Category Archives: Home Projects

Cherokee Seven Direction Dreamcatcher

For the past few years I have been sitting with the Cherokee concepts of seven directions. I knew that I wanted to create something to physically represent the concepts held within these seven directions. However I couldn’t quite figure out how to do this….then during a Labor Day backpacking trip, things just fell into place with a picture of what could be. Though the final result was a bit different, the concepts and points given to me by the Creator on that trip stayed the same. And with that, I would like to share the seven directions with you all. =)

The Seven Directions

Like a lot of Indigenous people across Tuttle Island (i.e. North America), the Cherokees assigned a color and a meaning to each the four cardinal directions:

  • East -> red -> success; triumph
  • North -> blue -> defeat; trouble
  • West -> black -> death
  • South -> white -> peace; happiness

What is unique (at least as far as I’ve been able to determine) is that the Cherokees recognize three other directions:

  • Above -> yellow -> the sky above
  • Below -> brown -> the earth below
  • Center -> green -> where we are right now

Though I’m still researching the symbolism of the latter three, I do know that ‘above’ doesn’t represent ‘heaven’ nor does ‘below’ represent ‘hell.’ Heaven and hell are Greco Roman concepts that were combined with Hebraic thought through the move of Christianity into Europe.  Cherokee cosmology has a different outlook on those directions of which I have barely scratched. Hopefully I will be able to understand more about them as time goes on…but for now just know that ‘above’ and ‘below’ are separate from the modern cultural concepts of ‘heaven’ and ‘hell.’

Praying to the Directions

For a lot of Indigenous people prayers physical in nature. We will commonly turn to the four directions (east, west, north, & south) while praying to the Creator. It is a way to physically connect with our surroundings while lifting our voice to the Lord. I would connect this to the ancient Hebraic practice of sacrifices or the offering of incenses at the Temple. Both practices include a physical action in conjunction with prayers to the Creator. Modern Christian practices along these lines include prayer walking, pacing during prayer meetings, dancing, flag waving, clapping, etc. The primary difference being, of course, that these latter actions aren’t necessarily done in a specific order whereas praying to the directions includes turning to face a certain direction before saying a prayer.

In pondering the seven directions of the Cherokees, there have been times when I have physically faced each of the directions while giving thanks to the Creator. Though it seemed strange at first, there is something refreshing about having a physical response to act out while praying. It is also a good reminder that Jesus surrounds and protects us from harm in all directions. I would liken it to Saint Patrick’s Breastplate:

Christ with me, Christ before me,

Christ behind me, Christ within me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ at my right, Christ at my left,

The 8th section of Saint Patrick’s Breastplate

Dreamcatchers

As you all no doubt noticed from the title and below picture, the end result of my art project was a seven direction dreamcatcher. This was because the circular structure of the dreamcatcher just seemed to fit with the theme and concepts I wanted to convey. Historically dreamcatchers are from the Ojibwe people of the Great Lake region and southern Canada. They were adopted as a generic symbol of identification for Native Americans/First Nations cultures during the Pan-Indian Movement of the 1960s/70s. The mainstream public also started seeing them around this time with dreamcatchers being a craft item in the 80s and 90s.

Among the Ojibwe people, dreamcatchers were associated with Asibikaashi (Spider Women) who would protect them from harm by weaving a spider web around them. Hence the spider web design of the dreamcatchers. Noting, of course, that the Ojibwe concept was less about dreams and more about protection from harm in general. The dream component became attached to the object as it went out from the Ojibwe to the rest of the country.

Though I’m not one for charms, I do like the symbolism of the dreamcatcher with protection. It goes back to Saint Patrick’s Breastplate and the prayers to the seven directions for Christ to surround us with his protection. Psalm 91 would be a good example of prayers of this type as would Psalm 139. This latter psalm, by the way, includes several of the seven directions as King David declares the presence of the Creator around himself:

You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue

you, Lord, know it completely.

You hem me in behind and before,

and you lay your hand upon me.

