Crying Ceremony

Lessons From the Sacred Inipi (10)

By Ghost Dancer

May 7, 2019 – Today our Native brothers had a much-needed crying ceremony. Now most people don’t understand this technique to help heal themselves. It is not done in most lodges, so most who attended sweat lodge ceremonies have never experienced this type of ceremony and very few even know how to properly conduct it.

Let me explain. See, when we have something bothering us and keep it bottled up inside it is like a sore that becomes infected and spreads. And the longer you hold this in you, the more powerful the infection becomes until it blocks you from your spiritual balance, happiness, beauty, and love!

Now most people think Native people don’t cry or show emotion. How wrong they are. Then there is the perception that warriors can never cry or men can’t cry. If a man can’t cry his emotions held inside become a ticking time bomb ready to explode. Yes, this goes for women too. We all must release what hurts inside. Whether it is pain, hurt, frustrations, abuse, loss, doubts, fears, mistakes, depression, and especially your anger! If we don’t release it all, then it starts you on a downward spiral. So, you must let this out.

I always lead by example. I begin by speaking out loud about all that is bothering me. Everyone understands that what is said inside a lodge is never spoken again outside of the lodge. In other words what you hear, you never repeat. We do not gossip! So as I begin, I allow my heart to feel the pain, the loss, the hurt! I feel the pain I have caused others, the frustrations, doubts, disappointments, etc. I cry out to Mother Earth, to help me. I cry out to Spirit to help me; to take this away from me, to make me whole, pure, and balanced with love and beauty. I give all this pain, frustration, hurt, broken hearts, abuse or loss, fears, doubts, mistakes, and depression, all to the stone people. They gladly accept this for their love of us.

When doing these things, the leader, or conductor, should always speak first. This helps those who are more timid, quiet, or even ashamed. Sitting in the dark, where only Spirit can see, tears flow freely as each brother empties out his heart to spirit, leaving him totally empty at first.

Today, I cried for my dad who is slipping away. We never saw eye to eye on lots of things. I know I have hurt his heart, and he has hurt mine. He is my dad and I do love him no matter what and I’m so thankful that I did get to see him a few years ago and tell him that. I got to hug him and talk about the old days when he and I used to do so much together. I cried for all of the family and people who will miss him when he takes his journey, because so many love him. But I also know he does not want to continue living like he is now, helpless and in pain. He would not want that at all. I sang for him today in our ancestors’ way about his following the little people up into the stars back to where hopefully we all go one day.

Once all the crying from the hearts in the circle is over, it is time to fill the emptiness inside with pure beauty and love. It is time for the healing to begin. When new brothers come to the lodge, sometimes they are slow to release their pain and allow themselves to cry. So having everyone around them doing this helps make them feel accepted and truly one of the circle.

Everyone soon learns that lifting all these burdens from the whole group brings true laughter that comes from the heart, soul, and spirit. True joy lights up eyes and faces. Love begins to show towards all things and everyone begins to see the world differently. Why is this so important? Because for those who have suffered so much, hurt so bad, been depressed so deeply, been so lonely and ashamed for so long have now released all of these things truly and become free spirits. Their spirits light up all around them. Yes, even in prison!

I share this teaching with you because we all have problems and burdens we need to release by sincerely crying from the heart. Everyone needs to release these stagnant, poisonous feelings that weigh us all down so that we may become like a butterfly floating freely upon the air, beaming in spiritual love and beauty. No matter where you are, no matter what burdens you, there is no problem that can’t be released.

