the only rewards we receive is the knowing that our efforts have hopefully improved other lives. The Lakota recognized, and Honored, what we have forgotten…that Sacrifice…no matter how painful…IS necessary and that it is in our very nature to make Sacrifices for ourselves or for others. Sacrifice gives us all Dignity and gives those who follow after us an example. 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!”