When an elder told me preparation is 90 percent of Ceremony, I took it to Heart. The gifts of the North Direction, moving into the darkest night – through the yin, emerging anew into the yang – the annual battle of the holly king and and the oak king. The holly king rules from the summer solstice till Winter Solstice/Christmas, then the oak king emerges victorious and rules till the summer solstice. The four directions, the four seasons.. Going into and through the fears of the unknown – the void. Nature is such a great teacher If we have prepared for the winter, we will have put up the corn, beans and squash, smoked a few salmon and had enough nuts and berries to survive the harsh winter – lots of wood for sweats and cooking, giving thanks to the sacred tree for providing for our needs. For years, Jasmine and I would purchase a live tree and after Christmas, plant it at bear creek – those trees now line the road through our two ten acre parcels in Carson. The Winter Solstice sweat lodge Ceremony has been our fewest attended one, as often the roads freeze and snow falls, making our land accessible only by chains or four wheel – but who is supposed to be there is there. Giving our presence – tending the fires and slow cooking on fires requires no technology, as our ancestors knew – being on a spiritual path required my learning and earning the gifts of the four directions.
We are not “entitled” to these gifts, we have to practice volition, which begins with intention/attention. Mandi and I practice this by playing ping pong. Mandi is an amazing teacher, and as we begin, our agenda is to feed the ball to each other rather than hit it away from each other. First we make quality contact…con(with) tact(touch). Can I watch the ball until it meets the racquet – do I have the courage to see it all the way to the paddle? When it “touches” the paddle, I say touch. When it reaches her paddle I say touch. We also alternate hands, and I now trust my left as much as my right.
This is developing presence so as to be present, having my senses open until I reach that flow state where we are both soft and intense – the contrast of nurturing by hitting each shot in front of her. My skill level is sharpened by letting go of all agendas and entering a state of play. This is a childlike state, with no agenda – dealing with each shot I am given and returning it to sender. The commercialization of Christmas/Solstice has evolved into feeding “their economy” rather than my own. If you want a lesson on economy, watch a deer walk with both presence, and economy, wasting no movement. Lean and mean. To lighten up is to release the fears – the false evidence appearing real, yet the demons feed on hot and dry – war. War on Covid, War on Cancer, War on Drugs. In bringing all of my facets into a whole is a soul retrieval -through abuse in mind, body, spirit and soul, we repress the pain rather than feel it. To feel is to heal. The gifts of the North are about knowledge, mindfulness, balance and freedom from love, hate and attachment. The highest in us honors the highest in you.
The Namaste is a return to the light I still love putting up a tree and wrapping presents – teaching me that giving feels wonderful, and the more cherished the person, the more cherished the gifts. Mandi gifts me the beautiful and heartfelt gifts creatred with her hands – she has her heart and hands connected.