Monday, 18 July 2011

Access Renewed

For many many months I was unable to access my Blog Site.

And in spite of determined attempts to penetrate the complexities of Google Accounts, I was unable to do a thing!

I gave up...

However after the latest renewed assault, during a quiet afternoon, I was able to to combine the right secret codes, new passwords, changed email address...

And Google let me in!!!

But now I've forgotten what I was going to say...

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Sun Dance Ceremony - Lakota Way

If there were 100 Ceremonies to participate in before you die, this surely would be in the top ten.
It is to give thanks to Mother Earth, to show gratitude to her, and to pray for her... as well as to apologise to her.
It is to pray and sing to Wakantanka - Great Spirit.
It is also to give prayers for the healing of community, family members and friends.

It started with the ceremonial cutting of the tree which every man helped with. It was then taken to the ceremonial site where it was placed in a hole so it could stand upright and was then dressed with material around the trunk. The tree was surrounded by a small circle made of Sage leaves and stems, that no one went in to, with 4 buffalo skulls that were facing the directions. Around that was a much larger circle of Sage. 4 smaller trees, festooned with ribbons, were stuck in the earth outside the large circle also showing the directions. And around all that was a circle of teepees where the men slept. A beautiful and colourful sight.

There was the Medicine Man and his helpers, and the men dancers who had volunteered to have their breasts pierced. The men were attached to the tree by a rope which connects them to the bone that pierced their breasts. At times the rope was pulled tight by their positions. It looked painful.

Around the large circle were the supporters who also danced. And there were the drummers who also sang the whole time.

Each male pierced dancer had a woman outside the circle, who guaranteed to support them the whole time, by also dancing and fasting at the same time.

And the final item was the Lakota pipe. Every person in and around the circle, as they danced, held a pipe in their left hand as well as bushes of Sage. Many were lit and smoked during the ceremony for prayer and also to help the men dance. Don't ask me how, but it did help. One helper also came round with a tin of smoking herbs or leaves to bless people and to help the dancers keep going.

It is hard, it is tough. it is long. 15 hours of dancing in 4 bouts starting at 4.30 am. The pierced dancers are woken at 3am. The longest stretch of dancing was 7 hours. The shortest 3 hours. They finished at night after the full moon had fully risen into the night sky.

The pieced men basically do not eat and do not drink for the 4 days. However some small drinks were given to them as directed by the Medicine Man, whilst they danced and at times they were given a few bites of dried buffalo meat to chew. Not easy when your mouth is really dry.

When the men in the circle had their breasts pierced with a slim bone - I did not see one man even wince when it was done... however I did see some distorted faces - when they were given a cup of buffalo fat soup to drink!

A friend who did it found that for him the discomfort and pain allowed him to be grounded in his body, so that when he was in trance, in an altered state, in bliss, when going out to other worlds, he always knew where his centre and his body was. He didn't get lost.

A most memorable session was the second night when we all danced and sang all facing West as Grand Father Sun went down...
The dancers were then released from the ropes attaching them to the tree in the centre, and were led in a file around the circle until they, and we, were all facing East. We all danced and sang as Grandmother Moon came up. Amazing to see, dance and sing as it happened. And around us in a horse shoe shape in the distance were huge clouds, yet above us clear sky. Thunder and lightening struck in all directions simultaneously.
There was vast sheet lightening, bolts of lightening down to the earth, bolts zigzagging horizontally across the clouds... 5 or 10 a second in all directions.

The Medicine Man said the Thunder Beings, the grandfathers, were happy with us.

The Ceremony ended at midday on the fourth day when the pierced men ran backwards to break the skin holding the bone. Painful it seemed.
Then there was a feast and party and many gifts given out to everyone.

If you would like to participate in this Sun Dance Ceremony next year let me know and I can put you in touch with the Medicine Man. He is one of the few that encourages non Indians to join in and participate in their sacred Ceremony. This makes him some enemies among his people so I have not given his name. However you will receive a big welcome from him, his huge family and his friends. What matters to him is that everyone prays for and apologises to the Earth. This fulfils a visionary dream he had as a boy.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Book Illustrations and Powerpoints

I had the pleasure of visualising and illustrating Carol Parkers new book: " So you want to be a Raccoon" about Vision Quests. She will be self publishing the book and it will be coming out in the USA in Sept.

We decided to create a fun way of letting people know about the book, using powerpoint.

Carol wrote a brief summary of the book, chapter by chapter, and using the appropriate illustrations, we put them together onto a powerpoint presentation.

This was fun, easy and quick to do. It has been sent out in small numbers by email to gain an idea of what people thought and orders have already come in.

Once the book is printed the ppt will be sent out to Carols large email data base. The drawings will also be used on the flyers and for advertising.

So the drawings, will in the end, be used in many ways.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

A childrens charity needed to create a work book for 8-12 year olds. It was to be done in a cartoon and comic strip style.

They had some existing material, so the task was to put them all in the right order and create new pages. Extra illustrations were also needed to help make continuity flow.

Working with the key manager we laid out the book on the floor from cover to cover, page by page. We planned out where double page spreads were needed and expanding some elements that were too crowded and reducing others. Rough drawings and layouts of pages were created on the spot for elements that were missing.

In 4 hours the layout was finished. 3 copies were to be made.

One to be kept by the creator to complete the writing and text editing.
The second to the designer so she could design and prepare all the pages with headers, footers, titles etc for the text and illustrations to be dropped in. 
The third to the illustrator so he could see what was needed. Dimensions of available area for drawings would be sent from the designer.

Laying out a book like this enables everyone to see where everything goes and what is still needed.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Photos from Death Valley California.

Hi and Welcome.

I was in the US and whilst there I spent 8 days in the scorching dry heat of Death Valley doing a Vision Quest. 

That is being on my own in the lunar-like landscape, no food, gallons of water, a sleeping bag and a tarpauline for shelter against the sun. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert on his own - I only did 4!

Being in touch with nature, being at one with nature... a great experience. I also got a good suntan and grew a beard.

We were taken out by my friend Carol Parker, a Wilderness Guide, Psychotherapist and Shamanic Practitioner - see her blog: 


I can highly recommend doing one and with Carol as a guide - you sure do need one!