Samhain Transitions into Day of the Dead in the Pueblo Nations

Written by Sherrie Locke on 7 Kawoq, October, 2014.

The thinning of the veils is upon us. The time of the year the dead can communicate with the living. You can look all that up on the Internet.

All Souls Day Pilgramige

I was inspired today to tell you how this works at the REZ (reservation, which we call the Pueblo) in the Pueblo (Tewa) Nation. First off, I have never spent these days at my own family’s home pueblo, which is Santa Clara. Many years ago, I was “adopted” into the Tortalita (little tortoise) Clan at Santo Domingo Pueblo, so it is the place I had the honor to participate in these rituals.

The day of Samhain (All Hallows Eve) is a very quiet day at the Pueblo. No trick or treating, not even going out after dark. By the time the sun is setting, everyone is in the house. There are NO festivities on this night. The families sit indoors.

This is a night that is known to be dangerous, one that is best spent inside with the family and elders. The spirits are afoot, both kinds of spirits, the good ones and the disruptive or even dangerous ones. Meditation and prayer is the set. Many times we get to listen to stories from an elder if we are lucky enough to have one in the house.

The next day is completely different and unusual in its own way.

On the Day of the Ancestors, by the door of every home (to the left) is a special clay-fired vessel that holds water with a gourd dipper. When you enter the home (by invitation only, of course) you are offered a drink from the “special” water, and after that, invited to sit with the family. The food is simple, usually some traditional bread and a soup made from blue corn meal with high mountain wildflowers (which are yellow). Now it gets interesting.

You can hear a lot of traffic coming into the pueblo, pickup trucks full of families with tons of food and staples piled in with the kids and the elders too. They are not laughing or talking, they are praying.

Soon there is a knock at the door. I was wondering why nobody made an effort to get up and answer it. Outside the door you can hear the Lord’s Prayer and prayers asking for forgiveness. More knocking at the door, several times before anything happens. Then, the elder (man) of the family finally goes to the door, usually still carrying on the conversation he was in the middle of when the knocking started.

When he swings open the door, there is an entire family standing there, praying and asking for forgiveness, with handfuls of baskets of food. Without ever looking at any of them, Grandfather then takes the food and offerings and shuts the door in their faces. No eye contact, no thank you, nothing — just take the food and shut the door and return to the conversation. All this starts to pile up on one wall of the house, which is now stacked to the ceiling with food, melons, bread (traditional) and what we might call staples. Never is it even looked at nor does anyone care what is there. This goes on ALL DAY long until the house is full of food.

After this had been happening for a while, I asked “Why is this happening?”. Grandfather told me, “It’s the Spaniards from all over the state, coming to the pueblo to ask for forgiveness for what their ancestors did to us.” I don’t know what is done with all that food, I think it is given to the poorest families there. We never touched one piece of it.

Moral to the story… You are still paying the debts of your ancestors. You are also sharing in their blessings and the legacy that was left behind.

Aho! Mitakuye Oyasin!
~SL, 2014.

With a Little Help from the Ancestors

Written by Sherrie Locke on 9 Ajpu, March 2014

Sometimes projects or “things” come up and drive you to pursue them, based on a direction preset by your ancestors. They knew a time would come when one of their lineage would be prepared to receive and when the timing would be right, where all junctures would come together for an activation or a mass healing. Something on so vast a level it could not be explained as to the working or even the desired outcome.

The ancestors and elders provide guidance on your path through life.

A Tibetan shaman communicates with the ancestors for guidance.

In the case of working and maintaining a proper ancestor altar, you are actually not only strengthening the connection, but also strengthening the ancestor or group of ancestors so they can be more effective in your life and possibly even the lives of the extended family.

As the elders say, the ancestors cannot connect with us ( I have found exceptions to this rule through strong familial bonds), so you must first seek connection with them. You must open the door, you must maintain the connection,  or it will fade over time. Yes, it can be regained through ancestor veneration rituals, but isn’t it easier to maintain the connections all along? I say yes.

