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Return Of The Buffalo: Visions And Ceremonies

Return of the Buffalo: Visions and Ceremonies

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 herds number over 5000. Their presence continues to spark legal and ethical debates on how to manage them, ranging from restoring their ability to migrate and roam freely 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 number 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.

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.

This Post Has 17 Comments
  1. 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

  2. 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.

    1. Hi Bob, glad to know that the message is being spread to many others. The more people involved, the better!

      That vision is related to the intention during ceremonies we will be doing at the end of this month at A Walk on the Wild Side: Answering the Call of the Wild (see In short, the intention is to enable healing of the earth and the people by bringing the bison back to the land. Where the bison walk abundance follows and the land and people are healed.

      And here is a link to two other articles you might find insightful:

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

        1. Thanks for the website link – I would love to visit this preserve. This reminds me of a book you may be familiar with, “Buffalo Commons” by Frank & Deborah Popper. I am also intrigued by your work, as I have a long standing fascination with Shamanic tradition, and particularly animals as spirit guides. Don’t know if you engage in any long distance consultations, but I would be interested in speaking with you sometime.

          1. I have not read the book you mention, will look it up. One that I have read and which is helping shape my work and ceremonies is American Buffalo reviewed in Spirit’s Reading List, Part 1:

            Another is American Bison: A Natural History by Dale F. Lott, yet to be reviewed in the blog post series.

            Yes, I do offer healing/mentoring sessions by phone. If interested you can visit my Sessions page for details and FAQ:

            I will be offering teleclasses in the coming months which may also be of interest. If you would like to receive notice you may wish to sign up for our newsletter.

            Best wishes, Rose

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