Spirits and our Ancestors

Last weekend seems like it was a lifetime ago. A lot has happened. On Tuesday we were sitting in our office when we heard a series of explosions outside, it was so loud the building felt like it shook! We are on the 4th floor and we all raced to the window to see if we could see what was happening but we could see nothing from our offices. I went onto Twitter to see if I could discover what was happening and I read that it was the police firing tear gas and stun grenades at the MyCiTi bus strikers. The illegal strike continues and the bus company says they will replace those who continue to strike.

That night it was so hot I could not bear the thought of a hot meal and so Norm popped down to K1 in Hout Bay to collect some for sushi for me.

I had Prawn roses, Salmon roses, Prawn tempura, and Cucumber roses prawn. It was R123.

The temperatures this week have been shockingly high resulting in me being unable to sleep. Usually in Cape Town it is cool in the morning and evening and only intense during the day when the sun is up, but this week it is 30*C when we wake and still hot when we go to bed. It was so hot that our smoke detector was triggered and refused to be silent until I removed the battery. Norm had gone out to get our dinner and when it triggered Navajo started howling loudly like a baying wolf. I had to deal with his howling and the strident alarm while climbing onto a chair and wielding the extension of the vacuum hose thing which was the first thing I saw when running around looking for something suitable to reach the ceiling.

There was also a Full Moon on Wednesday night and the energy from a full moon strongly affects me and this one seemed to contribute to my emotional mental state. It was a Hunters Moon in the Northern hemisphere. I was so emotional, sad and weepy. This could be due to the combination of all of my stresses, compounded by the heat and the full moon energy.

I had drum practice on Thursday night after work as we needed to rehearse and show Grandmother Robin the songs we are performing at the upcoming Dance to Heal the Earth and agree on the order of them. We all arrived just after 7 and it was 9.30 when Norm came to collect me so between the physical exertion of the drumming and singing as well as the intense heat, you can add on the fact it was a school night and it exhausted me. It was wonderful to meet Grandmother Robin finally so it was worth the tiredness. She radiates such a powerful energy it could almost feel a bit overpowering it at times. I feel so strongly connected to Robin and as we are both part Cherokee maybe it is the soul connection memory of a sister from my tribe.

As it started quite early after work Norm and I just popped in to Mugg and Bean quickly to get a bite to eat on our way to Constantia. I had their delicious lemonade with buttermilk chicken and chips.

Norm had a burger. Mine was yummy but his burger seemed quite greasy but he said it was some sort of sauce. Whatever it was I found it unappetizing but I am very fussy about burgers and may be judging it too harshly.

Friday morning I had to go to the American consulate to get the documents notarised that I need to send to my Mom regarding her house sale. It meant I got into work quite late so I had to stay later than I usually do on a Friday. I was so tired.

On Friday evening I attended a Pipe Ceremony with Grandmother Robin. The event was described as “a sacred Native American ritual for connecting physical and spiritual worlds. The Sacred Pipe is one of the most sacred items and rituals of indigenous North America. Different nations have different stories, but most agree that at a time of suffering a spirit being came into our world in physical form and delivered the first Sacred Pipe. From that time on the Sacred Pipe has always been a bridge between our worlds to carry prayers and bring healing.”

Again due to time constraints we popped in to Constantia to grab some food. We went to Tashas.

I ordered the fried chicken burger for R112:
crispy buttermilk chicken breast, pretzel bun, roasted garlic mayo, iceberg lettuce, white cabbage slaw, coriander, gherkin, tomato & fries.

Norm had the Panko Hake for R128:
crumbed hake, homemade tartare sauce, fries, peas, lemon & parsley.

We did not hang about, we headed over to the ceremony as soon as we finished. Norm dropped me and headed over to the northern suburbs. Lily and Josh were down staying at their friend Mike as Josh and Mike had a race the next morning. Lily had bought a crinoline for my Halloween costume and I wanted to try it on so Norm headed over to meet them when he dropped me.