Ancestor veneration priests and shamans are very specialized in most traditions. In Yoruba traditions from West Africa they are an entire sect that is ruled by Oya and the ancestors themselves. They are usually trained from birth.  Traditional indigenous Tibetan sects have very elaborate death rites to assist the soul of the departed in a “conscious” evolutionary process.  These rituals are performed to help the soul make a good choice of incarnation that actually has effect on the larger consciousness construct rather than entering another life of working out right/wrong, black/white and more polarity consciousness.

I have noted before, as with other sacred things, that some have been bastardized by religion and religious organizations for its/their own purposes. So other than in traditional indigenous cultures that elevate and venerate their beloved ancestors, the said religion has plans for you even after you are dead.

So do your own thing and make it good.

Remember, sometimes these promptings come from a well much deeper than your current life. “The changes we effect here go backward and forward on the time track.”
~SL 2014

Ho! Mitakuye Oyasin!

Sacred Sites

Written by Sherrie Locke on 9 Kame, April 2014

My relatives starting taking me to sacred sites as soon as I could walk on my own.  We were taught to always have reverence, always leave an offering.  When I was a child, that offering was most likely from the little bag of cornmeal I was carrying, or maybe a flower.  Now I carry a few things with me to sacred sites: tobacco, cornmeal, copal and a fire source, among others.  Always be prepared!  We were taught to introduce ourselves upon arrival, to say goodbye and thank you upon exiting.

Takalik Abaj is an ancient sacred site dating back to 1200 BC in Guatemala. Mam Maya from the area still do ceremony at the altars at Takalik Abaj.

Sherrie Locke at a sacred site in the archaeological park of Takalik Abaj, one of the most ancient Maya ruins in Guatemala. Takalik Abaj is an active ceremonial site for local Mam Maya.

Each site is different, unique.

When preparing to go to a sacred site these days, I/we research as much as possible in advance about the site and the area (I’m lucky, I have super hero travel companions), then pool our resources and info before the trip looking for overlapping interests and clues.  By the time we arrive we have some idea of our areas of interest.

My travel buddies sometimes think me a bit eccentric and cringe, but I like to begin each day with a traditional aboriginal “foot tapping” to get the rhythm of the group on the same beat for the day.  It helps us to work as a unit, even if one of the group wanders off.

I feel that what you wear to a sacred site is important, as you never know who you might come across.  Just like a trip to a grandparent’s house: you might not want to show up with your butt hanging out.  So at least take a shawl and a hat and be mindful.

I would like to take a moment here to explain something to some of you who continue with the erroneous premise that you are going to “activate” a sacred site.  Please crawl out of your ego.  These sacred sites activate YOU.  Not the reverse.

So if you go out there tromping around wanting to shift things without being direct lineage and without permission and assistance from the ancestors (these cases are rare and usually related to the desecration of a site,) then you just might find yourself up the creek, or with a case of Montezuma’s revenge, or even with a hitchhiker to teach you a good lesson.  Remember, do what thou wilt, but be mindful!

These sites have everything to teach you, you have nothing to give them but an offering — and don’t leave any trash behind energetic or otherwise.  This includes crystals, so if you want to charge them up there fine, but don’t use them to change things (there are very few exceptions to this, and if you are not of the direct lineage and don’t have permission from the elders, then I assure you that you have no business doing any of this).  If you don’t know what I am referring to then, it is not in your base of knowledge to make changes in this regard, so please refrain.

A note about equipment and gear that you take to sacred sites and power spots.  If the sign says, no recording, no photos, no video, then please honor it.  At my family’s home pueblo Santa Clara, we do not allow any recording or photos and are very nice about it unless we catch you (and we will), in which case you will be departing without your equipment. And no, we don’t want to keep your gear, it will be destroyed.

Also, power spots and active sacred sites will drain your batteries quickly, so if it’s important to you, take backup or allow for the drain.  This happened to me recently on a trip to a sacred cave.

So to recap general guidelines:

Have knowledge and reverence for the site and the ancestors.

You are not activating anything, the site is activating you.

Be open to receive.

Hold space, protect yourself.

Don’t be a grave robber!

