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TAO/MITAKUWE OYAS'IN  Vol. 12 (February - March 2008 Issue) 


From Denean:  Nourishing the Worthy

(Lakota Medicine Ways in a White Man's World:  A Need for Proper Nourishment)

This Issue's Featured Song: Special Lakota Prayer Song

Current News & Announcements

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Nourishing the Worthy

(Lakota Medicine Ways in a White Man’s World: A Need for Proper Nourishment)

In the I Ching (Wilhelm-Baynes Translation) , Hexagram 50 represents the cauldron.  The teaching of this hexagram speaks to nourishing the worthy so that others may be nourished through them.  It says, "The ting (cauldron) serves in offering sacrifice to God. The highest earthly values must be sacrificed to the divine.   But the truly divine does not manifest itself apart from (humanity).  The supreme revelation of God appears in prophets and holy (people).  To venerate them is true veneration of God.  The will of God, as revealed through them, should be accepted in humility; this brings inner enlightenment and true understanding of the world, and this leads to great good fortune and success."  It is by this guidance from the Sage (I Ching) that I write the following:

For a long time I have wanted to address a particular issue that concerns me in regards to the holy people and medicine people of the Lakota culture.  I make a distinction between holy people and medicine people because there are many medicine people who may or may not be described as holy.  This article is about Lakota culture specifically, but please know that it is not meant to overlook the fact that holy people exist in every tradition around the world.

As I have been taught, within the culture of Lakota people, there is a built-in system to take care of their holy people and medicine people.  By "take care of" I mean that even though to those outside of the culture, it appears that these ceremonies are done for "free" (because it is the spiritual duty of the ceremonial leader), from within the culture, the Lakota people make sure that the needs of this person are met...that they are nourished appropriately in whatever way is needed.

In earlier times and still to this day, the holy people and medicine people would be given gifts of food, blankets, buffalo robes, tobacco and other things, but it was always given with the intent to nourish their needs so that they too would be able to live comfortably. 

Today this has somehow translated in the white man's world as "free".  I have been in ceremonies where many people would gather and the holy person or medicine person would conduct the ceremony sometimes for many hours; sometimes all night; and sometimes for several days, only to receive maybe a few dollars and some tobacco, but many times nothing at all.


Now from what I have been taught, in Lakota culture, it is an agreement between the holy person or medicine person and the spirit world that they do not ask for anything.  These relationships were originally established in this way because it was already built into the culture that the person would be appropriately provided for.  The Lakota people knew to do so and did so willingly.

But the way in which this has evolved in today's world is leaving a great need unmet.  As I have been told by elders, even native peoples who have not been raised within their own culture also tend to view these things as "free".

Nothing in life is truly "free" because there is always someone paying for it in some fashion.


What I know is this:  The true Lakota holy people and medicine people will graciously accept spiritual gifts of tobacco, cedar, etc. and truly never in their heart want or ask for more.  They put their faith in Tunkasila (Grandfather) and give of themselves willingly in service.

Sweat Lodge and Altar Prior to Ceremony

(Un-retouched Photo by Ken Kukovich)

However, it needs to be addressed that these people are living in a white man's world which is based on money.  They cannot feed their families or meet their house payments etc. on tobacco and sage! I have been in ceremonies run by true Lakota holy people and the blessings received in those ceremonies can be life changing in ways you cannot imagine.   I am so very thankful for the blessings from Spirit that have come through these precious beings.

To Lakota culture, value is the exchange between Spirit and the material world.  What is valued is what truly nourishes without thought about cost.  The value that the Lakota person puts on the gifts they give translates into meeting the holy person's or medicine person's need in some way.


Likewise, as in the Bible story of the widow who gave two mites (which was all that she had), the value of the gift given is measured in spiritual terms by the true intention of the heart.

What we place value on in the white world is money.  Since the holy people and medicine people live in this world with us, we must remember that their survival depends on money too. 


Look at how you value money to nourish yourself appropriately and use this as a basis to nourish these holy people and medicine people should you find yourself in the position where it is appropriate to do so.


My attempt here is to draw some attention to this need and educate those who do not know.  I do not think that those attending ceremonies have an intention not to nurture.  They simply do not know and are most usually trying to understand and follow the protocol of the ceremony to the best of their ability.  I believe that certainly their spiritual offerings are meant with respect and I am in no way making light of their gift.

It's just that these holy people and medicine people are not, in most cases, going to say very much about this issue because it would go against their vow to Spirit to do so.  I have sat and talked with some at length about this concern.  They have not asked me to do this, but I believe that I am in a position to speak freely on behalf of their growing need.

Another aspect of Lakota tradition is that when the holy person or medicine person is extending themselves too far, those around them take notice of the situation and take it upon themselves to do what they can to help this individual back to balance.  I suppose you could say that is what I am doing here in a broader context.

For all reading this article, it is important to always remember that even though there are certainly times for the help from spiritual leaders, the real truth is that the answers already lie within you.  You alone are responsible for what or whom you choose to follow.  The Volume 7 April-May 2007 Issue contains more on this line of thought.


It is my prayer that these words and song bring benefit and blessing to those who need it.

Mitakuwe Oyas'in,

Rather than the affirmation prayer I usually include here, I am asking that  as you listen to

the special prayer song below, that you offer a  prayer and a blessing for these

individuals who give of themselves so completely.

Just let your heart send the prayer as you listen.


This Issue's Featured Song:



Help Me Song

Unlike other song files that only remain on the website during the duration of the current newsletter period, this song will continue to be available here as a

way to continue the prayer...

This song is a special edition recorded specifically to go with this newsletter article as a prayer for the holy people and medicine people of the Lakota culture.  It is also a prayer for anyone who is trying to understand and find the way of appropriate nourishment of others as well as themselves.  It will likewise be included on the prayer request page for all who are in need.


This is not an original song that I have composed, but rather, a song given to Jerome LeBeaux, (a Lakota Sun Dance leader), by a star spirit (hoksila iyoyanpa) who came to earth to help him along his human journey in the passing of his mother.


I have only heard it referred to as "The Help Me Song". This recording is not for sale and is intended simply as a prayer that I share with you.  For all of my Lakota maske (friends), please know that I have Jerome's personal blessing for this song to be on my website.


I ask that you join me in remembering the Lakota holy people and medicine people as you listen, that they may find the proper nourishment in the service and blessings they so generously offer to us all.


In this recording I took a creative approach by adding harmonies, which is not something traditionally done.  I am also using the feminine wording which is slightly different from the masculine version.


The words and translation are:











Grandfather (All that comes before)

Have compassion for me

Have compassion for me

Help me

All that is sacred

Have compassion for me

Help me

Help me


A special thank you to Jerome and Hoksila Iyoyanpa for such a beautiful expression of prayer in song.  Also a special thank you to Howard Bad Hand for sharing this song with me.


Mitakuwe Oyas'in,


Current News & Announcements


Well, Reikidama™ has now officially been released and the response so far has been wonderful!  I am looking forward to developing some other teaching tools, down the road, to go with it.  Any of you Reiki people out there are welcome to let the forums and Reiki groups know about Reikidama™.  Your help in spreading the word would be greatly appreciated :- )  Soon it will be time to get back to a big project I've been working on for a few years now.  I plan to get that one out  sometime this year too.  It's definitely shaping up to be a creative, productive and positive year so stay tuned! 

Thank you for your continued support of this website as a vehicle to nourish the spirit of the people.

Mitakuwe Oyas’in (Translated "All My Relations Included"),

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