Praying with Waterkeepers at Standing Rock

img_6802From the moment we approached the camps, 

I felt like I was floating in a sea of love—

a field of powerful energy and prayer that permeated everything. 

It was very strong.

 

Somehow, we managed to pack mountains of food, clothing donations, herbal medicines and medic supplies, and financial donations into two station wagons with all our warm gear for camping in freezing conditions. Luckily, the November weather had shifted enough in North Dakota that we wouldn’t have to camp on snowpack or brave fierce winds. Interestingly, both cars immediately had issues. One car battery died and the other car was missing an oil cap. Luckily, all quickly resolved and we were on our way. We journeyed slowly as if we were two fully loaded turtles.

When our fundraising efforts, donations, and gifts for people at Standing Rock overflowed with abundance, our group of five women knew we were clearly blessed to represent our community as well. The Lakota Sioux water protectors at Standing Rock were calling for the support of other tribes and peoples to stand up for water and their sacred burial grounds and land. People everywhere heard the call and were supporting them. It was truly remarkable to witness the outpouring of support, generosity, and peaceful activism for our living water! I felt overwhelming gratitude for the opportunity to go.

When Heather Kowalewski, Kyla Rae, Emma Matson from White Salmon, Washington area, and Saliha Abrams, a Portland songkeeper, and I came together for the first time, we immediately felt aligned in purpose, love, and joy. As our group of women gathered, we connected our hearts and spiritual intentions as one common co-creation. We chose to journey in a ceremonial and sacred way. I felt so fortunate to be in such easy and beautiful company. Our strong connection felt like it amplified the prayers and energy we brought to Standing Rock.

Water ceremonies have a way of activating people’s own waters—their emotions and feelings—and fear. (In Chinese medicine, fear is related to the water organs: kidneys and bladder.) Waterkeepers and people who love water are often very sensitive, empathic, and open to their feeling nature. Their intuition is strong. They care deeply about the earth and her waters and may cry easily. Some may be skilled at merging and healing with the energy of water. It felt very important to me to honor everyone’s emotional process and to recognize our fears.

My own waters responded with a series of melt-downs—times when my tears overflowed. Initially, my tears were opening my heart in preparation for the journey. I needed to face my own fear of death. I didn’t know what I was walking into. Violence was directed at the protecters by the police. Information was scarce or wildly distorted in the media and Facebook. My spirit wanted to know: was I willing to die to protect the water? After sitting with this question, I came to a place where I recognized that I was. I was willing to walk beyond myself to my higher purpose. Whether my death was of my old self or my physical body, I was committed to following and trusting in spirit’s calling. I took the name Standing Rock literally—I stand in my body with the waterkeepers.

On the morning of our departure, I walked outside and paused by the Big-leaf Maple tree. In an instance, five or six circling energies began dancing around my body. I craned my head side to side in awe of the sight. Without a touch of wind, six samaras, like helicopters, twirling through the air around my body. Then they landed around my feet, together. Tears filled my eyes as I was touched by the blessing. I knew everything was in divine alignment for the trip.

Our first stop was the Misimg_6780souri River source waters. I sobbed deeply in the passenger seat as we approached Three Forks, Montana to bless the source waters. My tears flowed from a place I seldom go to. Ignorant and forceful people with assumptions built 90% of the Dakota Access Pipeline without permission from people of 10% of the lands. It felt like a perpetrator lining up everything in position so that force could penetrate that last little bit—a rape—for the successful completion of their violation. Usually I prefer not to use the rape metaphor, but this situation parallels rape so unmistakably. Force was the weapon to “win” access to the earth beneath the Missouri River. This rape energy mirrored and stirred up ancestral cellular memories in my female body. Most likely, if this rape proceeded there would be painful oil leaks that would reek further havoc for all beings well into the future. Everything changed when the children and Standing Rock Sioux Elder LaDonna Bravebull Allard spoke up.

