Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Armani, the well-known Armani, has a well-known but very private home here on Pantelleria. I believe he has had this home here for many years.I have a firm feeling that he really loves this island. I have seen him walking alone in the village and he has the air of a man enjoying what he is breathing and seeing. I sense reflection. People do not bother him here. I hear no angry talk about him anywhere. There are many famous Italians here on Pantelleria.
Armani has teamed up with L'Oreal to make an expensive skin cream of which the primary active ingredient is the Obsidian of Pantelleria. This is a very interesting development. I wonder if he is pimping the island? I wonder if maybe, there is something in this soil of Pantelleria, something with good news for the health and energy of some of the people who come here.
I carve the stones of Pantelleria. I use diamond grinding tools and make sculptures of most of the volcanic stones that can be found here. There is a lot of obsidian in many of these stones. Pantelleria has so many stones that are black from the obsdian content....it was called "the Black Pearl of the Mediterranean" in early literature.
The energy of these stones is quite powerful. The many people who have homes here have a passion for the island that clearly comes in some measure from the land itself....from its energies and colors. Yes, sometimes one piece of earth can be very different than another. This news may surprise some people, but yes it can happen. Pantelleria produces Capers and a unique fine grape for wine. If you slip and fall on the black obsidian beaches, we will have to take you to the hospital.
Armani purchased and donated an MRI Scanner for the little hospital. People richer than him, who also live here, have done far less. I would like to know what armani has found inside the obsidian. It is an expensive product.
The pure obsidian which at one time literally covered the island, is long gone. Most of all that remains are blends in stone of various degrees of obsidian and other stones typical to such a volcanic island. The dry composted "dirt" of Pantelleria in places does have a very high obsidian content. I wonder if Cleopatra knew about this? She sanctioned as a serious commodity of her empire the trade in Obsidian. Almost everybody has some prized obsidian sample around their homes here.
There is a thriving trade in small objects made of pure black Obsidian.....imported from Mexico. This perfect form of Obsidian has not been seen here for centuries. It is strange to see Obsidian from Mexico, probably carved in China, sold as a link between Pantelleria and Obsidian, in Pantelleria tourist shops. The island has archaeological protection and serious uses of the islands stones requires permits and documents. Surely Armani will not use so much Obsidian in his product? How many jars of Obsidian face cream does he hope to sell? Probably he is not going to use Mexican Obsidian and tell us it is from Pantelleria? Is the skin cream made in China?
It seems strange and magical.....obsidian powders in a skin cream....or... It seems arrogant and surely the rich think the rest of us are fools and will buy anything if it is well marketed. Armani is well marketed to say the least. I am not sure what the truth is. If he has a soul, then there must be something to this new use of one of the small treasures of Pantelleria. When I saw him walking alone on a cloudy winter day along the beach, I was convinced he had a soul. I could be wrong. I know the island has something, the American words are hard to find. I don't want to come off as being sentimental. Our little island has many treasures and gifts for the soul. I hope Armani does not carry to much of it away inside his expensive little jars of skin cream. I would like to try it, by the way. Maybe someone will send me some?
Monday, January 29, 2007
Apple Computer powers the World Journey of the Sacred Pipe.
The newest of the Macintosh (Apple, Inc) laptops, a 17 inch MacBook Pro is the command station for the World Journey of the Sacred Pipe. Way back around 1987 I met a field represenative from Apple Computer, his name was Richard. In these days there was almost nothing on the Internet. Richard was working out of Los Angeles and they had just moved in to new offices in the MGM Building in Santa Monica. I suggested that I would trade a sculpture for the lobby of the new offices for a new Apple Computer. It was just a whim of a question. Up until that time I was using a gigantic computer running Windows 3.1. Well, he agreed to talk to his boss an later he said his boss said it was ok and I traded Apple Computer 3 sculptures and one painting for a Powerbook 540c laptop (the absolute state of the art at that moment), and an AppleOne Color Scanner.
For the next several years I made internet and American Indian history and established the beginnings of the American Indian Computer Art Project which at the time won many awards and praise from the world community. My web site was even featured deep inside China as part of an early project to bring the internet into rural Chinese communities. It was a great period of exploration and Apple Computer was at the forefront of helping obscure little projects like this one. Much of my passion and resolve to continue this work has been from the pride and faith I felt from those people, like Apple, who were willing to help.
