Art by Rogue Guiry Simpson
Art by Rogue Guiry Simpson
SACRED HUNT / SACRED GIVEAWAY with Tanah Whitemore
published in Green Spirit Magazine, England
There is no death, only a change of worlds. — Chief Seattle
White Buffalo Calf Woman, the bringer of the chanupa – the sacred pipe of holiness – invites us always to hold a view of wholeness and Oneness, in addition to seeing from our minute personal sphere and limited years of experience. When we can breathe the expanded sense of the flowing wholeness that carries us through all time, then larger and perhaps clearer perspectives open to us. We become available to rich learning from the wider world around us.
All life offers profound teachings, and humans are learning to pay attention in profound ways. A primary lesson is respect for the life of all things, as White Buffalo Woman has reminded us in one of her tenets: “Whatever you do to anyone or anything else in the circle of life, you do to yourself, for we are One.” In our time, it is good that animal rights and care groups abound to remind us about the preciousness of all life. I, personally, look at the world with the eyes of a sacred ecologist. A normal ecologist would perhaps focus on the usefulness of trees to clean our air, supply oxygen, hold soil, and offer resources; a sacred ecologist would add: “AND they are living things, a part of the great circle of life, and as such deserve our loving care, just as our own human family does.”
This perspective takes me to the ways of our native peoples regarding killing trees. Elder women went about the camp sites gathering dead and dry wood for fires rather than the men felling trees. In preparation for Sundance ceremony, a tree is taken down, yet days of ceremony precede and accompany this rite. Four young, virtuous girls strike the first blows. Thanksgiving and offerings are made. It is carried to the ceremonial grounds in an honoring procession. Sacred objects are tied in it’s branches. It then represents the world tree – the growing and blossoming center of life. In the Crow Indian sundance form, all dancing moves to and from that tree.
Animals also offer powerful teaching about life and death, which primary hunting societies knew well from their intimate association with their prey. This lesson is about respect and honoring in a holy way, deeper than our usual surface awareness. Not only is the one which is harvested honored as an individual, but as well, the flowing, continuous cycle of life, death and rebirth is experienced with awe and blessing.
Now an awakening generation of non-primary people are tuning in to the challenging depth of full understanding. One of those is Tanah Whitemore, a wise woman of mixed native and European heritage, who is the steward of Sacred Ground, International – a teaching center and buffalo preserve which includes my old home ranch on the Crow Reservation.* I will briefly tell her story here so you can journey with her in what the buffalo have taught her.
Tanah wished to bring the buffalo back to the land they had happily roamed in the last century, and so began with a few bulls and cows. She was concerned about her ability to take care of them, to keep them safe and to insure that their unique needs were met. She took great care of them, or should I say, micro-managed them. In turn, over the years, they showed her how independent and powerful they are – what harmony and richness they create in their natural way of movement across the land. The pastures had been neglected, eaten down; and drought had plagued the rolling hills there under the crystal mountains. We raised money to feed the buffalo big bales of hay, fighting through drifts of snow to get food to them, tearing up ranch vehicles in the challenging process. As the years passed, the herd grew and grew……more food needed, more money, no income, stress….. yet because she loved those buffalo with a fierce protection, she would not think of commercially harvesting any, even though the excellent meat of buffalo was in increasing demand and would have given good income.
As Tanah continued to closely observe over successive years, she began to see that the grasslands were improving with the buffalo’s hoof action and their way of grazing and moving as a group. Clear springs came up where their rolling created wallows that filled with water in the spring rain, and thus magnetized water up from the earth to flow forth. She found she had to manage them less and less – they made it obvious that they knew how to live on the land and make it abundant. Yet the herd was growing too big for even her thousands of acres….
Then the buffalo began the deep teaching of “give-away” as she meditated with them, inviting her to do sacred hunts to harvest some of the herd. As difficult as this was, she cautiously began, bringing in a special kind of hunter who would go through teachings and ancient purification rites to ready themselves, praying and telepathically intending toward the one who would give it’s life — a way practiced by long generations of native hunters. Accompanied by guides and sharp-shooters, they would go on the mountain to the herd and sit, praying for the one who was to give itself. When the hunters got quiet and listened, they would often feel the animal before they saw it, creating a connection beyond normal perception. They awakened to the understanding that they and the buffalo were coming together to exchange gifts, to acknowledge their brotherhood, their oneness.
