Sunday, August 21, 2011

Doing a Song/Prayer

Okay, so sometimes you got to send something good to someone who needs it. I think it's part of the responsibility of having been shown other realities by the spirit of ayahuasca. SPOILER: If you think I'm crazy now, wait till I get on with this. So you might want to quit right now.
Now, once in a while someone asks me if I can have a healing arranged for them. Generally, I say that that's difficult, as Jairo, Julio's son and the person who runs the ayahuasca ceremonies for me and my groups in Peru, is difficult to get hold of from here. It involves getting in touch with people who will try to reach him...very long distance. So that's generally the end of that.
But several months ago it occurred to me that I might have a responsibility to try to coordinate those things I've been taught with those beings who are what I call my guardians, and perhaps they could effect cures. It seemed to me that I had to try, anyway. At the worst I'd be wasting my time. At best, something good would happen. And in between, it probably would be a little good, at least, to have that person have someone send concentrated good intentions to them--a nice force of electricity or something that wouldn't do them any harm. I mean, who doesn't like having people spend time dwelling on them?
Not that I knew what a prayer would be.
Anyway, I decided that a prayer would involve the medicines from Peru, a request to God--or whatever/whomever the big big force is to me--and to the spirits, guardians, magics and the spirits of my teachers--four of them gone now, including Julio, Pablo, Bertha and Everett--to ask for a little help in making the prayer/song have some power and oomph. It would also include a song.
I didn't know what song, but I knew that if I smoked myself with mapacho, thanked the four directions, was happy to be alive and willing to do the work, that a song would come out.
Somehow it all came together and I found myself smoking, singing, shaking a bundle leaf rattle and trying my best to suck out the sickness from someone.
At first it was for a day. Maybe one-half hour.
But things being things, I realized I needed to give it more time. So last Spring I did a 10 day song for a couple of people. Every day a different song came out and even now they change daily. And then when I came back from Peru and was asked to sing again by someone, I did a three day sing. Then a two day sing because life interfered and as I'd stalled on the third day--because it's a lot of work--I missed the third day of that. And just now I've finished a 4 day sing, though I think I will do one more day tomorrow because there seems to be some more work to do.
So here I am, an agnostic, trying my best to get the universe and many of her spirits to help me out while I try to heal some people from hundreds of miles away without the benefit of modern medical knowledge or even active plant extractions to give them. Crazy, huh?
Somehow this is a very different post than I meant to write. I meant to write about something funny that happens at the end of the song. The thanking part.
Years ago I went, after trying to be allowed to attend for a long long time, to several Southern Ute Native American Church peyote prayer meetings. Bertha, a wonderful woman who became a great teacher of mine though we never had a lot of time together, was the matriarch. Her brother Everett, was a Roadman for the meetings--the curandero--as was one of her sons.
The meetings took place in a tee-pee, at the center of which was a fire in the shape of an eagle, the firebird. We would sit around the outside wall of the tee-pee with the fire in the center, the fire-tender at one side of the door, his assistant on the other side of the door and the Roadman at the opposite end of the tee-pee from the door.
I've never been great at sitting cross-legged for long spells, and so it was fairly uncomfortable for me to sit for hours. I'd move around during the ceremony, shifting to keep my legs from falling asleep. The medicine was passed regularly, as was the water drum--a small kettle with water in it covered with hide that gave it a fantastic sound as those who were initiated played it and sang their songs.
During the night there was one break, about 15 minutes, for people to use the bathroom in the nearby house or just to stretch their legs. Other than that there really was no leaving the ceremony. So by the time 10 hours had gone by and morning was coming alive, it felt like it was time to meet the dawn. But that's not how the ceremonies went. That was when the medicine stopped being passed and the official ceremony was over, but that was just the beginning of the Thank You's. Someone would start: "I want to say thank you to the Great Father for allowing me to attend this meeting. And I want to thank all of you for sharing in this meeting that we held to help X with his/her problems. And I want to thank the Roadman for bringing his power to this meeting, and to the fire spirits for carrying my wishes through the tee-pee roof and into the air so they could reach their destination with all my power in them. And I want to thank grandma Bertha, without whom none of this would be possible...."
And I would, at least the first time, think that was that. But no. The person would go on to name their relatives, one by one, who couldn't attend. And they named their dead relatives whom they missed. And they thanked the medicine for giving them strength to admit to wrongs they'd done--and then we heard the wrongs, in detail--and then they thanked their home and the land and their animals--one by one--until you wanted to strangle them.
And when that person was done, someone else would start and do the same, then someone else, until half the people in the tee-pee had thanked a combined thousand individual people and things while the other half of the people in the tee-pee were ready to take out shotguns if anyone else dared to do any more damned thanking.
And now that I've been doing the song, I see how that happens. You think you're finished. You've done the work as best you can, as best I can, and then you just want to say, Hey spirits! Thanks for helping out! but I find myself starting to name my guardians and then deciding maybe I ought to do a quick prayer for my brothers and sisters, and suddenly I'm thanking each, along with their spouses and kids and grandkids and then Chepa and all of the Gormans here, and then I'm thanking the universe for being alive and for having this home and then.....and then I just want to take a shotgun out just to shut me up.
So there it is. 25 years removed from those Native American Ceremonies--it seems like yesterday--and I finally know why those people have to say all those thank you's to everyone and everything. It's because you're so in that moment, so in that state where you love everything, that you can't resist thanking as much of it as you can think of.
I'm glad it's come full circle on me. It's just great to be alive.

1 comment:

Devon said...

I feel blessed to have people like you doing songs and prayers. Keep up the good work