Spirit Leaves: Inhabiting Joy


Joy and positivity do not result from wishful thinking; their manifestation requires focus. Daily practices for me begin at sundown. I meditate before I go to sleep to clear the flotsam of the day and make way for guides and helpers to impart wisdom. A lot gets processed while I sleep and dream, with the self-centered, demanding ego out of the way!

My way is Wanagi, or Ghost, which means seeing the heart or spirit of a person. I sleep with my head in the West. West is the place of wisdom and knowledge. In my bookcase-style headboard are cubbyholes full of objects that foster a good dreaming environment. Alongside mint green bears and bunnies is a wooden bowl containing sage and sweetgrass to attract positive, protective spirits. There’s a small Buddha and Quan Yin in another cubbyhole, and atop the headboard is a beautiful piece of driftwood with healing stones placed in its nooks and crannies. Stones like selenite, lapis and amber provide healing, protection and connection to higher guides.

Each morning, arising from dreams, I remain seated on the bed for just a moment facing North. I take time to thank the Grandfathers for another Holy Day of life. In the Ghost way, North is a place of power — not in the sense of control and dominion over others, but power over negatives, both without and within.

In the shower, I bless the water and allow it to heal parts of me that need healing. I utter positive words to change the crystalline structure of the water: love, peace, beauty, truth, harmony, trust. To give words substance, we must come from the heart; rituals in themselves are empty forms. Used in the right spirit, water becomes an agent for healing and transmutation.

While drinking coffee, I think of the fresh day ahead of me in all its possibilities. I pray I will have a positive influence on all whom I encounter. I often forget having done this and am then amazed by all the brilliant interactions and moments with people during the day. I ask for safe travel. Entering a zen-like flow state while in traffic is crucial, particularly when my beloved Minnesota drivers forget about side mirrors, traffic signs, red lights and turn signals.

I carry loving intentions everywhere. I use a gentle, even tone with the JC Penney cashier who’s just been chewed out by a 30-something shopper who was kept waiting in line too long. I muster compassion for the blue-haired woman behind me who laments the “good old days” when “saleswomen stopped to help customers.” Self-absorption is our legacy, and it’s compounded by absorption of negative emotions and intentions of others around us. We lose our sense of care and concern and become cranky like everyone else.

Nature provides an unconditionally loving sanctuary. Birds, clouds, trees, plants and planets are living beings with whom we have an affinity. They love when we acknowledge and communicate with them. Clouds offer ideas and images. Birds add a high vibration. While waiting by my roommate’s blue pickup yesterday, something made me glance at the sky. There, above a tree line about 50 feet away, a large bird circled toward me in an arc. As he came closer, I saw the characteristic crooked neck, straight thin legs and broad, soft slate blue wings of the Great Blue Heron. What a blessing! That bird is sacred to the Mandans, the tribe whose spiritual culture has meant so much to me in this lifetime.

A Cherokee friend used to say, “Positivity attracts positivity.” That seems simple, as most profound truths are, but actually works. Beginning the day with a flow of positive thoughts produces a day of positive outcomes. It helps to keep a strong fortress of inner calm and peace, no matter what is happening around us. It really helps to go beyond self to consider the happiness of others.

By directing loving intention outward, we connect with the beautiful realm of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, trees, flowers and other critters with whom we share this life, entering into a kind of sweet conspiracy with them to be joyful.

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Janet Michele Red Feather, J.D., M.A., is a ceremonial singer who has learned over 60 traditional songs in Mandan and Lakota and sings in nine different languages. Janet was a full-time defense litigator in California for nearly eight years. Her life changed significantly after she traveled to North Dakota in 1993 to fast and pray for a way of life. A regular columnist for The Edge, she has also appeared in Psychic Guidepost, FATE Magazine and Species Link. Her book, Song of the Wind (2014, Galde Press), dealt with her experiences as an empath, and her journey through Mandan spiritual culture. She is currently a full-time, tenured English faculty member at Normandale Community College, having taught Composition and Literature for a span of 20 years.


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