Those days are gone. These days it is very hard to get a corporate sponsor for such a small project. However, this has not dimmed my passion for the craftsmanship and excellent performance of the Apple laptop. It was not long before I put windows in the trash. My Apple laptop soon became indespensible to my work and the one central place where we keep not only the record of the World Journey of the Sacred Pipe, but it is our portal to the world itself. Sitting here at the work area, the MacBook Pro is now an essential item in my daily life. I think with this computer system I have become somewhat of a geek, and usually I am very happy to know this. It makes possible to record my travels to remote lands.
Back in the 80s I said this..."I believe the computer is the best tool Indian People have been given in 500 years to communicate with themselves and with the world"....I believed that then and I believe that now. Even after all these years, American Indian people and communities, in the traditional lands and reservations, have almost no opportunities to realize this profound promise. Yes, a lot of tribes have money now with their casinos. They put up casino web sites; these are useless works of trash these casino web sites. Business people always use computers like this. Almost all American Indian casino web sites are made by subcontracts to web site builders in far away cities. My passion has been to hope to bring this technology to spiritual leaders and artists.......to the Actual People. It surprises me that tribes themselves do not see the irony in having their web sites controlled and put forward by business interests that have no idea the culture itself is starving for a venue of communication. Some of us continue to hope to drag the computer out before the soul and eye of the mystery life, into the ancient dream.
In my world travels I use the MacBook Pro and art software programs to reveal the union of the creative soul and mind with technology. One physics professor has written about me in one of his books as an example of one who has appropriated technology well beyond the expectations of the inventors of this technology. (Appropriating Technology, Prof Ron Eglash)
The world journey of the sacred pipe is in fact a small project. It is a meditation for all the people of the world..... it is a small idea with fantastic possibilities to be a voice before the entire world. Thanks Apple for that start so many years ago....that hand up and that access to the golden tower of human technology. I would like to think I have been a shining star in keeping the promise of my work going with these tools. I am still here.
This new 17 inch Mac Book Pro was traded from Becky for an assortment of paintings by an American Indian Artist.
For this project these truths work in balance. When Apple Computer was nearly in the toilet some years ago, just before Steve Jobs came back to work for them....Richard and I took the Sacred Pipe into the California desert and made a ceremony there with the Sacred Pipe and Sacred Water for the recovery and future of Apple Computers. I am not sure if this feeling and power within the soul of Apple Computer still remains, but on that day we stood together inside the mystery life. Becoming a gadget company seems to be its future more than whatever magical moment it was when the finest computer made possible collaborations with the soul of time itself.....maybe something like this was only a dream?
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Note: A sweat lodge on the rim of a smoldering volcano in Sicily
Silence is such a drag
Against the mystery life
A kind of death
Where we pretend we don't matter to each other
A lie told inside our minds
Because some things
For a moment
Just don't make sense
The silence of the women
Of the leaders
Of the children
Is not noble
It is only silence
Only in the dead world
those song lines
it is impossible to lie
impossible to not reveal
what is true
impossible to hide
what must be known....and so we sing
always what is right
what is sacred
always what must be known
when it is time
to know what must be known
and so we sing
and our refuge is the song
we become children
of the light of what can be known
and the rest
resting there in your imagination
is not important
(the circle of light and life)
Friday, January 19, 2007
Among the many questions I hear from modern people; they ask me when will the elders come to make teachings in the world and help the people? As I have discussed in other articles, it is the permission and direction of the tribal elders which determine who and when and where sacred teachings, sacred ceremonies will take place.
I find it surprising at some levels that people would expect the elders to come and see them. I was asked years ago to make a pipe for a man who made sweat lodges for a small tribe in Washington state. The lady who asked me was a sweet indian lady, I liked her very much. She told me this man was leading sweat lodges for her people and they all wanted to reward him and thought having a pipe made for him was a good idea. I agreed to do this but told her I would have to meet the man first. She told me a date when there would be a ceremony and invited me to come. On the day I showed up the scene was unreal. It looked like a giant party with kids and food and dogs everywhere. Directed to the man I found a tiny white man was the sweat lodge leader. I sat down to talk with him and discovered that he was a psychologist who worked for the tribes in that area in some sort of public health program. When I asked him where he got the rights to do the sweat lodges he was very evasive, but I pressed my questions and learned that he figured out how to do the sweat lodges from reading several books. When pressed for some information on when and where and if some tribal elders had given him permisson and instruction to do this work, his answer, after much hemming and hawing, was very strange. He said to me if the elders wanted to give him permisson to do these sweat lodges they can come to his office or to his house and talk to him.
