Monthly Archives: June 2013

Canadian Architect and Museum Curator Receive 2013 Peace Awards

Canadian Architect and Museum Curator Receive 2013 Peace Awards

sticker v41

11th Annual Friends for Peace Day

Saturday, September 28, 2013, 11am – 4.30pm,

Jean Pigott Place, Ottawa City Hall

All Nations, All Traditions – a Circle of Friendship

www.friendsforpeace.ca

 Friends for Peace Day is an awesome, diverse, unique Ottawa experience.  It is a day to celebrate the consciousness of peace, social justice and planetary care rather than bemoan their scarcity. Mayor Jim Watson had this to say: “Friends for Peace is an outstanding organization that does very important work, promoting, strengthening and maintaining peace, planetary care and social justice within our communities and the environment.”

There will be music, speeches, dancing, fabulous food at the Servery, and a chance to learn and connect. The day opens with Orkidstra followed by the Dandelion Dance Company. These young people signal that we have a future. Peggy Taillon will talk about the Hera Mission in Kenya. And all-time favorites, Big Soul Project, close the morning program by raising the roof with their exuberance and joie.

Max Keeping and Ian 02

The Lunch Break is an opportunity to browse the Silent Auction, visit the community tables, check out the Connection Centre and enjoy the country bazaar nature of the event. The afternoon program begins with a First Nations theme – Asinabika Drum Circle and Idle No More. The 2013 Peace Awards will be presented to architect and visionary Douglas Cardinal and to curator Dr Amber Lloydlangten and her team at the War Museum for their magnificent Peace Exhibition. From Montreal – a great band with Sonja Ball and Friends, followed by Lucille Hildesheim on Celtic Harp. Samba Ottawa close the day with their rhythmic magic.

Entrance is by donation. All funds raised enable Peace Grants to be presented every year to organizations making a difference in our city and internationally. The intent is to create a different form of peaceful expression that appeals to a wide cross section of Canadian citizens who want to create infrastructure in our institutions that value peace and planetary processes.

Get there early for the opening with Orkidstra. Doors open at 10.30am. Watch this glorious song by Orkidstra at the 10th Friends for Peace Day in Ottawa: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NsVb2a2cbE&feature=youtu.be

Ian congratulating Orkidstra

Flush The Internal Toilet of Your Mind

Flush the Internal Toilet of Your Mind

Earth My Body - Front Cover

 Stepping out on the environmental stage is one part of the Global Warming dance.  It cannot be fully effective until the internal choreography is in place, which is why I address global issues of environmental pollution and degradation through the discipline of meditation.  That is my initial responsibility and rests on key spiritual qualities of responsiveness grounded in responsibility.  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince was explicit about this:

Now there were some terrible seeds on the planet that was the home of the little prince; and these were the seeds of the baobab.  The soil of that planet was infested with them.  A baobab is something you will never, never be able to get rid of if you attend to it too late, it spreads over the entire planet.  It bores clear through it with its roots.  And if the planet is too small, and the baobabs are too many they split it into pieces…  “It is a question of discipline,” the little prince said to me later on.  “When you’ve finished your own toilet in the morning, then it is time to attend to the toilet of your planet, just so, with the greatest care.  You must see to it that you pull up regularly all the baobabs, at the very first moment when they can be distinguished from the rose-bushes, which they resemble so closely in their earliest youth.  It is very tedious work,” the little prince added “but very easy!”

 

We flush the internal toilet of our mind by pulling up regularly all the “baobabs” and garbage of our inner ecology through meditation and self-healing; then attending to the toilet of the planet will be very easy.  Although the excerpt from the Little Prince is not a good translation – it does serve well.  The phrase “faire sa toilette” means to wash up and get ready for the new day and includes the whole process of morning hygiene to getting dressed.  It is a polite phrase that readily lends itself to taking care of the planet.  To neglect care for the planet by sitting on the fence, and resisting the radical and costly change to a carbon neutral economy, ensures that the “baobobs” from our mind and habit energies will create an uninhabitable planet for our species.  If there were an ancient biologist on Mars studying a million years of earth history, she would note a parasitic infestation of Planet Earth that was not very intelligent.  An intelligent parasite would ensure the good health of the host that supports it.  And so the Martian biologist would factor in an elimination date for our species in her star-date log.

 

But there is such a thing as higher intelligence – a level of knowing that emerges from diligent meditation and the practice of awareness.  Our goal in meditation is to heal and transform not only our selves, but also our place on the planet.  Meditation is a progressive movement towards wholeness and integration, and requires that we look deeply into the environment we are located in, and the environment we create with our thoughts, attitudes and values.  In the process of meditation we liberate ourselves from internal blockages created by maladaptive patterns of inner ecology, and are then able to enter a state of clarity and compassion. Thus we transform by personally experiencing different cognitive and perceptual levels that enable us to transcend internal “baobabs”.  This inward step to refine consciousness enables us to create adaptive solutions for Global Warming from a foundation of wisdom and confidence in our clarity.  What we do now has consequences for our future.  The consequences of not acting now are much more costly than the massive investment in an alternative economy and way of life.  The Future is Now!  We prepare for the future through present mindfulness and astute awareness about the consequences of our actions.  This ripples through to future generations and to Mother Earth, enabling a sustainable earth culture to emerge.  Just flush the internal toilet of your mind.  “It is a matter of discipline………very tedious, but quite easy.”

New Economic Paradigm and the Culture of Entitlement

New Economic Paradigm and the Culture of Entitlement

 

In Canada the lack of moral compass and ethics in public and corporate life is highlighted by the Senate scandal, political leaders cushioning their income with $20,000 fees for public speaking, free embassy facilities for Cabinet ministers on vacation, the corruption of city mayors – on it goes. The culture of entitlement is rampant and has angered Canadian citizenry. Perhaps this culture of greed and entitlement is a bi-product of the economic structures we presently live in.

 

In whatever way the global economy is analyzed, poked and taken apart – we must recognize what it cannot do. Finance Capital has a design about securing the establishment of those conditions that ensure the continued creation of profits for the beneficiaries of capital. It does not have a design feature for morals or ethics. Morals and ethics rest with humans and it is the responsibility of humans in power to infuse, restrain and curtail the logic of capital so it may also benefit those humans who do not have a financial stake in the design structure of capital. Capital has always been amoral – it cannot on its own be anything else. Sadly, many of the controllers of capital have also been amoral for so long that our species faces possible elimination.

