Treaty Four Day

Today is Treaty Four Day, and I attended the celebrations in the nearby town of Fort Qu’Appelle — a parade and powwow — on the grounds where the original treaty between Queen Victoria and the Cree and Saulteaux peoples was first signed in 1874. I offered to take a young German student visiting here to see the spectacle, and explain to him the whole meaning of it, but he never showed up at our agreed rendezvous point. I’ll have to kick his tiny German butt when I see him next.

I suppose he just wasn’t ready to witness that. Not many are.

A powwow ceremony, properly conducted and performed, is a grand and majestic thing. If you don’t know what you are seeing, all you might think you see is a bunch of Indians acting crazy. I’ve almost given up trying to explain to non-aboriginal people the significance and meaning of the powwow. Most of them are deaf and blind, convinced of that their mere opinion and point of view is true knowledge and reality while remaining willfully oblivious to anything they don’t know and don’t want to know. For someone to be so proud of being stupid is about the most idiotic thing imaginable. And I had to navigate around a couple of such avatars of bigotry and stupidity on my way to the powwow grounds this morning.

But if you have eyes to see it and ears to hear it, a well-conducted powwow is a wonderful event, a living enactment of the Sacred Hoop.

That said, it’s probably true that a lot of First Nations participants also don’t recognise the significance of some of the ceremonies and the forms either. Something, I think, has been lost over the years, which is really quite tragic. “The Sacred Hoop is broken” really comes home to you too when you attend a powwow. It’s a mixture of the joyful and the painful, of the majestic and the tragic — a commemoration of suffering and survival.

It was while watching the ceremonies that an exercise occurred to me that might serve well to strengthen the integral consciousness, or give you a sense of that “vital centre” that coincides with the centre of the Sacred Hoop or, indeed, Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”. I’ll give a number of possible ways of doing the exercise, following the pattern of the Sacred Hoop and of the cross of reality, too.

The first variation is this:

Face the East. Say, “Let my feelings be good feelings”.
Turn and face the North. Say, “Let my thoughts be good thoughts”
Turn and face the West. Say “Let my will be goodwill”
Turn and face the South. Say, “Let my perceptions be good perceptions”.
Finally, focus on yourself as centre. Say, “So I will have it”.

Repeat this another three times as follows:

Face the East. Say, “Let my feelings be true feelings”.
Turn and face the North. Say, “Let my thoughts be true thoughts”
Turn and face the West. Say “Let my will be true will”
Turn and face the South. Say, “Let my perceptions be true perceptions”.
Finally, focus on yourself as centre. Say, “So I will have it”.

Face the East. Say, “Let my feelings be beautiful feelings”.
Turn and face the North. Say, “Let my thoughts be beautiful thoughts”
Turn and face the West. Say “Let my will be a beautiful will”
Turn and face the South. Say, “Let my perceptions be beautiful perceptions”.
Finally, focus on yourself as centre. Say, “So I will have it”.

Face the East. Say, “Let my feelings be powerful feelings”.
Turn and face the North. Say, “Let my thoughts be powerful thoughts”
Turn and face the West. Say “Let my will be a powerful will”
Turn and face the South. Say, “Let my perceptions be powerful perceptions”.
Finally, focus on yourself as centre. Say, “So I will have it”.

You can consider this an exercise in winning to a sense of equanimity and to a sense of the equilibrium of yourself and things. “Strength is a feeling of comfort within”.

Optionally, take four pieces of paper. Inscribe the cross of reality or Sacred Hoop on the papers, and write out each of these in steps, going clockwise from East to North, to West, to South, to Centre on the four pages.

This is an exercise in enacting or performing the Sacred Hoop. Try it a few times and I think you’ll find you will be much more centred in the core of yourself and much more attuned to the fourfold character of the human form also. You will actually be the mandala, an incarnation of justice.

Or not.

 

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3 responses to “Treaty Four Day”

  1. Don Dwiggins says :

    This reminds me of some of the rituals I’ve heard described in various magic traditions (some of them in Greer’s writings (particularly the Well of Galabes), and others that I’ve come across from various sources). It might be interesting to see what resonances there are between your indigenous friends’ practices and those of, say, the Celtic Golden Dawn.

    On the subject of the indigenous peoples: I first heard the saying “when making a decision, consider the impact on the next seven generations” attributed to the Haudenosaunee. I seem to remember you quoting it with reference to the Sioux. Now I’m wondering whether it was a common principle among the native American peoples. I’m particularly interested in this because of the “sense of time” that it speaks of. One of the particularly malign aspects of our late mental-rational deficiiency is an almost complete lack of ability to remember the past (let alone learn from it) or envision possible futures.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes. It’s quite consistent. Typically, a council will convene in the consciousness of being the nexus of seven generations past and seven generations in the future, and being responsible to both past and future. Deliberations and decisions will be made in that context of 15 generations. A friend of mine, who is Cree, even wrote a book of poetry called “Seventh Generation” in that vein. I’ve encountered some folks who have quite prodigious memories, indeed.

      That, in some ways, reflects Rosenstock-Huessy’s model of the cross of reality also — time expands backwards and forwards, not unidirectionally.

  2. LittleBigMan says :

    “Face the East. Say, “Let my feelings be good feelings”.
    Turn and face the North. Say, “Let my thoughts be good thoughts”
    Turn and face the West. Say “Let my will be goodwill”
    Turn and face the South. Say, “Let my perceptions be good perceptions”.
    Finally, focus on yourself as centre. Say, “So I will have it”.”

    That’s almost, if not exactly, like Zoroaster’s three commandments: 1) think good thoughts, 2) say good things, and 3) do good deeds. Of course, not the version of Zoroastrianism that is promulgated by the Mobads in India and elsewhere, who drink cow’s urine or something like that. But of course, in the land of Zoroaster, that spirit was stolen by the demons who were released from Babylon and act in disguise even to this day. These demons have no eyes to see any civilization older and more wise than themselves. Just look at what they have done with the land of Zoroaster now! All in disguise:

    http://www.toonpool.com/cartoons/Iranian%20Justice%20Minister_234954#img9

    I love the powwow, because it seems simple to exercise and it doesn’t require any phony cleric to lead it as a means of gaining political influence and legitimacy among people.

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