The Spirit Gifting for Supports of Sacred Dance: Sunrise Ceremony, Last Day of Sacred Dance
by N J Howell
Beautiful Painted Arrow had a vision for transformative dance that would help us heal ourselves and, through healing ourselves, help to heal the planet. This is part three of my story of how the experience of being a supporter resulted in a powerful spiritual blessing. If you'd like to start at the beginning, read my arrival in the ceremonial grounds and my role as a supporter and my experience with the dance
More on Beautiful Painted Arrow:
The Healing Sound Chambers
I was there for the sunrise ceremony on the last day of the SunMoon dance, the vision of Beautiful Painted Arrow. We sang goodbye to the Moon still high in the sky, as we had every day of the four-day ceremony; then we turned to sing hello to the Sun. For a spiritually potent moment, Sun and Moon, yin and yang, were equally present. Then the Moon gracefully gave way, and the Sun came forth.
I heard a crow caw three times, then three times again. I was acutely aware of sound. Two little birds were bickering outside the arbor. Everyone noticed. I was antsy and nervous but did not know why.
The Water Ceremony: I watched as Benito (the leader of the dance and the brother of Joseph Rael) performed a water ceremony for all the dancers. It was beautiful.
Each of the dancers, who had been without water since the dance began, is anointed with water on their throat, their third eye, and their crown. This reminded me of Catholic baptism and, in some way I can't articulate, made me understand that ritual in a way I never had before. Then they are given some water to drink. All through this precious ceremony, the two little birds bickered and tittered and carried on without ceasing. I was still extremely nervous, and did not know why.
After the water ceremony I went back to my camp even though I heard someone announce that there was to be a ceremony for the supporters too. As I hurried back to my tent, the two little birds came with me and landed in the tree beside my tent, bickering even more loudly and right at my head!
Well, it was obvious that they were telling me something. It was as if, in their constant fluttering and sound, they were mirroring my own nervousness.
I finally stopped and centered, long enough to ask Spirit what I should do. Immediately, I understood that I was to put on the beautiful, golden dancing shawl my sister had gifted me and go back to the arbor.
Touched by the Ceremonial Tree: As I arrived at the dance arbor, all the supporters were being called into the arbor. As I walked in, I felt the force and energy of the tree literally come into my body, so strongly that I physically swayed, and I began to sob uncontrollably.
As I continued into the arbor, staggering and wailing, I didn't know if I could make it to the center and I barely did make it. I could just as easily have collapsed in route. As I knelt down, the sobbing became so intense that I had to lay my head over on the ground. As Benitos anointed me with the water, it felt as if God had touched me. There is really no other way to put it.
When I was handed the water, I simultaneously became aware that my throat and lips were parched, as if I had not drank water in days. The thing I wanted most was to drink the water. Instead, and without my conscious awareness, my right hand raised the cup to the east Sun and I found myself up on my feet, and staggering to the tree. My intention, as much as I was able to have one, seemed to be offering the water to the tree. As I approached and knelt, I moved the water to my left hand and poured it at the base of the tree. At that moment, I felt as if I were crying all the tears of the world.
Later, a woman who witnessed this moment from outside the arbor said she saw a vision of a meeting at the United Nations; some type of pivotal meeting was connected ..... I have no judgment of this or feeling about it. Just reporting what was told to me. I don't know how long I stayed that way, swaying near the foot of the Ceremonial Tree. At some point, I became aware that the tree was pulling me toward it.
When my forehead was within four inches of the tree, I was jerked into it with enough force to be shocking to my system, although I felt no pain. Instantly, after my head hit the tree, I felt all thought leave my mind. It literally felt as if all conscious thought were sucked up through the tree and gone from me.
That is when I fell.
Although I was already kneeling, I fell hard (as if shoved) but, again, there was no pain. When I hit the ground, I knew what the others had felt. I went into the Sun and it wasn't hot.
A Laugh-In Moment: With the same sense of irony I've had all my life, I look back on that moment of falling and see myself as Artie Johnson, on his little tricycle, on Laugh-In. Remember, if you are old enough, how Artie would just take off to beat the band, riding this little child's trike. Then, he would just abruptly stop, and fall over? For me, it was like that at the SunMoon Dance Tree ..... The funny little human I am gave way completely to a surrender that would have been embarassing for the "little me". If I had seen myself, outside the experience, I may well have guffawed. Sacred Laughter in the face of the profound. After my topple, I was in the most profound state of peace I have ever known and, looking back on it now, I know it was largely due to the fact that I had no thought. I just was. I just existed.
There were many other gifts I received, as I lay at the base of the Tree and under the Sacred Arbor. They had to do with Sacred Language, cosmic understandings, waves of consciousness that were unspeakably strong. These cannot be fully articulated as they are beyond words. Aho.
Smoking the Pipe in Ceremony: Afterwards, I was honored to smoke the pipe inside the arbor, where prayers were sent forth on behalf of the Lakota Relatives, (Wanbli Gleska Cikala, Keya Win, my soulmate Mac, our friend Robert, and others of our circle) who were simultaneously dancing their vision in South Dakota at the first Journey Back to the Heart Sundance in the Black Hills. I saw the mending of the Hoop energies and the continuance of the bringing together of all people in peace and harmony. Let it be so.
I understand a little part of Joseph Rael's medicine now. I suppose it is, in larger part, the medicine of all spiritual masters -- to bring the ego to a point of surrender to higher will.
The Tree does that. It stands there, immovable and irresistible. It breaks the ego against it, or gently dissolves it, or elevates it. One way or another, it brings a necessity of action followed by surrender. One falls. Whether by slamming into the Tree, gently touching it, or even having it breathe one to it, one falls. Some way or another, the ego self and whatever agenda it brought into the ceremonial circle surrenders and the falling dance of sweet surrender occurs.
It isn't the Tree doing anything to us. It's an agreement we made when we entered the ceremony. Whether consciously aware of any decision to let go of what had held us captive from our true nature, or not, the dance is an active spiritual partnership and the Tree does it's part. As was eloquently described by one of the male Dog Soldiers who cared for the dancers with great love and compassion, it is in the falling that we embrace our opposite self and become, for a moment, whole.
The Spiritual Medicine of the Sun Moon Dance Tree
The Dog Soldier explained that the action of hitting the tree is male. The action of falling is female. Hitting the ground is again male. Surrender to the receiving after the fall is female.
Therefore, one comes out of the experience from that place of birth energy -- the female -- more ready to take the actions needed to fulfill their higher potential from reborn and balanced male energy. Yin and Yang.
My truth is that it is good for us to embrace other faiths, ceremonies, and practices, as a way of claiming all we are. If you have never attended a Native-American ceremony, please consider it. The process will awaken certain soul memories that will serve you well in the times to come.
Spiritual Disclaimer: These views and experiences are my own and not intended to represent any Native-American perspective on ceremony.