Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Prayer Ties

Years ago, while living in MN, I studied with the Lakota tribes living there. I took several of the language classes, though Ojibway is one of the most difficult to learn on the planet. I took a drum making / drum painting class and made three deer hide hand drums, learned how to make 8-stringed dream catchers, gathered feathers and also learned how to make prayer ties (also called flags or banners). A link to some of these religious traditions can be found here: indigenous traditions

It is my belief that we should not co-opt their religious traditions and that if we are to learn their ways, that we learn them from the people rather than from books or from classes taught by people not in their tribes.

These are some of the prayer ties in bundles hanging on American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist, Caesar Chavez' tombstone which is just 10 miles outside of town. 

And luckily, I live close to a Buddhist Temple in Tehachapi called Mountain Spirit Center, where they too, fly prayer ties. tibetan-buddhist-prayer-flags. Every religion or culture hangs prayer ties in endless ways. Just look around to see how prayer is expressed.
This is a personal favorite prayer flag / banner for phases of the Moon. 

And if you think about it, even our tee-shirts are prayer flags when we wear particular words that sometimes shout our feelings, from the tie-dyed to the imprinted logos and sayings. Sometimes our prayer energy can be not so positive, however, it is a prayer non-the-less. Find a link here prayer+flag+tshirts. Sometimes we forget the power of our words and the power of our actions.

Over the years, I have made and flown many prayer flags in my gardens. I got it into my head that it was time to make and fly the prayers again. I should have taken the pic flat so the design was better to see, but hung it in the tree on the North side of my home. I don't take the Eastern and Western traditions into my designs when I make them, but go more for the intention of my prayer, and the colors that are true to my life.

This flag was to be a prayer for Hope. I pulled out the foundation fabric of brown with small blue flowers on it. I didn't look up the significance of the two colors until now. Here are two links: color-brown and color-blue. I've learned that the flag can be made either very simply by tying a scrap of fabric on the branch of a bush, painting on it or simple machine applique like I did on this one. Its not the flag so much as it is the intention or prayer put into it as it is being made and hung.

To Hope is a form of trust, and is a desire with expectations for a good outcome. Hope can be lost in a flash, if what we seek isn't made true in our lives. And then, without Hope, we can be subject to disappointment, despair, resentment and having no possibility in finding a solution.

And that is a good thing to be re-born in the hearts and minds of many people in my life, as well as in mine. I believe that then the flag flies free or drops to the ground, the prayer is answered. Here's to Hope, flying free on a tree in the North.

I've even made paper flags glued onto ribbon that hang over doorknobs in my house. One year, I might have made 25 of these to give to women in my community to hang over their doorknobs. I think that when I make them, I melt into a collective consciousness of like minded people who want, who need, who work for things like world peace, tolerance, and yes, HOPE.