Little Hollow Bones

 CAGA MATO WANBLI Grandfather Eagle Beer aka Chief Fools Crow

CAGA MATO WANBLI Grandfather Eagle Beer aka Chief Fools Crow

Little Hollow Bones is the term that Frank Fools Crow - Ceremonial Chief of the Teton Sioux, an Oglala Lakota and Old Lord of the Holy Men as he’s known - gave to healers of his Native American tradition. “We [Black Elk and he] agreed that the Higher Powers had taught us this same thing. We are just holes. But as I have used hollow bones for curing, I have decided that it is better to think of medicine people as little hollow bones… [ hollow bones that Wakan Tanka, Tunkshila and the Helpers work through]…. the power comes to us first to make us what we should be, then flows through us and out to others.” Fools Crow speaks of Harmony, Mind Screens, Lights of Wisdom, Talking Stones, Freedom from Fear, A Big Lift and The End and The Beginning, all chapter titles. When I read his quote: “Anyone who is willing to live the life I have led can do the things I do,” it was like a sharpened arrowhead tip to the heart, inspiring the creation of a Workshop. Winter Count employs Fools Crow’s mind-training techniques while viewing modern day Mindfulness from an ancient shamanic perspective, set to the brisk backdrop of a frozen-white Midwest landscape. Reading that Fools Crow and Black Elk — maybe the most well-known known Lakota visionary — were convinced that the Supreme Being they worshipped was the One True God of the Bible gave me all the more reason, as we honor all traditions and all people here, knowing that in time our work will erase all lines of division and separation between a unified clan that includes all humanity. We don’t just give lip service to Oneness here. We experience it deeply.

That’s the taste of Purification, the enlightened glimpse we acquire and enjoy when we apply concentration, relaxation, and equanimity in practice for an extended period during our weekend overnight retreats. Our Winter Count Workshop took us from Saturday at lunch to Sunday breakfast, with a ritual Ceremony in between that was a key element in the harmonious life ways of leaders like Fools Crow and other guides of the indigenous people of the Americas. I always, always, every time am amazed at the consistency of the healing balm that comes over my mind in Ceremony. But the words of recent attendees perhaps better explain: “It’s been a long while since I felt such stillness. Nothing to plan, no one to impress. From the beautiful guest house with its roaring fireplace, to the powerful meditations, songs, and Ceremony… the entire retreat I felt safe, open, and able to process and receive healing…”. “The Higher Haven is a perfect place to process whatever it is you are dealing with… it’s a magical Haven for healing no matter what stage you are on in your journey… I felt supported and comfortable, and we all received what we needed this weekend, even though we went there not knowing what it was ourselves. If you are being called there, I encourage you to go experience it for yourself.”

Experiencing it for your self is as easy as registering for our February Winter Count, the first retreat in the new year 2019, an awakening brush with nature during the serene season and opening to non-duality that brings a close to our Winter Break. Just prior, I’ll be teaching a Workshop on similar techniques at Yoga Life in St. Joseph, Michigan on Sunday February 10th at 3:30 pm, registration link to come. And then In March, we’ll offer a pair of Workshops on the stories and healing power of the Lakota Heyoka, classes not for the faint of heart, but for those looking to turn things around, shed serious skin in the new year, and make permanent, empowered transformations in their lives, April and May Yoga getaways will soon be posted, with expanded, more comprehensive weekends that include the grand arrival of the Wizard himself, my teacher John Ashbrook, the weekend of June 29-30th. It’s Inward and Upward from there People. Looking forward to seeing and celebrating/ you. Aho Matakuye O’yasin.

Art, Culture, Eternity

 A 16th century copper tray depicting Christ & the 12 Apostles in illuminated manuscript style

A 16th century copper tray depicting Christ & the 12 Apostles in illuminated manuscript style

The Thanksgiving break took me to the East Coast, to the home of my sister Deb who resides in Southborough, Massachusetts. Our last name is Tootalian, the IAN being an indication of our Armenian heritage. If you happen to meet someone with a multi-syllabled last name and recognize the infamous IAN tacked to the end — Bogosian, Karagosian, Kardashian — you might say: Inch’pes yes? (Ինչպես ես) How are you? And they may (hopefully) reply: Lav (Լավ), good, or even shat lav (Շատ լավ), very good. That’s the extent of my Armenian. Although I can count to 10.

The Greater Boston area has been a haven for Armenian immigrants over the last one hundred years. While the vast majority of Americans of Armenian heritage live in Southern California and the Detroit area’s Highland Park was home to a significant community in the mid-1900’s, Massachusetts boasts 25,000 people of Armenian ancestry, the second-most among states. Armenian immigration to the U.S. was largely spurred by the 1915 genocide, during which 1.5 million Armenians were deliberately targeted and killed by the Ottoman Empire. Escaping Ottoman oppression, the earliest Armenian immigrants landed in Boston and began making their way to Watertown at the turn of the century. Today, just over 12,000 of their descendants live in Middlesex County, concentrated in the city of Watertown. I’ve often wondered if my ethnicity and our history coupled with the needed healing drew me to Native culture and Ceremony, as the indigenous people of the Americas, along with Assyrian/Greek Anatolians, Ukrainians, Jews, Tibetans, Indonesians, Burundians, East Timorese, Cambodians, Kurds, Bosnians, and Rwandans all suffered 20th century ethnic cleansing.

Art, Culture, Eternity is the cool tag line defining Watertown’s Armenian Museum of America. This living library preserves for posterity the Armenian heritage past and present, to tell the story of the Armenian people and to promote an awareness and appreciation of their culture and contributions. From antiquity to the present-day American Armenian experience, themes such as origins in the Asian continent, the invention of a unique Indo-European language and alphabet, the early adoption of Christianity, Armenian illuminated manuscripts, interconnected trade routes, and genocide tragedy are explored throughout the Museum. By way of the precious articles collected – each an object of witness and survival - the hope is to convey the powerful and enduring tale of Armenia. The strength, ingenuity, and determination of the Armenian people, despite extraordinary loss and trauma, through these works shines.

 Per US Diplomat and Former Ambassador Michael Gfoeller: “Armenia is not merely a small country in the Caucasus… it is one of the wellsprings of world civilization, on the same level as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Italy. Whoever bakes or eats bread, makes or drinks wine, uses metal tools or jewelry, or wears clothing and shoes is tied by invisible bonds of cultural inheritance to Armenia. In this sense, we are all Armenians.” Amen (Ամէն).

The Song of Good Hope

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If we're gonna make it
'Cross this river alive
We need to think like a boat
And go with the tide

And I know where you've been
It's really left you in doubt
Of ever finding a harbor
Of figuring this out

And you're gonna need
All the help you can get
So lift up your arms now
And reach for it

And take your time babe
It's not as bad as it seems, you'll be fine babe
It's just some rivers and streams in between
You and where you wanna be
And watch the Signs now
You'll know what they mean, you'll be fine now
Just stay close to me and make good hope
Walk with you through everything

May the song of good hope
Walk with you through everything

~ Glenn Hansard