February 11, 2011
Haiku My Heart Friday was created by my friend Rebecca. You can see more Haiku and find out how to participate by going to her blog, recuerda mi corazon
From the dirt comes peace
Cleansing sage, Mother’s life blood
A human soul lives
Life in Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico is slower moving than it is in River Falls, Wisconsin, even in the middle of Winter. I love being here though. Just yesterday, I negotiated a deal with the owner of the Artesian Bath House and Trailer Court. I now have an RV residence here to use as I want, when I want, the year ‘round.
One of the things I like about this area is the many places I can travel to. Familiar places. Over the years, I have scouted around and have many small towns or natural features I like to visit. One of these places is Silver City, New Mexico.
I was in Silver City last Saturday and wandered around some of the galleries. One of the places I went into was Wild West Weavers. The proprietor there weaves rugs and mats. She is very talented and had some beautiful rugs for sale hanging on the walls of her shop.
|The Front Door at Wild West Weavers, Silver City, NM|
What impressed me most in the first place was her colorful front door. I went in to ask if she minded that I took a photo. She said, “No problem”, and I did. Nice, isn’t it? But the colors of the woven rugs were astonishing, and I find out through casual conversation, that she makes all her own dyes from plant matter and soil.
She runs classes from time to time and I put my name on the e-mail list to be notified as I am very interested in making colorful paints from natural materials. My last call to her went unanswered, but I am optimistic that I’ll hear from her soon.
Coincidently, another blogger and friend, Paula, at Molokai Girl and Molokai Girl Studio, wrote about soil, or as she referenced it, dirt. She was posting on Alphabet Wednesday and the letter was “D”. Scroll around her sites, she posts and creates some beautiful artwork.
I have tried my hand at making paint from soil. I’m sure many of you have seen soil of different colors. I was taken to a place years ago while on The Longest Walk II. A Native man from the Grand Canyon area of Arizona, a Hualapai Tribal member, drove me down a dusty gravel road towards the Colorado River. We stopped numerous places and he showed me petroglyphs and other natural features.
We took a short walk up to the side of a small hill and there was a hole in the hillside about two feet around. Inside was the reddest dirt I have ever seen. I had carried plastic bags with me and Tobacco. I honored the Sacred Earth Mother for giving me this gift of red soil and scattered the Tobacco to the four directions.
|Stock photo, Grand Canyon|
I carried the soil with me for months until I returned home. I gave most of it to a Spiritual Elder that runs a Sundance ceremony for the people. It is used in this ceremony as red paint and swabbed onto the West side of the tree that is put in the center of the Sundance arbor. This paint is called Wasse, (Wah-Say’), in Dakota language. It is mixed with bear grease and water. A woman is chosen to apply the Wasse to the trunk of the chosen tree.
When I gave the soil to the Elder, I told him where it came from and how I gave tobacco for it. He was pleased and he used this sacred ingredient in the ceremony on the tree.
Sometimes I use some of this soil to make my own paint to put some color or artwork onto a drum head or a gourd rattle. It is pulverized with a mortar and pestle and turned into the consistency of powder. I use bear grease and mix it up so it is usable as paint.
|The Red Soil paint dotted on, then swirled with my fingertips for this drum I made some time ago.|
I don’t have much of this soil left. I’ve used just about all of it. One day last Fall, a Spiritual Elder from Pine Ridge came to the area where I live. He had been asked to do a healing ceremony for Veterans. I heard about this ceremony and asked for information. I was invited to attend and participate.
|The last bit of the Sacred Red Soil in my possession|
The ceremony was simple. The Elder said that the Veteran Warrior has lost something of him or herself because of being made to kill in battle. The lost part of that person’s Spirit must be returned so they can move on with life and become a Spiritual Warrior in their own community.
The Spiritual Warrior doesn’t have to kill any longer. He takes care of the old ones and the children. He stays sober and doesn’t beat his wife or children. He serves the community now, after his Spirit has been renewed.
I wanted to bring this man a gift, to thank him for doing this ceremony, which is the custom. I had heard about this type of ceremony and been waiting for a chance to attend one for a long time, for years. A usual traditional gift is Tobacco, Sweetgrass, Sage or Cedar. Food may be given, a roast or something of substance.
I chose to give him the red soil that I had. I knew what he would do with it. When I met him, I shook his hand. Then, I gave him the small bag of soil and told him where it came from and how it was given to me by Mother Earth in a good way, with Tobacco.
He listened to me, then held up the bag and said, “Hoka, this is just what I needed.”
The red earth was used many times as paint for the faces of Warriors. War paint. The leader would use his thumb and put it into the soil and with his fingers stretched wide over the forehead of a Warrior, he would wipe his thumb under the eyes.
Basil Braveheart, the spiritual Elder from Pine Ridge, South Dakota who ran this ceremony, did exactly that.
We stood in a circle. An attendant carried an abalone shell, filled with smoking smoldering Sage, and the Spiritual Leader waved the smoke over our bodies, front and rear, with a large wing of an Eagle. He patted us down from our heads, over our shoulders and down along our bodies. Wiping away impurity. Wiping away pain and suffering. Wiping us clean of the trauma and haunting dreams of the past.
Then he took a bundle of Sage that had been wrapped with red yarn and dipped the Sage in water. Water, the life blood of Mother Earth. This water was blessed and a song offered by the women, keepers and caretakers of the water in Ojibwe culture. He symbolically wiped the war paint from our faces with that damp Sage, thus taking the combat Warrior part of us away and giving us back our Spirits.
My heart swelled. I cried. We all did. I didn’t wash my face as I felt honor return to my soul. The residue of the war paint and the dripping Sage scented water down my cheeks told me I can be proud again. No more shame.
This memory about the red soil came to me when I saw an artist using soil and plants as coloring for her works, and a blogger friend asked me about the red soil when I mentioned it. I am proud to share this story with you.