I know what a very strange title for an article right? I mean after all we all have goals in life. It’s what keeps us going. From something simple like achieving the next level in a video game or completing a small list of daily chores to more broader ranged things like saving up for your loved ones birthday or finally mastering that breathing technique you have been working so hard in your meditation exercises.
So how could reaching your goal be considered a fringe benefit? I mean after all you worked so hard to get there and when you finally do get there you feel great! Think of all that time, effort, focus and energy it took to accomplish what you put your sights to. And you accomplished it! You deserve a well earned pat on the back and an ear to ear smile don’t you?
Of COURSE you do!
Whatever your goal was I am sure there was a lot involved on your journey in reaching it. And that is where this article is wandering off towards. The journey. Many of us are so focused on reaching our goal that we pay little attention to where our journey took us while we were traveling it towards our goal. Well I am sure many of us can count the many hurdles we had to overcome and how some were harder (seeming almost impossible at times) than others. What I mean here though isn’t the hurdles. It’s the little things in between while you were plowing away towards the light at the end of your tunnel.
A few months ago my Niggle ( my intuition) prodded me in the direction of making a drum through a local Native American shop. I could not figure out for the life of me WHY I needed a drum. I can’t hold a beat if my life depended on it. Well scratch that…….thankfully my heart is a self automated organ and handles it’s job beautifully. Outside my heartbeat though I am musically stunted when it comes to producing a beat. So why the drum? I had no clue, though my intuition has never led me wrong so I took the class anyways.
The Goal here was to make a Drum by hand. A skill passed down from a Native American Drum Maker ( Marvin Hannah whom I called Teach in my Drum making articles) who is extremely skilled in his craft and has been hand crafting drums for decades. Some so well done and beautifully made that they have been used in pow wows just to give you an idea.
I was SO excited to make an authentic drum that not only did I trip myself up by not paying attention to details ( which in doing so I nicked myself with a sharp pair of scissors, I also had to undo all my lacing and re-lace my drum making me the slowest student in the class) I missed out on much of the magic and lore that is what makes up the Medicine ( power and purpose) of the Drum. My Goal was met. My Journey was full of A.D.D. because I was so focused on the ends to the means and not the means itself. I ended up making a beautiful drum by the way. I ended up also missing out much on how powerful the drum truly is.
Recently a flute making class came up at the same shop by a couple of skilled craftsman whose medium is wood. I thought to myself “Oh wow I could make my own Native American Flute!” This was quickly countered with “You already have a recorder though”. For those not in the know a recorder is much like a penny whistle. Both are types of flutes of sorts, though blown straight and not to the side. They were known as the poor man’s flute ( as it was easier to carve or purchase and play a recorder or penny whistle than an actual flute). I digress though.
I decided to take the flute making class ( I am starting to think Niggle, my intuition had a subtle hand in this one). This means CARVING…..HAND CARVING your piece from wood. Folks…..the only carving experience I have ever truly had with wood comes down to sharpening a pencil with a blade or knife when I couldn’t find a real pencil sharpener. Unless you count wood shop back in sixth grade and that was almost all machine work ( I mean it’s so much SAFER to let 11 and 12 year olds play with heavy bladed machinery than hand held wood carving tools right?). What was I THINKING????
The day of the class there were several other students and two teachers,Two-Bears and Hugh Ahnatook. I’m not sure if it was the wood quality or the different styles in starting off with our flutes between the two teachers (I’ve seen some of Hugh’s works and WOW! ) or perhaps it was that many of us students were noobs to carving ( I myself am a self proclaimed carver ignoramous). Many of the flutes didn’t pass the first step.
Let me explain how the Native American flute is made so I don’t lose you. For starters it is not one piece of wood bored down the middle to make it hollow. It’s not even round at first. It consists of two long rectangular halves of wood ( maple, redwood, and cedar were some of the material available…..mine will be maple). On one end ( of both halves) there is a trough bored about 2 inches or so into it. Then there is a space of about a finger and a half before the rest of the block is bored ( on both halves). This is the inside of the flute. When both halves are planed and sanded to exact evenness then they are glued and clamped together ( bored sides in). This gives the flute ( which now looks like a long skinny wood brick) two air chambers.
