The wisdom of indigenous people is something the world is in sorry need of today. There is nothing I can say that would have greater meaning on this day set aside to honor indigenous peoples throughout the world than what is said in the following video. Note that the speaker, Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman (Kangi Duta) crossed over to the next life in 2007. His words are truer now than ever before.
What we have done to our planet is shameful. The consequences will not be pretty.
If there’s one thing most of us need it’s an occasional sign that we’re heading in the right direction. One thing indigenous people have that most others don’t is a deep connection with nature, which talks to them on a regular basis.
Yes, I’m talking about spirit animals and receiving messages from them.
This morning when I went outside to feed my feral cats this beautiful spider web caught my eye. The fact it was on my deck furniture was slightly less than enchanting, but the perfection of the spider’s handiwork got my attention, especially the way it glistened in the rising sun.
In many cases, if you’re paying attention, you can figure out such a message yourself by considering the animal and its characteristics. At other times, it might be more subtle. In that case, you need a reference of some description to help you figure out what the natural world is trying to tell you.
Fortunately, I have such a reference, the book “Animal Messengers: An A – Z Guide to Signs and Omens in the Natural World.”
Here’s a excerpt from what it says about spiders: “The spider symbolizes infinite possibilities. With its eight legs it is anchored in every direction, and it weaves together the powers of the elements and their expression into a unified whole. The spider weaves webs of fate, in which we can get caught, and it encourages us to keep searching for new possibilities and explore the endless steps of our journey of learning. If your attention is drawn to a spider it wants to remind you that you are constantly building new webs with your own thoughts, feelings, actions, and visions that contain tasks you must solve and subjects you must deal with.”
As is always the case with such an encounter, this had a very personal meaning to me.
If you’re not listening to what nature is telling you, you’re missing out. If you need a little help discerning what an animal is trying to say, I highly recommend this book by Regula Meyer. Note that it does not contain exotic animals you might see in a zoo, but concentrates on those you’re likely to see in the wild including mammals, birds, invertebrates, and insects, for a total of 145 different animals. It was originally written in German, so some birds common to the United States such as cardinals are not included, either, but overall it’s very insightful. It’s available at Amazon via this affiliate link.
This book is a masterful work of art in addition to containing a collection of personal experiences from members of several different tribes. These include Navajo, Mi’kmaq, Abenaki, Seneca, Cherokee, Tarahumara, Maya, Olmec, Yaqui, Creek, and Choctaw.
Though testimonials about UFO encounters are included, the majority of the book is on a more spiritual level, dealing with other types of connections with the Star People. These include the importance of ceremony, previous lost civilizations from millennia ago, high technology in the distant past, the origin of indigenous people, and prophecies of the future, which is upon us now.
The book has been around a while, the original copyright in 2000, then renewed in 2012. In today’s world that’s a long time and many things prophesied that may not yet have occurred by either of those dates have by now.
I think my favorite section was “We Wander This World with a Purpose” by Mali Keating. She spoke of the Hopi, where they came from, and their numerous prophecies. Here’s an excerpt of one section that explained so much about our modern world.
“The Anasazi were a people left over from the migration. The people were told they must never stop and build cities, but of course some did…. Cities make people crazy, as we all know. People become greedy and lose the ability to work together.”
Here’s another, that may not have been as apparent when this book was first released as it is now:
“The Hopi said that they would know that the end is coming when roads crisscrossed this continent like the web of a spider–those are the vapor trails of airplanes. You can see vapor trails like the webs of spiders in the sky.”
Actually, roads on which we drive crisscross the continent, too. Those trails in the sky, however, are not vapor trails, they are called chemtrails. Vapor trails are condensation from normal airplanes whereas chemtrails are chemicals such as barium and aluminum being deliberately sprayed in the atmosphere to supposedly combat climate change. This, like so much else out there today, is a lie. If anything, they are causing the climate to go crazy by facilitating weather manipulation.
There are numerous photos of indigenous art and the layout of the book itself is genius, between Nancy Red Star’s commentaries before each entry to her free verse poetry at the conclusion. Reading these stories is not just informative, it’s an experience of another realm beyond what meets the eyes.
A realm that Native Americans and all indigenous people understand.
May we all learn from their ancient wisdom before it’s too late.
That’s a big word, isn’t it? I’d bet dollars to donuts most of you have never heard of it before, much less know what it means.
