This weekend I was blessed to attend a Sundance led by a wonderful Karuk Medicine man named Jack Walking Eagle. While I have spent five years dancing at a Sundance in South Dakota in the past, I have never simply been at a dance where I watched. At first it was hard to attend as it brought up old memories and a strong feeling that I should be out there dancing with the dancers. Then a calm settled over me as I knew that I would need to attend as a watcher for my healing this year.
I have always struggled to explain Sundancing to others as it is unlike anything in our culture. It is a ceremony of gratitude that typically happens in July-August all across the US. Sundancers pray from sun up to sun down for four days with no food or water. During the day there is a special dance done to the beautiful tune of singers and drummers singing traditional songs. Most Sundances stem from the Lakota and other plains tribes. Most of the songs and techniques are Lakota, this may be due to Black Elk’s (Lakota Medicine Man) vision that non natives may be taught these ceremonies. Where as many native tribes did not pass down their ceremonies to non tribal members and as such have died out as those tribes died out. The Sundance is an expression of gratitude for our lives. It is a ceremony to create balance among the masculine and feminine energies and as a thanks for those energies coming together in a multitude of ways to give us life.
This year I watched and was astounded at the level of inner healing I received. My current hang ups and baggage from the past seemed to blow away with the smoke from the sacred chanunpa. I was in awe of the feeling of community and interconnectedness of ourselves with nature and the broader universe. Seeing the milky way splashed across the Northern California night sky was a reminder that we are of stardust. Mostly there was the faint remembrance of what it means to be human again. A different consciousness, a mind quieted from wants and seeking the latest dopamine fix. To not be attached to a device. (Cameras and recording devices are strictly forbidden at a Sundance) To be in the moment and sharing that moment with friends and family.
For more information about Sundances consider reading Michael Hull’s Book “Sundancing: A Spiritual Journey on the Red Road” or come talk to me sometime!