So how does the air get anywhere? Remember that finger and a half width untouched space? At the top there you finely whittle into it ( about 1/8 of an inch) to expose a space for the air chambers. You then carve ( out of another piece of wood) a “jig” which is the sliding topper piece that will adjust your air flow. This can be something as simple as a sanded block of wood ( mine is cedar) or an elaborate piece of art ( mine is far from elaborate…..it’s not bad for a first try and I even got compliments on it for it being a first time try).
Well my first one ( like many others) did not take ( when glued together the block wasn’t air tight), so another flute had to be picked out of whatever wood was left over and pieced together. You would think that all of this is part of my journey. And it is. I learned a lot. There is more though.
While I was waiting to figure out what was going on with flute number 2 I decided to socialize some. There was an older fellow who was hand carving another project all together. Me being the curious creature I am decided to chat him up. It ends up he was making a hand made saw (I believe European design….. ….sometimes the details on my journey’s scatter). I got to talking with him where he showed me some beautiful items he has carved by hand ( my descriptions of his hand made dragon pipe whose topper allows the smoke to sneak out whimsically from it’s ears and mouth, or his intensely detailed walking cane covered in hours of painstaking crosshatching and writhing snakes let alone the set of the stones in the handle can do no justice in presenting the picture of his skills).
It ends up I ran out of time and my new flute would have to be babysat at the shop ( which thankfully is just down the hill from me). That’s okay. Hugh is patient and said I could come in any time to work on it. And the fellow who I chatted up became a new friend.
In order to get SOMETHING done on my flute I took a piece of cedar home, some sandpaper, bought a cheap wood carving set ( I know nothing about wood carving remember? And just recently found out that the exacto blade kits are not the best to purchase….ah trial and error) so I could work on my jig. In the process I chatted up Steve about TNP’s Shoppe.
Then out of the blue I found myself asking him for help.This surprised me immensely because I had just met the fellow really and I’m not prone to asking new friends for help on a project. Especially when the project will include a lot of my being spoon fed information from the other person. Especially when I have no idea how I can pay the person back ( I never expect anything for free).
To my surprise Steve said yes. The project I need help on? Making a Native American Pipe. Loooooong story on that one.
So my Goal? To make a Native American Flute. Is it done yet? Far from. That’s okay though. The goal isn’t as pressing as I thought it would be. The journey so far has been (and I hope will continue to be) awesome. I’ve made three new friends ( Hugh who teaches wood carving at Native Quest the shop I am taking classes from), Candy ( a fellow flute making student who I am helping in tracking down her tribe) and Steve ( who is also an awesome craftsmen in the art of wood carving and is kind enough to help me with my pipe project which I am finding is also more of a Journey than a Goal). I’ve also learned a WHOLE lot of things some flute related, some carving related, some history related, some culturally related…….and more.
I honestly think I was guided to take the flute class not so much so that I could own a flute, I think it was a way for me to start taking the first steps on this Journey. I really don’t think the flute is the goal. I don’t even know if there IS a goal.
And in this case ( like many I am sure) why should there be a goal? Or rather why become so focused on the goal you miss all the experience in the journey……like in my case working on my drum. Thankfully there is another drum class coming up. I’m going to see if I can just sit in on it so I can focus, slow down and learn what I truly missed.
So as I wrap up these thoughts I offer up a suggestion to keep in mind the next time you set yourself up for a new project with a goal in mind. It does well to pay attention to the Journey that takes you towards your Goal.
Sometimes you don’t get a second chance to grab what you missed.
Life was so much easier when we couldnt reach the top shelf…
Okay we know that ( generally) March 21/22 is the first day of Spring due to it being the Spring ( Vernal) Equinox.
Yeah I know this year it’s today ( happy First Day O Spring everyone!).
I know it by Ostara and Eostre. I’m not too familiar with other names for it, however everyone knows it by The First Day Of Spring. A day for blooming flowers, rising temperatures, new growth, birds chirping, fresh air and all that good stuff ( unless you live in WA where we had three different species of rain/snow hybrids, snow, rain, hail and sleet today………wtf?).
