Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oneida Clans

Brandon Chrisjohn

My new adventures of meditation has brought me face to face with my spirituality, or should I say my lack of spirituality. I originally started to meditate to find inner strength to heal myself. It clearly became a search for my spirituality as well. The signs and messages I have been sent have sparked ideas for new blogs.

In my first session with my meditation coach I was gifted the wolf as my first totem. How fabulous and appropriate is that? After all, I am wolf clan, and I tell people all the time I am a wolf. Which brings me to the point of this blog.... clans of the Oneida people.

The Iroquois Nation as a whole has nine different clans; turtle, bear, wolf, deer, beaver, eel, heron, hawk, and snipe. The Oneida people have the main three, of which all the Iroquois Nations have at least these, turtle, bear and wolf.

What are clans?
Clans are family groupings, and are always passed from a mother to a child. When the Iroquois people lived in long houses, they would live as an extended family all of the same clan. Of course husband would be a different clan, but they would move in with the wife's family after marriage. Every clan had 3 chiefs and Clan Mothers. The clan mothers were in charge of keeping traditions, choosing cheifs, choosing names, leading ceremonies, and sought out when any member of the clan needs guidance.

Do the animal clans have meaning?
Each animal represents a special role in the nation.

The turtle is the foundation of the world. The Iroquois people call the earth Turtle island, because in the creation story, turtle offered to hold Skywoman when she fell from the sky to the world
Crystal T. Henry

of water below. When muskrat put the tiny speck of dirt he scraped from the bottom of the sea, Skywoman danced in a circle on his back and the land of the earth grew larger and larger.

The turtle represents earth, solidarity, strength, patience, determination, wisdom and respect.

"Turtle Clan people need a strong base where they can live and grow roots. They move slowly to teach patience; lessons learned are not forgotten. Although Turtles may appear slow, their determination allows them to obtain their goals. The Turtle is a creature of two elements --earth and water. Because of this, the people of the turtle clan share a bond with both of these. They enjoying helping things grow --plants and people, yet enjoy their freedom just as a Turtle would in the water."(Judy Robb)

The bear clan are the keepers of all Earth's medicines. Long ago, a tattered man came to an Iroquois village. He went to each clan's longhouse and asked for food and shelter. One by one the clans turned him away since they had only enough for themselves. Finally he reached the bear clan's lodge and the woman at the door took pity and asked him to come in. She fed him and gave him a place to sleep, and as he slept she found him new clothes. He was very greatful, but soon became ill. She didn't know what to do, but he told her where to get a plant which would cure him. Sure enough she brought it back and prepared it the way he said and he was better, but the next day he was ill with something else. He again told her what plant and where to find it, and how to prepare it, and everytime she cured him, he soon had a new illness.This went on for days, until one day she came back to see her lodge glowing and inside stood a healthy, strong man. He explained he was the Creator, and had chosen her because of her kindness, to learn all the cures of all the sicknesses her people may get. To this day all medicine people are from the bear clan.

The wolf clan are the pathfinders. They are responsible for guiding the members of their Nation along the path the Creator wishes them to live.They are known as the fire keepers, keepers of knowledge and information.

"The Wolf is respected for its sense and importance of family, teaching us to use our ears and be watchful, just as a family does. In nature, the Wolf seeks out and explores new situations to find new knowledge and return it to the pack." "The Wolf Clan are often the ones to whom others turn to in time of need. They have a great sense of curiosity and while they might explore on their own they prefer the company of others.
"(Judy Robb)

The wolf represents, passion, benevolence, artistic ability, generosity, sympathy and understanding.

I would like to thank my cousin Brandon, and my cousin Terry's wife Crystal for allowing me to use their art in my blog. If you want to see more of their artwork you can find them here:
Brandon Chrisjohn
Crystal Henry

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Medical adventures

I just realized it has been a long time since I blogged. These past several months have been difficult for me. I found myself on a hard and arduous path, full of briers and goblins. Well, as much as I wanted to focus on the IAGuild, more and more of attention was drawn to my health. In 2008 I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer, and after a hard year of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, I was declared in remission. In December of 2009, I started feeling bad, bad to the point it couldn't be ignored or written off as something else. Sure enough I had a recurrence.

