Tag Archives: spiritual

Postcard from the Woods ~ Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice – the coming of the Light and Retreat of the Dark ~ in the Northern Hemisphere. The day was bright and sunny, cold, with snow still on the ground. I have been preparing for this for months – storing some of the best firewood carefully to keep it dry. Preparations – cleansing, cleaning, clearing, and moving some snow. Once again, I had a ceremony here in the woods and it was fabulous, moving, touching, sacred, cleansing, funny, shared with friends in person and others in spirit. All day the fire burned brightly in the sacred space where regrets, mistakes, the dark stuff, are written down and burned in the fire. Forgiveness, gratitude, hopes, dreams, intentions expressed in all directions to people, friends, the universe, and of course, God, for blessings (even those in disguise), miracles, love…. written down, placed in the fire and carried into the universe by gentle breezes.
I hope at some point in the yesterday of Winter Solstice, you too, were able to take time to honor and acknowledge the passage of the seasons, the year, the return of light and retreat of the dark, your growth and expansion ~ and the people in your life who teach, guide, love and share. My lists were long and if you are reading this, you were on my list – of blessings in my life. ♥

This is where the fire burned – the contrast of light and dark before the fire was built and lit…

Ring of Fire - Before


Last year’s total lunar eclipse of the full moon on Winter Solstice was amazing – see When the Universe Aligns. This year, the Universe aligned perfectly once again.
Namaste ~ StarBear

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Sticky Notes, Prayer Sticks and Feathers

…or is that Prayer Sticks, Feathers and Sticky Notes?

A Simple Prayerstick

Native American friends tell me that when one finds feathers, it means that one is on a good path. Feathers and birds represent our connection to God, heaven and angelic spirits. On a prayer stick, they help send prayers upward, into the universe, to heaven to God, to Creator… whatever your belief in a higher power is called.

When I find feathers on the beach, I often stand them upright in the sand while offering a blessing to someone else, a friend with a problem, a hope, a dream – or Lake Superior, the Universe, and even to myself. It’s kind of a physical “sticky note” to the Universe, from a time long before post-it-notes or computer posts.

How do you make a prayer stick?
Simple to make, all one needs is a small stick of wood (from a tree, preferably ) and good intention. I often make them on the spot, as in this photo. At the beach, I found feathers (probably seagull) and fastened them to a piece of driftwood, which spoke to me and was particularly beautiful, with a leather lace from my backpack. Sometimes I find dried roots or beachgrass to use as a tie. (In my home studio, I have more choices of materials, sticks, trees, and sometimes finding the right choice is harder there.) As the prayer stick is made, holding good energy, kind thoughts, thinking of the person or purpose for making it, are most important. As you create the prayer stick that energy is passed into it from your hands, thoughts and energy… so try to be clear about your intention as you are doing it.

Where to put a prayerstick?
I have made and left prayer sticks in the woods, on the beach, in many places.
When camping, I will scout the area as I set up camp, and usually find the perfect materials close at hand. While making the prayerstick, I am usually thinking thoughts like asking Creator protect the campground, this campsite, fill it with love, that kind and loving people share it with respect and joy. For me, a prayerstick placed near the campfire is a welcome to good things, people, energy, inspiration. (I have accomplished a lot of writing in camp grounds, by hand, away from the computer… with the energy of a prayer stick nearby! I’ve always only met wonderful, interesting and kind people, too!)

Welcome to StarBear's campsite on Lake Superior!

Not a camper? City bound? Apartment dweller?
You can do this anywhere… you can make a prayer stick and put it in your garden , near your door, or in the earth of a houseplant on your windowsill. Prayersticks can be simple or complex. I have decorated them with feathers, beads, leather, beach grass, fabric, silk thread, carved them with symbols, tied notes to them. Making a prayer stick is a wonderful form of meditating. They can also be created for celebrations – to celebrate a marriage, a birth, a birthday.