With respect, Ghost

© Ghost Dancer 2019, 2021

Published by Edna Peirce Dixon

I am an elder well into my eighties. I have lived an ordinary life doing all the ordinary things expected of women of my generation. But through it all, I have also been a seeker, an outsider by nature, always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. A registered nurse by profession, I have long had a strong interest in writing and genealogy with a special interest in Southeastern Creek Indian history and culture. In my golden years, just when I was thinking “retirement,” some unexpected things happened that led me down a totally unfamiliar path. I’ve since learned it took a lifetime of experiences to prepare me for the challenges to come. My journey – indeed my calling – led me to a remarkable man, a Mvskoke & Ani-yun-wiya known as Ghost Dancer, hidden away for decades behind bars in state and federal prisons. Communicating daily by e-mail for the next nine years I had the opportunity to walk many paths with Ghost Dancer discussing many common interests with candor and respect. Most remarkable to me was Ghost’s absolute dedication to his spiritual leadership role within the Native population. With loving kindness at all times, Ghost shared many of his teachings, including lessons from within the sacred sweat lodge. A full index to Ghost's shared teachings can be found at GHOST DANCER'S SACRED PATH. Over time, Ghost gradually revealed his personal life story in small bits, like pieces of some gigantic puzzle. Now with his health a shambles, Ghost Dancer is at last free and has begun putting those pieces together; he wants the world to know the whole truth of his amazing personal journey in the chapters of his book in progress, ALL FOR THE RIGHT TO PRAY. As his friend and editor on JOURNEYS OF THE SPIRIT, I can say this is indeed a story so big that even after these many years, I continue to be astonished as Ghost reveals new details of his solitary walk on the Nene Cate (Red Road). From the day he was born, a happy, loving, gifted child, he felt a strong bond with his cultural heritage in a world where family loyalty was a sacred trust and Native roots were kept secret. As a result the callow youth endured many heartbreaking sorrows, betrayals and exploitations. As a young teen, Ghost heeded the call to learn from the great Native spiritual leaders gathered at Wounded Knee. The influence of the elders and spiritual leaders on his young mind was profound but the political conflicts of the moment ultimately cast this loyal young boy as a target of a system determined to destroy him by any means. For the next 40 years in and out of prison, Ghost would struggle to remain true to his calling both as a teacher and an activist fighting for the religious rights of Native Americans. (Note: Currently Ghost is focused on things he must do to regain his health and has put writing the final chapters about the the wrongful convictions that put him in federal prison for the past 28 years on hold. He still has dreams for the future so he will be back!) Ghost Dancer would later introduce me to Walks On The Grass, one of his spiritual brothers and another federal prisoner. Walks’ story on JOURNEYS OF THE SPIRIT is totally compelling, though very different. In LONG ROAD HOME, Walks has shared his decades-long spiritual journey from deep addiction to wholeness. He follows up with ALONG THE WAY and finally, LIGHTS IN THE DISTANCE as he prepares emotionally and mentally to transition to life outside after 37 years of incarceration.

8 thoughts on “Crying Ceremony

    1. Your statement reminded me of these verses. Perhaps in the future we won’t suffer so much and need to weep and release our grief as a result. I don’t know much about your background but I hope this religious quotation doesn’t offend you.

      20 Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. 21 Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. (John 16:20-22, NASB1995)

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      1. Alan, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments and I am in no way offended, nor would Ghost be. From my perspective as a prisoner advocate and especially his as a man who spent some 40 years in some of America’s harshest prisons, we see the the deep flaws in a system that puts more value on punishment than on prevention or healing and restoring the broken amongst us. This series of Lessons from the Inipi comes from his years as a Spiritual leader and mentor among Native inmates and sharing from his prison cell the lessons of that particular day in the sweat lodge.

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      2. I am planning to read “Long Road Home” when I have the time. You might be interested in the short poem “The Holographic Heart” on my site. I wrote it when I was feeling lonely and like a prisoner in my own house.

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  1. This is a great article. It reminds me of a book I read about a country in Africa where funerals were a time to releases sadness and grief. People looked forward to the funerals to a certain extent because they could release their emotions in a socially acceptable way.

    While I don’t approve of gossip, trying to keep secrets about what we have heard others say can also be a stressful experience, especially if we feel we are helping others carry an emotional burden. I don’t mean we should repeat their words verbatim, but I feel that all things will eventually be known by everyone. But before that happens, of course we should be wise about what we share and not reveal things just because we can.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read “Holographic Heart” and some of your other lovely poems, shared them on my FB page. Thank you! I think you will enjoy “Long Road Home” by Steven “Walks On The Grass.” Walks is an enormously talented singer/songwriter/poet. He and Ghost became friends in prison, but their stories are vastly different. When I first planned to start Journeys of the Spirit, I had Ghost in mind, but I also asked Walks to write a piece about his “spiritual journey.” He gave me a couple of paragraphs that were well written, but left me wanting for details. So I asked if he could flesh out the people and experiences he alluded to. He wasn’t sure he could manage more than a few pieces but would give it a try… Next thing you know the juices started flowing and he delivered a marvelous account of a remarkable journey. Now he’s just 7 months away from release into a strange new world after 37 years in prison and the world will be a better place with him free and ready to contribute. Hope you will enjoy the read.

      Liked by 1 person

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