Walk this Earth in a Sacred Manner .
Inside all of us is a deep and fundamental yearning to belong, this longing and search has introduced me to the life of a Sacred Drummer. More importantly an opportunity to get to know through one of its founders, an ancestor called Nicholas Black Elk who gave us his vision of the Flowering Tree in his book Black Elk Speaks. He was a Native American back in the 1800â€˜s, for me the study of this culture at this time in human history is vital for it holds a message as well as an offer of hope to guide humanity forward to a way of life that lives like the Lakota, close to our mother earth. It could be argued that us humans are the virus to the earth, our behaviour seems to hold disregard for nature and its land. I noticed such evidence as I walked in a local Woodland, seeing rubbish strewn along the way .
This path influenced an urge to read about Indigenous cultures and to know intimately the Earths gifts. I joined the Wild life trust as volunteer plant surveyor, encouraging an adventure into the undergrowth. It has been so good to learn the science and art of life around us. I go out with the Wild life trust surveying our land for ancient habitat, habitat that keeps us safe and is part of eco cycle survival. It holds answers we have dared not ask the question for. Before we make any discovery to unlock its secrets we destroy with our ever growing network of roads and railways along with the generated pollution.
Lakota elder and spiritual leader Wallace Black Elk knew the science of plants and their medicine in detail. He knew the virtues of trees, such as the yew. He knew their spiritual depth as a detailed observer and from the depth of his being. We need also to spend time looking, sensing, and asking of the plants for their medicine, it is also such fun and a great education.
Now we have a prevalent powerful potent virus that threatens human nature. It spreads because we live too close together. It is now that we seek respite from our forced imprisonment locked into our homes, and it is now that we ache to be in the country side breathing with gasps of the air which the virus threatens to take. Yet it is the Native Americans who lived closely to the earth respecting, offering, valuing, not taking and ravishing its gifts and offerings. It was us from the West that invaded their land and wiping their people out with our viruses. So it is now we have the opportunity to listen and be guided to make changes.
Grandfather Wallace was the spiritual relation to Nicholas Black Elk and intimately carried his personal stories and his teachings (Black Elk 1991). Nicholas Black Elk and Grandfather Wallace are people I would have loved the opportunity to sit down with. Instead I have the chance to learn about their visions for us people and embody the principles and codes that they lived by .
I am myself getting on in life, with more time in my past that in my future. So any work and changes I make can only be but a beginning, with the hope that the seeds of this will grow like the flowering tree black Elk speaks of. It was my thirst for knowledge that has taken me to understand the writings of Black Elks Speaks and the Sacred Pipe. My teachers Renata and Steven Ash met Wallace Black Elk and became his spiritual adopted grandchildren. My ache to know and learn is to read and then to write, this is so I can absorb the read information into my being. It is then that the stories come alive for me . What you are about to read are partly extracts from three books I have read: The Sacred Pipe, Black Elk & The Sacred Ways of the Lakota, and Black Elk Speaks. It contains a mixture of direct quotes and my understandings. I offer it up in the hope it will be useful in guiding us forward. This therefore is an invitation for you also to read the books, and absorb the material in a way that makes sense to you. So here is my share with you. Do join me in the journey of discovery and walk a path of sacredness.
Native American culture revolved around a circle, the sacred hoop. A flowering tree is centre of this and symbolic of growth and prosperity for all people in the tribe, equally shared. The flowering of the tree is nourished by the seasons which also occurs in circular patterns. Black Elk also made references to the sky and earth being round. The Moon and Sun are also in a circle. The wind blows in circular whirls. Even the life span on Man is in a circle (The Sacred Pipe 1989). Hence birthed the gift of the Sacred Drum and the opportunity for you to become Sacred Drummers and also walk this Earth in a Sacred Manner.
Black Elk, a holy man of the Oglala Sioux, saw in a vision a sacred herb, a herb used in the curing of his people. He spoke of the black road symbolised by following the bad way of life, a life with no rules and order. The Red road symbolised the way Black Elk wanted his people to live and how they lived before Wasichus (white people) ( The Sacred Pipe 1989 ). The indians lived as one people and shared a set of common rules, a code that revered the Earth and all of its gifts.
