“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
As with most people, I think, I never really took this adage seriously in the past. And then people literally starting popping up in my life who had something to teach me, provided I was ready to listen.
Living in Ontario, North America, I knew that these lands had been occupied by indigenous peoples for thousands of years, yet I had had absolutely no contact with any of them.
Other than through information gleaned on television and the internet (both questionable sources, I know), I knew very little about their traditions or way of life. But then one day, I just had this curiosity arise out of nowhere. I desperately wanted to learn about them, or rather, had a feeling there was so much knowledge I needed to obtain.
If I could pinpoint it, it was probably just after I had travelled to South America in 2013 to participate in my first Ayahuasca ceremony. Why would I need to travel to South America to learn about Native Culture and ceremonies when there must be something comparable nearby?
I set the intention to connect, and sent out a few Facebook messages to people I thought might help, but nothing really happened.
It wasn’t until about three years later when the message was answered. I guess that was when I was ready.
One day I was up at Luminous (CE’s Consciousness Advancement Center) and a guy (who is now a close friend) named Stew pulled into the driveway. He said, “Your friend Justin said I should come check this place out.” Little did I know at that time that two of my prayers had been answered. I needed someone to help me build a natural pool (another article will definitely follow about this), and I also needed someone to connect me to the native tradition. I would never have imagined that a fair skinned, blue eyed, bearded and burly Canadian would be that person.
We quickly connected the dots and realized that his coming there was much more than a coincidence. In hardly any time at all, we had a sweat lodge built and the Inipi ceremonies had begun.
Inipi is a purification rite and is necessary in order to help the vision quest seeker enter into a state of humility and to undergo a kind of spiritual rebirth. The sweat lodge is central to Inipi. Prayers offered there draw on all the powers of the universe — Earth, Water, Fire, and Air.
Stew started telling me about his mentor, Sal, and we decided that we should bring Sal up to perform a workshop for the Collective Evolution team and some of our close friends and family.
My first ceremony was a shock. I thought it would just be a relaxing experience, similar to sitting in sauna, but that was far from the truth. Once inside the Inipi, it is like you have entered the womb, ready to be reborn. I have felt so many things move within me during ceremonies — at times I’m on the verge of throwing up and literally crying like a baby as I release what feels like lifetimes of emotions. I’ve seen visions and felt things words would do no justice describing — all without ingesting any substances other than water. As the door opens after the final round I emerge as a new person every time, changed in a way that I am just starting to understand.
I found myself in the ceremony with my face to the ground, gasping for air, begging for mercy, and right then and there learned a serious lesson. If I wanted to lead, and maybe one day teach others about this tradition, first I had to learn humility.
Since this humility experience I immediately set the intention to work more closely with Sal and get further initiated into the tradition. Sal has a similar story regarding how he connected to it.
Here’s a bit about Sal’s story and how he found his teacher:
My journey with the indigenous traditions of the Lakota began almost 30 years ago. As a young teenager, I began a mentoring journey with a traditional healing family of the Oglala Sioux Tribe from Pine Ridge South Dakota.
A few months before my mentoring began, at the age of 15 years old, I wakened to the reality of modern man’s disconnection from nature and the Earth. I was touched by the ancestors who brought a visionary message. They communicated to me the future of humanity and that the Earth would reject modern man’s unsustainable lifestyle. I saw the devastation we would bring upon ourselves. I felt the pain and suffering of the children and of nature in this possible future reality.
In that moment, I made a commitment to do whatever I could to change this potential fate. With all my heart, I begged for guidance and for a teacher to show me the way. Within months I began my mentor ship in the traditions and healing practices of the Lakota.
After years of apprenticeship, I entered my next phase of commitment. I went upon the sacred mountain and offered my life in a 4-day ceremony called a Hanbleciya (Vision Quest). During these 4 days and nights, I sacrificed all that it takes to live; food, water, and sleep. I gave myself to the Powers of Creation and to the Creator. I begged for the ability to help this world and all my loved ones. During this ceremony, I was touched by holiness and a song awoke in my heart. After that experience, I started to take my first independent steps in bringing these teachings to all.
More recently, I was swept up by another huge revelation. I know nothing about my own lineage. I don’t even know my great grandfather, nor do I have any sacred traditions that really mean anything to me. Meanwhile, indigenous peoples here in Canada have held traditions for thousands of years and maintained an intimate relationship with nature. This led me to realize how disconnected we’ve all truly become.
Another friend of mine, Darren Austin Hall, discussed with me the concept of the “white man’s” indigenous roots. Maybe this calling I felt was in some way a reconnection to my roots. How deep do they go? Can I really connect with them, and how long have they been severed? I am seeking answers to all these questions as I continue my spiritual Re-connection.
On this episode of The Way Within show, Sal shares some of the incredible things he has seen and witnessed in his time practicing the Native tradition over the last 30 years. Some of the stories are almost unbelievable, and he even says he rarely shares them because they are that difficult to believe.
Sal will be hosting a week long intensive workshop at The Luminous center this summer (2017). For more information, you can connect with him @ www.manamongthehelpers.com.
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