Participating in the 2020 Oak Dance Remotely
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The Oak Dance Ceremony: Some Context
Trees have been important to humans and have been working with us in ceremony for a very long time. There is a lovely passage in A Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl that talks about what trees teach us. Click here to see the Frankl Passage. Trees have been used at Sundance for many generations. So, trees know how this works. And trees have a network, they all talk to each other. What we are really doing in the ceremony of the Oak Dance is engaging our attention in the network of the trees. When we participate from satellite locations, we are asking our specific trees to engage in the Oak Dance ceremony and help convey that to the natural world.
In the Oak Dance ceremony, we give our heavy energy away to the tree. The tree takes that energy and funnels it back to the natural world, which it then uses as fuel. It is a carbon dioxide to oxygen exchange of the heavy energy that does not work in our system but works for nature. They like it. So, we give away our heavy energy to the tree, the tree takes it, uses it and sends it back to us as light energy. That exchange happens. And we do that all day long in the ceremony of the Oak Dance. This changes our system while also feeding the trees and feeding nature. So the very act of doing ceremony feeds energy to nature that it can use.
We also bring our prayers and intentions to the dance, both personal and collective that will go out on the network. This network of trees is a telegraph system that spreads all of the prayers and intentions throughout the natural world, around the world. This has a profound effect on and for the natural world. This isn’t a lightweight thing that we do. So, be aware that when you participate in a ceremony like this, you are performing a sacred act. Sacrificio, which comes from Latin, means sacred, a sacrifice to make holy. When we participate in ceremony, we are making an investment because it takes time and energy on our part. When we make this investment in ceremony, we are making things holy, we are bringing things back to the sacred, we are uniting and engaging with the natural world in a way that is timeless, and it reconnects us to the natural world. This is a big deal. So, be aware that this action that you are doing when you participate in this ceremony is an act of making things holy, making it one. So, measure your capacity to engage in the ceremony.
What part of the Dance will be held at Rainbow Reach (Ellie’s Land)
There will be a minimal crew on Ellie’s land holding the framework of the ceremony to support the reception of the energy sent to the arbor by dancers in satellite locations. There will be 8 directional dancers and the two dance chiefs dancing in the arbor. The Children’s Fire will be held on Ellie’s land as it has always been and someone will also tend the children’s fire from the lighting of it on Friday night until the closing ceremony on Sunday morning. The Ancestor and Little People’s lane and the Drummer’s lane will also be held on Ellie’s land, which means satellite dancers will not have to create these at their own locations. You will engage each of these parts of the dance energetically in the same way you engage the Oak Dance tree. The rest of the energetics of the dance will be created in the arbor on Ellie’s land.
How Satellite Dancers will engage with the Dance
Energetics of the Dance
The wonderful thing about our present circumstances is that they invite us to be creative about how we engage with the energy of the Oak Dance ceremony. Under normal circumstances, we all would be dancing physically in the arbor and yes we would be doing so energetically but as we all moved our bodies in the arbor, it would just happen. Today’s circumstances force all of us to engage more at an energetic level, to bring our attention to the energetics more profoundly because we will be dancing in many locations. This will make this a more powerful dance because everyone will be attending on that level.
Normally, the trees teach our bodies how to engage. Another advantage that today’s situation offers is that by dancing to your own personal tree, your tree will engage with your field and teach it. As you give away to the tree and take back from the tree, the tree will also be working your field. That is the beauty and blessing of dancing to a personal tree.
Ceremony Location Options
There are many ways to dance remotely, some of which include dancing to a tree. If you do dance to a tree, we ask you to send us a photo of the tree in advance of the dance so that we can include it in our process of bridging your tree to the Oak Tree on Ellie’s land and holding you in the container of the ceremony.
Dancing to a tree is not the only option and we believe that you will experience the mystery of the Oak Dance in whatever way you choose to engage it. Here are some suggestions:
Dancers who feel comfortable doing so can gather together and dance to a communal tree.
Dancers can dance to their own individual or personal tree. If it feels right, you can place a photo of Ellie’s tree against your tree so the two can commune.
For those who don’t have the option to dance to a tree can have an altar. You can use a photo of Ellie’s tree that you put on your altar so you can sit and pray and send your prayers directly to the tree.
