A voicehearer’s path ~

Posts tagged ‘totems’

The Eagle’s place on your personal wheel ~

132First, let me share with you that my medicine on the Wheel in the East is the lowly little mouse. I have always enjoyed the wonderful tales  about mice. Things like the comparison of the country mouse and the city mouse. I am a country mouse. I like the fields and nature and the open sky, even though, out here we little mice don’t live very long. Mouse medicine people have a tendency to want to get up close and personal to explore whatever it is that has come into our world and caught our attention. We want to taste, smell and feel whatever it is that is ahead of us, and that can sometimes get us into trouble. Set some cheese on a spring loaded trap and “thwack”, you’ve got us. And yes, I like cheese, a lot.

Eagle medicine, which is almost a polar opposite in it’s function, is the Medicine Keeper of  goldeneagle4the East of the Wheel of Life. Eagle sees the “big picture” with extreme clarity, seeing details as well as major consequences of actions taken. The East is where a person learns the AHA’s in life, the “epiphanies” or sudden “Yes!” moments. This is where we are born into this life on the wheel, and learn the basics of walking and talking. Eagle watches our progress and keeps the knowledge of this place for all time. It is Eagle that carries our prayers to Wakan Tanka (translated Holy, Wakan; Spirit, Tanka)

5189j2181el_sl500_aa240_Hyemeyohsts Storm is a storyteller and spokesman for the mixed blood peole of the earth. He tells the story of Jumping Mouse. (His book, Seven Arrows, is an excellent introduction into Native teaching and thought.) There are several such stories among the Original People, as mouse is also a keeper, though not of the East, but of the South in some tribes. Let me say a word of caution to those of you who are reading my words and have not explored your totems with a Native teacher. Eagle medicine is not all that common, and to claim it is also to claim not just power but an awesome responsibility to serve the people. Learn Eagle as a Keeper on the Medicine Wheel. Let Eagle teach you, understanding that Eagle is a servant and teacher. Learn Sun Bear’s totem teachings in Dancing with The Wheel. It is an excellent place to start, and you will not go wrong learning from him.

How totems work, at least for me ~

It seems best to start with Wagle Shun, my south totem teacher. I have felt her presence since I was a small child and will admit that it is her wisdom that has kept me from crashing on the rocks during the early part of my journey. Since she is the totem of the mystic, there is every reason to suspect that this is why I followed that path. Whenever I see one of those wonderful little figurines of her in a home I visit, I start asking the questions that will tell me if the person that collects them is one of her students. I start with her because her gentle guidance is available to everyone if she is who I believe her to be.

Proverbs is full of mention of her, most especially the eighth chapter. It is also full of mention of her opposite number, Folly, whose animal I am unsure of. I believe Wagle Shun is my teacher’s totem, and is most certainly the way she communicates with me. It is she who first taught me not to envy others the things that are theirs by birth, which, once I knew my birth totem was a good chuckle, since that is the raven, and a reminder of Aesop’s fables. Who knows, maybe I am folly and am finally allowing Wisdom to teach me. That would certainly be the way my life has gone, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it were at least an allegorical truth.

These two totems, along with the Snowy Owl and the butterfly have drawn me from early youth. I have had some strong lessons to learn from them. Note the amount of airy totems, which is where my head usually is and then it will be no surprise to you that I had to learn from another totem, one that had drawn me but I had not explored the lessons, the otter, how to stay grounded, balanced and playful. If you understand that the animals as the Native American sees them, are teachers, not G-ds, they can teach you also.

You can start out by looking at the animals that drew your attention in childhood, what were they trying to teach you? Even domestic animals have lessons to teach so do not discredit their influence in your life lessons. If you cannot remember being drawn to any wild ones, there is another, rather slightly off-beat way to learn about totems that have to do with you personally. Everyone is familiar with astrology, some believe in it, some don’t. That’s fine, I will not try to persuade you one way or the other, but it is a tool, should you choose to use it, that can lead you to the knowledge of at least four of the animals that will have been a fairly strong influence in your life.

First go to Alabe.com, look down the page to where you can pull a free birth chart. Enter your data there, save the chart on your computer, it will be a gif image, and save the write-up in a Word document, or other word processing software. (Open Office is free on the web and does all that Microsoft’s does without spending an arm and a leg.) When you have them on your own computer where you can study them, pick out the “houses” that are your birth sign (your character), your moon sign (your inner self), your rising sign (your outward projection for others to see) and the North Node, which will tell you where you are headed in your learning patterns.