Robin brought her stunning hand carved sacred pipe for the ceremony. She passed it round and held it to our lips, we all had gone around the room first and stated our intentions, why we were in ceremony and what we hoped to get help with or to achieve and then we all had a toke on the pipe. Then Robin spoke to us about her path and how she had become a shaman or teacher of the red road. She was fascinating to listen to. I felt an even stronger bond to her when she talked about her family hiding their Native ancestry as it was a thing of shame in the previous generations rather than a thing of pride like it is now. Then we went around the room again and did our closing words of what we felt we gained or what resonated with us from the other people who shared or from Robin’s words. There were approximately 20 people attending, all were women except 1 man named Peter who is a Traditional Healer, or what is sometimes called a Sangoma in South Africa. Peter held the masculine space and balanced out the male to female energy in the circle. I met some new ladies and saw some of the ladies I know and really enjoy spending time with. It was such a wonderful evening full of love.

I snagged Grandmother Robin for a selfie!

When we finished I saw I had a message from Lily asking when Norm was coming and I  rang her to tell her he had left hours ago and I was in a panic something had happened to him. Eventually I got hold of him and he was a in a state, he arrived shortly after and explained that he could not find them and his phone had died so he spent 2 hours frustratingly driving around the northern suburbs. He had turned his phone on for a second and I rang at that very moment and his phone died completely after we spoke. He gave up looking for them and came to collect me and it was 10.30 by the time we got home and even later by the time we got to bed. Saturday morning Norm tried again and succeeded in meeting Lily and getting my crinoline which was perfect for my outfit.  He came to collect me and we headed out for brunch to Allegria Cafe and Life. I had a ham and cheese omelette with carmelised onions on the side.

Then we went to Pep to finish buying the bits and pieces we needed to complete our  Operation Shoeboxes of Love which will be the gifts from Santa for two little babies. I drew a baby boy and a baby girl. I put them into plastic boxes rather than cardboard shoe boxes as the mother of the baby can use the boxes to store things for the baby afterwards.

This initiative makes me so happy to think that a stranger will have a smile for Christmas thanks to my little boxes of love.

It was another very hot day and we came home to relax a bit after we ran our errands. We had to be at Spiro’s for 7pm for our Halloween party. As Norm is on antibiotics for his tooth he was not drinking so he drove us down. We snapped some pics with the kids before the guests arrived or we sweated off our makeup or messed up our costumes.

My daughter Caitlin was Carrie from the Stephen King film, Lily was Tiffany from Bride of Chucky and I was Jack the Ripper’s victim.

Norm was Dr Cannibal Lester, an invention of his own.

Our friends Karen and Scott were a Cereal / serial killer and her victim.

Caitlin’s beau Wesley was Wolverine and he was perfect for that costume.

My colleagues Joe and Debora from UCT looked fab as vampires.

My friend Kimi was the creepy girl from The Ring.

Her hubby Robert was the guy from Scream.

They looked brilliant together and they danced all night long!

We had a lot of laughs.

Caitlin’s friends all looked fabulous.

I did not get pics of all of the guests, once the party kicks off I seldom think to take pics.

We had such a fun evening, we booked a DJ who was brilliant and we ordered platters of delicious party nibbles for each of the tables and after we ate we all got up and danced. The dance floor stayed busy most of the night, a sign of a good DJ! My knees are now knackered however after a night of jumping about.

However as always happens with events in Cape Town people drop out at the last minute. Some people never even respond to the event, some people respond to confirm and then just never show, some confirm but then message with some lame excuse and some just never message at all. Even someone I had thought was one of my best friends just did not show or bother to send her apologies. It has really opened my eyes to who is my friend and who is just a vague acquaintance on the periphery of our lives. Some people you only seem to hear from when they need something. Users. I have removed several people as friends on Facebook and unfollowed even more, they have proven they are not friends as they care nothing about my feelings. It is hurtful, but sometimes we need these culls to regenerate positive energy in our lives. I won’t brood about it. Once I make up my mind someone is out of my life, that is it. They do not merit a thought.

