Thomas Hunkele Guest Columnist
June 14, 2014
They started their campfire just prior to sunset. In doing so they captured the waning spirit of the day so that he could embrace the emerging spirit of the night while she was newborn. The embrace of “Spirit” ensured they were enclosed, protected, and loved by the One who was and is. Those who gathered had been doing so as a nation since they crossed the great and narrow valley and circled around the great mountains where the Life-Spirit lived.
The year was 1236, the “nation” known as the Hiety settled in the valleys of what we know now as Oregon. After many years the Hiety grew from as little as fifty Hunter-Gatherers, to their current population of well over 200. They have adapted to the valley life, and have started to grow crops, share hunting bounty, and raising domesticated animals such as horses and wild goats. They at last understood the true meaning of family and stability.
The Sun Spirit had now retired for the day, the Moon Spirit was now holding them in her embrace - it was now the time to worship Life-Spirit. The children were gathered by the oldest of the girls who have yet to conceive - all were taken to the “gathering house” to rest until the celebration ceased. The Haddah (now known as spiritual leader or Shaman) called for the celebration to begin.
Over 40 of them gathered - they formed three-rings around the fire pit. The first ring, the closest to the fire - were the elder women, the second ring a combination of young men and women, and the final ring the oldest men known as the “elders.” The Haddah called out “go to the spirits.” The group joined hands; each ring began to move towards the fire pit - stopping in silence some six feet way. They raised their hands as one. Each raised his head, each closed her eyes and listen to the sounds of Nature - the true voice of Life-Spirit.
There were three young men who played the drums - the sound similar to the beating of a heart. There were two others, women who played simple hand flutes - the melody similar to the crying wind, the winds both at peace and during storms. The dancing began - first with the inner circle, each dancing around the fire waving their hands and stamping their feet. The inner-circle circled the fire-pit three times, then they moved to the rear of the three-circles.
Next to dance were those in the second-circle. They danced with their hands down and while raising their legs turned round and round - they circled the fire-pit five times. Those playing the drums increased the rhythm, just as a heart begins to beat faster as it is challenged by movement, hope, and fear. Those playing the flutes increased the sounds of wind, from shuttle to heightened tones - intermittent were tones similar to the screech of an Eagle and the call of the Wolf. After their fifth circle, the second-circle then moved to the rear of the three-circles.
Then the drums stopped, the flutes were silenced - Haddah stepped forward and began his chant. Then the Elders began to dance, they put their hands over their heart and stepped sideways - while Haddah continued his call to the Life-spirit the elders circled the fire-pit seven times. After the seventh circle every one stopped and turned to Haddah - Haddah then gave them these treasured words of Life-Spirit, “love those who cross your path, remember each is my creation - what you do to them you do to me.”
It’s been some 776 years since Haddah lead the dance - many after him have chanted the same call of Life-Spirit - seems we still listen with only half our minds, and less with our hearts. Let’s all listen, let’s all dance - let’s all love.