Motion Sickness, a Peace Pipe Ceremony, and Gift #3.
I jumped off RT 66 for a week and headed to a campground at Lake of The Ozark’s; where I half expected to see (hoped to see?) Justin Bateman and Laura Linney stashing a few million dollars in the walls of one of the cabins I was camped near. I was relieved to find out the area is nothing at all like the Netflix series, although there were plenty of billboards around town—sponsored by electricians—that remind you to check your docks for safety and faulty wiring. If you’ve watched the series…you’d totally get that.
Lake of The Ozarks is quite beautiful and insanely big. You’d have to spend a fair amount of time here to explore it all, and, in fact, I’m not sure you even could. The lake looks like a mass of large hairy dragon, in the shape of a very long snake…with multiple legs. I’m sorry, there’s really no polite way to describe it. Just look at a map and you’ll understand what I mean. I was just north of Osage Beach, and the the Bagnell damn, and highly recommend it if it’s your first time.
The roads here are like rollercoasters—rolling, dipping and nausea-inducing—and the high views of the lake are stunning. Take the drive to Sunset Beach Resort and don’t bring your motion sickness pills with you. It’ll cost you a $6.00 toll but if you enjoy an exhilarating drive it’s completely worth the price of admission—and the cost of the Dramamine. I cut my teeth on these seductive roads and can’t help but feel they prepared me for my future (mountain) driving experiences.
I was relaxing into the curves as if I had just slid into my favorite pair of blue jeans.
I found myself at Integrity Yoga and Wellness one Sunday morning and was invited to stick around afterwards for a Yoga Nidra class and Native American peace pipe ceremony. Of course I couldn’t resist this offer. Pranava John guided us through the meditative Nidra class and when we finished—and feeling all sorts of Zen—the five of us were led outside to the courtyard by Pamela, our yoga teacher and ceremony leader. Pamela is the widow of a Sundancer and shares her personal pipe that her late husband had made for helping others and for health. Her chief has encouraged her to share the traditions she has learned, to help other’s and teach a better understanding of the traditions.
Pamela explained that the Sun Dance she supports—a community gathering together to pray for healing (a prayer ceremony if you will)—is like so many others now; inter-tribal and with many different nations gathering. Many Native Americans, like herself, are half-breeds and without a home, simply doing the best they can.
Us ladies were given a scarf or shawl to wrap around our hips and we sat on the ground in a circle. The wrap—which represents the sacred and feminine and shown in many cultures where heads are covered—is worn especially in ceremony, and/or, in gatherings by women for many reasons. Pamela takes her shawl with her—which holds her prayers as well as those before her and the energy of those times—to many sacred events. She says it has the sweat and blood of many Sundancer’s whom she has tried to help over the years. And after sitting with this human being for only a short time, I can’t help but believe her words.
I tied the colorful blue scarf around my hips, settled to the ground, and watched as she took the long wooden peace pipe out of its soft cloth wrapping and filled it with tobacco. I listened with tears in my eyes as she spoke of the history and tradition of the pipe and her people. I felt so honored to be here.
She called upon, and thanked, all six powers; from the four corners of the earth; west, north, east and south; the earth and sky, and of course, the Creator. She said prayers in her native tongue which she explained were for peace, love, and safety for all, and the pipe was passed from person to person. We silently took our turn; lifting the smoke up and around our heads—just like in the movies—praying for peace, love, and safety for all, as well. I understood that as the tobacco is lit by the fire, inhaled and exhaled as smoke, the prayers become visible offerings.
It’s believed that the smoke from the peace pipe carries prayers up to the heavens.
When the ceremony was over and our tears were dried, we said our goodbye’s. As I handed my borrowed scarf to Pamela, she offered it back for me to keep; a gift for my journey. She said it had been a part of many peace pipe ceremonies and many different cultures—as well as yoga and Ashram—over the years. A deep hug, a few more tears, and I was on my way; carrying my treasured scarf as the deeply spiritual gift that it was.
I climbed into my truck and wrapped the sacred scarf around the headrest—where it has remained to this day; a constant reminder that we all have a story. Maybe it’s a dark or painful history, or for some, a cultural tragedy that we live with. It’s a reminder that we all come from the same place and share the same emotions, yet our experiences are unique and on different levels. We all suffer in some way, and some worse than others. In the end, we all want the same thing; peace, love and safety for ourselves, our families, and the world.