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PDF A Healing Legend: Wisdom from the four directions

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The southern direction reminds us to look after our spirits. Go this way instead. When that is disrupted, kids grow up without any direction, without any spirit nurturance. Their spirits have not been nurtured. And their youth, their wandering stage, becomes very distant. They have a long way to go before they catch up with themselves again, and the truth about who they are. As a youth, I have to find people to help me in that time of continued growth, so I hook up with like-minded people to give me that nurturance that I think I need.

The elders are inviting them; as an elder, I invite the youth to be a part of my journey. And with that invitation, most of the time, they join me, just to hear out what has life, what has meaning, what has purpose. And their lives begin to change. They begin to take accountability, to form a life style. That becomes their truth. We need to go back to our humble beginnings. And so the youth reminds us to be mindful in our struggles, to remember our humble beginnings as the child, and to nurture the youth themselves, who are searching, because they are still growing and in need of our guidance and protection.

Will you provide them with your medicine when they are hurting and when they are ill? Our Grandmother agreed, and so to this day we honour that cedar tree, because she is the Grandmother who comes to us free of charge to administer that medicine when we ingest her and drink of her sacred teas.

Find Your Direction in Life with the Medicine Wheel

And so we are reminded that spirit lives inside of us, and that to nurture spirit means we must be mindful of it, lest it should run away. That is why cedar is considered a cleansing medicine for body and soul. The western direction is the adult stage, the berry stage. It is here that the growth from summer has come to ripen.

It is the time of harvest, and so for much of creation the physical journey is over, and that life crosses back into the spirit world. The sun setting in the west signifies the death of a day.

And so we die many deaths in a lifetime. And just as an old thought or feeling dies, and a new one emerges, we die many deaths in a single day. So there is constant change within us. We dance around that western doorway many times in a day to honour the death spirit. As we move through adulthood, death and loss become more and more visible. In the light of death, it is important that we accept that constant change is here with us.

Healing Ways: The Voices of Native Americans

As adults, we need to be in touch with this evaluator, because it helps us to see the cycle of life, to appreciate and enjoy the fruits of life, and to accept aging and change, making peace with our lives and deaths. We are given the responsibility to nurture our hearts, so that we may be in balance, and see the Medicine Wheel for what it is.

And so to help us we have been gifted the medicine of sage. When we smudge ourselves, burn the sage and bring the smoke over our bodies, we are given the gift of clearing our minds and hearts, so that we may prepare well for the rest of our journey. The Strawberry Teaching comes to mind here in the west, because it teaches forgiveness and peace. The Strawberry is shaped like a heart, and strawberries are known to our people as heart berries. We were taught stories like these from a very early age. A long time ago, there was a family that chose to no longer live in their village because of community feuding and ill will.

The father offered his tobacco, and asked the tree nation to give him a home. He was granted that gift and so he cut down the trees. He made a home for his family and they moved in. The boys grew tall and strong, and yet year after year they continued to play fight and wrestle. And then one fateful day the time came when the boys were wrestling and the older brother knocked his younger brother to the ground, where he hit his head on a rock and died instantly. The oldest brother was beside himself.

Find Your Direction in Life with the Medicine Wheel - Natural Nutmeg Magazine

Please, please answer me. He covered him up and ran home. And years went by. After many years and visits to his grave, the elder brother saw a tiny plant.

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Each day he watched the leaves grow and the berries come into fruition. White heart-shaped berries appeared first. Then, over days, they transformed into big red delicious berries, luscious and sweet. As he ate it, he became aware, for the first time in his life, that he could taste the sweetness of life again. He no more blamed his parents for their strict upbringing. He was free. After all of these long years, he was finally free.

Death can be a place of freedom: freedom to go on, freedom to be. Here in the Northern direction is the rest period. Some call it the remembrance period, because after death, you rest, and you contemplate what has happened. But rest is also used here to be mindful of the physical body, to remember to care for and nurture our physical bodies: when they are tired, rest them, just as in the winter the Earth rests from her labours.

When they are hungry, feed them. And know what you are ingesting, what is good food for the body. This is a time of reflection on being a child, a youth and an adult. And so it is here that we honor our Elders. This is where they reside, along with the pipe carriers and the lodge keepers, because their ceremonies provide us with teachings of the whole Medicine Wheel, in all the directions. They also help us make peace through embracing all those aspects of ourselves - the child, the youth, and the adult - so that we may be able to feel and experience the fullness of self.

And so it is here during the winter months that the elders share their stories and teachings. In honour of this storytelling time, I too will share a story. It is a sacred place in our territory where our people would go for vision quests. In , that ban was lifted and we were able to go back and do our ceremonies. At this time I became involved with the community because I believed in the value of our teachings and ceremonies.

But I had to first regain that fire. I will never forget it. In the first sweat lodge ceremony, the elder told us that the spirits that came into the lodge were hungry. Something inside of me stirred. She would then prepare food and burn it on the stove, until the smoke from it permeated the whole house.

And that was a good feeling. And so I went back home and called every household I knew. Can you donate some food? People were awakening to something that they knew existed before. So we prepared the spirit plate. Every spoonful of food that was donated was put on that plate. And it was a heaping plate because there was so much food. We are here now, have pity on us. We had forgotten to feed you.

You have lived a long time without food, and now we are here to honour you. Please come and feast with us. As we put the food down, I could actually see those spirit hands grasping for that food because they were starving. It was at that moment that I began to cry because I could feel my reconnection to this circle. And so as I share this story with you, I am sharing how I became reconnected with my ancestors. It is through them that we learn the sacred teachings that they carried. I cherish this story because it is not only about an awakening inside of me, but an awakening of a community that came together to celebrate a way of being and spiritual nourishment.

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And so now we have come full circle, and I give thanks. After birth, the first seven years of our lives is the good life. And so the teachings began very early in life. The support family was there - the mothers, the fathers, being supported by their mothers, their fathers, and the child became strong. So, asking your parents first and then getting supporting facts really helps to get a whole, more accurate picture.

Everyone has a story. For that matter, everyone has many stories. But, those that are indelible and transport you back in time to those personal events in your life are the stories that matter. And, they are the stories you should tell. Stories are the ways that humans create meaning between each other. Personal history writing, or memoir, is an important tool for creating personal family stories in a way that can be conveyed for generations.

You can always edit later, then share it with a few close family members. Ask them to tell their version of the story. Ask them to add their chapter to the story in a way that brings their perspective and details that you may not have witnessed. Then, ask them to ask a family member to add theirs. This pyramid scheme can birth an entire family history all spurred on by one family member asking another family member about just one story.