How to engage a tree in the Oak Dance ceremony from your own location
Let’s begin with an overview of the energetics of dancing to your own tree from your own location. If you are dancing to a tree, you will begin by establishing a relationship with your tree before the day of the dance. Next you will connect your tree to the dance tree on Ellie’s land. Then, Lynda and other people at the arbor on Ellie’s land will bridge energetically everyone’s tree to the dance tree on Ellie’s land. The dance tree on Ellie’s land knows how to manage the dance energy as it did so last year. It can teach your tree its job. In order to create an energetic bridge from the dance tree on Ellie’s land to everyone’s trees in satellite locations, you will need to send us a photo of your tree. Ellie’s tree can then begin to teach your tree how to manage the dance energy. The external trees will then feed their dance energy into the dance arbor. The arbor will fill from everyone’s dance energy the way it does when we all are dancing in person.
Now, let’s look at how to establish a relationship with the tree you have chosen. To do this, begin by sending a prayer offering to it and engage the attention of the tree. Once you feel you have the tree’s attention, engage it in a conversation. Say hi, how are you? I am approaching you in the best way that I know how, and I am asking if you would participate in our ceremony to bring connection and reunification with the natural world as best as we can. Ask the tree if it is willing to be your dance partner. If the tree says yes, give it an offering of gratitude and engage it through prayer.
The next step is to connect your tree to the dance tree on Ellie’s land. For those of you who have been to the Oak Dance on Ellie’s land and have danced to the tree, ask the dance land and the tree to talk to your land and to your tree and teach your tree its job. For those of you who have been on my (Lynda’s) land, have your tree talk to my trees, because my trees are all aware of and know how to do this. Some of you who have been to Sundance, you can have the Sundance tree talk to your trees. As you engage in this conversation, you may notice that the conversation will become more specific. Do your best to notice it, to bookmark it. This is the wavelength that the tree lives on, this is the channel. Tune your radio, your physical body and your attention to this channel and you will engage your tree and the network of the trees, that will connect to the dance tree, that will connect to the ceremony.
Then, you will choose a direction from which you will dance. Whatever is behind you is the direction you are dancing in. For example, when facing your tree, if you are facing west when you dance, then you would be dancing from the east. In other words, the direction you are dancing in is behind you. You will need to specify the direction you are dancing in when you register. Select the direction the best supports your ability to dance. Please know though that we will need to balance all of the dancers, both on site and in satellite locations and we may request of you to dance in a different direction. If you have more than one direction that you can dance from, please let us know as this will enable us to best meet the needs of all dancers and balance the arbor at the same time. If you have only one direction, please let us know that too. The dance chiefs will do their best to balance the arbor.
If you are dancing to a tree, we ask that you create a sacred space, an arbor, around your tree. The rest of the energetics of the dance such as the Children’s Fire, the Ancestors Lane, the Drum Lane will all be created and held in the arbor on Ellie’s land. You can connect energetically to these without having to create them for yourself in your own arbor.
How to Create an Arbor
You will create a personal altar in your arbor, which may be behind you in your lane. Your altar may have elemental bowls and objects which help you invoke connection to Spirit and sacred relationship to All Our Relations. You may have tobacco or paho for prayers, a journal and whatever measures well to support your connection to the sacred. You will also have your shield displayed in whatever way works best for you. You can hang it on a stick or lean it against a rock. Your shield is a living symbol of your Intent. You offer your intention and prayers through your shield into the ceremonial and energetic field of the tree and energize this intent by dancing it to the tree. You should place your shield to your left at the front of your dance lane as you face your tree or by your altar also to the left. Then you will dance, just as if you were in the arbor on Ellie’s land. You will participate as a satellite dancer from your land, with your tree, in the arbor you have created. Your tree will be connected to the network of trees and through them to the Oak Dance tree and the communal ceremonial arbor on Ellie’s land.
For those of you who are interested in exploring more about the network of trees, there is a wonderful documentary called The Fantastic Fungi that talks about the mycelium network that exists underground which connects trees and through which trees share their resources with each other in a magical way.
There is also a lovely book called Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal World by Stephen Harold Buhner that describes the aliveness and connectedness of all things on Earth.
Satellite Participant Q&A
I have several friends in the community and we would like to dance together. Is that possible?
Yes, that would be wonderful. Please make a note in the comments section that
you will be dancing together as a group and please include the names of the people you will be dancing with.
