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On Wooden Indians…

Part 1) Not ‘just anybody’ would keep a pipe.

We’ll begin with what is required to keep a pipe in the context of the old Plains Cultures, which, with their many superficial differences, were nevertheless essentially identical in core principles.

The classic Plains T pipe represents the Law of Matriarchy to which every man is bound. Everyone who partakes of this pipe in ceremony is expected to understand (have been taught the core principles) what this law demands of the community. Essentially, this law requires setting the self aside with a demand the greater good is to be found in prioritizing devotion to the whole.

To ‘keep’ a pipe is to bind oneself to this primary core principle at a high level; with a self discipline that may not be set aside. This cannot emphasized too strongly. You must discipline your mind to a degree the modern world nearly does not know. There is practically no move you can make, no task you may engage which is not self aware and thought out, even as one performs. Life itself is lived as practical ceremony. You may not engage in petty, vindictive or vain gossip, neither with another person nor within the self. You may not associate with persons who live carelessly or thoughtlessly, you must avoid them. There is no concept of forgiveness, your mistakes must be corrected with practical steps taken.

The effect or litmus test of this self disciplined life *MUST* be what a son, brother and father of three generations of Cheyenne Arrow Keepers has stated should be the consistent, demonstrable outcome:

To be open to the mysteries of the natural world and it’s manifestations, to be sensitive, aware of the manifold possibilities of seeing the world, to be free and unhampered in one’s thinking, to be generous and kind in regard to others, to let everything have it’s own voice.

There is precisely ZERO space for the typical blinding personal arrogance of self, or ego, to achieve the preceding. A result of actually attaining this level of practical intelligence is reflected in the Native American proverb:

The spirit puts into the mind of a man, to know what to do.

This is practical result of the first rule of keeping a pipe. In other words, you can be depended upon to be a wise counselor.

The second general rule of keeping a pipe would seem even more difficult to modern peoples, the practical living in balance requires one cannot be wealth focused; having secured what is required to live MODESTLY, one cannot accrue wealth beyond this, it is affront to the living spirit, nature, whose rule dictates we ‘humans’ have no more inherent right to life than any other living thing. ANYTHING that burdens nature more than necessary to our living modestly, is a violation of the Plains Law of Matriarchy. How is that? The female principle that rules us, our creation or nature, represented in our community of women, is greater than any individual and this demands the individual be sacrificed to the good of the greater living whole. Individual wealth does not, cannot, will not find a place in this scheme. By modern standard, it is a self imposed ‘life of austerity.’

The third general rule of keeping a pipe would be you had already had disciplined oneself to the preceding rules prior to ‘receiving’ a pipe. The community leadership will have recognized one’s devotion, potential for achievement and consistent exemplary life prior to being entrusted with a pipe to be used in open ceremony. Relatively few people kept pipes because of the high expectations demanded of the ‘keepers.’

The fourth general rule of keeping a pipe is, this was no absolute right. If our leaders were chosen to keep a pipe for purpose of public ceremony, they also could have a right to use a pipe in public ceremony taken away. The authority in the original Plains Culture was never absolute in those chosen to lead the people. There was oversight. If ever the leadership became inflated with their own sense of importance, this was grounds for demotion. Leaders who refused to be disciplined were invariably shunned, leading to being effectively exiled, together with any supporters, on account of energy transfers. This underlying principle is key to part 2:

Part 2) Not ‘just any pipe’ would be kept.

Acquiring a useful pipe is not nearly so simple as making one, having one made, buying one or having one given to you by just anyone or even having an established one transferred to you. Energy transfers is paramount to understanding how a pipe originates and whether the pipe is ‘settled.’ This can take two directions; an old pipe or a new pipe.

First the old pipe. This is a pipe that is ‘transferred.’ It has a history of use and possibly attending items constituting a so-called ‘bundle.’ This pipe already has a working history and, if kept properly, an intense consciousness imbued in it. This is in line with modern discovery in quantum mechanics and the consequent statement of theoretical physicist Bernard d’Espagnat:

“The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment”

The history of the ‘old pipe’ will give it a form or intensity of consciousness that would give anyone but the rigorously self-disciplined, problems. And in the hands of the wrong persons, this pipe can cause extensive ‘bad luck’ in those connected with whoever might be ‘holding’ it. What’s going on here is, a pipe rebelling against the inferior energy of those persons it might have been transferred to. The pipe is demanding a certain quality of energy and when that energy is not forthcoming, the pipe, as a consciousness imbued object, pushes back against the energy it detests. This is where many pipes and bundles have been failed by their modern keepers, people without the necessary self-discipline required of the ancient native consciousness. Invariably any poor ‘keepers’ will see havoc created in their surroundings, they’ve effectively become a curse of bad luck through their blind arrogance of believing they are worthy when in fact they are not. Pat Kennedy himself told me his bundles and pipes should be ‘put out’ or retired for the fact there was no longer any assurance these items could be competently and safely kept. I don’t know if it happened but in some cases I expect not.

