Last night Soulful Stuff opened the weekly Story Hour with this prayer:

O Great Spirit, the center of all things, I ask you to hear my prayer.
I am grateful for my walk on Mother Earth among your wondrous creations. 
I make this offering of sacred tobacco in gratitude, in appreciation and respect to you, my Creator.

As my awareness grows, I feel the connection grow that was and always will be between us. I am one of your children, Great Spirit. A part of You lives in me, as it does in all Your creations.

I am grateful for all two-leggeds, all four leggeds, for the ones that crawl,
the winged ones, and the ones that swim. We are all one, never to be separated.
I am grateful for the four directions, the Sky, and Mother Earth. Through these powerful spirit keepers I have no fear of entering the universe, and exploring and learning about my expanding self. Though I am small, Great Spirit, you are strong of mind and spirit. I trust You. Guide me to a better understanding of all my relations.

I choose now, Great Spirit, to increase my awareness. I choose to open the dark curtains I have hung so that I may see you in every aspect of my life, so that I may hear your voice, understand your direction, and feel the path before me that will serve my highest purpose during my walk on our Earth Mother.

I remain humble before you, Great Spirit, and give myself up to you, to be healed and freed from the crooked paths I have created. Help me, Great Spirit, to create the wise paths that lead to my highest good, which is also the highest good for all my relations.

My heart warms, as does my entire being, as I come close to you. I share this warmth with others and see this warmth, the spirit that lives in all my relations.
Keep me on the good path, Great Spirit. All I need is to open my eyes and look, and allow your love and guidance into my life for this I offer sacred tobacco …….. For I know it is all good…..by our elder and friend, Kicking Bear

PTA ICABU (Buffalo Drummer)
Painting by Kicking Bear.  To see more of his work, please go to:

Soul indicated that this is the Abenaki story of the drum…..

It is said that when Creator was giving a place for all the spirits to dwell who would be taking part in the inhabitants of Mother Earth, there came a sound, a loud BOOM, from off in the distance.
As Creator listened, the sound kept coming closer and closer until it finally it was right in front of Creator.

“Who are you?” asked Creator. “I am the spirit of the drum” was the reply.

I have come here to ask you to allow me to take part in this wonderful thing.”

“How will you take part?” Creator questioned.”

I would like to accompany the singing of the people. When they sing from their hearts, I will to sing as though I was the heartbeat of Mother Earth. In that way, all creation will sing in harmony.

“Creator granted the request, and from then on, the drum accompanied the people’s voices.
Throughout all of the indigenous peoples of the world, the drum is the center of all songs. It is the catalyst for the spirit of the songs to rise up to the Creator so that the prayers in those songs reach where they were meant to go.

At all times, the sound of the drum brings completeness, awe, excitement, solemnity, strength, courage, and the fulfillment to the songs. It is Mother’s heartbeat giving her approval to those living upon her. It draws the eagle to it, who carries the message to Creator.
It changes people’s lives!

Just as the drum vibrates and calls us into a deeper union with Creator…..and his breath flows through our being…..so the Cherokee have a story about the capture of fire….the connection with the core of Creator and Mother Earth…..what touches my spirit, is the one who actually makes the connection…..

In the beginning there was no fire, and the world was cold, until the Thunders (Ani’-Hyûñ’tïkwälâ’skï), who lived up in Gälûñ’lätï, sent their lightning and put fire into the bottom of a hollow sycamore tree which grew on an island.

The animals knew it was there, because they could see the smoke coming out at the top, but they could not get to it on account of the water, so they held a council to decide what to do. This was a long time ago.
Every animal that could fly or swim was anxious to go after the fire.
Raven (Kolanv) stepped forward and said, “Let me go. I am large and strong!”
All the creatures agreed that Kolanv was indeed large and strong, and could surely accomplish the task. So it was that Kolanv was sent forth.
At that time, Raven was all white, unega. Carefully, he flew high and far across the water and alighted on the sycamore tree, but while he was wondering what to do next, the heat had scorched all his feathers black!

The frightened Raven flew home without the fire, and his feathers have been black ever since.
The little Screech-owl (Wa’huhu’) volunteered to go, and reached the place safely, but while he was looking down into the hollow tree a blast of hot air came up and nearly burned out his eves. He managed to fly home as best he could, but it was a long time before he could see well, and his eyes are red to this day.
Then the Hooting Owl (U’guku’)and the Horned Owl (Tskïlï’) went, but by the time they got to the hollow tree the fire was burning so fiercely that the smoke nearly blinded them, and the ashes carried up by the wind made white rings about their eyes. They had to come home again without the fire, but with all their rubbing they were never able to get rid of the white rings.
Now no more of the birds would venture, and so the little Uksu’hï snake, the black racer, said he would go through the water and bring back some fire.

He swam across to the island and crawled through the grass to the tree, and went in by a small hole at the bottom. The heat and smoke were too much for him, too, and after dodging about blindly over the hot ashes until he was almost on fire himself he managed by good luck to get out again at the same hole, but his body had been scorched black, and he has ever since had the habit of darting and doubling on his track as if trying to escape from close quarters.