 

The Global Marshall Plan, like its namesake that restored balance to the world by funding the education and rebuilding of Europe after WWII, is based on new concepts and financial instruments. Designed to restructure world trade so that it is in synchronicity with humanitarian concerns and environmental protection, the goal is to produce an Eco-Social Market Economy as a new direction for globalization.  New structures to co-finance and equalize development worldwide rest on novel taxes on international financial transactions (Tobin Tax), on world trade and providing special drawing rights on the IMF.  This would provide the billions of dollars required to bring about a global economic miracle, which at the same time is environmentally responsible.  This radical proposal to restructure globalization has the support of prominent politicians, scholars and organisations in Europe as well as business leaders.  It has the solid support of the European Union to implement such a Planetary Contract as the first step to creating a worldwide Eco-Social Market Economy by 2015.  It is intended as a viable replacement for the present maladaptive world of free trade. Such a market structure has responsibilities for human justice issues and the eradication of poverty. Corporate culture is no longer allowed to freely make and enforce the rules for global culture and planetary care. A new structure of global governance emerges through a revamped World Trade Organization, but interestingly is still deeply founded on trade and markets. Far from eroding profitable business enterprises, this orientation assures that the most balanced, resourceful and market-sensitive companies will be the most competitive!

 

Where is George Carlin when we need him?

There is a seemingly immovable elephant in the middle of the culture of greed. This is the elite haven known as the Culture of Entitlement.  It coddles our bankers, investment brokers and corporate leaders in a cocoon of corruption, greed and power.  Just what would the late George Carlin have to say about this entity? George Carlin was my favourite American comedian.  Gifted with an acerbic wit, impeccable timing and scathing satire he created comedy routines that reduced world crises to hysterical tatters. Where is he when we need him the most?  Which is right now ‘midst the global circus we all inhabit.  He is of course deceased, yet I hope there is a George Carlin lurking in all of us, as I borrow his persona for a moment.  I will temper his language a little, as I want the folks reading this to get the point rather than be put off by profane language!

 

“Culture of Entitlement? What damn Entitlement? Don’t you see – the market took care of that problem for us – brilliantly.  It destroyed the culture of entitlement – the bankers, investment bums, hedge fund managers, corporate bandits – the market took them all and threw them into the abyss where the suckers belong. It threw them off a cliff into the deepest, darkest hole where they could never, ever climb out. Why do you think the damn market went to the trouble of creating such a drastic economic meltdown? So what do we do with this victory? We hand out parachutes, life-lines and soft landings for the giant parasites of entitlement to keep on sucking off the public teat.  We bailed the creepy, corrupt suits out.  We provided idiots with huge bonuses to retain their skills – the same skills and idiots who got us into this mess in the first place. Are we Insanely Nuts or what? President Obama – do you get it yet? Those angry voters who shellacked you in the 2010 midterm elections – remember those guys? It was their tax dollars that bailed out the creepy suits on Wall Street. The same suits that foreclosed their homes.  Connect the dots will ya?.

 

Do you know where the 700 billion dollars for bailouts came from?  It’s from your damn hip pocket.  Your taxes, my taxes, everybody’s taxes – spent to fix a corrupt system that is not just broken, it’s obsolete and unworkable.  The market shook it off “like fleas from the backside of a dog!” So what do we do?  We put the broken system on artificial life support.  We Are Ludicrously Nuts.  And there’s more.  The latest idiocy is to get private investors to buy the toxic assets of banks with government financial support.  That’s our taxes again people: only 75 – 100 billion dollars this time.  That guy Krugman, who got the Nobel for thinking straight, calls it by its true name – “cash-for-trash.” And our hip pocket is hung out to dry once again.  We Are Indescribably Nuts.   700 billion dollars is just the start of retaining bandits in suits so they can stab us in the wallet over and over again.  How many IRS deductions on paychecks are needed to ring up 700 billion dollars?  It’s enough to drive a dead comedian to drink.”

 

 

Car – less in Ottawa

Car-less in Ottawa, Canada

 Since relinquishing my car, radical new horizons have appeared, though there was an initial period of grief and frustration.  Every time a winter green Subaru Outback drove past I would weep, especially if I was clambering over snow banks to get to a bus stop.  I would often get on the wrong bus, discovering parts of the city I had no intention of visiting.  I must also add that relinquishing my car was not quite as virtuous as it may seem.  My car insurers refused to renew my insurance policy due to the frequent, yet small, crashes that had cost them oodles of money.  The most notorious incident was when I collided with my neighbour’s mini-van.  I still believe he was on the wrong side of the road, but just perhaps it was I.  His insubstantial mini-van crumpled and buckled while my beloved Subaru Outback had minor damage to the front fender.

My neighbour cheerfully, and without realizing the risk, got into my car and I drove both of us to the nearest police station to report the collision.  The police sergeant who took our particulars was another neighbour and as I stood there looking somewhat sheepish, he put up his hand with an air of authority and said: “I don’t want to hear anything from you – I will put this down as a no-fault collision.”  I was about to point out that “no-fault collision” was an oxymoron, when my neighbour (not the police sergeant but the one whose mini-van I had crumpled) said OK and hurried both of us out.  He had to meet his daughter at a shopping mall and asked if I would kindly drive him there.  Quite a risk taker he was, given the circumstances.  I happily agreed and mused that just perhaps my absence from driving would make it safer for every other car on the road, quite apart from the obvious environmental benefits.  All this being said, I was not prepared for new vistas that were suddenly there when I became car-less in Ottawa.

I learned how well served my city of Ottawa was with bus and light rail services.  Furthermore, had I continued driving a car I would have missed out on one of the most hilarious and refreshing bus conversations I have ever had.  Riding home one evening on the 117 bus from my university to Baseline Station, I noticed a young man with a 12 pack of beer sitting opposite, staring very intently at me, obviously three sheets to the wind.  Finally he blurted out: “Hey, aint you the ecology guy on TV?”  To which I mildly demurred that indeed I was – not really wishing to get into a conversation with an inebriated young man.  But joyfully he exclaimed: “Hey, me and the boys have a pack of beer every Monday night when we watch your show.  It’s cool man.”  I felt immediately humbled by his openness and that surprisingly I was making a difference.  As was he at that moment, as he chatted away about ecology and recycling until his bus stop. He offered me a bottle of beer before leaving the bus, which of course I accepted graciously.  I did not drink it, leaving it in the bus driver’s bin to dispose of as he saw fit.

I had discovered that between Baseline Station and my home, there was a kilometre walk along Pinecrest Creek that constantly stunned me with its beauty.  As it was a bicycle path the snow was ploughed in winter, which made walking that much easier.  To have mother nature dance for me in such unexpected ways led to my often carrying a camera, with stale bread and grain for the mallard ducks that wintered there.  The sunsets over the ice rimmed creek and snow covered field leading to it would take my breath away.  They could not possibly be there in the middle of a busy city!!  As were red foxes, one lonely coyote, song birds, owls and the occasional pedestrian.  My walking meditations between Baseline Station and home made me smile as I slowed down and hummed Pooh Bear type hums.  If I had a car this wonder would have been denied to me.

