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TAO/MITAKUWE OYAS'IN  Vol. 51 (August-September 2014 Issue)



From Denean: 

Communing with the Earth Mother: A Deeper Prayer

This Issue's Featured Song and Prayer: "Tunkasila"

News and Announcements: New YouTube Video!


Click Here to check out Denean's Music 

At the Banias Waterfalls in Israel

Communing with the Earth Mother:  A Deeper Prayer

Recently I have been called from deep within to spend more time with the Earth Mother...sitting upon her back and communing with her.  As I would do this, I was prompted to sing some Lakota ceremonial songs I know.


From the time I began learning these songs some twenty plus years ago, I have longed to someday be able to sing them in the way I sing my own creations.  With my own songs, it is easy for me to be in a space of "being the song".  It's more like letting the song sing me. I always wanted to experience that with the Lakota songs but sometimes language can get in the way, especially when it's not your first language.  I say this because I have an understanding of how some languages are metaphorical in nature.  The way the language expresses paints a picture, a metaphor, much like a good song can do.


By contrast, English is a very definitive language and by its very nature can do a great injustice to our spiritual understanding.  Chapter 24 of The Tao Te Ching (Stephen Mitchell Translation) says "He who defines himself can't know who he really is."    Sometimes we try to define everything instead of just experiencing it.



So as I sat upon Grandmother's back I began to sing.  I put my hands upon her and as I sang, the energy stirred profoundly within me.  I became these songs and they became me.  In Lakota ceremonial songs there are some words that are very significant for the depth of meaning they carry.  It is such an irony here that I must use this definitive English language to communicate something so far beyond it.  But I will attempt to use it as my tool to communicate.  Think of it as fingers pointing to a greater the mystery that can only be experienced, not defined.  Do your best to go to the energy behind the words for that is where the awareness resides.


I have spoken of these words in previous newsletters but we will talk of them again here.  First I will talk about these words and then continue with my story.


Wakan Tanka - "Wakan" is the Lakota word used for "sacred" or "spirit".  We say "Wakan Tanka" for "Great Spirit".  Wakan (Sacred) Tanka (which means "big")..."Big Sacred" or "Great Spirit".


To break it down further, "Wa" signifies movement or motion and "kan" means "nerves" or "veins".  "Kan" represents that which carries your life force.  So together they mean "to make connection" and this translates in English to "sacred".


Tunkasila - This word generally has three translations that I know of.  One is "Grandfather" and in certain contexts it is used to signify "the President".  Generally the translation of "Grandfather" is thought of when we use it in a prayer form.  But there is another deeper, richer translation.  Here "Tunkasila" means "all that has come before...all of the wisdom that has come before" (and this includes the Earth Mother).  In this case this is not ancestor worship but rather acknowledging the energies and wisdom of all...everything that has transpired in physical form to bring us to this place now.  Think of the omnipresence of God and this would be closest to it.


Now as I have been taught, in the old days Lakota people only prayed to Tunkasila.  It wasn't until the introducion of Christianity that they put the words "Wakan Tanka" together to describe the Christian understanding of God. We in our definitve English and externalized perception of God tend to immediatley go to thinking that they were referring to an external being.  In the dualistic nature of form our words tend to invariably lead us to this assumption.  But from inside the culture and language of the Lakota people, Tunkasila is in and includes all things.  Wakan Tanka also decribes this omnipresence with one difference.  It includes spontaneous occurrence...the element of chance that has not occured before.  This is also the foundation of the I Ching and its teaching.  


This element of spontaneous occurrence is profoundly important and should not be overlooked.  Why?  Because although we learn from the wisdom of what has gone before, we cannot find security in trying to make the future conform to the past. When we do, we can become rigid and get stuck.   All that is living is constantly changing...this is the very nature of anything that is alive.  Deepak Chopra's "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success" speaks to this:  "...The search for security is an illusion.  In ancient wisdom traditions, the solution to this whole dilemma lies in the wisdom of insecurity, or the wisdom of uncertainty...Uncertainty means stepping into the unkown in every moment of our existence."


My recent experience took me beyond words to an understanding that ultimately Tunkasila and Wakan Tanka are within each other with the exception of this one difference that Wakan Tanka includes spontaneous occurrence as described above.  But words, no matter what language, can only point to our spiritual awareness and experience.  


The first chapter of the Tao Te Ching says it best:


"The tao that can be told is not the eterenal Tao.

The name that can be named is not the eternal name.


The unnamable is the eternally real.

Naming is the origin of all particular things.


Free from desire you realize the mystery.

Caught in desire you see only the manifestations.


Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source.

This source is called darkness (ie. the unknowable)

Darkness (the unknowable) within darkness (the unknowable).

The gate way to all understanding..."