Psalm 139:2-5, NIV

The Materials

I have often said that the way in which you do something is just as important as what you do. In this case, I sought out seven different biological materials to form the foundations of my seven direction dreamcatcher. Circles were used as a primary design motif due to the symbolism of circles in the cycle of the seasons, life, time, and nature itself.  I initially wanted seven circles (one per direction) but in the end I went with six circles due to the ease of construction and overall look.

The rings themselves are made of the following materials:

  • East -> pine -> One of the few trees who stayed awake throughout the seven days of the Cherokee creation story. Since the east is the direction of creation, I placed the pine ring in that direction.
  • North  -> aspen -> When I think of the north, aspen trees come to mind as they are native to the colder regions of North America. Hence the placement of this wood.
  • West -> sage  -> Sage is a ceremonial plant for many Native Americans and is burned when praying as a way to purify oneself. I figured that since the west was the direction of death, it could use some extra prayer and purity.
  • South  -> corn  -> South is the place of happiness and peace to the Cherokee. Hence I used the leaves of the corn plant as the foundation under the white leather in remembrance of Selu the Corn Mother.
  • Up Above and Down Below  -> willow -> Running through and surrounding the other directions is a large ring of willow which represents Jesus of Nazareth through whom all things that were, are, and will be made (e.g. John 1:3, Col 1:16). The weeping nature of the willow played a part in choosing this wood as Jesus wept over Jerusalem when the people failed to respond to his call to walk with him in peace and love (Luke 19:41-44). Furthermore, willows need a lot of water to survive hence why they are normally found near creeks and rivers. Hence the connection (at least in my mind) with the living water of the Holy Spirit that flows throughout Creation (Revelation 22:1-5).
  • Center  ->  oak  -> The oak tree was an important part of Cherokee life with acorns being ground up to make bread, the inner bark used in baskets, and the wood itself used to keep the Sacred Fire alive. Hence the usage of this wood to create the center ring of where each us stands. This is the place where we are; where we live and breathe.

In addition to the six rings, there is a collection of other material used within this dreamcatcher. Below are some thoughts on these items:

  • The Weave – At first I wasn’t sure about the weave as dreamcatchers aren’t really my style. However as I thought about it, I like the concept of the Holy Spirit weaving his way throughout the seven directions and within our lives. He is the one, after all, who calls us toward the Cross which is in the center of life (John 14:15-17).  
  • The Cross – Inside the center ring is a small cross made of spruce. Similar to the pine, the spruce tree stayed awake throughout creation and therefore was blessed with the gift of staying green year-round. The Cross, though bloodied with death and pain, forms the genesis of a new life in and through Jesus. It is a symbol of what was and what is to come.
  • Beads – There are seven small beads within the three center circles (west, center, and east). The three larger gray ones are jasper while the four smaller ones are mahogany obsidian. The mahogany obsidian bead represents the blood of Christ that saves us (east), is saving us (center), and one day will save us (west). There are four obsidian beads in each of the three groups of seven for the four gospel letters which tell us the story of Jesus while the total of 12 is for the twelve apostles who walked with Christ. The three jaspers in each group of seven are for the Trinity (Father, Son, and Spirit). Surrounding the center ring within the weave itself are four jasper beads for the four winds that blow across the earth carrying with them the Spirit of the Living Creator (John 3:8).  
  • Feathers – The feathers are more for me than to share as some things are better left a mystery. Just know that they have a personal meaning that are not connected to the seven directions. =)

Dreams, Hand-Crafted Book-Related Gifts, and Bible School

Once of the cool things that came out of this past seven month ministry sabbatical was a renewed passion to go back to school. As such, I am taking another stab at getting my Masters of Ministry degree through St. Stephen’s University.

To help fund this dream, my wife and I have started an Etsy store (“LibrarsDonum”) to sell some of our hand-crafted book-related gifts. At the moment we have 9 different locking book safes and an embroidered book bag (for keeping books nice inside your backpack) displayed. Below are a few examples of these items:

The outside of a Mark Twain locking book-safe.
The outside of a Mark Twain locking book-safe.

The inside of the book-safe. The key has a magnet on it and when held over the right place on the cover, the lock opens.
The inside of the book-safe. The key has a magnet on it and when held over the right place on the cover, the lock opens.

