[Türkçe çeviri için yorum bölümüne bkz.]
It is well known that Indigenous people have a close relationship with animal spirits. For those who are not familiar with the deepest aspects of Indigenous cultures, I want to share that in truth we are not interested in worshiping animals. Our close relationship with them comes from recognizing that they are our relatives, that we share the same home, and also from the fact that many of them generously give their flesh to us so we may continue living. But most importantly, the relationship we have is with their spirit, recognizing that in their spirit they carry a sacred gift, a talent, and a “medicine” that is very helpful to us when we are open to receiving it.
In some of the following chapters, I will share experiences that I had in which I was deeply touched and guided by the medicine of some animal spirits like the jaguar, the spider, the snake, and the bear. One that we hold very sacred and that often guides me and my tioshpaye – or “extended family” in Lakota – is the Eagle Spirit. Eagle feathers are sometimes used in ceremony not just as decoration or because this is part of our folklore but to bring in the powerful help of the spirit of Wambli, the eagle.
We see you Grandfather Eagle. You belong to what is high, and still you have the capacity to descend and bring blessings to us. We thank you for your medicine, your unlimited vision that allows you to guide us when we are walking without being able to see where we are going. We thank you for the gift of direction and the sense of peacefulness that you bring to us from the spirit world.
When praying in this manner – to clarify for those who do not know our ways – in our mind, we are not talking to an animal but to a sacred power that is an aspect of the divine great power. All creatures of Nature have a sacred gift; each one carries one of the sacred powers of the All. The eagle has the gift of being able to see far away, the owl has the gift of seeing in the dark and in all directions, the hawk has the gift of being brave. What about us? Are we a mistake of Nature or do we also carry a sacred gift? One time, after praying in a ceremony, the Eagle Spirit kindly responded to us. Wanting to help us remember who we are so we may live accordingly, he told us the story of where we come from.
This story, which refers to our first grandfathers, connects us to a time so remote that when talking about it we feel the flavor of a myth, and at the same time has so much to do with what is happening to humanity right now. The best direction for us to take becomes clear when we remember who we are, and I believe this is why Grandfather Eagle gave us this gift.
This is what I remembered that he said: “In the beginning there was only a point of light. This point of light fused its feminine and masculine energies and exploded, generating seven stars. All at once, these seven stars also fused their masculine and feminine energies and exploded, generating the thirteen creators of this world, who manifested the existence of all beings through their singing and dancing.
“The thirteenth, conducting the dance, was the one who had maintained his duality intact within himself: Eagle Dancer. To his left were six female dancers, and to his right six male dancers. They formed a circle standing on top of the open space of nothingness, each one of them carrying a staff with which they banged on the floor of nothingness calling it to become something. The first thing to appear before them was a tree that was an animal.
“While the dancers of Creation continued with their movements and songs, fruits began to appear in the branches of the tree, which are now all the animal species and all the plants that reside on Earth. One by one they detached from the tree and found their place on the terrestrial space that the dancers had called to solidify itself from nothingness. In this way the world and its inhabitants were created.
“At the end, the dancers who sang the Creation of the world decided to leave a species on Earth that had qualities similar to those of themselves. They created women and men and left them with the mission to care for the rest of Creation through the power of their heart and their capacity to produce refined vibrations. The first humans were born to be guardians of the memory for the original design of life, guardians of the memory that resides in the song and dance of Creation. Keeping this memory alive in their heart and singing it back to all that lives became their gift, their mission, and the foundation of a beautiful way of life.
“Over time, the giant and powerful humans grew in numbers. Enjoying the fruits of their intelligence and their creative capacities, they kept life in balance and made beautiful things with what the Earth gave them. Some kept living in simple tribal ways while others developed great civilizations that became containers of universal wisdom.
“When they were at the peak of their power, darkness showed up in the souls of many, and for the first time humans knew emotions like jealousy, envy, and greed. Those trying to prove to be the most powerful and beautiful among the rest competed with each other and, in doing so, ended up wounded.
A strange kind of pain related to the loss of unity with others, which came together with the loss of oneself, gave birth to fear. Defensive and aggressive behaviors born from fear made them close their hearts.
“Disconnected from the radiant light of their spirits, they kept going further away from their original selves. With time, they forgot their origin and the way Eagle Dancer encouraged them to sing in the beginning, becoming one. Those who had grown a hole in their souls had a craving for becoming the one, ignoring that the one is really the one heart that is born from cooperating with others. The original brotherhood of the humans got lost. Some nations developed strong ethnic identities that they used for stating that they were not like the rest, forbidding their young ones to marry with an outsider.
“When the humans became divided, the rest of Creation lost the contributions of its caretaker. Their violence made them hurt not only each other but the Earth as well. The balance of life became debilitated to the extent that the Tree of Life became ill and began to die; its withered branches fell upon the Earth generating earthquakes, volcanic explosions and flooding.
“This violent way of life continued until one day when some of them decided to climb to the top of a mountain to cry for help. They were the ones who, listening to the beating of their own frightened hearts, remembered the staffs of the dancers of the Beginning, banging and banging, calling life.
“On the mountain their vision was healed and they remembered themselves, being able to feel their hearts again. When they came down they knew what to do. The dance and songs of the beginning were once again offered to the Tree of Life, which now was a dying tree. Fallen branches were good for making drums that made the heartbeat of the Tree of Life resonate throughout the Earth. The branches were also good for lighting the sacred fire that showed them the spirit of the Tree. In front of this Tree they danced to the rhythm of the drum day and night, elevating their vibration higher and higher. In alignment with the beginning and the origin of all things, remembering and healing themselves, they were able to re-establish the health and equilibrium of life on Earth.”
I consider this story that we received from Grandfather Eagle to be extremely important, because it tells us what we originally are, that we are capable of forgetting, and that we are also capable of remembering. I find a story like this infinitely more useful than those that lead us to believe that we human beings are originally destructive and competitive killers who need to be educated in order to have a good heart. Not only has religion told us that there is something inherently wrong with us; modern social sciences have told us this as well. Official books of social sciences repeatedly state that war is what determines the development of civilization. With statements like this one, we have been lead to identify ourselves with our destructive side – and that with which we become identified, we overvalue and empower. This has been happening for many generations, reinforcing this harmful image of ourselves.
“The Time of the Black Jaguar”
by Shaman Arkan Lushwala, pages 4 – 8.