I also relocated essential services close to home, finding doctors, dentists, eye specialists (and camera shops) within walking or biking distance.  They had been there all the time, just waiting to be discovered.  I now re-arrange appointments locally within bicycle range, rarely going downtown unless absolutely necessary.  Driving a car, I could not stop to fully be with moments of stunning beauty for as long as I liked; or say hello to rabbits that boldly appeared; or leave contented ducks well fed on bread and grain murmuring their approval of the two legged who listened to what they wanted.

The bus drivers on the 117 bus route have got to know me and younger passengers offer their seats to the greybeard with the jazzy umbrella and funny black hat.  Would I go back to driving a car and lose all this?  Well, talk to me about an environmentally friendly Mercedes and a kind insurance broker, then perhaps we’ll see.

Peace – The Exhibition

Peace – The Exhibition                                                         Ian Prattis

It is a long and winding road that led to the peace exhibition at the Canadian War Museum, which will run to January 5, 2014. The initial conversation opened a decade ago with Physicians for Global Survival, the Quakers – supported by Friends for Peace – pitching to the museum director the idea of Canadian soldiers going to war to enable peace for their families. The conversation continued with the Canadian Department of Peace group taking a lead role. They found support in a historian who liked the basic idea. The curator of “Peace – The Exhibition” is Dr. Amber Lloydlangsten and she and her team did a terrific job putting it together with very diverse themes.

The exhibition is impressive and extensive with many surprises. A clock from the destruction of Hiroshima, a blue beret from the first UN peacekeeping mission, a World War I Victoria Cross medal awarded to a Canadian stretcher bearer to mention only a few.

There is a station where you can make your own Peace Button – great attraction for kids. Also an art gallery of peace with a tour to see how art reflects the themes of the exhibit. A highlight for me was the attention paid to the Great Peace Law of the Iroquois Confederacy. How it came about and how it is relevant to the present day negotiation between aboriginal peoples and Canadian Institutions.  Treaty 7 provides an elaborate case study. The debate is opened up about Canada’s role as a peace keeping nation with a chart showing different options and outcomes.  The mantle that Canada has worn since Lester Pearson’s days has been diminished since Mr. Harper became Prime Minister of Canada. Do we want a change? That is the question raised in a very challenging way. War is not sanitized, neither is the protest movement nor the peace keeping role. We see how Canadians throughout their history have negotiated, organized and intervened for peace. Interactive stations about Haiti, Afghanistan, the Sudan and more, plus play stations for children to grasp the issues are there to encourage them to think and reflect what they want to see in a future Canada.

I hope teachers make this exhibit a must see locale for school trips. The Peace Exhibition is very well put together. I cannot think of any War Museum in the world that has such an emphasis on peace processes. Peace is a vital part of the story of Canada and it is still evolving and diverse. I encourage everyone to pay a visit – and take children. A Peace Button awaits them!

Transformation in India: Part II – Diary Entries

Transformation in India: Part II – Diary Entries                                        Ian Prattis

Excerpt from Chapter Five: Healing and Transformation taken from my forthcoming book: Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse. I want to write with an authentic, elegant voice and captivate the reader as I navigate past and present life experiences over four centuries – from brutal raids on Indian settlements in 18th century Arizona, insane sea voyages off the Scottish Hebrides in the 20th century and finally, to a decisive life moment of surrender to The Muse in the 21st century. These screenplay-worthy epic tales weave together to create inspiration for fellow spiritual seekers – I just have to be in the right place internally to do the weaving. India is an excellent transformation point.

Streaming video of poem, voice, photos: http://www.ianprattis.com/poemmovies/buddhatemplepoem.htm

DIARY ENTRY, DECEMBER 20, 1996                   

Prem Kutir Ashram, Mumbai, India

Feel weaker than ever this morning.  Could hardly make it from my bed to the bathroom.  Hope the saints who have passed through this little ashram are casting a protective eye over me.  Perhaps they can cheer up Chotolal, the Nepali cook here, who has become quite anxious, especially as I have not had the energy or inclination to eat the special dishes he prepares.  He is watching me write in my diary, so I will change hands and write with my left hand so he can laugh and feel less anxious about me.  It worked!  Why have I become so ill?  All my bodily systems have gone off line.  Is there some major purification going on in my body, is there something I do not see?  What lessons are there?  Or are my days drawing to a close in the silence of this ashram?  My blood tests from the hospital show that I am low and deficient in just about every category and the medications only make me feel worse.  So many questions and worries yet they do not seem totally important.  I ask them then they fade away.  It is a bit strange.  A few days ago I collapsed and passed out while at dinner at Madhumas house.  I know that she and her family would take me in, yet this saints refuge is where I feel most comfortable right now.  The quiet and simplicity of the place speaks to me.  I guess it allows me to prepare for death.           

Have been in an almost constant state of meditation for weeks now.  A deep quiet silence.  Making entries in this diary is almost an interruption.  Yesterday, Tom and Bev phoned from Tuscon in the States and it was wonderful to talk to them.  They sent prayers from the desert.  Another friend, Barbara, from Michigan also phoned.  She tunes into me very closely and was sufficiently alarmed to offer to fly to Mumbai and take me back to the States to get well in her home.  Their love and care is very moving, but I know that whatever is to happen is to be here in India.  It was not easy to communicate this to Carolyn but I do believe she understands.  My prayer is that she does not suffer unduly. Have sent Chotolal to buy some cards and stamps for me.  The cards are beautifully hand painted on pipal leaves with pictures of the Buddha, Krishna dancing and other such scenes.  Want to make sure I finish my Christmas list.  Sending Christmas cards to friends and loved ones.  Feel such a calm about all this that would normally surprise the heck out of me.  The calm is just there, sitting with me, just fine.  I know there is a distinct possibility I will not live beyond Christmas and want to send out a Christmas message from India – “Blessings and Love from Ian.   Writing the cards has exhausted me, but I feel satisfied and full mission accomplished.  Chotolal brought in a package of mail from Canada: letters and cards from family and friends, a framed photograph of Carolyn, my dearest friend and companion.  Made me very happy, also made me cry as I thought of friends I may not see again.  Yet they were strange tears not full of sorrow or anything, just tears as I thought of loving friends.

I keep falling asleep very quietly then waking up very quietly.  Sleep is like a light breeze that seems to visit now and then.  Ate a little bit of dinner to allay Chotolals anxiety, but it is my supply of rice malt and vitamin C that is keeping me going.  Chotolal placed some fruit and water on the table by my bed, then left to spend the next day with Nepali friends in another part of the city, taking my pile of Christmas cards to post.  I am enjoying the silence and solitude, now that he has left.  It is about nine o’clock in the evening and I am drifting off to sleep on gentle wings.

