June 2012

During the month of May I was able to take 4 days for my annual fast and prayer time. It was a good time for renewal and re-connection.  Unlike other years, I did not incorporate the renewal of the Sacred Hoop Trail into the  process of those 4 days, leaving it to later in the year at Summer Solstice. 

On June 19 I dug into my freezer to find some bison bones to make a broth, I  mixed and baked a bannock, and prepared a berry mixture in preparation for "feeding" the Sacred Hoop Trail.  Earlier during the day I had  timmed the paths of the Hoop trail and the paths  to reach it.
June 20, summer solstice for this year, began with a clear sky, cool but comfortable temperatures, and a sunrise morning Chanupa prayer from my deck overlooking the pond at Friendly Forest. 
Then I  made a new Waluta to hang above the entrance to my home, removed the flags from within the Initi to wash them, vacuumed the ashes  from the  willow  branches and the floor of the Initi, and in general, cleaned and tidied that place of prayer.  I removed all of the prayer flags that had been tied to trees around my yard over he past year, and bundled them for  burning

I remembered the prayer visitors and the special invocations they   represented.  I prepared new  flags to be hung within the Initi and others to be brought out to the Sacred Hoop to mark the centre and the four gates.  I packed  the Chanupa, the " Face of Creaor Shirt" and  smudge materials and headed out to the Hoop Trail."

 

As I reached the Hoop area I entered and went to the Centre.  After  another Chanupa Prayer, I  removed the old prayer flags, put up the new ones, and fed the forest at the centre of the  Hoop.  In turn the same was  done for the East. South, West and North gates.  Just as  this was  accomplished, it was just past High Noon and the sky clouded over and rain began to fall.  It was time to  return home and then to visit a friend to accomplish another  simple act of worship to Wakan Tanka.

Hoop Boy / Tree Guy 

 

     

 

The Sacred Hoop / Medicine Wheel has great spiritual significance.  It can be a space set aside on the earth that calls us to special prayer.  It can be a symbol representing many teachings about how to live here on this earth, in harmony with the earth, with each other and in correct relationship to our Creator.  The traditional name given to Gerald is Candesna Cun Wakan Oksina, or in English, Sacred Tree Sacred Hoop Boy.  The Sacred Hoop was a special sign and way of connection for Gerald before the name was given, and the name recognized this connection.

 

At Friendly Forest I have tracked the Sacred Hoop into the snow on the pond, and walk and pray the circle and the connections to the centre.  The image below is taken in the direction of the East Gate.

 

During the summer of 2004 I started to create a large Sacred Hoop trail in the forest.  Early in the year my Spiritual Helper and I selected the centre on some high ground in the forest.  Later I  marked the directions using the sun as my guide rather than a compass.  Then I started the hard work of clearing the  trail.  Final dimensions of the Hoop include a diameter of 180 metres, and with the circumference, the total trail is just short of a kilometre.  I completed most of the work  by early December, though by that time, the ground had a good covering of snow and ice.  As a result, Spring 2005 will see me doing trail trimming and some adjusting of the circumference path as well.

 

During Full Moon in April, I will ask Creator to "bless" / "consecrate" this trail.  I will be following the guidance of my Dakota Helper in this.  I will "feed" the forest floor with a special feast of bison meat broth, bannock and berries.  Offerings of tobacco will also be given to the earth and special prayer flags will be hung on trees at the four directional gates.  It is my plan to have Pipe Prayer at the East Gate at sunrise, at the South Gate at High Noon, at the West Gate at sunset, and at the North Gate at midnight.  After each Sacred Pipe Prayer session the Centre will be approached and prayer will continue until the time to move out to the next directional gate.  In Saskatchewan weather is a very unpredictable thing, and mid- April gives us no assurance of mild conditions. 

See section below for more planning details.

Winter Snow Hoop East Gate

 

During a four-day period at the Full Moon (Also summer solstice in June 2005)  there will be a four day celebration and prayer at the Sacred Hoop in Friendly Forest.  This will involve special prayer and ceremony with one day being focused to each of the directions.  Plans are being made for the details of this four day celebration.  It is the intention to have a simple structure to the time that will allow others of any tradition, Dakota, Cree, Dene, Christian or other faiths to participate in a manner that allows them to pray in their own ways, while still combining it with the prayer of others.  The Hoop is a sign of the completeness of Creation and the Unity of Creation that Creator planned.  Our prayer should be a reflection of that reality, and also be a gesture that helps it to become so in our lives. 

 

Blessing / Dedication of Sacred Hoop Trail in forest at Friendly Forest : Basic Plans

Preparations of site and shelter prior to the four day fast period. Make arrangements for any friends who may wish to join this prayer time.  Note; any person planning to join in this for a short while or for a longer time is not expected to participate in the fast.  However, I will not be in a position to offer food in hospitality and I would request that no food be brought to the area of the Hoop. The June celebration will be the time for food and feast.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

  • Participate in Sacred Sweat Ceremony  in preparation for time leading to and including April days of fast and prayer.

