Friday, February 25, 2011

Listening to Black Elk

This morning, I find myself still wrestling with the world. Every moment there's a choice to be made.

I need to get better at this.

When I pulled back the drapes to let in the first light, I noticed a slight movement under one of the large Norway pines in the back yard. Two deer were bedded down under it. Their ears twitched as they became alert, but as I settled in so did they. When I looked up a while later they had moved on.

Yesterday, in an attempt to move beyond the rising anger I was feeling I re-read several things attributed to Black Elk, the great Lakota Sioux who, through visions that came to him as a child, helped build an awareness around Native American spirituality. His story is both sad and uplifting. It is reported that at the age of 12 he fought at the Little Big Horn and later was injured at Wounded Knee. He said of that time:

I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful dream.

A beautiful dream, indeed.

Rather than stay with that thought I'd like to dwell on those things he shared that can bring healing. Perhaps a dream can be reborn. His words remind me of the value of staying in the light, choosing it as often as necessary until we realize it is our very nature.

Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that one.

You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the power of the world always works in circles, and everything tries to be round ... The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours ... even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.

The first peace, which is most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit and that its center is really everywhere, it is in each of us. This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this.

So I will keep practicing moment by moment, day by day - choosing peace, seeing beauty. Perhaps there is no more important work on this planet.

All over the sky a sacred voice is calling your name.

Black Elk ...

My name ...

Your name ...

All italicized quotes are from Black Elk.

Photos are from google:
Black Elk
The eyes of a Daddy Long Legs
The Sombrero Galaxy


  1. I have read this book numerous times and love it. Isn't it funny how the message is the same...from all the great ones? Living in harmony with all of nature, all of mankind. Each one of us must be part of a loving change. Some days maybe all we can do is to smile or pray or overlook a slight. Some days we may feel compelled to protest, to speak in support of (not against...I've read that never works and believe it) I love the saying, "We Are All Related." I believe this...

  2. Teresa,
    That was lovely...I needed that today! I woke up truly not in sync with the world; felt melacholy and the weather of high winds and storms certainly mirrored my mood.
    I believe also the world is round and everything runs in cycles; everything in life comes full circle.
    I so appreciate you Teresa and I thank you for this powerful reminder on today!

  3. I also needed this. I woke with a cold, sore throat, raw and miserable. The news depresses me further. My inability to change anything, including my own misery, made me feel even worse.

    Then reading this, I realize that I am on the downside of the circle, that it will rise again higher, and I am comforted. Thank you, Teresa.

  4. Amazing wisdom Black Elk had to offer. I like his story of the circles, even the earth is round he heard.As I sat out on the prairie today in a bird blind, I didn't feel the cold as I should. It warmed my heart and then I did realize my toes were getting cold. I raced to put those first footprints in the new snow and make my mark, as small as it can be, a big part of my life, living in peace and harmony.I had a goal to watch some jays and amazingily they surrounded me, offering their beauty.The sun is out today and it seems to really cheer me.

  5. Excellent post

    The infinite circle of life.
    This must be understood by one and all.
    Being at one with nature and Self will bring true serenity.
    Staying in balance is the clue.

    Unfortunately we are not only out of balance, we are out of wack during this era.

    All of the ancients were aware of Self, and balance.
    Those who did not adhere to this, vanished with out a trace.

    Are we next to vanish from this pale blue dot?
    Only to reappear in the Cosmos?

  6. Lynn, "Each one of us must be part of a loving change." I like that. Thank You.

    Tracy, It is interesting, isn't it, how the weather can mirror our moods? Thank you for your comments and your kind thoughts.

    DJan, So nice to hear from you. I trust you are feeling better this evening and are on the upswing in that circle.

    Steve, The Jays, ask and ye shall receive? The sun was out here, too, despite the cold temps. It felt good.

    RZ, So glad you brought your thoughts to this post. Balance in all things. Yes, we seem to be in dire need of it. Practicing it in our individual lives is essential. Thank You.

  7. Practicing it in our individual lives is essential. That's all we can do.

    And decide for what causes we are willing to march.

  8. Black Elk seems to have been one of those people who suffered a great deal and never stopped feeling the pain but focused on rising above it through hope and love and beauty. There can be - and often are - hope and love and beauty in the midst of a march, of course.

  9. What a wonderful and profound image, the circle. Thoughtful reflection.

  10. Linda, Yes, exactly so.

    Nancy, Absolutely. A march can bring these things forth even.

    Paul, The symbol, of Oneness, and it's the one symbol we all seem to understand.
    Thank you.

  11. The way Native Americans from way back frame issues is unlike any other. In few word that are more powerful than any essay could be.

    Good stuff !!

  12. Thanks Teresa, I so appreciate the thoughts and prayers for Ethan. His fever is up again today so they've told my niece he is not going home anytime soon.
    I thought about your story yesterday when my son was watching a show on Native Americans on TV...
    Have a great day friend...

  13. Teresa, this is a beautiful post. What a wonderful spirit you have. When I'm a bit down, I pull an animation on youtube and refamiliarize myself with the Double Slit Experiment. We are not independent of anything and nothing is beyond our reach. Quantum physics meets the Tao is an affirming understanding.

  14. Tracy, And they shall continue. All is well. No room for fear, My friend, "Perfect love casteth out fear." And makes room for healing.

    Cletis, Thanks so much! I will check out that video. Quantum physics and spirituality, for me, go hand in hand. Nicely put. Again, Thank You.

  15. This is something we all need to be reminded of from time to time.... Thanks so much!

  16. Teresa: Yes, something died at Wounded Knee. He kept on dreaming and hoping. Black Elk is one of my favorite people of all time. I re-read his book frequently and always come away a bit less frazzled. Jack of Sage to Meadow.

  17. Jack! God to hear from you, my friend! I trust all is well at Flying Hat Ranch. Black Elk's peaceful words bring peace to our thought, Yes.

  18. Beautiful post, Teresa. Sunday evening is my favorite time to read your posts. One week is soon finished, another soon begins. I like inspiring, thoughtful words on evenings such as this. You never fail, Teresa, to offer a thoughtful nuget that I carry thru the week.

    I adore Black Elk! If I could talk to several people from the past, Black Elk would be on that short list. But most of all, I'd like to say Thank You to this great man.

    I am constantly awed at how Native Americans accept the circle of life. It's such a beautiful gift to us, if only we'd reach out and accept the gracious offer. But, no, chaos reigns in waaay too much!

    I hope I can carry Black Elk's wisdom with me this coming week.

  19. Kittie, Thanks so much for your comments.

  20. You are wise beyond your years, my friend.

  21. Cheryl, It helps to have the "companionship" of such fine people, like Black Elk.