A Christmas Gift from Brother Ghost Dancer
Recently, Brother Ghost Dancer, a Keeper of the Creek People, led a sweat lodge gathering in Talladega, Alabama in celebration of the Winter Solstice. Following, is the lesson that he taught the participants. At the end, please read the additional information on Brother Ghost Dancer, written by Beloved Woman Edna Dixon. You need to know what Brother Ghost Dancer has endured over the past 25 years. He received his name from Muskogee and Lakota Elders, gathered at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Ghost Dancer Teaches the Importance of the Winter Solstice to Native Peoples
Lesson of the Inipi (Sweat Lodge) Ceremony, Tuesday, December 18, 2018.
Even though our Winter Solstice doesn’t happen till the 21st, we have to make it as close as we can. The Winter Solstice has been very important to traditional Native Peoples throughout history. The Winter Solstice begins the purification of Mother Earth. It is a time for us to reflect and purify ourselves and to let go of everything we have done during the past year – to reflect on all we accomplished and all we failed to do as well.
The winter solstice signals the shortest day and the beginning of changes in all life. Our Grandmother sun (for most eastern tribes) or Grandfather sun (for most western tribes) moves farther away from us and is seen less. The power of the sun has less effect on us and provides less warmth. The cold serves to remove all the diseases and pollutions that need to be cleansed. This is Mother Earth’s way of showing us what we are to do. Just as the trees (tall people), plants, winged ones, 4 legged ones, and all life changes, so must we. A new cycle will begin at the Spring Equinox.
We all have some type of baggage that clutters our mind, spirit or body. We have clutter that we may never even think about as clutter. Just as a computer must purge least it become so clogged up with stuff it fails to perform, so must we. This is why during the Winter Solstice so many ceremonies are done.
Another reason is the Grandfather Moon (to most eastern tribes) or Grandmother Moon (to most western tribes) effects all life and becomes so much more powerful. As we know this power causes many changes in us and in all life. We use this time, as all life does, to become more loving and giving of our selves. We learn so much about our own selves and also what others have to share. In the old days, the elders would be storytelling to pass on these teachings. Many ceremonies and celebrations would be held. During the spring, summer and fall, there was so much work to be done. Now, in winter, we have time to do these things.
Hunting was always so much better in winter because all the worms and bacteria was now dead in the 4 -legged ones after the 2nd frost or snow. This made it safer to eat the meats. Even the fish had lost the parasites that attacked them and lived in their flesh.
Our Muscogee Creek people did lots of purging by drinking the black drink during this time and fasting as well. This was the time for dancing the deer, opossum, raccoon, panther, moon, and wolf dances. Each of these served a purpose and helped the people connect even more to all life. When doing these dances, we connect more to each of these beings and also to each other. The dancing was not just for entertainment; they taught life lessons.
For instance, a wolf or panther hunts so much better when it is hungry for if it misses, it doesn’t eat, which could cost its life. So the deer, opossum, and raccoon, must truly be more aware and alert to everything or they will become dinner for some other being. So, we too have to be more alert to all that Spirit has to teach us. Just as we have to be hungry to learn more, so we can eat and live. We are both hunter and prey in life, as all life is.
We also have to be hungry for spiritual growth, knowledge, and enlightenment. At the same time we must be alert and aware of all the temptations, illusions, distractions, and traps, that can destroy us or lead us astray. Silence is a true blessing. To sit in silence, all the beauty that surrounds you, becomes you. No, the world is never silent, neither is your heart or spirit. But if we try, we can learn to silence our minds which play tricks on us. This is why we must learn to discipline and quiet the mind, to release the clutter and grow spiritually.
Ghost’s Four-day fast: Tuesday, December 18 – Friday, December 21, 2018. During the fast, Ghost takes no food or water other than some herb teas. When awake, he remains in constant prayer, singing peyote songs and winter solstice songs for the new awakening and life for all. Ghost’s focus for each day of fasting:
Day 1 Tuesday Dec 18, 2018 Sweat Lodge for purification and to spiritually become like a baby.