We stopped at the source-waters and offered prayers, tears, joy, songs, blessed wild waters, flowers, crystals, essences, apologies, and drumming at an altar to celebrate the waters, the elementals, and ancestors of the lands. As we co-created our ceremony, the water rippled, otter appeared, geese flew overhead, and coyote and a beautiful sunset punctuated our ceremony’s completion. It was very sweet and precious. I know that our prayers energize, feed, and nourish the water and all that live downstream—animals, plants, lands, and people. Also, our prayers serve to heighten the healing vibration carried in water which can affect the conscious awareness of people who drink of the waters.

After blessing the waters, we headed to Standing Rock. A few short days before, the police shot water cannons, plastic bullets, and concussion grenades at frigid water protectors in a cruel show of force. We circled in prayer in Mandan, North Dakota at the gas station’s Subway lunch table before heading into the camps at Standing Rock. We were unsure of what to expect as rumors swirled about cops stopping cars and arresting random travelers. As we sat in a moment of silence, I saw a guardian spirit appear. It communicated that it would show us the way safely. It told me there was a place for us at the Sacred Stone Camp. Our people were waiting for us. Look for a green van.

We were among thousands of others camped at three camps. Tents, teepees, Mongolian yurts, campers, domes, RVs, and army tents, and cars covered the fields. Some estimated there were 5,000 – 10,000 people in the main camp alone.

We found a green van and pitched our large canvas tent. We had stoves, water jugs, boxes of food, warm clothes, and about twelve sleeping bags between us. In addition to the donations of food, clothing, and supplies we brought, we arrived with enough food and supplies to be self sufficient and to feed others. We bundled up in the cold weather, ate lots of soup and oatmeal, and placed foot warmers in our sleeping bags at night. It snowed one night, but I was surprised how warm I felt in my double sleeping bags. When we got too cold, we walked.

Drones and a small airplane circled above our heads day and night. Horses roamed freely in the fields by our tent. The land was open with few trees. We found an area in the trees to set up our own altar of blessed waters and Selenite and crystals. We prayed and sang songs for water during the week and included the indigenous waterkeepers, police, and their families in our hearts. Jolie, a woman camping next to us dreamed that people gathered to make prayers down by the river bank. Jolie’s dream felt like confirmation that our prayers were heard.

Morning orientation was informative and very touching as a Native women lead us in  prayer. Because so many people were pouring into Standing Rock, they had created orientations three weeks before we arrived. We learned about cultural appropriation, heard messages from the elders, how to be of peace and prayer, the need to train to become part of direct action, and other ways to help. Trainers introduced themselves and described where they lived as occupied land of the Indian tribes that lived on the lands before settlers came. We were told to be open to correction. Listen carefully. Respect the ways of the people. We are guests. Pray. Be peaceful. Be of use. Don’t bring Lakota prayers home. Bring Standing Rock home and work on your own local “Standing Rocks.”As I listened, I felt so grateful to be here.

If you wanted to be on the front lines of peaceful protest you were asked to go to a direct action training and preparation because you might face police violence and arrest. Before our orientation was over, there was an emergency—a possible police raid. All women and children were instructed to go to the dome tent immediately. We poured out of the large tent and headed to the dome. Communication broke down and many were unsure of what action to take.  Any sense of danger dissipated quickly as we headed to safer ground on private property at our Sacred Stone campsite.

In our journey together, we chose to make ample space to share our fears, concerns, preferences, and intuition in a safe and supported container. I believe this kept us safe and in alignment with why we came to Standing Rock. We also trusted each other and delighted in each other’s company which contributed to a joyful trip.

At the sacred central fire at Oceti Sakowin native indigenous elders were speaking, praying, and making offerings to the fire. An elder told us that they did not want women in direct action because of the risk of experiencing trauma. He spoke the sacred Indian word for womb and said it meant “pure waters.” They wanted to protect the future generations from more trauma by protecting the mothers as sacred creators of life. I was deeply touched to hear his words, and I shared them with the younger women in our group.

