Water is Life & ‘Council of Fire’

Water is Life & ‘Council of Fire’

I recently wrote a social media post sharing an illustrated page of the children’s book A Trust Poem.  This page features local businesses in Sedona – one of which provides many clean water options for purchase, for any and all that come to their store.

In this post, I stated ‘Water is life’ and received feedback from a person, who felt my intention was using this indigenous slogan to monetize water to white people. He stated to please not use “our slogan”, as he is from indigenous heritage and felt it was disrespectful to his culture and the movement, from which this phrase was used widely. 

When I first saw this, I was a little bit shocked.  As I had not thought that my simple share could cause offense and that it would be thought that I was using an indigenous slogan to monetize water.  That was not my intention in the slightest and it upset me that someone would think that.  

Yet, we can never predict how others may take our words and actions.  Our perspectives are all so different based on what has gone on in our world externally since childhood and what is currently going on internally.  We only have the ability to control our response to others’ reactions.

As I read through all the comments, at first I thought, maybe I should just respond: ‘I’m sorry that you feel that way.  Sending you love.’  and let it go.  Another part of me was thinking maybe I should just ignore it altogether, thinking that some people will find fault in what you are saying no matter what.

But neither of these options seemed correct or appropriate and my mind began to spin on it all.

I am currently getting through the book Letting Go: The Pathway to Surrender by David R. Hawkin’s where he talks a lot about processing and understanding all of the different emotions.

In it, he has a chapter on anger.  And how that when we are truly acknowledging another person’s anger, we have the opportunity to ask ourselves, 

‘What is this person asking me to become more aware of?’ 

So I applied this question to the situation.  Maybe I was being insensitive and unaware, using this phrase in the same post where I was talking about a business that sells water…  

Yet, my intention was simply in more sharing or promoting of the concept, rather than really dissecting the roots of where it came from.  But from his feedback, I started to dive deeper into this.

The phrase ‘Water is Life’ or ‘Mni Wiconi’ as he also translated it to, speaks to the sacredness of water.  Without water, we and our planet would not be able to sustain life (for very long).  This element is deeply embedded in our cells of all creation.  So when powers that choose profit over people tried to harm the water system in North Dakota, this phrase became the resistance cry of the indigenous water protectors and all others that gathered.  

So when it seemed like my intention in using this phrase was to sell water or feed more capitalism, I understand where he felt angry.  As stated before, this was never my intention. 

And in many of his later comments, I agree with his opinions and feelings.  Descendents of colonists or ‘white people’ as he described have been doing terrible, unspeakable things to Mother Earth and the native populations for thousands of years.  And they still are.  It is awful and makes me sick as well.  And makes me shameful and guilty at times to be descendants of these colonists or a ‘white person.’  

Yet, I had no control over what family, what nationality, what body my soul was born into.  So it seems very unproductive to continue to hold onto large amounts of shame and guilt for actions that my relatives in the past possibly did.  It is only productive to feel it and acknowledge it so that we can make sure that we do not repeat the same harmful actions.

I deeply respect the indigenous people on this planet and their belief systems.  I resonate with their core beliefs and would love to learn and integrate more of their wisdom, teachings, and practices into my own life.  However, this learning can only happen if others are willing to teach and let go of their anger from past grievances.  If we are both able to consciously listen and communicate openly from our hearts.  If we are able to let down our guards with one another and meet in our commonality for what we all want for our future generations and the planet.  

Where can we all stop being “injustice collectors” as Hawkins states and move into unity & problem-solving?  

Of course, that’s not to ignore, invalidate, or discredit people’s grievances or where they have felt injustice. 

We can acknowledge, make sure the other feels heard, sincerely apologize, & see what can be done to make amends.  

And hopefully, this helps others’ anger dissipate.  

Yet, it also takes their willingness to relinquish it.  

Because replaying the same grievances over and over again & holding onto anger is only hurting the person who experiences this emotion.   Hawkins explains that simple muscle testing proves that this emotion is detrimentle to our overall emotional and physical health – leading to sickness and premature death.  

I feel it is more productive & healthy to move into a space of unity & love for your fellow brother & sister, once we have been able to express our grievances.

And within this unity, focus our minds & hearts on how to create the vision of what we want to see in this world.

One tradition I was reading about in the Sacred Path Cards: The Discovery of Self Through Native Teachings by Jamie Sams was that of the ‘Council of Fire.’  It is said to be an ancient Native American custom used when decisions need to be made that affect the whole Tribe or Nation. 

