In the culture I grew up in, Potawatomi, there is a strong belief in dreams. We believe the Creator or Spirit brings us information and gifts through certain dreams. In October 1997, I had one such dream, and it changed the direction of my life. I would like to share with you the dream I had so many years ago. I will also be sharing the expanded dream details on my radio show, Sacred Hoop, on Star Nations Radio Network, on Wednesday, April 24.
This was one of those dreams in which you feel as if you are awake during the daytime. These types of dreams are the kind that some might call a vision. In my culture we call it “soul traveling.” In this soul-traveling experience, I wore a yellow dress that was decorated with white beads of different shapes and sizes. As I walked, I could hear the tinkling of the beads. I saw people from my life, my dad and childhood friends. Each of these people exclaimed that they did not recognize me in the dress until I called it to their attention that we did indeed know each other.
In my dream, I was meant to meet with someone called the Old Woman, who had asked to see me. I was making my way to her throughout the vision, but I would get sidetracked. I had four men guiding me to the Old Woman. These men were protectors and eventually brought me to her. Her eyes were soft, dark pools that emitted unconditional love. Even as I write this so many years later, I can still feel her love, and I tear up remembering her. The Old Woman gave me the Medicine Dress. She told me that when I use the medicine of the dress, her medicine, her spirit, works through me.
I was compelled to bring the Medicine Dress into the physical world, but was slow to do so because I didn’t feel worthy of such a gift. I finally began this part of my journey in July 2002. I would find myself drawing out the construction of the dress as I doodled in staff meetings at my job. I assumed the dress would be a Jingle Dress because of the tinkling sound in my vision. I decided to make the dress in October 2002. My spirit guides told me that the dress was not to have metal cones attached to it, but that I was to use shells. The dress was to be a healing dress for all people.
I used cowrie shells, snowy quartz beads, white mother-of-pearl beads, pearls, white seed beads and iridescent sequins on the dress. The fabric color is yellow.
After I completed my dress, I researched Medicine Dresses. I found that prior to the use of metal cones, Native Americans used shells to adorn healing dresses. I found that the Jingle Dress dance, also known as the Medicine Dress dance, was meant to heal people. A person does not choose to become a Jingle Dress dancer—they must have a dream about themselves dancing in this style or someone else must dream of them dancing in this style.
My Medicine Dress has 370 cowrie shells attached to it: 365 shells that represent the days in a year, one shell for each of the four directions on a compass (east, south, west and north) and one shell for the Creator. In the beginning I used my dress after space-clearing client homes as a blessing dance for them. I now use my Medicine Dress to honor and pray for those students who attend my Awakening the Illuminated Heart workshops.