The biggest time of the year to celebrate HEAT, GETTING HOT, LIFE, CREATION, UNION, COMING TOGETHER and going apart!
“Finnish” version at the end of this post….
My Swedish grandmother may have celebrated Valborg Eve. I do not know for sure. Maybe some of my cousins remember. How sterile or stripped down of the wildness, the heat, can be seen in much of the remnant and cast-off celebrations by the church, the State (country), and business.
The Maypole – the implanting of the pole – or is it lightning – or is it a phallus- into Mother Earth or is this the umbilicus, the belly button with the dancing threads around forming the veins, the placenta of mother earth? A world tree! With all dancing and decorating…. spinning and winding and weaving like vines around tree. Like legs around a lover. Or perhaps it is the dance to celebrate and give away to LIFE?
To bless the cattle and stand on the door frame – walking under the legs, the skirt of the fertile woman of the farm – so that she could bless all. But that is from a time of agriculture. What about further back in time?
That energy that arises and can fill oneself full to bursting, this may be the time to gather that energy in and express it. This is the time to pull-in, draw-in, suck-in, heat-up the fires of life, friction, being still and receiving the flame of spirit into physical form?
That brings me to fire – to shadows of dancing light. The heat of the May fire. The miracle of heat, of light, of hot and rising flames, dancing and the blessing of the people with dancing around that fire and jumping over fire. This was not the great bonfire – but the fires that were made here and there to cast light and shadows into field and forest.
To bless the parts that were involved with creation – and all creativity – old or young – to bless one self and to get heated for honouring the goddess and the god in one another, in each other, in all our forms and ages. They say this was the time to go off into those shadows of flickering light. This was the time for that – no other time of the year was set aside for such acts. (Rabbit hole warning: genetic mixing time!). The miracle of becoming the feral womb of the world without scientific explanations!
And then something of a remembering: collecting dew of the morning grass on Valborg and washing ones face. For this I was taught these were said to be mother earth’s tears – this dew. I see this as the coming together of breath/spirit with blood/earth giving the Water – which is Life. So my thoughts go.
Imagine! The time of the moon and sun – and this midpoint between spring equinox and summer solstice! This is the counterpoint of Samhain, of the thin veil of Pyhäpäivä, of “hallowed eve”! And the thin veil celebrating LIFE and the magic of flow between the living and life forces is now. What magic!
To each in their own measure, to their own ability, to their own heart. Enjoy the time, enjoy at least the love of Mother Earth, to all those who create beauty, birthing, honouring MOTHER and FATHER, known or unknown, for they gave us life (Talking about us funny humans only, at the moment!). May we all be able to bless, and celebrate LIFE and the greatest life giver: Gaia, Earth.
Happy May Day! Happy Beltane! Happy Walpuris and Trevlig Valborg to all!
Vuoden suurin aika juhlia LÄMPÖN, KUUMENNUKSEN, ELÄMÄN, LUOMINEN, YHTEYDEN, YHDESSÄ TULEMISEN ja hajoamisen juhlia!
Ruotsalainen isoäitini saattoi juhlia Valborgin aattoa. En tiedä varmasti. Ehkä jotkut serkut muistavat. Kuinka steriili tai riisuttu villillisyys, kuumuus, voidaan nähdä suuressa osassa kirkon, valtion ja yrityksen jäännös- ja hylätyistä juhlista.
Maypole – navan istuttaminen – vai onko se salama – vai onko se fallos – Äiti Maahan vai onko tämä nava, vatsanapa, jossa tanssivat langat muodostavat suonet, äitimaan istukka? Maailman puu! Kaiken tanssimisen ja koristelun kanssa… kehrätään ja käämitetään ja kutotaan kuin viiniköynnöksiä puun ympärillä. Kuin jalat rakastajan ympärillä. Tai kenties se on tanssi, jolla juhlitaan ja annetaan ELÄMÄlle? Maailman villiin kohduksi tulemisen ihme ilman tieteellisiä selityksiä!
Siunaamaan karjaa ja seisomaan ovenkarmilla – kävelemään tilan hedelmällisen naisen hameen jalkojen alla – jotta hän voisi siunata kaikkia. Mutta se on maatalouden ajoilta. Entä pidemmälle ajassa taaksepäin?
Se energia, joka syntyy ja voi täyttää itsensä täyteen räjähtämiseen, tämä voi olla aika kerätä se energia sisään ja ilmaista se. Onko tämä aika vetää sisään, vetää sisään, imeä sisään, lämmittää elämän tulit, kitkaa, olla paikallaan ja vastaanottaa hengen liekki fyysiseen muotoon?
Se vie minut tuleen – tanssivan valon varjoihin. Toukokuun tulen lämpö. Lämmön, valon, kuumien ja nousevien liekkien, tanssin ja ihmisten siunauksen ihmettä tanssimalla tuon tulen ympärillä ja hyppäämällä tulen yli. Tämä ei ollut suuri kokko – vaan tulit, joita sytytettiin siellä täällä valaisemaan valoa ja varjoja peltoon ja metsään.
Siunaamaan niitä osia, jotka olivat mukana luomisessa – ja kaikkea luovuutta – vanhoja tai nuoria – siunatakseen itseään ja kuumentaaksemme jumalattaren ja jumalan kunnioittamista toisissamme, toisissamme, kaikissa muodoissamme ja ikävuosinamme. He sanovat, että tämä oli aika mennä noihin välkkyvän valon varjoihin. Tämä oli sen aika – mitään muuta aikaa vuodesta ei ollut varattu tällaisille teoille. (Kanireiän varoitus: geneettinen sekoitusaika!). Maailman villiin kohduksi tulemisen ihme ilman tieteellisiä selityksiä!
Ja sitten jotain muistoa: aamun ruohon kasteen kerääminen Valborgiin ja kasvojen pesu. Tätä varten minulle opetettiin, että näiden sanottiin olevan äitimaan kyyneleitä – tämä kaste. Näen tämän hengityksen/hengen ja veren/maan yhdistämisenä, joka antaa Veden – joka on Elämä. Joten ajatukseni menevät.