DIARY ENTRY, DECEMBER 21, 1996                 

Prem Kutir Ashram, Mumbai, India

Waking up was easy, getting up was a struggle but did that in stages.  The quiet and silence inside the ashram is quite palpable and almost visible. I remembered my shamanic training with White Eagle Woman.  Had a dream about her during the night, but do not recall all the details.  I do remember that she told me to construct a mental medicine wheel around me and include all my spiritual ancestors.  Did that and feel an incredible constellation of energies, like millions of guardian angels from everywhere.

A decade later, when I consulted my notes and diaries from India for this book, I realized I had overlooked something totally pivotal and crucial. There were scribbled references and notes about a female deity in the mental medicine wheel who orchestrated the energy of my spiritual ancestors. She was there at every stage of my recovery, present at every initiation and ordination. I had written it all down. I felt the hair rising on the back of my neck as I reviewed my diaries.  The scribbled notes revealed the identity of the female deity as Trailing Sky Six Feathers.  How could I have been so stupid to not realize that the female choreographer of my recovery was her.

Took some fruit and returned to my book of meditations and began to read slowly, stopping frequently to close my eyes and feel the words.  Have no sense of time or space today, as each meditation seems to move me with its own measure and carry me along.  Feel such a deepening in my heart, all the way inside my body.  Aware that there is no fear or panic, just a simple and happy acceptance.  That is all that is there.  I have never experienced anything like this.  Have no thought of anything and feel deeply content for no apparent reason.  Is this surrender?  Peace with God?  No flashing lights, visitations or visions only a quiet surrender and being with the inevitability of it all, whatever THAT is.

DIARY ENTRY, DECEMBER 22, 1996                  

Prem Kutir Ashram, Mumbai, India

I woke up this morning, heard two crows saying hello from the tree outside the window.  Feel so happy to be alive.  Chotolal is singing in the kitchen and rattling his pots and pans, so I will celebrate this new day with a little breakfast.  That will make us both very happy.  A clear insight that this death is a spiritual one, as is the rebirth.  I feel completely new this morning, as though I have been rewired and plugged into sockets with a bigger voltage.  Part of my preparation to continue moving along the path of understanding. 

CAROLYNS VOICE FROM OTTAWA, CANADA, December 10, 1996:

There was a strange voice mail on my telephone answering machine didnt recognize the voice and couldnt make out what the person was saying.   Was it Ian calling from India?  If so, it was a really bad connection.

December 12, 1996:

Ian called.  He had left the message, but it wasnt a bad connection.  He is so sick that he can hardly talk and his voice is unrecognizable.  A cold chill ran down my spine.  He says hes had surgery and that his systems are all crashing, one by one.  But hes not afraid I believe he is not afraid of dying if that is whats happening.  What can I do?  My first instinct is to go to India, to be with him, to care for him, but no, he says this is a journey he must go through alone.  I am so worried.   All I can do is surround him with light and love.  And I pray I pray that God will care for him, make him well and keep him safe. Dad is in the hospital dying from heart disease two open-heart surgeries in the last month.  The doctors are amazed that he is still living.  I wonder if he is afraid to die.  Im being forced to look at death, my fears, my attachments.  I cry.  Dad has been ill for many years and I know he will not likely survive this ordeal, but Ian.  Ian is too young.  His life work is not done.  He still has so much to offer.

Ian speaks about the possibility of death with such calm.  Hes not afraid, but I am.  I dont want to lose him.  I am not prepared to let him go.  Over the phone from India Ian teaches me about no birth and no death, that we continue living in all that we touch – simply a different manifestation than our physical bodies.  But this is too difficult for me to accept at the moment.  I am attached.  I do not want to let him go.  Ian directs me to the teachings on impermanence, and encourages me to meditate on the Five Remembrances being of the nature to grow old, the nature to become ill, the nature to die, the nature for all things to change and knowing that we will be separated from those we hold dear and that our only true possessions are the consequences of our actions.

Christmas Day, 1996:

Ian called.  He sounds a little better but is still very weak.  I shed tears of relief.  I continue to surround Ian with light and love.  And I pray.  I pray that God will give him the strength and will to overcome his illness. Hope is fading for my Dad.  Hes in intensive care and only Mom is allowed to visit him for a few minutes at a time.   None of his children are permitted to see him.  I pray that he does not suffer for too long.  I pray that he can find the same kind of peace and calm that Ian has found.  I am terrified that he might be afraid to die.  But I dont know his thoughts or feelings and my family wont talk about death.  I am caught in a paradigm praying for my Dad to let go, to end his suffering but afraid for my dad that he might be dying in fear.  That bothers me so much.  At the same time I pray for Ian to survive, but my fear is for myself at the thought of Ian passing away and leaving me.  He seems so prepared and accepting of death.  Here I am, afraid for my father at the thought of him passing away, yet afraid for myself at the thought of Ian passing away.

August, 1997:

After ten long months in the Heart Institute my Dad passed away.  Ive come to realize that he was not afraid.  He hung on for so long to allow my Mom and my siblings the time to accept his death, time to let him go.  I am so grateful that he wasnt afraid to die. At the same time Ian returned from India and I am grateful to have him back home alive and well.  His experiences in India have totally transformed him.  His near death experience also transformed me, for he guided me to look deeply into the realm of birth and death, to accept death, to let go and to see the continuation of loved ones in all aspects of life, from a flower blooming to a family member smiling.  I do see my Dad every day in different manifestations of life.       

 

Insanity on the Sea

Insanity on the Sea

This excerpt is from the last chapter of “Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey With  His Muse.” This memoir is a bit like Indiana Jones meets the Buddha in a Celestine Prophecy adventure across four centuries of my consciousness. This blog brings up memories of insane voyages in the North Atlantic from thirty years ago.

The journey back across the Sound of Barra, the stretch of sea separating Eriskay from Barra, was uneventful. As I started to navigate down the east coast of Barra, the storm and fog took on a mind of its own. It very quickly blew up to gale force winds and the rolling black fog made visibility difficult. It was impossible to return to Eriskay and there was no place to shelter on the east coast of the island. Then I noticed houses bordering the coastline with every light on – and that gave me navigation marks to get back to Castlebay. I knew only too well the fierce sea conditions in The Minch, the stretch of water that separated the islands from the mainland of Scotland. I stayed inshore to the east coast of the island as much as possible. That had its own dangers as the force of the storm was much more powerful than my twenty-five horsepower engine. Gale force winds swept the ocean swells to break over the prow of my boat, sending sharp spray into my face. Striking like pellets from a shotgun. I shielded my face with one arm to better see the wave upon wave of huge swells coming right at the boat. I manoeuvred An Dhoran so she was at an angle to the waves and could crest over the swells rather than be battered to pieces from the storm. My son used the boat hook to fend off the dinghy from smashing into the stern of the boat as the following swells would throw An Dhoran down into the trough of the swell and up over the next menacing wave.

