We are determiners

I love opening to new perspectives regarding my place in the web of life and my special kinship with trees. One recent discovery is the wisdom teachings of the Sweet Medicine SunDance Path.*

The teachings offer a beautiful understanding of the different ways energy can move—for the purpose of creating balance and supporting the flourishing of life on this planet. Mapped to the medicine wheel, these five ways are:

  • giving in the South,
  • holding in the West,
  • receiving in the North,
  • determining in the East, and
  • catalyzing in the Center.

Each form of life can be mapped to this wheel, based on how it is designed to move energy, again in support of the flourishing of life. Plants are givers of energy; minerals are holders; animals, receivers; humans, determiners; and the spirit world, catalyzers.

Further differentiation allows the five ways of energy to be represented and balanced within each kingdom. For example, while all members of the plant kingdom give (they give oxygen, nourishment and beauty), there are different ways of giving that create balance in support of life. These are giving-giving (grasses and grains), giving-holding (herbs and shrubs); giving-receiving (flowers and fruits); giving-determining (trees); and giving-catalyzing (sacred teacher plants).

What strikes me is that both trees and humans are determiners of energy.

To see how trees are determiners, just consider how they direct the weather. Pine trees condense fog and drip water from their needles to the ecosystem below; trees in the rainforest transpire water upwards from their roots through their leaves and create the rain. Trees serve as the habitat for the fungi, bacteria, plants, insects, birds and animals in their vicinity.

We are like trees. We determine and direct, through choice and free will, the health and vitality of the ecosystems in which we live, both individually and collectively. And, according to the SunDance tradition, communication is strong between trees and humans because we are both determiners. We have a shared responsibility to life. 

I imagine that much of the wisdom trees wish to share with us is how we can use choice and free will to evolve, becoming noble stewards and full participants in the web of life.

It’s one way of looking at things.

*Song of the Deer, The Great SunDance Journey of the Soul, by Thunder Strikes with Jan Orsi

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