I cannot walk 360 degrees around my tree but I can go back and forth. Does that matter?
No, it doesn’t matter. You can have your lane and that will transpose into the arbor and you will be dancing in whatever direction that is. But tell us in which directions you can walk back and forth so that we can do our best to support the direction you are able to walk in. You can include this information in the comments section of the online registration form.
The only tree available to me is in a public setting. Is regalia, including clothing and whistles required?And what if I cannot play the drum recordings because I am in a public location.
Blowing whistles and wearing regalia is optional. If you can't blow your whistle,
intend it. If you can't wear regalia, then dress energetically and wear it in your mind's eye. As for the music, using headphones is an option and has the added benefit of drowning out background noise.
Is it ok to send you a photo of the tree and direction on the Friday of the dance?
Yes. Send (Cindy - email@example.com) a photo and the tree will catch the attention as the ceremony starts.
I don’t live in the same time zone. What should I do?
We encourage everyone to engage in the ceremony at the same time as we do on Ellie’s land. To do so, adjust your time to correspond with PDT.
I don’t know how to set up an arbor at my own location. Will you offer instructions on how to do that?
Yes, we will provide more instructions on what is needed for arbors in satellite locations and how to set it up. And, there are many aspects of the arbor that you won't have to create because they will be held at Rainbow Reach and you will connect energetically to them.
Can you describe how the Oak Dance changes your life? I would like to understand the impact of the ceremony.
The change that happens at the dances comes from the intent you put into your shield. When you render your intent into your shield and you dance to it, you are putting your intent into the ceremonial space. When you put your intent in that kind of powerful field, you will change as that intent manifests in your life. This means you need to be clear what you ask for what you intend. That said, sometimes the intent you put into the ceremonial space depends on another person being ready and so the timeline for manifestation and its impact may be different. Regarding your intention and the impact it has on your life, I always ask for my intention to occur as gently and with as much ease as possible and ask that I be provided all the resources I need to help me embody it. This is a hard- won realization.
I’m very excited because I can now attend an Oak Dance, but I don't know if I have the physical stamina to dance all day, especially if I am remote. Can you recommend a way to participate?
Set up an altar inside your house. This will be your lane and your refuge. Engage the tree in the morning, stay engaged with the ceremony while you listen to your body throughout the day. Dance when it feels appropriate and don’t deplete your body. The Oak Dance is not and should not be a dance that depletes your body.
Do I have to dance to a tree or to an altar or a picture of the dance tree? Can I just dance energetically to the actual tree?
Yes, if you can engage the ceremonial field of the Dance, you can dance from wherever.
There is another tree in my community that I am connected to. Can I ask this tree if it wants to support the tree I have chosen to dance to?
Yes, another tree that supports your tree can be added to the network. But the focal point of your dance, prayers, and engagement will be your tree and that tree will commune directly to the dance tree. The trees that provide support to other trees should not be the focal point of your dance.
Would a ceremony stress a tree that is compromised?
Let the trees figure it out. Once the tree is in the network, it will receive support from the rest of the trees. So, just notice and see what they work out. If the tree is unwell, it will make a self-assessment and say no. It will let you know it doesn't have the attention to do what you are asking.
It seems that ideally, we need to be alone for the dance and as uninterrupted as possible. Would it be unreasonable to take a break and attend other things or people such as my children?
We are multifaceted human beings. We can be with our children and also dance. Doing both is a kind of service and is a wonderful training for having your attention on the ceremony and on Life itself, to maintain your connection to Spirit, while you are also doing life. JoAnn, the pipe chief for this year’s dance was unable to attend the dance one year. She had her grandchildren at the house and they’re playing around in the house while she listened to the Dance music all day. She set aside an area in the kitchen that she danced back and forth in her lane in her kitchen while she engaged with her grandchildren and tracked the dance. She made them food and interacted with them, but there was a part of her that remained in the ceremony all day. She tracked when the sweats and the pipes were held. At one point, she felt other dancers at the dance come and dance with her energetically. For her, it was incredibly and deeply satisfying even though she couldn’t be there. So, it is definitely doable. In the same way, at Sundance every 6th dance you are in service to the community while you are dancing, and you spend a certain amount of time in the arbor each day. It is training for how to feel the tree of life in front of you wherever you are, whatever you are doing. If this doesn’t feel like something you can manage and you have someone in your life who is willing to support you as a guardian, then one way to support you would be to serve as a buffer from distractions that prevent you from remaining in ceremony.
