This path came because I was hungry for answers from God. My path is not anyone else’s, and another person’s path is not mine. Each of us finds our own path back to God, and all paths lead to God through prayer. Everything always goes back to prayer. No matter what religion or the spiritual way we take, we are all headed towards the same God. As long as each attempt to walk in a direction towards God, there will be growth, and this is good. Sometimes we may fall, but we can stand back up and continue to walk. Each life is created and orchestrated as perfectly as the leaves on a tree, as perfectly as each bird’s feathers. Look around. With our assets and our flaws, we are still perfect. We are learning what we need to learn at this time.
Through a physical birth, I received my opportunity to receive lessons to understand and learn on this earth. I could go round and round, having these lessons over and over again for the rest of my life, or I could take responsibility for my healing. All I had to do was be open and willing to ask for help finding my answers and then open to how the answers might present themselves. So I received guidance from Al-Anon to prepare me for this path to move me closer to God. This journey opened for me, just as it will for anyone who asks. It is an individualized path, one of surrendering and allowing the Great Spirit God to take over my life.
When I was at my lowest, I made a prayer. I read books looking for my answer, and I listened for my answer. The first answer came from a stranger at a ski resort. I was first guided to Al-Anon. That program allowed me to become less attached to what I no longer needed. My eyes opened to my life, so I could be better able to see. Today I have a better acceptance of myself and others. Growth continued to take place on this path as I moved forward, participating in sweat lodges and ceremonies. I gained a much greater understanding of God and Spirit as I developed a more personal relationship and received answers. A security and inner peace beyond all understanding is the result.
Many ask if Jesus is involved in this path. I have seen the representation of Jesus Christ in all parts of this path. When someone who loves Jesus chooses this pathway, they cannot keep from thinking about Him inside the lodge and as they walk to their spot to quest for a vision. As you walk up the hill with people following you in silence to your spot for prayer and fasting, you feel the suffering of Jesus and the compassion for Him as He carried His cross. You realize you will return to those supporting you in this way when you do a vision quest as a new person. It is a tiny bit of understanding the resurrection.
Jesus found answers by spending time alone in nature, fasting, and praying. Moses and others have done the same. They returned to people with truths. Many, in this way, find their answers through this time alone, fasting, and making prayers. During a quest, dreams and visions come, bringing understanding and answers for your life.
Representations of Christ and how he gave himself so we might live are easily seen at the Sun Dance. The tree gives its life so others might live. The Dancers in the center raise their hands and their hearts to the tree, allowing the healing energy to enter. Followers of Christ also raised their hands and hearts to Christ. As those praying from sunrise to sunset, the sixteen choke cherry branches placed across the tree have an uncanny similarity to the Cross. The handmade sage ornaments around the head, wrists, and ankles are reminders of Christ’s restrictions as he hung on the cross.
Every time I attend a purification sweat, I see reminders and symbols of the Holy Trinity. The lodge represents God’s creation of the Universe. The altar represents Christ, and the fire symbolizes the eternal flame of the Holy Spirit. When a vision quest or Sun Dance occurs, the fire is lit before the ceremony and is maintained day and night by keepers of the fire during a vision quest or a Sun Dance.
I now consider myself a Christian who carries a pipe for the people, “all” people. For many walking this way, the four colors of black, red, yellow, and white… have come to represent the people of four colors and any mixture thereof. I have seen pipe carriers of all colors learning from this path. Some on the reservation feel the pipe only belongs to the Native Americans. Yet, others are changing. They are opening, sharing, and understanding that we often stereotype according to what we have been taught. Perhaps we have been wrong. This willingness to look at Self and to practice acceptance will bring health and help to the world.
Before a Lakota medicine man mysteriously entered my life, the world of the Native Americans was foreign to me. I had my own myths about life and my stereotypes presented to me. The more I learn, the less I know. I have only my experiences and my perceptions. We all deal with myths, and we continue to believe what we have been taught, especially if something happens that tends to confirm what we have been taught. Of course, what we expect usually happens. Right? It seldom occurs to us that our own energy tends to cause exactly what we expected. With time, perhaps we can release these old stereotypes, join hands, and accept and be accepted as we are, where we are. This is a time for healing and loving each other to move to a different future.
My greatest transformation has been a progression stemming out of my vision quests. My first one brought answers about my life and how I am related to everyone and everything else that God creates. It confirmed hopes and beliefs that we have much more help than we ever could imagine. There is so much more that God has to show us. God and Spirit showed me there was more than I ever dreamed to be possible. And when sought, a path appears when a person is hungry for more information. My second quest was completely different. I was gifted with an inheritance. I was shown how I was going more inward to find my truths. The third quest brought some grief for closings and answers as I realized that I had to face my fear of aloneness that I had not been able to face before. The fourth one brought a new birth. I understood how everything had to turn to ashes before new life could grow. I now could stand and face into the storm with joy.
Sun Dances are for the entire world and for all that walk on this earth. This ceremony is for the earth, for all people upon the earth, for all that grows upon the earth, and for the many healings to occur during the dance and the year. I danced my first two Sun Dances at the dances Gary’s family held. After my second year, John’s third year, they decided to go back to a closed Sun Dance, a smaller Sun Dance for the family. John and I skipped a year but were then invited to participate in Albert White Hat’s Sun Dance on the Rose Bud Reservation. When we arrived there, it was big! There were people from all over the world attending this dance, and there with many different religions represented. We felt welcomed, as did our entire Oklahoma camp.
By watching all that takes place at every Sun Dance, everything became more sacred to me. An Eagle feather was never allowed to touch the ground. A pipe was not ever to touch the ground, except when placed on an altar. When a pipe was presented after each round of the Sun Dance, it was an honor to receive it. When someone passes a pipe to another person in the lodge or at Sun Dance, it seems like a baby is being shared with someone for the first time. When someone holds a pipe the entire vision quest or during the Sun Dance, it is to never touch the ground. These actions changed me. I handle items at home differently. No spiritual books, especially my Bible, touch the ground unless it is accidental. Every ceremony reminded me of how important water is to us and how we must take care of it. Then there were the healings through the power of prayer and the energy of intent through the ceremonies! I watched multiple miracles and healings take place.
I enjoyed seeing the positive changes in people’s lives that joined us for purification ceremonies, sweats. Ministers showed up; professors brought students, parents brought disgruntled and difficult teenagers. All seemed amazed. When they came several times or more, one could see growth and change. I wanted to invite all young people to our lodge because it seemed to help those that came so much.
I pay attention to my words and my thoughts. What I think and what I say goes into the earth and comes back to me. I have seen it repeatedly. Now, perhaps if we begin to understand each other and other cultures and take from each other what is good, we can then have the opportunity to heal the earth. I can no longer crawl into a sweat lodge or dance a Sun Dance due to getting older. However, I can continue to walk my path with all that I learned in our twelve years on this path that allowed so much love to flow into me. I hope the love I feel for all as I write this flows right through and into you.
LESSON: Ask, be open, and be willing to receive.
GIFT: If you want my entire book about teachings and understandings of the first five or six years on this path, go to “susanneblake.com.” You can download my whole ebook onto your Kindle or Nook, or iPhone from my simple web page. It is free. If you want a softcover book form, call me at 405-238-6260. I will not answer with so much spam but will return your call if I know what it is about.
I have received new letters this year from people that I do not know about blessings and appreciation for this book. I am humbled and cannot believe it has been twenty-five years since I published it.
Thank you for reading this blog and others! Blessings!