(When my sister, Kate, and my friend, Paul, were ill and dying, I made a “healing” prayerstick for them and our families. We, and they, knew they were dying, and in making that prayer stick, I cried a lot, rembembering the great times we had together, I asked that their pain and suffering be alleviated, that their wonderful spirits be remembered and honored, and acknowledged their love for me and mine for them. I asked for healing for them and our families. I placed the prayer stick near my campfire at home, where I could see it daily and remember to offer them a blessing. They were both sick at the same time, and the prayer stick stood through rain and snow, sunshine and darkness for over a year. It was decorated and added to. As they grew closer to death, it still stood, with feathers freshened in the second spring. Did it heal them? No. They died within 2 weeks of one another. Yet, the prayer stick still stands, with a few things removed after they left and those items burned in the campfire. New feathers added, new lines of communication to their angel spirits who join us at campfires, at the beach, in songs, laughter, and s’mores! The prayer stick made it easier to say good-bye and hello. I have not photgraphed it and probably won’t…)

Humans have been “blogging” and “posting” since the beginning of time… communicating with words, images, prayer sticks, making things of feathers and stone…  and making offerings in silver or gold plates in churches.

If you attend a church, notice the rituals and objects used in them… They are deeply rooted in the human condition of desiring communication of our hopes and dreams, joys, our sadness at loss.

My prayer sticks are simple and I hope beautiful. They are always full of love, joy, gratitude and forgiveness.

I learned about them by accident, then from friends, then reading, and found I had been practicing an ancient tradition for a long time.

Other Resources:
In his book “Animal Speak”,  Ted Andrews (1952-2009) Author and teacher, provides simple instructions for making and using prayer sticks…

White Eagle – Provides a lengthy and traditional description of making Prayersticks.

Eagle Spirit Ministry  – Provides a simple description of how to make a Prayerstick.

May your day be filled with good energy and many feathers!

Namaste ~ Star Bear

Copyright 2011 Betsy Lewis

Labyrinth

...into the labyrinth


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking Stones

Walking the labyrinth

spiraling inward

and out again

breathing,

listening

feeling

laughing, working, playing, enjoying, sharing, uniting, releasing, celebrating… Life!

Betsy Lewis

copyright 2010

Ceremonial Stones

2009 08 Nov  HeartIMG_0006100dpiblog

These are the stones sent to Denise for the Labyrinth Ceremony, November 15th. When it was time to mail them, I had no specific names for the stones,  so, we just know and trust that the perfect stone for you will be chosen by Denise.
I tried to find a way to send them that would make it easy for Denise to add them to the cairn, so they were mailed loose in a baggie with a yellow ribbon tied around them. (This month’s Chakra Color.)
Initially, I made a card with mild adhesive, and every time I picked it up some stones fell off. Not wishing the stones to be glued or goopy, the baggie seemed the best way. Also did not want Denise to have to work too hard to get them unglued.  So the end result:  Get all the stones in place and take a picture!
So, here are “your” stones, containing ancient energy, from Lake Superior’s Healing Waters on their way to the Labyrinth, carrying joy and love and light!

The stones are tiny, the heart is actually 4 inches across. (Picture makes them look bigger) The smallest stone is about the size of a pea, that’s the dark orange one just right of center towards the bottom. They are unpolished, quartz, agate, carnelian, basalt, granite, mica and ? The variety was chosen to represent all the different people and places of those on this journey who may have wanted a stone sent in their name. 

Doing this was a real juicer, Source and Inspiration made me do this! LOL! Know that you are in my heart and on your way to the Labyrinth. Even not knowing your name, these are full of love and joy!

Love to all!

Love from Lake Superior

Love has no boundaries...

Love has no boundaries...

 

StarBear interviews Artist, Betsy Lewis

(Bear) What kind of “Art” is this?
It is art from the environment, made with what is/was at hand. It is the “original” art form, people using material in their environment to express an idea, thought or feeling without words. Visual art.

(Bear) Why do you do stuff, art, like this?
It started as a little gift for my sister, 400 miles away and ill, to cheer her up, find a way to tell her how much I love her, a way to deal with her illness from so far away, a way to deal with sadness, loss, not feeling good about feeling sad, then it became more… a way to share the JOY in life… in my life with others. It made me happy. It just grew into something that I had to share with others outside of my immediate family! Why do I do “art?” Love! Joy! Sharing!

(Bear)How many stones are in it?
Over 100 full canvas book bags (each bag weighing about 35 pounds when full) so my best guess-timate is, oh, maybe, a ton and a half. As I worked, each stone, large or small became reminder of all the people I love… people I know, who are in my life, those who have left, those who taught me, loved me and those not yet known. We are all connected. I don’t know how many stones are in it, a lot, and I had a spiritual, loving, encounter with each one. The variety of stones is similar to the people in my life, large, small, rough, smooth, bright, light, dark…. it takes them all fitting together, somehow, to make a whole heart. Each one has it’s own special place in the heart, and it’s own story to tell.