Now, the ‘new pipe’ is a tricky proposition as well. Here it is critical the person building it, giving it shape or form, is living the requirements set out in part one. Again, this is because energy transfers as consciousness and this will determine the personality of the new pipe. If the pipe maker is living a high form of the old native consciousness, and makes no mental mistake when working the stone, the person receiving this pipe could easily experience the same problems associated with being transferred an old pipe. On the other hand, if it is a careless person, or any person with an agenda, poor personal history or inferior habits, these all transfer into the personality of the new pipe and that will be the new pipe’s consciousness. Receiving a pipe with unknown or misrepresented history is a bit like manifesting roulette, you easily could be robbed (or shot dead.)

An ignorant person would create an ignorant pipe, a dishonest person would create a dishonest pipe, a deceived person would create a deceived pipe, a dangerous person would create a dangerous pipe, a vindictive person would create a vindictive pipe… you should get the picture. You don’t want ‘just any pipe’ and you certainly would not want a pipe without an intimate awareness of its source. Not just anyone should make pipes. In elder times, not ‘just anyone’ would dare to make a pipe.

And finally, it must be said the modern people do not possess the proper mentality to claim any right to say ‘this is Cree’ way or ‘this is Blackfoot’ way because they are not in fact living that old cultural awareness. That ancient mentality and today’s mentality are so different as Venus to Earth or Earth to Mars.

With enforced western educations having extinguished the oral histories together with the language, and as well, reshaped the indigenous mentality, and with western cultural anthropology in the guise of ‘Native Studies’ euphemism having displaced the advanced indigenous learning format, the preceding principles are presented as superior to nearly anything you will find nearly anywhere in academia in a sense of the authentic demands of the original traditions.

With this said, what Pat Kennedy attempted to pass to us can be seen as little more than remote opportunity to explore what it means to ‘live in a beautiful way.’

To live in a beautiful way in the ancient sense understood by Pat and his peers is to know how to set aside personal arrogance that seems normal, habitual, in the modern people; to practice a humility requiring you cannot set the requirements for personal ceremony aside in relation to one’s surroundings for so much as a moment. This is because energy transfers and each of us is responsible for ourselves as a source of the energy that makes up any given community or gathering. Don’t be deceived with any thought these requirements can be in any way set aside, even for a moment, ever, at all.

Part 3) Retiring a pipe.

A suspect or troublesome pipe or any pipe in unqualified hands should be ‘put out’ or that is properly retired. This is the simple act of abandoning the pipe in a remote, clean place in nature, together with offerings to honor the law the very fact of any pipe’s existence is meant to signify in the sense of original intent. There is no failure symbolized in this act; it is rectifying a mistake or preventing future mistakes being made. Did you wish to follow the way of the pipe and didn’t know, weren’t aware of the dangers involved with a pipe’s pre-set state of imbued consciousness? Retiring a pipe could be a wise re-beginning while seeing if one is able to live the rules in a real and practical way. Having disciplined the self to a very high standard of consciousness, one could then set out to re-acquire a pipe, but in this case from a trustworthy source. Or in case of having discovered living the actual rules of keeping a pipe were impractical or too burdensome, retiring a pipe would be an absolutely intelligent thing to do.

Part 4) Addendum.

In today’s world there is a false, self-deceived spirit has taken over many people’s experience in relation to ceremony. It might be manifest in keeping ceremony no one knows how to explain anymore; in other words a rote memory of things which have become completely false or hypocritical because to perform ceremony is to understand not only the how, but even more importantly, to intimately understand the why. Without the why, the how is meaningless. Or to take a place of leadership in ceremony without having subjected the self to the required advanced learning, and keeping, the rules demanded of the position. And especially to have elevated others to a role of pipe keepers, handlers or other ceremonial tasks and not having acquired critical knowledge to have trained them properly in the required elements of living the role, the prayers of these people are actually doing more harm than good, no intelligent Indian would want these people praying for them. And if informed, neither would you.


…and Wannabee Indians

Note: This author had divested himself of his pipe over a decade ago; for the reason of personal circumstance tending to cynicism and satire, or in other words, immersion in geopolitical intrigue –