A long ago time when respect for the earth meant more.
|The Earth Child
During the time when all mankind lived in harmony with their environment, there existed groups of Nations, whose cultures were based on respect for Mother Earth and the power of nature. Some Nations maintained vast agricultural communities and the farmers enjoyed the fruits of the earth. Others followed the great herds across vast prairies, gathering foods and medicinal herbs and plants as they went, and still others who lived and hunted in the abundance of the boreal forest.
There was a commonality to all Nations, and it was a strong and abiding belief in a Creator, called the Great Spirit or Great Mystery, and from this God came all things. Mother Earth provided all that man needed to survive and prosper, as part of the natural scheme of the life of all creation. Life in every form was held in great respect, based on the recognition of the inter-connectedness of man, animals, plants, birds, wind, water, air and sun. Man did not see himself as the dominant force in life but as one of many children the Creator put on earth.
Farmers respected and gave thanks for the gifts they took from Mother Earth, Hunters made offerings to the spirits of the animals they harvested, and Gatherers placed gifts for each plant they picked. The balance of life depended on the harmony of the inter-dependence, and man recognized these powers as Sacred.
The Sun’s gift is the light energy of life, without which no life can survive. The Thunderspirit’s gift is water, the blood of Mother Earth and all who dwell upon her. Grandfather Four Wind’s gift is the very air we breathe. The fourth gift is our Mother Earth and all who live upon her, and it is upon her, our being, our Spirit, our part of living the harmony with free will depends. There was harmony between man and woman, this too was necessary, and as with all the Creators children, the future of mankind depended on this harmony.
Nature can be hard and part of her perfection is change. There will always be years of flood, years of drought and years of plague, and like life itself, all things come to an end, both the good and the bad. The reminder to man of the changing nature of earth were the ice-mountains of the north, that made their way south only to retreat again to their home in the north.
Leadership of the Nations was based on accomplishment, knowledge and a willingness to care for the Nation as a whole. There was no need for tax collectors, sharing was fundamental to life itself. No one wants a full belly if their neighbor starves. Within this culture of sharing and caring, reverence is given to those closest to birth or death. Children are a gift from the Creator, to be nurtured and taught, for they are the future of the Nation, and the old, a source of knowledge, and most importantly, within them rest wisdom and understanding, to be passed on before they return home to the Creator.
Two worlds, separate but inter-connected, live within the one; the spiritual and the temporal. How could it not be so, all living things have a spirit, and where would these spirits go otherwise? The veil between the two worlds is sometimes thin enough, for those on either side who dedicate themselves to such things, to traverse.
The Great Spirit gave man something he did not give his other children; free will, the ability to make choices. Only man has the privilege of choosing how to live within these worlds and it is this choice that determines whether we live a good life, in harmony with all around us. Evil springs forth when man makes bad choices, and from those negative forces nature itself is kept in balance. It is the strength of keeping the four aspects of our being in balance that leads to living a good life, and weakness in any aspect, leads to poor choices and ultimately disaster.
Man’s understanding of himself evolved, to recognize his four aspects, his mind, his body, his spirit and his emotions, each distinctly separate parts. Each human on his journey through life had to learn to discipline these parts to live in harmony within him or her.
Our story takes place during this time of balance, when civil and martial courage were both respected and valued, and sharing and caring prized above all else. The time when man chose to know and understand that life is harmony and balance within the Great Mystery and the two worlds, even to this day, still exist around us.
The events recorded in the tipi and fasting lodges are real. Other events woven through the story are also true and told to me by men and women who even in this modern age, strive to live a life in harmony with Mother Earth, and cling to their belief in the power of the old ceremonies; the Pipe ceremony, the Sweat Lodge, the Fasting Lodge and the Sundance Lodge.