Okay, here’s a hint:
Indigenous people consider panpsychism to be intuitively obvious.
This is something that’s inherent to their culture. It’s a form of spirituality and reverence for life too many in today’s modern world lack.
If you’re still lost, here’s another hint.
If you’re a pet owner, you might know more about this than you realize. Do you believe your fur baby, or even fish or turtle, has a personality? Does that mean it has a soul? Okay, skip the dualism, do you believe it’s conscious? A sentient being?
What about your houseplants and garden, the trees that shade your home? Do you ever talk to them? Provided they’re not made of plastic, there’s no doubt they’re alive. But are they conscious? Some research in recent years suggests they are, even if they’re a bit snobbish about it and only talk to their own kind.
Anyone who’s had their car, computer, cell phone, or some other electronic device go wonky right when they need it most has seen this. Maybe it’s only Google spying on you, in which case you can hope they hear the unpleasant things you’re expressing in your frustration.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, panpsychism is the belief that all things, animate and otherwise, have consciousness. Here’s a quote from an article by Berit Brogaard, D.M.Sci., Ph.D. and graduate student, Kristian Marlow, published in Psychology Today a few years back:
“According to the traditional version of panpsychism, everything around you is conscious: the chair your are sitting on, the rock you use as a doorstopper at home and the thick hurricane-safe windows in your office. Panpsychism literally means that particular kinds of psychological states are embedded in everything…. Consciousness may be a force akin to electromagnetism or gravity that exists in some form on the fundamental level of reality.” (Read the entire article here. )
Indigenous people have known this to be true for thousands of years.
By now Native American readers are rolling on the floor at the stupidity of the white man. No wonder he makes so many bad decisions, he’s out of touch with his world in the most pathetic of ways. Now, at long last, the white man is starting to catch on. Spirit animals are becoming popular as well as sensitivities to other energies as well. The question is whether or not it’s too late.
One of my favorite stories is told by Russell Foureagles when he states, “This may sound crazy, but rocks–especially artifacts manufactured by our ancestors–have occasionally spoken to me and sent me pictures, sometimes even movies, when I picked them up. With the aid of a rock, I have not only seen the past but, in a sense, lived it.” (The Making of a Healer: Teachings of my Oneida Grandmother, p. 195) He goes on to tell a delightful story of a rock calling to him and telling him its amazing story of being part of a hide scraping tool thousands of years before.
Think what you want, but you cannot make this stuff up.
As a writer, I let my characters lead, and they often teach me many things I never could have imagined. I don’t believe as a writer I create their essence, then channel them. One of my favorite parts of “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits” is Chapter 6, “The Aspen,” where Charlie Littlewolf connects with an quaking aspen tree that helps him solve his white brother’s murder. (You can read that excerpt here.) In my science fiction story, “The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51,” the main character is a telepathic walking plant. I’ve never seen plants quite the same way since.
Okay, you don’t have to be crazy to be an author but it helps.
My point is if we but learn to listen, there are messages all around us. What wisdom might a mighty oak convey? Meditate on a tree sometime and see what you learn. I’ve obtained amazing insights just watching my birdfeeder.
One of the problems of modern life is that we so rarely take time to listen.
Today is Earth Day, reminding us to honor and appreciate our planet as well as treat her kindly. The concept of doing so only once a year is incomprehensible to Indigenous cultures. Native American reverence for all living things extends to the Earth herself. Taking what you need with respect and gratitude is expected; exploiting her resources for the sake of greed is abhorrent.
Every day was “Earth Day.”
For example, bison (erroneously called buffalo) were revered and respected. They killed only what was needed for food, then used the hide, horns, bones, and sinew for such things as clothing, tipis, and tools. Nothing was wasted. Killing for sport or simply for the animal’s hide (much less its tongue), was unheard of.
Then the white man came.
At the beginning of the 19th century 30 to 40 million bison were present on the Plains. By 1895 their numbers had been reduced to roughly 1,000. Upon completion of the Intercontinental Railroad, they were often shot from moving trains. Hide Hunters moved into Native hunting grounds and slaughtered bison, leaving their rotting carcasses behind.
In 1873, Army Lt. Col. Richard Irving Dodge stated, “Where there were myriads of buffalo the year before, there were now myriads of carcasses. The air was foul with a sickening stench, and the vast plain which only a short twelve months before teemed with animal life, was a dead, solitary putrid desert.”
