HOME   »  Canada
dancing lights
holy dancing lights above sacred Mt.Montana
(the end of January)

1st~2nd January 2017

 26 November, 2013. In the morning just before leaving Africa where I had been wandering around for four years for Mumbai, my friend Silja, grandmother of my host family in Johannesburg, smudged me outside the entrance of their house with a white-colored herb, called Mpephu, that the Xhosa and other African people use for healing and other ceremonies, in order that I could make a new start with new feeling in India, the first Asian country of my cycle trip.

 I went out for a walk 20 minutes before coming year 2017. Snow-covered tall spruce trees always looked well under a starry sky. My wintering village in southern Yukon is located at almost the south end of the aurora zone. Here you can usually see northern lights when the sky is clear enough and aurora activity is high enough. I had seen some dim band of the lights by the time but had never seen dancing ones that I became fascinated with in the interior Alaska and more northern parts of Yukon on the way there. This winter seemed not to be periodically as good as usual to observe them.


 Just midnight, I reached a bridge suspended over a river flowing between two lakes. That was the place I always came over when going out for a night walk. Though the northern sky sending out a faint green light, unfortunately magical dancing lights I had long expected didn’t appear this special night either. In this time of the day and the year, the Orion is in a southerly direction, and the Big Dipper in the northeastern sky in this north. Along with the Cassiopeia, those two were all constellation that I could tell after having looked up the star-filled sky so many times in so many places of the world, which actually have not changed at all since I was an elementary school kid. It would sound most romantic to say it’s because it always ceases to be a matter to think of their name while looking up the beautiful sky in the silence. It was warm that night with temperature around only -10 degrees Celsius. Ice in the middle parts of the lake totally melted away and water started flowing down again as if it had been so all the time. I saw some blocks of ice floating on the stream from time to time. In the small village with a population of more or less 400, as the houses spread across a wide area, I could see only a little light of the houses from the bridge. After stayed there for nearly 20 minutes, I went back following my track on the new-fallen snow in the opposite direction without having “hatsumoude”, a Japanese word means the first visit of the year to a shrine. The dawn of the year was nothing special except for the sound of the fireworks in the distance.

 On the bridge I thought of an idea that it would be better to smudge myself with sage for purifying my body and mind before the new year’s prayer. That’s the reason I hesitated to have hatsumoude at the time that I had planned having there. Native people have long been smudging before the sacred ceremony. Just like her ancestors, Shirley, my friend and my host in Yukon, never becomes lazy to smudge people including herself, the places, and anything she got from the land with giving thanks to the creator, her ancestors and any kind of spirits being in nature. It’s for purification,meditation and getting rid of negativity. There is a big bowl with a bunch of sage inside in her house that she picked up at the nearby fields and dried well during summer. I sometimes help to take out its leaves from the stem. Distinctive scent of healing comes out when rubbing off the leaves. The next morning, I asked her if she wouldn’t mind me taking some sage with me for hatsumoude coming night. She kindly gave me allowing in a moment and moreover unexpectedly she willingly started smudging for me right there. She might have planned it for me.


 Opening a purple colored table cloth and putting things on, she burnt sage leaves with a match on a brown ceramic plate with a bear footprint on the surface. While chanting her gratitude to the creator, ancestors and spirits she brought in the smoke to herself with her hands and fanned it throughout my body using a big eagle feather. Sage, tabacco from her garden, some other herbs from US, and special herbs mixed up 108 kinds of plants from Bhutan in the Himalayas, tamping a few pinches of those medicine (herbs) into a sacred pipe, she started smoking. It looked she didn’t inhale but just took in the smoke and puffed it out. Bringing in the smoke again to herself with her hands, she handed over the pipe to the creator and other being she called on in front of her. Repeating this way a few times, Next, it’s my turn. I brought in the smoke that I puffed out and put it on whole my body. At the same time, She started singing a song in Tlingit, a native language, while making sound with a rattle made of caribou and moose skin and other materials from the land. “Dikee Aan Kaawu(the creator)…Haa Shagoon(our ancestor)…Gunalcheesh(thanks)…”Chanting so repeatedly she once again fanned the smoke around my body and the places, even in each corner of the room, which put an ends to this powerful smudging.


 Generally, she uses a big abalone shell shining like a rainbow as a plate when burning sage. The shell came from the shore of Vancouver island on the Pacific coast. But she used the ceramic plate for smudging this time.”The bear foot print on the plate was taken from the bank of the Teslin river, an arm of the Yukon river, which means more powerful because it’s from our homeland”, she explained me the reason. By the way, the native people, still live with their traditional way even while putting themselves in modern life, have a sweat lodge ceremony for their prayer especially in the new year or the summer and winter solstice as well as any other special times. And “ Today, those people are very little, it’s the situation” She said. There was a sweat lodge until last summer in the compound of her house where people, respectful of their traditional customs, from all over the area came to sweat. But it has been closed to give the land a rest since last summer.

