Black Elk, Oglala Sioux and Spiritual Leader
(1863 – 1950)
“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Taka (the Great Spirit), and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this. The second peace is that which is made between two individuals, and the third is that which is made between two nations. But above all you should understand that there can never be peace between nations until there is known that true peace, which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.”
The Divine Feminine in the Native Tradition
Promise of White Buffalo Calf Woman
3rd Rare White Buffalo Born on Wisconsin Farm
Fri Nov 23 14:19:00 2007
Many gems of wisdom are contained in the ancient traditions of the Native Peoples. “They believe that all living and non-living things come from the Creator and are, therefore, connected. Native beliefs stress that it is important to maintain a balance among all things in nature and to maintain the balance, people must treat one another, plants, animals, and the land with respect. Native People show respect by offering thanks for the gifts that they receive from nature with prayers, songs, dances and offerings. They also work to maintain balance within their nations, communities and families by valuing one another’s roles. Elders have always been valued for their wisdom.
Great reverence for Great Spirit, Father Sky and Great Spirit Mother, Mother Earth, is at the heart of all Native Traditions. “When men and women arose in the morning they thanked the Master of Life that they were alive for another day.” In the words of Emily Benedek, Unte Reader, “The Navajos are a deeply religious people. They do not set aside Saturday or Sundays to tend to spiritual matters, but attend to them full time.”
White Deer of Autumn states in ‘The Native American Book of Life,’ that Indian children were taught that Sky is Father and Earth is Mother and that the Great Mystery is neither male nor female, but aspects of both. Sky and Earth – one cannot flourish without the other. Each has a separate role, but each is equal to the other.
Flat Iron, an Oglala Sioux Chief said, “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.”
The belief in the sacred circle as expressed by Black Elk also connects to the Great Spirit: “You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round…The Sky is round, and I have heard the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.”
According to Paula Gunn Allen, the American Indian writer and mystic, the Native Americans’ deep awareness of the connection to Mother Earth is the basic insight from which their spirituality emanates. She writes:
“We are the land. To the best of my understanding, that is the fundamental idea that permeates American Indian life; the land (Mother) and the people (mothers) are the same. As Luther Standing Bear has said of his Lakota people, `We are of the soil and the soil is of us.’ The earth is the source and being of the people and we are equally the being of the earth. The land is not really a place separate from ourselves, where we act out the drama of our isolate destinies. . . The earth is not mere source of survival, distant from the creatures it nourishes and from the spirit that breathes in us, nor is it to be considered an inert resource on which we draw in order to keep our ideological self functioning. . . Rather for the American Indians . . . the earth is being, as all creatures are also being: aware, palpable, intelligent, alive.” 
In archaeologist Marija Gimbuta’s comments on various symbolic forms taken by the Mother Goddess in ancient times, she observes that, “The Mother Goddess takes many forms whether in her appearance as human female or in such diverse forms as a water bird, snake, owl, toad, bear (and probably as she-bison in the Upper Paleolithic).”
Indeed, it is in the initial form of ‘she-bison’ that one particularly awesome, significant gem of wisdom concerning the appearance to the Lakota Sioux 2000 years ago in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota of White Buffalo Calf Woman, was immortalized through Native oral tradition. With that brief, powerful four-day incarnation many centuries ago, White Buffalo Calf Woman taught the people of the land many sacred things such as the ‘right way to pray, the right words and the right gestures’, or the highly spiritually relevant seven sacred ceremonies.
Through the vehicle of stories, music, dance, art, sacred symbols and ceremonies, the dharma or righteousness of the Native Peoples would be enhanced, thereby resulting in the spiritual manifestation of such dharmic qualities as love, joy, peace, pure relationships and profound inner awareness of the Great Mystery: Father Sky/Great Spirit, and Mother Earth/Great Spirit Mother. The story of White Buffalo Calf Woman prominently featured the promise of her eventual reappearance, with the birth of a white buffalo calf heralding her imminent return for the express purpose of bringing about spiritual harmony and balance in the world.