January 01, 2005 - March 30, 2005

 

March 28, 2005  Yesterday I came across a reference that spoke clearly to me of my experience since coming to live in this forest land.  I will quote it here and also provide the link:

"The power of the land to shape the character of individuals and whole societies is one tenet common to many Aboriginal cultures. Roy Fabian, a Dene from Hay River, quoted an elder to this effect:

One of my elders told me a situation. He said we can get rid of all the Dene people in Denendeh, we can all die off for some reason, but if there was another human being came stumbling along and came to Denendeh, the environment will turn him into a Dene person. It's the environment and the land that makes us Dene people."

Roy Fabian, Executive Director
Hay River Treatment Centre
Hay River, Northwest Territories, 17 June 1993

Link to Gov. of Canada site

I would express it in slightly different terms, but with what I believe is the same meaning:  Since I came to live here in this forested land and to live among and with the trees and other creatures who share this space with me, I have come to see and know my Creator and to know my companions much better, and they have shaped me to be and to see as I was meant to be and to see. 

I will never be an aboriginal Canadian. I was born in this land and no where else because that is where Creator wanted me to be born.  I was born into a particular cultural and language group and that, and other experiences, have shaped me.  I am proud of that heritage and cherish the good things it has brought to me.  However, I have also been shaped by this forest land and what this part of the earth speaks to me.   As I have been shaped I have learned to speak to my Creator and to my companions, and that capacity is growing and is being helped by people whose ancestors have lived with this land and have known its language much longer than I have. 

Some will quickly dismiss what I say here and in a derogatory manner  call me a "Wannabe".  I sometimes wonder if those who speak that way have themselves come to hear the Great Spirit speak to them from within the land.  I know that I want to be whatever my Creator has planned fo me and that only that evolution of self will provide me with the joy and fullness that should be there for me in right relationships.

 

March 27, 2005 Yesterday was a busy day with a series of special experiences.  I began the day with final preparations for a Sacred Sweat Ceremony.  I still needed to prepare the fish and berry foods for the end of the Sweat.  The previous day we cut and delivered the wood that would be used.  For this, the stones were provided by a friend and neighbour, and wood by another friend and neighbour.  Somehow that community support added to the joy in the experience of the day.

  I planned to be at the Lodge location by 11:30 for the building of the fire and the other site preparations.  I still had a hour or so to go out to the Forest Hoop area for a bit of quiet and prayer.

Friends and supporters  of my spiritual journey were able to gather and join in this special prayer time.  I am most grateful to all of them.

This was another important step in my walking of the Sacred Hoop.  I continue to ask for support of many in prayer and advice as I proceed where Creator calls me. 

A few days ago in a conversation with a friend I commented that this latest time in my life with its journey to finding new ways of prayer  was, in my perspective, not an abrupt switch, but a natural progression of the spiritual journey I had come to perceive as a rather young child.  While I could never have conceived that  my feet would walk these particular steps a few years or even months ago, neither could I have conceived of earlier and equally important steps in my life.  I  have not been given insight to long stretches of this life path.  Last summer during Pipe Fast I just asked to be shown where the next foot should be placed, and that from there I would trust that I would be shown the next, and so onward.  That is what seems to be happening.  What I need is the openness and generosity and courage to be ready to take the next steps into an unclear future.  When one comes down to it, is there any other way in truth?  Is any belief that one has valid insight into a long term future any more than illusion?  We know our beginning and we know about our end.  But we know not  how long is the time nor the details of the time between.  Even what has happened needs to be revisited over and over again to better understand the significance of what was and the lessons it has for us.  I suspect that I share this with many; that my hindsight is much clearer and descriptive of my path than is any current understanding.

The experience of re-entering the womb of our universal mother, feeling the power of the sun in the fire and in the fire within the rocks, the cleasing and life giving water and its steam, and the re-emergence into light and winter chill connect me to forces and energy that bring us back to who and what we are.  There is no place for deception within the darkness.  There is space for prayer and communciation with a Creator who profoundly loves us and calls us to respond to plans made for us  long before we came to be.  I know we are given many helpers to guide us along those pathways and to encourage our spirits when we falter and fear. I was warned of the difficulties I will face as I move forward.  I was also assured that the power of my Creator who leads me would be there to sustain my efforts.  What better assurance can one have? 