Is there something I should do to shield my children from the ceremony?
Kids have an amazing pass on Native American ceremonies. We will just need to let everyone know there's kids. When you register, make a note in the Comments section that you will have your children with you.
I won't be able to dance directly to the tree I have chosen but I can from my apartment, which is about 100 feet away. Will that work?
You absolutely can have an energetic relationship with a tree that you can't touch. If you can, get to the base of the tree and engage it. If you can't, then still engage it. Ask its permission and see if it is willing. The engagement is energetic, it doesn't have to be physical.
How do I know which direction I am dancing from? For example, if I am dancing to the tree in a westerly direction, am I dancing in the west?
Whatever is behind you is the direction you are dancing in. For example, if when you are facing the tree and you are facing west, then you would be dancing from the east. The direction you are dancing in is behind you.
The Drum is the heart of the dance. Drummers will gather in Lynda’s barn and over Zoom so they can all see each other while singing and drumming. Three of the drummers will convene in Lynda’s barn and the rest of the drummers will be on Zoom. The drummers in Lynda’s barn will serve as command central for the Oak Dance for the drum. The drummers will send their energy to the drum and this energy will be conveyed to the Oak Dance arbor through a portal of drumsticks, which will flow from the barn into the arbor.
Everyone who participates as a satellite dancer will have access to a recording of the drum songs prior to the start of the dance so that we will all be on the same page throughout the day, starting at 5:30am and ending sometime around 4:00pm. We will send out an email to all satellite participants with information on how to download these recordings. You can then download them to any device you have available to you at your own location.
For those who are interested in being a satellite drummer, the drum circle is open. The Drum Circle is currently meeting for next Thursday, June 11th at 6:00pm PDT over Zoom meeting which is how drummers will practice along with three drummers in Lynda’s barn. Everyone is welcome to join and to do so contact Rand for Zoom meeting details at RandalBundy@icloud.com or call him at 510-390-1269. The drum circle will be open until July 1st.
How do drummers access drummer’s lane?
Drummers will access the lane through the drum to the portal because the drummer lane is in that lane. So, dance to the drum. You will be able to see it and through the drum to the arbor and the tree. You can also have a photo of the tree so that you can dance to the tree as well.
Will the drum be pre-recorded and how do we get the music to the tree?
Yes, the drum and the songs will be pre-recorded, so everyone, including the dancers on your land will be dancing to the same set of recordings. We will send out an email to all registered participants with information on where to download the songs.
I don't have WIFI where my tree is. Does that matter?
No, it doesn’t matter. You can download the songs to any audio device such as a smart phone or iPod.
I don’t live in the same time zone as the Oak Dance. When should I join in?
You will join the drum in drum time, PDT.
The Children’s Fire acknowledges the spark of the Divine, the spark of fire, the spark of life in each of us and in all life; in “All Our Relations”. It also honors the 2 sacred laws that all things are born of the feminine sparked by the masculine and nothing shall be done to harm the children. So, the Children’s Fire honors and carries the life force, the light that is within each being who lives on Earth and especially the beings who are dancing. So, in honor of that, the Children’s Fire reminds us to keep our light connected, engaged and alive, burning. So, attend to it, keep it going, keep it alive. The Children‘s Fire will be attended to from the time that the ceremony starts until it closes and it is never left alone, the light is always attended to.
How do we create the Children’s Fire at home? Before you consider creating a fire at home, we invite you to imagine the Children’s Fire at the dance on Ellie’s land and connect with it energetically. Just as you connect to the dance, you can connect to the fire that is burning and make an energetic connection to it. So, know that the Children’s Fire will be burning the entire time at the dance. You do not need to keep a fire burning the entire time in your space. You just need to make that energetic connection.
If you want to have some form of fire at your own location, you could light a candle and place it on your altar if you are sitting and praying but blow it out when your engagement is complete. Most importantly, only light a fire in your ceremony if you can attend to it well. Safety is a primary concern when you engage fire, so a short moment to connect to the spirit of the Children’s Fire through a candle is sufficient.
There is also an opportunity to light sage, cedar, tobacco, or sweet grass and bless yourself, as this is another way to connect and bring the transformative power of fire to your ceremony. Remember though to measure well your ability to engage this while in ceremony and remain safe at the same time.
