Reflections of Barbara James Snyder
as told to Mountaine
Mountaine writes: Barbara Snyder is an elder of the Dance for All People, living in the New York area. Her ancestry is Washoe/Paiute and Filipino. She carries the bow-and-arrow bundle and the Grandmother Moon bundle, and brings them to the Dance ceremonies that she attends. Barbara also leads journeys to sacred sites, to perform ceremonies for the land and the elements.
Photo: Lea Kömi
I was raised in a Catholic home in San Francisco. My grandmother and Aunt Lina felt it was necessary for us to have some foundation of religious teachings, and not just run amuck in the city. Goo’o (grandmother) used to sit with all the kids wrapping themselves around her legs and sitting on her lap. I used to lay behind her back and hold her, so I felt I had her all to myself. She’d have us look up to the clouds, and tell her what we saw. Of course, we all saw different things, but she never said we were wrong; she let our imaginations build with whatever we saw, and she’d tell a story based on what we saw.
There are many things I can’t remember from my childhood, but I definitely remember spirit working with me. I could see and hear the unheard and unseen, which was a lot for a child! I had a spirit guide who took me under his wing, and regardless of what we were dealing with, he would never give up on me. He taught me all he could. He trained me to use my fire, to astral travel, to protect myself, and most importantly, about my white light.
I was amazed by everything my spirit guide taught me. His words were true for me, and resonated within me very deeply. But he told me that what’s true for one person may not be true for another. So we are not created equal! We’ve all got different souls, and we’ve all got different tasks that we are here to do. We agreed to be born at this time, and we need to come to terms with that. There is a knowing within each of us that draws us emotionally and spiritually to our own tasks. And to achieve those tasks requires focusing, limiting our free will, reaching within ourselves and around us in nature.
When I was about 30, he catapulted me to a new level. It began when he asked, “Do you forgive?” I said, “I forgive.” And with his magnificent voice he asked more urgently, “DO YOU FORGIVE?” So I considered it more carefully, and responded, “YES, I forgive.” With that, he brought back my memories of sexual abuse as a little girl, the memories I had set aside in a chained box with lots of locks, which I had hidden in the furthest corner of the universe. The box was open, and I didn’t like it at all! I was so mad at his bringing back those memories that I told him to leave. And he said, “When you really forgive, you will propel yourself ten times forward”. It took me months to work on that, thinking about everything I needed to do to forgive even more fully. Both of the abusers lived really hard lives, and both of them died horrible deaths. And after all that, I needed to pray for them and release them. The prayers and release completed the forgiveness.
Later, when he came back, he explained himself a bit. He said he had not taken form for over 2,000 years, and as a result, he tended to forget how vulnerable and emotional we humans are. And I understood. He was a very hard teacher. He gave complex teachings, and he had no tolerance if he asked me something and I responded with “I can’t remember”. When I did that, he called it just an excuse, and said, “You serve yourself by never saying ‘I cannot remember’.”
Barbara’s Great Grandmother, or bis’o, Maggie James — one of the greatest Washo traditional basket weavers
I was born into this world a visionary, but he helped me to manifest the visions that were unclear, and to help me unravel them. And I felt so blessed. After he taught me, one of my first works was retrieving souls. For that, I had to know how to use my light and my protection. I had to know how to fight! When you are out there with wayward spirits, you’ve got to know how to believe in yourself, how to travel, and how to find your way back. In astral travel, one must know their cord, and how to use it to keep connected to one’s human body.
A lot more learning came when my son moved to the reservation. Then I had more time; I was really free to come under my master spirit and to learn. He said, “If you only knew who you are, you wouldn’t procrastinate so.“ So I asked him why he didn’t just tell me who I am! He said that would be too easy. He would drill me and drill me, and I’d say I can’t do it so fast, and he’d explain himself by saying, “You have to use the knowledge you were born with!”
I call him a magnificent teacher. He appeared in many forms. Usually he wore a white robe. But one time he came as a tall distinguished-looking Englishman in a very fancy pinstriped suit. Very dapper. And I was like “Who is that guy?” But when he spoke, I knew who he was. And he said, “I thought I’d let you see me.” It was so good to get a visual of him.
In my late thirties, he told me that he had taught me all I should know, and a new teacher would be waiting. And he asked me to release him. I said I would never let him go, and he said, “Okay, but I won’t teach you anymore. I’ve taught you all I can, what our agreement was. Do you think you’re my only student? I have other souls beings here that I teach, and coming into this world. But I will always be with you. And there is a grandmother coming, who will teach you things I cannot. I have taught you earth, and she will teach you universe!” So I thought about it, and after three months I called on him and told him what a blessing he had been, and how much I loved him, and how wonderful it would be for the new souls to have such a fine spirit guide. So I released him.
At that point, I began to work with the Dance For All People. I came into the third stage of my life, achieving my full power after my moon time stopped, when I was no longer a life giver in that way. So a whole new chapter began: working with sacred sites, and the spirit guides associated with those sites.
I hope my story is helpful to others. You may have had experiences with spirit as a child, and then forgotten all about it. I hope you can revisit those hidden memories, and let them resonate now, even if it feels uncomfortable.Often years go by, or even decades, and then someone says something, and a specific door opens – in your heart, in your mind, in your spirit – and the understanding becomes available. If this happens to you, I do hope you let yourself take it in deeply, and open up to the unique direction it takes you.
We are so blessed!
Barbara at Deek Wadap’ush, Cave Rock
Our Sacred Sites / Elemental work continues this year, September 18-25. Your prayerful support and connection with our team is highly encouraged during that time. We clear and open the pathways of the elements from Deek Wadap’ush (known as Cave Rock) to other sacred sites to release gases and energy built up in our Mother Earth which is then taken to a place in the universe that needs these energies. We have a wonderful team of people, who work with the strength of their called element, for water, fire, air and earthwork. Mt Shasta is huge, beautiful and powerful. Many places there are vibrating, so we have to listen deeply to decipher where exactly to go in each direction. We do, and we get the signals to continue. We continue to see signs that we are going in the right direction, and signs of thanks. This year we will travel to the lava caves of Mt. Shasta to make offerings. Next year we will be prepared, if we get the higher source approval, to travel in.
THE NEXT DANCE
The energy of the dance supports us within the container as we connect with the Great Spirit and beyond. This connection offers us the gift of life. The New England Community welcomes you to join us to dance. We dance to seek the balance between the light and darkness. We dance to care for the wellbeing of ourselves, our family and our community.
There are many things I can’t remember from my childhood, but I definitely remember spirit working with me. I could see and hear the unheard and unseen, which was a lot for a child!
At the 2017 NY Dance For All People, Barbara Snyder is presented with a Pendleton baby blanket to welcome the birth of Barbara’s first granddaughter, Madison
THANK YOU everyone for all your generous NCPC contributions that make it possible for us to help support each and every one of our dances across the country! Your contributions also make it possible for elders to get to ceremonies, and to fund other important events.
Naraya Cultural Preservation Council