Sunday, April 12, 2015

Grandmother Speaks to Me Like Thunder

With a final rumble 
the storm rolls away 
beyond the vanishing plains. 
Gold rimmed clouds 
sail across 
heavenly blue… 

While mirroring shapes, 
like cloud cast shadows, 
ramble t’wixt 
the grasses 

One white shadow 
drifts closer 
four feet firm upon the Earth
horns heavenward 
collecting messages Divine
Eyes deep
as the twinkling night
Her voice, 
like Moonlight, 

“Peace, my siblings! 
Still thy restless souls 
and listen… 
Great Mystery 
is calling thee! 

Neither fear 
nor flee! 
Gather ‘neath 
the Cottonwood tree 
We will teach you how to start 
Abundance flows through 
prayer and gratitude
Ask and you shall receive! 
Feel Creator's hand upon thy heart. 
Be the vessel 
you were made to be. 

Teachers of Abundance
Once, but no more… 
We echoed 
the Grandfather Thunders 
We shadowed 
the hills, running free.
We teach of Manifestation 
for the greater good
Constance and Generosity 

Divinity honored in
 All Our Relations, 
whatever our differences may be

Holy! Holy! Holy! 

In all things, 
Are you too proud to bow?”

Who sings now?

For those new to the game, each poem is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature;  a star, stone, animal, plant etc that holds lessons of Wisdom for us. Can you guess who is singing today? Congrats to Desert Dreamer, Ruth Cox and Jan Neavill Hersh for naming this Teacher!

“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.” Psalms 4:5

“Self-sacrifice is the real miracle out of which all the reported miracles grow.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.” Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)

“From Wakan-Tanka, the Great Mystery, comes all power. It is from Wakan-Tanka that the holy man has wisdom and the power to heal and make holy charms. Man knows that all healing plants are given by Wakan-Tanka, therefore they are holy. So too is the buffalo holy, because it is the gift of Wakan-Tanka.” Flat Iron, Ogala Sioux Chief

Bison’s power is evident the moment one sees their massive bodies, large heads, powerful shoulders and sturdy legs. Often weighing a ton or more and standing approximately 5-6’ at the shoulder, Buffalo or Bison is a cloven hooved bovine. Bovines of all sorts have figured prominently in our history, myths, and religions for centuries, and as always one who feels called by mighty American Buffalo (actually a Bison) should take good look at the close relatives too. Here I will be speaking primarily of the American Bison that has always embodied Buffalo for me, although this poem was actually inspired specifically by White Buffalo which will also be mentioned here.

If you had any doubts, Bison is the largest mammal to be found in North America. Surprisingly, they can leap up to 6’ and reach speeds of up to 40 mph! Truly remarkable when you consider their size, weight and typically placid demeanor. Typically shaggy-coated in shades of brown, both males and females bear horns which are used to defend and to establish rank within the herd. They mate around August or September which typically results in a single calf at Spring time. 

Bison are considered mature at three years of age, and have a life expectancy of 18 to 22 years in the wild or 35 to 40 years in captivity. Though exceedingly rare, true White Buffaloes are not actually albinos. Instead they have pigment within their skin, hide, and blue eyes. Although the American Bison was almost eradicated by Humans, they have almost no natural enemies. Occasionally a grizzly or wolf pack might bring down a young one or an elder.

The four sturdy legs of Buffalo remind us the importance of staying grounded to mother Earth. Their horns remind us again of the intuitive connection between us and the Divine. Their massive heads and humped shoulders remind us of the importance of thought, and the development of wisdom. Our thoughts are connected to our actions just as surely as our active shoulders and arms support the head that controls all our conscious actions. Buffalo also teaches us that there is no one “right” way, and we all need to find a confidence and balance between our male and female aspects as we discover the way that is right for us. Nor should we attempt to dictate to others how they should live or what they should believe.

Bison teaches that Abundance in all things is ours for the asking whenever we couple “right thought” with “right action”. (If you aren’t familiar with these terms, I suggest you look up information on the Eight Fold Path to enlightenment.) When we walk our talk and live as generously as we wish to receive, then we walk with Buffalo and are doing our Creator’s will most splendidly. I don’t know anyone whose mother didn’t say to them, “Treat others how you want to be treated.” We look around the World today and have to wonder, “If this is true, why do so many people want to be treated like crap?!”

The answer to that is, in my opinion, that the majority of us aren’t coupling right thought with right action. We say the words but we don’t typically take the time to truly live moment to moment in a compassionate, tolerant, inclusive and generous manner. Do you feel guilty when you don’t properly recycle something to show your love and respect for the World around you? Or when you wiggle out of helping someone because it isn’t convenient? Do you separate your fellow humans into “us” and “them” categories, discriminate against another based on their nationality, religion, or other life choices? Then to some degree, you are not hearing Buffalo’s song. Everything we need truly is ours for the asking.

