The Prayer Stick, a North American Traditional Winter Solstice Ceremony

This is not just another day! It is a very special day according to many North American indigenous tribes and other ancestral tribes around the world.

December 21st marks the first day of winter and is the shortest day of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks a time of colder months to come. After the Winter Solstice, each day becomes longer until the longest day of the year arrives around June 21st, the summer solstice.

The term solstice comes from the Latin word solstitium, meaning ‘the Sun stands still’. This is because, on this day, the Sun reaches its southern-most position as seen from the Earth. The Sun seems to stand still and then reverses its direction. It’s also common to call it the day the Sun turns around.

Long ago, we use to honor this time because we had such a deep spiritual connection to what it meant for us.

Many Native American tribes would observe the winter solstice through rites and rituals that honor our ancestors, beliefs, and is also a way of offering prayer and gratitude.

Traditionally, a prayer stick or paho was made by each family member starting four days before the solstice. Then on the day of the solstice, the head of the household would dig small holes and the members would plant the prayer sticks in the holes. They were then given back to the earth in honor of our ancestors. It was common for family members to all participate in ceremony.

Prayer sticks are most commonly made out of a piece of forked cedar that was equivalent in length from your elbow to your fingertips.

In a respectful way, you would find a tree that you feel a deep connection with then ask it permission and offer tobacco, if you can have this part of it to use for your ceremony. You will know by listening to your intuition whether you are permitted or not. Most often, if done in a respectful way, you will be permitted.

Once permission was granted, you could then begin to personalize and decorate the stick with your medicine.

In Prayer, you would begin to add sacred items to your stick. Some of the most common ways to decorate would be to remove or carve into the bark. You can add a feather, traditionally turkey feathers were used. Tobacco may be placed in a  red cloth and tied to the stick. Fur, bones, teeth and other parts of animals can be added depending on the type of prayer or medicine you wish to bring forth into your life.

Happy winter solstice everyone!

Bell Trail Petroglyphs

Went on a hike with a group from work. Me and another staff took the wrong trail and ended up seeing these amazing petroglyphs, ruins and pottery. Glad we got lost LOL. So at the sign about three miles in… go to the right. If you go to the left you will end up at a really awesome swimming hole called “The Crack.”

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Rock Art Ranch ~ Arizona Ancestral History Tour

We recently had the opportunity to stay at the Rock Art Ranch in Joseph City near Winslow Arizona. Brantly Barid and family were amazingly loving and humble hosts. I didn’t want to leave! So many awesome things to see… the museum, the kivas and pit houses, Chevelon canyon with some of the most amazing petroglyphs I have ever seen, old hogans, pottery, arrowheads, mind blowing sunsets and an abundance of wildlife. This is a history lovers paradise! Such a peaceful place to be. Enjoy…
Contact Info: 928.288.3260 Facebook TripAdvisor

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Black Kettle Cheyenne Chief

Chief_Black_KettleChief Black Kettle (Cheyenne, Mo’ohtavetoo’o)(ca. 1803 – November 27, 1868) born to the Northern Só’taeo’o / Só’taétaneo’o band of the Northern Cheyennes in the Black Hills, later he married into the Wotápio / Wutapai band (one mixed Cheyenne-Kiowa band with Lakota-Sioux origin) of the Southern Cheyenne; after 1854 he was a prominent leader of the Southern Cheyenne, who led efforts to resist American settlement from Kansas and Colorado territories. He was a peacemaker who accepted treaties to protect his people. He was fired upon and killed by Union soldiers in 1868 during the Battle of Washita River.

Black Kettle Cheyenne Chief

Chief_Black_KettleChief Black Kettle (Cheyenne, Mo’ohtavetoo’o)(ca. 1803 – November 27, 1868) born to the Northern Só’taeo’o / Só’taétaneo’o band of the Northern Cheyennes in the Black Hills, later he married into the Wotápio / Wutapai band (one mixed Cheyenne-Kiowa band with Lakota-Sioux origin) of the Southern Cheyenne; after 1854 he was a prominent leader of the Southern Cheyenne, who led efforts to resist American settlement from Kansas and Colorado territories. He was a peacemaker who accepted treaties to protect his people. He was fired upon and killed by Union soldiers in 1868 during the Battle of Washita River.

Chief Two Moons

Two MoonsChief Two Moons (1847–1917), or Ishaynishus (Cheyenne: Éše’he Ôhnéšesêstse), was one of the Cheyenne chiefs who took part in the Battle of the Little Bighorn and other battles against the United States Army. He was the son of Carries the Otter, an Arikara (North Dakota tribe) captive who married into the Cheyenne tribe.

During Cheyenne Chief Two Moons’ lifetime there was another man using the name Two Moons and describing himself as a chief. He sold herbal medicines and was well known. To add to the confusion there were two famous Cheyenne named Two Moons, one an uncle and the other his nephew. This is the story of the elder uncle.

