Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What To Bring To An Inipi Ceremony:

Often I am asked "What should I bring to the ceremony?" The following list has worked well for me over the years.                                                                                                              1-  Two gallons of drinking water (tap water is fine).  This water will be used in the ceremony.
2-  Two or three towels -one to sit on, and one or two for wiping sweat from yourself.
3-  If you're not able to enter the lodge due to illness or physical condition.  Please bring     folding chair, lawn chair, or the like to place outside of the lodge for your comfort.  This will     enable you to be part of the ceremony regardless of your ability to enter the lodge.
4-  Very Important ; please remember to bring a change of clothing to wear either after ceremony or for during the ceremony itself.  It is very cold after you exit the lodge (even more so in the night air) as your core body temperature sharply plummets while wearing the sweat drenched, wet clothing which is usually made of cotton.    We survivalist know of cotton as the people killer as once it is wet. It quickly draws the heat from your body's core causing hypothermia.  Anyone who suffered from it can tell you, it's no fun.  Please remember, we're not there to suffer from extremes in temperature.  Hot or cold.  Please heed my advice as I'm personally responsible for your safety and could not bear the thought of anything bad happening to any of my brothers and sisters.
5-  please bring something small to eat for after the ceremony is over.  It is very traditional to share a meal after all ceremonies no matter how big or small.  It is a gathering of the people as a family.  However considering that our family is in transition at the moment, bring a bag lunch or the like for your own personal consumption.  We will iron out the meal thing as we establish a more permanent routine for our ceremonies.
6-  Personal drinking fluids.  Please remember to bring something to drink for before and after ceremony.  Anything you want will be fine.  I personally prefer something like Gatorade to help keep the fluid levels high. (no alcoholic beverages of course.)                                                                                                           7-  Tobacco ties.  I'm asking everyone to bring the string of seven red tobacco ties of a personal nature.
8-  Flashlights.  Since we're finishing the ceremony at or around dark it will be important to have lights so we can see while we pack up the lodge and other belongings.  Any kind of flashlight will be fine, just be sure the batteries work.                                                                                                               9-I'd like to thank each of you personally for making this Inipi ceremony come together.  As we work together to make these ceremonies a permanent structure within the fabric of our lives.  The creator of all things becomes part of the weave itself.  Indeed a part of our lives.

If you have any questions, or concerns please feel free to contact me either by e-mail, phone, or on facebook under Terry Craig OR Windy hill sweat lodge.  Thanks again and I hope to see you all soon
Mitakuye  Oyosin

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sunkmanitu Tanka Wa Wocekiya (Prayer of the Snow Wolf)

Once many years ago. On a long cold winters night. I dreamed of a storm raging in a dark and snow covered forest. In the distance I could see a figure, close to the ground, fighting for every foothold against the fears-est of winds. As the figure pushed it's way through the pine bows I could clearly see the outline of a wolf. Pure white from the coat of snow he wore. He pushed on strait into the wind as if driven by a forces unknown to me and it made my heart pound out of my chest to witnessed the struggle of life and death he proudly fought. Finally with one last thrust forward, he collapsed in the snow.
There he lay motionless. I thought for a moment he had lost his fight yet just as hope faded, one paw reached forward and he began to once again pull himself to his feet.
As he reached his feet he shook off the thick snow that had covered him, revealing the silver gray coat beneath and then abruptly continued his war against the wind that fought him so fiercely. Yet as he struggled against the wind I herd him begin to pray.
I call it,
Sunkmanitu Tanka Wa Wocekiya (Prayer of the Snow Wolf).
And this is what I herd.

Oh Grandfather Great Spirit, and four winds, and father spirit.

Hear me.

So heavy with snow my feet drag from foothold to foothold. Though it is so dark and cold, I have fought the wind and the fight has left me old as if time itself has passed me by.
If this be my last breath I must thank you grandfather for the strength beyond expectation, the will that has brought me these many miles. And though I walk through the cold darkness, it is your light I follow, your warmth I seek, your song
I hear.

Please bless the children of tomorrow with the struggle of today, as
I have benefited from the footsteps before me.
One day I will take my place on the sacred circle among my grandfathers. I thank you Tunkashila (grandfather) for the opportunity to share their wisdom and sing their song; to add my voice to the prayers of my grandfathers.
As mother earth is handed down from father to son, mother to daughter, I pray our children will honor the land that holds the bones of their ancestors with the wisdom accumulated through the journey
of time.

Great Spirit please hide me now from the wind and cold to await the warmth of spring. Gather my family to me and protect them with my life for it is all I truly have to give, all I ever needed and more than ever could have dreamed.
Wopila Tunkashila (Thank you Grandfather)

Mitakuye Oyosin                                                                                                                                     Terry

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Finding A Traditional And Safe Sweat Lodge.