Disaster loomed from every option that was available to my mind. Then I felt myself entering into a terrible, cold silence. That territory became fully occupied, as I stood braced at the wheel of this small craft. There was no mind there, nothing that was calculating and measuring. Just instinct was there – an intuitive awareness of danger in this moment, then danger in the next moment. Navigation was from house light to the next house light on the shoreline. The instinctive reactions sheltered the boat from the fury of the gale force driven sea. The navigation was just far enough away from the inshore spurs of rock that jutted out like razors from the eastern side of Barra. The no mind mariner at the wheel stood quietly humming the 23rd Psalm, allowing a powerful intuitive knowledge to take over.

I took An Dhoran through a narrow gap in an offshore rock spur, catching a swell as it crested through the gap; spinning the wheel hard to port to avoid the ragged edge of another rock ledge; swiftly spinning the wheel to starboard to find a more sheltered stretch of sea to get this boat home. Yet I did not have that knowledge. I certainly did not have that skill. This was not something I had learned from Master Mariner Callum McAuley. It was way beyond my capabilities – until that moment when my mind did not operate, simply resting in a terrible silence. There was no fear, no elation – just a seamless connection to a furious sea that could destroy us all, as it relentlessly pounded the wooden frame of An Dhoran. The passengers were very alarmed by these conditions and huddled inside the cabin to avoid the crashing waves. I had the tourists sit inside for weight at the front end of the boat as the sea smashed the creaking clinker boards. The extra ballast saved the timbers of our vessel from being split open. Our slow progress down the east coastline of Barra continued under a mantle of desperate prayer. The brightly lit houses on the shoreline held my attention, while something else took over the wheel. Later, as we limped slowly into the sheltered harbour of Castlebay after dark, Gaisma, the mother of my children and then wife, was there to gather Iain and take him home.  She had monitored the progress of the voyage through phone calls from households that had spotted our small vessel. The last call that we were rounding the tip of Barra brought her to the dock at Castlebay harbour with blankets for my son and a fierce glare at me. We were not on good terms. The passengers disembarked with great relief.

I moored An Dhoran at her berth in the bay next to the Castle. The wind was dropping and the fog began to clear. Callum and I rowed to shore in the dinghy and then with ropes pulled it back to its mooring place. It sat there gently bobbing across from the Post Office and the small boat pier. Callum had been totally silent throughout the journey from Eriskay, which was most unlike him. He had been watching me. And praying. Callum McAuley, Master Mariner, said to me in a shaky voice:

“Ian boy, I don’t know how the hell you did that. In all my years I have never seen anything like it.”

“Callum, I don’t know about that either,” I replied in a hoarse, bewildered whisper.

“THAT” became even more penetrating, as next day the news reported that the storm had taken down a sixty foot trawler in the middle of The Minch.  It had spared my small boat. With the money from the passengers in my pocket, I beckoned to Callum to come with me.

“Callum, you’re coming with me to the Castlebay Bar.”

Callum shook his head and reminded me that he had been banned from the bar for twenty years now.

“Not tonight,” I grimly said.

I remember that he looked at me with a touch of both fear and amazement. We walked up the hill to the Castlebay Bar. Callum was reluctant to step inside. As soon as he did, Roddy the bartender came over to throw him out.

“Roddy, he’s with me tonight.” I said. There was something steely in my voice that immediately caught Roddy’s attention. He paused for a moment as he had already heard about our journey from Eriskay. News travels fast on the island. He looked from Callum to me and then reluctantly nodded his consent. Callum was quickly surrounded by some of his seafaring friends eager to hear him tell the story. I greeted his pals, who delighted in this rare occasion, then walked over to the bar and placed two ten pound notes on the counter. They were the sum total of my earnings from a day of insanity on the sea.

“Roddy, this will cover Callum and me tonight.”

Roddy was now grinning from ear to ear:

“We’ll not be taking your money, Ian. Everyone is relieved you made it back safely from Eriskay. There’s already a line of whisky shots for you and Callum from your friends here – and that includes two from me.”

Indeed there was – a long row of full whisky glasses.

Callum told and retold the story of the day’s journey on An Dhoran – over and over again, each time more elaborate than the previous telling. I did not listen, still reverberating from the terrible cold silence and desperate intensity of the experience. My hands shook as I picked up the first glass of whisky, yet my mind was very still and cold. I scarcely heard the tales Callum spun that night, the cold silence told me it was not I who brought the boat home safely. At closing time, I thanked Roddy for allowing Callum his night of storytelling and walked over to the table where he was taking the voyage into the mythological realm, which perhaps is where it belongs. Callum still had a full glass of whisky in front of him.

“Time to go Callum, maybe you don’t need that final shot.”

“Indeed I do” he replied with as much dignity as he could muster:     “I could be dead tomorrow, so there’s no point in leaving it sitting here – is there now.” He downed it and I helped him out of his chair and walked him home to the small cottage in Leidag he shared with his sister Morag. He was singing and fell over a few times, stopping to tell me the story of the voyage as though I did not know the details of it. I eventually delivered him to his cottage and coaxed him into his comfortable armchair where he promptly fell asleep.

I walked home to Dunard, my home in Barra, overlooking the bay and the Sound of Vatersay.  I sat on the steps awhile and could see the Castle and the islands to the south – shrouded by a soft light from the quarter moon in a clear sky.  It was calm and peaceful. Nothing like the day encountered on the sea. I had thawed a little from the dreadful cold silence. Sitting on the steps of my house, I went over in my mind this day on the sea that could have ended up in disaster and loss of life. The reflections yielded ugly truths I had buried.

I thought of the long line of whiskies on the bar – two of them from Roddy the bartender. An acknowledgement and celebration of our returning home from the furious sea in one piece. The truth was that there was nothing to celebrate. A rebuke was needed for my recklessness in endangering the lives of others, including my first born son. I could take no credit for bringing An Dhoran home to rest safely in Castlebay harbour. I thought of the sea we had encountered as a piercing, dirty grey – the color of dying. It was the hue of an angry sea that could make corpses of us all. I also saw very clearly that I was not in the right place internally, or location wise or in the right relationship. I had obscured this true confession to myself with blind recklessness. But the shrouds fell away that evening and for an instant I could see clearly just what I had allowed myself to become.

I was no heroic captain at the wheel, just stupid, reckless and displaced. On board I did not have radar or radio and knew instinctively that I must put an end to my madness on the sea and sell this beautiful boat. This was not my domain in life. This island was not where I was to be. The stressful drain on time and energy to travel back and forth between Canada and the Isle of Barra was debilitating. It robbed me of my life purpose and left me with zero life force energy to be available for the work I was destined to touch. I paid little attention to global events, merely surviving ‘midst the misery and suffering of being so totally misplaced. Pretending to know the culture and be an advocate of all things Highland in Scotland. But this was not me – it was just a front that could not even save a failing marriage. So down I went into a graceless oblivion of alcohol and depression, as I neglected global, spiritual and ecological issues. The latter was the domain where I belonged. As I thought about this day of insanity on the sea, I could still hear the screech of the gale force wind and feel the sea and dark fog parading their multiple dangers. There seemed to be nothing moving in my heart or mind while I stood braced at the wheel of An Dhoran, wincing from the harsh ocean spray impacting my face. The eerie sound of everything being a dirty grey color stayed with me as a toll from the sea, announcing my death if I did not change course. Though I was numbed, a window opened in my mind for a singular insight to face me. I fully realized that something much deeper than the furious storm had suddenly taken over my being.

