The Old Ways Are Crumbling

Sistine trunk posterI know we all got up this morning and went about our responsibilities, like getting ready for work and/or the kids off to school, with all that these morning rituals entail. We have a lot on our minds, especially those of us who didn’t get ready for work because we don’t have jobs to go to. It’s important to remember that we’re all in this life together, with our home, Mother Earth; and that we are all God’s children, playing a role in a great Cosmic Story.

We humans are due. We need to expand our awareness of that which is beyond our own minds and lives, of how we were created, and of all that we can see through the eyes of the Hubble telescope and beyond. We need to see the filaments of light that connect our souls to God, to each other and to Mother Earth and all life residing on her.

I was thinking of trees and all they do for us, beyond fiercely pedaling to clean the air; providing wood for our homes, furniture and other needs; and providing shade from the heat. They are like older siblings who protect us. We sit under them to read and write and enjoy a picnic. There is less crime where trees are planted together. They are our strong and sure earth-angels, beings of Love anchored into the earth, their roots connecting all around the world, helping to hold Love here. I hope someday that we can all see the light that emanates from them.

We live in a time when the old ways are dying out and new ways are born. We’re accustomed to small-mindedness and competition and greed gone mad, and to the degradation of Mother Earth and of us—but this madness is a deception, a distortion of God’s plan for us and our world and, as it has no foundation in what is real, it is crumbling. Change is hard for almost everyone, but when these corrupt systems collapse, what is born will take our breath away. We will fall to our knees, trembling in awe that we are children of a loving God.

Connection, Compassion and Love, A Guest Post By Michael Brine, Mike Hopkins and Maggie

As difficult as the news is every day, as much as the media has a need to keep us informed of dark, depressing matters, there is equal goodness all around us. (I know that a good deal of us have suffered losses that can only be measured in tears, and that the pain can linger. When enough time has passed, we take little steps back into life, working up the courage to take a swing at living again. I guess that’s the point–that we all know what loss is and yet, most of us get through it and carry on anyway. Really, what are our alternatives?)

Here my amazing online friends share here their tender stories of connection, compassion and love, for wherever there is union and healing, there is Love. We must all remember our own stories of care and goodness, both given and received, and we must share them, for they are needed now. We must share our stories until they become a Love-tsunami more powerful than any of the physical kind. The miracle of being alive now is the miracle of healing. We are all called to share great Love and oneness with each other and All That Is. We are called!

Here is a correspondence between Mike Hopkins, Michael Brine and Maggie. Continue reading

Honoring Our Home

Blue Earth Today I can’t help but remember how Native American people give thanks to Mother Earth for providing what they need to live, and how they ask permission to harvest the plants they use, and thank the animals they kill for food. The difference between this way of living and the processes our modern farmers use is stunning. I know that most farmers, if not all, feel a connection to the land, and may even express a form of affection for their crops and their gratitude at harvest, but I doubt it’s given with the same reverence and acknowledgement of the life given for us by the fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes (not to mention the animal lives). It’s more science than spirit for us, often more about profits than providing a healthy product that is good for the human body. (We have learned the dangers of deadly pesticides and herbicides, but they’re still being used in many states. Those banned in the U.S. due to public outcry are being sold by their manufacturers in less industrialized nations. Truly, shame on us.)

This lack of respect for human beings that has thrown us so far off-kilter is a natural outcome of the lack of respect for the Great Mystery /Father /Mother /God, for our planet and all the ‘lesser’ creatures living upon her. What if Mother Earth is a spiritual, living Being? Think of all the life that comes from her. She has to be alive. (Can a dead mother give birth to live children?) Think of her beauty, in spite of all the damage we’ve done. What if the weather that’s very hard on humans is a response to us being very hard on the planet? I don’t think it’s malicious—it’s just an effect of all the blood-spilling, the poisoning of our water and air, the shoving around of the land, the displacement of the animals we share the planet with.

There are answers. They come from a desire to be of service and to live in peace and harmony with all other forms of life. A shift in consciousness happens when the answers come from the peaceful place within, as we hook up with the higher power that made us, our planet and the universe. It’s worth considering, for what are the repercussions of destroying God’s creation?

True Power

There is so much we don’t know about life, including, and perhaps most importantly, that we really are all children of the Light. To us, the light is the sun; the moon is our light at night. But what if, as our bodies are physical symbols of our souls, the sun and the moon are physical symbols of the Light of Love, the force that animates the universe?

