Susan Eirich, founder of Earthfire Institute, and I decided that the journey that we had shared needed to be told by both of us, together. Here are our stories of the search for a name for the Little White Buffalo Calf.
Wisdom of the Bison Elders
Have the Softness, Yet Be the Strength
by Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing
When Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center was gifted a white buffalo calf by a Native American retreat participant they felt a great responsibility to honor and protect her.
The white buffalo has long been sacred to the Lakota as well as other Plains tribes, such as the Kiowa, Blackfeet, Apache, Cheyenne, Hidatsa, and Pawnee. Many generations ago White Buffalo Calf Woman came to the Lakota people at a time when they were in conflict, and gifted the people with teachings on how to walk on Mother Earth in a sacred manner. The message of white buffalo is one of unity—that all living beings are linked and interdependent—coincidentally, the mission of both Earthfire Institute and Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing. And at this time in our planet’s history it is a message that we all need to hear.
In many traditions naming is associated with power, identity, and promise, and choosing is a serious process. Earthfire Institute said they wished to honor both the gift and the little calf, so I volunteered my services to take Susan Eirich and Jean Simpson on a shamanic journey for guidance for a name.
While conducting the journey I received some information that took me by surprise since usually (for me) it is only the people I guide that have an experience. The Bison Elders told me that the little calf “was the hope of a nation,” but also said that was not her name. Susan and Jean received some insights into the calf’s purpose and how to raise her, but no name.
We decided to open the process up to the worldwide community, and on September 28, 2012 over 25 people from across the U.S. and overseas gathered together in what may be the first ever telecall designed to find a name for a white buffalo calf through the power of a shamanic journey. Truly the blending of old and new ways!
Attendees expressed joy in what they received and experienced on their journeys, and offered a wealth of insights. Over several days the information was compiled into a lengthy document.
In hopes of assisting Susan and Jean I opened my mesa and asked for further guidance. I asked to be shown which words were important to choosing a name for the calf, and was guided to “Have the softness, yet be the strength,” and the image of a bouquet of many flowers.
While I was trying to conceive of what was soft yet strong, a butterfly came and sat on my right knee (I was outside in my garden). I looked at it and immediately knew it was a mardon skipper (I have no idea how I knew that). I asked if there was a message, and received a yes, and the image of it pollinating wildflowers.
So I went on yet another shamanic journey for guidance. I sat with the Bison Elders (they were huge), and the little white buffalo calf was between us. They blew their breath softly on her, like a blessing, yet I also felt that they were “tasting” her essence. I saw images of their hooves on the earth/prairie, and then they turned away and were gone.
I still was not clear on a name, so I asked the little calf what she wanted to be called and saw a bouquet of many different kinds of flowers, and I was shown what at first I thought was a flowering meadow, but when it was repeated I realized I was looking at a prairie in full bloom.
After a long sequence of yes/no questions I received confirmation that the Bison Elders and little calf liked the name “Prairie Lily,” which was one of her aspects.
Since I am from the East coast I did not even know if that was a real flower, so I went online. Here is what I discovered about the Prairie Lily, or Wood Lily as it is also called.
“Little remains of the tallgrass prairies that blanketed millions of acres of America’s heartland just 170 years ago. These prairies were the lush expressions of a vast grassland complex that ranged from the Gulf of Mexico north into Canada. Here were seas of grass sometimes taller than a horse and rider, carpets of wildflowers, and black loamy soil that seemed endless.”
And this one had photos: “Old fields, open meadows and weedy roadsides are common but native prairies are not. These are flowers that are commonly found in remnant native prairies in Minnesota, prairies that now exist much as they did 200 or more years ago, before the time of settlement by pioneers and farmers.”
Then I got really curious and looked up the skipper butterflies found in the Pacific Northwest and almost fell out of my chair. On my recent trip to Glacier National Park one of the things I was clearly shown by Spirit and the Bison Elders is that we need to bring the buffalo herds back not only to restore the prairie grasslands but also heal ourselves, so my small butterfly visitor had a really big message:
“The Xerces Society has worked extensively on a handful of butterflies that inhabit prairies of the Pacific Northwest—namely the mardon skipper, the island marble and taylor’s checkerspot. These species are nearing extinction because less than one percent of their prairie habitat still remains. Agricultural and urban development, encroachment of trees, and spread of invasive plants all threaten the native grasslands in which these butterflies are found. In addition, pesticide use, recreational activities and grazing pose a direct threat to the butterflies themselves.”
