Tag Archives: all my relations

Difference makes us but….in the end we are all related



Difference makes us but…..in the end we are all related

Hello everyone!

How’s everyone doing? As I attended a Pow wow not too long ago, I feel fantabulous! I love Pow wows and I am sure you have seen some of my posts about them. The energy of the dancers and the drums, the atmosphere, the artists selling their beautiful products. I love it all! Different nations all unique but coming together to celebrate mother Earth, the music and traditions of the ancestors. And this made me think: are we all different or are we all the same? Well I think it is neither. I think, as the Etsy campaign says Difference Makes Us but! We are also all one. We all have a certain uniqueness but in the end we are all related. So inspired by the the motto of the campaign “celebrate all our un-similarities” I thought I would reflect on what makes me “me” and what do I identify with.

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My journey on the Native American Red Road

The Native American Red Road: how I got on it

red road

Hello everyone!

If you follow my Facebook page, you might have learned a few things about me over the past few weeks. For example, I attend ceremonies, such as healing circles and Pow wows and include Native practices in my day to day life. I am open about my practices and absolutely love looking at older portraits of our ancestors. I integrate my beliefs in my posts on this site and in every day that I live.

That’s just a summary of who I am. I believe in trusting those we share moments with, and who provides us with information and recommends us products. So…this post is about me 🙂 It is about my journey, and what brought me to today. You can also read a short summary of my life on my About me page.

Psychology and spiritualitypsychology sign

First off, my name is Emily. However, I was once given, a Native name that I believe was suiting at the time. I was given the name Fruit Fly by a person dear to me. At first, I thought what you are probably all thinking right now “what the hell?”. Well, I looked it up, as my knowledge of fruit flies was pretty much limited to thinking they were annoying insects that reproduce like crazy. Turns out that, according to a British study, the mother fruit fly is especially soothing and calming to her babies. The mother fruit fly is often then seen as caring and soothing difficult babies. Of course, a fruit fly is also annoying at times but is a rather complex organism. The article I originally found over 2 years ago now, I cannot find anymore. Actually, it was a pretty weird experience as I was only able to find that article the day I looked up the meaning of a fruit fly….I obviously asked the person who gave me that name and that person told that the name just came to them when thinking of me. I guess I could have been offended by that but I chose to be honored.

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball…

So yes, I guess I am a bit weird…. However, that encounter, that name, put me on a path that started out as hell and turned into a beautiful life lesson and road. You see, before that moment, now close to 2 1/2 years ago, I thought I had my life all figured out. I knew exactly what I was going to do for the rest of my life and every step I needed to take to get there. Up until then, I was sure of everything. My background is in psychology you see. I have worked with every population there is, from young kids to older adults, to families and men and women in prison. I have worked in school districts, private practice, and jails. And I wanted to spend my life studying those individuals incarcerated to see why they were so different, what their thinking was like. I wanted to study their mind. Problem is that I have always been a caring person but somehow thought that I would not care about those individuals, that they were bad while the outside world was good.

And then I actually sat down with them and listened to their story. And saw that the world is not all black and white. I have said it many times but we all have our story. We all have the grey wolf and the white wolf inside of us. They did and so did I. And so do you. Sometimes, life circumstances, bad decisions make us feed the grey wolf. That’s what I used to say to my clients “your actions brought you to prison, not who you are”. Sometimes, the life we were born into is shitty. Sorry, but I have also learned to be direct working in jails…However, our past might influence who we are today but it does not determine who we become. We have that ability within ourselves to heal, to heal that wounded child that can be in there. Because we become adults, adults who can live a full healthy life.

red path

But I somewhat digress…

I guess what I am trying to say is that working within that environment introduced me to a whole new world that society likes to shield us from. It opened up my eyes and helped me let go of my prejudices. Does everyone succeed at having a healthy and productive life once out of jail? No. Is help provided in jails to address the long history of trauma, including intergenerational and historical trauma that most inmates have? No. You tell me if that’s logical. I know not every one of you might agree with what I am saying. But working within that environment also introduced me to the concept of intergenerational trauma (a post is coming on the topic) encountered by most inmates but especially Native American or Aboriginal inmates. And it also introduced me to the traditional ways of healing that trauma. It introduced me to the beliefs, the traditions, the practices. I worked with Elders, helping them, learning their teachings, learning the story of the Native people.