I pray that these practices can be used within the household, within the community, within government, and throughout the world and/or Universe.  

It states in the book, “Before any Council begins, the Pipe is shared and All Our Relations are asked to add their Medicine to empower those gathered.  Great Mystery and Mother Earth are asked to add their wisdom to the Council Fire.  The powers of the Four Directions are beseeched to add illumination, trust and innocence, inner-knowing and introspection, wisdom and gratitude to the gifts the Elders bring.  Then the Creature-being relations, who are Winged-ones, Four-leggeds, No-leggeds, Creepy-crawlers, and Finned-ones are asked to be present.  Then the Stone People, the Standing People, the Cloud People, Grandfather Sun, and Grandmother Moon are invited to be a part of the Council Fire.  The Great Star Nation and all Sisters and Brothers from other galaxies are invited to assist in decision making, along with the Four Clan Chiefs of Air, Earth, Wind, and Fire.  All of this Good Medicine is put into the Pipe; then the smoke from the Pipe brings the spirits of All Our Relations into the Council as advisers.

Any personal burden is left outside the circle.  Any talent for discovering solutions is brought into the circle.  Any disagreement between Council Members is handled by Burying the Hatchet before the Pipe is smoked.  Parliamentary procedure is observed by using the Talking Stick and the Answering Feather… All viewpoints are heard when the subject being addressed needs opinions or solutions.  After every member has stated his or her viewpoint, a common decision is reached by vote.”  

It also states that when making decisions for the Tribe with the Council of Fire that:

 “All Sacred Viewpoints of those affected by the decisions are treated with respect…  

The way in which a probable decision will affect the lives of the People is carefully weighed.

The desired outcome is always to keep the Peace.”

(Sacred Path Cards: The Discovery of Self Through Native Teachings by Jamie Sams, Pg. 192-193)

Finally, some of the most powerful parts of this teaching are quoted by Jamie Sams as follows:

“To admit a wrongdoing and to make amends builds character and makes a Tribe or Nation stronger.  There is no losing face when a person is willing to make amends.  Honor is found in the willingness to change.  This act of courage, which is the willingness to right a wrong, allows everyone to see how the offender is once again walking the Sacred Path. 

One comes to realize a sense of unity when observing the way our Ancestors had of making democratic Council decisions.  When the good of the whole is placed before the good of the few, all are assured of a future filled with abundance.   These teachings stress that until all the People are doing well, in truth none of the People do well.  This idea encompasses all races and creeds because Grandfather Sun shines on us all.  We then respect the value of the individual and acknowledge the need to nurture the Self first so that the talents of each individual brings into the world can feed all of the People.  If these guidelines are followed, the Children of Earth will break the bonds of inequality and dictatorship.”

(Sacred Path Cards: The Discovery of Self Through Native Teachings, Pg. 194)

We are all brothers and sisters.  We are all connected as One Planetary Family.

And when we start living and acting this way, we will listen more deeply, feel more empathy for one another, and not wish or do harm on one another or the planet like we did in the past or in our present reality.

I am sorry that it came off that I was trying to use the phrase ‘Water is Life’ in a disrespectful way or to sell water.  That was never my intention and I do not agree that we should have to pay for clean water access. 

Clean water access should be a basic human right.

I think we all envision a future where the water systems on this planet run clean and unpolluted.  And that all life has access to this clean water. 

Along with clean, unpolluted air and fresh, organic food.  

Yet, unfortunately, at this moment in time, we are still working on that dream…

And I don’t think it’s terrible that there are businesses out there trying to provide clean water sources for their community in the meantime.  

Of course, the bigger vision is to provide these basic human resources to those that do not have the money to pay for them.  And I am open and receptive to learning about ways I can help with this mission. 

How can I actively do my part to lessen the gap between the haves and have nots?

We can only do better once we know better. I know I have tried to make strides in living more mindfully and sustainably throughout the years, but I am far from perfect and there is much more I am willing and capable of doing. 

Because I love this planet we live on.  

Our Divine Mother – in all her unconditional love, beauty, abundance, and glory. 

And I hope you do. 

I am thankful for the feedback that brought these thoughts and questions into my mind, heart, and now on the internet more.  I am grateful for the opportunity for more growth and learning.  

Thank you to whoever felt called to listen to what has been going on in my mind and heart since that post. 

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