The Yupa is a Shamanic Sacred Tree. The pole roots in Earth and extends through the hoop, which symbolizes the Worldly Dimension of Life, and extends into the Celestial Realms. Seven notches (blue) upon the pole represent the 7 domains of spiritual awareness, which also correspond with the 7 Stars Within, which in the Eastern traditions are referred to as chakras. The hoop is comprised of 13 boughs wrapped together and coiled in a counterclockwise direction. 13 is a sacred number, Shamanically. It is the number of lunations in one solar year. The Moon circles the Earth overhead from West to East, that is, counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere.
The colored ribbons are in honor of the nature of each of the 4 directions:
1. Red of the East, Knowledge Bringer
2. Yellow of the South, Life Bringer
3. Black of the West. Old Woman of Forgiveness and Surrender
4. White of the North, Old man of Healing and Wisdom
5. Gold, top, is Sun Father, Spirit Bringer
6. Blue, above the 7 blue notches, is Earth Mother, Form Giver
7. Red, tied above the Earth Mother blue ribbon, is in honor of Eagle, by means of whom we are able to spiritually fly up the Yupa and into the Celestial Domains.
The significance and resonance of the 13 cycles of the Moon carry forth in there being 13 steps within each of the 7 levels (recognized as being the seven branches upon the Tree of Life).
* 7 x 13 lunations = 91, the number of days in a season
* 91 x 4 seasons = 364, close to the number of days in a year
* 364 + 1, the Yupa itself = 365
* 365 + 1/4 (each direction) = 365 1/4, the precise number of days in a year
The Yupa is, in addition to a representation of the pathway we Shamans follow in our journeys into the Celestial Realms of Light, Knowledge and Spiritual Awakening, a calendar which provides us reference as to our location in time.
At the time of the Winter Solstice we Shamans journey forth, in Spirit, up the Sacred Tree to the North Star. There we release and purify, on behalf of our peoples, our grudges and debts owed us, our anger and fear that we have been holding onto. In exchange, upon the return from our journey, we bring a gift of blessing for each of our peoples. These gifts of Spirit are symbolized by, and endowed within, the gifts laid beneath the Sacred Tree for our children and each other.