Is it crazy to wonder if the sun and the moon are great beings that make light for the great being that shelters, clothes, waters and feeds us–our dear Earth Mother? With all the advances in science, there is still so much we don’t know about the cause of all that exists and our relationship with the cause. How many of us remember to be grateful that the sun continues to shine every day, or give thanks for our nourishment that comes from the Earth? We would very quickly starve without our motherly source of food. If ever a mother gave unconditional love, it is Mother Earth, but how much poison can the Earth’s body–the soil, water and air–absorb before our planet can no longer function in the way God meant her to?

When my mother was a child, two of her older brothers went off to World War II. She and the rest of her siblings worked the farm with their parents. I don’t in any way envy them their outhouse or that there was no running water, which meant they hauled in, heated and shared the same bath water. But I do envy their sturdiness, their connection to the land, their ability to produce from it what they needed to survive. They were bonded in the truest sense of the word and back then, they knew from whence their sustenance came (it wasn’t the grocery store), and they gave thanks for the light that spurred everything to grow.

I once heard a teacher say it’s important to take children to live concerts so they can see where music comes from. The same thing could apply to electricity and running water. We’ve had them for so long now, we forget they are generated/corralled and carried to us from somewhere else. It’s no great mystery to us—we just flip the switch and turn on the faucet. I forget to be grateful for them every day. How about you?

War, on the other hand, represents the dark forces, and the misuse by those in power of the dedication and lives of the honorable, hard-working men and women on the front lines. Greed is of the dark forces. Power is a mighty call away from the Light, but this kind of power is also an illusion. It’s not real because everything comes from God and everything belongs to God. We own nothing that is of the physical world; if we did, we could take it with us when we leave these bodies behind. True power is the Force as in “May the Force be with you,” and the old saying, “God gives and God takes away,” has never been more true.

Even now the “financial masters” brainstorm, devise, toss and turn, grasp, and manipulate to prop up that which cannot be propped. Balance is not about how much profit any individual can make (or steal). A true economy is built by those providing genuine services and products of quality, and by the business owner showing gratitude in meaningful ways to their customers, their employees and to earth for her resources and inspiration.

This is a powerful way to honor our Creator.

Drawing Native Wisdom Cards and Review of the Book “MEDICINE CARDS”

I’ve written about love and compassion here quite a bit, so it’s to be expected that I would have to face my own fears and shadow self, and see my own doubts and then, to be honest with myself and you, share them along the way. Though my childhood in this life would not be called easy, I sense that I brought some darkness with me, a darkness that has shown itself as nagging doubts about my self-worth, my spiritual commitment and whether or not I am truly loved by God. In the past, the feeling has come as an overwhelming wave of self-hate. I’m writing about this because this blog is a part of my journey.

The blue box of Medicine Cards

Years ago I made a necklace that came into being looking like a simple Native Indian work. It prompted me to pull a box off my bookshelf book called Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and David Carson, which includes a wisdom-book and a smaller box of Medicine Cards, painted by Angela Werneke, of a variety of animals. Drawing the cards from the deck with a spiritual purpose, I am tapping into Native Indian philosophy and wisdom.

The authors of Medicine Cards explain,

“Our intention, as shamans and healers, is to begin a process for many people who have never understood their connection to Mother Earth and her creatures … [and] of what it means to walk in balance on the Earth Mother. Our dream animals have asked for our assistance in spreading the understanding that all life is sacred.

When calling on the power of an animal, you are asking to be drawn into complete harmony with the strength of that creature’s essence. Gaining understanding from these brothers and sisters of the animal kingdom is a healing process and must be approached with humility and intuitiveness.”

I had used this book before and looked through a bunch of files and I found my notes, dated April 24, 2001. That day, I found my nine Totem Animals (guides that remain the same for a lifetime); used the Pathway Spread to learn about life-lessons patterns; and the Moon Lodge Spread, to learn the state of my personal unconscious, to uncover the lies and self-deceptions I had been using to thwart my spiritual growth. I guess that explains why I didn’t pick up the book again until ten years later. Chicken wasn’t one of the totem animals, but, cluck-cluck, it applies here.