He came back, and the great blacksnake, Gûle’gï, “The Climber,” offered to go for fire. He swam over to the island and climbed up the tree on the outside, as the blacksnake always does, but when he put his head down into the hole the smoke choked him so that he fell into the burning stump, and before he could climb out again he was as black as the Uksu’hï.

Now they held another council, for still there was no fire, and the world was cold, but birds, snakes, and four-footed animals, all had some excuse for not going, because they were all afraid to venture near the burning sycamore, until at last Känäne’skï Amai’yëhï (the Water Spider) said she would go.

This is not the water spider that looks like a mosquito, but the other one, with black downy hair and red stripes on her body. She can run on top of the water or dive to the bottom, so there would be no trouble to get over to the island, but the question was, How could she bring back the fire?

“I’ll manage that, said the Water Spider; so she spun a thread from her body and wove it into a tusti (bowl), which she fastened on her back. Then she crossed over to the island and through the grass to where the fire was still burning. She put one little coal of fire into her bowl, and came back with it, and ever since we have had fire, and the Water Spider still keeps her tusti bowl.

Quite some time ago, I was assisting an elder during a retreat. Many had gathered by the Tuckaseegee River ar Kituah, the mother town, to pray. We had drummed and sang in Tsalagi at the mound to honor our ancestors and now we came together to pray.

When I went down to the river to gather some water for blessing, a little water spider came right up to the shell and stood there looking at me. She radiated such joy, that little water spider, I was overwhelmed! She was uwoduhi…so delicate and silvery grey against the sparkling points of light in the water. My heart danced so just being with her!

Meeting her was the beginning of some very beautiful connections on a wonderful path Creator has called me. When I came up to the place where we were to pray together, I could feel the longing in the hearts of the people….seen and unseen.

We are all responsible for one another….to invite connection and to comfort and teach as we are able. Offering the blessing with the elder, I knew each of the lives of the people there would be changed. Something new was written in their hearts.

The little water spider is always with me whenever I am discouraged or sad. She reminds me….as she did that day….that I have the power and responsibility to make the connections in the web of life. I can reach out…I can listen quietly…as she did that day to us.

Even though what I do may be small, the connection is what builds the whole…..each little connection matters. It may seem at times, that we have little to offer, but the little water spider who visited me that day wove into my heart the importance of small things done with much love.

She helped me understand that humble service is a powerful action….and to never let myself believe that I was too little or insignificant for Creator to use me. It all matters…every connection. So I share this thought with you. Be brave as the little water spider.

Do well with what you have and let others know they are not alone…they are connected in love. And rest assured, your heart will find the joy, like the little water spider. It is what it is…and it all matters.

Listen to the still small voice in your heart…..Grandmother Spider is calling you to hold the ember of passion and love for the People in your heart….and carry it with you as you connect all that touches your life with love and encouragement.

Together, we will grow!

One other brief Cherokee story about seeking the sunrise…..

Journey to the Rising Sun--Fine Art Shore Matted Photography
Photo by Soulful Stuff.  To see more of her work, please go to:

A long time ago several young men made up their minds to find the place where the Sun lives and see what the Sun is like.

They got ready their bows and arrows, their parched corn and extra moccasins, and started out toward the east. At first they met tribes they knew, then they came to tribes they had only heard about, and at last to others of which they had never heard.

There was a tribe of root eaters and another of acorn eaters, with great piles of acorn shells near their houses. In one tribe they found a sick man dying, and were told it was the custom there when a man died to bury his wife in the same grave with him.

They waited until he was dead, when they saw his friends lower the body into a great pit, so deep and dark that from the top they could not see the bottom. Then a rope was tied around the woman’s body, together with a bundle of pine knots, a lighted pine knot was put into her hand, and she was lowered into the pit to die there in the darkness after the last pine knot was burned.

The young men traveled on until they came at last to the sunrise place where the sky reaches down to the ground. They found that the sky was an arch or vault of solid rock hung above the earth and was always swinging up and down, so that when it went up there was an open place like a door between the sky and ground, and when it swung back the door was shut.

The Sun came out of this door from the east and climbed along on the inside of the arch. It had a human figure, but was too bright for them to see clearly and too hot to come very near. They waited until the Sun had come out and then tried to get through while the door was still open, but just as the first one was in the doorway the rock came down and crushed him. The other six were afraid to try it, and as they were now at the end of the world they turned around and started back again, but they had traveled so far that they were old men when they reached home.

May all your journeys be fruitful….may you grow in wisdom and love….and may the wonders of life awaken the connections within and that surround. For in awakening these connections, you will become and nourish the next 7 generations…..the never-ending web of life.

One of our newest members, Cynthia Freeman of Moon Hunter Jewelry joined the Story Hour.  We are happy to have Cynthia join our campfire community.  Here is a sample of her work.

sterling moss agate pendant on green and white swarovski crystal, CZ, and silver beaded memory wire necklace
To see more of her work, please go to:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/MoonHunterJewelry

Thanks to Soul for the wonderful stories and to all who attended.  These lessons are powerful!

 

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