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Wisdom from Granddad
~ Fox Northstar
After a year’s hiatus, I am spending another
lovely summer in the Great White North.
While enjoying gatherings and powwows, I
have noticed that some of the elders I have
met over the years have crossed. I do realize
that is the normal course of events in these
physical bodies, and that this one has fewer
days ahead of it than behind it. I don’t even
like to think of myself as aging, and hate it when someone calls me “Grandfather” or refers to me as an elder, but I guess it’s high time I get used to it.
As such, over the winter, we lost a Mohawk elder to whom I had gotten close. To those of us who knew him well, we saw it coming almost a year ago, but it was still a shock when he crossed. I spent decades with him, sharing teachings. He told me when we first started working together, that he would learn as much from me as I would from him. Seems he was right. I am grateful that he, and his wife, were able to tell me how much they had seen me grow over the years, and they were candid enough to let me know they had their doubts all those years ago when they started working with me. While I’m not about ego (as many of you know), it was comforting to hear. After all, each of us has only one viewpoint, and there are four billion others able to look
back at us.
We often forget we are trying to prepare the world for the next seven generations, and sharing our accumulated teachings are a large part of the process, and contributes to the continuation and growth of our cultures. The teachings we receive today are not exactly the same as those received 500 years ago, nor are they the same as they will passed along 500 years from now. But that is part of the process. Teachings and traditions evolve to the needs of the people, and our needs are not going to be the same as our ancestors or our descendants. It is the normal course of events.
I am at the age where I can reflect on teachings I have received and finally get some understanding of them. I am always happy to share them when I can, but I do NOT force anyone to agree or even listen. After all, my teachings may have many similarities to yours, but there are likely many differences as well. It is those differences that
spark some of the most interesting conversations I have had over the years. We each walk away with more information than we had when we met.
But keep in mind, as an elder, certain protocols are expected. Fortunately, as I have aged I have gained more tolerance of things, and that makes my temper easier to keep in check. Besides, why should I be bothered? “What difference will most of this make fifty years from now?” Granddad would say. I’m beginning to see his point now that I have left fifty many years behind.
We must never forget our actions and teachings are the influence for the generations coming behind us. Each of us will be remembered in one of three ways: either fondly and with respect, or detested, or (worse) not at all. It all depends on OUR behavior. Remember, what we take with us is not so important as that which we leave behind!
What we share and how we go about it makes all the difference there.
In the course of this, I guess I have mellowed somewhat. That, or I just cannot be bothered with horse hockey. Honestly, I don’t know which, but it doesn’t really matter either. What does matter is the sharing and caring….and very little else will have that kind of impact, something that was lost on me until just last month. I learned just how important passing these teachings along DOES mean, how effective they can be, and how well they can be remembered by those we share with.
I got to visit with a young woman whom I have known for half her life. We helped celebrate her 32nd birthday. Over the years, we have gotten closer. Not to toot my own horn, but when she was having difficulties a few years ago, I was one of the few who stood by her trying to help when most of the others either deserted her or took advantage of her weak moments. As such, I consider her my niece in this extended
family I have gathered over the years.
The lesson I got from her is just how important these teachings we carry are to everyone, and the way they are delivered does matter. Methinks I should let her speak as to the impact a teaching had on her, and I thought it was just a discussion. But, then again, we never know how another is receiving our output. I am content in knowing Granddad and my other elders over the years seems to have done a pretty good job with me, and I am honored to share what I can, this little note from my niece says it better than I can…
“Just wanted to share a little something. When I was a young teen and was learning the Red Road path, I listened to an inner voice one day that I needed to take a walk into this one field. So I took my walk not knowing what I would find. And what I found was many feathers that I later learned were red tailed hawk. It wasn’t the last time that I had that inner voice tell me to do the same thing. Again I had found the same feathers in the same field. I had suspected that the birds were shot and left but mostly eaten by animals. At some point I had been told to share the feathers. I had been asked to share. And expected to share. Sometimes someone in the room would get feathers while the ones watching didn’t and at the same time judged quietly for the time being ‘cuz they did not get any, although at another time in the past they had been gifted. I had also gifted feathers to people undeserving... ‘cuz my heart was big and foolish at the time. And I did not see through masks one could wear. At times I was told I should not have these items. Either ‘cuz I was white or ‘cuz of being a woman. So I had been torn in directions. I had left many feathers go to the wind. Or on top of the bush snow. I had buried things I knew I’d miss.
“I had somehow forgotten when and how I gifted these 2 feathers to my friend Fox Osier NorthStar. And on top of that it never registered to me that they been on the friendship staff since. When I looked at the staff he pointed out to me the feathers and I recognized them from way back in my late teen years. And suddenly tears came over me ‘cuz it was
as if I had seen and acknowledged an old part of my younger self again. The girl who gave from the heart. The girl who wasn’t put through so much yet at that time. Who didn’t know the hard path near ahead. And I wanted to hug that younger self as if she was standing in front of me age 19 and tell her "you did good and I love you.
“I told Fox I did not realize I’d contributed to the friendship staff. It’s really something when something so meaningful had passed me by ‘cuz of so much chaos or something or other that put me off focus. So Fox gave me a hug and said the staff has traveled well to many powwows. He is a veteran and it was passed to him many years ago. Only he can word the medicine/purpose of the staff the best but the staff stands against discrimination of two spirited people...for example...times like when two spirited people who had gotten turned away at powwow ground entrance gates. Therefore that year the staff would not allow him to enter the circle ‘cuz of the nonsense that was happening in the area...it represents a teaching and if it will not be heard then there is no point of it being there at that time. And it stands for speaking the truth as you know it. It has a lot of love.
“I hope whoever you are enjoyed my little share. The hawk has a lot of personal meaning to me. A spirit animal which I have learned from. I do not expect everyone to understand the significance of feathers. But everything has an energy and a personality. Everything bring something to you and the earth.
“If you have taken time to read this and enjoyed. Thank you. Peace.”