A few short hours after the Sweat, I took part in our local Parish's Easter Vigil service.  That has always been the Christian ceremony I most value and in which I delight.  This year was even more special as a friend who had been on her own spiritual journey, experienced baptism and full initiation on this night.  I had been our community's representative in helping her along this journey of several years duration.  It is always a very humbing experience to see the power of Creator in the life of one who honestly seeks to know and respond to the source of love and the source of our lives.  The lighting of the Pascal candle in the darkeness and all of the connected prayers and ceremony resonated in harmony with the experiences of the earlier hours of that day. 

March 19, 2005  My preparations for the April blessing / dedication of the Sacred Hoop Trail are progressing.  I have posted the basic outline of the four days on the page where I will be posting plans as they develop. 

About a week ago I visted a friend who had been ill for part of the winter.  I had spoken to him earlier and had commented that I felt I had kept my self healthy this winter , in part, by taking a medicinal tea that I had put together for myself.  If he wanted to, he was welcome to try it and I would bring him some.  Today he called and reported that it was working for him too and he would be open to another supply when we next met.  I am pleased that my work at collecting those plants last summer is bringing benefit to others as well.  Any health - supporting benefits of those plants is due to those plants and to Creator who provided access to them to us.  I also need to thank all that have encouraged me to learn about these plants.

At the end of next week I will be able to take part in a Sacred Sweat Ceremony in preparation for my renewal time later in April.  The other week we found some good stones that were given to us by a friend and neighbour, and it looks as if the wood for the Saced Fire Place will also be a gift from another friend and neighbour.  The spiritual journey that I walk has much support from friends of different traditions.  Although connecting to Creator in their own ways, they are open to me and supportive of the path I have found and attempt to follow.  Blessings are due to all of them.

March 14, 2005  Yesterday was the 5th Sunday of Lent, and that means that next Sunday begins the Holy Week Celebrations in the Western Christian world.  I have been a support person for an adult in our community who is asking to be fully initiated into our local church at this Easter Vigil.  What a journey of the spirit she has been on!

I used to wonder just what kind of an inner experience a person  moving from no religious belief to wanting a full membership in a Christian Church must be having.   Although I will never know this, I have been on a somewhat similar journey myself for the past few years.  I have not begun belief in a Divine being or power.  I have had that belief all my life.  What I have discovered is a new and very special way of knowing and communicating with that Divine Presence.  I have not had to abandon any beliefs from the past and I have had my eyes and heart opened to a deeper apprecition of the many diverse ways human beings have come to know of their God in their own lives and in their own communities.  Culture, in its broadest meaning, greatly impacts how we think and how we even come to know that which is around us.  In a very real way birth into a cultural pattern and a particular people shapes, limits and opens (all at the same time) our capacity to see, to hear, to feel and even to think thoughts.

There is a security in being raised within a single, stable cultural environment.  It is also potentially very limiting of the potential for growth and new experience that lies within the individual.  In static cultures that tend to be conservative and not open to change, difference is threat, and persons who question and are open to new ways of knowing and doing are going to run into problems.  I guess, to some degree, the "rebel" thinker or doer in a culture is a threat to that culture, and the conservative elements have a right to want to place limits on their membership because what happens with others within their community will impact on them too.  You cannot be part of a community and act in isolation as if your being and actions will not affect all the others.  It produces a tension and dynamic that  occilates between the need to be open and to explore and the need to conserve and consolidate  and pass on traditons and knowledge to future generations.   When change is rapid and total and not able to be smoothly integrated with what had been, the destructive potential is immense.  What has happened to  the cultures and lives of the First Nations peoples of North and South America is a chilling illustration of this situation.

All of this  reflection is a preamble to my immense appreciation to my Cretor for having been given the opportunities and the courage to see new ways of thinking and seeing and new ways of being and praying thorughout my life journey.  The developments over the past few years  which have led me ever more deeply into prayer in the ways of by brothers and sisters  of First Nations ancestry, have been exciting and fulfilling in a manner only a home-coming can be. 

Recent  things I am being led to experience will have me trying to learn a little bit of Dene at the same time I am trying to get my old brain around the sounds of Dakota and Lakota.  Those who know me know that acquistion of new language is NOT one of my gifts, and this is a challenge that might yet be the most serious obstacle I face on this part of my journey.

