Friday, December 30, 2005

Elena on the day of her baptism...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Elena's Baptism

Elena was baptized tonight and visibly moved to tears several times throughout the service. She gave a stirring testimony at the end and said she felt she was born to become a member of the LDS Church. Her words had a powerful impact on everyone present.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Cover from the movie "Baraka."


A friend recommended I watch the movie "Baraka," so my wife and I ordered it from Netflix. It's not a new movie (1991), but I never heard of it before now. It's also not ordinary in the sense of following some kind of plot or overt message. I would call it a documentary, except it has no words. It is composed entirely of music with breathtaking images of cultures and societies around the world. It also portrays many of the inequities and atrocities present in our modern world, such as poverty and genocide. I was both inspired and disturbed by what I saw. I recommend this film to anyone who wants to gain a deeper appreciation for the immense cultural richness of this planet.

Images from the film:

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

my friend Nick Geiger attended the Soul Dance tonight and agreed to pose for this picture...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Soul Dance

Several years ago, my wife and I learned a meditative practice called "Soul Dance." It's difficult to explain without experiencing it directly. The participant makes a spiritual "intention" and then dances to gain insight. The music and movement allow the participant to experience themselves more clearly than before.

From time to time we continue this practice with a small group of friends, as we did tonight. Only four of us attended, but it was wonderful to dance and gain clarity.

My intention was to heal anger in my life. During the dance I focused on this intention and had an experience somewhat like a waking dream, with pictures or images appearing in my mind's eye. The images seemed to tell a story about healing from all the mental distractions in my life, including anger.

"The Sami - an Indigenous People in Sweden." I received this book free of charge from the government of Sweden.

The Sami People of Scandinavia

Several weeks ago I requested a book about the Sami people of northern Scandinavia and the government of Sweden sent the book free of charge. The book arrived in the mail today.

As I read, I was impressed with many similarities between the Sami in Europe and the Indians of North America. Anciently, they lived in cone-shaped tents, much like tepees. They beleived in the spirits of nature and had a language very different than the tongues of Europe. Even today, many of them continue to herd reindeer. They were also persecuted by the Christian governments of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, who forced them to convert to Chritianity. The old kings of Scandinavia criminalized the Sami religion and burned the drums of their medicine people. The similarities with the indigenous people of North America were haunting.

I met a young man online from Sweden who introduced me to this book. I hope to make many more connections with indigenous people around the world.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

the Spokane River from the Argonne Bridge...(Millwood).
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

the surface of the Spokane River under a falling rain...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Spirit of the River

The Spokane River is one of my favorite photographic subjects. My ancestors depended on the river until hydro-electric dams decimated the ancient salmon runs in the early 20th Century. Even still, I feel a certain kinship with the river.

I found the following quote about the spirit of the Spokane River from one of our tribal elders (now deceased) Alex Sherwood:

"I remember this river so well as it was before the dams. My father and grandfather used to tell me how it was before the white man came, when, right below where we are standing, Indians from all over would gather every year for the annual salmon fishery. It was beautiful then, with thousands coming for many miles. You could hear the shouting welcomes as they arrived, the dancing, the singing, the trading, the games, the races, always the hearty hugs - and the fish! The fish sometimes so thick that it seemed that they filled the river. Sometimes, even now, I find a lonely spot where the river still runs wild.

I find myself talking to it; I might ask, "River, do you remember how it used to be -- the game, the fish, the pure water, the roar of the falls, boats, canoes, fishing platforms? You fed and took care of our people then. For thousands of years we walked your banks and used your waters. You would always answer when our chiefs called to you with their prayer to the river spirit."

Sometimes I stand and shout, "River, do you remember us?"

Excerpt from The Spokane River, its Miles and its History, John Fahey with Robert Dellwo, p. 50-51.

Quoted at:

the belt of Orion is visible over my house...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

The Orion Constellation

My new camera takes amazing pictures of the night sky. I went outside late last night and took a picture of the Orion constellation over my house. I was surprised by how good the picture turned out. I was also surprised that the camera shutter was only open for 64 seconds, and yet the stars all appear streaked. At first, I thought the picture blurred, but the trees were focused, and the stars all streaked in the same direction. This implies to me that my camera actually captured evidence of the earth spinning in just 64 seconds.