Lily and Josh left in the morning as they had a long drive home. Before she left she dressed Pixie in her tutu and it was so cute.

Tomorrow a colleague and I start a new project at UCT and it will keep us busy for at least the next 4 weeks or so and I am looking forward to that. I am trying to arrange to go down to the Dance to Heal the Earth Dance next week but as Norm’s car has died and is in the garage I do not want to leave him home with no transport so it depends on a few factors.

Today would have been my Dad’s 83rd birthday. As he died at 49 it is hard to even imagine him as an old man. I so wish he was here to meet his wonderful grandchildren as he would be so proud of them.

Wish me luck on my new project. The heat is supposed to break tomorrow and we are due to some very welcome rain.

I hope you have a lovely week, until next time, Kisses from the Kitten. x0x0x0x0

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Mni Wiconi – Water is Life

On Sunday my drumming circle had an all day dance for rain. Norm and I had a lazy day on Saturday as I knew that Sunday would be exhausting and I wanted to be well rested in order to give all of my energy to the drumming.

Norm and I decided to just get a take away and I opted for my fave pizza from Massimo’s.

Lily, Josh and his Dad were at the track all day Saturday and Josh won his race so they were in a festive mood when they got home that night around 7pm. We all sat outside when they arrived home and enjoyed the cooler evening air.

Sunday morning I was up by 6.30 as I was wide awake and excited for the dance. I dressed in a long dress with sleeves as you must show modesty and respect when in a mixed gender ceremony. I packed up my own lunch and a salad and a french stick to contribute to the evening communal meal. I took my own drum, but we all drummed using the one large communal drum.

I was not sure how many drummers might be there and whether we would all fit around the large drum but as the drummers kept changing in number as people arrived and left throughout the day it was fine. There were about 30 people there in total between the dancers, the drummers and the people who were in charge of managing the ceremony. The supporters and drummers varied, only some of us stayed all day.

The dance was held at Sacred Ibis which hosts many different events that are open to public attendance. It is a lovely calm space and feels like you are out in the middle of the country instead of less than 5 minutes from my front door.

When I arrived they were still setting things up and getting organised.  I headed down to the field where they had already set up the drum and the arbour which is the area where the dancers dance.

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The arbour for our dance yesterday ❤️

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In the centre of the arbour was a large tree which was being used to symbolise the Tree of Life. The dancers would place their prayer ties on this tree and pray to Mother Earth at the tree.

Before anyone enters the arbour they must be smudged with the smoke from burning sage and a prayer said. All of the items used in the ceremony are also smudged. All day there is a designated smudger who goes around the dancers and smudges throughout the day in order to keep the energy pure.

Once the dancers have been smudged they are to remain separate from any one else and must remain in the dance or rest areas. The dancers were instructed to fast from the previous night. They have no food or water throughout the day and the dancing is hot and tiring. It is a real sacrifice.

Once the arbour is dressed, no one may enter except the dancers or the people who are part of the ceremony. The arbour is an open structure made of poles with string woven between them to form a circle. The design is based on the same concept as a medicine wheel. There are openings to each of the 4 directions. Prayer ties and crystals mark each of the gates.

Before the dance the elders must set the intention. The intention for this dance was defined as: “The only thing we truly “own” and that we can give in return for the Abundance that Mother Earth gives to us, is our bodies. For that reason, we fast, dance, sing, drum and pray, giving ourselves fully to Spirit and the Tree of Life, in complete focus and devotion.

This One Day Dance is in love, honour and gratitude of the Water, holding the prayer that our dams be replenished in Cape Town soon. Mni Wiconi – Water is Life.

Dance To Heal The Earth is about Restoring the Balance of Life – the Sacred Feminine and Masculine, in Respect, Honour and Healing for Mother Earth and All Our Relations. It’s important to come with an attitude of humility, and a sincere desire to give of ourselves in sacrifice for all the ways that humans have desecrated the Earth. We seek forgiveness for our human family; awareness of and connection with All Our Relations, in order to understand how we may better serve them; and celebration of Life by honouring the Tree of Life.”

