Linda Neale's Blog

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Celebrating the Day of the Dead

Linda Neale - Wednesday, October 02, 2013

     Because they occur around the same time, the Day of the Dead is sometimes confused with Halloween in modern American culture.   Unlike Halloween which involves costumes, parties, and trick-or-treating, the Day of the Dead is a very old Indo-Hispanic ceremony that demonstrates a strong sense of love and respect for one’s ancestors and celebrates the continuance of life and family heritage.  It helps us remember who we are and provides us a structure to pass on the stories of our ancestors to our children and grandchildren.  In today's modern American culture, there are few structured opportunities to honor our ancestors in this way.
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Mother Goes to Sundance

Linda Neale - Sunday, August 11, 2013

I’ve invited my 88 year old mother to one sundance or another for the last twenty-two years, but there was always a reason why she couldn’t attend. I wondered about those reasons, and assumed they had something to do with what she’d heard about the ceremony.  Most people tend to exaggerate the physical aspects – the piercings, fasting, and suffering that goes on – and forget the joy, support, love, and connections that are present.  Over the years I said little to my mother about my involvement in the dance.  The sundance ceremony is both beautiful and intense and there’s really no way to describe it.  It must be experienced.  After 22 years of rejected invitations, I almost didn’t invite her this year.  Sometime in May I mentioned it in a rather backwards way, after she inquired about our plans for the summer.    Read More

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New year's resolutions, intentions, actions

Linda Neale - Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.    Read More

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You are the Medicine Wheel

Linda Neale - Monday, December 03, 2012

On Saturday, December 15th, Rod and I are doing a workshop on the medicine wheel.  I've lived with the wheel for decades now, but until ten years ago, I never understood what Rod meant when he said "you are the medicine wheel". Until then I thought the wheel was something to memorize, and that somehow I just couldn't get it "right".  Was white in the east, or in the north?  Where did the eagle belong on the wheel?  The bear?  If the west was about the elder and darkness, then what was the north?  I was confused.
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Incorporating the Unexpected

Linda Neale - Friday, March 16, 2012

Most of you who read this blog know that my husband Rod suffered a very serious accident on January 31st.  As he pushed his chair back from his table after eating breakfast at a local restaurant, the back two legs fell off a platform, he fell backward, hit the back of his head on a pool table, and broke his neck.  911 was called, and when I arrived at the hospital, I was told by three different doctors that Rod would probably be paralyzed from the neck down.   Read More

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Women of the 14th Moon -- Part 1

Linda Neale - Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Women of the Fourteenth Moon is a modern transition ceremony that has endured for more than two decades and is now being performed around the world. It was originally conceived by three women from various backgrounds -- Celtic, Jewish, and Native American -- who came together to do something to heal the fear of aging that many modern women have.  It is not a Native American ceremony -- it is a women's ceremony.  It  lasts from one to three days, and is usually performed outside with as few as twenty or as many as one hundred fifty women. Its stated intention is to initiate and honor elder women and the stages they go through in becoming elders. Many women are introduced to ceremony for the first time at the Women of the Fourteenth Moon. The experience often touches them deeply and affects every aspect of their lives.   Read More

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What is a Shaman?

Linda Neale - Monday, October 03, 2011

On a recent radio show, I was introduced by the well-meaning interviewers as a "shaman".   I was alarmed.  Nothing in my written bio mentioned that word, and I had a minute or so of commercial time to consider how to respond.  Many things went through my head in that minute.  I thought about ceremonial leaders who have let others define them, allowing people to call them "medicine man", "shaman" or "chief".   I thought about Casimirro Mamallacta, an 80 year old Kichwa ayowaska shaman friend who knows the medicinal uses of every plant in his Ecuadorian rain forest.  I thought about the weekend shamanic workshops you can find everywhere on the internet.  I remembered the years of intense training my Dine (Navajo) friend Patrick went through to become a hitaali, or singer.  I could let the interviewers' comments go, and begin the process of allowing others to define me --  after all, some people say that it's the community that defines who is a shaman, who is a medicine person, and who is not.  But I've met real traditional shamans, and I have too much respect for them and their training to allow that to happen.  Read More

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What's the difference between customs, traditions, rituals, and ceremonies?

Linda Neale - Monday, August 15, 2011

Joe Paul emailed me the other day, asking what the difference is between customs, traditions, rituals, and ceremonies.  It's a good question. We tend to confuse these various terms and sometimes use them interchangeably.  Basically, there's a lot of similarity between traditions and customs. The difference has to do with how long they've persisted.  Customs are probably the most common and short-lived practice. One of the origins of the term "custom" has to do with "habit". So, you can think of custom as any frequent or common repetition of a social convention. For example, I have a custom of singing a certain song almost every morning as I begin my day (some of you have heard that song).  Read More

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The Giveaway.

Linda Neale - Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Recently we celebrated my husband Rod's 80th birthday with a barbecue and giveaway.  I've learned to love the giveaway as a way of saying "thank you" and showing appreciation for an achievement or honor. This ceremony demonstrates values that are 180 degrees from American ideals of individual achievement and consumerism.   Instead of individualism, the giveaway honors connection.  Rather than consumerism, the giveaway is  based on what appears to be an almost Buddhist-like philosophy of non-attachment. 
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Vision Quest

Linda Neale - Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Recently Rod and I participated in a vision quest camp in a remote region of SE Oregon where seven men and women sought direction for their lives.  The vision quest ceremony is common among tribal peoples of North America;  there are similar ceremonies in India and Persia, and within the monastic and ascetic traditions of Christianity.  Jesus did a kind of vision quest, when he retreated into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights.   Read More


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