Monday, December 26, 2005

an old house in the peaceful valley area...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Photos for Gary

My old buddy Gary Harrison asked me to take pictures of his old houses in Spokane to include in some kind of video for his children. I went out with my new camera today and got several interesting shots, including one from Peaceful Valley (above).

Kenny also made a surprise visit this Christmas season...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Anthony made a surprise visit to our home this Christmas.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Return of the Sons

Two of my former foster sons returned this Christmas season to visit our family. Anthony turned 18 last summer and visited many times since then. This was the first Christmas I got to spend with him in three years, which was a tremendous blessing.

Kenny arrived on our doorstep early this morning, the day after Christmas. He gave me a choker he made himself and watched old family home movies with us. He talked about missing us and his brothers, and even wanted to visit the church again. At one point during the video, we were watching a scene of Derrick and Dakota throwing leaves into the air and Kenny started crying. I feel so sad for him and wish I could help him more.

He left as mysteriously as he arrived, returning to the streets without any forwarding address or known location. He only said he plans to visit again soon.

My new camera is the Kodak EasyShare Z760. The ad says this camera is designed for the "serious" amateur.

New Camera

The gods smiled on me this Christmas (along with my wife) and saw fit in their infinite mercy to bestow a new camera on me. I'm sure my faithful readers will remember how I broke my first camera a while back and pitifully mourned its loss. Well, it was never really lost, but some of the really cool features, like delayed shutter speeds, were disabled after I dropped the camera on the freezing concrete.

The new camera has all the wonderful features I lost and so much more. I'm thrilled to death about it, but I must admit I'm a little nervous about breaking my new camera. Can I trust myself again? :)

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Lights...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

our family Nativity scene on Christmas day...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Blessed Christmas

What a perfect day! My family went to church this morning and had a wonderful time. Even Anthony joined us for Christmas morning and church. I feel honored and blessed on this very special day.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Whitney holding a thin sheet of ice...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

No White Christmas in Sight

After the coldest December on record since the 1930s, the Spokane area warmed up to a blistering 40 degrees. It's been raining ever since. So much for a white Christmas.

This tree inspired me earlier today...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

The Seed of Anger

Nothing new to report on this eve of Christmas Eve; we finished up a few errands, and left a few other undone until after the holiday.

I mentioned my letter to God to someone I hold as a spiritual mentor. He thought about my prayer for a while and then had some interesting feedback. He said (and I paraphrase), "Your heart is in the right place. You pray for many good things in your life, but you have a tinge of anger in everything you do. Even the smallest seed of anger will touch your good intentions and make it difficult for the spirits to answer your prayers."

Part of me wanted to respond by thanking him for the insight and then forgetting about it as soon as possible. Another part of me wanted to justify the anger I feel. I chose instead to sit in silence and allow his words to rest upon my heart.

His words are true. I still feel anger about several major events in my life. It's also true that anger obstructs the clarity of my life purpose.

Sooooo, how do I heal the anger in my heart? My childhood conditioned me to stuff my anger, which never really solved anything. All it ever did was make me sick and depressed. So if I don't suppress my anger, what the heck do I do with it?

I asked God for help, and this is what I got. This information is extremely useful, even though it's somewhat difficult to hear.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Letters to God at the Western Wall...

Letter to God

I fell upon a couple major disappointments today within just a few minutes of each other. Several things I worked long and hard to achieve literally turned to dust before my eyes. It's not important to name them here, but if anyone wants to know about the specifics, you can always email me. I'll probably tell you.

I was feeling quite depressed about my current situation, but stumbled on the following article about letters addressed to God being placed on the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. I was impressed with how they treat these letters with deep respect. They consider them as sacred communication between people and God, so they leave them at the wall unopened:

An old Islamic tradition says: 'A prayer in Jerusalem is worth 500 prayers elsewhere'

After reading this article, I spoke with a friend, and wondered what I might pray if I were to pour out my heart and soul to the Great Spirit above. She gave me some good advice about surrendering expectations and being open to change. I finally came up with the following prayer (maybe I will really send it to Jerusalem):

"Dear God,

We make plans, and sometimes they fail, or sometimes they take an unforeseen path we could never imagine, even in our wildest dreams. We set out on magnificent journeys across the deserts and mountain of life, but we do not always reach the destination we hoped for.