Then a pattern begins that astonishes everyone. A single bull or old cow (whichever has been requested) steps forth, away from the herd and ‘presents’ itself. Those attending report a glow of life, confidence and beauty radiating from this one, who stands proud and strong before them. There is a sense of the buffalo being in joy and celebration, looking around that beautiful homeland for the last time. The one doing the harvest is taught to look into the eyes of this radiant one and give thanks for the gifts about to be exchanged. These buffalo are grateful for the ability to complete and fulfill their journey as providers and teachers – as they are held within the sacred circle of an honoring and acknowledging ceremony. They have been seen, heard and honored for all of their gifts.
The shot, which cannot be taken until everything is clear and the sharpshooters give the OK, has to be behind the head where it joins the neck for a clean kill. During the hunt then, after those radiant moments in celebration of vital life, the buffalo will often move to stand sideways, then literally turn it’s head to open that exact place to the hunters. The shot will be taken and the buffalo gently go down. By this time the hunters are crying; everyone is crying with the intensity and beauty and power of the moment.
Then the immediate family of that buffalo comes forward from the herd and gathers around it, standing in quiet meditation and honoring. The hunters and guides join in that honoring. Tobacco is placed on the Earth and on the buffalo when they go to it, giving thanks for this gift of bounty and sustenance. **
And often among the next season’s calves, Tanah will sense that new buffalo babies are born to embody the energy of the ones who had previously crossed in the Sacred Harvest. They return to the family and land where they have given-away, continuing the circle of life in joy, and creating a deep lesson from which we must learn.
This conscious cycle deepens over time, continuing to teach Tanah and her hunters about the honor of a respected giveaway, the importance of using everything that was given in a sacred way, the continuation of life, and the returning of those who had gone before. The herd is happy and peaceful, fitting within the bounds of it’s land. Tanah’s love for them grows and deepens, as does her respect for the way the buffalo live on and improve the land, and offer themselves in an exchange of gratitude.
Birth and life and death move in a circle of beauty and aliveness. And all is well……
Of course! the path to heaven
doesn’t lie down in flat miles.
Its in the imagination
with which you perceive
and the gestures
with which you honor it.
Brooke can be reached at www.MedicineEagle.com.
To learn about the hunts and harvests, see www.sacredgroundintl.org Connect with Tanah (to arrange for a sacred hunt or harvest – yourself or by an especially designated and trained hunter) 406-245-6070 firstname.lastname@example.org
** This meat is the finest in the world – free range, non-polluted, raised with honor and love. When you (or your group) buy a buffalo rather than packaged meat, there is no requirement for vaccinations or other processes which make the meat less healthy. Sacred Ground arranges processing of meat, hide, skull and all.
One of my fondest memories from my childhood is the sweet smell of sheets and clothes just brought in from a clothesline in the sun. It’s springtime and the bees are enjoying the clover blossoming nearby. A gentle breeze is blowing. An ideal day for hanging out…..
And I have carried this joyful practice with me through the years. As soon as I settle, up goes a clothesline, if there is not one already there. And I often gift friends with little lines in sunny pockets of their home space. There’s also always a drying line somewhere near my washer, or a rack to put things on hangers – sometimes a folding wooden rack. In Europe and many other countries, they wisely have a rack on a pulley in the laundry room or over a stove – part of it may be screened, for laying out delicate sweaters, and some are just wooden dowels in a light frame – able to be let down to fill and then elevated to the warmth of the ceiling out of the way. What a great idea, one I have been creating when possible since I first saw a woman do this in her lovely Boulder, Colorado, mountain home years ago! She said she learned it from a visit to Scandinavia….