Thursday, April 21, 2005 Day 1

  • Begin fasting at dawn
  • Focus for the day: Remember the year past and give thanks for gifts received. Say good-bye to the past year.
  • Light fire bowl (Weather permitting, attempt to keep fire going for four days)
  • Sacred Pipe Prayer and then clean out bowl and stem
  • Burn old prayer flags
  • Pray over and smudge all prayer / altar objects
  • Prepare ingredients for a new batch of cansasa / kinnikinnick


Friday, April 22, 2005 Day 2

  • Continue fasting
  • Keep Fire going
  • Make new batch of Cansasa
  • Prepare Gate and Centre Flags
  • Set up Gate marker wheels and smudge bowls


Saturday, April 23, 2005 Day 3

  • Continue Fasting
  • Keep Fire going
  • Place flags at Gates and at Centre, at each location make Cansasa offering to the earth.
  • During day, boil bison meat / bones to make broth for offerings to the forest, bake five small loaves of bannock and prepare berry mix, also to be offered to the earth on Day 4.
  • At end of day as moon rises (at moon-rise time if there is heavy cloud cover) do Pipe Prayer at the Centre of the Sacred Hoop. Make offerings of broth, bannock and berries at the Centre of the Hoop


Sunday, April 24, 2005 Day 4 Full Moon

  • Continue Fast
  • Keep Fire burning.
  • Pipe Prayer at the East Gate at Dawn; then make offerings of broth, bannock and berries
  • Pipe Prayer at the South Gate at High Noon ( about 13:00 CST); then make offerings of broth, bannock and berries
  • Pipe Prayer at the West Gate at Sundown; then make offerings of broth, bannock and berries
  • Pipe Prayer at the North Gate at Midnight; then make offerings of final broth, bannock and berries.                                                               

April 26, 2005

The ritual fast and Blessing ceremonies have been successfully completed.

Now I look forward to the 4-day celebration of the Sacred Hoop to be held at Friendly Forest  June 18 - June 22, 2005.  Keep checking this page for details as they are finalized.

 

Candesna Cun Wakan Oksina - Gerald at Friendly Forest

The Four Day Plan for June 19-22

The June celebrations will focus to the four directions and the many gifts we have received from Creator that can be associated with those directions.  It is to a time of prayerful reflection and thanksgiving.

Day 1:  Sunday, June 19  will begin at about 04:00 , with the focus prayer at the Centre of the Hoop and at the East Gate at Sunrise, which is at 04:30.  I know that it is early, but it is a very special time of the day and rising early to  see.  While one or more men will pray traditional Pipe and Smudge prayer from the Centre of the Hoop, a woman and a young man will "anchor' the East gate and offer prayers from that position.  Others who may have joined us at the early hour will be invited to walk the Sacred Hoop Trail in a sun wise / clockwise manner and pray for what they wish, in the way that they wish.  The full circumference of the Hoop Trail is about 570 metres.  If walking is a problem, prayer from camp or at the East Gate is also appropriate.

The rest of the first day is to focus to the gifts of the East, and our expressions of appreciation to Creator for those gifts and supports, especially those which we received during your childhood and youth.

Day 2:  Monday, June 20 will begin with early morning prayer for those who may have remained overnight, and breakfast to follow.  However, the anchor prayer time will be "high noon", or about 12:50.  That will take place at the South Gate with Pipe Prayer or smudge prayer at the centre.  Again anyone else will be invited to pray / walk the circle of the Hoop Trail.

The rest of the day is to focus on the gifts we have received from Creator during our adult years, and the people who supported us during those years.  It is also the direction to help us focus to the fruitfulness of the Earth, and the gifts of Creator that come to us through the Earth.

Day 3:  Tuesday, June 21,  Full Moon and Summer Solstice, and National Aboriginal Day, will have its "anchor prayer" at sunset which is about 9:38 PM at the West Gate.  the rest of the day will follow the pattern of Days 1 and 2.  The focus is on the more mature years of our lives and the harvest gifts of the Earth, on prayer and healing and inner sorting of our spirits.

Day 4: Wednesday, June 22.  It is still full moon, and the "anchor" prayer will be at midnight at the North Gate.  This will conclude the four day celebration.

The day will focus to the final years of our lives,to wisdom and the attainment of true detached love and the balance in our lives that is truly the greatest gift of our Creator. 


May 2006

During the first part of this month I took 4 days in the forest by the Hoop Trail to pray and rededicate the Hoop as a place of prayer.  I had first taken down all the prayer flags and the prayer ties and burned them, and then  replaced them with new flags.  I also 'fed the forest' at the ecntre and at the four gates.  I should have done that near the beginning of my fast rather than near the end, and the smell of the food would not have been such a temptation to me.  Well, the forest got good food offerings.

May 2007

I repeated the pattern of 2006 and was privileged to do so just as the new leaves appeared on trees and before the mosquitoes  came for their first meals of the season.  It was a time of good prayer.