Without gratitude and prayer, the well of abundance runs dry within our lives and our World. This has been a huge issue with Humanity, and it is high time that we collectively began living in a grateful manner. When Abundance is taken for granted, dishonored, or neglected it shows. Humanity has callously hunted other species into extinction, savagely stripped resources, thoughtlessly polluted the waters, air and earth for generations. Scientists today worry about irreparable impact on weather patterns, ocean levels, the vanishing fish that feed multitudes, and the disappearing bees and other pollinators that are essential to the entire plant kingdom. Around the World, we are beginning to see the effects of our callous and selfish choices… and still we argue over whether or not these are facts or mere fiction!

Just as ignorance is no excuse, denial will not save us from the withdrawal of Abundance whether one looks at the topic on a global or merely personal level. Just as there is no one right way to live, there is no right way to pray. No matter how one prays, this expression of gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation is vital to our well being, and through us the World. As always though, thoughts and the words that give our thoughts form must be completed with action… or all is for naught.

Most often I find that people just need someone to listen, a little time, and perhaps a little laughter that they weren’t able to find on their own. It usually isn’t about things or the money to buy things, even necessary things. Although it is wonderful to give to charities, food drives and the like, our time, our respect, a smile or sympathetic ear are priceless gifts that show we are willing to give the most valuable thing we have, ourselves, to those in need.

The Give-Away ceremony in Native tradition is an excellent example of how to show our gratitude, but examples of this selfless philosophy can be found in most any culture, and a majority of organized religions, if you take the time to look. “It is better to give than to receive” is a familiar saying, and Jesus warned against selfish behavior when he said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” More than that though, Buffalo shows us that through these lessons we may become conduits for Divine Will.

While Bison may sound like a totem filled with good, peaceful and fulfilling things, it is by no means an easy totem. It takes many years, many trials, many heartaches and tests to truly understand these lessons, and more importantly, live by them. Bison people tend to be very wise, wise beyond their years. It is more than likely that such people have had many past lives, in fact, it is almost a requirement as there is more to learn than most of us could ever hope to accomplish in a single lifetime. Being the fallible humans that we are, it is so easy to be pulled from the enlightened path that Bison shows us. Don’t think that our many errors and detours from this good spiritual road mean that we are unforgivable though. Creator’s love and forgiveness knows no bounds and we are always encouraged to pick ourselves up, dust off, and try again.

Part of the Bison’s lesson is the understanding that harmony, grace, abundance…all things come to he who waits. Sure, you could bull ahead and push through to your goal, but by doing so you may achieve your goal at a time when there is nothing really to be gained. Patience with our selves, others and the world in general is required. Sometimes the delays we encounter aren’t just a test, sometimes they are there to keep us safe or to fulfill our prayers when they will reap the most harvest. If we are surrendering to Divine will, then we should trust that all things are happening when and how they are meant to happen. It’s so easy to second-guess one’s self or get impatient, that is part of what makes this particular Teacher’s path so difficult to follow although it is well worth our while!

Death, literal or figurative, represents one of the greatest fears found in humanity. Why? Perhaps because, for all it’s pains and flaws, we truly love this physical world around us. Despite the many trials of living, we love the many sensations, emotions and experiences that come with living. Death is a natural part of life though, and most cultures believe that we move on to a better place if we have lived this life well. My family is mostly of Irish/Scottish descent, and wakes were large affairs whenever a family member passed.

Through this I learned that Death was a time to express your admiration for the one who passed on, to remember their life in all it’s glory and folly, and that basically funerals are for the living who are left behind even more than they are for the deceased. Bison teaches us that Death is the ultimate sacrifice and we should be willing to “drop the robe” of this physical life when Creator calls us home. This concept is most difficult for those left behind to come to terms with, and it seems like basic human nature to regret being left behind by those we love. In my experience, however painful the passing, Death is always hardest on those left behind.

My grandson, Zakary, was struck and killed by a vehicle August 2008. He would have been four in just 7 months. Before he and his mother left on this extensive trip with family and friends, we had three amazing days we shared with Zak. I could not understand at the time, or perhaps more likely, I simply refused to accept the many signs and messages before and during that weekend. In hindsight, it was abundantly clear from reading over my previous journal entries… that Zak understood much better than any of us exactly what was coming.

Sometimes, he was angry and resentful, and acted out as children will when crossed… and he quite clearly expressed his utter dissatisfaction at the thought of leaving on this long trip with a bold, “I am very angry at you.” Sometimes he was inexplicably anxious, or even more unusual for him, filled with a craving for tactile comfort; climbing into our laps, curling up with us in a lazy day spot, coming into a room just to hold a hand or caress a cheek… and a stream of hugs and kisses given without request. Many bright moments stand out against the shadows of my mind like stars… painful still in their intensity now though wondrous still, and oh so wise. I will forever carry the memory of Zak and I stepping into the rain from that porch as the Thunders rumbled a few hills over, flashing Lightning of pink, purple, pearl and blue.