Kuvitella! Kuun ja auringon aika – ja tämä keskipiste kevätpäiväntasauksen ja kesäpäivänseisauksen välillä! Tämä on vastakohta Samhainille, Pyhäpäivän ohuelle verholle, “pyhitetylle aatolle”! Ja ohut verho, joka juhlii ELÄMÄÄ ja virtauksen taikuutta elävien ja elämänvoimien välillä, on nyt. Mitä taikuutta!
Jokaiselle omassa mitoissaan, omien kykyjensä mukaan, omaan sydämeensä. Nauttikaa ajasta, nauttikaa ainakin Äiti Maan rakkaudesta, kaikille niille, jotka luovat kauneutta, synnyttävät, kunnioittavat ÄITIÄ ja ISÄÄ, tunnettuja tai tuntemattomia, sillä he antoivat meille elämän (Puhutaan vain meistä hauskoista ihmisistä, tällä hetkellä!).
Voimme kaikki siunata ja juhlia ELÄMÄÄ ja suurinta elämän antajaa: Gaiaa, maa, maailma, maapalloa. Hyvää Vappu! Hyvää Valpuri! Trevlig Valborg!
Golden figure, golden woman, golden bear woman of great ancestry.
There, Look! Bear woman has a cynt, the opening womb.
Look at her expression.
Look at her breasts.
Look at her hair the headdress.
Look at her legs.
Look at her hands.
Look at the zig-zags up and down her legs, ancient women sign.
Look at legs and arms bear-like. There are no human hands here!
She is found in many places. Stories run up and down the sides of of this world. Fenno-Ugric? Sámi? Kven? Karelian? Celtic? (Iberia? Ireland?) Romania? Greece? Turkey? Bulgaria? Wales? Central Asia and Korea! In Korea, she can be found in Mago, which spread to China and Japan. Maya, Mexico – Amerindian, North America. Throughout the world!
When I look at this golden figure, this relic, this ancient object, this archaeological find, I know a connection with her. She is my self.
I am singing and dancing sacred songs in her skin. Under her hide, I know the depths – through the umbilicus, behind the umbilical cord, certainty.
Keening-, calling-, crying-, growling songs, to my nature rises holy songs, healing songs. From a place like that, if mother earth gave a voice, we are her voice. Creation and destruction.
I know how my Mother, Earth, under my feet, between my legs, creating an immense powerful wave-like, outward-directed vibration.
I know sucking, melting.
I know dance and rest.
I know that I embrace and protect and take care of.
I know the nature of Life.
I know growing and shrinking shoots.
I know the sparks of fire: their plowing, darkening, and mutable vibrant colours riding on backs of running deer, sisters and brothers, waking up more of their family. A feast of non-burning beings.
The passion of drum’s vibrations. The trembling of voices, whirling songs through the air carrying me on.
I feel the touch of a lover and the strength of May beings flowing through me. Coalescing my hands into these hands.
Sharp, knife like digging up, rooting up, tearing up, turning over, holding in place- hands. claws. Teeth in my lips lower and upper. No wonder others fear.
In one swipe I can feel the loss of life and the renewal. One deep morphic resonance. A sound I sense where, what and who.
Like the ants moving food into their home. Like the bees carrying their weight in gold, like the osprey lifting up the giant swimmer from the sea, such is the power in my limbs.
She can crush a disease. She can sing and mourn the loss. She can make the hushed songs of peace and dream.
Not coming from me, for my body is no more.
Sitting in authority, in her own authority ready to call forth and spill out words of visionary wanderers who may have come by through the ancestors. Always remembering and pulling up and forth.
Finding delight in the lover coming home through their quickened approach to the door.
Revelling in the delight of being one, yet lays separate for there is work to be done.
You! You Bear dancer, you bear woman!
Walk your own way with your fellow deep dark chested ones, honey-hearted, honey-tongued, bloody clawed ones birthing and turning, renewing.
Step out of the skin and return. Tremors shaking off.
Returning to the forest blanket.
Returning to gift and offering to and through Life.
Article by Christiana (Aro-)Harle, originally in Sacred Hoop, Issue 64, 2008
Blessings are an important part of the role of most shamans, bringing the gifts and grace of the spirits to the people to help them in their daily lives. We are all stuck in our own stupidity and narrow-mindedness, in our own limiting and border-filled worlds, walking with a closed heart; especially me. But that is who we are at that moment, and if we are blessed enough, then maybe we will open up, maybe we will learn something. I like to think that I have, as time has gone by. But what is blessing than more than simply a wishing well for others? And who has the rights to perform a blessing? The priest? The official? Me?
Raised in a Christian household, actively participating in choirs, attending and, or leading Bible-studies, and later doing healing work through the Holy Spirit, I grew up thinking that it was only the priests and ministers who could bless others; thinking that they were endowed with exclusive special rights and authority. I experienced their blessing at the end of a church service as a powerful tool which was somehow intimidating. I never even noticed my father blessing me all those years when he said grace over dinner!
When the spirit of a magnificent fir tree came to assist me in my healing work, my road with the church split, and I became seen as someone who was not working through the Holy Spirit. I began to spurn the prayers of my family, friends and church ministers and of anyone associated with Christianity. I didn’t want their blessings because they seemed only to want me to convert back to the ‘true path’, their path. They didn’t want ‘good’ for me; they just wanted their way because it was the ‘right way’. And so, I thought and believed then, and for the next nine years or so lived that truth.
What closed eyes and heart I must have had! Why was I running around thinking of protection from other people’s energy? Thinking that others were trying to manipulate me and my path? Was it that their Christian blessings were expressed from a place of love for humankind and humanness after all? Were my eyes and heart so closed as to not see the blessings that were being given all around me?
I didn’t get much information on blessing during my initial shamanic coursework with the Foundation for Shamanic Studies in early 1990’s. Reviewing notes taken on journeys and teachings it wasn’t emphasised much back then. Spirit helpers did give me blessing or healing songs however, and I experienced blessing in my journeys to the Spirit World from my helpers, but not so much from us humans on this side of the fence. It wasn’t discussed in ethnographic literature very much either, and when it was, it was degraded, misinterpreted by the reporter. My path led me to Tuva (see Sacred Hoop, Issue 25, 1999) where I found shamans spending most of their time blessing people, and their animals, places and things; where the everyday human would bless the sky, their home, their path. And they weren’t Christians! Something snapped inside of me. Something was healed, for wounded I was.
