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

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Drumbeats and Heartbeats

On Monday Western Cape Premier Helen Zille declared the Western Cape a disaster area due to our on-going drought crisis. “The disaster declaration will accelerate the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre’s Project ‘Avoiding Day Zero’, the Province’s strategy to ensure that taps do not run dry,” Zille said in a statement. I am so glad the government are finally actually doing something other than just sitting back, wringing their hands and hoping for rain.

Then today we awoke to a disaster of a different sort, the news of a bomb in Manchester at the Ariana Grande concert. There are 22 people who are known dead, 59 people injured and many who are still missing at the point of writing this. If the bomber deliberately targeted this audience then they were aiming to hurt young people as Ariana’s audience is predominately young. I feel such pain for the families of those who were victims of this attack, my own children have attended a concert there and I have several friends based in Manchester. I have now heard they are all safe.

It makes my heart so sad.

Last Friday after work I cooked dinner for myself, Norm and Caitlin. Norm had bought some mince and cauliflower so I decided to make a banting Cottage Pie. As we had a tiny bit of butternut left over in the fridge I steamed that as well as a big bag of cauliflower and blended them both to make the topping. When Norm pureed it we also added an egg yolk to help bind it all. For the mince I fried it in one pan, fried an onion, a big yellow pepper and a pack of chopped bacon in another and once both were browned I mixed together, added a big splodge of tomato paste, some Worcestershire sauce and dark soy and a half a cup of beef stock and let it simmer. We popped it all into a dish and topped it with cheddar cheese and baked it.

Carrots are on the orange list, but I really fancied carrots so we boiled them and just kept the serving small.

While I was cooking dinner Norm was out walking Navajo but they were gone for ages. When they got home he told us that he had managed to get the neighbour to accompany him on the walk with their dog. They have a gorgeous wee Border Collie which is an ‘outside dog’. First of all I detest that term – if your dog is not going to be part of your pack and therefore live in the house with the family (as a minimum at least at night), then don’t have a dog. Secondly, a border collie requires a lot of exercise and stimulation if it is not being used as a working dog. They got the dog as a pup and it has a squeaky toy which it is obsessed with and I seldom see anyone interacting with this gorgeous girl, we just hear the frantic squeaking of her playing on her own with her toy. We never see the dog being walked and when we arrive home it comes to our fence and cries and cries for our attention. If we are outside it comes to try and interact with us. This dog breaks my heart. Norm has been taking Navajo to their gate to interact with the wee girl and they have finally made pals. Norm has offered to walk her every evening with Navajo but the owners seemed nervous as Navajo is rather an intimidating beast to strangers. We hope the owners become relaxed enough to let Norm give her regular outings with our pack.

My upper back was feeling very dodgy last week, like any sudden move would throw it out completely. The 2 hours I spent looking down doing the exam on Friday morning was just too much for me and it sent me into intense spasm in my neck and across my shoulders. I am sure it is stress that does these things to my body. I don’t think I can blame this ailment on menopause too can I?

I took it easy on Friday evening and when I went to bed I took 2 Tramacet which are strong pain pills that were left over from my hip op a few years ago, however they only lasted until 3am when I awoke with a start. I was wide awake for ages but eventually fell back to sleep.

When Norm got up to feed the dogs he brought us both a coffee in bed. I did not want to spend too much time in bed though as I did not think it would be great for my back. However the Tramacet had relaxed my muscles enough that my spasms did feel a bit better once I got up and had a shower.

I just made a quick cheese and pepper omelette for breakfast to tide me over as I was off to the Drumming Circle I mentioned in my previous blogs. I was very excited but as I always am when experiencing new places and things I was also full of anxiety. As my neck was so stiff Norm offered to drop me and come back to collect me after and I gratefully accepted and off we went to the Constantia Hills to the home of the host, Gerri.

Before I left home I asked the Universe to send me a sign that I was on the right path for my journey of spiritual discovery. As my signs mostly seem to come in the form of birds I asked for it to be a sign which involves birds and for it to be so obvious that even I could not miss it. I told Norm this on our way there and he just gave me the heebie-jeebie side eye as he usually does with anything remotely spiritual.

When Norm dropped me I went and knocked at the door. While waiting on the door to be opened I looked down and noticed the sign propped against the side of the porch.

Sometimes the spirits have a sense of humour.

I took this that I was indeed right where I was meant to be.

Gerri welcomed me in and we went through to have a chat about my genealogy. Gerri is of British descent and we chatted about the pull of the Native American ideology. Gerri has studied with Grandmother Robin Youngblood who you can read about on her site.

Once all of us who were attending arrived we were all smudged by burning sage in a large abalone shell and using a wing of feathers to waft the smoke around us while Gerri uttered the cleansing prayer.

smudging kit

Image credit.

We then all settled in around the Mother Drum.

