21 October 2012

The Vision Quest

Four Directions Teachings is a website that has some basic teachings, explanations for a way of living from the perspective of one of four First Nation tribes in Canada. Native Art in Canada is another site that explains a bit more about our way of life. The Vision Quest is explained in a manner that I recognize from what I was told. I haven't looked at the whole site, enough to know this person, this artist, is truly of the People.  Much of what she described and talks about I have similar memories. I've been on a Vision Quest to deal with anger and hurt.

The concept of the Vision Quest has been romanticized, even among the People. This is where I noticed a similarity among cultures. Prayer and meditation is common among all peoples, all cultures. Church congregations observe a moment of silence for certain things, they teach that one must meditate on Bible teachings in a quiet place. When I taught my sons about religion, I explained my belief regarding this: there are "true Christians" and those who call themselves "Christians." I don't remember the exact Bible verse that explains about false teachers even among the church members. I do remember that there is a test involved. Actions must match your words.

The same is true for traditional People. Actions must match your words. There is a way provided to guide one back to the People if one gets lost. The Vision Quest. In the old days, women did not go into the sweat lodge. Sweat lodges purify your Spirit. Women were purified every month; because of the connection to the moon and childbirth, women were already conscious of their purpose in life. Men did not have that connection and so they had the Vision Quest, the sweat lodge. Today, limitations on sites available must be taken into consideration. Women elders are holding sweats for women as traditions are being lost. Many women don't know or are confused and so must make that connection.

I make comments every once in a while about my cigarette habit. Once, a woman told me that she quit after she considered the People's reason for tobacco: Talking to the Spirits. She thought about the things she thought, the things she said while smoking a cigarette. How the Spirits were listening to her "talk about her boyfriend." She told about how women who step over men's things would be "read the riot act" because of the fierceness of her love for her sons, her willingness to protect them.

I thought about what she said. In order to fit in, I, too, smoked cigarettes. I'm not a pipe carrier. I don't smoke to fit in anymore. I watch my thoughts when I smoke that cigarette. I'm aware of the Spirits when I smoke. I say prayers for guidance, or change the direction of what I think. If I can't change the direction, I put out that cigarette. I'm more conscious of what I talk about, what I say when visiting with people. I don't go to negative places anymore because the Spirits are with me when I smoke in those places. So, when I make comments about smoking or buying them, it's because my dad isn't traditional. He's church, he thinks about health reasons among other things, which is fine. We agree to disagree. And he still buys me cigarettes once in a while.

I think of the fierceness of that woman's love for her sons. I have that same fierceness. I think about the women who don't know what they're doing. I also think about the men who don't know and leave their things in the path where a woman walks. I think about the matched sets of dishes that are so popular now. In the old days, each had their own eating utensils. Now, one can't tell what belongs to who. Men and women drink from the same bottle. At feasts and such, the food is served directly into each person's hands and eaten, thus no need for worry. I thought about why would that woman have to "read the riot act" if she taught her sons to keep their things out of the way.

I check the influences children and young ones watch and listen to. I'm hoping that they won't have to walk a difficult path because of those influences. Not because I hate those things, it's because some of those things are not teaching what I want the young ones to learn. It's hard to watch them stumble, fall, hope they have the strength to pick themselves up. Sometimes, it's hard to offer help and have it rejected. I think about the reason for that rejection; when it means they do have the strength to walk their own path, I'm glad. That is what I taught my sons; sometimes, one must walk a lonely path to do what is right.  We talk, each respecting the other's feelings, even if there is anger and hurt. We think about it and tell why we agree or disagree. The feather is always in our thoughts, it hangs where we can see it. Thus we show respect for each other's thoughts on something.

That particular spot has feathers on the ground, there is rice in the bay, there are cedar trees there. A fire was lit, tobacco was smoked, food and drink were shared. What did the Spirits think when they arrived?

I don't go to negative places, where there is no respect, no honor. When negativity spills out and touches others, a Cleansing must take place. Thus, my Vision Quest.  Where can one go that the Wind does not touch, where there is no Water, no Animal, no Tree, no Feather, no Tobacco? Where can one go that the Creator does not go? Miew.


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