Lessons From the Sacred Inipi (2)
By Ghost Dancer
The Winter Solstice has been very important to traditional Native Peoples throughout history. The Winter Solstice begins the purification of Mother Earth. It is a time for us to reflect and purify ourselves and to let go of everything we have done during the past year – to reflect on all we accomplished and all we failed to do as well.
The winter solstice signals the shortest day and the beginning of changes in all life. Our Grandmother sun (for most eastern tribes) or Grandfather sun (for most western tribes) moves farther away from us and is seen less. The power of the sun has less effect on us and provides less warmth. The cold serves to remove all the diseases and pollution that need to be cleansed. This is Mother Earth’s way of showing us what we are to do. Just as the trees (tall people), plants, winged ones, 4 legged ones, and all life changes, so must we. A new cycle will begin at the Spring Equinox.
We all have some type of baggage that clutters our mind, spirit or body. We have clutter that we may never even think about as clutter. Just as a computer must purge least it become so clogged up with stuff it fails to perform, so must we. This is why during the Winter Solstice so many ceremonies are done.
Another reason is the Grandfather Moon (to most eastern tribes) or Grandmother Moon (to most western tribes) effects all life and becomes so much more powerful. As we know this power causes many changes in us and in all life. We use this time, as all life does, to become more loving and giving of our selves. We learn so much about our own selves and also what others have to share. In the old days, the elders would be storytelling to pass on these teachings. Many ceremonies and celebrations would be held. During the spring, summer and fall, there was so much work to be done. Now, in winter, we have time to do these things.
Hunting was always so much better in winter because all the worms and bacteria are now dead in the 4-legged ones after the 2nd frost or snow. This made it safer to eat the meats. Even the fish had lost the parasites that attacked them and lived in their flesh.
Our Muscogee Creek people did lots of purging by drinking the black drink during this time and fasting as well. This was the time for dancing the deer, opossum, raccoon, panther, moon, and wolf dances. Each of these served a purpose and helped the people connect even more to all life. When doing these dances, we connect more to each of these beings and also to each other. The dancing was not just for entertainment; they taught life lessons. For instance, a wolf or panther hunts so much better when it is hungry for if it misses, it doesn’t eat, which could cost its life. So the deer, opossum, and raccoon, must truly be more aware and alert to everything or they will become dinner for some other being. So, we too have to be more alert to all that Spirit has to teach us. Just as we have to be hungry to learn more, so we can eat and live. We are both hunter and prey in life, as all life is.
We also have to be hungry for spiritual growth, knowledge, and enlightenment. At the same time we must be alert and aware of all the temptations, illusions, distractions, and traps, that can destroy us or lead us astray. Silence is a true blessing. To sit in silence, all the beauty that surrounds you, becomes you. No, the world is never silent, neither is your heart or spirit. But if we try, we can learn to silence our minds which play tricks on us. This is why we must learn to discipline and quiet the mind, to release the clutter and grow spiritually.
© Ghost Dancer, 2018, 2021
Editor’s Note: Since childhood Ghost Dancer has been an outspoken activist fighting for the religious rights of all Native Peoples. For more than 27 years Ghost has been incarcerated in federal prison, wrongfully convicted of crimes he had nothing to do with. Those with the eyes to see recognize Ghost as a true warrior, an elder, a leader, a knower in the tradition of his Southeastern Muscogee Creek ancestors.
In 2015 I posed this question to Ghost: This morning I read a piece written by an ex-con who is writing a book about his 9-year experience in federal prison. He took a poll in prison asking other inmates and staff for three words to describe prison life. His own selected words were: seclusion, humiliation, and stagnation. What would your three words be?
Ghost’s Response: My three words would be different. To survive in prison the three words you must live within are change, ascension, spiritual. In understanding human behavior, we come to understand that in prison you must learn to change, each and every moment, depending on each circumstance of our environment. To quickly adapt to whatever situation arises. Living this way is a test of our heart of love, compassion, and generosity towards all around us. We must let our personal spirit ascend to higher understanding, higher discipline, higher output, to effect all around us to see beauty, love even in the worst of conditions and treatment. Now we must become more spiritual and live in a spiritual way to not lose our humanity, to not lose our compassion, our minds, dignity, honor, morals, and soul.
Despite the gross injustice, Ghost has never lost his sense of purpose, his kind heart or his ability to make the best of a bad situation by maintaining his spiritual equilibrium. Throughout his incarceration Ghost has served as leader of the spiritual community of American Indian inmates. As we begin the cycle of renewal, may we all be blessed and inspired by Ghost’s teachings we call, “Lessons from the Inipi” written during recent years up until the beginning of the Covid pandemic lockdown.
~ Sings Many Songs