Merciful God, I arrived at just such a place today, a dead end on the road of life. I did everything I could think to do, and still I came up short. My plans failed and my desires suffered cruel disappointment. So much was taken; so much was lost. Some days, I can hardly bear the pain.

You are a God of miracles, but sometimes I have to abandon every expectation of how I want things to turn out. I often plead with you in prayer for this result or that, but only you truly know the best path for me. Maybe this obstacle is a message from your infinite mercy to open my heart and mind to something totally outside anything I know. Maybe you have blessings in store beyond mortal comprehension.

I failed even after putting forth my best effort. I’m done making plans for my life situation, because they all came to nothing in the end. So now I call upon you, God of my heart, “What will you have me do now? Please give me clarity!

I place my preferences on the altar. Choose from them as you will.

I am your beloved son; one of many.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I'm posting this old photograph of Edward and his horse Cochise out of respect for his friendship to me.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Edward and several friends built this icy replica of Stonehenge. I thought it was an appropriate photograph to honor the Winter Solstice.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Winter Solstice

My good friend Edward invited me and a few close friends to a special ceremony in observance of the Winter Solstice. We gathered on his property to make prayers for the passing season and set good intentions for times to come. Afterwards, we enjoyed hot soup, bread, and apple cider as we sat around a cozy pot belly stove in his cabin. We had a wonderful and pleasant visit.

At one point Edward asked me to sing and invite the spirits of the land to participate in our little ritual; and as I did so, I realized I participated in a similar ceremony with my father almost 12 years ago to the day. He felt inspired to mark the passing of the seasons in a similar way and bring together the ancient traditions of both Europe and America. We participated in a sweat lodge ceremony on the banks of the Little Spokane River and later took a dip in the icy stream. As we emerged from the water, I blacked out and collapsed. I think I had hypothermia, but I remember seeing lights and feeling warmth surround my body like a loving embrace. I heard my father shouting in the distance, as though he were standing on the other side of a large field. They later told me he did shout. He panicked and yelled something into my ear like, “He’s passing to the other side! Bring him back!”

They pulled me into the house and warmed my freezing body. As my consciousness returned, I felt a sudden, piercing pain in my chest and arms and head and legs. I shook uncontrollably.

They drove me home and put me to bed. Several days later, my father called to check up on me. “Connie was worried,” he said, “But I knew you would be okay.” He died just a few days later and I have since wondered if this near death experience had any meaning in relationship to his passing. Twelve years later, I remember this day and wonder if his spirit is prompting me to carry on his observance of the passing seasons.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire...

from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire...

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

My son and I went to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. We enjoyed this latest installment of wizardry and magic like all the ones before, but this edition seemed somewhat darker than all the others. It introduces certain weightier elements not immediately obvious until now: distrust between friends, blood magic, the resurrection of evil beings, and unforgivable spells. I can certainly see why some people do not allow their children to watch any of the Harry Potter series.

On the other hand, Harry Potter also introduces powerful "old magic," such as love and the eventual triumph of good over evil.

I enjoy Harry Potter out of sheer enjoyment of the fantasy elements so abundantly presented throughout the films, but also because of the faint remnant of indigenous cultures buried under centuries of 'muggle' domination. As Christianity spread across old Europe, they replaced indigenous spirituality with Catholic dogma; and as they did so, they tended to label the old indigenous 'shamans' and 'medicine people' as 'witches' and 'wizards.' They accused indigenous people of consulting demons, but in truth, they simply practiced the old ways, based on communion with nature, and handed down from one generation to another for thousands of years. The ancient ways are nearly forgotten, but shadowy fragments are ironically preserved in the old Catholic festivals, like Christmas, Easter, and All Hallows Eve (Halloween).

In time, I believe people will reclaim their indigenous roots all around the world.

Monday, December 19, 2005

winter branches from several days ago...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Exchange Student from China

Some time ago, I interviewed Elena from China regarding education in her country. The interview comprised part of a class assignment at Whitworth College, including the influence of Confucius on Chinese education. I promised to include the interview on my blog. Here it is:

Elena is a foreign exchange student and currently resides with an American family in Spokane Valley, Washington (my brother-in-law). She comes to us from China, where she attended one of the top schools in the nation. If her transcript provides an indicator of the quality of education in her home school, then both she and her school deserve highest marks. As I examined her school report, I saw she earned an “A+” in literally every subject, and throughout every single term. If she was a student in the United States, she would carry a perfect 4.0 grade point average for her entire high school career.