We are still exploring how best to perform the pipe ceremony. We will update the community when we have a clear idea about how we will do this.
Just as we do when at the Dance, we encourage everyone who feels called, to make prayer ties. If you are not familiar with the practice of making prayer ties and their purpose in the dance, please check out Willow’s teaching on prayer ties on the Teachings page of our website.
Willow has offered to receive all prayer ties that satellite participants want to offer to the dance on Ellie’s land. If you feel called to make prayer ties, we will offer these prayers into the ceremonial field of the Dance. Please mail them to Will at 124 3rd St., Rodeo, CA. 94572-1019
Shields are a very important part of the dance and your experience of it. Your shield symbolizes and holds your dance intent. When you render your intent into your shield and you dance to it,
you are putting your intent into the ceremonial space. When you put your intent in that kind of powerful field, you will change in order for that intent to manifest in your life. This means you need to be clear what you ask for and what you intend. There is nothing wrong with asking that your intention occur with as much grace and ease as possible and that all of the resources you need to help you embody it, be given to you.
Making your shield prior to the dance will enhance your connection to the field and will serve as a focal point for your intent. There is a PDF teaching on shields posted on the Teachings page of our website with a detailed process on how to create your shield. This document includes different ways to divine your intention, as well as details about the physical aspect on how to put your shield together.
We also encourage anyone who wants their shield to be represented in the arbor on Ellie’s land to send a photo of your shield to Willow at firstname.lastname@example.org. Willow will then print a photo of your shield and take it to the dance along with the prayer ties.
Guardians are people who hold the interface between the ceremonial space and the outside world. Guardians support the dancers and other dance participants to stay in ceremonial time. Guardians may dance occasionally if there is space and room to do so and if they are engaged in the ceremony. Serving as a guardian is a wonderful way to engage in the ceremony for people new to the dance. Guardians provide a valuable service, as they are gradually introduced to the field of the ceremony, which allows your system to energetically acclimate to the ceremonial field. If you are new to the dance, we ask you to talk with the Dance Chiefs or Lynda so they can help measure the the best way for you to engage the ceremony.
I am wondering about the logistics of being a satellite dancer without the support of a guardian.
Having a guardian is a good idea. As you measure and prepare yourself for the dance, consider if having a guardian would support you in managing logistics and enable you to remain in ceremony. Inviting others to support you in this way gives them a way to engage the dance.
Can you have a virtual guardian?
You would have to figure out what that looks like and ask Lynda if it measures well.
We will have Norma in the healing arbor. Part of what she will be holding for us is similar to someone holding base camp at a vision quest. She will be tracking satellite participants as best
she can on the energetic level. So, if you get to a place where you need help, there are a lot of resources. Prayer is always a resource. Going to a prayer smoke is also a resource as well as asking for guidance or journaling. You can also tap into the ceremonial field and know that Norma is there in support as well. If you engage Norma’s attention and make a request, that will make a connection to that energy for you.
There will be some changes to the timeline and various aspects of this year’s dance. Here is an outline of how the ceremony will unfold:
• There will be a sweat offered over Zoom on Friday night.
• After the Friday night sweat, the ancestors will dance, and we will be in dream time for that night.
• At sunrise, sometime around 5:30am PDT, the drum will begin. People will process into their arbor.
• The prayer from the pipes will be offered.
• Then we all begin to dance. All of this will be on the choreography of the recordings so you can follow along. We will provide a written timeline so you can follow along.
• The dance will end sometime around 4pm PDT.
• There will be a virtual sweat led by Jim. This will close out the dancer’s portion of dance.
• The ancestors will dance all night on Saturday night
• On Sunday morning around at 8am PDT we will engage the pipe ceremony and close the ceremony.
Registering for the Dance as a Satellite Participant
Registering for the dance is very important, whether you are dancing on site, engaging a satellite ceremony or you are a drummer or a guardian. Dance Chiefs and Dance Elders will be balancing the dance arbor and bridging the energetic connections between the satellite dancers and the arbor at Ellie’s land. To assist with this, it will be good to know who is dancing and their location. Dancers and Elders on the land will hold a dual focus; dancing to the tree focusing attention within the arbor, while also staying present to the ceremonial web and satellite participants. Your registration allows us to begin referencing you within the ceremonial field.