TwoMoonsPipeHe was known for killing a large grizzly bear with a knife. When asked how big the bear was, Two Moons raised his arms and replied, “To the sky.” He proudly wore a necklace and arm bands, which he made from the bear’s claws.
Perhaps known best for his participation in battles such as the Battle of the rosebud against General Crook on June 17, 1876, in the Montana Territory, the Battle of Little Big Horn on June 26, 1876 and what would prove to be his last battle which was that of the Battle of Wolf Mountain on January 8, 1877. Two Moons defeat in the battle at Wolf mountain by General Nelson A. Miles would inevitably lead to the surrender of his Cheyenne band at Fort Keogh in April, 1877.

After the surrender of the Cheyenne band he led in 1877, Two Moons chose to enlist as an Indian Scout for the same General, Nelson A. Miles to whom he had not long since surrendered. As a result of his pleasant personality, the friendliness that he showed towards the whites as well as his ability to get along with the military, General Miles appointed him head Chief of the Cheyenne Northern Reservation. As head Chief, Two Moons would prove to play a crucial role in facilitating the surrender of Chief Little Cow’s Cheyenne band to Fort Keogh.

buffalo nickelTwo Moons traveled on multiple occasions to Washington, D.C., to discuss and fight for the future of the Northern Cheyenne people and to better the conditions that existed on the reservation. In 1914, Two Moons met with President Woodrow Wilson to discuss these matters.

Two Moons was one of the models selected for James Fraser’s famous Buffalo Nickel.

TwoMoonsgraveTwo Moons died in 1917 at his home in Montana at the age of 70. Two Moons’ grave still lies alongside U.S. Route 212, west of Busby, Montana.

My story with Two Moons…

The name Two Moons was given to me by Creator in August of 2008. Little did I know that this was also the month of a blue moon which I found out means there were two full moons in one month. I did a meditation to find out what my “Spirit Name” was and all I kept hearing was, Two Moons, Two Moons. Coming out of the meditation, I thought, That’s interesting, why Two moons. Never heard of it before. So I accepted it and moved on with life. About a Month or so later, I had a dream while living in Humboldt, near Prescott, that it began to flood in front of my house. Somehow I was on a small boat and now floating along with the currant. I went under a bridge and emerged into an unknown place where I saw a tall Native American Chief standing at the shore.  He had a simi-smile or smirk on his face and a huge feathered headdress. He was waiving for me to come to him. Then I noticed in the background, red rocks. I knew then that this was Sedona.

Chief Two MoonsStill I didn’t know what this meant but I did start to see signs everywhere that I should go to Sedona. I tried looking online for anything associated with the name Two Moons and found nothing. I began to use the name and called myself, “Rebekah Two Moons” even though it sounded weird and kind of hokie.  But I went with it.

Years had passed and all of the sudden in 2012, my partner at the time had bought a few used documentaries from a local video store that was going out of business. One of them as the Trail of Tears. It was hard for me to watch this, there was so much pain and wrong-doing to the Native Americans when the white man came.  But something caught my attention, they began to speak of a Chief Two Moons that fought with Crazy Horse and Black Elk. This was the first time I had heard his name! I was so excited to learn more about it. Again another google search and nothing.

Then shortly after my fall from grace in 2013, I stopped using the name. I was working at a trading post in Sedona Arizona and was looking through the posters of Native Americans. I was trying to find something to put in my empty home. Then I saw him… Gasp! There he was! He was real! Chief Two Moons (1847–1917) This was the same man in my dream from 2008. He was a Northern Cheyenne War Chief standing six foot four inches, Two Moons was best remembered through his courageous exploits as one of the nine warrior chiefs of the Fox Warrior Society who fought against Custer and the seventh cavalry at the Battle of Little Big Horn. He is credited as being the only Cheyenne to have carried a repeating riffle during that battle. Following the surrender of the Cheyenne to General Miles, at Fort Keogh. Two Moons was chosen as one of their principal chiefs. The photograph I was looking at was taken by Edward S Curtis in 1910.

So I ended up buying the small postcard sized and took it home and put him on my mantelpiece above the fireplace. The very next day I got a call from the Arizona State prison that my son Harley’s parole was being revoked and he was going to spend the next six months in prison. Just to catch you up on the story… Harley had just turned seventeen  and his girlfriend was fifteen. They seemed to be a happy young couple until one day. They were at a party and decided to have sex as any couple their age would do. All was fine until Harley broke up with her. She got so mad an d told her parents what had happened. They flipped their lid and decided to press charges on Harley. Well the court won and he was sentenced three and one half years in the federal state prison then when released he had to register as a sex offender. Sigh…. Another moment in my life where I could have just died.