Day 2 Dedicated to prayers for women and females of all creation. For universal love and healing love. For Mother Earth and thankfulness for all she gives and provides for us each day. For all Mother Earth teaches and lessons of life. About bringing unconditional love into our hearts and in everything we do, sending love to all creation and accepting love in our life and walk.
Day 3 Prayers are focused on being thankful for all we are given. We give thanks for all the water, air, sun, earth, trees, birds, plants, winged ones, 4-leggeds, fish, reptiles, mammals, creepy crawlers, and everything that we are personally blessed with. Anyone can easily complain about what they don’t have, things they want but can’t seem to get! But so few waking up each day are truly thankful for what they have. Yes, many don’t have material things others have, yet they don’t see that they have something more or just different. And some just can’t be satisfied with anything. Some are just naturally complainers. When was the last time you woke up and said thank you, Creator, for granting me another beautiful day of this wonderful life? No matter your circumstances, you have just been given the true blessing of waking up to this world. You have a chance to enjoy and experience the beauty and love that is all around you if you just look for it.
Many people wake up just existing, not enjoying anything. Not laughing or smiling. Not hugging those around them and telling them good morning and I love you. What is life if we are not happy? What is life if we don’t love life, our selves, and all others? What is life if you just go through the motions of existing, but feel nothing for anyone, or anything? Well they have a program on AMC called The Walking Dead! If you are doing that, then you are not alive. To live we must appreciate and enjoy life; experience all the beauty and love of life. Feel it, see it, smell it, and taste it. So on this day I pray for all of life to enjoy and experience it with love and in beauty in every way. I give thanks for all of these things and gifts that we all are given so unconditionally. May you walk in beauty and love always!
Note: On this day, there were heavy rains. As always happens during rain, much of the prison, including Ghost’s entire unit and cell flooded. Even in the midst of his fast and prayers, he spent hours sopping up water with towels and wringing them out. He always calls this “duck duty.”
Day 4 Today is the final day of my fast. Winter solstice is here and today my prayers are focused on what I NEED in my life – not what I WANT – but only what I truly need to make me a better person, son, father, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin and friend.
No matter what anyone thinks, we all have things we need to do to become better. I pray for becoming more forgiving, more understanding, more loving, more patient, more caring, more giving, and more spiritual in every way! I ask for these gifts so that I can be more to everyone in my life and those who cross my path. I pray that I can be more disciplined in my life, over my body and mind, that I may follow my heart to walk in true beauty and love in every way. This is my goal and path for the new year cycle coming in.
Life is never easy and many obstacles come in our way. Some small, some catastrophic, but that should never stop us from becoming more than we are – to become more enlightened, more true to Spirit.
By being true to Spirit, we are true to ourselves and everything changes one way or another.
I am a child of Spirit, of Mother Earth, of the stars and heavens, elements, and everything in existence. I’m connected to all and the love and beauty of all flows through me. My spirit truly is always free and I walk in unconditional love for eternity.
My power is unconditional love and beauty.
Short Bio of Brother Ghost Dancer
Ghost Dancer is a Muscogee Creek elder from Alabama. His spiritual path began nearly 50 years ago as a young man sitting with Muscogee elder, Phillip Deere, and Lakota spiritual leaders gathered at Pine Ridge, SD. Ghost has been incarcerated in Federal Prisons for nearly 25 years. He is currently at Talladega FCI where he serves as spiritual leader of the Native inmates. As he does each Winter Solstice, Ghost goes through a 4-day fast to cleanse and humble himself. He encourages all the brothers to fast as much as they are able; the sweat lodge ceremony begins their purification.
For the past 25 years, with the help of loyal friends, Ghost Dancer has been fighting for his life against his illegal conviction for robberies he had nothing to do with. Even without benefit of attorney, during the past 5 years he has made enormous strides in the courts against the most egregious abuses, miscarriage of justice, and punitive over-sentencing. Hopefully he will soon win his freedom so that he may return to his loving family. Despite living in horrible conditions all these years, Ghost has never lost his kind heart, his sense of humor, or ability to make the best of a bad situation by maintaining his spiritual equilibrium and being of service to others.
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