On a much happier aspect, I am looking forward to warmer weather so I can return to work on the Sacred Hoop Trail at Friendly Forest.  I have done as much as I can at preparing the site for a traditional shelter near the East gate.

I have determined for myself that I will try a 4-day total fast ending on April 24.  April 24 is full moon.  I will ask for the spiritual renewal of objects I use in prayer as well as of my inner self.  I will use this time to do the blessing prayers for the Hoop Trail and the ritual offering of gifts associated with this Sacred Space.

I need to ask  a friend if he will be able to conduct a Sweat Ceremony to help me and a few friends to begin this cleansing time. 

I have created a few items in the shop.  It feels good to  create with my mind and hands, though I seem to find little time amid a lot of other responsibilities and unfinished business that crowd my agenda. 

It is good to be alive and to have the gifts of health and friendship to sustain me.  It is nearing the time for the Sun to come up, and I want to greet this return with my morning prayer time, so it is time to sign off this blog again.

March 5, 2005   Last night the northern lights were in full glory.  The days are noticeably longer with the sun  coming above the trees at 08:30. 

I wanted to take advantage of the colder night and the hard snow between my house and the East Gate of the forest Sacred Hoop.  I have selected a place where I will be placing a special shelter for the summer months that will help during the planned June prayer time .  I had been cutting off dead branches from several large spruce trees but could not reach as high as I wanted.  I needed to bring out my 24 foot ladder, and it is a heavy, clumsy thing to move.  My plan was to drag it out over the frozen snow.  That plan actually worked quite well and I got it out there with only three short rest stops.  For an old man of 61 years that was not too bad.  My concern has been for fire hazard if I build a fire out there in the summer.

I have purchased a copper fire bowl from Canadian Tire.  it is similar to the copper grill I obtained last year:

The difference is that the new one has a screen dome to act as spark arrester, making it much safer.  I am very cautious about anything that might  risk a fire in the forest.  A small pocket of resin in wood, or a shift of wind can take a spark into the air if not enclosed by a screen cover. 

Now the  branches are off to a height of about 30 feet above ground.

I have constructed four smaller wooden hoops that will be gate markers / smudge stands on the Hoop in the forest.  I have also made a large hoop for the very centre where the directional lines intersect.  I have added all four colours to the centre hoop but only painted the one quadrant with its associated colour for each gate marker.  I will take photos when they are in position and add them to this site.

Now I just have to wait for spring to remove our snow cover so that I can get back to work on the Hoop itself.

I have been having interesting visitors recently, and many discussions that centre on spiritual matters that involve my journey on the Red Road.  It is good to be able to share  thoughts about things that are really at the centre of our being and existence.  I find that images and insights that I gained during Vision Quest last summer keep surfacing for me, and help me to communicate some truths that I have found to be very important for me.  It is good.  This morning I used the Sacred pipe to express my thanks to Creator.

I have been commissioned to make an armoire in the style of the early 1850's Biedermeister furniture from the Autro-Hugarian Empire.  I have been doing my research and have started to make mycontruction plans and sketches to that I can come up with a legitimate price estimate.  i will need to wait till warmer weather to actually construct it, but I can prepare the wood and panels that are manageable in my resricted shop space.

Feb 25, 2005  Recent Work:  I have beaded the yoke colours of the Traditional Shirt, and have mounted the bear claws that I was given by a friend.  I had made the wood beads several years ago and had them strung on a cord for a while.  When I got the claws I felt that it would be good to mount them on this wood bead necklace.  I  beaded a short strip of seed beads onto brown leather and glued  the leather into the claws.  Then I fringed the edges of the leather, punched a hole and added the claws to the cord with the following outcome:  (click on image for a larger view)

 

 

Feb 19, 2005  There have not been too many developments here at Friendly Forest over the past few weeks.  I have added link to a page where I will be updating plans for the Spring and Summer dedication of the Sacred Hoop Trail in the forest. 

I have also been spending some difficult time in support of an elderly gentleman who is suffering from advanced Parkinsons' Disease.  While it has been difficult for me and other caregivers, I cannot imagine the  emotional state he is experiencing.  Let us just say that he is NOT a happy man.