As it were, Harley ended up in Florence south of Phoenix, a three and a half hour drive from home. I tried to visit him once every two months or so. He seemed to be okay and made friends with the people on the “yard” who were also in there for bullshit reasons and stayed away from the real sex offenders. Finally the day came where he was able to be released on parole for 6 months. Now having to register as a sex offender we had the hardest time finding a place for him to stay. My landlord said no, and everywhere we went they said no. No one wanted a sex offender to live in their house. They didn’t even seem to care about his story. He would never hurt anyone! But it seems that society is so conditioned as to what a sex offender is. And the courts, they really need to wake up.

Finally we found him a place at an old dump of a motel in downtown Phoenix. That place was so scary. Thugs and drug dealers gathered out front. Was I really going to leave my soon here? The truth was that I didn’t have a choice. I just prayed as I left. Great Creator, please watch over him, keep him safe, and please, return him home someday.

He was fine for a while than he had to move to another motel. He managed to make friends and get access to the internet. He made a Facebook profile and was just trying to have a social life in the real world online because the real world outside was depressing, cold and scary.

Well the authorities found out and arrested him for being on social media, I guess It was a part of his parole contract to not be online. That’s when I got the call that he was going back to prison, as a mother, I just cried and as a medicine woman, I prayed for my son.

Now back to the story of Two Moons. After buying the postcard and placing it on the mantle, that night I had a dream. Harley and Chief Two Moons was walking out of the mist towards me. Harley looked happy. Two Moons said, “I am watching over your son at this time, he is better off in prison now than where he was at the motel.” Harley nodded in agreement and they turned around and walked away until they disappeared into the mist.

I remember feeling a tremendous heavy Burdon lifted and letting out a deep sigh of relief. I knew then that Harley was okay and I was able to let it go. But right then I also knew that my connection with Chief Two Moons was real and that he was also watching over my family. But why me? Was I supposed to call myself Two Moons or did I just conger up a Native American Spirit Guide five years ago? Either way, I now felt a deeper connection with this Cherokee Chief. I did a meditation and asked him If I was to call myself Two moons and I got a strong reply that said, “yes”! He also said that I was him and that I was to finish what he started out to accomplish over one hundred years ago. So what was I supposed to finish?

Native American Time

native timeNative Americans had little use for small elements of time. The cyclical passage of the seasons, marked by the “moons” of the lunar calendar that seems to have been a known feature of people for 35,000 years; the years, marked by the passage of “winters”; the division of days and nights into “sleeps”: these were sufficient for people who did not have to punch a time clock, “get to work on time,” or meet a train-bus-airplane schedule, and for whom, therefore, seconds and minutes and hours were generally useless.

Some native peoples in North America used a measure of time they called “a hand,” meaning the amount of time it would take the sun to pass from one side to the other of a hand extended at arm’s length toward the solar disk. But this measure was highly variable in a seasonal sense (it also would have varied depending on the size of the hand!) and probably was not widely adopted. Because the time-sense of native peoples was so vastly different from that of people who carried timepieces that marked seconds and minutes and hours, European and American explorers had difficulty translating native descriptions of time.

In the Indian world, things happen when they are ready to happen. Time is
relatively flexible and generally not structured into compartments as it is in modern society.

Resource: http://www.lewis-clark.org

Polatki and Honanki Ruins in Sedona

polatki and honanki nov 2015 (7)My adventure today… November 1 2015

The Palatki Heritage Site — in the Hopi language Palatki means ‘red house’– it is an archaeological site and park located in the Coconino National Forest, near Sedona, in Arizona.

The Honanki Heritage Site (meaning “bear house”) is approximately 4.5 miles north west of Polatki and is also a cliff dwelling and rock art site located in the Coconino National Forest, about 15 miles (24 km) west of Sedona, Arizona. The Sinagua people of the Ancient Pueblo Peoples, and ancestors of the Hopi people, lived here from about 1100 to 1300 CE.

Pictographs are a key feature of the site. Some of the pictographs were present before the caves were inhabited, dating to 2000 BCE. However, most of the pictographs are additions from the Sinagua peoples dating between 900 and 1300 CE.

Honanki was later inhabited by both Yavapai and Apache people. Pictographs dating between 1400 and 1875 CE can be attributed to these two groups.

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Shamans Cave Robbers Roost Sedona

Shamans Cave, also known as Robbers Roost,  is a very special place in Sedona that when visited, one should show great respect to land and the people that are meditating and doing ceremony there. It is believed to have been a place where the Shaman of the local tribe would have performed healing and ceremony. Also, it is said that when you meditate in the cave long enough, you can hear messages from your ancestors.

The cave is a very large room, approximately 20 feet long, 40 feet wide and 15 feet high, and open on one side. Inside, there’s a near-perfect, six-foot-wide circular window cut out of the thick rock that neatly frames the amazing view. There are two distinct sets of ruins within this rock formation. There are also several metate’s in the floor where the natives would have used to grind special herbs or corn for healing and prayer.

shamans cave robbers roost sedona

shamans cave sedona

shamans cave window