The Medicine Experience/Prayer Staffs
© Dream Dancer
You can't talk about prayer staffs without outlining what the experience of medicine is and how to walk a path with it. The following information is all from my own perspective and experience. It's important to me that is clear to those reading this.
Definition - Medicine is a Native American word used for describing the experience and process of our personal gifts from Creator and for that which comes to us from Creator either directly or through others. People may tell you that you have a unique talent for something or that you have a gift. But what makes that 'medicine' is the presence and awareness of Creator and a sacredness throughout the process because ultimately, that's what you're bringing through you and into expression in the here and now. In short and simply put, you're receiving Creator and giving Creator in the service of others through your abilities. When you do that in a purity of spirit, it flows back, you again receive Creator, and the whole experience starts anew. That's the dance. When you're flowing with it, it's like breathing - a breath in follows a breath out. Medicine has the appearance of two qualities (giving and receiving) but if you think of it like breathing Creator, it's two parts of the same process that's providing an experience and through that, expression.
I feel, medicine is given to be shared with others in whatever form you can express it in. If you're an artist, you draw to express Creator, because it's within you to do. It's simply how you feel 'alive' while doing. That's the purity of expression ( the in breath) It's not necessary that anyone ever see it, but if you decide to take the step to share (breathing out) then the experience grows. Creator is going out to others through your medicine. The receiving is up to those you've shared with. In this step, you must free yourself of expectations of or it'll block the flow. It's important only to share. Sharing enables Creator to return whether another receives it or not. The experience grows again and it flows back to you in the form of what you need to continue your walk.
This is also the level of the medicine process where it's easy for a person can block themselves, being afraid for it to develop. It can feel overwhelming, daunting even, so they refuse to share. They may use the excuse that,' I'm not good enough'.. 'I'm not sure'... but chances are good their just blocking the growth of their medicine. I will qualify that by saying that there is a time when you're just getting used to it, that is kinda like being in the womb of your medicine. You need that time to incubate and be comfortable. But you can't stay there too long or you'll block the birth of your medicine. If you're in tune with your path, you'll know when it's time to shine, or Creator will punt you into it.
I would add that because medicine is always growing and changing, you'll experience times of silence where you get that womb feeling again. That's because your medicine has a giant step forward and more incubation time is needed to get used to it. I learned that's called, 'being in a hole in the ground'. When you feel yourself emerging, you'll know - and it's important not to fight it but to follow the flow.
It's also important to value and recognize your own participation in the medicine process. It's easy to focus just on Creator at times and not be aware that you've allowed this process and you've been a participant. Giving yourself credit is a good thing and often overlooked in those who walk the path, sacrificing it for appearance humility. I feel true humility is knowing we never walk our paths alone. Creator, friends, community etc.... they all play a part. The credit is not ours alone, but it's just as much of a mistake to take NO joy in your choice to participate. That is something that will impede the flow of the giving and receiving and by default, the growth or your medicine.
How do I find my medicine path? I believe if you walk a 'path with heart' that your medicine path will find you. That's what happened with me. I didn't just sit down and say, I'm going to make a business out of making dreamcatchers. It grew from walking my path with them but started out as curiosity and a willingness to learn through crafting them. I found I loved everything about the process and it used every bit of skill and spirituality I had, the first thing in my life to do so. When guidance said to open the experience to others, I did and it grew more. When guidance said to open it into a business so I could share them with more people, the medicine grew again. Each step along the way has challenged me on every level of my being and continues to do so as I go along. But, the defining factor for me was the surprising 'knowing' that I finally have something I want to do for the rest of my life. I've never had that feeling about anything, except motherhood. I was told that what I'm on is called a 'Crafting Path', or that's what I could call it anyway. I'm experiencing and sharing Creator through the practice of crafting.
Prayer Staffs - My journey with them came about during the time that the Lummi Healing Totem Pole was on it's way to Washington DC. I'd seen a picture of it on their web site and felt very drawn to it. That night, I had a dream that the eagle on the totem pole came to life and invited me to come and see it when it got to DC. There was going to be a dedication at the Pentagon so I marked my calendar.
I don't remember whether it was the next day or a week later but, I was at a hardware store when guidance led me over to the area where all the wood was. They led me to the dowels, asked me to listen for which one wanted to be a prayer staff and that's how my journey with them started, right in the middle of Lowes. I kind of argued a bit with guidance. Wood from a store? I was told that so long as the wood wanted to be crafted and serve Creator, it was no different than if I'd found it on a journey in the forest. The process of communication with the spirit of the wood and Creator was the same and there was a built in form of exchange in that I paid for it. And it's no different than when I'd find items in the craft store that wanted to serve in medicine items. So I came home with two oak pieces that wanted to serve as prayer staffs.
Then I argued again. "I don't know how to carve." I was told not to worry about that. Set my doubt aside and just start taking away the wood that didn't belong to release the guardian. At that point, I didn't even know I was in touch with a guardian but then I remembered the dream. When I was finished, the Eagle prayer staff was born.
At the same time I was crafting it, I was contacted by someone who had a ton of beads and other crafting items that she wanted to send to me as an exchange, but thought it was for a dreamcatcher. As I carved and the guardian started telling me about the medicine of the staff, I wondered if the staff was for her so I asked. She said she'd not considered a prayer staff before but sat with the question for a few days while I continued to work with it. Eventually, we discovered it was indeed for her. When it was finished, I asked her if I could keep it an extra few days. I wanted to take it to the Lummi dedication before sending it to her, bringing the experience full circle. In reality, I carried it's essence with me because I was concerned that security would consider it a weapon - being a large stick and all. So, that's how it all started.
Individual prayer staffs come to me through their guardians. I've mentioned a few times in other things I've written that all of what I create comes with guardians or guides, those who watch over the medicine of the item and guide the user. They tell me how to craft whatever I'm crafting and give me some of the medicine information for the person it's going to. I've asked that I not be told who the items are for. I don't feel right crafting something for someone, knowing it's for them and then dangling it in front of them until they can 'afford' it or something like that. It's how guidance and I worked out the 'business' end of being a crafter. Usually, I only know who it's for if they've requested I craft it for them or it's an exchange or giveaway.
I was told that the prayer staffs are for people who's primary path in serving others is through prayer. Just like crafting is my path, prayer is theirs. That's not to say that they sit around praying all day... but that they experience and share Creator best through the prayers they offer for others. I was told, it's as if they're hearts are praying all the time, whether they know it or not. The staffs and the guardians are activated by opening the heart to communication/listening with Creator. Can you do that without a staff? Sure! But the staff serves as a physical focus for the process and is crafted, in a sense, from the energy pattern of the prayer process. To use one, you only have to open your heart and be willing to breathe the energy of prayer. All the learning, path etc..grows from your experiences with it.
Since I started making them, the design has evolved to hold not only the process of prayer, but twin paths such as the last prayer/rebirth staff and the bear prayer/healing staff that came before it.
That's really all the information I have on prayer staffs but as I go along in my journey with them, I'll add what I can to this.
Next: Dreamcatchers as medicine items
*Edited for indexing