Transformation in India: Part I

Transformation in India Part I

 

Excerpt from Chapter Five of forthcoming book – Trailing Sky Six Feathers.

 

Streaming video of “Cremation Pyres on the Ganges” – text, photos and voice – http://www.ianprattis.com/poemmovies/cremationpyrepoem.htm

 

We are so happy Ian that you have decided to die with us in India. And even more happy if you live.

Huddled on a bed in an ashram in Mumbai, India I opened my eyes to see a visiting Swami sitting beside me. I felt very calm about letting go of my bodily existence. I knew that the experiences of joy and freedom flooding through me at this time were dissolving my many mistakes and bodily pain. Trailing Sky was there constantly – I even wrote in my India diary and notes that there was a female deity orchestrating all the energies to keep me alive. Not realizing, until reviewing my diaries years later, that Trailing Sky was staring me in the face, challenging me to acknowledge who it was that saved my life in India. She must have been exasperated with how dense and unseeing I was at that time.

I had traveled to India in 1996 to teach and train in Siddha Samadhi Yoga. The Vedic tradition I was studying was ecumenical in character, a wisdom tradition totally relevant to the modern day. The ashram in Mumbai was reserved for saints and holy men. I did not qualify for either category. Lying close to death, the lack of fear provided a sense of freedom and strength. At last I felt truly like me, very peaceful, no longer a maverick standing alone. I did survive and completed my guru training six months later at a remote ashram, going into total silence during the last two weeks. Before I took my leave from the ashram the Swami arranged a parting ceremony – an initiation to receive the mantle of the guru that I was now recognized as.

In the groove

In November and December of 1996 I had become seriously ill in India. As I observed my bodily systems crashing one by one I knew there was a distinct possibility of death. To this day I am still amazed by my calmness and lack of fear. In my family and culture there is very little discussion about death and dying, though as a child I did have an intuitive understanding. When my grandfather died I felt him as a tangible presence when he was in his coffin. I quietly whispered to this gracious being: “Go to Heaven now grandpa.” I also remember at his wake how upset I became by my relatives drinking, arguing and being disrespectful to one another. In tears I sought out my grandmother and complained that everyone was making it hard for my grandpa to go to Heaven.  She listened carefully to me and wiped my tears away, then walked into the living room of her house and with quiet authority asked everyone to go home. It was much later in life, once I was exposed to Buddhist teachings on death and dying, that I realized I was not such a crazy kid after all. I had cared for my grandfather’s consciousness after his physical death.

While in India I also trained in the mastery of “bija” mantra.  Bija means “seed” and the seed mantras are powerful instruments of transformation. The major mantra I trained with, however, was the Gayatri Mantra, the main feature of the Sandhya–Upasana ceremony – a sacred ritual for Brahmanic definitions within Hinduism. It was part of my training in becoming a guru in Siddha Samadhi Yoga. The Gayatri is considered by Indian sages to be the most powerful mantra of purification and transformation, as it expands consciousness in multiple directions. The successive sounds of the Sanskrit syllables move the individual chanting it into elevated states of spiritual experience. As an invocation for enlightenment it has the effect of drawing other individuals into the same state.  This is the theory – as told to me in India.

Two twenty eight day training periods, six months apart, were the high points that the rest of my training built up to. My cultural and religious background was not the same as my two cohorts, yet the experiences we shared were remarkably similar. I could observe my mental states, compare them with reports from my peers, then verify them with the Swami overseeing the training.  Then from my experience, I could verify – or not – the claims made about the Gayatri mantra. The Gayatri ceremony was conducted at sunrise and sunset each day. The mantra was the central component of a long Sanskrit chant that prepared each one of us to experience the full effects of Gayatri. Prior to the training retreats I had months of preparation – with attention to specific meditations, dietary regime and sexual abstinence. I learned how to chant the Gayatri and co-ordinate it with the four components of breath: inhalation, holding the air inside, exhalation, holding the emptiness. There was a mathematical precision in tone, pitch and resonance of the mantra, as it was exactly co-ordinated with the different components of breath and hand movements over the body. It was all quite complex and overwhelming and I frequently wondered if I would ever get it right. I benefited from the persistence and encouragement of my cohorts who were determined that I not be left behind. I also had skilled and patient teachers who made the effort to transmit this oral tradition, thousands of years old, to a westerner not used to this form of education.

Our preparation for each ceremony was through extensive pranayama – breathing exercises – before sunrise and sunset. Attention was always brought to the union of the individual with the Universal. The rituals of the Gayatri ceremony had to be performed with grace, and clumsiness was frowned upon. In the early days I certainly drew a lot of frowns from the Swami and Rishi who oversaw the training. The effects on me were far reaching. During the first training period the twice-daily recitation brought on heavy night-time fevers. I would feel perfectly fine during the day, yet at night it felt as though I was running a high fever, although there was no unusual increase in temperature.  I found that my peers were feeling similar discomfort, though nobody was ill. I asked the Swami about this.  He indicated that we were all feeling the initial effects of the Gayatri Sandhya. Before it could penetrate our being and expand consciousness there was a great deal of “dross” to burn off – hence the fever-like states. I reported back to everyone’s relief.

My consultations with the Swami became quite an amusing ritual, as members of my cohort would not ask questions. Yet they encouraged me to do so and gave me questions of their own. It became a way to check my experience with that of others, and then seek verification from the Swami, who had quite a benevolent attitude towards me. My fellow trainees would wait for the results of my consultations, crowd round and listen to whatever I had to report. We would then discuss it from the perspective of our own experiences. It was amazing at how similar they were.  I felt it wise to always give my experiences last, so as not to provide an influence or “track” for others’ reporting.

The most significant cognitive changes came about when chanting the Gayatri with the different phases of breath and levels of mantra. These combinations produced hyper-lucidity and sharpness. This sharpness was essential for me, because there was so much to co-ordinate at different levels. I felt very alert, as though I was climbing stairs of consciousness. This was similar to the experiences of my shamanic training with White Eagle Woman. I was moving through states of consciousness to different levels of cognition but always felt a sense of being aware of where I was, of what was taking place in the multiple levels of consciousness experienced. New spaces were opening up in my mind, while I was also very aware of being located in the physical realm – an insight confirmed by the Swami without my asking. Not all members of my cohort experienced this aspect of dual consciousness. The Swami was on the lookout for trainees who got “stuck” and had difficulty returning. He also confided that he had fully expected me to be the one he had to look out for the most and was pleased that this was not so. Me too.