Historian, Pekka Hämäläinen, noted the effect this had on Native Americans when she noted, “The buffalo was the foundation of their economy and the centerpiece of their cosmology, and the wholesale slaughter shook their existence at its core.”
Where might our country be today if it weren’t for such wanton destruction? But the real question is have we learned anything since?
Many indigenous people from various tribes have fought for their rights, whether on horseback or in the halls of Congress. Among them was a young woman named Bright Eyes, about whom plans are in work to make a feature-length movie.
It’s the true story of a shy, young woman of the Omaha Tribe whose love for her people and other Native Americans helped her overcome her fear. So, she spoke out against injustice and helped bring about the landmark court case of Chief Standing Bear vs. General George Crook where a Native American was first regarded as a “person” with legal rights!
Can you believe that it took until 1880 for Native Americans to be considered a “person?”
What’s wrong with this picture? Let’s take a look at the founding documents of the United States penned in 1776. How many times have you heard the following words from The Declaration of Independence ?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
“All men?” Really? Obviously that didn’t apply to First Nation peoples.
Did you know that in the early 19th Century slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person for census purposes while indigenous people were not counted at all?
Then there’s the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified July 9, 1868, following the Civil War:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; or shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Did this apply to indigenous people? Obviously not.
Instead they were considered savages for fighting for their rights to land on which they were the original occupants. A country that shoved them out of the way, yet states in the Second Amendment to its Constitution, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
And why the Second Amendment? To defend our country from a tyrannical government or foreign invaders!
Seems to me that’s what Native Americans were trying to do when all other negotiations with the U.S. Government failed.
If more people understood the true history of how indigenous people were treated it could make a huge difference. As I’ve discovered the truth through research I’ve done writing The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits and working with my Northern Cheyenne co-author, Pete Risingsun, I’ve been outraged by the hypocrisy and double standard.
The United States would be a wonderful country if only it followed its own declarations rather than the whims of greedy, powerful individuals who either warp or by-pass the law to their own benefit. And if you think things are improving currently, clearly you don’t understand what’s going on. Why are illegal aliens treated better than our nation’s first people? Everyone who belongs here is losing their rights at an unprecedented rate.
Perhaps it’s a case of “What goes around, comes around.”
I didn’t intend for this blog to turn into a rant, but it’s something I’ve come to feel very strongly about.
Back to Bright Eyes, this wonderful true story about an heroic Native American woman is being made into a feature film. I encourage you to watch the trailer here.
The producers are looking for crowd funding to make it happen. You can help bring this inspiring story to the big screen! Find out more on their website.
This short video captures the essence of the indigenous spirit. Some of the comments are worth reading as well. I stumbled upon it quite by accident and it touched me so deeply I wanted to share it with as many as possible.
Indigenous people get a lot of bad press, mostly from history books written by their conquerors who knew little of their beautiful, compassionate culture. There is much to be learned from their wisdom. The world would be a better place if more people embraced their values of family first, hard work, connection with nature, independence, generosity and kindness.
I hope you enjoy this short (about 10 minutes) video and it brightens your day with hope as it did for me.
There are many interpretations of the Medicine Wheel, perhaps as many as there are tribes. Nonetheless, there are distinct similarities, all seeking to help a person grow through self-knowledge. The one included here pertains to the principles taught by Sun Bear and Wabun Wind in their book about the Medicine Wheel, but subtitled “Earth Astrology,” which lines up nicely with the zodiac used in Western Astrology.
Not surprisingly, the interpretations for the different “Moons” are about the same as their corresponding zodiac sign.
Sun Bear, an Ojibwa, states that his interpretation of the Medicine Wheel was not derived from western astrology, but acquired through inspiration from the Great Spirit, suggesting that both systems originated with the same source. The purpose of their system is to help all people relate more closely to the Earth Mother and all of creation.
Here are Sun Bear and Wabun Wind’s Medicine Wheel equivalents to the zodiac with their totems.
