Site selection for Pipe Fast / Hanblecheyapi / Vision Quest according to the Dakota tradition

 

Selection taken from Gerald's Page Journal entry for May 20, 2004, a few weeks before my Hanblechyapi:

05-20-2004  "You were on a steep hillside, maybe like a mountain with different levels or steps, and you were having a difficult time to climb higher.  You said; 'why is it so hard?'  There were seven eagles that came and were flying around you and one of them landed on your shoulder.  That eagle said to you; ' You chose this way.  You did not have to choose it, but now you must go on and complete what you have begun.'  You had a hard time of it.  Bear came to you and you were very afraid.  But bear lay down near you to let you know he was there to help you and you stopped being afraid.  And wolf came also and bear and wolf went with you.
One of the eagles took you by the shoulders and lifted you up and carried you forward.  Eagle carried you and you went much further than you had ever expected to go when you started."

That was the description of a dream of a Dene healer as he told it to me on May 17.  He asked me what I thought it might mean, and what I had been doing over the weekend, as he had the dream late Sunday evening or early in the morning hours of Monday.

I answered that I had been at the New Green Alliance Annual Convention in Regina, and that some things had been good and others that had disturbed me and had interfered with my sleep that night.  I said I would think about his dream further.

I am not sure.  It was not my dream, but that of the Dene healer.  Whatever it meant, I could appreciate the images and symbols of the dream as he described it, and whether the dream came from Creator or from his own imagination, I appreciated the positive character it had. 

Perhaps it foreshadowed the experience of the Vision Quest ceremony I plan to do in a few weeks.  If so, it would suggest that the suffering will be greater than I anticipated.  That ceremony was not forced on me, but one that I freely chose, and I am expected to complete what I have begun.  Eagle is one of my helpers, and the fact that a full sacred number of seven eagles had come to help me is a profound sign of great support from my Creator.  I have not seen bear as a spirit helper, nor wolf, but the Dene healer explained that they represent medicine for me, and that they proceeded with me meant that I would have their help.  I do not know if the medicine was for my needs or if they represent medicines that I need to learn about to use to help others.

I do not know what this means for me, but it is a nice affirmation that I am doing a good thing for me by proceeding with the quest.  I had the sense that the dream was like the apocalyptic literature of the bible; images on many levels that are intended to support and comfort a people who are suffering and afraid.

I am not prone to remembering dreams that I know I must have when I sleep.  Even when I think that I want to remember a dream that I have when I awake, after a few minutes of being awake, I soon forget what I had wanted to remember.  My Freudian psychology background also tends to prevent me from giving any spiritual significance to what I dream.  Perhaps that is why I have been given a dream from someone else ... Creator is trying to tell me something and I have lost my capacity to hear it and need to hear it from another ?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  I do not know.

Note:  This entry made before the Pipe Fast illustrates how little I understand about my own Spiritual Journey.  The elements from my friend's dream were incredibly predictive of what I would experience.  Wolf did come to help, with first a single  wolf howling to a moon-lit sky on the third night, and that was followed by the chorus of a whole pack.  They were close to me and I rejoiced in their songs and presence that  difficult night.  Yes, wolf had come to be with me.  But that was not the end of Wolf's assertions to me that  wolf would be a helper to me. When my friends came to lead me out  at the conclusion of the 4-day fast, we walked to where  the quad waited on a forest trail as near as it could come to where I had spent my prayer time.  On the ground we saw a large area scratched into the damp earth where wolf had marked territory.  And a bit further along, another large territorial marking area.   When we emerged from the forest and had to pass through a field of alphalfa along a narrow track, an adult wolf, who had been waiting there, stood  up right in front of our approaching  quad and loped ahead of us for the rest of our journey  through the field, only  swerving back into trees as we entered the yard of my host. 

Subsequent to that day, my host friend returned and found a whole series of such territorial markings that surrounded the area where I prayed.  As well, though I was not aware of bear being present during this time, my host friends later told me that they saw fresh bearscratching and hair rubbed into an aspen tree  only a metre from where I sat and prayed.  So bear, as in the dream, did not frighten me, but was present and offered me the medicine I needed to complete my commitment.

