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Return of the Buffalo: Visions and Ceremonies

Bluebell, ©Earthfire Institute 2010

Bluebell, ©Earthfire Institute 2010

Last year, on my way to the very first A Walk on the Wild Side: Answering the Call of the Wild at Earthfire Institute, I had a vision.

I was admiring the muted colors of the Montana landscape as it slid by, mile after mile. There was the occasional glimpse of livestock amidst fences and rocky buttes, as well as shrubby trees amidst the grasslands.

Then, all at once, everything I had been seeing disappeared. In its place was a vast herd of bison, covering the land, and off to the side, an abundance of pronghorn antelope. So many individuals—it seemed as though the earth itself were moving.

And then, just as suddenly, I was seeing the original landscape again, but with a different perspective. In contrast to the abundance of life in the vision that had filled the plain, without limit as far as I could see—now the land felt barren and I could feel the fences that divided properties and retained livestock as boundaries that restricted the freedom of wildlife and the flow of energy.

My soul wept for what was lost, and I realized that I had somehow slipped into a time that once was—a time when the buffalo and pronghorn roamed freely.

A time when the native peoples lived in harmony with the land and the animals before the incursion of the white settlers whose desire for land ultimately spelled the demise of the buffalo and the indigenous tribes that depended upon them.

And that vision stuck with me during our incredible adventure and meeting with the animals at Earthfire Institute. Most especially when we met Bluebell, the buffalo, up close and personal.

Her energy was incredibly rich and powerful in a way I can’t fully describe. All I can say is that one’s body leaned toward her perhaps in awareness, on a deeper level, of the connection that the tribes had with the vast herds that once roamed this land. And the feeling was mutual. Bluebell no longer had other buffalo companions, and had taken to adopting people as her new herd.

Over the year following I would return again to the vision and to the feeling I had when in Bluebell’s presence.

Gradually I became aware of a pull to visit Yellowstone, our nation’s first national park and a site of great importance to the buffalo, and one that would eventually reveal itself as important to this year’s ceremonies at A Walk on the Wild Side.

As I researched the history of bison I felt drawn to purchase a leather bracelet decorated with a buffalo head nickel, which I have worn every day since. And I was drawn into a Native American store by an energy which turned out to be the jawbone of a bison. The jawbone joined a grouping of other bison-related items on my bookshelf prompting me to affectionately refer to the area as “The Buffalo Altar.”

More research confirmed that the near extermination of the buffalo in this country in the 1800’s was linked with our government’s desire to eliminate the perceived Indian threat. The solution? Kill a tribe’s food source and you eradicated an entire people and a way of life.

And it almost succeeded. Here is an excerpt from the white paper Bison Without Borders ~ Stopping the Senseless Slaughter of America’s Last Wild Bison, a joint effort by Western Watersheds Project and Buffalo Field Campaign :

The Yellowstone National Park Ecosystem is home to the last wild and ‘free roaming’ buffalo in the world, a universally cherished and unnecessarily imperiled remnant of a species that once dominated the North American landscape. Between 1870 and 1880 more than 10 million buffalo were slaughtered in a final push to force Native Americans onto reservations. A person could walk a hundred miles along the Santa Fe Railway west of Fort Dodge, Kansas hopscotching the dead carcasses at that time, prompting U.S. Army Colonel Richard Dodge to write in 1873 that “the air was foul with sickening stench, and the vast plain, which only a short twelvemonth before teemed with animal life, was a dead, solitary, putrid desert.”—Dodge, Richard Irving and William Blackmore, “The Plains of the Great West and Their Inhabitants,” G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1876.

And by 1902 only 23 wild buffalo remained in Yellowstone National Park. Today the herd numbers about 4,000, and it is estimated that the land can only support about 2,000—a crisis that has sparked legal and ethical debates as a search for solutions ranges from restoring free-range to the herds to culling by slaughter.

And suddenly, in the midst of immersion in research, it all fell into place. I understood what Spirit wanted; we were to incorporate the relationship between the people and the land as represented by the Native American people and the buffalo or American bison on the American nickel. By incorporating it into our ceremonies with native wildlife at Earthfire Institute and Yellowstone National Park we could assist in rebuilding the bridge and healing the rift between people and animals that grows wider with each passing day.

With that concept in mind I went on the internet and easily located a quantity of buffalo nickels while Debbie Noyes located a supply of the new quarters which feature a buffalo at Yellowstone on the back. Both sets of coins have now joined the other energetic items on “The Buffalo Altar.”

