Last weekend I was ask to speak about my tipi experiences. I agreed to do this a couple weeks prior to the engagement. As soon as I agreed I became nervous, I really don't like speaking before a group. I know, I know....... I would be among friends and like minded people and yet it still causes butterflies in the pit of my stomach.
I was to speak before a group of people that gather for a Mending Medicine Retreat every fall in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Our teacher is a very special Lakota man, John Two-Hawks. And I am going to talk about my tipi!!! Serious reason to have some doubts about my decision to speak, I claim no connection to the indigenous people, at the same time I am VERY drawn to their customs and culture. However, I know John and he is not a person who judges anothers journey. I have shared my concerns about doing things that are not from my culture, it makes me uneasy and I tread here lightly.
So the day came and I often thought of backing out and yet I love talking about the tipi and the gifts it has brought my way. By evening I was sure it would be okay to talk......... until the introduction began. Fear crept into my very soul! I was being called to the podium.
The beginning was a little shaky, I was trying to explain my need for a tipi began as an idea that I needed a place away from everyday things. At that time I was working hard to get my gourd art out into the world, doing two or three fine art shows a month. I was not taking time for myself, I was loosing my connection to nature and it was beginning to wear on me. I have always been out in nature, riding horses, camping and often just sitting in a woods. I was really missing that in my life.
A tipi would be my vacation at home, it began as such seven years ago. What causes me to become emotional is the fact it has become so much more. It has taught me many things about myself and how I want to live my life. That is what I wanted to translate to my friends sitting before me. I have written blogs on my tipi lodge in the past, the most important part is what I want to share today.
The lodge poles of a tipi are it's bones, they sit on our Mother Earth in a circle, the poles reach for the sky. The door faces east, the place of the rising sun.
The bones of the tipi are covered in canvas (in the old days buffalo skins).
The most important part came to me several years down the road. A fire inside the tipi is the heart, the center, the very soul of the tipi lodge. The fire gave my tipi lodge life.
All of these things about the tipi are also us.......... We are a frame of bones, covered with skin. We walk on this earth and reach for the sky. The "fire" that lives inside our frame is our heart, our passion and our soul.
Feed your heart when the fire goes low, fill yourself up, lighten the world around you. Warmly embrace your friends and loved ones. Feed your passions. Listen to what your soul needs.
I wished I'd remembered all those points when I spoke, I write them now while I am alone with my spirit self, I can hear clearly now and I listen. I comes easily in this quiet place, unlike when I am speaking.
To finish my talk, I read what was written on the back of the painting I placed in this blog. The painting is done on the canvas of my first tipi lodge. After several years of sun, rain and wind it became frayed and worn, Hurricane Ike finished her off four years ago and I couldn't bring myself to throw the canvas away. And so it was finally revealed to me, I must cut it into circles and paint stories upon the canvas. And I did.
The back of the canvas/painting reads;
This canvas is filled with dreams, visions and ceremonies
from all who came and sat under its lodge poles and canvas
of white. Campfires brought warmth and comfort, the smoke
carried prayers to the Creator.
The smoke stains are the prayers that yet ripple through
eternity. May you feel the prayers and the great honor I feel
when creating a humble painting to share with you.