So where am I going with this?
Well a symbol of this day is the egg.
“Isn’t that an Easter thing with that Rabbit though?”
I’m not a history buff nor am I steeped in Christianity so don’t quote me. MY understanding is that Christian Easter is sort of a snag on Eostre (Ostara) to make this holiday more Jesus friendly ( way back when the pagan people really weren’t standing in line to trade in on a religious concept when the one they grew up with worked just fine for them so the Christians from what I understand started some of their campaigns for Christ by snagging and integrating the Old Ways with their Newer Ones). So the Pagan “Easter Bunny” story got mixed up and kept in mainstream society ( that is why EVERYONE knows about the Easter Bunny and only the curious question it……lol)
I’ll tell the tale of the Eostre Bunny in another post. Let’s focus on eggs. A symbol of life. Rebirth. New ideas hatching. Growth to come and that which is born into fruition.
So I had this idea last night ( the NIGHT BEFORE OSTARA….go figure late bloomer….).
Obviously I could na implement it on a small scale let alone a broad scale due to lack of prep and time. So I start this thread now to see where a year’s time will take us.
Because Invite everyone here to participate in their sections of the U.S. or wherever you reside. :)
So I thought up a fun , spontaneousish and random project to work towards for next Ostara.
Materials needed :
Paint, dye, food coloring, foods you can use as dyes, Sharpies
Scraps of paper
Plastic ( or metal large) craft needle ( think yarn sized eye/hole in your needle)
One thing I read that is a tradition ( somewhere…..I believe it is a Mexican/American thing….gimme a break I had hella insomnia) is making Cascarones -CAS CAH ROH NEZ- ( wow I should totally get an Xbox 360 Achievement award for remembering that) which are regular eggs hollowed out and filled with tidbits. On celebrated day ( Ostara in this case) it was a gesture of good will and blessing of good luck and joy to “smash” one over someone’s head ( so the luck inside breaks out over the head of whoever you are blissfully assaulting). Of course some people are sensitive so you can always just present them as gifts.
More on these cute contraptions here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascarón
I thought about taking it a step further (removed :) ).
“Er….C.S……..how do I make one?”
- Easy. For the next year whenever you use eggs for baking or breakfast DON’T SMASH THEM!!!
- Instead tap a hole in the top and bottom. Blow the yolk out for your recipe. Rinse the hollow egg out and let it dry over night.
- Then widen which ever hole is easiest for you ( without cracking shell if possible).
- Now decorate it ( using dye, foods like onions or berries to dye with, sharpies, paint, glitter whatever….if you can incorporat the words “Break Me” on it).
- Okay when THAT is done get some ribbon ( like that curly cue stuff from the dollar store) and thread the ribbon through it. I think 6-8 inches should suffice.
- At the smaller end of your egg knot the ribbon ( feel free to get creative, leave a loop for more ribbon, shred it after knotting, add a doohickey, etc).
- Seal it with glue around the edges if you need to.
- If gluing let dry.
- Now at your larger hole put in confetti or glitter or both.
- Now take a piece of small scrap paper and scrawl something positive on it. “Happy first day of Spring” “May Many Great Things Come Your Way” “You’ve been randomly picked to embrace a new day!” Whatever. Nothing really pagany or religious though definitely something meaningful and positive. You’ll see why.
- Seal off your big hole with tape, ribbon, glue…etc.
- Tie a note on your ribbon saying “Break Me” with a smile if you didna paint it on your egg.
- Have fun making and storing these items.
- Come the night before Ostara next year target a neighborhood ( even your own) and tie them up randomly. I’m gonna hit up bus stops. It’s NOT littering and it’s NOT advertising.
And this is why the notes are non religious or spiritual. Just positive. Because you are encouraging RANDOM people to have a positive day. :)
“C.S. what do I do with the left overs?”
Gift them to friends and family on Ostara. Or hold a Cascaron party where everyone smashes blessings, glitter and joy upon another’s head :)
What better way to embrace Ostara than to become the very essence of the Ostara Bunny? That is to bring the message of joy, happiness, growth, hope and renewed energy to complete strangers?
We all have the power to make a difference. Who’s with me?