The second training period was with a different cohort in a different part of India – Karnataka as opposed to Andra Pradesh.  My new cohort was made up of experienced meditation teachers and exceptional gurus – quite the lineup of wisdom. With this powerful group of beings the sunset ceremony was conducted by running water to deepen the silence, stillness and penetration of the mantra. The chanting of the Gayatri took place with all of us standing up to our waists in the water. When it came to the point of suspending thought and allowing the Gayatri to arise spontaneously, to my total astonishment it did just that.  At the same time I could feel and identify the particles of mud between my toes, see minute electrons in the air and look down on my wisdom buddies from a great height. I felt encompassed by the evening sky and at the same time I encompassed the sunset, the evening sky and everything beyond it. This experience was repeated with varying intensity during every sunset rendition of the Gayatri-Sandhya. I never felt it necessary to communicate this to the Swami or to members of my second cohort. I went into total silence during the last two weeks and do not recall talking to anyone, as everyone very carefully left me in the silence.

In my diaries I recorded my experiences in poetry and art – a totally inadequate exposition for something that cannot be fully expressed in either. I persist with this inadequacy, through words, to convey some semblance of the experience. Before I took my leave from the ashram the Swami asked to speak to me. He described my experiences in complete, precise detail and arranged a parting ceremony – an initiation to receive the grace of a guru through the name assigned to me: Prem Chaitania.  My wisdom buddies were delighted by this. My teachers informed me that the Gayatri would continue to work on my consciousness, whether I was aware of it or not. Any awareness would provide an arrow of insight into further changes.  There were other perceptual and cognitive experiences that I am not at liberty to communicate, and still others that I choose not to relate.  Training with Gayatri had major life changing effects, not the least being that I became a better and more skillful teacher, both to meditation and university students.  As for the rest of my life – that it is still a work in progress!

What I can say from personal experience is that once my wild mind was reined in, clarity and compassion were suddenly there in greater compass. This provided a different basis for how to be with the planet and others in a new way. It was how to move from the Seventh Fire to the Eighth Fire – the Seven Fires Prophecy learned from Grandfather William Commanda. Whatever it takes to tame the wild mind. This partial account of my journey in India is to demonstrate that my activism for peace, planetary care and social justice now came from a different place as a result of the internal work. Steadiness, clarity and compassion are there rather than ego posturing from the lunatic fringe. Though there was a “rush” from the latter, I prefer the still-point, uncoloured by the excess of ego and desire for control and kudos-seeking. Such a still-point permits me to be free in my own sovereignty, no matter what I am doing. It also propels me to serve the planet and humanity in a way of creating bridges and pathways of harmony that make sense – to make the Eighth Fire a reality rather than a prophecy. My work in progress is ongoing, anchored by the presence of Trailing Sky throughout my journeys. I have no doubt about her presence throughout my process of healing and transformation and know she was waiting throughout the shadows of my life.

 

Death of Eagle Speaker

Death of Eagle Speaker                                                                                           Ian Prattis

Excerpt from Chapter Three of my forthcoming book Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse” It is like Indiana Jones meets the Buddha with a dash of Celestine Prophecy as we follow one man’s journey to accept The Muse capable of transforming his karma from violence and abuse to clarity and purpose. An exciting Hero’s Journey, this special and unique adventure through four centuries of my consciousness shines light on some of the darkest elements of the human condition, including my own. This clip is set in 18th century Arizona.

 DCF 1.0

The landscape they travelled through that night had a rare beauty and stillness. It felt as though time itself had stopped. A portent of things to come, a foreboding rebuke to the crisis they already knew they were to face together. By daybreak they found Eagle Speaker, near to death with fever and very cold underneath the weeping willow tree, whose branches touched lightly onto the river’s surface.  Trailing Sky knew what to do with the fever to prevent it penetrating her and The People.  She asked Rising Moon to fetch water from the river so her medicines could be prepared. She noticed that there was an ancient medicine wheel on a high bluff overlooking the canyon to the east, just above the weeping willow tree where they had found Eagle Speaker.  She knew instantly that this was where she must take him. Help was immediately at hand as the Clan Chiefs with twenty warriors arrived. They had carefully followed the tracks left by the three women. Long Willow had clearly marked the trail they took so the Clan Chiefs could follow. Trailing Sky asked the Clan Chiefs to carry her husband to the medicine wheel on a hastily built carrying frame, which Long Willow and Rising Moon had constructed. That was the place where she could summon the Sky People to help her.  The Clan Chiefs gently laid the frame down in the medicine wheel so that Eagle Speaker’s head was in the west, his heart in the centre and his feet pointing to the eastern door of the medicine wheel. The eastern door was where the Sky People could enter. She mixed her medicines with appropriate prayers, yet Trailing Sky knew by this time that even her medicine powers were insufficient.

She called in the Sky People to save her husband, as they had long been her mentors in medicine power. They came as requested. Their light could be seen along the canyon to the east and it spread up to the medicine wheel into which Eagle Speaker had been placed. But Eagle Speaker was too far gone for even their extraordinary powers.  Trailing Sky felt a momentary rush of rage at the inability of the Sky People to help her save Eagle Speaker.  But she knew that her rage was a product of her grief and deep sorrow.  She abandoned it immediately and asked forgiveness from her mentors, requesting the Sky People to help her through the ordeal of her husband’s death that she was facing.  She then lit four fires of sacred herbs within each quadrant of the medicine wheel to purify him for his journey across time and space. She had herbs and medicine prepared long ago for such an instance.  With some water from the river, brought up by Rising Moon, she held his head so he could drink it. Eagle Speaker came back to her for a moment and smiled. A beautiful smile that enveloped her with so much love that Trailing Sky almost broke down completely. She instantly remembered their first meeting – the silent young man offering her a bundle of feathers at a trading parley between her people and Eagle Speaker’s people. He did not speak and did not smile on that occasion – yet here he was dying in her arms with a smile of such gratitude and beauty.  It was almost too much for her and she had to hang on grimly to what she knew as a medicine woman and what she now had to do. Eagle Speaker knew it was his time and had no fear, just as his grandfather had known at his time of death.  Eagle Speaker felt all the joy from the life he had spent with her. Trailing Sky’s heart was breaking, for she did not want to let him go. Yet the depth of wisdom within her knew that she could not keep him any longer. The grief and deep sorrow abated as Trailing Sky summoned all her internal strength and love to assist the journey from his body across time and space.  She beseeched the Sky People to enable her to stay steady and for Eagle Speaker to journey safely.