When I first learned about the stealing of the land, the introduction of alcohol on reserves, of residential schools, I cried. Why? Because I felt it. I felt the pain that was caused. And as weird as it might seem, I felt at home with that pain and every practice that I was introduced to. It was familiar to me. As though I had lived that way in a different life. And I have come to believe that maybe I have. So every chance I got, I spent learning about the cultures, the traditions, I asked questions, I learned, and worked with Elders. And slowly but surely, I integrated those practices in my personal life. I began practicing what I was preaching to clients. When I hear Native music, it touches my soul. I get chills and I often tear up. Because I feel it in my core. When I see dancing, I smile. It makes me happy. It touches my soul and I think that is how we truly connect, through our souls. I have had so many “weird experiences” that I could not explain, that I have come to accept that sometimes, the explanation is spiritual.

The Red Roadfoot tattoo All my Relations

I embraced the Native way of life. I committed to it, even if at times, it was a way of life that was hard to understand for those around me. It was not a matter of fact way of life, it was not a scientific based way of life, it was a spiritual way of life. And when I commit to something, I commit to it! Hence the foot tattoo 🙂 It took me a while to see it, to see the change in me. Until recently, I was told “Emily you look happy, you look calm”, even if I had every stressor known to man in my life at the time. And I saw that yes I was happy. I was free. Why? Because I was not alone. I had relations all around me, ancestors with me and the Creator. I smudge daily more than once because not only the smell of sage is comforting to me, it is a moment to be thankful and reflect.

smudging

My smudge kit

I committed to a healing circle, I attend Pow wows, and I respect others. I help others without expecting something in return. When I get angry or irritated by something in my day to day life, I take a breath and ask myself if it is really important. Is it easy? No! Tonight, for example, a lot of things were irritating me. But I know that it is because I did not sleep enough last night and it is not the other’s fault. So as before I would have gotten worked up about it, now I let it go. I pray for those around me, I pay attention to my dreams and their messages, I respect nature and everything in this world. Because we are all connected. I also changed course career wise, beginning courses in Native psychotherapy and complex trauma. And I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. It used to annoy me soooo much when people would tell me that “everything is as it is supposed to be”). But I know it’s true.

Our ancestors were here before us. They showed us the way to live and heal. The Elder leading my healing circle once said “this is how our ancestors did it. They sat in a circle and they talked about things. That’s how they solved things and healed”. And I could not agree more. There is honesty, truth, and a realness to the native way of life. The land gives us what we need. We all return to it when we cross over to the spirit world. So I am thankful for that land, for Father Sky and Grand Father Sun and Grand mother Moon. None of this is scientific. And I am perfectly okay with it.

All my Relations

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Native American feather tattoo

Eagle feather tattoo

Hello everyone! beaded eagle feather

So far I have touched on numerous concepts associated with Native culture and beliefs. We have discussed the concept of All my Relations and the Eagle and its spiritual meaning. As well as briefly touched on the concept of the Medicine wheel (see this post for more info ) and the importance of balance in our life (and how one on the Red Road strives to live a balanced life).

As I have explained before, I do try to live according to the concepts of the Red Road and All my Relations (even though I am not first or second or possible third generation native). it is my way of life and I strive to be on that path every day (but yes I fall and stumble at times, I am not Super woman… :)). But you might have noticed a few pictures here and there on this site of a tattoo I have on my foot. As I was recently asked its meaning, I thought I would explain it here. To give you an example of how I tried to incorporate the teachings in my life (and well, on my body!).

Its meaningfoot tattoo All my Relations

Based on what I have discussed so far, what could an eagle feather tattoo mean or represent? Well as we know, the Eagle and the spiritual meaning of the eagle is one of a connection to the spiritual world. Indeed, the Eagle, like the drum, connects the physical world to the spiritual world and brings our prayers to the Creator. The Eagle looks over us.

As you can also see there are four beads at the base of the feather, each a different color. Yellow, red, black and white. Those are the colors of the four quadrants of the native american medicine wheel, representing our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual side, as well as the four seasons of the year and the four stages of our life (childhood, adolescence, adulthood and elder). Yes I know that was a lot of information at once! But the Medicine wheel is a complex concept (yet very simple at the same time). For now, let’s just remember that we (myself included) are trying to find balance between those four quadrants.

