Friday, February 11, 2011

Soil As Paint

Haiku My Heart Friday
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.

Sage bundles

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.


Grammy said...

Your words were awesome.
See you are an artist too.

My take of your photo : )
The sun warms mt heart
right from the start a mighty
glow for all to know.

Stephanie said...

Such an inspiring story...thank you for this sharing this piece of your heart with us.

I think you should gather all your stories and publish them, what a wonderful gift to your children and grandchildren.

peace to you.

Nanka said...

Very very interesting and I am spellbound.

Strangely I could connect many of the rituals you described with our very own ones too.

Red soil is also used here to decorate and paint houses.

My post on "Warli art" is a brief description of one such painting art.

You have put an awesome experience which is well narrated!!

I have come here through your blogger profile via Ramesh Sood's blog as I cannot open "Haiku My Heart". Have been facing this problem the entire day today. Hopefully it resolves soon.

Kim Mailhot said...

Thank you for the story, for the lessons, and the trip to a sacred time and place. I am honored to have read it in your words and seen it in my mind.
Thank you, Beautiful One.

somepinkflowers said...

sage bundles of Pure,
a smokey fragrance swirls up.
Life our dusty road...

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

I am moved beyond words, my dear Spadoman. Your words say it all. Thank you.

Noelle Clearwater said...

And I am proud to hear your story my dear friend. What a transformational journey you have taken me on this day. I sat here reading and weeping and I do not feel as though I am the same person as when I began. I am astonished and blessed by the deeply empathic nature of this Shaman elder, his profound love, his ability to discern, his connection with the divine in all of us and his rootedness to the earth as well. What a numinous experience this must have been for you--one of deep and lasting forgiveness and freedom.
Peace and Light,

Meri said...

So beautiful. I'm happy the pieces of your soul were brought back to you.

Mel said...

My heart swelled.
I cried.

No more shame.

(((((((((( Spadoman )))))))))))

You are a Spiritual Warrior today.
I am grateful to Mother Earth and to the Elder who helped you reclaim your Spirit.

rebecca said...

the giving and the receiving.
the soil and the sky.
the journey and the return.

thank you for opening up your heart and letting us in.

Ramesh Sood said...

Wow!!! the ritual spadoman, reminded me of a book "I am another you" written by Indian Author Ms. Priya Kumar.. that book is full of rituals.. reading your story.. I once again became a part of the cleansing process... feeling clean..

My heart wants to spill
Here and now, some red soil
Hey, paint Happiness..

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Great photos too by the way.

All the best, Boonie

Short poems said...

An inspiring story, thanks for sharing with us!
All the best

joco said...

Very interesting post at many levels and it obviously had a very great effect on you. Totally outside my European experience, but I can identify with the red ochre and the vegetable dyeing you are planning to try. Being a weaver myself, I have used plant material to make many colours and it is a very satisfying procedure. Not without danger I would like to stress: some of the mordants that brew for several hours, give off poisonous fumes, so you have to know what your are doing to stay safe.

english inukshuk said...

I'm having an OMG moment

last night I dreampt about really digging in very firm but moist deep red soil

really really red

and I'd totally forgotten about it until now, reading this

isn't that a weird coincidence!

susan said...

That's such a wonderful story, Spado. You are most definitely the very image and heart of a true spiritual warrior.

ms pie said...

renewed refreshed and cleansed... what a blessing spadoman... our hearts swell and weep at the healing of another... thank you for sharing a world that few look upon... the power of dirt it's real... there is nothing more intriguing than being surrounded by dirt... in the bush of australia there is a red dirt that shines... in oklahoma there's a red dirt that whispers... and then there's the willow tree that hardly a soul knows... but nothing more supreme than that we can from dirt and dirt we shall return to... thank you for posting a keeper of stories...

foxysue said...

Hi Spodoman,

I've been awhile for my response to this post as I wanted to 'think' about what you have relayed to us here.

I love the respect you have for the earth and that you count it of much value. It seems to me that when we have lived on this planet for a good few years, it's then we become more aware of our treasure here, nothing can compare to the daily renewal of the beauty of this mother earth.

Thank you for an inspirational post.

Ms Foxy

paper-n-soul said...

Wow. Reading this brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful story. And a beautiful drum, too. You made excellent use of your gift from Mama Earth.


Lydia said...

Came her via Susan at phantsythat and am grateful to her for the referral.

Your haiku is beautiful and this story of the red soil is meaningful to me. When I was a little girl we had a family vacation to the Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert. I had a souvenir of a glass vial filled with layers of soil to depict a scene from the Painted Desert and I treasured it. Along life's way, however, it was moved and shaken so all the soil blended together. The most pronounced color is that deep red. It looks trapped in that glass but I won't break the glass to set it free, at least not this year, because when I look at it I am again eight years old and enchanted by the Hopi's songs at the Canyon in the evenings....

tami said...

i love your posts - i always come away with a warmth and happiness. beautiful!

GYamato said...

Zia!!!!! Thank you for sharing this story.

mig said...

What a lovely and gentle ceremony. And how cool that you brought the red earth with you for it.