Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sacred Quilt Sewing

I can honestly say, I don't think I've ever made so many quilts in one year in my entire life. This has been (and probably will continue to be) one of the most fun, and most poignant sacred sewing things that I do on a regular basis.

The quilts I create are often called Lone Star Quilts, Lakota Quilts, or Star of Bethlehem quilts. It's a pattern with a single eight pointed star in the middle. To date, I think I've made about a dozen quilts, like this. The first one was created in 2006 for a friend of mine who was going on a traditional Lakota Vision Quest. I honestly had no idea what I was doing and made a number of mistakes, but learned a great deal about how to applique and about how to make sure that the center star lays rights.

This was the first quilt I did with all hand dyed fabric.

Most of the quilts have been created either solo by me, or with the help of my friend Tra. We've become quite a designing and sewing team. The red and yellow on the blue back ground below has the image of an elk in the center of the star. It was a gift to my friend Standing Elk in South Dakota.

Each quilt we design, we spend more than a little time praying about what should be on the quilt, the colors, and any additional images. Either Tra or I make a colored drawing of the final outcome as a sort of template, but allow changes or additions to come during the construction process as needed.

Above is one of two baby sized quilts that I've created. This one was given to my grandbaby Inara shortly after she was born in December.

The funny thing is, I don't own a single star quilt that I've made. Every one has been given away to someone as a gift, as an offering, or for a healing or ceremonial purpose.

The star quilt above is especially sacred. It's called The Healing Quilt. It was created from the flags that hung in the Sun Dance tree from 2008's ceremony here in Iowa. When someone comes to our local Yuwipi Man, Lester, and asks for help in healing, he will give them this quilt to use until they no longer need it. When they are done, it's laundered and given back to Lester to await the next person who needs help.

For me, the design and sewing process helps keep that creative side of me happy and flowing.

One of these days I'm going to make a quilt for me. :-)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Painting sacred buffalo skulls for ceremony

Ya know, when your title is professional psychic, there's never any end to the variety of people you meet, or the places it leads you, or to the unusual things you get to do. This week was one of those weeks that had me doing creative stuff I would have never dreamed I would do 20 years ago!

Sun Dance is fast approaching and Tra and I have been working together, not on quilts this time, but instead on the last little prep things for the arena. Specifically, this week, we've been painting buffalo skulls.

Each of the four gates in the Sun Dance arbor/arena area faces the compass points of north, south, east and west. Each gate or opening is blessed with a sacred buffalo skull sitting at that entryway. The skulls are often painted with the colors associated with that direction and it's spirit nations. We also had extra skulls for use during the Sun Dance ceremony itself, and all these skulls needed first to be sealed, the primered, then painted, and then some had extra detailing added.

I arrived this week to having Lester, Tra and Jon all sitting in front of skulls on a table in Jon's garage and when I walked up, everyone looked at me expectantly. "Good, you're just in time," Lester said.

"In time for what?" I queried.

"Can you paint lightening? We want this skull to honor the Wakiyan nation, the lightning and thunder beings."

"Sure," I responded, if you have a photo or a picture you would like me to put on it.

They were all way ahead of me. Lester chose his favorite lightning photo graph and I went to work. Before this month, I had never even considered painting buffalo skulls as even a remote possibility of anything I would do this lifetime...but if it can help with doing anything to support their traditional ceremonies, I'm willing to role up my sleeves and dive into just about anything.

The basecoat had already been done and was dry when I arrived. Photo in hand, I found the most delicate paint brush I could, and took both pure white and violet acrylic paint and set to work following Lester's instruction as to where he wanted the lightning to run. This is what I came up with:

I think it turned out alright for my first ever lightning buffalo skull.