155. Dream Catchers

The dream catcher is made by a grandmother figure, and the child takes it with them through the stages of life as a part of their “medicine”, their power in this lifetime.

We made dream catchers in Scouts and as crafts, but through my mentoring program, I learned about the spiritual representation.  This is my story of understanding.  Starfeather Marcy, who was taught by Pacific Northwest Cherokee Grandmother, White Horse Woman, retaught the careful steps of creating one. 

The dream catcher is made by a grandmother figure, and the child takes it with them through the stages of life as a part of their “medicine”, their power in this lifetime.

The time and energy devoted in creating the Dream Catcher is part of its beauty and energy.  There is a lot of love involved in making the sacred gift.

I usually begin with a handmade cedar ring from trees in the yard.  The cedar is the sacred wood of the Pacific Northwest, used for housing, clothing, canoes, nets and many other life sustaining purposes by the original Indigenous people.  Cedar is special; well, every tree is special.  Cedar smudge is used to represent and send messages to the North, the elders and teachers, Buddha, Jesus, White Buffalo Calf Woman, your ancestors and more.

Leather lacing is also about the people in your lineage.  Think of each strand as a grandmother and grandfather, a great grandmother and grandfather, on back to the beginning of man. The lacing is cut by hand, and is not a simple task.  The time and concentration put into it are love incarnate.  Most of the leather for sacred dream catchers in the Pacific Northwest are gifted from deer or elk.  The animals evoke connection and stories from people individually, but I see them universally as symbols of abundance, peace, and our intertwined existence with nature.

Right now, we are visiting Ocean Shores for a week.  Deer literally roam the streets.  Shante counted more than thirty on a trip from town to the condo.  So for us, the deer leather could be a reminder of joy with our family, or time at the ocean, or the tranquility that comes from a visit to the area.  You have your own stories and can look for the individual meaning in a dream catcher.

Numbers have meaning.  Groups of three convey the trinity, or three stages of being, Father/son/spirit (divine Mother/daughter/spirit).  Four is the four directions, North, South, East, and West, the balance in the medicine wheel, the cycles in all existence.  Seven is also about the medicine wheel, adding Earth, Sky and Creator to the four.  Eleven is both.  Count the beads. Count the strands of leather.  There is meaning.  You may notice a number on one strand in particular.  You can use the internet to check for hints from the spirit. 

The feathers are gifts from the birds.  The particular bird might have meaning to the family, could be a spirit animal coming with messages, and most certainly adds a characteristic beauty.  Sometimes, feather quantities can convey meaning too.

Colors also share representation.  White is purity, innocence, and spiritual elevation.  Purple can be the highest self, fulfillment, alignment with the whole universe.  Blue is another representation of high level self, fluid like the water, evoking clear and truthful communication. Brown is nurturing, earth connection, peace and stability. Green can be seen as growth, hope, harmony, and life. There are so many possible connections.

The center is created of threads or artificial sinew.  It is woven to catch the negative “dreams”, or the negatives in the life journey.  The beads in the weaving are where the negatives are caught and transmuted, sent back out into existence as beauty and light.  

The hole in the center of the web is important.  When I see a dream catcher without a gap in the middle, I am truly confused.  The center is a sacred space where the good dreams, the positives, travel through the dream catcher, down a leather or sinew strand, and pass to the dreamer through the feather at the end.

I am honored to have learned the spiritual messaging, and so grateful to Starfeather, White Horse Woman, and the ancestors of the art.  A dream catcher delivers beauty and hope to our lives.

144. Which Tree Should It Be?

If you visit the Earth Sanctuary, and walk along the edges of the ponds, look up the hill to the other side. There is a cedar there. You might have to search for a moment or two. You will find it, the one that is perfect, the one that reminds you that I am present in the universe… with you, now, and forever. Just be still. And know…

I really should visit more often.  The location of the Earth Sanctuary is somewhere between Langley and Freeland, maybe 15 minutes from the Clinton Ferry Terminal.

Let Peace Prevail on Earth wooden poster at the Earth Sanctuary, Langley, WA.
At the Earth Sanctuary, Langley, WA.

I love a good ride on the ferry, although it’s a bit creepy these days with no Titanic moments on the upper deck, and the inner benches half barricaded by red caution tape.  

Maybe some other year or some other lifetime, I will make it an intention to venture on biweekly day trips.  The yearly pass for the Sanctuary is only $35.  The Ferry would be the biggest expense. There is a cafe nearby that creates incredible avocado toast.  Definitely a trifecta of amazingness.

As we wandered the woods of the Earth Sanctuary, I was immersed in the experience of woodland scents and sounds.  But my eyes would strategically drift away, searching.  Which tree should it be?  Where would I want my ashes to be dispersed?  It sounds morbid. It was not.

The obvious choice, a cedar tree, left a lot of options.  Certainly, the Earth Sanctuary houses far more deciduous trees than evergreens at this moment, but there is still a plethora of cedar to choose from.

In the first day of autumn outlook, I could see that many cedars overlook the ponds.  Which one is the right one? 

If you visit the Earth Sanctuary, and walk along the edges of the ponds, look up the hill to the other side.  There is a cedar there.  You might have to search for a moment or two.  You will find it, the one that is perfect, the one that reminds you that I am present in the universe… with you, now, and forever. Just be still.  And know…

142. Picking a Tree

I’m both perplexed and want to burst out in rolling laughter. I don’t care. I really don’t. I thought that choosing the spiritual location for ashes was a gift in itself, but I can choose a tree to represent me as well.

The Earth Sanctuary representative, Chuck, wrote several responses to my questions about choosing a tree from that particular forest for my ashes to “rest”.  It all seems so silly, the way we talk about decomposition of the body, or placement of the ashes.  Living as human is temporary.  Being the true core of your being is permanent.  

<a href="<a title="TimBray / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)" href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Western_red_cedars,_looking_up.jpg"><img width="512" alt="Western red cedars, looking up" src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Western_red_cedars%2C_looking_up.jpg/512px-Western_red_cedars%2C_looking_up.jpg"&gt;
Red Cedar Tree is known as the “Tree of Life” Photograph by Tim Bray

The body is disposable, and far more recyclable than a plastic milk bottle.

Apparently, when we visit Whidbey Island in the next two days, I can stop in to the Earth Sanctuary and pick a location.  I’m both perplexed and want to burst out in rolling laughter.  I don’t care.  I really don’t.  I thought that choosing the spiritual location for ashes was a gift in itself, but I can choose a tree to represent me as well.

I think an evergreen is more my style than a deciduous leaf tree.  Something successful, that stands tall enough to see the sun, and creates a lot of oxygen to support the mammals.  A hemlock?  Known for its poetic poison.  A fir?  So, so, so many cones.  The fir trees rain thousands of irritating cones on the lawn at Dad’s house every year.  But in the forest, that is food, for the earth and for the small animals.  

Today, before I am actually walking in the space, I think that the answer is cedar.  The cedar tree is the spiritual representative of the north, of the elders, of those who have gone before us.  It is the regional representative of longhouses, canoes, ropes and baskets.  

The red cedar is known as “the tree of life”.  Life continues.  When I have stepped into death, I continue.  I am here now. I will, in a sense, be here then.

“As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be…” (the Glory Be).