BLESSING: SALT OF LIFE
In Tuvan culture-and elsewhere, blessings are an integral part of daily life. They are everyday common place occurrences. For example, when a blessing is offered in the morning with the first milky tea made by the mistress of the yurt, she will burn artysh (juniper) by the door of the yurt and offer her tea with her tos-karak1 to the skies, mountains, forest and to the rivers.
After completing the ritual, she will say something like:
Be merciful, my Khaiyrakan! (2)
Be merciful, my mountains!
Be merciful, my sky!
Be merciful, my earth!
When she has offered the morning tea to the Universe first, she then offers it to the host of the yurt to drink. Blessings are part of celebrating and marking the seasons and the rhythm of nature in Tuva, and they are carried out by both the common human (in Tuvan, someone who does not ‘see’ and work as a shaman) and the shaman. Offerings and blessings are part of daily life. For instance, under a spring sky, during a thunderstorm, a Tuvan mother might offer milk to the sky, to the khan (Lord) of the azars living in the White Sky who would then become glad and peaceful. The yurt’s mistress’s blessing prayer would be:
The head of the year is coming,
The snake’s head is shedding,
Let white food be abundant,
Let milk and dairy products be tasty,
Let coughing be still,
Let snot stop running,
Let the grass and plants be lush,
Let our native-place be prosperous,
BLESSINGS AND THE FAMILY
Shamans are called in to bless the immediate family and relatives. The shaman Kuular Makar-ool told me how he experienced healing, power and Spirit. He said there is an egg-like orb of protective energy surrounding an individual; another orb around their family, and still another larger orb around near relatives and their aal (a group of yurts situated near one another, all members having kinship; sharing in daily work) which contained also their belongings, animals and even drinking water. The shaman is called in specifically to bless them when there is some new event. If the orb is broken then malicious energies enter: people fall ill, or there is ‘bad luck’ or fights occur, or animals disappear, etc. If this happens, the shaman’s job is then to close this energy-orb by blessing and purifying.
I assisted Makar-ool during one call: a family’s son was moving to the Tuvan capital Kyzyl to attend technical school and the parent’s wanted Makar-ool to check the path: to make sure that his road would be clear, to bless the road and family while he was away, as well as bless the relatives also. The ritual lasted over six hours during which he drummed, sang, ate, made divination, and washed the immediate family’s bare feet and hands; he even included instructions in right living! I was too busy working and was unable to record his shamanic song, but this one below by Kuular Chanzan-ool Bulunmayevich, an old shaman born in 1901, was recorded in 1990 by Mongush Kenin-Lopsan, and it contains similar elements.
With golden hair
you are my children!
Let your mountain pass
to cross over below,
Let your horses be fast,
Let your food be satisfying.
You are beautiful my children!
Let your river-crossing be shallow,
Let your path be fulfilled,
Let your happiness be complete.
My abundant children!
Let them sing their charming songs,
Let them carry out their tasks,
Let them have friends to be
A flying bird needs wings,
A big person needs a legacy.
Drinking water needs to be clean.
The girl whom you need to marry is
not a relative.
My walking path has been fulfilled,
Let me continue shamanising.
My task to complete
has been fulfilled,
Let me go further and shamanise.
BLESSING AS HEALING
Anthropologist and filmmaker Heimo Lappalainen made numerous visits to Tuva in an attempt to retrace the shamans in Tuva. Heimo was the organiser of the first conference between Tuvan shamans and researchers and western practitioners and researchers (mostly associated with the Foundation for Shamanic Studies) in July 1993. During one of Heimo’s 1992 visits’ he revisited shamaness Töszhu Teshit where she performed a healing (Heimo had a cold) and a blessing ritual which contained this song:
Let my children, having come from a far
Get to their home.
Let my children, who have come
from such a faraway country
Let them always be lucky.
pull up your stirrups,
And ride quickly the horse
by the name Emdik-Dai
Let you be lucky at work.
I have got a pasture,
spacious and wide
It seems to be quite near,
at the distance of an inch.
If I am asked where
my homeland is,
Then it is my Tere-Khool
with its hills and tussocks
If I am asked where your homeland is,
Where you were growing,
Then it is my taiga country.
I will sing, I will present my song
And we will go my daughter
I will play, I will tell you
And then we will go
to Ortuluktug across the island
Aai-ooi, aai, opei, opei,
Let you have many children.
Let those ones,
who will stay after us, be happy.
Let my present life be prosperous
Let my future life in the next world,
Be as happy as my present life
Let my horses be fat
which graze in Oyalyk.
Let you have many children
Who will stay to live
in your native land?
My native, vast and spacious taiga,
Where I grew since my childhood,
My beautiful homeland
Where I have been living
for a long time
This is my rich abundant homeland.
When I am thinking
for a long, long time
It seems to me that
my Homeland is nearby
It is only one inch away
My cradle is my Homeland,
I have grown up carefree
In my spacious and wide taiga.
(translated by Aldynai and Christiana Harle, 1994)
SONGS TO A FAR AWAY SKY
The Tuvan cosmology cannot be summarised in one general statement. Shamans, researchers, and the common man’s opinions vary about what we, in the west, call the Upper World. Many state that there are ‘Nine Heavens’ or ‘Nine Skies.’ Tuvan shamans often pray to these Skies, especially the White and Black Skies, both of which lie far beyond the sky we can see with our eyes. In Tuva blessings are an everyday common place occurrence, a blessing is offered in the morning, with the first milky tea, to the skies, mountains, forest and to the rivers.
Some shamans are said to have their origins in the Skies. In one area of Tuva recently people said of the oldest shamaness Mongush Targyn-Kara that she was from the Skies because she knew what would happen in the future beforehand: what disaster would come, what disease would come and when death would be. Before the Soviet repression of shamanism in the 1920’s, the great shamans would perform ceremonies to the sky on the top of a mountain and when they did only close relatives could come to that place during the ritual. During the Soviet repression the shamans lost their rights and were driven away from their native places. The greatest shamans were taken to prison, some of them were shot and the people didn’t perform ceremonies to the sky publicly anymore.
There are many songs to the Skies, here is one told by an old shaman called Kuular Orus Dongur- oolovich in 1990 to Mongush Kenin-Lopsan:
The worshipper of the war sky
I am Targyn-Kara
I am burning my artysh
I am worshipping
with my white milk.