Gerri handed out song sheets for us all, they are in various Indigenous tongues. We sang in Zulu as well as Native American languages. We also banged on the Mother Drum to the beat. Gerri’s daughter Jess has a stunning voice and she sang the lead as some songs have a sing and repeat format.

At one point I heard a hawk loudly joining in with us from the garden – my second bird sign that I was walking the path meant for me. He sang much better than I do but that is OK, I can live with that. I just felt blessed that he came to show his support.

I am not what one would call a ‘singer’ by any stretch of the imagination, in fact I am quite possibly tone deaf as I sound dreadful even to my own ears, but that did not stop me. I did not feel self conscious at all despite there only being 4 of us chiming in. It was a judgement free, loving environment where I could just be myself.

I loved that I could openly discuss things such as past life regression and soul connections and soul contracts without people looking at me like I was a lunatic.

After we finished the drum circle songs we went into the garden and performed the Cherokee Morning Ritual giving thanks to all 4 directions and to the Great Spirit.

cherokee morning song.JPG

The next circle is planned for June and they are going to learn some new rattle songs.

Norm and I will be going to George the weekend of the next circle however as it is Trevor’s birthday so I will have to miss a circle. I have not seen my son in months though and I am so excited to spend time with him. He is such a special boy. I guess he is not really a ‘boy’ if he is over 30 years old and 6’6″ tall, but he will always be my baby.  

After Norm collected me on Saturday afternoon we headed home. My back seemed pretty much healed despite all of the drumming. Or maybe I felt better because of the drumming? Healing comes in various ways, maybe the communing of my spirit with my ancestors healed my physical ailments?

We had a relaxed night and just chilled out for the evening and got takeaways for dinner as I was not in the mood to cook.

Sunday morning Norm got up and made a lovely Banting brekkie for me, him and Caitlin. He even served Caitlin breakfast in bed. We are such lucky ladies to have Norm to look after us.

I decided to give myself a bit of pampering in the afternoon and did a deep conditioning treatment on my hair and shaved my legs. They are so white as to be blinding so I decided to use a bit of Caribbean Tan to perk them up a bit. However I appear to have missed my foot. Just one of course. Oops. I look like I have been tanning in one random sock.

Norm took the dogs on a little Sunday jaunt.

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I would have gone with them if I had known, I just won’t join on his normal walks as it is a bit like climbing a mountain just to get up our road as it is a steep, steady incline and I find I am knackered before we even get off our street.

streethill

Sunday evening we decided to have a braai as it was quite warm outside.

Even our pets were chilled out and pretending to be friends. Navajo looks happier than Blue with this camaraderie to be fair.

It was dark by the time Norm started the braai and as a result the sausages got a bit burnt but the fillet he cooked was lovely. We just made a big salad and served coleslaw to go with it.

After we had dinner we decided to watch a film and due to all of the Oscar hype we chose Manchester by the Sea. I was not keen on supporting Oscar winner and alleged sexual predator Casey Affleck who starred in the film, however I have to admit he did a brilliant acting job. However whenever a demon dwells inside a person they are quite often good at covering this up and putting on a false front.

I found this film so heavy going. It was full of angst, drama and trauma. It was so sad and depressing. It did have some brilliant acting and cinematography, but that is all I can say about it. I give it 2 kitten stars for the acting and beautiful vistas.

This week I booked tickets for Norm and I to go to the Theatre on the Bay. We are going to see ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’.

Theater crop 2.png

Ironically, my actual booking went wrong! When I went onto Computicket and selected 2 seats and went to pay, it offered a Dinner and Show package deal which I selected, but then instead of releasing the seats I had chosen, it added 2 more seats as part of the dinner deal at the Sidedish Theatre Bistro.

theatre bistro

Once I realised this I emailed Computicket and explained and they promptly responded and actioned a cancellation of 2 tickets. I was ever so impressed! Such excellent customer service.

I have had many instances of sties and eye infections in the last year or two, whereas I had gone my entire life before that without ever having experienced one. Late last night I started to have a pain in my right eye and by the end of the evening it was quite swollen. I suspected a sty was starting and so I tried the hot compress route but when I woke this morning it was really red and swollen. I suspect it may be yet another thing caused by the dryness of my eyes due to menopause sucking the life blood out of me.

It is such fun getting old.

I left work a bit early today to go to my doctor. He’s given me an ointment. He’s also given me spray for my sinuses as I have been a bit dizzy and had quite a few headaches. I have a morning cough that just won’t go away and he’s asked me to bring in a morning sputum sample for testing by the lab.

I found out today that I have made it to the next stage of the interview process for the job I took the exam for last Friday and on Thursday I have to do a presentation of the analysis I did in the exam. Eek. So good news I did well, but bad news I have more torture in store for me.

Wish me luck on the health front as well as with the interview please! I’m rather nervous about both.