An embroidered book bag my wife made - designed to keep your books from getting banged up inside your backpack. This one is for larger hardbacks (or several smaller books). She is planning on making some smaller one with another quote later on.
An embroidered book bag my wife made – designed to keep your books from getting banged up inside your backpack. This one is for larger hardbacks (or several smaller books). She is planning on making some smaller one with another quote later on.

Please take a look at our store and consider purchasing something – not only will get a really cool book-related gift, you will also be supporting me in pursing the call of God on my life.

Blessings

The Great Chicken Experiment

jadon chickensThere is just something about living in the country that makes a person want to raise chickens. It’s not because chickens actually pay for themselves (they don’t) but because there is just something about the country air that creates a desire to build a coop or even look into purchasing a prebuilt chicken coop and raise fowl.

It is like a virus – there is just nothing that can be done to stop it.

At least that is my story and I’m sticking to it!!!! 😛

The dull truth is that I have been thinking about getting a few chickens for a few years now. Only I’ve never taken the plunge for one reason or another.

This Spring I actually went as far as to buy some chicken wire with the goal of building a coop….yet that plan got pushed back due to various events outside of my control…. but even after buying the chicken wire I decided to buy a chicken coop in michigan! I can keep that wire as spare though.

Then, well, this weekend happened.

We – the whole family – went down to our church’s benefit sale and saw this wonderful coop sitting there for sale. Seeing how it was for a good cause…. well, lets just say that it somehow ended up in my back of my truck… 😕

As we were loading the coop up, an acquaintance came up and during the course of a chat they offered us a few meat chickens – which I accepted. The rest they say is history – or, as the case may be, history in the making.

The two chicks are Cornish Cross chickens who will be ready to butcher in about four weeks. This will give me time to test out my chicken raising skills why not committing to a long-term relationship. Granted, raising chickens (from what I’ve heard) doesn’t that much skills – or so they say! We shall very happily find out! 🙂

chicken coop pic

A Cringe Worth Story

The Flash Drive (trust me, you really don't want to see the actually unit!)

Forget toys… they are too old fashion.

Forget socks, pens, pencils – or even toilet paper.

Nope, when my son decides to clog up the toilet he uses a flash drive.

Yelp.

He is a member of the new generation – the high tech crowd.

sigh…and double sigh….

At this point, I would like to point out that said toilet was not a ‘normal’ toilet. It was a special pump toilet designed for basement use…

In other words, in order to get said flash drive out, I had to unhook and…um…..drain said pump toilet…. yeah…think about that for a minute….

Yes, you are allowed to cringe – I did that a lot yesterday…. 😕

Can you see my dilemma? Granted, this is after a lot of bleach....

The Terror From Porcelain

The High King of John is a welcome site in most homes. Yet sometimes the WC can get a temper that defies gravity itself.

When that happens there is nothing else to do but sign a Magna Carta forcing the removal of the porcelain king.

Granted that means locating a new netty with a better temperament and a love for flow of water.

Of course the trouble of locating a khazi is nothing compared to the challenge of mounting the CR – especially if the person before you decide to install the pumping below the level of the floor.

This slight gap meant many hours staring at the dunny hole trying to figure out if gravity would like me or not… in the end, the white throne won and I made a trip to the hardware store for another wax ring.

Yet what should have been the end of a pilgrimage turned into loo terror as the hose from the water source to the tank was too short…..

To most folks this challenge would be nothing more then a blimp on the screen, yet for me it was another two days of trouble.

Mainly because when I returned to the hardware store that evening, I had four minutes to located and purchase a new hose – only I had three choices and a 33% chance of getting it right….only the 66% was stronger, leaving us waterless for two more days.

Finally the end drew nigh – the hose of White Porcelain Throne had been procured and installed. Life could be continued in more or less the same fashion.

Only now the Magna Carta forces King John to use 1.1 gallons for liquids and 1.6 gallons for solid. Once again the people have emerged victorious!