There are 5 rounds of dance with the drummers calling in the procession of dancers. There are two rounds of sweat lodge for the dancers where they pray and call in the spirits and guides. The first is the Brush Off Sweat to brush off worldly energies, cares and worries. The last round of the event is a Gratitude Lodge where they give thanks to the spirits and ancestors who joined into the celebration and express their gratitude of the experience.

After each round there is a Pipe Ceremony. The dancers held their ceremony down in the lower fields in the sweat lodge area, under a group of trees, the drummers and supporters held ours in a seated area near the farmhouse under the shade of a giant tree. The Pipe Ceremony is also part of the event, each of the participants pray and give thanks for the day and for being allowed to participate. I prayed for water in abundance.

While the drummers were conducting our Pipe Ceremony we could hear songs being sung in Imazamo Yethu cascading across the valley. It was such a special sound. One of the men there said that it sounded like a Xhosa wedding celebration song as it seemed to be a call and response format with the Lead Man calling and the remainder of the men repeating, then the Lead Woman singing and the women responding. It was so beautiful. I wondered if they could hear our drumming and singing too and what they thought about it.

This is one of the songs we sing, we sing in multiple languages. This song is in Japanese I think.

And we sang the Water Song as well, we sing it at a faster pace which is more suitable for drumming.

The lyrics are “Ne-be Gee Zah- gay- e- goo Gee Me-gwetch -wayn ne- me — goo Gee Zah Wayn ne- me- goo”. Translated to English you see that the words are very appropriate for the ceremony we were conducting:

“Water, we love you. We thank you. We respect you.”

There are 5 rounds of dance in total. With the 2 sweat lodges and the pipe ceremonies added in it is a very long day.

While we were in ceremony the energy was amazing. We could see so many birds circling our ceremony. Thank you to all the birds that came swallows, doves, hawks and the 7 eagles that made the infinity sign over the Dance. A huge white butterfly flew into our drumming circle and skimmed across my head and then swooped down into the circle and flew off to sit on a nearby bush. The butterfly represents transformation and the world is in such a state of transition this is no surprise. It gave me chills.

When the dancers went into the lodge to do the Gratitude Sweat, the drummers all went up to prepare the feast. Everyone brings a vegetarian dish of some sort to contribute and it all gets laid out at the end for us to nosh on.

After the final sweat is completed, the dancers come out of the lodge and the drummers and supporters join them. We all stood in a circle around the fire pit and we were each given a string of prayer ties. Prayer ties look like little ghosts tied on strings to me. They are squares of fabric which have a pocket of tobacco put into the center and are then tied with string. I did not take any pics of my own as phones were banned, however I found this pic which looks exactly like the ones we made.

Most of ours were bright yellow, the colour of turmeric as turmeric was used to dye many of them. Saffron-hued Buddhist robes are dyed with turmeric. Turmeric has been used for centuries in many different cultures. The followers of the Hindu religion see turmeric as auspicious and sacred and use it as part of their bridal ceremonies. Ayurvedic medicine has used it for centuries as well.

We all went into the circle one at a time and dropped our prayer ties into the fire pit and we all said whatever word that came to us. Mine was ‘Abundance’.

After the burning of the ties we all went back into the dance arbour and had a final round of Pipe Ceremony and then we had a closing prayer where we released the ancestors and spirits who came to join us and we gave thanks to them all and to the 6 directions. We gave thanks and praise to the Spirits and the Ancestors, first to the Centre, then to Mother Earth below, then to the East and the South, the West and finally to the North.

After the closing ceremony the procession was led up the hill to the farmhouse where the food was waiting for the fasting dancers. The dancers were allowed to fill up their plates and find seats and then the rest of us had a bite to eat. Everyone was very tired but glowing with the energy we had created.

By the time I got home it was after 7pm and I was completely finished. My legs ached from standing, my arms ached from drumming and my voice was rough from singing.

All I have to give to Mother Earth is my body and I give of this gladly to praise her for our lives and provision of the sustenance we need and to request that we are blessed with abundance of water.

Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxoxox