Honouring Our Lineage

We are so grateful to the people of land-based ancient cultures who have inspired and influenced Jon Young and the 8 Shields Map. The wisdom from this Map has so enriched our lives, opened our hearts and deepened our connections to the people and life all around us.

We are aware that those people and cultures that have inspired it have been oppressed, evicted, starved, infected and killed by members of British and other colonising empires, and that many cultures have historically been wiped out like that. These oppressions continue to this day in the same and different forms, with people living in poverty and precarity on their ancestral lands, or evicted from them and living elsewhere.

We breathe a deep sigh of grief as we feel into even a small part of this history, and this present…

The 8 Shields Lineage

The 8 Shields map brings together a rich heritage of Indigenous Wisdom Bundles, with the vision of providing a framework of how to heal modern society and its influences – by returning to regenerative indigenous ways of being and doing, no matter where we may live or our ancestral background. Colonization is now a shared global story and its intergenerational effects are complex to unravel and heal. Many, if not all, of the specific indigenous cultures that have influenced, and in some cases became foundational building blocks for this map have been so severely impacted by colonisation that it is a sign of the incredible strength of their cultures that they have managed to preserve wisdom bundles of their culture into the modern age.
The cultures that we are currently aware of that have specifically contributed to the 8 Shields map are the San Bushmen, Lakota, Apache, Mohawk, Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Akamba, Odawa, Dagaraand Hawaiian peoples.

The indigenous communities of these cultures are more often than not very economically disadvantaged as compared with the average person in the countries we were born into, and the countries of the people that come on our courses to date. These indigenous communities are generally spiritually rich, while people who are brought up solely in modern society tend to be spiritually and culturally poor. One thing we can give back in reciprocity for spiritual and cultural teachings is material wealth to the current and future generations of these indigenous communities.
We give 1% of the annual gross income from our courses as a gift of reciprocity, which we then crowdfund to increase before giving to a community initiative of one of the above mentioned cultures. When giving this we do our best to identify a pathway for giving it to the personal community of the particular elders and wisdom keepers that Jon Young worked closely with. Below you will see the stories of these gifts, descriptions of the specific foundation building block we are honouring, and an opportunity for you to give a personal gift of reciprocity. Whether you consider the 8 Shields to be part of your personal lineage or not, we invite you to make a donation in honour of what you have received from indigenous cultures that have, against all odds, persevered and shared their culture in a way that may have benefited your path of healing and learning.

An Invitation

We invite you to read the stories below and look into your heart for how it has grown in understanding and connection from these teachings (or other similar indigenous teachings) and give what you can from this place. We are grateful for the opportunity to give back in some way.

We are currently running a community gratitude fundraiser! We are honouring the Mohawk and Haudenosaunee lineage that, through Jake and Judy Swamp and their Tree of Peace Society, shared the principles of peacebuilding and healing that are another important part of the 8 Shields map.

Give a gift of reciprocity to support the Lakota Oglala Sioux tribe through the Bison Project which endeavors to create a regenerative bison (American Buffalo) management program which brings healing and connection to the land, people, and traditional indigenous culture.

The Sacred Attributes of Leadership – the spirit of nature embodied in human beings

For the 2021-2022 cycle, we honoured the Lakota Woptura lineage of Gilbert Walking Bull, who shared the 7 Sacred Attributes (qualities expressed in human beings) with Jon Young when he witnessed them alive in the children that Jon was working with. As a result, they became the ‘North Star’ of the 8 Shields model, with this model of deep nature connection and cultural repair being dedicated to re-activating these qualities in all human beings. Our 1% was a humble £160, but with the help of crowdfunding community donations and a workshop we ran exploring how nature connection can bring cultural change and healing, we raised £559.

The money raised went towards a Wopila (community thanksgiving) for the Wanblee community on Pine Ridge Reservation, which was supported by Salvatore Gencarelle and his organization the Helpers Mentoring Society.

Salvatore Gencarelle (Sal, a teacher of Sky’s) has undertaken a journey of indigenous mentorship with Benjamin Godfrey Chipps Sr. (deceased), a Lakota from the Oglala Sioux tribe. Godfrey Chipps was a 4th generation Yuwipi Spiritual Interpreter, the great-grandson of the famed Holy Man Woptura and a cousin of Gilbert Walking Bull.

Horn Chips and his wife 1907

The Seven Sacred Attributes

Words from Sal:

‘The teaching of the 7 Sacred Attributes comes from the Woptura Lineage – who, against odds, were able to preserve this knowledge and wisdom. The ancient teachers, prophets, shamans and women, medicine people and holy ones—those ancestors who have continuously sought wisdom from nature for the health and well-being of others. The message of these great healers has always held consistent and true: “Live in connection!”

The teaching of the attributes of connection, also called the Seven Sacred Attributes, are a measure of an individual’s internal and external relationships and is an indicator of the regeneration of healthy culture. The more people display the attributes, the stronger the community becomes. The attributes give us a metric to gauge grief, connection and healing. Presented below are the attributes in Lakota and translated into the English concepts’.

Scroll to the bottom for a list, with explanations, of the Sacred Attributes and their

Story of the Wopila/Memorial Dinner and Giveaway:

‘On April 6, 2022 Helpers Mentoring Society will be co-hosting a memorial feast and giveaway to honour the life of Waylon Red Elk – a descendant of the Woptura Lineage. Waylon was a dear friend and brother to Helpers Mentoring Society founder Salvatore Gencarelle. Waylon was a dedicated Helper who supported the ceremonies of the Woptura Lineage for decades. He was born and raised in Wanblee, South Dakota, attending Crazy Horse School. He began helping with ceremonies at the age of 17. Waylon was a brother and uncle to many and is missed greatly by all who knew him. Waylon, his pregnant wife, and their young son were killed by a drunk driver in November 2017.

Waylon and his family

Helpers Mentoring Society will be supporting the memorial dinner and supplying gratitude gifts (Wopila) to be distributed to the Native American community of Wanblee on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where the Chipps family live. This traditional event is an opportunity to celebrate life and remember our deceased loved ones’.

On April 10, 2022, the memorial feast and giveaway for Waylon Red Elk and family was held in the town of Wanblee, South Dakota. Purchasing the food and giveaway items was greatly supported by the Helpers Mentoring Society global community. All your contributions made this event possible in such an impactful way.

The Red Elk family voiced their gratitude for all the support to make this memorial happen. I was approached by several elders and family members who wanted to share their thanks for all the help.

There was over $4,000 in donations given by the community of Helpers Mentoring Society. These donations were applied to $1,143 to provide all the food for the feast and $3,487 in giveaway items. An additional $240 was used to purchase heating fuel for surviving Red Elk family.

Events like this, which give back to the descendants of the ancestral lineage are part of the Vision which allows the teachings of HMS to occur. You have my gratitude and respect for ensuring that the material and resource abundance we have is shared back to the Indigenous peoples from which these teachings come from. This is a core aspect of the Vision which allows Helpers Mentoring Society to exist.

Wopila Tanka (Great Thanks)!

The Seven Sacred Attributes (as shared by Sal)

1. Wo-wah’wala – The state of peacefulness, inner quietness (humility.) Known as QUIET MIND, PEACE & CREATIVITY in the 8 Shields Model.

This is based on maintaining a non-dualistic perspective. Emotional development and understanding are critical as is developing the quiet mind through meditative practices in nature.

2. Wo-canto’gna’ke – The feeling of deep love. Known as EMPATHY & RESPECT FOR NATURE in the 8 Shields Model.

This is a deep feeling of love for all of creation. This is the first level of external connection built upon the love of infants for their parents, siblings and caretakers.

3. Wo-wa’unsila – The feeling of deep caring and compassion for all creation. Known as COMPASSION/LOVE & FORGIVENESS in the 8 Shields Model.

This is compassion for all of creation, developed by instilling connections to the natural world. This includes acts that build deep nature connections such as sit spots, wandering, animal forms, bird language, and other core routines. Survival living also enhances this virtue.

4. Wo-wa’wo’kiye – The act of being helpful. Known as TRUELY HELPFUL in the 8 Shields Model.

This virtue is taking love and compassion and turning it into the action of being helpful, it comes in many forms. It is often revealed at a young age when children help people and the natural world based on the Wocantognake and Wowaunsila they have developed. Later, it is developed through adult Rites of Passage.

5. Wo-bli’heca – Fully alive in activity and working on a sacred purpose. Know as FULLY ALIVE in the 8 Shields Model.

This is the state of being in which one focuses on living fully—heart, mind, body, and spirit—through connecting belief (mind) and passion (heart) and living in fullness in the moment. This virtue is the full connection of the heart, mind, body, and spirit working as one.

6. Wo-wi’yu’skin – Happiness and delight, pleased, delight, joyful. Known as INNER HAPPINESS/HAPPINESS OF A CHILD in the 8 Shields Model.

This virtue refers to a person having a sense of awe and being fully present in the moment: living fully present with a connected heart and mind. In that moment, life is an incredible experience and one can perceive beyond the confines of individual ego. This is happiness in its purest state.

7. Wo-za’ni – Health in all four parts of being; heart, mind, body, and spirit. Known as VITALITY in the 8 Shields Model.

This is being in a state of healing in which one recognises the connectedness of the four parts of being, understands the communication methods of the four parts of being, and knows how to learn and grow from life’s experiences. This is a process of growth and purification, which is a constant component of life.

We often abbreviate the attributes into Wicozani na Wowiyuskin or simply Health and Happiness. This contains all other attributes, needs, and wants.

Jon Young added an eighth attribute known as ‘Commitment to Mentoring’.

The Peacemaking Axes – the foundation of regenerative culture

We are currently honouring the Mohawk and Haudenosaunee lineage that, through Jake and Judy Swamp and their Tree of Peace Society, shared the principles of peacebuilding and healing that are another important part of the 8 Shields map.

Jake and Judy Swamp

We are fundraising this year for ASESHATE: KA’TE GRIEF SERVICES, a not for profit organisation run by Jake and Judy’s daughter, Leona Swamp.

Leona says –

“At Aseshate:ka’te Grief Services, wellbeing is at the forefront of what we’re working towards. The mission of Aseshate:ka’te Grief Services is to help individuals heal and recover from loss by renewing their spiritual fires one loss at a time.

“The mandate of Aseshate:ka’te Grief Services is to renew the spiritual fire within individuals by offering services that work to strengthen and encourage growth and awareness of self by utilizing and incorporating cultural teachings while helping them heal and recover from loss. The impact of healing oneself extends to all those around them. As the fire within grows, so does the fire within the family and the community.”

This healing by passing through grief is an important part of the peacebuilding wheel, laid out as the North West/South East axis on the map, and as embodied by Hiawatha in the epic Haudenosaunee Peacemaker Story.

Our 1% is a humble £201 this year, but with your help, we hope to raise this sum significantly, to more fully match our gratitude.

We ask you to look into your heart for how it has grown in understanding and connection from these teachings (or other similar indigenous teachings) and give what you can from this place. We are grateful for the opportunity to give back in some way.

Peacebuilding Principles

  • Peace
  • Good Message
  • Unity
  • Healing or Condolence

Principle of Peace

This is an agreement for each of us to take responsibility for our own Personal Peace. When we recognize that we are out of our personal peace to the degree that it affects our ability to use our best words and intentions, we ask for a break to do what is needed to regain our inner peace, then join in the conversation again. If the peace of a whole group has been disrupted, all decision-making processes cease and we move into a condoling process led by a trained condoler. If one or more individuals cannot reach peace or maintain agreed upon code of conduct there may be a need for a leave of absence or the group may ask the individual or individuals to leave the group until code of conduct can be honoured as a baseline.

Principle of Good Message

Following the Principle of Peace, the Second Principle is an agreement to use Good Message. This means we choose our best and finest words, we speak from our personal perspective, and we acknowledge the value of all other perspectives as part of a greater whole. We agree to speak with the intention of uplifting the whole, with kindness and without blame or judgement. We also do not speak about other people who are not present, unless we intend to include them in our conversation, or at least acknowledge to them that they were spoken of. If there is a pressing need to speak to someone because a person’s personal peace has been disturbed, and it’s difficult to talk to the other people involved, they can talk to an elder or a healer in confidence.

Principle of Unity

The third principle is the Principle of Unity, the ability to work together in harmony while respecting the perspectives of all involved. We acknowledge that we will reach a felt sense of Unity if all of us are doing our best to reach and maintain our personal peace and good message.

Principle of Healing or Condolence

When Unity has not been reached even after trying to follow the principles of personal peace and good message, we agree to move into Healing or Condolence. At this point we need to condole because the lack of Unity indicates that there is unresolved grief and trauma to be worked through in order to regain our capacity for successful peacemaking.