Just as I will never forget Zak, who had never raised a hand to me nor truly had a cross word to say to me in all his short life, striking me with a stick longer than he was tall… in the middle of a treeless playground. He immediately burst into tears and soul-wrenching sobs as I told him that it was was alright, that I wasn’t hurt and I would always love him. I did not understand then. I simply was not ready to see and begin the process of Acceptance, although I understand now that Zak struck me because he needed to sever the innate bond between us before he crossed over.

Considering how extremely difficult it has been to cope with his loss during the long days since (grief is quite simply an unfamiliar creature to me) I am grateful, despite the many tears and aching heart, that he listened to that Voice Within so much that weekend. Had he not done certain things at that time, had he listened less to the Spirit Within, had he not spoken his then-cryptic messages and done all this in the face of such a sudden and physically overwhelming passing… so bravely, so faithfully, honestly… That connection may have proved too strong, the temptation of my spirit to follow after his may have called me away, or distracted me from this lifepath.

When it is my own time to cross over, I hope I can go with the same dignity & strength, the simple loving heart and innocent faith Zak displayed throughout. I do not know how long this grieving may last, although I suspect it will endure in some form until we meet again. I know that he will always hold a piece of my heart, just as a piece of him will live on with me. Zak taught me many things in our brief dance this time around. 

The importance of staying grounded and spiritually cleansed, the undeniable fact that we are all United, and that Divinity and Guidance are always there, we simply shape and clothe them with our thoughts and beliefs, Acceptance, listening to the Voice Within, opening one’s self to the will of Creator, being of service to others… all lessons of the amazing Bison, are some of the most powerful, and deeply moving lessons that Zak taught me. He led through example, another Buffalo trait, right up to the moment of his crossing.

In all things, including our passing from this world, we should consider the generations left behind us. This is a cycle of Honor that nourishes our People, past present and future, and is, in my opinion, something we all need to work on to varying degrees. If all we are able to leave future generations is a good example, than we have most certainly done our part. 

The all-encompassing compassion of Bison is a lesson to practice harmony with all things, to never take more than we need, to show gratitude for all that we receive, to honor our Ancestors, Selves and the Children of our future equally, and to give whatever we can at every opportunity as soon as we see the need. We truly do get out of life what we put into it. If we give whatever we have whenever we see another in need, if we give freely and joyously… than we will receive with the same joy and freedom when we are the ones in need.

Buffalo people know in their hearts that all things are sacred and should be treated with respect, sometimes they just forget to include themselves in this thinking! Sacrifice does not always mean what we think it does. Most often, it is our own pride that needs to be sacrificed. Wise as a Buffalo person may be, they are fallible too and often need to restrain themselves from “helping”. 

Knowing when to lend a wise or helping hand and when to allow another to learn at their own pace and in their own way is a Bison lesson. So is developing our Spiritual Awareness. Buffalo symbolizes our innate and sacred Unity with Creator and All Our Relations. Bison appears in cave drawings from Paleolithic times, and endures today even in the ever-dwindling prairies of North America. How does this quietly powerful Teacher appear in your life?

“Either hoeing the garden or washing bottles at the well, making soup for a sick man or listening to someone else’s child, studying books, stacking logs, writing to the local paper or pulling that stubborn lamb into our world, I hear the song which carried my neighbor from one thing to the next: Earth feeds us out of her empty bowl.” Peter Levitt

"When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled
with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep
and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.

Sing your death song and die like a hero going home."

Chief Tecumseh (Crouching Tiger) Shawnee Nation 1768-1813

(copyright free image)

Key Concepts: Strength, Survival, Self-Sacrifice,  Manifestation, Divine Will, Right Thought coupled with Right Action, Prayer, Faith, Spirit, Abundance, Gratitude, Honor, Duty, Unity, Strength, Harmony, connection with Earth and All Our Relations, Wisdom, Patience, Life, Generosity 

Associated with: White Buffalo Calf Woman, Tur, Veles, Belenus, Hathor, Bel, Creator, Anu, Mars, Apollo, Morrigan, Brighid, Krishna, Shiva, Lahar, Zeus, Dionysus, Boann, Clouds, Thunder

Potential Balancing Energies: Wolf, Coyote, Dog, Fox, Cougar, Raptors like Raven, Owl, Eagle or Hawk, Birds like Vulture, Crow, Meadowlark, Goldfinch, or Cow bird, Grizzly Bear, Fly, Ant, Bee, Earthworm, Plants like Grasses & Sedges (like Buffalo grass, Big Bluestem grass, Sage, Sweetgrass, Tobacco, Cedar, Trees like Cottonwood, Apple, or Willow, Amphibians like frogs and salamanders, Cattle, Goat, sheep, Bat, Prarie Dog, Mouse, Clouds, Thunder


  1. I will return to read this wisdom many times in the coming days. The buffalo has been friend to me since I was a young child, still is, and now thanks to you I better understand why.

    1. Thank you, Ruth, for your many beautiful comments on every site we share! So appreciated, Dearheart; very good to know when one of these "songs" has touched someone as deeply as these Teachers touch my own spirit. Love, love, love for you, sweet sister xo