Elena speaks very good English and was extremely cordial throughout the entire interview. It was a genuine pleasure to visit with her.

We talked for more than an hour about the educational system in China, but I was most impressed with the academic rigor required of all students. She reports that all eighth grade students are required to take a kind of placement exam in order to enter high school. Students must obtain the highest possible score in the following subject areas: Math (120 points), Chinese (120 points), English (120 points), Physics (100 points), Chemistry (80 points), and Physical Education (30 points). Students receive a school assignment based on these test scores; higher scores merit a more prestigious and rigorous academic placement.

Obviously, she had to score well in order to attend her school, but I asked her about students who do not score well. She said those who obtain lower test scores can attend less prestigious schools, but even then, students must obtain a certain baseline score. If a student misses the baseline, he or she may retest the following year. Repeated failures may indicate a different life track, perhaps toward menial tasks or labor intensive work.

Though she did not address Confucius directly, I saw evidence of his philosophy affecting the school system in China. As we know, Confucius tried to create a better society through the conscientious application of wisdom, values, and tradition. He essentially provided a universal code of ethics designed to address proper conduct for each member of society and every social role. I saw this philosophy reinforced through Elena's description of school. For example, she spoke about students assuming a variety of formal roles in the classroom to promote proper behavior, such as classroom monitor, study manager, homework manager, etc. Each student in his or her respective role assigns a score to each fellow student based on a pre-determined set of criteria, and makes recommendations for improvement. Classroom monitors even make recommendations regarding student discipline. In this way, students work collaboratively to monitor their own behavior, usually before it ever becomes a serious problem. I was amazed with the power of values and gentle social pressure to shape human behavior in such a large population.

Without doubt, I would have to say the Communist Revolution under Chairman Mao Zedong had the greatest impact on modern education in China. Under this system, education serves the dual purpose of educating the citizenry and reinforcing state values. This was evident during our interview. At one point I asked her about the role of government in schools and she simply stated, “The government is good. They know what is best for us to learn at school.” She later expressed dismay when she received an assignment in her American school to criticize President Bush. “We don’t criticize our leaders,” she said.

She was gracious and kind throughout the interview. I was very impressed with her as a human being and as a representative of her homeland.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas is only a week away...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Sacrament Meeting

My LDS readers will be delighted to know I attended services today at our local ward. In fact, the bishop asked my family to sing during sacrament meeting. Now, I thought it was somewhat strange, especially since I'm not a member of the LDS Church, but I could not refuse the invitation; if nothing else, then for my children's sake.

My wife chose only one verse of the children's song: "I Wonder When He Comes Again," but it was enough to convey a tender feeling of spirit and love. Perhaps now my critics in the church will see I am not quite the heartless apostate they imagine.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

the Pend Orielle River at sunset, looking toward Cusick...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Guests eat dinner as they listen to Glenn Douglas speak about Francis...I like this picture because I never noticed the little boy smiling at me until I looked at it later...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Birthday Dinner

My family was invited to a special birthday dinner and powwow for Francis Cullooyah of the Kalispel Tribe. Francis had been a friend of my granfather, and is a leader in traditional knowledge, so I decided to go to honor that bond. Maybe a couple hundred people attended, including several old friends. We had a wonderful visit.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Aslan represents Christ in the Chronicles of Narnia.

from the Chronicles of Narnia...

Chronicles of Narnia

In celebration of the first day of Christmas vacation, my family and I watched the "Chronicles of Narnia" tonight at the movie theatre. Before anything else, I just have to say, I thought it was a wonderful movie. The characters were endearing and the special effects amazing. "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" was one of my favorite childhood books, so of course, I had to see it now.

The Christian allegory was also very plain to see, at least for those of us old enough to recognize the scriptural connections. These are just a few of the more obvious connections:

1) the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve (Genesis 3:20);

2) Aslan as Christ, the Lion of Judah (Revelations 5:5);

3) Edmund, like Judas, betrays his brethren for a few pieces of earthly pleasure (Matthew 26: 14-15);

4) Aslan gives his life in exchange for the treachery of another (1 Timonthy 2:6);

5) Lucy and Susan watch the brutal sacrifice, much like the holy women at the foot of the cross (John 19:25);

6) Aslan rises from the dead (John 20:1-17);

7) Aslan revives the stone captives by breathing on them (John 20:22).

