When I first began my independent study of theology, I found Native Spirituality deeply interesting and profound, at the same time. Having been born of the Judeo – Christian tradition, Christianity and its’ origins in the Old Testament were of importance to me too. I was therefore especially excited to read about Black Elk and the Sacred Pipe. So many people in the Western Hemisphere mistake difference for inferirority. There seems to be a collective desire to be all that is good and superior, without a search for God or what is found in the invisible. People then mistakenly identify with superficial trappings to define “whatsoever is good”. I have discovered that in each religion, race or group indentity, there is that which is both sacred and profane. Very much in the same way a knife can be a tool yet a weapon, there is propensity for good and evil in every group and everyone.
Each group, from the Ancient Egyptians, where we can trace some of the earliest manifestations of religion, to the Hebrews, and equally the Natives from around the world; we can find common elements of the divine. Here we see a distinct similarity especially between Ancient Egyptian culture and Native Indian practices, one might venture to say that Christianity too has had the Sun at its apex. The way I see it any clear day there it is, at its zenith, at noon. This is what ancient civilizations must have felt too. I’m assuming this is why we have the Egyptian worship of the Sun. In the middle of
the fourteenth century BC, Pharoah. Ankenaten closed all temples dedicated to
other Gods, in favor of the worship of the solar disk. This makes me see the similarity or progression of religion, from its earliest birthplace, both because it started with many Gods and then resulted in monotheism. It serves as a general marker for the similar progression from polytheist practices to the monotheism of the Judeo Christian God who admonishes the devout not “to put false idols before (Him)”. We also have the Native Indian tradition which places such importance on the Sun that in ceremonial dances and such , the tradition is to turn in the direction the Sun takes across the sky, they believe this to be sacred. I agree, although it never occurred to me before. Going ‘backward’ is a completion of a cycle. It is like graduation and going back over what has been learned in order to move onward. The cycle of placing the Sun’s progression, let alone the Sun, of such importance is vital to our understanding of the Native tradition. It makes me admire Native ideals with regards to the thunder gods and the like, because I believe God put us on this Earth alongside with Nature, which has a life and energy of its own. I believe it is true that there are signs and wonders in the way light falls and a genius in the way it is then interpreted. Christians believe in “ashes to ashes dust to dust”, the idea of going counterclockwise, and back to the Earth is identical. Worshiping the Sun, at the very least, for what it can teach us about cycles of life, death and dying is powerful. I like this
because it’s like something counterclocksise,
taking us back to our birthplace and beyond. And because the Sun always rises, I find a life lesson here in that as permanent as the Sun is in the sky, a new day will always dawn as well as die.
Everything seems to have a place and a place for everything under the Sun. Finally, there is the Judeo – Christian tradition. A civilization is nothing without language, and the use of the term Son, as it is meant to be understood is as in the son of God. But, I feel, in a manner that language is wont to do, it morphs and takes on a life of its own. For example, the word myth in ancient Egypt and Greece, is meant to be indicative of an epic religious retelling of a story, like the story of Creation; in this sense, a myth is meant to explain life. In modern times, at least in the Western hemisphere, the term has taken on the meaning of a fable. The Bible/ Torah and Native traditions as well as all religions have myths. In my opinion, none of them are meant to be taken literally, all parables are meant to instruct. This is true of both White Buffalo Woman’s myth is as well as the story of coming of the Christ. Now I believe they both came but much of what transpired, happened perhaps in spirit and perhaps was only best explained in myth. The two stories also draw on the similar idea of a Second Coming with the ultimate goal of world peace.
Natives believe in the ideal of the black/blue path versus the red path and Judeo Christians believe in the straight and narrow versus the road to hell paved with good
every language there are homonyms, words that sound alike but are different, in my humble opinion these words are clearly of the same source and of the same meaning. Son and Sun. Less different than they appear and so obvious it may be overlooked.
Intentions; these are the same ideals, only expressed differently. These are the flip sides of the same coin. Both White Buffalo Woman and Jesus came to save the earth, or at least to bring peace amongst diverse nations. And it is said that God appears to people however He finds they are most receptive to Him. I think both White Buffalo Woman and Jesus are the same, appearing in some cases even as a beggar whom the Bible advises us to provide with care, suggesting it could be Christ in disguise and I believe White Buffalo Woman might appear to be a beggar, to someone of another faith.
A similarity lies in the female deity worship. White Buffalo Woman being just one and Ishtar, known by many other names is another. In Babylonia she is Ishtar in Egypt she was known as the great and powerful Isis, she may have known as Venus in Greece. She plays the role of fertility Goddess in all her manifestations and is considered the all powerful Queen of the Heavens. In Native traditions the turtle carries the woes of the world on her back. The turtle, being a creature of water and the element of water being feeling in nature, makes this mythic animal – goddess a female. She is Mother Earth a caring, nurturing protective divine feminine deity.
All Nations are intended to live under the Sun. The message all religions bring are peace, acceptance and brotherly love. I think the more archaic religions professed war and we are still progressing to a place of peace between nations, in spite of years of trying to get to this point. Black Elk’s telling of the Sacred Pipe is important especially because Natives, as the name suggests, should have the most right to fight for the land we have all come to inhabit. Yet their teachings are to share the land as well as share the peace pipe. I propose that when ancient Egyptians sought to worship one god it was a consciousness of unity that was in its first bloom. I believe life is full of symbolism, where Egyptians worshipped the Sun, as did Natives in their own right and Christians the Son of God; there has come a time where we unite in our idea of what the Sun truly is. And through the collective myths we have found it: one God or Goddess, however He or She appears to us. Like the cycles of the Sun from dawn to dusk as it traverses the sky, we find religion from its birthplace becoming something by which all can be saved.