I looked inside the book and found another spread called the Medicine Wheel. ‘Medicine’ in the Native Indian way is defined in the book as:

“Anything that improves one’s connection to the Great Mystery and to all of life…Medicine is also anything that brings personal power, strength, and understanding. It is the constant living of life in a way that brings healing to the Earth Mother and all associates, family, friends, and fellow creatures…it is an all-encompassing ‘way of life,’ for it involves walking on the Earth Mother in perfect harmony with the Universe.”

Wow–walking on the Earth Mother in perfect harmony with the universe. How many of us walk in this manner, giving thanks to the Great Spirit for everything in our lives and to the animals and plants who give their lives to become our food? It is a worthwhile goal, one I hope is not impossible.

The Medicine Wheel spread is used to reflect on the personality and to see how we learn from ourselves, other people and animals. Sounded good to me. After shuffling, I drew five cards and placed them on a table in the four directions, East, South, West and North and one in the center, which is the Sacred Mountain Card. Each direction has its own meaning.

There are two messages for each card, one if the card is right-side up when you pull it out and one if the card is upside-down, which the authors refer to as ‘Contrary.’ My shadow-self doesn’t want to share the cards I drew, but my Higher Self does:

**The first card, East, represents where our spiritual strengths lie and the challenges to seeing clearly in the present situation.

EAST: Moose. Is about not needing approval, and experiencing the joy of a job well done, about the joy in giving encouragement but also in warning. Moose is about a new sense of self and accomplishment. Contrary Message: Ego can ruin a sense of accomplishment. It is about tooting my own horn and failing to be interested in others. It is a need to recognize that everyone is a teacher for everyone else, and there is a need to grow quiet for a while to let wisdom enter my heart.

**Second is South, with the animal guide helping our inner children learn what we need to nurture and to trust ourselves.

SOUTH: Blue Heron. Blue Heron indicates an unawareness of who I am and where I belong. Follow intuition and begin the journey of self-realization. Low self-worth and self-pity means I will never truly understand my true potential. A lack of courage in facing the critical enemy within. See my motives, actions, feelings, dreams, goals, strengths and weakness. Contrary Message: Too much self-reflection can lead to self-obsession. If criticizing self, watch out! It is imprudent to drown the sense of joy that accompanies the journey of self-discovery. Perfection leaves no room for being human. Our most valuable lessons are learned from our mistakes. Balance the desire to change with gentle discernment. Dive deep into feelings and emerge renewed, not judgmental, rigid, and flat, which breaks the spirit. Do not expect to find the many layers of truth and wholeness in one dive. Don’t hold my breath for enlightenment or let the collective feelings of humanity drown me.

**Third is West, showing the internal solution to present life challenges and what we need to reach our goals.

WEST: Dog. Serving others or humanity in some way. The guardian embodies the loving gentleness of the best friend with the protective energy regarding territory. Delve deeply into my sense of service to others. Have I forgotten that I owe allegiance to my personal truth? Have the opinions of others jaded my loyalty to a friend? Have I ignored someone who is trying to be my friend? Have I been loyal and true to my goals?

**Fourth is North, which integrates the other cards and is the key to walking in wisdom by connecting to our highest purpose and intentions.

NORTH: Antelope. Knowledgeable action. Symbolizes the antenna of the hair, which attaches us to the Great Mystery. Action is the key and the essence of living. Antelope medicine gives strength of mind and heart. Call on antelope when balled up. Antelope sends ingenious solutions. Antelope indicates a higher purpose and forces action for self, family, clan, nation and Mother Earth. It is time—do it now.

**Fifth is the card in the center of the spread; it shows how to see the present as a crossroads of spiritual and physical realities and how they have melded, to show whether or not we are in balance and what to do about it.

CENTER: Deer. Deer is the gentle spirit, filled with love and compassion for all. With love, deer moves the bullies away from the door to the Great Spirit. Creates safety. Contrary Message: Means I’m courting my fears by fighting the internal demons of negative ideas. Need to love myself enough to deeply feel my fears and let them go. The balance to power is the love and compassion of Deer, who teaches unconditional love, accessed from the heart space of the Great Spirit who loves us all.

I really love these cards. With them, for whatever the reasons, I can count on honest guidance from the Divine, even if it’s hard to face. This is a priceless gift and I give my gratitude to Jamie Sams and David Carson, their mentors and all of dear Mother Nature’s Creature-Teachers. Thank you, Friends.

Medicine Cards is a book of sincere and profound wisdom, for all who want to see the truth of our personalities and our spiritual natures; and to make more meaningful relationships with nature.