I am honoring my White Sky
Let my people be rich
I am honoring my Black Sky
Let my people be safe and proud.
GRACE AND BLESSING TODAY
Every day I have lived, I have encountered blessing and grace! Every day now I encounter it! It is all around me! Blessing keeps you full. It keeps you full of Life. I need no amulets or power-objects, no protection rituals or similar, for I am full of blessings. I can ask for blessing for myself and I have the right to bless others, places, events. Makar-ool’s teaching me about his view of power opened my eyes: When one gets blessed only life can happen. I am full of power; I can walk with no fear. It doesn’t take away from me, it only adds. In all the time I was in Tuva I never observed or heard of a shaman making ceremonies for protecting. Their algyshes (ceremonies) are full of blessing words, wishing and praying for good things for place and people. Fear is not an element, only life, living and walking the path before us.
1: Tos-karak is a large wooden spoon with nine small indents for scooping and scattering milky tea made with salt during rituals. Nine ‘holes’ represent the Nine Skies or Heavens (one explanation).
2: Khaiyrakan is often interpreted as ‘My Bear God’ ‘Master Bear Spirit,’ ‘Master of Sky,’ or ‘Bear Khan’ This phrase is often used in rituals to express honor and high praises. Tuvans have stories how their ancestor is the Bear. This tradition is also found in Fenno-Ugric culture, as well as with some Siberian, and North-American peoples. Some shamans also claim their power comes directly from the Bear ancestor.
3: The Azar are beneficent beings or spirits, living in the Ninth Sky, which is far, far away. Some shamans claim their power comes from the Azar.
4: Mongush Kenin-Lopsan is over 80 years old, and is a revered Tuvan poet, story-teller, folklorist, researcher, shaman, collector of Tuvan peoples’ stories and shaman’s algyshes. He has recently received his doctorate. He is affectionately known as ‘The Professor’. For tens of years he has maintained a small one-room office at the Museum of Kyzyl where he received visitors and made his research. Kenin-Lopsan founded Düngür (Shaman’s Drum) Shaman Society in Tuva in 1993-4. Proven shamans are issued with a red- leather-bound membership card. Düngür still operates today. *Addition 2018: Professor is still alive and well, just turning 90yrs old. He is retired, if he ever could retire! And lives a quiet life in the flat of his daughter, Marina, a journalist in Tuva.
Additional notes many years later….. I assisted putting together one of the first English-Tuvan translations of algysh via ISTOR publications, of course commentary by M. Hoppal, whom I helped get to Tuva in 1995. He arranged the funding thru ISTOR to publish a small selection of Mongush Kenin-Lopsan’s collection of shaman songs and stories. It was so little, too little. My task was to coordinate it all- translators (they worked their asses off because Hoppal was very limited in the time he had to be there in Tuva); work with them, compare own field notes and experiences when doing shamanic healing out in Tuva with the Tuvan shamans; check stories, run interference; run errands; type up all the final chosen texts and hand them over. I still have all the rough translations at home. The small book is probably no longer printed: Shamanic Songs and Myths of Tuva, 1997 by Mongush Kenin-Lopsan, publisher International Society for Trans-Oceanic Research.
I was young and not naive when doing that research work: tolerated too much misogyny and patriarchal bullshit.
I did go to Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura headquarters to try and interest them to publish long ago – but they were not interested. One good thing is that after our book two more publications arrived outside the borders. The German Schamanengesänge aus Tuwa and Schamanen-geschichten aus Tuwa (2002, publisher Lamuv) are probably the most complete sets of this mass collection, and another short version in English published in Sweden (Calling the Bear Spirit: ancient shamanic invocations and working songs in Tuva, 2015) which someone has removed from my book shelf.
Professor gave me a 8 cm fat folder of some several hundred pages of texts of his for trying to publish. Forgive me Professor, I failed. Back then it was difficult to get materials OUT of Russia. It will soon be the one year anniversary of Professor’s death (10 April 1925 – 10 February 2022). He was special!
The old calendars, old stories, old worldviews – maybe the word best to describe “old” is indigenous? Or perhaps earth based? Or perhaps original – as in the first ones, the beginnings?
Stories that I have heard have to do with the Deer Mother – returning with the sun in her antlers. I met that story thirty more years ago in a shamanic journey where a great female deer – reindeer – was running across the sky with a golden shining disc in her antlers. I learned later that there was some truth in this for across the northern hemisphere there are stories similar to this. The Deer is the Give-away- the one who feeds all peoples. And she races across the sky pulling or carrying the sun. Some say this is her child, some say her lover, some say they are one and the same.
Maybe going out on a limb here! Thinking of Finnish stories – the Hiiden hirvi – here we have the moose or reindeer depending on versions, who is now “of Hiisi” and creates disturbances and hunted across the sky – The male courtier (little one of Lempi) of Louhi’s daughter is supposed to capture the moose/deer/reindeer, hunt in order to win the bride. What if the Hirvi is this ancient one, the Deer Goddess – the Earth herself in this form – and the hunting is the beginning of killing off the mother? Always thought this story was taken out of the roots – and that this moose- this deer- was the wild, the chaos, the one who stirs up everything and everyone when let loose, that she was just another form or side or voice of Life and the crazy patriarchs went after to tame, kill, subdue and pair off.
Then there is Amaterasu, the goddess of the Sun, and how she hid from the other gods and goddesses, master and mistress spirits because her brother wanted to marry her. He of course being the moon! And she the sun. Well Amaterasu had no interest in marrying her brother so she hid in a cave, with a rolling stone covering the entry. All methods used to get her out of there to no avail. And then Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto felt that she would be able to entreat her to return to them. So she turned some barrels over (some say they were more like sieves) and began to dance rudely gesturing, taking off her clothes, and drum with her feet. According to stories, her dance was quite the show because she caused all of heaven to roar with laughter. And Amaterasu’s curiosity got the better of her to see what was happening so she opened the stone door a crack to peer out. And they had a mirror there, she saw herself, the golden light and hearing the roaring of all heaven laughing – and of course someone was quick and kept the door open so she had to come out and show her beautiful face, which was laughing with delight at the rude gesturing and dancing Uzume and so golden light returned to the earth, and laughter, and fecundity accompanied with dancing and drumming. Uzume is known as the goddess of Dawn, the giveaway to Amaterasu.