The story of Christ gives hope and inspiration to millions of people across the world, but for me it often provokes a troubling religious question. Before I ask the question, however, I want to preface it by saying my question is not intended to offend my Christian audience in any way. It is something I really want to know, and something I often wondered, even when I still attended church regularly.

My question:

I understand the doctrine of sacrifice; Christ gave his life in exchange for our sins, but I always wanted to know why his suffering and death were necessary in the first place. Who wanted that? I mean, is that what God wanted from us because we make a few mistakes in life or commit a few sins? Does he really demand perfection, and if so, why can't he just forgive us without all the blood and gore?

Having asked the question, please don't think I'm trying to offend anyone. I sincerely don't understand the basis or the need for blood atonement. The "Chronicles of Narnia" refer to it as "old magic," but what is the real answer for those who believe in traditional Christianity?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tad Hargrave.
Copyright by Tad Hargrave.

Indigenous Identities

I recently initiated a rather interesting conversation with a man by the name of Tad Hargrave on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. He keeps several weblogs, one of which caught my attention during a search of websites addressing issues related to indigenous people. He calls the blog “Healing Whiteness: an Exploration into the Gaelic Indigenous Soul.” He poses an intriguing question, “Are White people indigenous?” By extension, if White people are indigenous, what do they share in common with other indigenous cultures around the world, including Native Americans?

His blog rekindled an old concept for me. Several years ago, I taught high school social studies at the Medicine Wheel Academy of Spokane and attempted to infuse a Native perspective into the state curriculum as much as possible. I engaged the students in lessons designed to raise their awareness of belonging to a global indigenous community, and not just a North American tribe. Many of my students never considered indigenous issues beyond the circle of their immediate social contacts. Throughout the year, I introduced them to indigenous peoples and concepts in Mexico, Russia, Australia, Scandinavia, Hawaii, Africa, and the British Isles.

That time in my life was transformational. My awareness of my own indigenous identity grew, along with my students.

As we expanded the circle of inclusion among the world’s indigenous peoples, we were forced to re-examine old assumptions and racial stereotypes. For example, in the Plateau Salish language, we usually refer to White people as “suyepi,” which has evolved into a semi-derogatory term over the years. An old Plateau legend attributes this name to the first Whites ever encountered by the Salish, who were French trappers. They looked so strange to my ancestors that they called the newcomers something akin to “Upside-Down-Face, (suyepi)” because of their long beards and bald heads. The White people also seemed very “upside down” in their customs and mannerisms; speaking in forked tongues and disrespecting the environment. In time, the word “suyepi” tended to sound disparaging, rather than respectful. With this history in mind, my students began to question if all White people are really “suyepi,” or backwards. Perhaps they could find a more noble term to describe our White allies.

In our language, Indian people refer to themselves as “sqelixw.” This term means something like “real people,” as opposed to the animal people or the plant people. We might also say “sqelixw” means “human being.” Before the European contact, we simply called ourselves the People, Real People, or human beings, with no need to differentiate because of race. However, when White people arrived, they seemed so totally dissimilar that they assumed a different name (“suyepi” as described above). After the contact, we called ourselves the Real People, and the others were the Upside-Down-Faces.

But aren’t suyepis also people? Why would Indians be the only “Real People” on the planet?

My class struggled with this concept for several months. Some of my students didn’t seem to care, but others did not want to see any hint of racism in our culture. But if the current word for Indian is “sqelixw” (human being) what do we call White people? We finally found an answer from an old tribal elder on the Flathead Reservation in Montana.

The Flathead of Montana speak a dialect very similar to our own. During our Salish class, we were watching a video from the Flathead Reservation that included interviews of tribal elders in the Salish language. One old man talked about his experiences with white people, but instead of calling them suyepi, he called them “piq sqelixw.” The phrase hit me like a bolt of lightening…it was so simple! In our language, “piq” means white, and so he literally called them “White Human Beings.” It sounded so dignified, respectful, and perfect.

Since that time, I have worked to build bridges of understanding between cultures and communities. I believe the indigenous identity at the root of all cultures is one way to connect people of many ethnicities and identities. Tad’s weblog reminded me of this ideal.