Finally, All my Relations. Well I hope that by now, you remember the importance of the concept…. As it means we are all related, connected in some way and therefore what I do affects you and what you do affects me. So we treat all living things with respect and dignity as we are all brothers and sisters.

So there you go, in a nutshell, this tattoo encompasses the essence of the Native culture. All on one foot! Not bad not bad….Kidding aside, I just wanted to give you an example of how native concepts and beliefs can come together. No need to scar your body for life with them, that was just my way of having a daily reminder 😉

All my Relations
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dreamcatcher

A Native Prayer

Good morning!

Just wanted to share a prayer I often say when smudging (see Ceremonies for more info on smudging).

eagle soaring A Native Prayer

O Great Creator, I come before you in a humble manner, and offer you this sacred pipe. With tears in my eyes and an ancient song from my heart, I pray.

To the four powers of Creation, to the Grandfather Sun, to the Grandmother Moon, to the Mother Earth and to my ancestors.

I pray for all my relations in nature. All those who walk, crawl, fly and swim, seen and unseen. To the good spirits that exist in every part of Creation.

I ask that you bless our elders and children, families and friends. And the brothers and sisters who are in prison. I pray for the ones who are sick on drugs and alcohol and for those who are now homeless and forlorn. I also pray for peace among the four races of humankind.

May there be good health and healing for this Earth. May there be beauty above me, may there be beauty below me, may there be beauty in me, may there be beauty all around me. I ask that this world be filled with Peace, Love and Beauty.

-Medicine Grizzly Bear

dreamcatcher in the sun

 

All my Relations

all my relations teachings

Hey everyone

All my Relations. You might have noticed that this is how I end all my posts. All my Relations or Mitakuye-Oyasin (pronounced mi-TAHK-wee-a-say or Mee-tah-koo-yay Oy-yah-seen) is a saying in the Obijway or Lakota language meaning We are all related or All are related. It is a part of my life, so much so that it is permanently tattooed on my foot….It is at the core of Native beliefs and spirituality and said in many ceremonies. For example, during a smudge or a talking circle, once one is done smudging or talking, one will say All my Relations, as a way to let others know they are done and recognizing everyone who is there. Others, will often acknowledge (especially during talking circles) the saying with a sound such as “ho” or “aho”, signifying they have heard the one speaking and recognize what was said.

But what does it mean? Well, it means that all living things are connected, to each other and to the Creator, the Higher Power. I cannot exist without you and you cannot exist without me. What I do affect you and others and what you do affects me. Everything we do has an effect on others and on our world. It means that everything has a spirit and that’s how we are connected to each other as well as to the Creator. Native practices and beliefs honor the saying. How? By treating each other and what Mother Earth and Father Sky has given us with respect.

The Drum, is also used as a mean to acknowledge the connection between the physical world and the spiritual world. When the stick strikes the drum, that connection is recognized and the spirit world is joined with the physical world. The beat of the drum, at times rhythmic, like a heartbeat or a pulse, like a mother’s heartbeat a foetus hears in the womb, soothes and allows us to connect. Like a child finds consolation in hearing the steady beat of his mother’s heart, we hear the heartbeat of Mother Earth in the drum and find peace. By beating, your drum (pulse) connects you to the Spirit world. When it stops beating in the physical dimension, you return to the spirit dimension.

 

pow wow drum

But I digress….I often do, as so many teaching and beliefs are related. Oh! See what I did there? I put us back on track 😉 But really, the concept of every thing being related is central to the Native culture. The image of the Creator lives inside of us and we need to recognize it in others. We are all the children of Mother Earth, we are all brothers, sisters, cousins. Yesterday, today and tomorrow, The weak, the strong, the rich, the poor, the young and the old. We are all related. We relate through love and hate, joy and pain and life and death. As some Navajo people say: “We are related because we share the same breath. We are related because we are from the same place. We are related because we are. What is, is”.

P.S. You will see me alternating between saying the Native people and Aboriginal people. I will use those words interchangeably as they often are in Canada. I am aware that in other parts of the world “Aboriginal” often means something else. Here, however, I am using it as a synonym.

Parts of what I just discussed come from a fantastic resource that I would like to share with you below. Listen to the Drum by Blackwolf Jones and Gina Jones. Check the resources page later on to see where you can order it.