Today is the day. Let us join together in ceremony and prayer. Let us do our cleansing and find our space on this Sacred Earth. Let us light our fires and make our offerings. Let us sing our songs, dance our dances, drum our drums and open our hearts. Let us Honor those who died at Wounded Knee, naming the names. Let us find connection with All Our Relations. Let us embrace those who have gone before us. Let us find compassion and healing as we move forward in a Sacred Way. Let us make a better place for our descendants.
Thank you for participating.
Please share these posts and encourage people to join us in ceremony, in ritual, in prayer on Tuesday December 29th, the 125th anniversary of the Massacre at Wounded Knee, at Noon in your own time zone.
Meditation on the prayer of “All My Relations”: The Native Americans pray “All My Relations”. This is a statement of humility, connection, and compassion. It is an acknowledgment of the Ancestors and a recognition of the Descendants. In doing this working, in joining the global prayer, in “Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity” we come to a closer understanding of what this prayer “All My Relations” really means.
That All My Relations is a statement of connection seems self-evident. But it doesn’t just honor or acknowledge relatives of bloodline. It calls to a connection with the whole tribe, the community. It makes it possible for us to connect, in an interfaith community, praying to heal our multi-generational wounds. It touches ancestors of the blood, ancestors of the heart and ancestors of the spirit.
It is also a statement of connection to those ancestors that are very different from us. It is a connection to our ancestors on BOTH sides of this massacre, and of any conflict. It is a connection to people we may not understand or approve of, but who are indeed our relations. It is a connection across race, or species because the bear people are our relations, the wolf people are our relations, the bird people, the fish people. The tree people are our relations. The stone people are our relations. The earth we dwell upon is mother to us all and we are all her people. All My Relations.
All My Relations is a statement of humility, because it recognized our human inability to determine the best possible outcome for all. We’re not even good at always finding the best possible outcome for ourselves! How could we know what would best serve the memories of our Ancestors and honor their work? How could we know what will best serve our Descendants? How can we know what the best possible outcome will be for the Animal people? The Plant people? The Stone people? The Earth? So we prayer to the good of All My Relations in humility for our own limited vision.
All My Relations is a statement of compassion. Every religion has some version of “do unto others” or “what goes around comes around”. Acknowledging a direct connection to the harm and benefit our actions cause shifts our awareness of the impact of those actions. When we harm our relations, we harm ourselves. When we damage our lineage, we damage ourselves.
The other side of that is that we recognize our capacity to stand where our misguided, confused, fearful Relations stand and make their mistakes. All My Relations includes both sides of the argument. All My Relations includes those who lash out in fear and anger. All My Relations includes those whose actions aim only to benefit themselves.
To truly heal our multi-generational traumas we must be willing to take in compassion All Our Relations. We must be willing to honor and acknowledge the fear, the hurt, the loss, the pain, the greed, the anger, the jealously, the hopelessness and meet those feelings with love. One hour of prayer, one anniversary of recognition is only the beginning of this work.
The invitation we were issued at the Parliament of World Religions also calls for us to move forward in a Sacred Way. That is the true working, for All My Relations.
I really hope you are all sharing these posts. It would be great to share in “Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity” on December 29th and Noon. The more the merrier in this kind of global interfaith work.
In my last post I talked about cleansing and creating a sacred space. In this one I’m going to talk about prayer, or ritual, or the working.
Transformation: Fire is transformative, and since we are looking to transform from the 125th anniversary of a horror to a world where those things don’t happen fire seems like a good focus.
Depending on your circumstances, lighting a fire might not be easy or practical. I have a fireplace, but even a candle will work. If you’ve chosen to take time out on your lunch hour visualizing a fire can be effective. There are Kundalini Yoga techniques that build internal fire energy.
However you choose to create fire, remember that this particular fire is sacred. It is symbolic of the divine energy we are calling upon to manifest this transformation. There is a Buddhist philosophy that says the first step to changing the world is changing yourself. In doing this work the hope is we will transform our own understanding of our relationship to these events and carry that change out into the world.
Offerings: The other nice thing about fire is that it will accept offerings. We can offer up gifts, like additional candles or our incense or smudge sticks, in thanksgiving. Expressing gratitude for the help fire gives us in transforming is very appropriate.
We can also offer our own emotions to the fire. This can be especially useful if you can not work with an actual flame. Sitting in meditation with the reality of our history can raise up powerful feelings. Allowing ourselves to experience those feelings fully, and then give them over to the flame is a very transformative process.
One thing I will encourage you to offer up is the names of those who died 125 years ago at Wounded Knee. The fact is that we don’t have names for even the majority of those who were killed. That is part of the great wound that needs healing. But the names we do know deserve to be honored. Here is a link
There are other things that can be offered as part of this working, part of this prayer. Drumming would be appropriate as would singing and dancing. As this is an interfaith working bringing something to offer from your own faith tradition is very appropriate. Or you could simply allow yourself to be present in the moment and trust that your body, your heart will know what to do.
