The third part of our days spent on the mountain concerns the time we spend alone with nature and ourselves; this is our solo time. This may become the most important part of our day while on the mountain. After the busy-ness of the morning’s physical activity preparing for the day’s events, and then the communal time of our councils, we take leave of each other.
Somewhere between the hours of [2:00] and 5:00 pm each day, it is our intention as stewards to take leave of each other and wonder into the woods or into our tents for rest. Either choice is fine. Solo time or “soul alone” time means disengaging from physical activity and verbal communication with other people.
It is only by slowing down the physical body and limiting the amount of chatter in the brain caused by conversation that we can get in tune with our deeper minds. That part of our wholeness of being is soul. It is imperative that we spend time alone with ourselves in order to clear out the outer thoughts that prevent us from deep honesty with ourselves.
The participants spend a good part of their last day on the mountain in solo time. We too get the opportunity to do this on that day. However; as stewards we will practice being in practical silence and conscious alone space each day during the mid-part of our day cycle. One of the intentions of the Stewards experience is to use each day as a mini Hero’s Journey. Physical activity, emotional opening through the councils, time alone with our souls and then a larger expanded experience in the evenings.
This third segment, the solo time is when the spirit of our bodies rests and rejuvenates in preparation for the evening events. More importantly, it is an opportunity to collect ones thoughts, experiences of the day and to have a long talk with the self. It has been my personal experience that when I leave the group and wonder along the road, or drift deeply into the woods or sit in my *sacred spot for an hour or two my mind quiets and my thoughts begin to open to why I am really on the mountain.
I become even more honest with myself than I was in the councils. It is through this soul alone time that I drop the defenses, stop the bullshit and get real with myself. I have never prayed so deeply or felt such connection to spirit as when I was alone with nature that was just waiting all around me on the mountain. Nature heals, but it can only heal if we are in relationship to her.
The soul alone time acts as a transition between the day time and night time of our daily journey. Our evening hours are usually spend in ritual and ceremony; the fire walk, sweat lodge, healing councils, etc. which are portals into a larger experience of consciousness created through group energy and intention combined with elemental forces of nature.
Through solo time each steward begins that transition inside of themselves toward spirit by being with themselves and with nature. As stewards, when we rest and connect with nature in the afternoon we are preparing for our own individual journey into the spirit realm that evening. Collectively when we come back together as “the stewards” before the evening event, we are then holding the energetic container for the leaders and participants to build upon.
Ceremony and Ritual
The Importance of the role of the Stewards in the evening Ceremonies and Rituals:
After the physical activity of the morning and completion of our council the stewards prepare for the evening events by being in practical silence. This happens by being with the self in reflection and preparation of what the first half of the day has brought and what you would like to receive from full participation in the upcoming evening ceremony. The soul alone time is a time of integration of the day and preparation for the evening.
The steward’s role on the mountain is to go first and to go deep. We build the physical structure but we also help create and hold the emotional and spiritual space (template) for the groups to move into and build upon. This is particularly important for the ceremonies and rituals that happen each evening.
As all of you are aware our evening ceremonies consist of at least one sweat lodge, possibly two, The Fire Walk, Aggression Council and one or two Healing Ceremonies. Each of these are an opportunity for the stewards to participate fully in the preparation, holding the energy and receiving what gifts the ceremony has to offer you. These are very powerful and potentially spiritual events that can be life transforming if taken with the full seriousness that they present. A ceremony is a gateway or portal into non-ordinary reality.
Within the context of the Hero’s Journey it is also an opportunity to surrender to something greater than the self. You have seen the leaders over and over again calling to spirit, be it in our chanting in the sweat lodge, singing in our healing ceremonies or asking the spirit of the fire for help in transforming our lives. The degree to which we as stewards participate in the ceremony is to the degree by which we will support the larger container of the ceremony. If you are called to be a steward you are being called to enter into a relationship with spirit on the mountain through the ceremonies and rituals.
Within each ceremony there are rituals. Each separate ritual is a stepping stone on the path to spirit. The rituals are the little steps that create the larger ceremony.
If you are asked to smudge the men as they are entering the room it can become a sacred act of purification and connection with each man. Creating an altar becomes a practice of letting the spirits guide you to what is needed for the group to focus their eyes upon in order to shift their awareness to the spiritual. If you are a fire tender, you are in relationship with the “spirit of the fire”, a living, breathing tool of transformation that you are being given the opportunity to be in communion with for a few hours. When you sprinkle your tobacco on the wood before the sweat lodge the seriousness with how you perform that act is conveyed to the participants. How we build our fires, sing our songs, toss our sticks into the fire or enter the sweat lodge are all steps that the participants follow behind.
You can begin to feel the energy of the shaman/healer in you if you hold what you do sacredly in these rituals and ceremony. This begins from the first day when we prepare the ground for the fire walk or when the first altar is created for the Welcome Council. Our work takes on a completely different meaning if held in this way.
As stewards we are the builders, creators and holders of spiritual space, way showers, guides and leaders on the mountain. If you want to have a spiritual experience as a steward, this is where it will happen; in the evening ceremonies. These ceremonies are where we are closest to spirit. In our Hero’s day, it is where the veil is thinnest between the middle world and the lower and upper worlds of spirit that surround us.
We are spiritual warriors
Our weapons drum and flute
Without heart shields
We enter battle with the
Enemies of all mankind
When our song voice
Joins the fight
Victory is surely ours