So, after a total resistance (that is a personal resistance) to more chemotherapy, I had to relent in March and do it yet again. 6 months later I was told it is still there, smaller but still there, and a new round of chemo began. This time with 2 agents. I wasn't as sad as I had though I would be if this was the news. I didn't expect it, but there it was. What now? 3 more months? Ugh! But I found strength and hope within myself. I had a new plan, an alternative plan. Would I do the chemo, yes. But I would do other things as well.

I am going to switch tenses now:)

So here I am with new resolve and intent to help myself heal. I start seeing a meditation guide and defining my path as a healthy person and a teacher through my experiences. I am feeling good, right, empowered. And .... bam.... so sick! A bowel obstruction. The doctors are worried it is from the chemo, or worse the cancer. Now I am in the hospital giving my intestines a rest, a tube in my nose into my stomach, but it's not working. They determine the blockage needs to be removed surgically, and I am scheduled for the next day. I spike a fever and need to go in immediately. They have to remove a piece of my intestines because it gangrened, but the good news is it is all mechanical. I developed a hernia and it caused the blockage. The doctors are happy it is mechanical, the alternative was bad. Now I have to heal from this before I resume chemo. It's slow and frustrating, but a couple weeks later i start to feel better, and my leg goes out of alignment. So now, as of today, I can't walk without pain. It doesn't want to go back in, and I ask myself why? Why are these things happening? Every time I fell like I am getting ahead... well you know. But I think I know, and I am going to meditate on it before I post this, but I feel as though the universe is telling me I need to stop trying to hide.

It doesn't matter how the outside world sees me. Am I weak, fragile, sick? Does it matter if people see this? I tried to look my best and not let people know what is going on. I wore a wig and used makeup to give the illusion of eye lashes and eyebrows. People didn't know I was sick. I was pale, but other then that? Perhaps they did know, or at least suspected. I accept my path and choose to move forward from here in the light. That sounds hokey I know, but it is how I feel right now. It no longer matters to me if people know, hence the blog. I have been so tired and drained, I didn't have the energy to make myself up before leaving the house. People saw me with my choppy hair and no make up, limping around. So here I am ready to move on, out in the open for the world to see. It is time to heal, beyond my physical body.

I quick update. After I wrote this blog, I got up off the couch and me leg was back in alignment. I walked with soreness, but not pain and I could lift my leg. Is it a coincidence I decided to no longer hide and be in the open about my struggles? Maybe, but then again maybe not:)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Guild Adventures

I have been pretty busy working on both promoting, and doing artwork and ATCs (artist trading cards) for the new guild I am helping get going. I guess I elected myself to write a blog for and about the guild, the Inspiring Artist Guild. I say this because nobody asked me to do it, but I thought it was important. It is easier for me to get the information out about the guild without being all formal or having to weasel in on Brandon's gig, which is keeping the website updated. A note here, I gladly defer that job to him.

The guild has so much potential, it is hard for us to edit ourselves. The ideas keep popping out, and we are picking the best ones and making it real. Our first official event was fantastic. We had a launch party and an ATC exchange, so much fun. I made about 25 cards, because I wanted a chance to trade with everyone. I ended up trading 12 cards and giving one to my mom. There was a lot of really great artwork, and I am very happy with what I got in exchange for my cards.

Since this is my blog and not the guild blog, on the right are the ATCs I traded away. I got some real treasures in exchange, and can't wait until the next swap!

I started with what I knew best, and what I was comfortable with, and that would be my floral designs. It abstracted from there, florals, to squiggles with floral (not posted here) to just squigs with circles to just squigs. See there is a connection! It was a lot of fun to do. Now where it takes me from here will be interesting.

Maybe next time I will tell you something about my culture, then again maybe I will have more exciting aventures in art to tell you about.

If you want to know more about the guild and see the cards I traded for check out the IAGuild blog.