Monday, December 12, 2005

the ice is beautiful...too bad it's so damn MISERABLE to live with!!!
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

a tiny island of warmth in the freezing cold...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.


Insomnia happens; far too often for me.

Some people fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow. Not me. In fact, I'm quite the opposite. I can feel very tired for hours, but as soon as I lay down to sleep, my brain turns on. It's a curse, really.

At about 6:30 a.m. I thought I might finally fall asleep, but then my sister got me up to take her to work. Her car froze over night and would not start. As I drove her to work, I noticed the temperature on various reader boards across town: 12 degrees.

I tried to make something positive out of my early morning insomnia and took pictures at a local park on the way home. I actually got some really nice pictures, but it was so damn cold I thought my fingers would freeze, even through my gloves.

I give up; I gotta get some sleep. Good night, or good morning, rather.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

We honor the spirits of heaven and earth with this Christmas tree.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Oh Christmas Tree, Part II

As a young missionary for the LDS Church, I remember hearing objections to Christmas by Jehovah's Witnesses and other Christian sects. For them, Christmas represents a modern form of paganism disguised as a Christian holy day. Jehovah's Witnesses are quick to point out, for example, that the Bible authorizes no celebration of Christ's birth, but rather commands true Christians to observe the death memorial of Jesus every year.

Jeremiah 10:2-4 seems to foreshadow a pagan connection to Christmas celebrations:

"Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not."

I remember reading about the pagan origins of Christmas and feeling a subtle undercurrent of dread, as though God may really disapprove. However, as an adult I realize that our pagan roots are not so bad after all. Christians have condemned paganism for centuries as though it represented devil worship.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The so-called pagans were really just the pre-Christian, indigenous peoples of Europe. They revered nature and honored the spirits of all living things. One could say they had a lot in common with the Native Americans of North America. The institution of Christianity persecuted these indigenous people until they were driven underground and to the brink of extinction. Sadly, they imported the perseuction of indigenous people to America. They once called us (Native Americans) pagans, too.

So these indigenous cousins of pre-Christian Europe honored the spirit of the trees and decorated evergreen boughs during the shortest day of the year, which fell approximately on December 21. As Christianity spread throughout Europe, this tradition transformed itself and took on an added layer of meaning. The evergreen came to represent eternal life offered by Jesus Christ.

As one who has both Native and Christian roots, I'm comfortable with both traditions. I'm thankful to honor the spirits of both heaven and earth in my home. Today I'm glad to hear about the indigenous origins of our cultural traditions.

We found a Christmas tree near this road.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

We stopped near Long Lake on the way to get a Christmas Tree.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Oh Christmas Tree

My kids and I chopped down a Christmas tree for the second year in a row. We used to buy them, but they have gotten pretty expensive. Besides, it's a fun memory to drive around the woods in the snow and pick out our own tree.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Frigid tempatures continue in Spokane.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Black Elk Speaks

I recently finished reading Black Elk Speaks for the second time since my early 20s. To be honest, the first time I read it, I found it somewhat boring, but this time I was enthralled with the spiritual imagery and deep sense of purpose. I agreed with Vine Deloria Jr. when he stated in his introduction:

"(Black Elk Speaks) will become a North American Indian theological canon which will someday challenge the Eastern and Western traditions as a way of looking at the world."

As just one sample of Black Elk's wisdom, I submit the following quote from his book:

"Everything an Indian does is in a circle and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round…the sky is round, and I have heard the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greateset power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our tepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children."

He goes on to describe the source of his power and the manner in which his power manifested in the physical world for the benefit of his people. I'm not sure he intended his words to serve as a guide for others to follow, but I can't help but see the faint outline of a spiritual path others can use in their individual search for purpose and meaning.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The deceptive sun shines brightly, but does nothing to warm the freezing earth.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Sheets of ice forming on the surface of Hangman Creek.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Meeting at the MAC

The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture invited me to meet with their American Indian Advisory Board to discuss Plateau Salish curriculum at the museum. Afterwards, they invited me to lunch at Northern Quest Casino. More on that later...

As I drove home, I stopped to photograph the Spokane River in the frigid winter air. Last night the temperature dropped down to less than -5 degrees and left the trees covered in white crystals of ice. At the confluence of Hangman Creek and the Spokane River, the water surface froze into massive plates of ice that looked like jig-saw pieces, or perhaps continents moving against one another in a kind of miniature plate techtonics.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Not my picture...

