The conclusion of last October’s A Walk on the Wild Side ceremonies with the animals and people at Earthfire Institute was followed by a very long day of travel. On our way to the event Stacey and I had carried the Buffalo Blanket in ceremony to all the wildlife of Yellowstone National Park so that they could put their prayers into it. After the ceremonies we brought the Blanket back to them, completing the circle. It was an incredible day of experiences.
Exhausted, we rolled into Bozeman, Montana past midnight and discovered that our eco-hotel was seriously ultra-modern. A definite contrast to the somewhat rugged shamanic life we had been leading.
I woke up the next morning feeling somewhat grumpy from all the travel, lack of sleep, and a possible energy hangover from some very powerful ceremonies.
Our intention for the day was to head directly back to Seattle, but as we cruised the highway a sign for Madison Buffalo Jump State Park suddenly called to both Stacey and I. Over the past five years of travel to the event it was a place that I had avoided going. I had no idea why it was suddenly so important, but the call was clear.
It was only seven miles to the park, but the last few miles on a gravel/dirt road seemed much longer to my sorely abused neck and back, however taking it slow enabled us to see the beauty of the land and animals more fully.
As we rounded a curve in the road I saw the cliffs and knew that I was looking at the dreaded Buffalo Jump. My imagination filled in all the gory details of large herds of buffalo being stampeded off the cliffs to their death on the rocks below by the indigenous people who once lived here, and I mentally flinched. I wondered why I was being guided to visit this place—was there sadness to be cleared?
When we arrived in the parking area I asked if I was supposed to bring the Buffalo Blanket with me. I was told no, instead the Blanket would bless the tobacco which I was then to offer in gratitude to the Buffalo People.
Carrying the blessed organic tobacco I walked slowly up the dirt trail toward the cliffs and the pavilion.
All around was great beauty in the curve of the hills, towering cliffs, and the late summer muted tones of the grasses and sagebrush. In the persistent gusts of wind the tawny grasses swayed and danced, and a hawk soared and dipped as he hunted.
A grasshopper leapt nearby and suddenly a memory surfaced—perhaps carried to me by the winds—of a herd of buffalo moving across the land stirring up grasshoppers as they walked.
I felt myself dropping into a different space. My footsteps became more like the cadence of buffalo hooves. Placing my feet deliberately, I moved with steady determination up the incline toward the pavilion.
When I reached it I felt called to read about the history of the place, the Native people and the buffalo.
Sadness welled up as I read how the tribes would trick the buffalo into leaping off the cliff, my thoughts focused on how many buffalo died at one time. But when I read that the buffalo jump fell out of use roughly 200 years ago due to the horse becoming part of Native American culture, I realized that it was my issue—not sadness from the buffalo. To the Buffalo People it was simply the way that life was back then. Until the horse came life was much harder, and the tribes had to harvest when they could if they were to survive winter.
I learned about the sacred rituals before the hunt, and how the People used all of the buffalo. They not only honored them, they depended on them for most of the aspects of their lives. The human People and the Buffalo People were intertwined.
My sadness released, I sat down to take the area in. From all directions I heard the calls of many ravens.
Suddenly, it felt like time. I gave some of the sacred tobacco to Stacey and stepped to a place at the edge of the hill. The moment I placed my feet where my guides indicated I started to sway. Since I was standing at the very edge of the hill and did not want to be rolling down it, I asked to have the energy flowing through me to smooth out a bit. A sense of calm descended.
I took a pinch of tobacco and held it to my heart, and let my feelings of gratitude for the Buffalo People flow into it; gratitude for who they are and how much they still offer us—a simple prayer, but definitely heartfelt.
While engaged in prayer I heard the voices of two ravens, and as I looked up I saw that the pair were flying straight toward us. As I released the tobacco prayer to the Winds the ravens were directly overhead—still vocalizing as they flew past me. I watched them until they disappeared from sight—it felt like the ravens carried the Buffalo Prayers with them on the winds to spread far and near. In that moment I felt incredibly peaceful and connected to All That Is.
Suspended in a place of timelessness, I watched shadows cast by clouds shifted by the winds sweep across the hills and valleys and marveled at the beauty. I shared what I was seeing with Stacey. At the exact moment that I finished speaking the area I had been watching was cast into shadow, and the clouds opened directly above us—bathing us in a sunlight blessing. I have no words for that moment, only a strong sense of its sacredness. It is a moment I shall always remember.
Softly I stepped back from the edge of the hill. Both Stacey and I were quiet, almost meditative.
Suddenly a small dark shape with a tail darted across the path in front of me and dove into a small bush. As I quietly watched I saw a few grasses sway back and forth as what I thought might be a small rodent gathered seeds. I moved to where I could get a better look. When he finally emerged and darted back the way he had come I saw it was Little Mouse who we call upon in the South direction during morning tobacco prayers. I felt very honored to have seen him.
I sat on the ground by a trail and just took it all in.
I watched a ladybug dance and sway on a grass stem as it searched for food.
A bird flew up from the sagebrush to my right and suddenly I felt a wisp of a Native American story about that particular species touch my consciousness. I could not tell if it was a fleeting memory of my own or the ghosts of stories from the native tribes who once walked these lands carried by the winds. It felt like the land was remembering the People and the Buffalo People.
As I sat in stillness listening, I could feel the memories and almost see the long-ago tribes camped in the distance. There was no sense of sadness, just peace. To the Buffalo People this was simply how it was.
During this time Stacey was having her own experience with a grasshopper who suddenly appeared at her side. Facing the same direction they sat together in harmony, and simply were.
Afterward, as I walked back to the parking area, I reflected on the difference in energy between the intense beauty and peace of the landscape versus the chaos of the Buffalo Jam the day before near West Yellowstone—chaos that arose from the people, not the buffalo. The buffalo were serene, calm and patient even in the midst of many cars filled with people wanting to get somewhere—perhaps anywhere but right where they were right now. In that situation it seemed the buffalo had weathered the transition to the modern world much better than the humans.
As I listened to the lowing sounds of the domesticated cattle outside the park boundaries being herded by ranch dogs, I also noticed the fences that divided the land where once the buffalo and the people roamed freely. Yet I felt no sadness, only peace. The land was not empty—the spirit of of the Buffalo People and the earth itself hold the memories for the time to come when we all live together once again.
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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.
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