I told him, and I tell you also, that the elders do not come to you. It is your responsibility to go and seek and find and hope for the assistance of tribal elders. The arrogance of this round little white man astonished me. Only a lost modern person could have this kind of arrogance. I refused on the spot to even consider a pipe for this man. Later I had a long conversation with the indians who had asked this favor of me, explaining why I could not make this work for them. I said to them, and I say to you, seeking out the will and direction of qualified elders is the law of the sacred and there are no substitutes or books or self-enlightenment practices that can replace this law.
While there may be at any moment some tribal elders travelling about in the world, it is not typical that this is so. The nature of sacred ceremony is that it is related to the earth and most tribal elders stay very close to the particular earth that is their home. As part of my education I travelled for many years seeking out tribal elders in their homes and on their lands. This great adventure has shaped my entire life and my understanding of what sacred teachings are.
Maybe it would surprise many people to know that many elders are waiting and waiting for the seekers to arrive, to show them a good face and an honest heart....yet day after day they sit in lonlieness and watch empty horizons....passing on with their deep knowledge silent inside their bodies. These days it is not a surprise to find that even their families and neighbors cannot find them, will not listen to them...while on the other hand we have so many self-appointed modern people standing up and saying they are the new teachers of the sacred.
Step by step it seems through time I am becoming one of the elders moving around this mother earth and I see with my eyes and feel with my soul what is going on and who is doing what. Now in these days I live on Pantelleria and I am thinking to myself that I am waiting for the seekers to find me and I watch the horizon each day to see who might be coming.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Walking In Beauty
Awake Inside a Sacred Dream
I remember who I was
I remember where I was going
My heart was eaten by the winds
My heart was torn into four parts
I have gone all around myself
I have gathered myself
I have heard them say
it could happen in just this way
Some people have heard of the White Buffalo Calf Woman Pipe. This very sacred object is an ancient sacred pipe bundle belonging to a specific group of Sioux Indians of the Northern Plains. This particular sacred pipe is described very well in the book "Black Elk Speaks", which has been translated into many languages.
Some Ojibway people believe White Buffalo Calf Woman was a sacred woman of the Ojibway people whom we called "Sky Woman". Sky Woman was a great sacred spirit who has many teachings in our history. The Sacred Pipe of the Ojibway People goes back in time to possibly over 10,000 years. The White Buffalo calf Woman Sacred Pipe is about 800 years old. Arvol Looking Horse is said to be the Keeper these days of that sacred pipe.
There are many other sacred pipes. What makes a pipe a sacred object is what we call the ritual and ceremonial intervention of the qualified tribal elders. Sacred objects which have made this connection are Real Sacred Objects. Not every tribe of indian people honor or use the sacred pipe. In general it is mostly the tribes of the north which follow these teachings of the sacred pipe.
The World Journey of the Sacred Pipe represents 14 Sacred Pipes authorized, blessed and made sacred by 38 tribal elders from numerous tribal families. These sacred objects are now on a journey, a circle around the Mother Earth. The reasons for this project are many. The rules and laws which govern the behavior of these sacred objects were determined by those elders over a 30 year period of time. These sacred objects in the World Journey of the Sacred Pipe do not pretend to be associated in any direct way with the White Buffalo Calf Woman Sacred Pipe, or other pipes that may come to your attention.
One of the Sacred Pipes in this bundle of the World Journey is over 500 years old. The newest one, made in a special ceremony, is about 25 years old. All but 4 of these sacred objects were stolen by some indian people at Taos Pueblo some years ago. Taos Pueblo is a deeply troubled community with many problems overlaid with a great fantasy projected onto them by the hordes of tourists who arrive there every year. Some years ago while staying at the Suazo home in Taos Pueblo, some of his relatives, possibly as a form of protest, stole the bundles containing a group of very sacred pipes. Over the years we have watched and waited for more information to arrive on this subject. We have watched the curse of this bad behavior fall on all the members of this old family. In the meantime our group has continued to work with what remains of these Sacred Objects and taken no actions, only the patience of waiting and waiting for more information to come to us; which we believe it will one day.
Looking around the internet one might find many people talking about American Indian Pipes. There is a lot of noise, pretending and lost people who have purchased pipes, or stolen pipes, or otherwise done nothing so much as add to the general state of confusion regarding Native American teachings. I am often amazed at the pretentious posturing of people with clearly fabricated names pursuing what seems to them a romantic ideal about tribal culture but which is in reality a very deep and disturbing sickness of the soul. Some modern people perhaps feel great guilt about what has happened to Native American people. In this guilt they assume names and behavior which is an imitation of the behavior of the sacred. It is very strange situation and a source of great pain to the tribal elders. We call these people Ghost Walkers.