I Pledge Allegiance to Mother Earth, by Mike Hopkins

By Mike Hopkins

Note: Beautiful, Mike! I make the pledge. How about you, dear reader?

The End of the World as We Know It and Ten Healing Plants, A Guest Post

Madison Woods

Madison Woods

By Madison Woods

TEOTWAWKI, an acronym for “The End of the World as We Know It,” can mean anything, from the standard biblical apocalypse to an economic or environmental disaster, or even a personal crisis. Some people consider an uncertain future to be a challenge, while others fear it. Still others don’t think of the unknown at all; they assume things will go on as they always have, never entertaining the possibility that life as we know it might take a completely different turn and belie our expectations. Whether “it” is referred to as Armageddon, End of the World, Economic Collapse, WWIII, Global Warming Disasters, or the Zombie Apocalypse, “it” is a source of widespread anxiety.

Disconnect from Nature

I think part of the reason for the anxiety is because of an epidemic disconnect from Nature. And I believe one of the reasons I feel no such fear is because I have a very close relationship to Nature.

snake eyeRattlesnakes are one of the more dangerous aspects in Nature that we must learn to live with. You can read my blog post about how I used plants (not all local, though) to help my dog heal quickly and without side effects from a rattlesnake bite last month. To be aware of and respect danger doesn’t mean we need to be afraid. (By the way, the snake only wanted to be left alone. It wasn’t until the dog tried to bite it that it responded in turn.)

Media fuels this disconnect from Nature by dramatizing the dangerous aspects of nature through hyped up weather reports, with programming designed specifically to highlight the hazardous side of nature. The most popular movies focus almost exclusively on the dangerous aspects of humans in their behavior toward each other.

Remember, we are part of Nature, too. Continue reading

Mother Earth: A Lost Connection

Physicists know that everything is connected at the sub-atomic level, but they can’t explain why all material things appear to be solid and separate, yet aren’t. It’s kind of the same for People of the Spirit: They may walk through walls or travel to parallel dimensions, but don’t bother with explanations. They have loving, healing work to do.

What if we, and all of matter, are connected at the most fundamental of levels, so that everything I think and do affects you, and everything you think and do affects me? And together, we all affect our home, planet Earth?

pathway.jpgWhen my children were young I remember mopping the kitchen and hallways, then hearing them barge through the door. “Stop!” I shouted. “I just mopped. I need the floors to be clean for just five minutes!” Unless you’re a parent you may not understand, but I’ve often wondered if Mother Earth feels something like that, on a grand scale of course. In my mind’s eye, I see her pedaling like crazy to clean the air, the water, the soil of all the blood we’ve spilled, only now I fear she can’t keep up with what we’ve done. I believe there were ways to ‘modernize’ that didn’t destroy the planet, but I don’t know if it’s too late for a Do-Over. Is it? Does anyone know?

I think we got off the Life-Path when we industrialized. Families had been linked to the earth, to seasonal cycles and rhythms for our livelihoods, and we shared and bartered more with each other then. But the drive for more and better and faster has always been there, hasn’t it? When those among us chose the more/better/faster path, we all wanted the things they had. Who didn’t want indoor plumbing, electricity, heating, a telephone? What family doesn’t want four bedrooms, three baths and a car and laptop for every member of the family? Who doesn’t want designer shoes, an I-Pod and, “Oh, my God!, have you seen Tabitha’s I-Phone?” (That’s what I said after I saw an I-Phone the first time.)

Somewhere along that acquiring-path, though, a connection to what is real was lost. Lost, I pray—not severed—because sometimes we can find things that are lost.

Related Post: Love is the Key

Book Review, “STONEHENGE, IF THIS WAS EAST,” and A New Idea to Save the Melting Polar Ice Caps

Note: This is a book review of Thomas O. Mills’ book, STONEHENGE, IF THIS WAS EAST, from the Chairman of the Manataka American Indian Council, who, after reading the book, was inspired with a new idea to correct the melting of our polar ice caps. It is, indeed, a very interesting letter to other members of the Manataka Council Fire and I share it here with you, hoping to generate more interest in Tom’s thoughtful book and Chairman Michael Burton’s fascinating idea.