Wallace Black Elk, also a renowned Lakota Shaman extends his scope beyond the realm of the Lakota nation to include all human beings ( Black Elk Lyon W 1991). Wallace Black Elk believes that the powers of the sacred pipe is for everyone. He noted long ago that when the spirits do appear, they never claim to a racial identity. He said Lakota prophecy speaks of the sacred pipe as going out to all nations. He sees this world view as not simply his personal philosophy but as part of the sacred teachings themselves. He calls it "earths people philosophyâ€ (xiv Black Elk the Sacred ways of a Lakota 1991) .
In Black Elks vision, he could see beautiful land where many people were camping in a great circle. They were happy and had plenty, the drying racks were full of meat and the air was clean and beautiful with a living light everywhere. Around the circle were fat and happy horses. Animals of all kinds were returning with their meat. The flowering tree was in the centre of the circle all green and full of flowers (Sacred Pipe 1989)
Black Elk saw his people going down the Black road. They were no longer acting as one people, they were scattered. Some had more of everything that they could use while crowds of people had nothing at all and were maybe starving. They Lived in square houses -plots of land were divided and not shared. There was no regard for the land or nature . White people for instance would Hunt bison, taking just the tongue to sell. Many times they would kill them just for sport and nothing else, having total disregard to the spirit and sacredness of such incredible beings (Sacred Pipe 1989)
The vision left him with a responsibility to bring to life the flowing tree of his people . It haunted Black Elk all his life and caused him much suffering for although he had been given the power to lead his people in the ways of his grandfathers, he did not understand by what means the vision could be fulfilled .
It was due to this pervasive sense of mission that Black Elk wished to make a book explaining the major rites of the Oglala Sioux. His great hope was that through the book his own people as well as the white man would gain a better understanding of the truths of their Indian traditions ( xv The Sacred Pipe 1989). It has been many years since Black Elk last spoke and there have occurred many changes which demand his message and similar messages of other traditionally orientated people be placed in a new perspective and in a new light. We are now forced to undergo a process of intense self examination to engage in a serious re-evaluation, and many are looking with sincerity to the kinds of models which are represented by the American Indians (The Sacred Pipe 1989)
Black Elk didn't experience his mission as being fulfilled, to bring his people back to the good red road. It is possible as with many visions, that he was an Ambassador for change. Change may take many life times. His message and influence has been carried across generations and the World and so he is succeeding in ways he could not have anticipated. This is an opportunity to help Black Elk and become one of the teachers to support people to understand the greatness and truth of Indian tradition, to help bring peace upon the earth, not only among humans but between human and the whole creation( Sacred Pipe 1989 ) We should know that all things are the works of the great spirit. He is within all things, the trees grasses, rivers, mountains, four legged, winged peoples and those that crawl on the ground.
Becoming a Sacred Drummer offers a life path towards bringing manifestation of Black Elks vision to dream big and beyond one lifetime. Corona Virus has brought grief, destruction, but also opportunity.
Financing courses in this moment may seem difficult, but other moments will be different, offering an opportunity for you to bring about your vision and a chance to engage in a Sacred Drummers lifeâ€™s work, to follow the Red Sacred Road and the path of the Lakota. To bring into life the visions of Black Elk and Grandfather Wallace.
This world is for our children and grandchildren. In Sacred Drumming we are signing up for a way of life, a philosophy and principles that guide and support growth. This is an invitation to walk along side Black Elk and path towards a restoration, a call for prayer, not in the religious sense, but to bring alive this gift and pass it on to the next generation thus beginning to live close to our Mother Earth.
sacredguide.co.uk April 2020
Wallace Black Elk, William S Lyon (1991) Black Elk - The Sacred Ways of a Lakota. HarperOne, Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Joseph Epes Brown (1989) The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk's Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux. University of Oklahoma Press
John G Neihardt (2014) Black Elk Speaks - The Complete Edition. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London. Original printings of "Black Elk Speaks" (c)1932,1959,1972 by John G Neihardt
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