He Is Faithful…

Our lives last week sounded like a bad country song with our washer going out, the car breaking down and both of us falling short of the ‘loving’ spouse deal.

Then it dawned on us – perhaps there’s a spiritual side to all this? After all, we did embark on a church wide 21-day prayer and fasting time(yeah, we can be a tad slow on the up-take)

When this realization hit us, the first think I thought about was a Precious Moments picture inside the first Bible given to me by my parents when I was nine years old. This picture (shown to the right) was of a little solider covered in eggs, rotten fruit and band-aids.

Yet, oddly enough the solider was smiling…

The pat answer would be because he was being beat up on Christ’s behalf…and why that could be true, this time when I looked at the picture I thought of 2 Timothy 2:13:

If we are faithless,
He remains faithful,
For He cannot disown himself.

When we have nothing left to give; when we are at the end of our rope and it takes everything in us to get out of bed – He remains faithful. Not us – Him.

Continue reading He Is Faithful…

Playing In The Mud

DSCN2839I can not believe how fast time is moving…according to my time table, it is still August!!

Part of the problem is that I have been trying to install some frost-free water hydrants as I only had one outside water faucet on the property. I saying “trying” as it has been quite the journey for such a simple task…

To begin with, I discovered via a pickax that my main water line from the well to my house was only buried 12 inches under ground. Seeing how cold it gets around here, the pipe should have been buried 3 or 4 feet down. All glory to the Lord for keeping it from freezing these past years.

DSCN2841Wanting to have things done right, I removed the water pipe and started digging down with the g0al of reburying the pipe at the proper depth…only to find a bunch of electric wire 16-inches under the pipe. Oh, did I mention that we discovered the wires via a backhoe? Yeah..fun times…

DSCN2834Fast forward a bit – wires are fixed and the new water lines are in….the only thing left to do is bury everything. Not going to lie I did have to look at this interesting link to water line replacement, but I did the majority of it myself and we got there in the end!

Except that work at my day-job has picked up (meaning long weeks) and I can’t find anyone with a tractor…. on and it is getting colder and colder each day… sigh.

Time to see how strong of a back I have….oh yeah, I’m an office worker, I don’t have a strong back… double sigh.

The good news is that I got the pipes buried 2-feet under ground – meaning that everything works and they won’t freeze for the time being. Hopefully, I will find someone to bring a tractor around or I still can’t find a taker, I will continue to shovel dirt until the weather drive me inside. 🙂

DSCN2837

Building An Armoire

DSCN2571It took five months – but I am proud to say that I have completed my first ‘real’ piece of furniture. (sorry son, but I’m not sure if your toy box counts as furniture…)

Using a pattern I found in a Handyman book, I went wood shopping. As I did so, I quickly discovered that oak plywood cost the same amount as birch wood (which the pattern originally called for) – or fairly close to the same amount.

So, I bought a bunch of oak – besides, it is TONS cooler to say that it is solid oak versus solid birch.  (oh – and oak grain is very pretty – as you will see later).

The only problem was that once I had the wood in hand, I wasn’t quite sure of where to start….

This issue was resolved with a visit from my father and stepmother at the end of May/beginning of June.

A Family Of Helpers
A Family Of Helpers

Continue reading Building An Armoire

Creating a Yard

yard2One of my projects this summer has been creating a yard around the house so that Jadon can run around outside next year. So far I have moved some dirt around and leveled out the area where the grass is going to be…

The next step is build a retaining wall as our yard is 20 inches below the level of our neighbors pasture.  The only problem is that brink is crazy, crazy expensive!!!  It would cost over $500 to buy enough brick for a 64 foot long / 20 inches high wall. Crazy. 🙁

Not having that kind of money, I tried pricing railroad ties…nope. They are about $23 each – bring the price up to $700+.

That leaves one opinion as we have to have a wall there due to the landscape. That opinion is to start picking up rocks at friends pasture and haul them back to the house to build a rock wall.

Sigh.

This was the one thing I was hoping to avoid as it takes a ton of time (which is very limited right now) and skill (which I don’t have).  Oh well.  I guess it is time to cowboy up and start hauling rock. 😕