Where there is give-away then I think maybe we are at the roots of indigenous and earth-based knowledge pathways – returning to our roots. Which means there is not continual taking, extraction nor hoarding.
The sun rises in the east. The place of beginnings. And at this time She arises in the south east (Finland), travels low in the sky. And for three days she stands still – or rather the Earth’s position is in a place of the big inhale! And the exhale will be on the third day. And believe it or not! The Earth, she makes her way around and begins the dance once more. Sun becomes more visible in the sky, rising higher and higher, daylight a minute or two longer each day. And by Imbolc, or mid February – we are already moving into spring for March is the time to celebrate Spring, the time of the moose crossing the heavens.
Without this cycle we are doomed. Nothing has rest, nothing has a chance to gather, settle, form, deepen, have a moment to think even! Then the cycle begins again and we are swung out into movement from dark to light to dark to light again and again. The swirling modulating changes in winds, air streams, currents and tides are cyclical also – especially when not prone to visible radical darkness and lightness changes as here in Finland.
Light a fire if you can. Give offerings of tobacco, chocolate, milky tea, hard alcohol even. Maybe even some delicious foods set out. What does it mean to be still for three days? To welcome in stories and fire and song and dance? Pray, parley, praise and entice her to return! To grieve even for the loss of the sweet darkness of the womb, the cave, the den? Arise up and greet her with joyous noise – on the 22nd or 23rd!
When someone celebrates/praises your existence, how do you feel? Maybe perhaps that celebration/praising encourages you to live another day or another year or get on with living? What if we were to celebrate/praise these beings (places, non-humans) because when we forget to celebrate and praise, they fade, die, grow ill, waste away….
The Mother Night – The Deer Mother – Light Bringer – so long ago over thirty years ago, did I dream of you. We were riding through the sky towards the East. Over tundra and forest. I see you in my mind’s eye as easily as closing my eyes. There you are as we race across the sky – in joy, not fear.
I do not think Sun male or female – the sun is Sun, light-bringer, and Deer Mother carries you in her antlers. I know different peoples have different ideas – and that is fine and interesting and makes the world taste good. I did hear a “joke” in Tuva, by my Mama Kagai-ool: we say the Sun is a she because she is always there, always present, always constant. Hot, strong, even to hot! And that Moon, well, Moon is a “he” – because you never know where he is going to rise up! You don’t know when! and you don’t know how big!”
And we all cackled with laughter.
I know some cultures talk about male Sun, hunting or giving chase, or hungry, as the female gives way to the Sun so that she can be impregnated and life begin again. I wonder did she really give herself away or was she “taken”? I think of that story of the moose which ran through the sky and was being hunted by a horny young male who wants to get the daughter of the Queen (Wise Woman) of the North as a wife- that she was a female moose….and thus began the conversion over to patriarchy: the dominion of man, rape culture, war culture, extractionism, ownership of women and wombs, destruction of all the varieties of expressions of humans, etc etc ad nauseam. Truly “with nausea”. There must be a deeper story there.
The Give-away story of the Deer Mother or Goddess and Sun is very different.
I am interested in all the Maral – Wapiti – and the reindeer – and all deer around the world. So very very necessary for everyones survival. Between the shit and dropping their antlers, they provide a feast for all. Just as rabbits and hares eat some of their droppings because they contain grass and many nutrients so do the deer eat their antlers if needed. And if they don’t someone else does. Perhaps that is why antlers are difficult to find? And thinking of the reindeer antlers collected and sold to tourists – makes me wonder.
Humans seem to be fouling the clean water needed, building up roads in the middle of ancient migratory routes and then building up fences to keep them off the roads and giving them a piddidly “green bridge or tunnel” to use; and the predators needed are not present, the clearcutting only increases hays and grasses which increases ticks and moose flies (simply put); and many places industrial farming takes over, as well as fences and private property.
All the media outlets and green organisations are celebrating that the nations of the world are saving 30% of nature for nature? What a twat load of hubris. Sounds like one book I read – funny how they call it dystopia.
In the book – and if I remember the title I shall put it up here – a small group of humans specially selected are allowed to live in a reserve, natural pristine wilderness with mountains, deserts, rivers, lakes and especially CLEAN air and water, etc etc. and it is fenced. And they are allowed to not build structures (except the rangers cabins), nor keep stores of supplies – just what they can carry. They cannot stay in one place too long or they break the rules, leaving too much of a human impact on the site. They are part of some experiment of control. Turns out that there are more than just one group living there – and as things get worse outside the fence more folk start entering the reserve…. Well, we know what happens. And the ending is not all rainbows and glitter.
So on this day of Sun’s return, of the return of the Mother Deer I give thanks to the PEOPLES who care for all deer and especially reindeer: Evenki, Daur, Evens, Tozha Tuvans, Sámi in Norway/Finland/Kola Peninsula/Sweden, Nganasan, Sakha, Nenets, Khanty, Tofolar, Tsaatan, Chukchi, Komi, Koryak, Mansi, Dolgan, Dukha, Enets, Yukagir, Selkup, Chuvan, Inupiaq Eskimo, Inuvialuit, Uil’ta, Kets, Negidal and Soyot and even in Scotland and Greenland.
For the lands, fields, woodlands, wetlands, mountains, valleys, desert-like regions, tundra thank you.
And to have hope that we will not be fooled by the 30% number and we go for more! For that number will be used against any and all who want to protect local areas as well as vast areas. The countries will be having the map out and dividing up regions. It will be like the old days of ethnography and anthropology, the doctrine of discovery: who gets what region to study and investigate is determined by the Party, the state, the institution and relationships (kin to money).
So please Deer Mother return return – bring your sun with you in your antlers, flying high!
Photograph from personal book copy of stories from the Amur – Gennady Pavlishin, artist.
More information about all things deer in English and or other languages:
Vaikea olla hiljainen. Nyt erikoisesti viimeiset vuodet. On ilmestynyt niin paljon, ja eri konferenssit ja festaarit todella suuri ilmiö mikä liittyi shamanismi, shamaanin hoito ja shamanic- sana.