 

Location selected for Pipe Fast / Vision Quest.  Location on bluff overlooking Tobin Lake in Northern Saskatchewan.  I started taking the photo looking to the East and rotated sun wise till I had come full circle. The images are thumbnails.  Click on each for a larger image.  An Eagle greeted us as we arrived.  The three men are friends who will support me in prayer during my days of fast and prayer.  The photos were taken on May 12, 2004.  A very cold, windy and cloudy day that could not dampen my enthusiasm for the site.

 

Photo on right was taken looking down the sand cliff at the pool of water near the shore.  The location is about 70 feet above water level.

On the left; Ken, Joe and Don.  Joe was our host. Thank you my friends!

 

I revisited this site on August 5, 2004.  Joe and Ken accompanied me.  Eagle came and greeted us as soon as we arrived.  Unlike the May or June times, the sun was out and warm and everything was green and bearing fruit.  We spread a blanket and sat and shared thoughts about our journey with and to Creator.  Shortly before we started Pipe Prayer, two eagles came.  They  used the updraft of wind from the lake that rose  from the cliff and hovered over our heads at tree height.  First one would hover directly over us, then trade places with the other that had been waiting just a few metres over.  They traded places several times and  remained there for about 5 or 6 minutes, declaring their readiness to take our prayers to Creator.  They were so close it was easy to see the full detail of their eyes and head and the clear outline of every wing feather fully spread to take advantage of the updraft. 

I had brought one of the hump vertebrae of Brother Bison.  After our prayer we gathered a few stands of sweetgrass and examined the tree, located just a few metres behind the prayer place, which bore the marks of Brother Bear.  And once more, on our exit from that location, as we came onto the trail that led out of the forest, there was a large and clear territorial scratching of Brother Wolf with distinctive paw prints in the newly disturbed earth.  My Helpers were with us to help us in our prayer.

 

 

I stood with weak and trembling legs on the final morning of  my hanblecheyapi holding on to the chokecherry  stem planted in the ground and bearing the Red Path banner that been prepared for me to help me through my Pipe Fast.  I promised Wakan Tanka to do my best, with the help of all the human and spirit helpers  I have been given, to follow that path

(Note: The Red Path Banner illustrated here was given to me with the instruction to take it with me always and display it in a very prominent place in my home so that all can see it.  It is to be an object of pride and a renewed call to live in a manner according to the plan of Creator for me.  I have done so. )

Inside the willow-supported structure that protected me from nearly three days of rain and very cold nights, but warm under the skin of Brother Bison, I turned my eyes to the skull of Brother Bison that had been blessed in a special Inipi / sweat ceremony at the beginning of the hanblecheyapi.  I added the sacred sage to the eye sockets and the nose opening and used it to support the Sacred Pipe that was my companion and strength.  Resting on its skull was a small rock that came to me from the Black Hills to assist me in my spiritual journey

(I received one email berating me for speaking of my Pipe Fast experience in any way and putting this on the www.  I have asked that person for an understanding of why this would be wrong.  The reply that I received explained little but expressed a lot of anger and a lot of judgement and made a lot of assumptions.  I trust that anyone looking at pages on this web site will decide for themself what they want to see and if it has any value for them. If it  is not to their liking they will disregard it and move on.    I doubt that anything I do or don't do on this web site will have any great impact on anyone, much less impact on Creator or the influence Creator has in each of our lives.)

  In my limited experience with the Dakota / Lakota traditions I have found that there is GREAT pride in the spiritual tradition.  Judging from the old photographs of the medicine men and leaders, there was great pride in being photographed holding their Sacred Pipe and medicine bundles and displaying all of their finest ceremonial clothing.  

Posting some of these reflections and images on the www is part of my response to the call to share the good things that have come to me.  If you read this and understand things in a different manner, please contact me and help me understand your perspective.

From the vantage point of the sacred space / altar on which I stood I looked East over Tobin Lake on the first day that the sky broke and allowed the sun to share its direct light to me and the other creatures that surrounded me.

The same at a different time
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