Archive for November, 2010

The November Moon

In Dakota Sioux tradition, the new moon in November is named “The Moon When Horns Fall Off.”  While this phrase may seem strange to our culture at first glance, it makes some very interesting points about nature’s cycles and this time of the year.

One of the most regal images in the animal kingdom is that of a deer adorned proudly with the powerful branches of antlers crowning his head.  However, nature has cycles and even the majesty of the buck with his beautiful antlers falls under its reign. This time of year, after the fighting for mates has finished, deer’s antlers fall off.  A buck grows the big, strong antlers to fight with other bucks for the right to reproduce, but once that season has passed, the antlers drop and all the buck retreats from the battle and blends back in with the herd.

This de-crowning is not a death or an illness, it is a part of nature’s cycle that is just as important and powerful as any other.  Indeed, it is a rebirth of sorts; before the deer can grow new horns, he must lose the old ones.

This process reminds us that everything has its own time.  Often we see something as ending when it’s actually a beginning. Many people see winter as a time of darkness and death-like dormancy.  However, winter can be viewed as the season of early rebirth.  And some people may see a buck losing his antlers as a surrender of sorts, when it’s truly an act of transcendence.

Mitakuye oyasin,



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Skillful Surrender

With the aggression of election week wrapping up and the holiday season just beginning, you might do well to reflect for a moment on the battles you have been fighting. Much like the bucks dropping their antlers, this is a good time to put down your own weapons.

When you are caught up in an argument, you can either put tons of energy into battling it out, or you can transcend it by simply letting it drop.  Taking the latter course is not giving in, it’s about letting go. Habitually, we protect our fragile egos by pointing a finger at others. Instead, we should look at ourselves when we have a challenging relationship. Why does it take so little to push our buttons? As we search for the answer to this question, we will discover additional opportunities for maturation and growth.


deerAfter all, our relationships, like all of our life experiences, reflect our inner world. Most importantly, our outlook and interpretation of the actions of others depends on our relationship with our self. It is not unreasonable to say that enjoying a full meaningful relationship with another being hinges on our ability to come to terms with the relationship we are having with ourselves. It follows that you cannot have sound, healthy relationships if you are not in good shape.

This is the time when the bucks stop fighting over does and the herd reunites as a unified tribe; all of the deer are one family again.  As the holidays approach, what plans will you make to unite in peace with your family, friends and community?

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Advice from the Skillful Doctor: Pushing Buttons

Question: The tradition in my extended family is for everyone to go to my sister’s house for the holidays.  Although I like the holidays and am close with most of my family members, I really hate going because an old argument from years ago still causes a lot of tension between my sister and me.  She seems to take every opportunity she can to make nasty comments about me. It’s very uncomfortable and I really only go because I have to.  How can I make holidays with my family more tolerable?


hold handsAnswer: The first part of my answer to your question needs to be another question: how bad is your relationship with your sister?  There are times when a relationship is truly broken, and if that is the case for you, then you should let it go and skip the holiday events.  Don’t cling to negative, unfixable relationships in your life.

However, if that suggestion doesn’t sit right with you, then it reflects that you have a desire to heal the relationship.  There is obviously something important about it to you.  In that case, with a little work, not only can you approach the holidays with your family in a way that makes them tolerable, there is a way to embrace it and look forward to it.

Whether it’s a coworker, a stranger, a friend or family member, we’ve all had someone get under our skin.  Although it isn’t right, these instances help us remain aware of what sets us off, or what “our buttons” are.  If your sister says something to hurt or bother you at the next family gathering, instead of reacting defensively, try to see it as an opportunity to reflect on your own issues.  Each time someone gets a rise out of you, be thankful that it created that awareness.  It’s not always easy to admit, but when someone, anyone, is pushing your buttons, you have to remember that they’re YOUR buttons.  The work you can do once you’ve recognized these buttons is to learn about them and develop ways to cope with them.

Ask, “Why am I so affected by this person’s comments?” Why does she so easily push my buttons?” “What do I know and how can I move forward to create a better state of balance?” This last affirmation can help you rise above your condition (even when that condition takes the form of another person) to achieve a state of peace, harmony and tranquility.

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