Oh sure, if I have an enormous load of wash on a rainy day, I use the simple dryer I have, but on most other days, I enjoy the process of hanging clothes on the line. Even in the winter, they freeze dry and are even cleaner and fresher. On those days, I often tuck them in the dryer for a few final minutes of moisture release and warmth for folding.
I’ve been traveling internationally to learn, explore and teach healthy / sustainable living these last few years. Being a lover of this magnificent Earth, it’s a joy to see more of her land and meet her varied peoples. A couple years ago, I had left my orchard garden home (with it’s clothesline over the radiant flowers) to live in Ecuador for the winter, and then journey on through many European and UK countries into the spring.
My little cottage in Ecuador behind my sister’s home had the perfect outdoor setup for the climate which ranged from 65-80 degrees all year round – a concrete washing station with a scrub board built right in. I have always had my own little, old-fashioned wood and glass scrub board, which is wonderful for hand washing, so this was great setup! A handle on the side turned on fingers of water that came from the high side of the angled wash board, giving plenty of handy water for washing, and then drained out the bottom. When the washing was done, right beside it were several short lines for hanging – all this behind a pretty brick wall next to my back-yard cottage. I was in heaven!!
Then going on to Europe on a rainy and chilly spring, I was interested to see that no one, no matter when, used a dryer! Clothes blew happily on country lines, and waved above in the narrow, winding streets of Italian villages; gave color and movement to a backyard on the Scots highland coast – sheets blowing in the wind like Tibetan prayer flags! Even in the up-scale, gorgeous home where I stayed in Cannes on the French Riviera, my friend unfolded her drying racks outside on sunny days, and inside on rainy ones! Some homes had driers but just didn’t use them unless there was an emergency need.
Wow, seeing this I began to realize how much power and energy we spend in the United States for drying our clothes, since heating anything takes enormous amounts of power! I began to think that we could probably light a city and save a nuclear plant’s construction just by getting more conscious about drying our clothes. Such a simple thing, yet Americans use all that power without blinking an eye!
Because my car was stored in another city than the airport, I stayed for several days upon my return with a wonderful family in the university area of Missoula – a very awake and conscious place, I thought. Needing to wash out a few small and delicate things from the flight, I hand-washed them, and looked for the clothesline. I had seen the monster washer and dryer in the basement, which in bright new red took up half a room – didn’t need those energy burners… Hmmmm, no line to be seen. Maybe she used a portable rack. I asked her where it might be, and she said with an odd energy, ‘’I don’t have one.” “Oh”, I said, somewhat stunned – this totally not what I was accustomed to. I commented on that and she still had an odd look on her face.
When I asked her what was going on,
she said, “Clotheslines are illegal here.” I’m sure my jaw dropped, and you could have knocked me over with a feather. “You are kidding, right?”, I queried. “No, the neighborhood voted, and no one wanted to see clothes hanging out on a line.”
I was speechless and felt remarkably much like crying. This was very sad to me. What was wrong with people? What was wrong with clean clothes fluttering in the breeze? This prohibition said something I don’t like to believe about ‘conscious’ Americans – it seems to me many people have lost touch with reality, with simple and elegant ways of living that feel wonderful and at the same time care for the Earth when we are indeed in an energy crisis – building filthy coal plants and dangerous nuclear plants to create the energy that people demand. We don’t even use solar power in the sunny southwest, or wind power in appropriate places, let alone allow the development of even more useful forms of energy.
If I had had a ticket at that moment, I would have boarded the plane for Ecuador!! What was happening to me was what I call reverse culture shock. Sometimes the radically different ways of living in foreign countries are quite a shock; I was shocked by my own county’s extravagant ways. And when I have tried to talk about it, help people wake up and live a bit more lightly and consciously, I have been met with disdain. It has been most dis-heartening.
I’m writing this, sitting in a sweet backyard of a forest cottage home near a little lake in northern Germany, and yes, my clothes are in the sun on lines right beside me; and solar panels are on every roof. When I take my things down, I will be rewarded with that lovely smell of sun-dried clothes, not of some strange chemical perfume that is on drier sheets (which, by the way, are some of the most toxic chemicals we can disperse – many of them killing our vital neighbors, the bees, as well as causing health problems for your family Please check yours, and find a non-poisonous variety in your health food store – or the dryer balls that work well for static.)