As I sat back to try and digest all of this, I reflected on the many pages of information and names from the group journey and—in typical Rose-fashion—decided I needed to have it out with Spirit and the Bison Elders. Why had we needed to go to all of that trouble to find a name when they could have just given us one in the first place?
As usual, they were patient with me. The Bison Elders explained that they are simple People, closely connected to the land. They chose a name that reflects their place in the web of life. The Prairie Lily cannot thrive outside of the unique ecosystem it is part of and neither can the buffalo. They are interconnected.
The Bison Elders further explained that by gathering the group together with a spiritual focus the little white buffalo calf was already beginning her work of creating community and awareness—and that the process was important—the end result less so. There was no one “right name.”
The Bison Elders said that many of the names obtained on the group journey were reflections of who the little white buffalo calf was as well as all that she was connected to (wind, sun, moon, stars, flowers, etc.), and that a single name could neither encompass all of her being nor define her purpose.
So this little white buffalo calf received a bouquet of names wrapped up with heartfelt good wishes from many wonderful people around the world; a bouquet presented with love—the sweetest gift of all.
Welcome to Nima, Whisper on the Wind
Nima means eternal. Translation: Eternal Whisper on the wind
by Susan Eirich, founder of Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center
We have been meditating on a name for the little white buffalo calf since she arrived, with the deep, inspirational and caring input of many of you from around the world. There were numerous beautiful meaningful names and some fascinating connections. For example several of you gave a name with Rose in it, and one came up with Rosebud. Rosebud was the name of the buffalo we lost, Bluebell’s companion, who left poor Bluebell bereft—until now. Moonbeam came up twice. Moonbeam was one of the seven founding wolves of Earthfire, an incredible creature of light and air and vitality. One of you heard Bluebell say the baby calf was Rosebud come back and it didn’t matter what we named her, because it was Rosebud come back.
Rose and Jean and I spent time together during the recent A Walk on the Wild Side retreat, thinking and feeling and visioning our way through the wonderful names you all suggested. Several of you mentioned variations with the name “Whisper” in it. Unity and Hope came up. Medicine Lamp, Great Heart, Purity, Mystic Breath, Meadow, and She Who Walks in Light were some of the other lovely names. Rose consulted the Bison Elders who liked Prairie Lily. For now, to anyone who meets her—she is no lily! She is wild, strong, rambunctious, full of life and determination. And she is definitely of and from the Earth. In the Native tradition one can have several names during a lifetime. Perhaps she will grow into that name. Bluebell certainly was a rambunctious bison – now she is a gentle loving, blooming, teaching soul. Right now the little calf is a baby, learning. But even now there is something eternal about her and what she brings we suspect will stay with her, no matter what her age; an essence of eternal hope and spirit presence for unity and peace.
Shortly after she arrived we held a two-week intensive retreat here with three talented student artists from the California Institute of the Arts. One was Saba, a sensitive musician from Iran. Shy, he left us a note not to be opened until he was gone. It said, “For the past two weeks I’ve been thinking of a name for the white buffalo calf and I came up with a suggestion: “Nima. Nima means eternal.” We also resonated with the belief of Chief Arvol Looking Horse that in these critical times the white buffalo calf, who according to traditional belief came to bring wisdom to tribes fighting over resources at the time, now needs to represent all people, and bring the way for all fighting “tribes” on earth to live in harmony. She is a gift for all peoples.
In Persian, words carry many meanings. Other translations of “Nima” include “Generosity and Mercy,” “The Elder,” “Baby,” “Half Moon,” “Rainbow” and “The Chosen Archer.” These are fine additional resonances to her name. But she also is a whisper of hope and wisdom, unity and light, flower of the prairie. All those essences might be heard if we listen very carefully to the wind carrying her name…Nima, Whisper on the Wind.
Nima, Whisper on the Wind was presented to the spirits and the four directions in Ceremony with Rose on October 1, 2012. Bluebell came over to approve and actively participate.
Stay tuned for our next post on the Naming Ceremony for Nima.
For information about ongoing efforts to restore the bison and the prairie visit American Prairie Reserve.
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©2012 Rose De Dan. All Rights Reserved. www.reikishamanic.com
Think Outside the Cage
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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