ARIES – March 21 – April 19
Moon: Budding Trees
Animal: Red Hawk
Mineral: Fire Opal
TAURUS – April 20 – May 20
Moon: Frogs Return
Plant: Blue Camas
GEMINI – May 21 – June 20
Moon: Corn planting
Mineral: Moss Agate
Color: White and Green
CANCER – June 21 – July 22
Moon: Strong Sun
Plant: Wild Rose
Mineral: Carnelian Agate
LEO – Jul. 23 – Aug. 22
Moon: Ripe Berries
Mineral: Garnet and Iron
VIRGO – Aug. 23 – Sep. 22
Animal: Brown Bear
LIBRA – Sep. 23 – Oct. 23
Moon: Ducks Fly
SCORPIO – Oct. 24 – Nov. 21
Moon: Freeze Up
Mineral: Copper and Malachite
SAGITTARIUS – Nov. 22 – Dec. 21
Moon: Long Snows
Plant: Black Spruce
CAPRICORN – Dec. 22 – Jan. 19
Moon: Earth Renewal
Animal: Snow Goose
Plant: Birch Tree
AQUARIUS – Jan. 20 – Feb. 18
Moon: Rest & Cleansing
Plant: Quaking Aspen
PISCES – Feb. 19 – Mar. 20
Moon: Big Winds
Equivalents to the Elements in Western Astrology
Fire = Thunderbird
Earth = Turtle
Air = Butterfly
Water = Frog
The introduction to The Medicine Wheel: Earth Astrology states, “We have forgotten that we are connected to all of our relationships on the earth, not just our human family. We have forgotten that we have responsibilities to all these relations, just as we have them to our human families. We have imprisoned ourselves in tight little worlds of man-made creations.”
You do not need to be familiar with western astrology to enjoy and understand this approach. If you are, then it will enhance and deepen your perceptions with another layer of insights into yourself and others. The books below, available on Amazon, provide the details and earthly beauty of the system for relating to Mother Earth.
[NOTE:–These books are among the many I’ve read as research material while writing The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits. Co-author, Pete Risingsun, provided the details of Charlie’s journey in the book, but material such as this helped me learn more about Native American culture and prepared me for our collaboration.]
The Medicine Wheel: Earth Astrology by Sun Bear and Wabun Wind
Dancing with the Wheel: The Medicine Wheel Workbook by Sun Bear, Wabun Wind, and Crysalis Mulligan
Q: How did you meet Marcha Fox? You live in Montana and she lives in Texas.
A: I wrote a detailed article about sweet grass, a sacred medicine plant the Cheyenne use in all of our spiritual ceremonies. Marcha read the article in the Soaring Eagle Newsletter, then wrote me a letter and we eventually talked on the phone. She liked the way I wrote the article.
Q: What happened next?
A: We did an interview on the phone. My questions were:
Why are you writing a book about Native Americans?
What made you decide on a Cheyenne character?
How do you want this book written?
Will I be paid for my work?
She called back the next day and said, “I want the book written accurately so when another Cheyenne reads the book they will not be offended.”
After that, she received an A for the first three questions and an A+ for the fourth question.
I told her I had to read her book first to determine if I could help her. She assured me it would be easy.
I read her draft of The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon. I told myself, “Wow. If you decide to help Marcha you are going to change Charlie Littlewolf into a traditional Cheyenne. You will make him a Cheyenne medicine man and warrior and the grandson of an honored and respected medicine man.” I pondered it for a week, thinking it could help my grandson’s college fund.
Q: What convinced you to coauthor with Marcha?
A. Well, I felt confident that I could help. My question was how we would accomplish telling the story.
I began to understand she needed a Cheyenne medicine man to be a main character in the story. Still I had no answer on how. Then I knew: Ask the grandfather spirits for guidance.
I went to the sweat lodge alone and entered. I called the spirits and waited a long time before they came. The grandfather spirits spoke the truth to me. “You help this woman, she wants to do good things for our Cheyenne people. Tell her your story, only in the spirit of truth. You cannot do this for money, you will fail. Grandson, you have been chosen by Maheo to speak for your people.”
I then had a purpose to tell my story for my people. I went home feeling happy. I thanked the grandfather spirits for their guidance with wisdom and became the coauthor.
Q. You are from two entirely different cultures. Did you experience any challenges because of the cultural differences?
A. The greatest challenge was communicating the details of our Cheyenne spiritual ceremonies. The ceremonial sweat lodge requires detail and protocol. Ceremonial sweat lodge keepers have completed their vows for many ceremonies to earn their right to be a lodge keeper. So therefore they have high expectations of individuals who enter to focus on the purpose and protocol for the ceremonial sweat.