 2 hours before the midnight, when I said “I’m going out for new year’s prayer”, Shirley kindly let me take not only a packet of sage but the abalone shell and incent sticks gifted from a Rinpoche with me. Standing in the center of the bridge and looking toward the northern lake, I prepared for the prayer. The sound of the ice in the frozen lake cracked echoed around the place like drumming. This night was a bit colder with temperature around -20. It’s still not very cold but shortly after off my gloves I started pain on the tip of my fingers. After burnt sage in the abalone shell and the incent sticks with snow as a stand, I started praying in my way with joining my hands to the spirit of the sky, water then the spirit of the mountain after turning around toward southwest so I could put myself faced with the Montana mountain some 40km away though her body could not be seen from there. The object that people in the Land of the Rising Sun has regarded for their religious belief from ancient times is common to animism the indigenous people believe. Therefore, I’m always naturally able to feel empathy for what she talks and their way of living I think.

 In addition to for the people in this area, the Montana mountain has been thought of as a sacred mountain for Tibetan Buddhist. In the early 1960’s, the 16th Karmapa from Bhutan visited this land and gave his teachings to the people. The elders in the land so fascinated by his teachings gave him a piece of their land on the Montana mountain. To this day, the Buddhist still owns that piece of land. And several years ago, an important Rinpoche from Bhutan came to have a prayer on the summer solstice with his entourages for the first time since then. Shirley, had dreamed of their arrival in advance, told a chief of her village about the dream following a message from medicine Buddha walking one a path in the Himalayas and coming close to her in her dream. "There are many more people coming so you have to get ready." Buddha said to her. Thus about 150 people welcomed the Rinpoche and his entourages on a large scale that day. They celebrated the solstice day together with the Buddhist people with burning a number of different kinds of medicine from Buddhist and aboriginal community of all over the world in a sacred fire and kept burning for the whole day. The following day the Rinpoche invited her alone to come to the top of the Montana mountain with him and other local Buddhists and they had a sacred chanting there for several hours.

at the montana moutain

 Shirley has ever dreamed of many other things which later became reality. She has talked me a lot of stories some mystic force worked on. From a child she noticed the power her dream has and was told by her aunt “The power is medicine (powerful spiritual force), so use it for yourself and to help people.” She doesn’t tell others easily about her power, but people who know well about her or heard of her power through the grapevine occasionally come to see her and ask what she dreamed of. In fact, even as to 16th Karmapa’s visit to their land, an elder there had a dream prior to his visit. It was not until Shirley’s dream of Buddha in Himalayas that people living there including her knew about the thing happened more than a century ago. Native people had not recorded things in writing until not long ago. People have learned their history and knowledge through the stories their elders shared with them and passed it down to the generations in the same way. “Take care about dream.” ”Tell me what you dreamed of.” she often tells me so.

 Praying for my family’s and my friend’s health and my safe trip, once again I rubbed the smokes from sage and the incent stick gently into my whole body from the tip of my toes to the tip of my fingers at the end. I’m repeating what I had experienced in far south that day with different kinds of medicine in this northland. If without the southern experience it may be even possible for me not to show my interest much in smudging that native people practice for purification. At least I wouldn’t have asked her for the thing about smudging just before this new year’s prayer. What I have been learning here from her and her family also surely would keep giving effects to the rest of my life. Things are all related and are going to connect with each other like a chain, just as a dream sometimes comes out in real life.

 A curtain of watery lights started floating in the northern sky. However, it’s unlikely to show me a dance consistently even tonight. A number of stars across the sky always overwhelmingly mesmerize you wherever you are in Yukon. This night, reflected on the surface of the water, it looked as if shining more brightly with even more stars in the sky from the windless bridge.



 2013年11月26日。丸4年を過ごしたアフリカを発つ日の朝、お世話になっていたヨハネスブルグのホストファミリーのシルヤばあちゃんは、玄関を出たところである白い植物の葉を燻すとその煙を僕の身体に掛けて僕の心と体を清めてくれた。次なる大陸インドで新たな気持ちで新たな旅のスタートが切れるように。このときスマッジング(お清め)に使われた植物はムフェフ (Mpephu)と呼ばれるもので、コーサ族や他のアフリカ人が身や場を清めるときに使うメディスン(薬草)だった。










 シャーリーは他にもたくさんの出来事を事前に夢で見てきた。不思議な力が働いている話をたくさん僕に話してくれた。彼女は小さいときから自分の夢の力に気付き、彼女の伯母からは「その力はメディスン (強い霊的な力) だから自分のため、そして人のために使いなさい」と言われたそうだ。彼女は簡単に人に自分の力のことを口外しないけれど、その力を知る人々や人づてに聞いた人が彼女が見た夢の内容についてよく訊ねに来るという。ちなみに、カルマパの訪問に関してもやはりこの土地の年長者の一人が事前に夢で見て“お告げ”を受けていたそうだ。シャーリーやこの地に暮らす多くの先住民の人々がその事実を知ったのは彼女の夢があった後のこと。先住民の人々は文字で物事を記録してこなかった。人々は年長者たちが語る物語からその歴史や知恵を学び、物語で後世にそれを継承させてきた。「“夢”を大切にするように」「夢見たことを私に話すように」シャーリーはよく僕にそう言う。









@wintering village/Yukon


hiromu jimbo

Author:hiromu jimbo
I'm in a challenge to cycle around the world
since May 2009,started from Istanbul,Turkey.
Motivation for this journey just comes from big curiosity about the world.I'd like to see and feel the ordinary life of the people living in defferent cultures.



body text:

my journey
*special thanks to sekiji-san

68,781km (May09-May14)
77,679km (July14-June21)

latest news