As I sat upon Grandmother's back and became the songs, it was my heart that made the prayer...not my mind.  I was the prayer.  Without going into personal details, let's just say I was looking at certain patterns in my life and feeling I had done all I knew how to do to transcend them myself.  So my heart, in these songs, asked all the wisdom of every woman who had come before me, including Grandmother herself, to awaken that wisdom and understanding within me.  I will say it again, just to be clear: This was not about praying to people.  It was about connecting with more of the totality of all that is...of this very life that I a way to rise above my own limitations in regards to the personality self.


As this prayer was "singing me", I felt this energy stirring in a way I have no words to describe. If I could share it with you, I would because it expresses such a tremendous gift of life.


Within a few hours a friend stopped by.  I hadn't mentioned any of this to him.  But something that transpired in our conversation somehow miraculously sparked a light within me and a release of an old pattern simultaneously.  In that instant everything became clear and I knew that the Divine was manifesting through this person in answering my prayer without him even knowing it.  The movement of energy through this experience has brought profound healing on such a deep level.  Yet it was so simple...sort of like a plug just falling out of the socket.


I always create music from my experience and it is already stirring. When I feel that kind of movement within me, I call it being pregnant with a song:-) So perhaps at some point the energy of all of this will be shared with you through the energy of music.  I offer this deeply personal journey with a hope that something of this sharing might awaken some chord within you to your own connection to all that is.


After all..."We are all related..."

Mitakuwe Oyas'in,

UPDATE:  Since this writing Gaia's Prayer has been released!

To follow the rest of the story please visit the following links:

Teachings from Gaia

Gaia's Prayer:  The Album and the Rest of the Story!




Please see the featured song section below for this special prayer time.

Mitakuwe Oyas'in...we are all related

This Issue Featuring:



This song will be available for listening until the next newsletter issue

(approx. Oct 1st, 2014)


Instead of a separate meditation time, I am asking that as you listen to this song, that you close your eyes and allow your heart to offer its own prayer without the mind getting in the way.  In your intention, work with whatever understanding of God you are comfortable with.  Just expand your awareness to the omnipresence of all that is and if you are comfortable with it, include the wisdom of all that has come before you.  May you be blessed in the ways that allow you greater connection to your source of being...


Tunkasila / Tunkasila

Hear me as I pray

Tunkasila / Tunkasila

May you guide each step on this earthly way

And as I walk...May I always remember / The trials of my sisters and brothers

And may I know them with a heart of compassion / May I know each one /

Through your perfect love

Tunkasila, Tunkasila, Tunkasila, Oh Tunkasila

Tunkasila / Tunkasila

Hear me as I pray

Tunkasila / Tunkasila

May you guide each step on this earthly way

And may I live / By the ways you have given

In service on this earth / Oh, may we walk as one

And may I know in my heart all my relations / May I know each one /

Through your perfect love

Tunkasila, Tunkasila, Tunkasila, Oh Tunkasila

Lakota Prayer

Tunkasila, wowakan nan wowaste unyak'upiki hena wopila unkeniciyapelo

(Grandfather, the sacred and good things you have given to us.  We say thank you for them)

Yuwanjila maunipi kte lo Tunkasila

(We walk as one, Grandfather)

Nan wowahwala, wotakuye, wicozani, nan wicouncage, Tunkasila, yuha naunjinpi ktelo. Tunkasila.

(...and tranquility, making of relations, well-being, and the growth of all things, Grandfather...are what we will stand with Grandfather.)

Mitakuwe iyuha unsiwicunlapi nan, Tunkasila, iyuskinyan unipi ktelo, Tunkasila.

(All of my relations, we will love...and Grandfather, we will live joyfully. Grandfather.)

Back to lyric:

Tunkasila, Tunkasila / Hear me as I pray.

Music and Lyrics by Denean

(Lakota Prayer/Translation of Prayer by Howard Bad Hand)

© Copyright 1993 Sacred Earth Music, BMI

All Rights Reserved

News and Announcements:


Just put up another YouTube Video! Although it is a message and song I had on the website several years ago, it seems all the more appropriate now. The message is called "Where is Your Faith?" and includes an a cappello version of "Walk in Balance" from Fire Prayer.   You can check it out in the Multimedia section or on my YouTube channel.


I was recenlty made aware that the new  "CD Baby" store on my website does not show up on mobile devices and tablets.  CD Baby has informed me that they are working on making this available.  I have added some links on the store page which include iTunes and the Google Play Store.  Google Play is a new addition and although "Calling the Sacred" and "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" aren't showing up yet, they should be there soon.



Special thanks to Howard Bad Hand for verifying the accuracy of the Lakota language commentaries for this newsletter.

Click Here to check out Denean's Music 




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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