By Michael “Eye of Eagle Feather” Burton

Manataka Council Fire

Dear Beloved sisters and brothers,

Thank You to those who are contributing their monetary and volunteer support for the sacred site…the outpouring of contributions has enabled us to clean and prepare the site and prepare a new garden.  Our initial plan is to plant heirloom species of corn, squash and beans. We are about to get a permit for water lines, though we have not planted due to the rains…maybe this weekend!!!

sTONEHENGE If this was EastToday, I write about a book Lee Standing Bear gave to me, written by Thomas O. Mills entitled “Stonehenge ~ If this was East.” In this publication, Tom Mills explains the Stonehenge site and many ancient mystery sites around the globe, using the Hopi creation history passed to us through thousands of years of oral tradition. It simply shows, when these sites were created ‘East’ was radically different, and they were perfect astronomical computers during their time. Current knowledge grossly underestimates their age and can’t figure out why they aren’t precisely aligned with the heavens today.

The axis we turn on would have to shift significantly for these things to line up. It makes sense and when taken as a whole, with all sites considered and realigned with the ancient axis points, they are a testament to a message from the past, built in such a way that NO ONE COULD ALTER THEM THROUGH TIME. It was that important! Continue reading

We’re Meant to Be More and Do More Than Work

HummingbirdOh, how all living things, all beings, and our planet (which is still trying to nourish all of life) need us.

Most of us are pretty busy, especially today’s parents and children, but all of us have responsibilities, at the very least to earn a living wage (not that this is easy to do for many Americans). We’re meant, however, to be more and do more than just work.

We come to Earth to grow into our best selves, to know with certainty that when our last physical day comes, we Loved in the ways we could and made a difference in others’ lives. We learn eventually to steer ourselves toward heart-fulfilling works, finding a place or cause where we can volunteer, making contact with our Higher Natures so that we may walk through life leaving a trail of compassionate acts behind us. I see more people like this almost every day. There is something in the air, a love-spirit sweeping over our world, catching us in whatever ways it can, through even the tiniest cracks in the tiniest softening spots of our hearts.

There is a force working against us, though. The darkness around our world and in some people in power has taken center stage. Ruthlessly gaining power and wealth are actions intended to weaken Goodness and destroy life. The more a person craves for himself, the more he must focus on acquisition, and that means stepping on (or worse) whoever happens to be in his way. Whenever you shake your head and ask, “Have they no heart?”, know that though some people are simply caught up in themselves, many are likely doing what they’re doing on purpose, in service of the forces of destruction. They have lost touch with their souls.

Whenever we are kind, whenever we stop our own rushing minds long enough to see another person or creature in need and do something to help, we are acting on behalf of Goodness and countering the dark forces. In this way, we really can make a difference. In fact, with the imbalance of power and the Grand Canyon-sized gap between the wealthy and those who are struggling to live on low wages, it may be the only way we can make a difference—yet these acts of kindness are of immeasurable value to the force of Goodness. Let us do what we came here to do and show others that Higher Love is not only real, it lives within each of us and we can tap it whenever we decide to do so. May the presence of the force of Love within you shine brightly in our world.

Dreaming with Barn Owl

Barn Owl picture, courtesy of

Barn Owl picture, courtesy of

I dreamt recently of people from my past, trying to pry into family matters, looking for stuff they could gossip about while pretending to want to help. (I feel like I just took a paragraph from a Jane Austen novel.) 🙂

Then the dream switched and a brood of beautiful orange and white barn owls had clustered together in a tree. One kept turning and looking at me, trying to send me a message. So of course, when I woke up, I went to my three ‘animal-friend’ books. Very interesting, indeed, in light of me feeling a need to do a home cleansing. I felt better after the recent cleansing with the much needed assistance of Raven, but my daughter still sensed she was being watched and felt something brush up against her in our kitchen a few days ago, in the same spot a pendulum I once used to check earth energy, went crazy, suddenly twirling like a helicopter propeller. More work to do—must go deeper.

Barn Owl picture courtesy of naturepickoftheday

Barn Owl picture courtesy of naturepickoftheday

Anyway, about the barn owl, from ANIMAL SPIRIT GUIDES by Steven D. Farmer: “Life is short, treat every day as precious; let your heart be open to love; do a house clearing or blessing to free up lost spirits that need to move on; take a silent retreat; you are entering into period of abundance; you need adaptability and ingenuity in all dealings; when needing help, call sincerely to the spirits of your ancestors and they will help.”