For some years our group made available some sacred pipes to be placed in Federal Prison systems around the United States. Federal Law (900-235 I think it is) allows sacred pipes and other sacred objects to be used in the religious ceremonies of American Indians doing prison time. Some very sacred objects are inside these prisons. In a future entry we will discuss this issue in greater detail.
We have a saying that the sacred pipe in the hands of a fool, and there are many, is the same sacred pipe in the hands of our most sacred people, of which there are only a very few. Sorting out the delusions and the truth of sacred pipes is an important part of the work of these teachings, of all teachings in fact. Understanding what is true and what is not true is an honorable part of the education process and one to be undertaken with caution and respect.
American Indian Tribal Society is filled with broken and wounded people. The reservation system is not healthy. For many Native American people, this is a passionate and often confusing issue. There is a lot of anger and judgement that gets passed around. This to is part of the learning. For many tribal people whose culture does not include in any way objects such as the sacred pipe (and this includes many, many tribes) this talk about sacred pipes is a matter of some ridicule and even greater confusion.
People who buy or steal sacred objects and then claim to be keepers and teachers of the sacred are in every tribe and sprinkled throughout the internet and society in general. Pay attention. Ask questions. The modern world has for many generations done all within its power to destroy American Indian people. Somehow through all this terror, genocidal practices and theft of our sacred teachings, we have somehow managed to still be alive. Sacred objects and qualified teachers of those sacred objects exist in real life and are moving around now in the world. Sometimes the real truth shows up in surprising places. Most of the truly sacred objects are in the hands of quiet and gentle people who may live among you/us almost invisibly.
The World Journey of the Sacred Pipe is a quiet exercise. It is a ceremony conducted by just a few people working with other very small groups of people. The Sacred Objects are not on display and not for sale. Many times it is only the song, only the smoke, only the dream that is shared. We call this Walking In Beauty Upon The Good Red Road, the North Road, from there to here. I wish I understood better how to separate the trouble from the sacred. However, for reasons I do sometimes understand, these two energies are linked together right now.
Monday, January 08, 2007
The Privilege of Freedom
Many Native American people are opposed to any kind of spiritual action in the modern world. On the other hand many old ceremonies, such as the Sun Dance, are up for grabs to modern people as long as they pay money for the privelage. The once sacred internal american indian only Sun Dance has had a new awakening as a way to make money for the dirt poor indians of the n orthern plains. I have mixed feelings about all of this. If hungry and rather desperate indians think they can make a living by selling off their sacred traditions, then I am willing to respect their freedom of choice I guess.
There is often a lot of nasty talk about these matters. Many Indian people of earlier generations who made some attempt to carry the sacred ideas into the modern world were talked about as criminals, as phonies and liars and thieves. I am not sure what they say about me and my work. In general I have protected myself and my work by ensuring that I sought out the council and permissions of the qualified and affected tribal elders and leaders in the areas of my work. In tribal culture what we call "the permisson of the elders" is everything and when you have it then your activities are considered "legal" in every respect. This permisson of the elders does nothing to stop the barking of wild dogs who think they know more than everyone else.
In general almost all tribal cultures are fractured, wounded, suspicious and degrading towards almost every effort by someone else. This is often a topic of concern whenever I travel....listening to the fears of an endangered people. On the other hand many tribal people have their head buried deep up their asses and have almost no idea at all what is going on in the world. Additionally, the number of indian people who actually believe in and follow traditional tribal teachings is small in number....and this number is getting smalller all the time.
Almost all of those tribes that have strong money from the casino business have weakened and indifferent ceremonial and language/culture practices. As they say, money changes everything and many tribes who now have money have substituted culture for capitalism.
What is the message? I think I am trying to say that indian people have problems, and they also have dreams. Some of the dreamers are damaged by the ones who have problems. Some of the problems with dreaming and with ceremonies is that much of the work takes place in a modern world that has an interest in these issues but very little real knowledge as to what this information really is. I rarely encounter a modern person who understands at all what a sacred pipe really is. I like to think that one of the most responsible things I do in my work is to create an opportunity to learn, to increase the store of good and faithful knowledge on these exciting and important ideas. I have done this work right up in the faces of those who have screamed out against me and in the well-meaning company of those who love the ideas I present but know nothing at all about them in a real way. It is hard work. Sometimes it is dangerous work.
Books: as for published books on these subjects....in my opinion most are better used as toilet paper as they contain little truthful information at all. published books are one of the biggest problems of all. "Black Elk Speaks" may be about the only really good book in the whole world as it is one of the very few books that lets the sacred and legal and qualified tribal elder (Black Elk) say what he wants to say. In Indian Country the tribal elders are the law, everyone else is a barking dog.
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