These coins (and the Altar) will travel with us on our journey to Yellowstone and Earthfire, and will be included in all ceremonies that take place at either location.

After the event each participant in A Walk on the Wild Side: Answering the Call of the Wild will receive one of each coin to place on their own altar or include with their own sacred objects/allies, thereby continuing the benefits in their lives and the mission of reconnecting people with the natural world.

>>>>>>>>>

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©2011 Rose De Dan. All Rights Reserved. www.reikishamanic.com

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Think Outside the Cage
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About Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing:

Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is a mesa carrier in the Peruvian shamanic tradition. In addition she is also a Reiki Master Teacher, animal communicator, author of the acclaimed book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism, and creator of Animal and Reiki Art. As an animal shaman, she views her role as a healer as one of building bridges between people and animals, and of empowering them to reconnect with Pachamama, Mother Earth.

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16 comments to Return of the Buffalo: Visions and Ceremonies

  • […] articles about the event and animals at Earthfire Institute: In Return of the Buffalo: Visions and Ceremonies explores the relationship of Buffalo with the People and the Land and how everyone can participate […]

  • Hi Rose..
    I felt a deep resonation with your article above. As someone who runs a great deal of shamanic energy, the natural world has always been sacred to me. As time has progressed though, esp. in the last few years, I’ve felt a deepening connection to it and an indisputable awaremess that the vibration of it is growing higher in an attempt to connect even more profoundly with more people. I esp. feel the power of the trees & animals and find communicating with them becoming easier almost by the day. Many of us are being pushed by something beyond ourselves to offer even more protection & create more understanding and connection. Thankyou for all your efforts as you fulfill your purpose here.
    In Light,
    Georgia Cammann

  • […] ceremonies conducted throughout the weekend evolved as a result of a shamanic vision explored in Return of the Buffalo: Visions and Ceremonies. I am currently on the road, traveling back from the event, but wanted to share a little about the […]

  • […] Return of the Buffalo: Visions and Ceremonies explores the ancient relationship of Bison with the People and the Land and their role in A Walk on the Wild Side. […]

  • […] article was eerily reflective of our mission in Yellowstone (see Return of the Buffalo: Visions and Ceremonies). The Bison Elders have called us to ceremony to repair our connections with ourselves, the land […]

  • Your post on the Buffalo herds across the land captures almost exactly a vision I experienced about a week ago – I don’t know that I have ever had any kind of vision, and I was searching for meaning related to this one, when I found your blog. I am convinced I was peering back into another time, and have since had a dream of a running Buffalo herd on my property crossing a creek. I experienced the same sequence you describe – flying over a prairie in Texas cut up by fences and punctured by gas wells, then seeing the same landscape covered in immense herds of Buffalo grazing among the scattered oaks. I would be interested in any meaning or insight you have been able to draw from your experience.

  • You are welcome, but believe me, it was not my insight. I have had a lot of guidance from the Bison Elders who have sent me on a very profound journey, some of which I hope to be able to share after the event concludes.

  • I also had a vision years ago. I was a Native American cheif watching our bison being detsroyed senselessly in a final effort to control my people. The saddness I felt was at a soul level and I knew things would never again be the same. More recently since singing up to be part of the Wildfire trip this year, I had another vision as a bison from the herd in that time of tragedy. Again, I felt the overwhelming sadness as I watched my bison family being systematically decimated & detroyed and I fully understood the price that would be payed through those actions. It made me realize even more fully what has been pointed out to me many times since I commited to go on this trip this year… we are literally ALL one regardless of our form in each life and we often cross from animal & other forms in the natural world form to human throught our karmic lives. What we do to the “least” of us truly happens to us all.

    • I also felt deep sadness at the time of the vision, but have started to feel a sense of positive energy upon further reflection, and the feedback from the folks on this blog. At first, I was reading the vision of a healthy Earth as a glimpse of what was – now I am beginning to think of it as what will be again. Despite the great changes that will be required to make this so, our planet has immense powers of rejuvenation that are hard to scale into human perspective. Despite the bleak outlook immediately ahead, I am focusing on anything I can do to help heal the Earth, even on a very small scale at times. One of the best things I have seen happen among land stewards is so called benign neglect, where land is removed from grazing, plowing, etc. and just left to heal. The other is folks like yourself continuing to beleive in a better way, and acting accordingly. Every bit of positive energy helps tip the balance.

  • […] has been a very important part of A Walk on the Walk Side: Answering the Call of the Wild (see Return of the Buffalo: Visions and Ceremonies) from the beginning. And this year was no exception with the central theme being the buffalo, their […]

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