From ANIMAL SPEAK by Ted Andrews: “The owl is a symbol of the feminine, the moon, the night, the bird of magic and darkness within, of prophecy and wisdom. Owls are able to sense and hear what is not being said, what is hidden in the shadows. The barn owl is called the ghost owl and its medicine can connect you to old haunts and spirits of properties that may still be lingering about. It can help develop spirit contact and hearing of the inner voice, clairaudience. It can help extract secrets. For your own success, keep silent and go about your business.”

From MEDICINE CARDS by Jamie Sams and David Carson: “Owl medicine is associated with clairvoyance, astral projection and magic, both black and white. Owl is oftentimes associated with sorcerers and witches. Owl can see what others cannot, which is the essence of true wisdom. If you have pulled the Owl card, you are being asked to use your powers of keen, silent observation to intuit some life situation. Owl is befriending you in seeing the total truth. Owl can bring you messages through dreams and meditation. Pay attention to signals and omens.”

So, I’m left with some pondering:  White magic must be based on Love. What is dark magic? Is it our angry, envious, stormy thoughts? I don’t think so, though they do add to the dark force. Dark magic must be sending dark projections toward someone on purpose, with some sort of ceremony. I am definitely not using dark magic against anyone or anything. Is dark magic being used against me? I really don’t know. My heart has grown weak in this apartment. Is there a spirit here that is related to my health? That still needs to go? Can I do the cleansing/blessing myself or do I need help? What do the people from my past in the same dream represent? Surely prying and gossip are not dark magic. I have some intuiting to do! Any intuitions from anyone reading this?

My thanks to my friends, the beautiful barn owls, with the heart-shaped faces, who visited me in a dream to help me see the truth.

Successful Cleansing at Last:

Little Boy Asks, “Do the Animals Die When We Eat Them?”

Photo Courtesy of Kelly Tarlton on Wikimedia

Photo Courtesy of Kelly Tarlton on Wikimedia

From the mouths of babes:

Please click on the link below to be reminded of what love is.


Who We Are, Where We Are

Let us remember who we are, where we are and give gratitude for our beautiful home.

Thank you, Michael Brine, for this 3 minute, 30 second inspiring video, The Pale Blue Dot, from the Sagan Series.


Grandfather, Tell Me About the Land, Short Fiction by Pam Bickell

Grandfather“Grandfather, tell me about the land.”

“What is it you wish to know, grandson?”

“Why is the land so important to grandmother? She touches the plants and land like she touches my baby sister,” the child said, shaking his head.

“And this confuses you?”

“Yes, grandfather. How can dirt be that important?”

“I’m going to tell you a story and when I am finished, will you tell me if you’re still confused?”

“Of course, grandfather!”

“Once there was a young boy a lot like you. He had many questions, also. His grandmother had many dreams in the night of the white men coming to this land now called America. In her visions, she saw the light-skinned ones arrive and many of our people die. She often cried at night and her grandson heard her tears. The men in her dreams came across the land in swarms and killed everything they saw: the people like us, the trees, the beaver, the wolf, the elk, the buffalo. All this they did for money. She called all the families together and told them of her dreams. Her middle son, Black Elk, stood and said he had met some of the white men and that they would not do these things. He said that they prayed also to the Great Spirit and that killing was unacceptable to them. His mother only shook her head. “It is not these men, my son, but those who come after them.”

“What happened, Grandfather?”

“Black Elk left the tribe and became a scout for the white men. He took the boy, his son, with him. A kind woman, wife to one of the men Black Elk served, took the boy in and taught him English ways, how to read and write their language and how to use math. The boy, Little Bear, was quick like you and enterprising. He saw the ships the colonists built leave heavy with tobacco and rice and fish, animal pelts, and lumber—and how much money the white people made from the land. He saw their big houses and fine clothing and he knew he would never again live in a teepee.”

“So, Grandmother loves the land because of the money we can make?”

Grandfather had a hearty laugh. “Let me finish my story, grandson. Black Elk traveled a great deal and worried about the changes he saw in his son, who was now a young man and no longer using his Indian name, Little Bear. The woman gave him the name William and their surname, Smythe. He wore their fine clothes and helped the woman and her husband in their general store by keeping records of their purchases of sugar, and molasses which they made into rum, and their sales of foodstuffs, cloth and iron utensils. Little Bear excelled at business and gave them advice that helped his second parents to build their business. They were very proud of William.”