I pay a lot of attention to health concerns around the world, and one of the major ones that is causing profound challenges, not only for our environment but for our own and our children’s health, is toxic pollution. Yes, surely some of it comes from industry, yet much of it comes from our everyday life choices – from our cleaning products, out-gassing house construction, lawn sprays, and the pesticides on our food.
So you have an open invitation to become more conscious about these seemingly small things, in a movement of blessing for your own life and in conscious service to all the life around you.
Here’s to your health and the fresh smell of sheets dried on the line in the sun of a spring day — and happy bees and butterflies in the flowers around you!!
BLESSINGS FOR ALL OUR RELATIONS, BROOKE
PS: Here’s starter kit, an easy solution, and also a bit more sophistated model!
I’m driving down through old Crow Indian country, south of the Yellowstone River and north of Yellowstone Park on a beautiful spring day. Montana has an 80 mile an hour speed limit, and I am taking advantage of it to make good time going back to our old home ranch on my dad’s original reservation alottment, now Sacred Ground and home to a splendid buffalo herd with tiny new cinnamon-colored babies.
The scenery is enticing, and I find myself wanting to focus on it rather than the road. At 80 miles per hour, it’s clear that even a small amount of inattention could take my flying off the road. So I discipline myself, and when called strongly, I pull over to feast my eyes and breathe the sweet air.
This possibility of going far off course at high speeds, brings to mind the times we are in – leaving behind the old and birthing the new. My guides used a rather humorous metaphor to help us remember a lesson about this changing time. They said that the highest and finest souls from all over the universe are arm-wrestling to get onto Earth in a human body right now! Of course, we were curious about why??????? Let me go back a bit and explain something about the times we are in.
We understand from chaos theory that in order to make a real change, a quantitative leap, the energy must spin to a high pitch which initiates that jump. This is happening now, and we can sometimes feel it ourselves in the old hippy saying, “What goes around, comes around” – our lessons are coming to face us ever more rapidly and intensely. My highest teachers say that the word “atonement” literally means “ at one-ment” – that when we reach that point we’ll have what might be called ‘instant karma’ : whatever energy/vibration/thoughts we put out into the world will manifest instantly – we will be at one with them.
The old souls’ urge to incarnate is thus for two reasons: 1) birthing is a vulnerable and delicate time, with excellent midwives needed, so wise ones are required for it to go well, and 2) when the energy is spinning this fast, anyone who steps in and forward in a powerful and positive way, cleans up centuries of karma.
Ta da…!! WE are the ones who won the arm wrestling, or we wouldn’t be here! At this speed, it behooves you to pay attention to where you are headed, your intention, your focus, your wishes, your thoughts – because they will take you very far in that direction before you can make a correction. Meanness, smallness, hatred, harm, injustice, damage or destruction in any form will be magnified back into your life exponentially. Yet in the same light, cooperation, connection, caring, love, kindness, compassion, nurturing, support, and joy will also be magnified for you, and of course, for your world. In this time, you can make a powerful difference.
Studies show,that our attention wanders from 50 – 80% of the time, often straying into negativity – past wrongs or hurts as well as future worries and fears. So you must awaken the spiritual warrior within you who practices the focus of attention, and then choose well. One of the first lessons in many spiritual traditions is about the conscious focusing of attention. It’s a worthy practice for us all. My sister-friend Tanah at Sacred Ground reminded me that high ones say it only takes THREE people, holding constant focus on something, to change the whole world! A worthy task….
Much of my current work, in groups or powerful private sessions click , is about how to keep the positive resource of good energy in your life as a baseline. It is a service, certainly to yourself, and as well, echoes sweetly into this world so in need.
Thus, I urge you to be mighty attentive and very careful about the current ease of going astray. THE SPIRITUAL WARRIOR CHOOSES – choose well!
For All My Relations, Brooke