Shamanismi Ei ole mindfulness, ei ole valoa ja rakkaus, ei ole shamanic jooga, ei ole shamanic tantra tai shamanistinen hengitystyö; ei ole intensiivinen katse, ei ole vaateista kiinni – tai kuinka paljon luita tai höyheenit heille on hiuksessa, tai shamanisten enkelihoito, tai erikoiset kengät, ei ole maskuliini-feminiini mitään, ei ole hitaasti soitettu rummut tai kulhot, ei ole hiljaisuus ja mantrat, tai kanavoi joku laulu; ei tule itsestä, ei ole jotain sisäinen minä, … its not psychology or psychotherapy, ei oo semmoisen cosmic consciousness. Ei palvele itse ja tai itse-kehitys, itse rakkaus tai hyväksyminen. itse itse itse ja oma napaa ja oma trauma ja oma “tarvitse kohdata oman varjo” ja oma napaa oma napaa… hoidossa myös. Ihmiset ovat hukassa nyt. Oikeasti MAAILMA ON HUKASSA koska kaikki mieti oma napa, oma kehitys, ikuisuus ja nuoruus. Ja käyttää sana mikä ei oikeasti liittyy mitä he tekivät.
…Shamaanin-, Shamaanit, tietäjät, kunnon noidat, tai vólv hoito , – parantajat kaikki. Sanat mikä nouse mielessä kun mietin shamaanit mikä olen työskentelyn kanssa: laulajat, hiljainen, kova, on luja, raju, rajat, kova, uhraus, köyhyys rajalle; ei patriarkaalinen (Tengrism on); rummuttaa; sauva (tai keppi)taito; hurja; vähön jännitys; on tietoja sairauksien ja sen vastaava laulu; osa työskentele maan kanssa (eli kerää kasvaa hoitaa); kun love nouse voi iske! Myös on myötätunto mutta ei nieli kaikki mikä toinen puhuu; ”hallitse” shapeshifting ja hengen embodiment mikä tarkoittaa pysty toimimaan tämä maailmassa myös henkimaailmassa sama aikana; osa rukoilee; ja on henkiauttajat- esivanhemmat/opettajat/”eläin” luonto sukulaiset. Ja ei oman napa tuijottaminen.
He pääsevät sinne koska monta vuotta kymmeniä vuotta ja he Harjoitta ja harjoitta ja harjoittaa. Tuhansia kerta. Tää polku on palvelu palvelu palvelu. Kärsimys polku kyllä.
Ei kaikki on shamaanit-tietäjät- ei kaikki on parantaja. Voisimmeko Pitää semmoiset sanat/titteli/nimike heille mikä oikeasti tee semmoisen työtä? Sama kuin shamanistinen harjoittelija, tai noita. Tai vólv. Ei ole usein että he valitse semmoisen elämä. Ei kaikki hallitse sama taidot…
Harner kutoa keino että on auttanut kolonialistit ja myös alkuperäiskansat muistaa heidän yhteys henkimaailmalle. Mikä oli syntynyt hänestä ja muutaman hänen opettajalta ja entiset opettajalta on saanut asia esille ja reclaim / uudistanut ihmisten kiinnostus oma juuret, heidän oma kulttuuri ja kuinka alistettu he ovat tullut, ja herännyt vanha henget/their master and mistress spirits eloon. Sitten tiet eroa. Henget opettaa. Paikka opettaa. Ja erilaiset opettajat ilmestyy.
Kyllä, meille Kaikki on yhteys henkimaailmalle – se on meidän nenä edessämme – tämä maailma myös. Kaikki voi muistaa heidän oma indigenity. Oma animistinen juuret, ja harjoittaa maan läheinen polku – tietoja – taitoja… meille on, kaikki meistä löytyy esivanhemmat mikä ovat animisti/elää sopusoinnun luonnon kansa kanssa.
ja nouse toinen asia: Navajo-terapia!! WTF!!! Ei ole semmoisen. Ei liittyy Navajon Kansat olleenkaan. Kuinka perustaja kehdata käyttää tämä nimike? Kuinka harjoittelijat tästä “terapiasta” pysty käyttää Kansan nimi kun koko homma ei ole mitään tekeminen heidän kanssa?? Onko Navajot antanut lupaa että he voivat käyttää heidän kansan nimi? Rumpu, suitsuke, neljä suunnat. Shit! If the Navajo Nation knew that there was such a thing being done using their name – and they were in the states??? That is the problem here, folk think they can get away with appropriation, with abuse, with becoming the colonialist, and operating from privilege. Time to stop and that is the only looking at our own belly buttons we need too….
Who will sing me across the river?
Who will sing me from my home?
Who will sing my rememberings?
Who will sing me from my home?
Who will sing me across the river?
Who will sing me skyward bound?
Where the stars beyond the crown
Show a wrinkle in the wind.
Mother spun the cradle
Sang light and darkness in
Round I swing behind the crown
Who will sing me across the river?
Who will sing me from my home?
Who will sing me home?
- Christiana Aro-Harle 31.07.2022
I wrote a long post and managed to press a button and off it went – somewhere. Trying again. And I replied – and am learning about blogs.
That is a long question. There are many responses, many experiences. Gleaning, I find a few.
First, I ask from Spirit(s) – my helping ones – I ask from the Land. Very simply, to the point, for a staff. If I am on the Land, in a place where I can be in nature (city parks and fields have offered staves) – I give a small gift to the spirits of the Land, my kin, my kith. Could be tobacco, turquoise, a pc of fish or delicious food morsel, return a crystal, a coin, pc of jewellery, etc.
And I wait. I walk.
I might decide to go on a walk for this. Start from a specific place and end in a specific place. And let Spirits guide me on the walk. Using shamanic eyes, liminal eyes- how you want to call this? I just say keeping my eyes open nowadays. And spirit helpers along, Life along, intention…. and walk, meander.
The question is do I take from a living tree or what we say, dead-fall: wood that has fallen from the living tree. Here, it is not allowed to take from a living tree. Because here in Finland, the trees are “kept”, owned by someone for different reasons. Could be that they are protecting their trees so they can grow normally without human interference; or it is for clear-cutting or thinning or or or the place is part of the commune (county?) or village…. But what I was taught in Tuva was that one never cuts a living tree down, takes from a living tree because if one does, they kill one of their children (in their village, or family circle, country). Literally, kill through disease or straight-out death. So we would collect wood for winter from dead-fall, those storm-fallen, flood-ripped, and even old-age trees. Thinking about that on a macrocosmos-microcosmos manner arises the way humans are now….