Light Beam at the centre of the Medicine Wheel

By this time family groups from the village had arrived until there was over one thousand of The People gathered at the high bluff where their leader now lay in the centre of the medicine wheel. The Clan Chiefs had alerted all the families and they came en masse, leaving only the elderly and sufficient caretakers of their village behind. The families were quiet, knowing that this was not a usual death, but something very different. The Clan Chiefs, Long Willow and Rising Moon stood in silence round the medicine wheel. They were instilled with Trailing Sky’s calm and fortitude.  Only she knew of her inward struggle and sorrow. She surmounted both successfully and then began to chant the sacred songs of her people. Trailing Sky knew not to vent her grief at this moment of Eagle Speaker’s traversing. As she sang, Eagle Speaker looked up at her with amazement as he had done so often before during their life together.  Just before he drew his last breath, she cradled his head in her arms, leaned over and whispered softly in his ear, so that no-one would hear her:

“I will find you, my husband. I will find you”

As Eagle Speaker began to travel on universal waves, Trailing Sky chanted the sacred song of the Sky People – the secret chant that saved their lives in that first terrible raid. She chanted their journey to the cave, to their care for the Earth Mother and for The People. Sharing at last in her husband’s smile she cried tears of pure joy to accompany the chant.  She continued chanting throughout the night to prevent her grief from overwhelming her. The Clan Chiefs and family groups stayed close to her, as they knew this powerful woman would bring them all through to a different realization. On the dawn of the second day, Rising Moon, who had sat quietly outside the medicine wheel, approached her mother. She gently took her mother’s arm and whispered:

“It is time mother.”

Rising Moon had expected her mother to be gaunt and drained by grief, instead she gasped in surprise at the radiance of her mother’s face, framed as it now was by long white hair. The ordeal of her husband’s transition had turned Trailing Sky’s long black tresses to snow. She looked majestic and powerful, as she gently laid her husband’s head down from the cradle of her arms.   Trailing Sky stood up and looked around at The People gathered on this high bluff above the gentle river.  She lifted her arms to the sky as if she were holding him still. Long Willow stood beside her and did the same. All the People raised their arms at the same time – to the sky and to the universe. Then they heard Trailing Sky’s strong voice:

“We will prepare my husband’s body in the old way, for all our relations and the Earth Mother.”

She asked the Clan Chiefs to build a platform for Eagle Speaker’s body, so that his body could be offered to the elements in the same way as his grandfather before him. The burial platform was constructed swiftly with vines strung across to carry the weight of Eagle Speaker’s body and the weight of their collective grief. The platform was placed next to the medicine wheel on the West side, following Trailing Sky’s instructions. Crow Feather, chief of the North Clan, had brought with him a freshly cured bear skin and he brought this to Trailing Sky, knowing that it would be needed. She thanked Crow Feather for his gift and gently wrapped her husband’s body with the bear skin, remembering that this was what Eagle Speaker’s grandfather had done when he met his death. Very tenderly the Clan Chiefs carried Eagle Speaker’s body to the platform that they had erected. The outline against the sky was stark at the top of the high bluff above the weeping willow tree and river, with the dark canyon stretching to the east. The fingers of the dawn had drawn daylight awake so everyone could see. The medicine women had strung vines of forest flowers, herbs and grasses around the four strong posts. Trailing Sky climbed the notched pole that was the ladder to where her beloved lay. She was humming a chant to herself as she lovingly laid his favorite bow, arrow and spear by his side. She placed her medicine pouch in his hands clasped in front of his body, so that he would have sustenance for his next journey.

DCF 1.0

When she descended the notched pole and asked the chiefs to remove it, Trailing Sky requested that they return in six months to take the platform down and render to ashes anything that was left of Eagle Speaker. The ash was to be scattered to the four directions, into the river and into the sky. Then she stood in front of the funeral place of her husband and faced The People.  She stood tall, magnificent and very powerful before the thousand members of The People who had followed the path to this moment. She was calm and serene. All those gathered sensed her extraordinary medicine power.  In a steady measure she began to chant the life story of her beloved Eagle Speaker, from what she remembered him speaking of and from what she knew of him. Her voice was strong and melodious and it carried directly to every listener. The People swayed backwards and forwards in a spontaneous dance that had its own unison. They clasped arms around shoulders that shook with grief as they danced forward and backward to the mesmerizing chant Trailing Sky offered to them. She chanted the circumstances of Eagle Speaker’s birth and his naming after the great eagle by his grandfather. Her voice carried the story of Eagle Speaker’s training with his grandfather in the mountains, desert and forests of their region and how Eagle Speaker came to live his life as constant prayer. She sang blessings for his mother and father and for all who nurtured him. She sang the story of her first meeting with this handsome young man who moved with the grace of a mountain lion, of how he named her with his gift of six feathers, of how their eyes had connected that first time as if drawn together by the threads of time.

Strong warriors bowed their heads and wept openly as her vibrant voice shook everyone to their core.  Other warriors fell to their knees, overwhelmed by the burden of loss. Long Willow was deeply distraught and leaned on her protégé among the women warriors – Dancing Mountain Lion – who stood strong while the tears coursed down her cheeks. The People were then uplifted from their sorrow when the chant from Trailing Sky carried everyone to remember all that Eagle Speaker had put in place for The People and the legacy left that they must cherish and build on. Trailing Sky chanted about the first deadly raid on their summer settlement and their retreat to the cave in the sacred canyon. She continued with the story of his wise preparation for the second raid, of how Eagle Speaker had orchestrated the changes that built The People stronger. She sang his wisdom and patience that wove a tapestry of co-operation between clans and peoples. She chanted of their child Rising Moon, the exquisite bond between daughter and father, and the tenderness he always showed to both of them. Then Trailing Sky’s voice fell silent for a moment. After a time that stretched painfully into infinity she announced to all with a voice that now had a deeper timbre and a source of power they were not expecting:

“I am Trailing Sky Six Feathers. I ask you all to be a witness of my last words to my husband, Eagle Speaker, before he died in this medicine wheel on the high bluff above the river.” It was as though every one of The People took a deep breath at the same time, waiting for Trailing Sky’s next words:

“As he smiled to me and took his last breath, I said to Eagle Speaker – I will find you my husband, I will find you.”

The ensuing silence cut through everyone’s tension, fear and grief. The words that had been heard by Eagle Speaker, now voiced by Trailing Sky for The People, was taken by a whisper of wind into every heart. The trees heard her words and told the animals and birds. The clouds heard her words and extended them to the Sky People. Across the forests, grasslands and mountains – her words echoed, growing stronger and more penetrating so that the universe itself paused to listen.  Such was the power emanating from Trailing Sky.  On hearing her mother’s words Rising Moon gasped out loud in pain and tears poured down her face. She was very still, swaying like a sapling in the morning breeze. She cried out:

“Mother, will I find him too?”

Trailing Sky gently took her beautiful daughter’s tear streaked face in her two hands and said:

“Yes my daughter. Eagle Speaker has traveled safely. We will both find him.”