Avoid talking, try listening for a change.  Many times I find myself whispering to others if I choose to speak at all.

And Above All

Give thanks you have walked on this sacred ground, for now it is in you.

AHO!  Mitakuye’ Oyasin!

Symbols or Weapons of the Four Directions

Written by Sherrie Locke on 1 Serpent, March 2014

The Four Directions and their Symbols and Weapons

Direction Time Color Tarot Suit Symbol or Weapon
East Sunrise Yellow Sword Feather or Dagger
South Noon Red Wands Wand or Fire
West Sunset Black or Blue Cups Chalice
North Midnight White Coins Coin, Pentacle or Shield

This is according to Western occult tradition. Some indigenous people, such as the Maya, may use other directional colors for their ceremonies. (The Maya use red for east and yellow for south.) Most are reversed north to south at the equator.

The four directional colors represent the four races:
Yellow of the East
Red of the South
Black of the West
White of the North

The four elements are:
Air
Fire
Water
Earth

Most traditions I work with are generally in this format due to my obsession with the “connecting thread.”

As in anything, traditions are also evolving, so colors and gender may vary in schools of thought and study both in older and more recent curriculum of esoteric study. I will say the Western initiatory path is pretty much standardized back to basic Kaballistic theory.

As you gather your weapons, they will likely be what you use from here on unless you decide to replace them with an upgrade.

Note: with feathers, we (the Elders) find that the feathers of a living bird are the most powerful kind, and many times are “gifted” by a spirit animal, It’s a totem thing, very strong.

Next a ritually sacrificed animal. Don’t freak, it’s done all the time in tribal cultures, in a sacred manner and all parts of the sacrifice are utilized, nothing is ever wasted.

Third, some feather whose history you do not know can be a symbol you can relate to.

In the USA, please be aware that possession of certain feathers carries a hefty fine and some are not allowed to be transported anywhere. So don’t do show and tell or hang it from you rearview mirror. We as first nations people actually have to have a permit to possess and carry certain sacred objects, go figure. One eagle feather incident could be a $50,000 fine and jail time if they wanted to push it, so be mindful.

Also, it is better to use a cup or knife whose history you know rather than picking up some antique that has been God knows where or used for what purpose. Be mindful!

As I have said before, some items, particularly ritual items, cannot be cleared, so I can read them, if I would choose to even touch them. If I am not in the same location with said item, I can easily check its vibe and likely its history, too. Yes, I do this work, but please don’t show up with questionable items and expect me to do whatever you ask. I may not, I might, it certainly will not be for free.

For representation of earth I may use some dirt or a rock, but usually a coin of some kind.

Be creative, stick within your base of knowledge. If you start changing currents of natural flow, you had best be conscious of WHY. Stick to the basics of what you understand for now; you can get elaborate with banners of the four directions, symbols and items as you learn and grow more accustomed to working a medicine wheel or ceremony for invoking or evoking an energy. I have already posted a blog on the subject of evocation or invocation, and suggest you know the difference before you commence on this subject.

In the mean time… have fun, learn, refine, expand!

Ho! Mitakuye Oyasin!
Blessed be!
It Is Done.

Holding Sacred Space

Written by Sherrie Locke on 10 Qanil, March 2014

The idea and concept of “holding space” has been around since life arose on this planet. From a lion’s pride, to a wolf pack to a mushroom patch, it’s a natural tendency in construct of creation.

We are here today to discuss the space you intentionally hold for yourself, for your loved ones and for any operation or manifestation with which you are currently working. So be mindful, don’t juggle too much and maintain what you are intending.

The point of a ritual is to zero in on what you want to do.

Do you want:
A clean high vibe space?
Protection from harm?
Connection to your ancestors?
A creative or healing space?

Are you opening and holding space for a new creative project or business endeavor?
For learning or saturation environment?
A channel to receive something?
Subcategories, such as knowledge, prosperity, healing?

It goes on and on and on.

How to Hold Space
As I have stated over and over, know your base of knowledge and understanding and work with that to its fullest everyday. If you do not apply it, how can you refine it?