Which reminds of a story which I have permission to tell. So, I and another are holding a week long drum-birthing workshop in North Karelia years back. Could have been yesterday! And one of the participants, she who now works with me on this workshop, heads out to her sit-spot, her power place, her special spot in the forest. And she has asked Spirits for a staff, a piece of wood.
Crouching in the bush amongst the fir trees and gathering up connection and advice, she is. Kind of near a small car track (narrow, thru the forest-type). There she is, minding her own affairs and along comes a small car with two older folk. She can see the approach – so if she can see, could it not be so that they can see her also? HA!
There she is with mosquito hat on, forest coloured clothes, her rattle amongst the bush. And comes the Oh Shit! they have a chainsaw with them! They are thinning the trees. She watches them move along. And then realises they are coming her way! What to do? Just sit there amongst the trees and wait til they stumble upon her? Can she be invisible? Don’t want to scare them – I mean, we are in the forest with no one supposed to be around! Should she just “pop out” of the bushes like some little menninkäinen- troll- fairy-? Will they get a heart attack from shock? How embarrassing this is, she feels. She don’t want interference! What a predicament!
Gathering up her strength, her courage, her gumption she decides to reveal herself. Better that then have them drop their chainsaw on her! So she stands from her crouching and steps out to be visible. Well, a bit of shock. Now if you see her, know her, and could see her costume, her little specs on her nose, and a mosquito hat with netting covering her face, you’d be rolling on the floor with laughter. And she says: Good day!
And that couple! What do they do? Neat as a hat, just cool as cucumbers on a spit-hot day, return the greeting: Good day!
“I see you are thinning the trees,”, she says. I mean that is very obvious, but one must abide by some courtesies. Finns are not intrusive. Generations (of trauma too) of “doing things on one’s own- story.
“Yes, we need to take care of our little road. Easier to see when moose and animals come out of the bush”, says the man with the chainsaw. “What are you up to?”
“Oh I am just enjoying being here in the forest. Is this your forest? (Yes) and I am in a workshop nearby. I am out here looking for a staff”, she says in all truthfulness. For she is probably the most honest persons I know.
“Oh, what kind? We have this chainsaw – how long do you need it, you know what kind of tree you need for this staff? How long?”
Well, one of her advices that she heard was, rowan, the world tree for her, and straight as a straight can be. And that is what she tells the man with the chainsaw.
He goes over to a rowan – not a big one, straighter than straight and whizzes that saw – and the wife goes over and holds it – and he cuts that rowan to the perfect height to her shoulder.
My friend says thank you many times. The old couple act as if embarrassed by this praise and say thank you back to her – no problem and all continue their way.
My friend, she says that the lesson of that day was not just about the staff, and getting her staff, but about being seen and following where courage called, becoming visible when everything in her body was saying make yourself small, disappear into the earth, be embarrassed because those were her sore spots. It was for her: asking for help, which is something that does not run in her parents, nor relatives. One must always do everything by oneself. That old couple came around to the workshop site later to see what we were all up to and have a chat, check in with my friend and her new staff. Such it is out in the countryside.
Another way is to dream the staff. Dream through a dream, as in when asleep. Or dream through a shamanic journey. Spirit helpers along- always. Those guiding relatives who may be another form than two-legged – those ones or one who know the ways of the spirit(s) world(s).
My staves came through a dream. I was invited over to BC, Canada to do some shamanic work, ceremony, teaching. I asked at home before dreaming what needs to go with me for this journey – and they said what needed to go along AND also said, you don’t take your drum. I almost always work with drum and song. Shock! My status, my personal being! My special friend left home alone???
So I left for Squamish without my drum. They said you going to find your staves. Staves? That is more than one. I arrived and went off to one island off of Vancouver Island for a visit to a friend. They own a plot of land there. And I asked, that if perchance, some pieces of wood, some staff wants to come with me, may I take – from ground or living or neither. And they said: help yourself to any and all.
I was in their hut – and made a shamanic journey (intention simple, a couple of spirit helpers along, singing and rattling, sending a part of me out and about, find answer, return, and follow-through). I asked what they -shehe should look like, what to keep in mind, what offerings to bring, how to care for when I get them back to the hut). A very clear journey and a very clear vision. Leaving the hut, taking the offerings along I began to walk with eyes wide open. I wandered through the woods and wetlands looking to see who called- or rather who was answering. For in the journey I saw two beings – one with new growth wrapped around old growth and and vittu or crook- like a diamond-ish shape at the top with the other one a straight arm-thick staff. I trust the journey and the spirits yet to be honest I really was not sure – how could I find such an old-growth new growth branch or tree? And singing out there, I came upon one that called and said “me”.
This was the straight one. A dead branch attached to a mighty cedar mother. Offerings, double-checking that this was alright to do, in that taking-receiving the “dead branch” – I also received a gash in the head, pride squashed and a black out. Humbled greatly, I walked with the thought only to return to the hut, for my head was bleeding and needed tending. Such a twat I was. How harsh my tongue to myself. Still am! I strolled under cedar branches, mother trees, small trees, talking all the time with them – and there just like in the journey – sticking out from a cedar on one side of one cedar was the branch – new growth wrapped around old forming at the end an opening – a diamond-like crook. And this one, after learning from the previous – I just asked: if you want to come with me, come. Listen! Listen! Listen and watch and wait. So I sat and waited. And then I stood and touched the branch, and we knew that this one could come. With the permission of the land owner, with the permission of the tree, with much food offering, some vodka, some remembering words, I sawed the branch off in a spot where new growth was sure to follow. Ahh, some guilt, much “I hope I gave enough, I hope I balanced enough” went through my head.