May 2008

Spring was later this year so I planned the Spring Fast time for later in the month.  I began a 6-day time of prayer with a special Inipi and then moved out to Eagle Camp for the four day prayer time.  The day after the conclusion of the Fast I undertook another Inipi as this was the day of Ful Moon, my regular day for this prayer.  I thank Creator for a bless ed time and the the gift of anew song.

I will welcome guests who want to come to pray at the Hoop Trail.  If you wish to do so  give me a bit of notice by contacting me by phone or email using the address from the Contact Page.

 

 

Teachings of the Sacred Hoop / Medicine Wheel may be very familiar to some, or very new and unknown to others who read this. I have taken materials that summarize some of the gifts / characteristics associated with the four directions and present them on a separate web page. CLICK HERE to see the background document.


 

General Expectations for all visitors during the period June 19 - 22, 2005:

Each visitor to Friendly Forest and the Sacred Hoop Trail during the period of the Summer Solstice, 2005, will be invited to participate in four different ways;

1.  To consider the gifts of Creator to him/her, especially the gifts that are associated with the directional focus of that day, and to express thanks in prayer in a form that is meaningful to that person.  As well, each person will be "invited", not required, to focus those prayers of thanks to flakes of sacred tobacco, and to place those grains on a small square of cloth, and then tie that cloth off into a tiny bundle (Prayer Tie), which will be added to a string that will tie together all of the thanksgiving prayers of all guests for that day.  At the end of the day, the entire prayer tie string will be offered to Creator and hung on branches near the gate to the hoop.

2.  To select a previously prepared block of wood that will in some fashion represent their presence at the Sacred Hoop Trail.  The block of wood will be shaped in a fashion that will have openings on two opposite sides.  These openings  are slots to accept a wooden wafer, which, when glued into the slot, becomes a projection to the block and will fit into the slots of other blocks.  As the block represents an individual, it should be decorated or coloured or marked in some fashion to represent the person who selects it.  As blocks are prepared they will be joined and glued to other blocks, eventually creating a large wooden circle, or Sacred Hoop.  Each block requires the openings in its surface to allow for that which can join us to others, and cannot be closed off and without vulnerability.  The wooden wafers that fit into the slots and also into the slot of adjoining pieces of wood, represent those things that we share and have in common and which bring us together.  The glue which makes the bonds permanent rather than just temporary, is the love of Creator which we have been given and which we are asked to share with others.  Only when all of the blocks are connected as designed do they form a full circle.  Only when we connect with all others as Creator has designed, will we form the Hoop that has Creator as its living centre.

3.  Each visitor is invited to partake of food and beverages which will be provided at the camp site near the East Gate.  The planned menu will consist of a hearty soup and the ingredients to fashion sandwiches or wraps of your choice, along with fresh vegetables and fruit.  Beverages will be coffee, tea, hot chocolate, juice and water, as preferred by each  visitor.  If you wish to bring some food from home to be shared with others, that  would be very appropriate, but not required.  A small portion of all foods will be set aside, prayed over in thanksgiving, and offered back to Creator and our Mother, the Earth as a "Spirit Plate" 

For any visitor who has stayed overnight or joins  me at the Hoop after morning prayers, you will have access to a traditional breakfast prepared at the camp site.

Desserts will be simple berries and cream and / or cookies, etc.  Cutlery and dishes will be available at the site for your convenience, though your help in cleaning dishes would be appreciated.

4.  Each visitor is invited to simply be present to the many creatures of the land who share the space with us.  As we offer our prayers we are accompanied by the prayers of all our companion creatures of the forest.  Visitors will be invited to take time to meet some of these fellow companions on this life journey, and just get to know them better by observation , by study from some books that will be available, or just by sharing time and presence with them.  The Campsite will be the place for refreshments and conversation and sharing of ideas.  The Hoop Trail and space within the Hoop are for the diverse expressions of prayer and joy that any participant may wish to express.

(There is an enclosed wooden outdoor toilet near the camp site and water, soap and towels to properly wash hands after using the facility.)

Visitors are invited to come for a few minutes, a few hours, or even for the full four days.  If you are planning to stay overnight, please contact Gerald in advance so he can make suitable arrangements for your stay.  The Tipi can sleep about 6 people and there is space to set up other tents if you would want to bring your own.  I will make other arrangements for your stay when you contact me directly.  If you have not made advance contact with me, I will not be able to support you  for over-night accommodations.

Hoop Smudge stand at Centre of Sacred Hoop

Camp seen through East Gate Flags

June 23, 2005

Last evening at midnight final blessing prayers were expressed at the Centre and at the North Gate.  Fireflies flashed and lit the sky against darkened trees and accompanied this final time of prayer over the Summer Solstice and over Full Moon.

Genuine appreciation to all who supported this effort directly or indirectly.  May what was expressed in prayer over these four days and nights be for you a source of strength and of joy.

Hoop Boy

Visitor awaiting tea.  Photo by Walter Berg

Gerald heating tea water over camp stove Photo by Walter Berg

King greeting visitor to Hoop Camp Photo by Walter Berg

Hoop North East Quadrant Trail SAcred Hoop North West Quandrant Trail Sacred Hoop East Axis Trail
   

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