Mayan/Aztec Horoscope

I found this horoscope based on the Mayan calendar. All you have to do is plug in your date of birth and ask for a free sample report ( I hope you'll try it and compare with mine.
Prepared for Barry Moses:

Born March 6, 1971

DAY-SIGN: 13-Ocelot

YEAR: South-11

13-DAY PERIOD: 1-Wind


VENUS PHASE: Morning Star

Privacy is something that you need, yet your tendency to become involved in entangled relationships often makes this difficult. By nature, you are a secretive person who has found that controlling information helps you maintain some control over your life. You have an inborn sense of strategy and make a good planner and investigator.

You are also quite aggressive and competitive. You will fight to make a point, though you usually do so in a somewhat indirect way. In conversation you can be cutting and sarcastic, but you do use subtlety and rarely come right out with what you think.

You tend to have rather complex relationships with spouses, relatives and friends. Your pattern is to become deeply involved on many levels and to base some of your security needs on these relationships. When things turn sour, you find yourself caught up in a network of ties, dependencies, and obligations that are difficult to throw off easily and quickly. At worst, you may become socially mal-adjusted and dependent. At best, you are a person who can heal sick human relationships as well as explore them to their fullest.

You probably have some psychic abilities. You are very sensitive in general and can read people intuitively. Negatively, this sensitivity could become a problem, particularly when alcohol or drugs are involved. Some Ocelot personalities develop their psychic senses or master divination techniques. On another level, medical and healing arts may appeal to you and, as a practitioner or counselor, you find your way to a diagnosis using your powerful instincts. In fact, you may be a natural healer.

You are probably regarded as an intelligent person and are possibly very well-educated. You display a facility for communication and may actually be a powerful and persuasive speaker or writer. Negatively, you can dominate conversations or attempt to impose your views on others. You have a powerful imagination and are capable of visualizing all sorts of things, from the sublime to the paranoid. Possibly the best type of education for you is one in which psychology and social sciences are emphasized.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

First Presbyterian Church in downtown Spokane hosted Handel's Messiah.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

The congregation joins in singing Handel's Messiah.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Handel's Messiah

Matthew Cudney invited me to participate in the Messiah Sing-along at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Spokane. We attended last year and decided we would enjoy going again. Unfortunately, we arrived late, but we managed to find a place to sit in the bass section after intermission.

We got to sing two of my favorite Christmas pieces, "For Unto Us a Child is Born," and the "Hallellujah Chorus."

Camp P.E.A.C.E. was help in a lodge at Camp N-Sid-Sen in North Idaho.
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Camp P.E.A.C.E.

Camp P.E.A.C.E. met for a third time this weekend, with two high schools participating, Ferris in Spokane, and Cusick. According to the website, "the name 'Camp P.E.A.C.E.' means 'People Everywhere Are Created Equal' and was chosen in 1990 by the first student graduates of the program. Camp P.E.A.C.E. educates youth to value and respect all persons, regardless of perceived differences such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical ability, and religion. Students learn how to practice dialogue and cooperation, as positive alternatives to isolation, stereotyping and violence, the norm for dealing with those whom the dominant U.S. society views as different."

I was asked to co-facilitate the sessions and help bring participants to a deep, emotional and spiritual place where they can most effectively explore issues related to bias. This was a dream come true for me. Ever since I participated in Spectrum years ago, I have wanted to facilitate emotional process work on this level. Thankfully, both students and their mentors were very responsive to the way I directed the group. It was very satisfying for me to contribute to spiritual work in this way.

At the end of the camp, all the students made a promise to stand as Peacemakers in the world. During that ceremony, I invited the students to walk that road with me, and I reaffirmed my own commitment to making peace in the world.

Lake Coeur d'Alene in Winter

Camp P.E.A.C.E. convened this weekend at Camp N-Sid-Sen on the shores of Coeur d'Alene Lake in Idaho. I'll report more on the camp later, but first I give respect to the spirit of the water in the lake. The first night at camp, the air was still in the trees, and yet the surface of the water made a restless sound, like a flowing river. A fierce wind blew on the water, but did not disturb the shore or trees. It was quite haunting, indeed.

The next morning, I got up early and took these pictures around the lake: