With Jay and Leonard J. Mountain Chief
Leonard said, “One day all people everywhere will come to know who they are. They will realize their own strength and power and be able to give loving service through their newfound knowledge and personal power.”
He said that people already know this and that they either mask this inner wisdom or have somehow managed to forget who they truly are. “People act in funny ways when they are not being their true selves,” he said and laughed out loud.
Leonard said that we are all leaders, writers, and artists; we are all mothers and fathers, teachers and healers. To Leonard there was nothing more important than people knowing who they are and what their true calling, or purpose for life, is.
“Come into scared ceremony,” Leonard called. “Retrieve your soul, and never be shrouded in mystery again. Carry with you a hand drum, a shaker, sage, and a gift offering.
“Deep in those mountains, there is a valley. It has been sacred to our people for thousands of years and holds great medicine power unknown to most. Some of your people may not even recognize the power as they sit on this land,” he said.
“Walk in, come to sacred ceremony in reverence and silence as you approach this valley. Ask the ancestors’ permission to be there. Give praise and thanksgiving to the Creator for providing such a wondrous place. Take with you a valued possession and offer it as a sacred gift. Build an altar and chant a prayer. It does not matter in what language,” Leonard said. “The Creator hears all languages.
“As you near the center of the valley, find your spot or the place you feel most comfortable, lay a blanket, and sit. Quiet your mind. Do not speak until it is time. Call in the ancestors and the great ones to be at your side and welcome their presence. Sit quietly for as long as you can. Light the sage, and with its smoke, bless this place, the surroundings, yourself, and whoever entered with you.
“Drum the drum song, chant and sing, and allow the Great Spirit to take over sacred ceremony. Allow Him to do the talking through you as you ask, ‘Who am I?’ It does not matter if you are unsure of the words that come, let them come. Dance, sing, and chant. If you have located running water and it is nearby, use your hands to scoop up the water to wash your face and head. Ask for purification. Continue to wash until you are cleansed. Continue. Allow the words to come. Be not concerned about whose words they are; be not concerned about your brain or any other apparent distraction, and simply ask.
“Now, ask again, ‘Who am I? Who am I? What is my reason for being here?’ Allow the great one to speak and you listen,” Leonard advised.
“Some may need to go into the sweat lodge to help find these answers. Others may need to fast for several days. Some may need to climb the sacred mountain and stay on top for a week or more. Others will find it necessary to live the teepee life alone for an entire year to discover who they are and why they are here. No one is exempt from knowing these answers,” said Leonard. “Money will not buy the desired result, drugs will only mask the way, and many therapists are of no value. Only the Great One can help reveal this and He does so through sacred ceremony.
“The only way for one to know is to ask, look, and be silent.
“Sacred ceremony is for anyone who chooses to know. It is not for the coward, for once one knows who they are and their reason for being, they will find they must take action in their lives and this may require drastic changes. This is not an easy way and the lazy will not attempt this path at all,” he said.
“Come into sacred ceremony,” Leonard called, “all the answers will be revealed there.”
“This is not a once in a lifetime action. All mysteries are not revealed all at one time. No,” Leonard said, “it is continuous. It is a process for your full development as a human being here in this place and the unfoldment of your soul. It takes patience and persistence. Remember this,” he continued, “just when you think you have gone as far as you can and you’re just too tired to go on and feel like giving up, that is when the mysteries will reveal themselves to you. There are many mysteries that will unfold during ceremony, and that is what makes this a process a lifelong journey.”
Leonard said, “Once I had a young man come to me crying, ‘I am going insane, Leonard, what do I do?’ I replied, ‘Dive deep into the pool of insanity. That is the only way for you to transcend it. That is your ceremony. There is no other way.’
“To walk the Red Path takes courage and determination. Never take the weak or half-hearted into sacred ceremony; you will only waste your energy,” said Leonard.
“When one comes out of ceremony with newfound knowledge, they often cry in gratitude and want to offer a gift to the leader of ceremony. If you lead, never turn down the gift; you would only take away their appreciation and accomplishments,” said Leonard. “For now they know who they are and know they know their path. Now they can fully love themselves and their neighbors. No one has told them this. No unwanted advice was given; no special training was required. Their own knowing and willingness to do ceremony has given them the knowledge that so many crave and no one can ever take that away.
“Never go into sacred ceremony lightheartedly,” he insisted, “You can only enter with reverence, in silence, and with appreciation in your heart and love for the Great One.”
Leonard could not stress enough the respect we must demonstrate for sacred ceremony and the appreciation we must show. To always praise the Creator and give thanks in deep appreciation is of paramount importance to The People of the Blackfeet Nation.
In a casual world, we no longer approach things with the reverence they deserve. Are we afraid of being serious? “Perhaps,” said Leonard. Maybe we would be well served to ponder the seriousness of our lives, to focus on our health, our path and the welfare of others. Laughter, it is said, is the best medicine, and no one enjoyed a good laugh more than Leonard. But he was not afraid to give any situation the reverence it called for. “It is basic human respect,” he said, “there is no other way.”
Leonard said, “They may take our land, they may destroy my body, but they can never take away my real life and knowing who I am.”
Leonard was a great man, huge in spirit, quiet in demeanor and a pure joy to be with. And still is very much today.
From Jays book, Open Spaces; My life With Leonard J. Mountain Chief