After you have found the astrological “houses” involved for your birth, look at Sun Bear’s Dancing with the Wheel. It can be found at most Public Libraries if you cannot afford it, but is a wonderful book to have if you are interested in Native American cosmology at all, so I wouldn’t hesitate to spend the money if you have it. You will find the totems for those four “houses” in that workbook, and full explanations of the lessons those four animals have to teach you. It is not quite the same as having a “Medicine” teacher find your totems for you, but is a good way to start with learning about totems.

Totems ~

Have you wondered what you might have as a totem? These energies in our lives are not worshiped in the sense of worshiping Hashem, did you know that? There is Wakan Tanka, who is worshiped, {directly translated, Sacred Spirit}, the totems are allies, helpers, teachers, even friends.

So, how do they function in our lives? There is one book I would advise you to get your hands on if this is something you really would like to know. Sun Bear, and Ojibwe holy man was in trouble with the elders of his tribe for publishing such clear information as is in the book, “Dancing with the Wheel”. It is a valuable resource for me, and I have had two copies, I wore the first one out completely, and gently retired it just a couple of years ago. It sits respectfully wrapped in a special box with other books that have brought special experiences with the reading of them. But I have a working copy available, as it is something I would not want to be without. You can get the book from Amazon, B&N, or any bookstore that would handle books dealing with the metaphysical.

Sun Bear died a few years ago, much to the distress of all who loved and respected him, but his work lives on. there are websites where you can connect with his people directly. Click the book to connect with one of the authors. One of my most respected friends and teachers, Shawnodessa, is an herbalist, and respected this man’s work enough to recommend the book.

The reason I bring up this book in particular is that he has in it, a chart of totems that correlate to one’s astrology sign, his point of view regarding this perspective is that one is given this knowledge to “dance the wheel” and learn all the lessons Creator has from each particular sacred point of view. For instance, my birth totem would be the raven. This bird is a trickster in the creation stories and able to see many sides of the same situation. However, this is my starting point at birth, it does not have to be the place I end up on the wheel at my crossing over. We built a medicine wheel according to his plan on my teacher’s property, much prayer went into that wheel, and the energy of it is still lovely just to stand within it’s bounds to pray.

Traditional astrology, that was taught as though one’s fate was sealed always bothered me. Even that has changed and today is taught, as is this, that one’s free will is in full power, but looking at the influences and how they slant our choices if we are not careful to keep ourselves on a high road. You will see, in this workbook, how to connect with the stones, plants, trees, and animals for meditation and self-growth. Through it, you will begin to understand that “Power” is not really the proper way to look at one’s totem teachers, they are not to be “used” as one uses facial tissue and discards, but valued and treasured as precious friends along the journey of life.

Sacred Circles ~

I am fascinated by all sacred circles, not least because my query to a Lutheran minister teaching us Catechism got me ousted from the classes altogether. He was teaching that with God the time line has no beginning and no end. I asked if that, (a line with no beginning and no end,) wasn’t a circle? He was certain I was a witch (I was 12 at the time) and no longer wanted me around the others learning the ways of the church. It’s been a long trail from there to here. An artist friend of mine commented when I related that story to her that that was simply the artist’s perspective coming through.

But, he pretty well guaranteed that all symbolic circles would draw my attention for the rest of my life. Had he known I already heard voices at that time, I am certain he would have insisted on an exorcism right then and there (and Lutherans are not known for that sort of thing.) I didn’t have to deal with that for many years. To the left is a set of chakra wheels, showing sacred sounds that go with each chakra, as well as that chakra’s color when the person is in good balance. The circle on the right is a simple color wheel, used by artists when aligning colors for a project. So, yes, I work with circles all the time.

The circle has an ancient history and of course originates from the circles in nature, which are seldom perfect, but rather near circles. But, to ancient peoples began to symbolize the path one traveled while on the earth. Interesting that the indigenous people, in referencing so much of their lives with the path of the sun, had no difficulty imagining the earth as also round. Sort of makes you wonder at what point learning takes the place of logic, doesn’t it? And should it? We do seem to want to educate ourselves into uselessness, don’t we?

As I said, I am fascinated with the Sacred Circles, Stonehenge, and all other Sacred Hoops found all over the world. They are all wonderful signs of a world that observed the roundness of the sun and emulated it. I have in fact, wondered if the reason the Native Americans did not use wheels was that they felt them too sacred to use them as burden bearers? They were not slow to adapt to the use of horses, and when they were exposed to horses, they were exposed to the wheel. There are many things to learn from these sacred circles, and from the perspective of the indigenous peoples that designed them.

