A tree through history

It all started as a child. I used to go to Congress Park, Saratoga Springs, New York, to sled. My father knew how much Saratoga memories meant to me as I grew older and worked afar. In 1982, he took pictures of Union Avenue where canna arrangements line the avenue in August. At the bordor of Circular Drive on Congress Park and Union Avenue there was always a spectacular flower arrangement. Often it was shaped like a horseshoe, or words would have been spelled out in flowers. Always a stunner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne photo I looked at yesterday showed the trees that stood directly behind the arrangement. They were there to provide a privacy screen for the park and the road that went no where in front Canfield Museum. Last week I was riding on a local bus and while I was talking to a young Skidmore student who knew tree chemistry, the bus driver Pat said, I have a tree story.

He said, “I was driving along Circular Street when I noticed a piece of a pine tree that was cut down. It called to me. It was shaped like a heart.” He continued,  “I asked a young man on the bus to get off and get it for me. The piece is now under a seat. I want you to take the piece home. I am supposed to give it to you today.” At first I declined, but then I realized it meant something to not only the driver, but that it had a message for me also.

seed bombYou see, I had a sacred tree long ago in the foreest in Southern Maryland. It was in a Chesapeake Ranch Estates, in Lusby.  Tia, my dog, and I used to walk the horse trail a few times a week. Within this forest was the sacred tree. I won’t write about it now or this story will be too long.

Anyway, I took a beautuful part of a branch that fell from the tree. I loved the virgin wood that was exposed. The fragrant wood ended up being part of an alter that I maintained in Minong, WI. The tree always spoke to me. Tia and I would go visit the tree, before the branch fell. It was a large tulip tree and was burned by lightening fire long, long ago. This had significance for me because it meant that the medicine of the tree was strong. In Southern Maryland, after I brought it home, I kept it under a shed out of the rain, wind, and snow. There was no place in that house to display it. The house in Minong, WI, however, had a fireplace mantel and it was here where I placed the beautiful shaped wood and set up my alter and lit a candle in the morning to do morning offering.

The Eno River in full bloom.When it became time to leave Wisconsin in 2012, I knew where I was moving to had no place for the alter. I had to leave it behind, along with several other sacred objects. I won’t name them. I took the wooden alter and sacred objects to a place near my home where several women and I would get together and do sacred water cememony. This was a sacred site to me and no one knew of it, expect those I brought there. It was here I did my last Water Ceremony and bid goodbye in the last ceremony. I placed the alter here among the sand dunes and Jack pine that was moving in. These sacred objects had been part of my life in Venezuela and Peru. These were objects that I carried with me after I no longer lived in South America. They had been part of my life since the 1970s.

In Saratoga Springs, I don’t have a sacred wooden alter. This wood is about the right size to place on a wide window ledge. Once again I will have sacred wood around me. I can smell the beautiful scent of pine in my bedroom now as the wood ages. In January, I will give it to a woman who’s husband is a master workworker. He wll sand it down and put a light protective coat on it.

Isn’t it amazing how Creator comes to us and offers something that is highly significant to each of us? I am honored to know this young man, Pat, the bus driver and to know he recognized the importance of the story, even though he hasn’t heard anything about why.

Blessings from the other side

This morning I touched a handmade piece of art glass because my friend Worth Cooley-Prost made it. Then I was clearing

out some old greeting caFeatured imagerds and I found this note from Worth. She has walked on, but she left these words behind.

14 April 2013

“The Circle of Light in this piece were cut from glass placed under the sheltering arms of the Grandfather Oak that cover part of the balcony outside our room – on the day of the full moon eclipse in June 2012, thorough the [Venus not sure of word] transit the next day, and through sunrise the day after that –

Net of Light made for Mary Ellen with love and gratitude Worth Cooley-Prost 2012

The other piece like this, cut side by side from the same glass, was made for Grandmother Whitedeer.”

Grandmother Whitedeer is the founder of the Sisterhood of Planetary Water Rites. Worth was a member. I am a council guide of the Sisterhood.

Love and light,

Worth

NOTE: I do believe in the Veil of Light from the other side. Worth is surely doing her blessed work from the other side. I can’t help but think she is very close to us from afar. The photo of glass animals were made by Worth also.

Happy Thansgiving Blessings,

Mary Ellen

Edward Curtis film and discussion at Skidmore College

Tonight was the first time I ventured out into the night alone here in Saratoga Springs, New York. I wanted to attend a program at Tang Museum and Art Gallery, at Skidmore College. The bus comes by my building and so I rode to next stop, Skidmore College. I attended the Film Screening and Discussion, “Coming to Light: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indians.”  I saw first hand the sacrifices Curtis made in order to capture the Native People of the west. He didn’t bother to photograph east coast Native People because they were now influenced by settlers. Out west, it was still pristine and primative. Curtis felt that  Native People would disappear because of white settlers and he desperately wanted to capture a noble people.

Ian Berry, Tang Museum Director, and Jill Sweet, retired professor of Anthropology, led a discussion about their experience in co-curating the 2002 Tang exhibition, “Staging the Indian: The Politics of Representation,” which featured work from Skidmore’s extensive holdings of Curtis’ work.  I had no idea that Skidmore College had this vast collection, which is currently not available for view. It is held at the library and only a handful of professionals have seen it.

There are  going to be further programs as part of Saratoga Reads!. One of the books read was The Round House, about the Ojibwe people and the topic was rape. It is a very sensitive subject because a number of tribal women are victims of violence and rape on tribal land, and yet it is not talked about in the open. There are many secrets. A young man tries to find out what happened to his mother and why doesn’t the tribe come out in the open and do something about it. He tries to find the answers himself within his culture. It is a brave thing for  Louise Erdrich  to bring this subject out into the open. She did so brilliently.full moon

Doctrine of Discovery

Conquest of Doctrine of Discovery. It’s an international law that was used for the colonization of America. I can hardly believe what I am hearing. In the early days of conquest, the Europeans were using the International Doctrine of Discovery and that meant they mapped bounderies and Indian territory by water. Using the Mississippi, they cornered the land by water bounderies. It is such a eye opener. The United States owned Texas in regards to Manifest Destiny. How can this be?

John J. Sullivan coined the words “Manifest Destiny.” What a term. As if we are God’s elete and had a right to the land. How could this be?

We are now in a time of Indians rights. I need to study Doctrine of Discovery. I will look to read the  book.

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