My clumsy fingers are also trying to add seed beads to the yoke of the "Face of Creator" shirt that I have put together.  While I will never be any good at this task, it certainly gives me a first hand appreciation for those who are skilled beaders!

Jan 27, 2005  Winter continues at Friendly Forest but there has been some moderation of temperatures.  That is nice as it allows both me and my dog to go out and really enjoy the forest.

I have had  guests for various occasions and have enjoyed  those times.  The incentive has prodded me to clean up  my home more thoroughly than might have been the case otherwise, and food preparation also has new motivation.

On Jan 24 our local community had a Christian Unity Week service.  Our  Scripture Study group planned it.  It was a good service and quite effectively presented us with the challenge to overcome denominational differences and to live, work and pray as a single people.  If anyone is interested in the structure of this service, email me directly and I can send you the Order of Service as well as the "Letter from God" which formed the basis for our collective reflections.

I have been wearing the moccasins that I made for myself and am quite pleased with how they wear and look.  I used a "Cheyenne River" pattern and did things in the traditional manner, including hand stitching with sinew throughout except for the thread used for the beading.  Although I have proven to myself that I can do some primitive bead work on leather, I can not say that I am any good or that I enjoy it.  What the process has achieved, and this was my primary goal, was to give me direct experience of, and a greater appreciation for,  one more aspect of a lifestyle lived by traditional peoples before the introduction of Euro-American technology.  I have also learned that there are quite a few variations on how to make this footwear, each method apparently based to the area in which it was used and the kind of surfaces on which one walked and the kinds of skins available to the people.  I was following instructions for a plains - style mocassin and had a Dene man tell me that the leather I was using for the soles would not work as it was too thick and tough to permit the stitching needed.  I persisted and followed the directions I had  for making the leather softer and for making the edges wider to better permit needle penetration.  It worked just fine once I practiced a bit.  While I am satisfied with what I did, I am still not ready to show an illustration / photo of it on this site lest the viewer with real skill see it and die of laughter at my crude efforts.

I really do know that my talents do not lie in making clothing or footwear.  i am much better at building things from wood or working  in the forest, but that does not mean I cannot learn to appreciate other skills too.

Jan 17. 2005   We are near the end of a very cold period.  I can tell how cold it is without looking at the thermometer just by judging how close to the house / door my dog will go to relieve himself.  Over this past while he has barely gone off the front deck , and then wants back in immediately!  That is cold.

I have not been back into the shop for over a month now, but will soon do so.  I have been updating my accounts for Friendly Forest Products, and that does not encourage me to get back at it at all.  Input costs are high and rising but the return after consignment fees is so low that I really cannot afford to do  things the way I have in the past.

I have had a very expensive year in 2004.  There were a series of unexpected costs that happened and could not be avoided.  That is the picture when I consider the year from the financial balance direction.  When I consider the year from an inner or spiritual direction, I have had a great and profitable year.  Since the financial part will not persist and the other will be with me and my spirit forever, I have had a great year.

My resolve is still to upgrade this web site and make it easier to navigate and to update things.  Now, with a part of my working desk actually showing its wood surface, I might get to that task.  Hold me to my promise.

Jan 11, 2005   The image on the Home Page of this site was taken at the same time as I took a series which are featured on this page and in a photo gallery.  The image is of part of the Sacred Hoop / Medicine Wheel that I have tracked in the snow on the pond at Friendly Forest.   It is from the north looking southward to the East Gate / East Cardinal Point.   The wind and fresh snow rather frequently obscure the tracks and they have to be re-established as I did yesterday.  This is not the forest trail which I have in the forest itself further to the East of the pond.

The intense colours are not enhanced but are what the camera sees in our winter landscape when the sun is out.  The dark of the forest or shaded area is also real, though when one enters the shadow areas  human eyes adjust and the contrast seems less.

There is great power in our winter images, and it is my reluctance to take photos in the bitter cold that keeps the number so low and out of proportion to the length of the winter season here.

Environment Canada is predicting a severe winter storm for much of our Province tomorrow, so I will go to the City and do my errands today and then make sure my wood box keeps full.

When someone tells me that I cannot do something I often take it as a challenge, as was the case recently in regard to being able to do beading.  I have taken up the challenge and I am tending to agree with the person who told me to forget about learning to do it, but still I have made some progress and will actually try to make a pair of moccasins.