Caution! I am not a Native American teacher, I am a mixed blood who has had the extreme honor of learning at the feet of some wonderful teachers of their path. What I show and explain here is very much my own personal medicine wheel as I understand it, it is not to be taken as something you use as a measuring stick of someone else’s medicine wheel being right or wrong. That is the beauty of this path. I can be right, and they can be right, for it is a matter of personal truth. These pieces of personal truth then weave into the larger truth that is the people, but if one is listening to the song of Creator correctly, it will weave into a beautiful pattern. That is part of why I love this path so, and also part of why I want my readers to understand that this is my wheel, as I walk it, in order to learn your own wheel, I would send you to a Native Teacher to learn your path. 

The way of the Native American Medicine Wheel is not so much that of a religion as a way of life. It is a perspective of how life works, and is therefore compatible with any belief system that serves good and compassionate purpose.

As we walk the medicine wheel of our own lives, we find that there are seven sacred directions to be traveled.

East ◊As we are born into this journey, our first direction is the East. This is the place of new beginnings, it is “where” we receive instruction by learning to hear and see what Spirit is saying to us. Most with Eurobred religious backgrounds are sure, when they begin to hear Spirit for the first time that these are messages for the people. This is seldom the case. On this path, Spirit is generally working with individuals for their own well being. It is best to presume from the outset that this is how it is with you.

“There is but One Original Source, learn to heed the messages Spirit is bringing you. The messengers of Spirit are here to help you complete your walk.”

South ◊ This is the sacred direction of growth. It is here we grow in stature as well as understanding.

“Grow as the Willow that bends and moves in the wind but seldom breaks. Grow in Spirit, grow in Truth, grow in Love.”

West ◊ The West is the Sacred Direction in which we take on the mantle of responsibility for ourselves and for the tribe. It is when we have reached this point of growth in our sacred walk that messages from Spirit may have meaning for others as well as ourselves. It is the “place” where we learn what is right to do for ourselves and how not to embroil others in our own dysfunctions.

“Walk with a light step, walk with grace, walk with love.”

North ◊ The North is the place of the Wisdom of the Elders. This is where we learn to honor the wisdom of those who have walked the wheel of life before us. “Here” is where we learn to apply that wisdom, both for ourselves, and for others. This is the point where it is appropriate for us to begin to pass on the wisdom that we have learned as we have walked the wheel.

“Be ever mindful that what we do affects Mother Earth and all her children for seven generations hence.”

Above ◊ This is where we learn to honor Creator in everything we do and say. It is from this perspective that we learn that all of life is actually a prayer. Nothing we do or are is ever hidden, all will be revealed in the end, so the best thing we can do is live our lives by the light we now have, and hope for the best possible results.

“From the stars we came, to the stars we shall return.”

Below ◊ This is the “Place” in our lives where we learn how to maintain our grounding in this plane of reality. Those who are truly aware have a tendency, unless they put forth a great deal of effort, to “wander off” into mental or astral realms, and forget that part of our mission is to learn to be “here, now”. In learning to be present in the here & now, we will learn to cope with what we have been given.

“Walk in balance, remembering always that we are astral beings living in bodies made of clay.”

Within ◊ This is our sacred space. This is the place within us that we are to hold separate, where no one else is welcome except by invitation. It is here we learn to honor our own boundaries and those of others. It is here we learn to appreciate who we are and what we have been given. It is here we learn not to desire to be someone else, it is here we learn that all “things” are held in stewardship, nothing is ever truly “owned”, so, even the act of stealing without intent to repay is a defilement of our own sacred space.

“Honor your own truth and walk your path accordingly.”

Each of us has animal totems that go into those slots where I have shown stars, earth and a labyrinth. Those are your teachers, not someone else’s, and their identity should not be lightly shared. You will also have individual teachers to help you connect with the cardinal teachers, according to the teachings, if you really are interested, find a Native teacher to show you how to work with them, it is a fun and productive study, and you will know much more about yourself if you do this.

I hope I have been clear enough that you can see that this is a dynamic path, with learning and discovery as a part of it from beginning to end, not only acquiring more and more bits of information along the way, but then having the wisdom to use them properly as you acquire them. No, I will not pretend, any more than my teachers did, that there were not mistakes made among the Original People, but then, had those mistakes not happened, we’d have had to grow up in Europe or whereever our other ancestors were from. Nor will I pretend that those whom I have had the honor to learn from were not the same sort of flawed people the rest of us are. I wish it were not so, but, we humans tend to be quite capable of living for self as well as living for the good of all, it just happens.

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