Ceremony Protocol: Respect Yourself First

Vi Waln
Sicangu Scribe

The Wiwang Waci is perhaps the most sacred ceremony gifted to the Lakota by Pte San Win (White Buffalo Calf Woman). At one time, there was just a single ceremony held near the time of the summer solstice. Our ancestors made an annual pilgrimage to pray at this sacred summer ceremony.

Many don’t understand that Wiwang Waci is a 12-day ceremony. There are 4 days of purification, followed by 4 days of dance. The 4 days after the dance are also important. There are many ways to explain the 4 days following the dance, but for the sake of space, let’s just say it is a time to reflect on the ceremony.

Purification is a crucial aspect of the sun dance. It requires great physical, mental, emotional and spiritual preparation to be a part of Wiwang Waci. Individuals who commit to be in the ceremony must be ready; many prepare for years before they step onto to the altar.

Today, people enter the sun dance circle unprepared. Their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual bodies aren’t ready. Also, if purification is not taken seriously, your ability to pray is affected.

Many people hang on to an array of personal, unhealed junk which affects their outlook on daily life. For instance, emotional and mental toxins are junk that must be cleared from your body before you pray. Lots of people walk into a sun dance circle carrying not only a cannunpa, they also bring their spiritual, mental, emotional and physical toxins. These toxins, junk, or baggage, do influence their prayer.

People believe they are ready for 4 days of prayer. Yet, many have not prepared their minds. Undisciplined humans who’ve not cleared their personal energy field of junk, are unaware of all the unseen toxins they emit. Consequently, your state of mind affects the ceremony and everyone around you.

People who are considering a commitment to sun dance respect themselves enough to prepare in a proper manner. One way to prepare is to attend inikaga (sweat lodge) at least once a week for a whole year before dancing. We live in a very violent world today and the inikaga helps to remove unseen toxins we pick up from our environment.

Whether you are a dancer or not, you also have the responsibility to come to sun dance with your mind and emotions in the right place. It would be great if everyone would purify themselves. People often misbehave at sun dance. Wiwang Waci is a ceremony, it’s not a pow-wow. Ceremony is not the place to use drugs, drink, look for sexual encounters, gossip, judge other people or engage in hateful thinking.

Sun dancers will attest to the fact that it’s extremely difficult to remain in prayer when they are in proximity to those who haven’t prepared. Purification is the time to clear your mind and emotions. Remember, you are not standing on that altar alone, the other dancers absorb all bad energy.

It’s disrespectful to yourself and others to not prepare. As human beings, we are all affected by the energy of other people. If you haven’t dealt with your mental and emotional junk, you will leave traces of dark energy behind for others to pick up and carry home with them.

Sun dancers who treat others with genuine kindness, have loving hearts, believe in the good in all people and walk their daily lives without using drugs or alcohol, will carry the burden of unprepared dancers. Examples of being unprepared are those who drink or use drugs, harbor negative thoughts, judge or hate people, gossip and make trouble for others all year round.

It’s selfish when individuals aren’t prepared to pray in Wiwang Waci. Another example which demonstrates a lack of self-respect is posting on social media about how you finished 4 days of sun dance or completed a hanbleciya. Your ceremony is between you and Creator, not all of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Wiwang Waci is a sacred place of prayer. Our universe depends on the sacred energy created in ceremony to thrive. I always encourage Lakota people to pray at sun dance. However, people shouldn’t play with this ceremony by showing up unprepared as a dancer, singer, helper, supporter or guest.

Personal conduct speaks for your character. When everyone gets truly serious about keeping our ceremony sacred our people will see the Wicozani we all pray for.

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