Periodically check your works to see if they still apply. Have they ramped up or down? Do they need more attention or action, or are they toodling along? Are you happy with the results so far? Are there any results?

Adjust, adjust, adjust. Let go of the way you think it should manifest; that’s not your issue! Your job is to hold space, be intentional, be motivated to succeed and ready to act at any moment 24/7/365.

To do so you must be clear about your intentions. If your brain is in a jumble, you are not going to get anything done. The point of a ritual is to maintain focus and clear out blockage to the achievement of your goals. It’s a routine of diligence, of knowing yourself and your motivations.

If you are not clear on these personal factors, in understanding yourself and what makes you tick, what motivates you or awakens your passion, then you might want to hold off and do some personal work before you start attempting to effect change on a broader scale. As they say, clear out your own shit first before entering a lodge or proceeding with a magical working.

It is vital to understand that life is not happening to you, that you are creating it from the inside out.
So start at the starting point, which is “Know Thyself!” In Egyptian culture, the symbol of the scarab says it all, “Man Know Thyself!”

If you do not know yourself and why you are motivated to make certain choices, then you will repeat them over and over again, ad nauseum, until you are finally done with it. Keep it up. Your choice, pain is optional, and I would never deny someone as much pain as they would like to indulge in. I practice tomasic energy work in my bag of modalities, so I am not afraid of bringing the pain body to the surface for eradication.

OK, back to holding space. So you have figured out something you wish to effect change. You have cleaned the space. You have opened a space through intent and ceremony.

You have determined the general duration of the working. You have set certain components to work for you, things such as candles and Power Items.

The space is set, the work is in progress.

For longer term projects, just check in on them at least on an annual basis.

These things run like a software program, either constantly working or all at once with a big push to build energy and momentum.

If you wish to hold space for a loved one, such as in a prayer or healing energy, set a field (space) and picture you and the person together in that space. Call in the energies of the green healing ray, any helpful assistants such as helpful ancestors or other healing or plant energies, and invite them into the space you have created for that purpose. If healing someone who is far away, visualize the space surrounding the person wherever he or she may be.

So go forth, light a candle, do a magickal working to help yourself or someone else, Keep it Light, do it with LOVE, be clear on your intentions and don’t overlap too many things at once. Watch your works increase as you practice. And above all, get to know yourself better and get in touch with what motivates you.

Ho! Mitakuye Oyasin
Blessed Be.

Storytelling, The Native American Way

Written by Sherrie Locke, 5 Akabal, March 2014.

In Tewa tradition, we are renowned storytellers.

Stories are about learning to listen.

Many times the stories are real or told like a campsite tale, but if grandma or grandpa or even a cousin say they have a story, all would gather around to listen. The story would always have a significant teaching but was never presented as something “One should learn,” not even along the lines of, “the moral to the story is….” Nope.

It’s more like the story itself gives the understanding of a much larger picture, a scenario, or a fundamental life lesson knowledge key. Then later if they wanted to remind us, they would say, “remember the story of the woodpecker, or the story of ….”. Sometimes we would tell funny stories and everybody would laughs and laugh, a point would be made without the usual someone telling you what to think or feel. No one would ever say, “That’s not true!” or even ask why.

Other times, we cousins would tell stories of the future (wild fantasies), and we would all be riveted. Then when we were all enthralled in the story, one of our names would come out of the storyteller’s mouth and we would all laugh with glee to hear about cousin Jeff’s future escapades or mine.

Sometimes there were creation stories, sometimes a story about how something “came to be.” Usually right after we saw one. My cousins and I preferred the more metaphysical and paranormal stories, ours many times with a “moral to the story,” which was usually, “Don’t go lookin’ for trouble!”

We told stories that we had heard from other tribes (not Western gossip). If we told someone else’s story, it was usually a great inspiration, or one of those “how things work” stories from grandma. We Tewa are not alone in maintaining our storytelling tradition. Here are links to contemporary Native North American storytellers:

Larry Littlebird               Ed Lee            Butterfly Garcia

Ho! Mitakuye’ Oyasin!