After many years of pouring water in the Inipi ceremony, I've grown increasingly concerned by those who continue to conduct ceremony's without the proper training or supervision. It is easy to be fooled by those who see an opportunity to take advantage of good people.
It was almost a year ago that we saw just such a tragedy unfold in Arizona before our eyes on the national news. I thank Wakan Tonka for the great teachers I've had over the years. I would like to pass the wisdom they gave me on to you, in the hopes of protecting you from those of questionable intent.
I pray that they serve you well on the red road.

#1-No Charge! Only the questionable leaders put a price tag on ceremony. Those of us who observe these practices, are disgusted by what we see. Perhaps the Great Spirit should charges them for the right to do the ceremony,(And perhaps sometimes he does). The worst of these questionable leaders charge extravagant amounts of cash to attend ceremony. Remember, any amount, even when called a donation, is the fee. The Great Spirit does not recognize loopholes in the language or the law.

#2-Don't Be Fooled By Salesman! Over the many years I've been pouring water in the Inipi, I have noticed many people making a living on spirituality. I'm at a lost myself to tell the good from the bad all the time. However, Uncle and I have discussed many times that these people seem to use the same phrases as if to justify their personal agenda. Phrases like," I'm providing a service." Or " I deserve to be compensated."
It is easy to find these people, for they make themselves readily available to the public, as all salesmen do. I myself recently viewed 3 separate documentary / sales pitch videos, offered of all places on Netflix in the documentary category. Most of these people claim to be medicine men or medicine women with large followings, But I found not one of them to be trustworthy or truthful. When I checked with our Elders on the reservation, I was informed that no
Spiritual Leader (medicine man or medicine woman) would ever make such videos, much less offer them on Netflix. One of these so called " medicine women" I discovered was not even a member of the tribe she had claimed in her video. But was in fact simply married to a Lakota and was actually a white woman claiming pure Native heritage.
Uncle has told me many times," Books, videos, TV, all that. Throw it away. Follow your heart. No book can show you this. If you want to learn, pray. If you need answers, pray. If you need something, pray, and it will come to you." As my own experience has taught me, uncle is always right. Which brings me to number three

#3-Be Careful Of Who Is Calling Themselves A Medicine Man (Medicine Woman). To start with, true medicine people live among their people. The traditionalists have taught me that even true Spiritual Leaders (ie; medicine men and women) who leave their people are no longer true medicine men and should be avoided. These people have forsaken the true reason the Great Spirit had chosen them to work through in the first place." To help their people." This does not mean that true medicine people don't treat other races. What it does mean is that you will find them among their people. Uncle has helped many regardless of race. He would never turn away anyone in need. But as in most cases you'll have to go to him.
{When uncle comes to visit, he's always glad to see us. However, soon becomes anxious to go home to his people.}
I'm sure there are tribes who have been dispossessed of their lands and forced to live in more urban environments. I have noticed however, these more urban Spiritual Leaders exist with and as close to their people as possible.
As I've stated, it is hard to tell who's who. Be careful. If your gut says there something wrong, Listen! The Creator is speaking to you.

#4-Though you don't need to be a Spiritual Leader (medicine man) to run an Inipi ceremony. It is important to have been taught by one. It is important to also note that leaders of the Inipi ceremony have an ongoing relationship with the Spiritual Leader.

#5-Oversized Lodges! The typical Initipi (sweat lodge) holds between six and 10 people. Oversize lodges are usually typical of oversized profits. The more you can stuff into the lodge the more green frog skin (money) for those in charge. It is the responsibility of the water pourer to watch over all of the people involved in the ceremony. Watching over 6 to 10 people in a dark lodge is hard enough without adding 10 to 20 more. I think it's safe to say only a
Spiritual Leader should run such a large size lodge considering the large size of the responsibility involved.

#6-Be assured by those in charge {of pouring water or the fire keeper} that you may leave the lodge at Any Time, should you feel ill or uncomfortable from the heat. I strongly stress the word Anytime. Only you and the creator know your limits and not even the most traditional medicine man or woman will tell you otherwise. Those who forbid the door of the lodge to be opened so that participants can exit are neglecting a primary responsibility both traditional and as ancient as the ceremony itself, to watch over the people at all cost. This closed door policy does not exist in the traditional ceremony, but has come of age through the prison system as a test of endurance for prison inmates. The prison system has made it easy for people to learn the ceremony without proper training.
No good hearted leader of the Inipi would push you beyond your own thoughts on when you've had enough. Please note however, that in most lodges you will not be able to reenter the same ceremony. This also is for your own safety as often you feel so much better after you've been out of the lodge for a few minutes. It is important to remember that you have had enough, for now.

I hope these words of wisdom will guide you well as you walk the Red Road
Mitakuye Oyosin