I travelled to England once. Needed a staff for a long ceremony as I will not bring my staves any longer through airports. My dear friend Annie and I go off for a walk through the back streets of Bath, off up to some fields. We walk a few minutes. I noticed a buzzard above me. Circling tight circles above me. This was welcome. A hello from that land. And I passed on the news about on the look-out for a staff for this ceremony. Buzzard flies off. We walk along, cross the hillside grassfield – you know, the British kind: trees only line the edges. And there in the middle of this field is a long, shoulder-height wrist-thick stick. We stand there looking around – no humans around, trees are very far away, no dogs (this is not throwing stick- more like a javelin, although we do know one dog in BC who would think this was a fantastic throw stick, that is another story)….like did Buzzard just drop one into the middle of the field? Fairy folk? WHO KNOWS! So thank you gifts in return, check-in for ok to pick up, and now to create a relationship with this staff.
A few ways to make a staff? Nature makes them.
Shoulder height – or up to your head. Your world tree.
You do not need to decorate it. For why have something that stands out that others can notice and pinpoint and desire? In the archaic exists the sacred used. And only those who use or are privy to the teachings, or participated in the ceremony where this “item” has been, truly know the beauty and the energy, the power and threads tied to Sacred and Spirit.
You may have more than one staff – one for public use, one private use perhaps. They are just like a shaman’s drum, or other “instrument” – they become your friend, they are sacred, they have Spirit, they are Spirit, they gather and swell, dream and dwell in this world and others; they hold and take in and spread, sending out.
An afterthought when I remembered the original post.
Make a walking journey- where you have an entrance to nature. This might be some sort of natural threshold, gateway, gate, between two trees, over a natural waterway. Stillness, nature talking not humans. It can be a known route or one you make your self, for instance. Taking your spirit helper(s) along, make clear your reason for this walk, step through this Nature-made doorway and seek out your staff. Keep in mind the “fallen” or “living” from above and follow as your helpers guide you. When you find your staff, ask, give thanks, gifts, and return the same way as best as you can. The whole walk is part of the story, there can be little lessons along the way about the staff and your relationship with staff.
To Spirit. To the ceremonialist(s). To each other.
That is why consumer starseeder human ceremonies are dead
No one gives
One sits there in envy
Of the one one in the centre
But one doesn’t understand
To be in the centre
Is not about glory
they say in some sacred ceremonies
The one in the centre loses some years off their life
Each time they hold the ceremony
They say in some sacred ceremonies
That the ones in the center
That is all they do all year long
Is getting ready for one ceremony
Which lasts five days or one
Am I ready for that?
Do the folk who gather
For that ceremony
Are they prepared
To give to Spirit
Or to the Spirits
To keep the ceremonialists safe
To dance and sing again
If the ceremonialist is constantly
Giving to Sprit, they know that
It will cost them
Even their life
Keep the balance
Be at peace with
“Sitting in the third row”*
Written while thinking about ceremony and preparing for Awakening and dancing Mother Bear.
The questions: Will the group, the small community make enough beauty, bring enough beauty, sing strong songs, speak in a beautiful way that is born from connection?
Can they make such strong power that all that can happen is for Mother Bear to come out and dance with us? Will we give time and space for this? Or will people tire, not understand, want to get it over with, not pass into that liminal place of world within world within world and so on? Will the ceremonialists be supported by the community? Will they weave in and out within their own responsibilities, their own lineage to carry, their own craft and body of knowledge they carry? Ego dissolve.
And the teachings carried came from teachers, Elders. And then comes along experience – a lot of this. Which means time – and a lot of hard learning over YEARS before going public to serve. And that is IF the ceremony is even public. So difficult for the current climate of humans. There are those who are just doing this, in quiet, in silence, not talking about what they are doing over years in and years out of service.
And not everyone gets initiated. Not everyone gets everything! You started a family (I like this one) means there are some things you don’t have privy to and will not get to “fill in the gaps of initiations you missed” because you decided or were on unable to have certain ceremonies: Life and own choices – now you have a family! Is that not an initiation of sorts? Some other initiation ceremony you shall have…. One that is for your present or when you are older or something else happens.
And having private ceremonies, passed down from others: how does one not just replicate this in a foreign land? How does one not colonise it? How does one sit with this learned or initiated ceremony for some time, sinking into one’s own land and then arriving at perhaps a blossoming, perhaps the first kiss of even coming close to something containing the magic, the depth, the wideness, the mystery, the service to the Holy? To Life? To Earth and all beings?
I think of my friend and her struggles with this for years. I think of my struggle with this since returning from Tuva. I think of some friends who apprenticed for sixteen years, making pilgrimages to the same place before being able to participate in peyote ceremony let alone call upon that specific place to assist them in their healing work! I think of friends who apprenticed (arrange, help, serve, drive, feed, carry, assist, listen….) to Elders, medicine men and women in North America, Central America, South America – and not sharing much or anything nor repeating songs in their own homeland (and waiting or asking or being granted permission to share). I think about a couple who entered my life and were not given permission but did anyway leaving me with the payment part.
This is not an easy discussion. Nor is this the end. All in all, ceremony seems to be against all the “norms” of retail economy. Which brings up another field of wonderment and consternation and follows the ouroboros: what goes around comes around and for another time to write.
But then we come to one centre in the vast web of ceremony, service, teachings, learnings: of passing further out and around: right mind (heart is in there) and necessity. Generosity perhaps even that. Non-indigenous folk are indigenous to Mother Earth. Would that be enough for all humans to reconnect to their memories of why to take care of her, one another, all beings? In ceremony to feed her? Reconnect to bravery of generosity? Do we not have a necessity to change and nurture with right mind and heart? Do we not have a necessity to hold dear, support, be ally to indigenous peoples, peoples with languages and worldviews that are being overcome by states, industry, the 1%, film industry, biohackers, well-being businesses and tourism, etc etc? Read the last sentence again.
Ceremonies are cycle- specific and place specific. Then some dash down wild waterfalls of people specific, gender specific. Then further down the way is a feeding spring of those ceremonies which are for a smaller group of Elders who hold perhaps entire worlds together. All are needed. All feeding into Life, keeping the World (that means all beings, air, water – all!!!) alive and in good relationship through the gifts of service, giving.
Bear Clan, Professor Barbara Alice Mann – anything. Definitely riles, confuses, clears the head, and goes against much of what has been force-fed to most of the world about North America. Love fractals.
*quite sure this was a line heard from a podcast by Nordic Animism & Tyson Yunkaporta.