(Bear) Is this like a… a Heart of Stone?
Well, Yes and No.
The “yes” part: In the physical universe, it is made of individually and randomly selected pink pieces of smooth rock…granite, agate, mica, sandstone, and God only knows what else! I’m an artist, not a geologist, Ms. Bear. I only know they are old, beautiful, and have spent eons being washed and tumbled by waves and scrubbed by sand.
The “no” part: The heart is a universal symbol of love. Pink represents the life and lifeblood of all living creatures, past, present, future. Up close, the colors of this heart range from nearly white to deep red and include orange and purple, peach and lavender, light and dark stones. They were there, in the sand, little spirits waiting to be noticed. Many of them said “Take me, take, me!” “Notice me!” “helloooo!” “I want to play, too!” or “Hey! What about me?”
Some said nothing, just resting quietly, pale rocks in pale sand, waiting patiently, subtly. There were some who said, “If you choose me, I will fit wherever I’m needed,” or “I’ll help you build this up.” Each stone has/had a message… and many taught me to worry less, work harder, to feel good, to be silly, and playful. Funny little (or big) Spirits, Ms. Bear, like you and everyone else can be!
When they all were in place I saw that, Love, this heart, cannot be broken… it is made up of so many pieces, always changing, moving, new pieces added, some may be carried off by strangers, or hopefully by children! The rocks say add to this heart, take some with you, we are participatory public art. It is in ongoing flux.

(Bear)How long did it take you to build it?
At first, the better part of 3 weeks… I started July 31st, 2009. Working full-time it might have taken a week to locate, carry, then place and fit all pinkish stones/rocks. I completed it (I thought) on August 17th. After several days, I saw that more rocks were needed to build it up, make it higher, as sand, shifting from high west winds began to bury it. Then later, I had to wait for rain and wind to do their work, erasing footprints.
I am now waiting for a rainy day to photograph it wet. The intensity of the colors increase when the stone is wet. They shine, they become even more brilliant and lively.
Also, I am scheduling friends to help carry an eight-foot ladder through the woods to this beach to shoot a more aerial view.

(Bear) Will it ever be finished?
Probably not…
People are leaving notes written in the sand around it. It’s now becoming a way to communicate “hello, is someone there?” “I love…” for others.
More rocks were added this week… for DIsnowshoe and his wife; for a newly born child: Shaw Mitchell; visiting friends, Jim, and then he added one for his wife, Mary… and so the heart grows! I added some more for special friends and told them there was a piece of love in my heart, just for them. Shall we add a “Bear” stone for you?

((Bear) You would do that… for me?
Of course! All you have to do is ask!

(Bear) How big is this heart?
Over 6 x 6 feet… I am 5 feet tall and it’s bigger than you and me, Bear.

(Bear) How long will the heart last?
Physically? In this form? Who knows? – as long as it does. When Superior’s storms wash sand over it this fall, it may disappear completely. Or maybe the waves will roll all the stones back into the lake and carry them to another beach, or deep into itself, or maybe someone will come along and take them all to build something else.

(Bear) You don’t care if it disappears?
It will not disappear. The energy in those rocks is as old as God. The spirits in those rocks is just as old. The love and care put into joining them together was from…not me, an inspiration, being inspired to make a little I love you to and from God for my sister. I was just the human carrier, laughing at how much joy there was in being a prisoner, yes, a prisoner moving rocks, imagining a chain gang moving rocks. I was/am never alone in a labor of love.
If the rocks go somewhere else, they will carry the spirit of love with them. They will probably disperse in a storm, be gone by Spring. We’ll see when the snow melts won’t we, Bear?

(Bear) How will you make money on this kind of project? People don’t buy disappearing art do they?
Oh, Bear, you are funny! I don’t know if anyone will buy it…. it would take many loads and a big truck to move it… and a lot of friends carrying rocks to get them to the truck! And you can’t drive motorized vehicles on the beach ~ (actually a Bear can’t drive anywhere! LOL) Maybe someone will buy one rock? Maybe someone will buy a photo. I don’t think this heart, in it’s current physical form on the beach is for sale, it may be physically too large, too heavy. One cannot put a price on Spirit, Inspiration, can they? Hey Bear! When you are finished with this interview, would you please call ALL of your friends and mine to see if they would each help carry a few stones off the beach, before winter, so we can deliver this heart to somewhere that needs a little love?

Namaste ~
copyright 2009 Betsy Lewis