On my way to the very first A Walk on the Wild Side: Answering the Call of the Wild at Earthfire Institute in 2010, 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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A WILD WAY TO HEAL
Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.
Her book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.