Jan 05 - 2005  Just finished a custom piece.  Click on image to go to gallery with more photos of this piece.

It is very cold with a brisk wind chill.  Yesterday King was whinning after less than a minute outside, so I turned back from a walk and let him in the house while I continued my walk.

Jan 01 - 2005  To any web surfer seeing this at the appropriate time;  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I have just returned from a walk in the forest.  It is cold and the walk was not too long.  My friend King was determined to take his ball along, and at the first distracting scent of deer on the trail, the ball was dropped and off he was.  As happens in the cold deep snow, the ball can  immediately go out of sight, and the cold air seems to restrict the scent that the ball gives off and which is his primary detection system.  By the time I noticed he no longer had the ball we were quite a way down the trail.  On command to go find his ball he started a long  hunt along the recent detour he had taken.  I was getting quite cold and he had still not found it.  Finally, with head raised and a puzzled look on his dog features, he turned around and went bounding back on the trail.  He had finally remembered that he had abandoned the ball  earlier on our trek.  His futile hunt where he first thought it should be and only a much later remembering that it had been dropped elsewhere really reminded me of me.  I could not be angry at him for freezing my butt when he was being just like me ...  forgetting in our older years.  When he came bounding back with the vivid green ball in his mouth I could only loudly praise him for his success.

Last evening I had a few friends over for a somewhat different New Year's Eve  gathering.  I had suggested that my guests bring along some music that was special to them now or in the past, and that we would share our musical selections and talk about them.  We pooled our foods and beverages, and had a great smorg of music to listen to and memories to share.

I was alone again shortly before midnight  and used the opportunity to pray the old year out and the new year in with the Sacred Pipe.  Donning my "face of Creator" shirt was powerful and assisted me in expressing my prayer.

Next spring I will want to start early on fine-tuning the Sacred Hoop trail in the forest, and then  to organize a gathering and special blessing ceremony for it.  I do not yet know what will be appropriate, and I pray that my Spiritual Elder will be well enough to assist me in planning this.   Continued prayers for a recovery are still urgently requested.

I have been studying  materials which should inform me how to construct traditional plains-style moccasins.  If I am really brave, I will attempt a bit of beading on the uppers.  There is something about me that is perverse;  if I am told that I am unable to do something, I want to prove that declaration wrong.  Although I am quite clumsy with fingers and fine detailed work, I would like to have enough hands-on experience to at least know what is involved.  It was the same with computer programming. 

Years ago I got my first computer and then obtained a textbook on programming in BASIC.   I studied and experimented and finally wrote a 100 line program and worked the bugs out of it successfully.  At the end of that simple (simple to others anyway) operation, I vowed that having acquired a tiny bit of understanding of how things were done, I would not do any more and leave that to those who enjoyed it and were good at it.  It was fortunate that soon software became available that allowed me to do many of the things I would have wanted to do through programming, and someone else had done the work much better than I could ever have learned to do it.  The insights I had gained however, were very valuable at many times when I attempted to fine tune some operations.

The same can be said for web page development.  I know the rudimentary scripting commands, but much prefer to use the WYSIWYG method  and revert back to HTML scripting only to make fine adjustments that seem to go quicker that way than by the other methods.  For those involved, I am using Macromedia's MX program for this site.  Because I have a dial-up modem service, I appreciate the frustrations of a slow loading page, and have tried to avoid features that would slow down a load.  I need to redo some of my gallery pages and employ thumbnails to a much greater extent.   As you may have noticed, the thumbnails I am most often using are relatively large at 200 or 250 pixels in width.  I find that the file size is still relatively small and yet the image is large enough that the viewer can see most detail required and can still click for a larger format image if required / desired.  If you have found things about the site that irritate you or generate delay, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Thanks, and have a great New Year!

[P.S.  I have been told that a Klaus Regnitter has accessed my site.  I would not mind hearing from him to determine just how we are connected.  Willie was an uncle, and Gotharde was an aunt , both having passed away recently.  My paternal grandfather was Gerhart (after whom I was named) and my paternal grandmother was Bernadina.   My father was Alfons.]

Journal Archives can be found by going to the Journal Archive Index Page