The Talking Stick

My second talking stick is inscribed with Spirit Keepers of the Four Directions.

My second talking stick is inscribed with Spirit Keepers of the Four Directions.

In my daughter’s young Girl Scout troop, each parent was asked to make a teaching presentation to the girls and I thought of the Talking Stick, a narrative from a wonderful, healing book by Jamie Sams called EARTH MEDICINE. Each day comes with its own message, and is one of 28-days in 13-moon cycles, as the Seneca call their months. The section on respect and the type of listening that honors the person speaking stood out to me, shamed me, because I constantly interrupt people. (Isn’t it so true that we teach what we most need to learn?)

My daughter and I went to a regional park and found a section of evergreens on small, rolling hills with winding paths. We were, I told her, going to build a Talking Stick. We found a perfect piece of wood for the base under the far-reaching branches of a tall pine. It was about eight inches long, an inch around, smooth, and straight except for one nice bend. We gathered pine needles, several types of leaves, twigs, small pine cones and rocks, and headed home. I was so excited! We laid everything out on newspapers on the table, got some twine and glue and began putting it together. My daughter stayed for about 15 minutes and then skipped off. I thought of it as a piece of art when I had finished. 🙂

The girls, the Troop Leader and I sat in a circle. I passed the Talking Stick around, explaining my own problem with interrupting people, and when it came back to me, I told them how Native Americans used it, that only the person holding the stick could speak, and everyone else listened closely to what the speaker said. I talked about respect for the other person and the value of what each person has to say. As I passed it to my left, I asked each girl to speak from her heart about what was important to her. I can’t remember what each of them said, (there was a lot about family) but as the talking stick moved around the circle, they got the idea and their words grew into heart-words.

This experience is still with me—the power of honoring the speaker and what that honor brought out in those young girls. I used to watch news shows with a moderator and a group of experts in attendance, but with all the raised voices and constant interruptions, nothing of value was ever shared. To heal our country, we must learn to honor each speaker with our own reflective hearts and minds. We need to hear what is truly being said to hear what is important, and add ideas of value to the communication. In this way we will learn how best to work together to build a healthy future for all people.

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8 thoughts on “The Talking Stick

  1. Here in Canada with our rather pathetic ‘Little Boys’ in our parliament who interrupt each other and behave like rude school boys who haven’t yet made it out of the school yard I have often suggested that we should introduce the “Talking Stick” to get some meaningful respect happening. Fat chance I sadly feel!

  2. I have a talking stick and used it once in a former women’s group. I think the the concept is so wise. It’s so easy for me to be thinking ahead about what I want to say, to interrupt…a compulsion to communicate, I guess. This is an effective tool. We’re heading home on Wednesday! It’s been wonderful but it’s time! Hope to see you soon, Pam

    • Hi Victoria, hope to see you soon then. And yes, every wise woman has a talking stick! And I can’t believe your hubby caught those pictures of a white hummingbird. They should be in National Geographic.
      My talking stick had grown dusty and my sons insisted I throw away everything I wasn’t using when we moved from our home in 2005. I think I’ll begin looking for the pieces again… Love, Pam

  3. Dear Notes…great post! Good for you for having the courage to introduce the girls to the Talking Stick. I also love the new look of your blog!! kp

    • Thanks, KP. I need more color, apparently.:) And you know, I didn’t think of showing the Talking Stick to the girls as something requiring courage. I was so excited in the moment, I assumed they were as happy as I was.:)

  4. Yes, you concluding paragraph was good and sound advise.

    I own a beautiful talking stick made by a Native American artist from Maine.

    Take care,
    Mike

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