The Sacred Mountain fasting ceremony requires four days and nights on a buffalo robe with a sacred red pipe and the guidance of a painter who earned their right to guide you to complete your vow to fast at the sacred mountain.
The fasting ceremony requires a year of preparation with family support to set up camp and be there when your painter brings you down. Your vow is a commitment to fast without water and food for four days and nights for a purpose.
I came to understand and realize that I had not explained to Marcha who, what, why and how a medicine man became who he is. A medicine man inherits his medicine from his grandfather from a lifetime of teachings. A medicine man has great spirit powers with Cheyenne medicine to heal and clean people of their wounds, illnesses, curses, and call back lost spirits.
I realized how important it was for me to explain and continue to clarify my communications when the main character in the story was to become a medicine man.
We then were able to begin transforming Littlewolf into the grandson of Eaglefeathers, a true medicine man with great spirit powers.
Q. What agreement did you and Marcha have as authors of “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon?”
A. We did not agree on a plan, we just did it. Marcha offered to hire me as a subject matter expert and sent a payment in good faith. We did the hourly rate arrangement for a short time. I then offered the Cheyenne way. I told her, “I will help you write your story and when we are done you can give me a gift of your choice, to show what my work meant to you.”
Cheyennes gift a nice comfortable blanket. So we decided to do this, since Marcha felt this was fair. My grandfather spirits said for me to tell my story in the spirit of truth for my people and not for money. We became a team of good faith to tell a great story.
Progress requires change. As new truths become evident, old ones fade away. Sometimes it’s a good thing; others, not so much.
Consider the period in history known as The Enlightenment.
It’s hard to miss the irony of what “being enlightened” meant in the 17th Century versus what it means now.
When it was proven conclusively that the solar system was heliocentric, not geocentric, it unlocked new doors of scientific knowledge. Ecclesiastical authorities trembled, called out for professing a truth that simply wasn’t. Placing Galileo under house arrest did not change the facts, only made the powers-that-be ultimately look like fools, their credibility and power decimated.
Was this progress?
In some respects, yes.
In others, not so much.
Slammed by this undeniable revelation, the faithful stumbled over the rubble left behind. Sadly, this placed the realm of the spirit under scrutiny as well. It was undetectable and thus unable to be proven in the lab. Besides, it was part of the domain of those who’d erroneously insisted upon a geocentric universe. Astrology, which is based on an Earth-centered view of the heavens, was tossed aside as well.
Skeptics rail against prayer and any connection to things of the spirit, their mien no different than that of the bishops, cardinals, and popes who once proclaimed the Earth orbited the Sun.
The Enlightenment is largely responsible for where we are today as a planet, for good or ill. Maybe it’s time to take a step back and rediscover what was lost when telescopes and space probes replaced the wonder and beauty of the night sky. Likewise, our connection to each other as well as every plant, animal, and mineral that comprises our Earth Mother. Beyond that, hasn’t science itself told us we are all made of “star stuff,” comprised of elements produced in the stars?
The place from which we came and where we’ll eventually return has yet to be detected by scientific instruments. One of the things I love about quantum theory is that it’s the most likely place where all these strange and wonderful unexplainable things could easily reside and thus reconcile the argument between science and religion once and for all. What exactly is the role of consciousness? Do thoughts become things? Does it interact with matter?
Isn’t that what our spirit and body do? Every single day?
Science has yet to provide an answer.
Those in tune with a higher realm are familiar with other ways of knowing.
Fortunately, the flawed concept that the only world that officially exists is the physical one didn’t reach indigenous people. Now they have the opportunity to teach us those things that they wisely retained, in spite of “modern civilization” trying to beat it out of them. After centuries of bad press, the wisdom of ancient ways and beliefs is finally being recognized, honored, and revered.
At long last a select few are embracing the untarnished wisdom of those who have always known the answers before modern man became smart enough to even know the questions. Only when this wisdom is incorporated into mankind’s heart and soul will we be able to handle today’s technology in a constructive way.
And therein lies the irony, that absorbing this spiritual knowledge and perceiving this magnificent unseen realm is called–
A somehow tragic illustration of the Circle of Life.
Picture credits: Pixabay (Ancient key: Konstantin Krasinkov; Jupiter: Randy Cardoso Garcia; Crazy Horse Memorial: Rudi Nockewel; Heavenly Light: Gerd Altmann)