It is very difficult for white Americans to sing or dance or move directly from our spirit. We tend to edit ourselves. We wonder, “How do I look?” We wonder, “How do I sound?” We ask ourselves, “Am I doing it right?” But if we can find a way through to that child-like trust, If we can truly let go and allow spirit to move through us, that is also a very transformative act.
Two more days, and hopefully two more posts.
No, this post isn’t about the “Incident at Wounded Knee”, although part of the reason that had so much impact is because of the history of the Massacre taking place on the same land. This is a posting for those who are interested in joining us in prayer and healing for those who were chased down, and shot down, and buried in the mass grave at Wounded Knee.
Praying, to my mind, is a very personal thing. Approaching the Divine sincerely is not something anyone can tell you how to do it “right”. However, for an event like this I’m happy to offer some suggestions of things you might want to try.
Cleansing: Many rituals and acts of prayer start with some form of cleansing. This can be anything from a full ritual bath to an energetic cleansing like grounding and centering. In many Native American practices cleansing is done with smoke, or smudging. Commonly smudge sticks are made with sage or sweetgrass.
The cleansing practice can be constructed as a small prayer in and of itself. The water, or smoke can be blessed. Prayers can be made about being prepared – appropriate and able (I hate the notion of worthy) – to do the work at hand. Any “excess” can be returned to the earth for recycling and renewal.
For this particular work I’m using this prayer for cleansing:
Blessed be my mind and heart
Let me be open to the struggle, the pain, and the heartbreak of what has been lost
Let me be honest about my participation in a culture that would allow, condone, and reward persecution of people already pushed out of their homes
Let me be compassionate to the fear, on both sides, that caused the shooting to start and to continue until the dead littered the ground
Let me be open, honest, and compassionate
May my heart and mind be blessed.
Creating Sacred Space: There is no need to do this work in a separated space. To the Native Americans every place you stand on this planet is sacred. But many of us appreciate a small act to acknowledge that sacred work is distinct from our mundane lives. Some of us need a special space so that we know to avoid distractions. Because this is a prayer, not just for Wounded Knee, but for all those massacred in similar situations it seems to me that the most appropriate way to create sacred space is to acknowledge the 4 directions.
North, East, South, and West are the compass points that cartographers have used for ages to define the land. Many of us have associations with those directions, as do the Native tribes. However, those associations are not universal.
Where I live, and in my spiritual tradition, North is associated with winter, darkness, silence, and wisdom. If I lived in Argentina North might be associated with warmth and growth. In my spiritual tradition West is associated with water, compassion, sunset, and healing. The sunset in the West is globally true, but it’s hard to associate West with water if you live with the ocean only a short trip to the East.
In religions where the spiritual center is a geographic point, like Mecca, where you stand in relation to that point impacts your association with the directions. Even where we stand relative to Wounded Knee, South Dakota, may impact how we establish this space.
So I leave the specifics up to you. Establish the sacredness of where you stand by recognizing where you are in the world at this moment. Honor what is in each of the 4 directions. Honor the sacredness of the Earth upon which you stand.
More to come…………….
Wounded Knee means many things to many people. Then there are those who’ve never heard of the place. American history is taught with a carefully edited eye to the white mans point of view. But to most of the Native people of this continent Wounded Knee stands as a tipping point. It is the Ferguson of the era of conquest and oppression of the indigenous people of this land.
This year, on December 29th, is the 125th anniversary of the massacre at Wounded Knee. It is a massacre that took place because the white army perceived the natives as dangerous and unruly. It took place because there was no understanding or appreciation of different points of view, different religious practices. It took place because a failure to communicate lead to a “need” to control, to take away human and civil liberties, and to respond with brute force to a perceived threat.
There are many tellings of what happened at Wounded Knee. I read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee back in 1974. On line there are several accounts eye witnesses, official reports, and of course wikipedia. All the versions agree that the natives were practicing their religion illegally. (The practice of the Ghost Dance was banned) They all agree that hundreds of men, women and children were killed. They don’t all agree on why.
The massacre at Wounded Knee is a living injury in the hearts of the Native people. These are their ancestors, and they are honored with dance, and song and story, and a reenactment of the ride to escape the soldiers.
When I was at the Parliament of World Religions I attended several seminars led by Chief Arvol Looking Horse. He is one of the spiritual leaders of the ride. This year, on this anniversary, he called on us a spiritual leaders to join together and help heal the hearts of those massacred unjustly. He asked us to pray not only for Wounded Knee, but for all those killed in massacres because they are perceived as “other” or “threatening” simply for trying to make their way in the world.
So I created a Facebook event and will write on and off for the next week about things we can do. Let us join together, in spirit, in ritual, in prayer. The Natives pray “all my relations” and recognize that we are all related, we are all one. These are our relatives, our ancestors who have died at Wounded Knee, in Boznia, at Tiananmen Square, in Rwanda, in Syria. These are our relations killed in the Holocaust, in the streets and prisons of the USA, in the Ukraine.
As Chief Looking Horse invites us, let us stop the massacres, let us heal hearts, let us move forward in a Sacred Way.