During the time we were at Standing Rock we volunteered at the medic tent, clothing tent, and made ourselves of use. We sang beautiful songs and prayed at our small altar and by our fire and gathered at the Sacred Fire in the center of Oceti Sakowin to learn from and pray with the Indian elders and medicine people. At sunrise, we joined the water ceremony with elder Beatrice Menase Kwe Jackson Swooping Down Eagle Woman and walked together though the camp down to the river and sang water songs. This was a powerful ceremony of unity for humanity and the waters. The beautiful grandmother leading the water ceremony prayed quietly as we passed the blessed water around the circle. Then, every so often she rose her feathers to the sky and said: “I see victory.” Her simple gesture revealed the power we have to dream in what we want to see. This gesture has become a significant symbol of hope for me.

The whole week, I slept very little. From the moment we approached the camps, I felt like I was floating in a sea of love—a field of powerful energy and prayer that permeated everything. It was very strong. Standing Rock is a beautiful opportunity for teachings to be taught, prayers to be shared, healing to come through. After we left, 2,000 veterans came to Standing Rock to protect the water protectors and offer their apologies in forgiveness ceremony. People representing the military apologized to the Native American people.

On the last morning, we went to the sunrise water ceremony again. My tears flowed as we gathered, walked to the river in a flood of humanity, and gathered at the banks. The men formed lines on the hill to help the women down the icy hill and to the water to pray with their pinch of tobacco. The Cannonball River (Inya Wakangapi Wakpa means Makes the Sacred Stones) was iced over. Apparently, the rivers used to meet in a confluence that formed sacred stone pearls—large, smooth, rounded rocks that held special power. Because of human interference, the rocks no longer form. The rocks are called cannonballs. We can guess when the transition from calling these rocks sacred stone pearls to cannonballs occurred.

At gas stops on our return trip, we read local newspaper articles. One article in North Dakota showed a photograph of a local march in support of the police. Another article stated that the police were responding to the violence of the protesters. The protesters were taught to act peacefully. The locals’ response saddened me and reminded me how this event mirrored the Civil Rights movement.

water-is-lifeThe message that came through strongly as I was leaving Standing Rock was to trust in Spirit. Know that God, The Creator is watching over us and working with us to create a new world. My life becomes less and less about me and more and more about creating strong and loving community where we all thrive—humans and animals, plants, and water and our family of spirits. As a community, we make change happen.

I felt sad and exhausted upon returning home. I succumbed to a rare cold and my ears plugged up. I couldn’t hear very well. I didn’t want to. As I reflected and integrated the experiences of my trip and these times of huge transition and chaos on our planet I realized I was holding fear. As an empath, I had gathered energy during the event and stored it in my body—trauma, sadness, anger, fear. Because I care so deeply, I wasn’t creating a clear distinction between myself and Mother Earth. I began processing my emotions and gathering my energy back.

Less than a week after we returned home, the Army Corp of Engineers denied access to DAPL to drill under the Missouri River. The power of peaceful prayer felt true. And, it begs us to remember to be vigilant in every moment.

My hearing loss continued until I shamanically journeyed back to a past incarnation as an oracle in ancient Lemurian times. To hear the future, I laid my hands on a large Mother Earth stone that looked like a sacred stone pearl. The stone, like the whales, was a record-keeper for Mother Earth and knew the journey of our planet. I listened and heard the earth and The Fall she, and humanity, would take. My heart cried out and I wanted to heal her, save her, help her. Yet, I realized that was not my job. I was an oracle; I heard and knew the future. I was to be of witness and that was enough. I needed to let go of my misplaced sense of responsibility. When I let go and trusted in the divine plan, my hearing returned.

 

We will be having a ceremonial information night in White Salmon, WA on January 22nd to share our experiences and bring forward energy and inspiration to continue caring for water.

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