“But, what about–?”

Grandfather held up a hand and his grandson nodded.

“One day Black Elk, now with graying hair, came into the store. In halting English, he told his son that he had been wrong about the white men and the things he had seen happen to their people. The forests and wolves and buffalo were gone—all for the sake of money. He said he was going home and he wanted Little Bear to come with him. The woman stepped in front of Little Bear and said, “His name is William and he is my son now. Please take leave of our store.” Black Elk stepped toward the woman and William came to her defense. “Father,” he said with great difficulty in their native tongue, “she is my mother now. My second father is in the back of the store. This is my place now. I will not come with you.”

“I don’t understand. How could he do that, Grandfather?” the old man’s grandson asked.

“Little Bear was an Indian on the outside—but not on the inside. He was a white man on the inside. Do you understand, grandson?”

“I think so. He wanted the same things his white parents wanted.”

“That’s right, grandson. Black Elk returned to his people who had been moved by the white men to a small area of rocky land that held little value for the white men. Black Elk’s mother and father had passed on but an aunt was still alive and she took him into her home. He cried in her arms for days, telling her all the things he had done to help the white man and how Little Bear had betrayed him. Some of his people hated him, but he worked hard preparing the soil for planting and over time most of the tribe grew to accept him.”

“Did Black Elk ever see William again?” the boy asked.

“Black Elk took ill ten years later and when a cousin realized he was dying, he made the three-day ride to the town to tell Little Bear. He found him at his family’s large home and begged him to come at once, saying that Black Elk needed him. William sent his cousin away, but just when the cousin was almost off their property, William caught up to him. He apologized and said that he would like to see Black Elk one last time.”

“That was good, wasn’t it Grandfather?”

“Yes, grandson, that was very good.”

“Little Bear, or William, had always been so busy at the store and later in their ship building business that he had not traveled much. He was shocked to see the forests were completely gone—only stumps remained. Much of this wood he knew was used to build the ships his parents had sold to the Europeans and, of course, the wood was also used to build the white men’s towns. The native peoples were gone–dead or forced to move to unwanted land. But William could still remember the spirit of life that had lived in the forest before the white men came. He could remember how the growing things and the creatures all lived together in a circle of life, feeding each other and then the land when they died. The spirit of life was gone; the land was decimated. William’s heart grew heavy with sadness on the journey home.

You see, grandson, the land is the mother of all life. Everything comes from the land which has its own Spirit—remember when I showed it to you?—to feed, to shelter and to protect us. But we cannot take from the land and not give in return. Your grandmother knows how much has been taken from the land and how little has been returned, so she makes feeding the land her life’s work. That is why you see her tending the soil, planting soy beans and turning the plants back into the soil. She communicates with the spirits of the plants and the land, in addition to mothering her children and loving her grandchildren, of course,” he said with a smile. “So, tell me grandson, are you still confused about your grandmother and the land?”

The boy shook his head. “I understand. The land is like our mother.”

“The land is our mother, grandson, and your grandmother loves her mother.”

“I see now, Grandfather. What happened when William got home to Black Elk?”

“Black Elk was near death, but had held on to see his son one last time. People of the tribe stood and watched as William and his cousin rode onto the reservation. Some of the men tried to stop them and called William dark names, but the cousin insisted they let them pass. William went into the teepee, fell to his knees and took his father’s hand. Black Elk opened his eyes and said to Little Bear, “You did not betray me, son. I betrayed you when I took you at such a young age away from our people. I was young and my pride and ignorance were strong. Can you forgive me?” William sobbed and said, “Father, I did betray you and the ways of our people. I am the one who is sorry.” They embraced and Black Elk died happy, having made peace with his son.”

“Did William stay, Grandfather?”

“No, grandson. The ways of the white man were too strong in him, but when he returned, he began to write stories about the land and the native peoples, our way of life and what happened to our ancestors. Some of these were published in newspapers, which were sent to Europe and later in William’s life, a book was published with his stories. In this way, his heart was healed of the pain of what he believed was a betrayal of his people.”

“But he did betray his people, Grandfather!”

“Life unfolds in a circle, grandson, and everything on the great wheel happens for a reason. He was very young when his father took him away. It is hard for us to accept what happened to our ancestors and our way of life, but if Little Bear had not left his people and become William, the stories of what happened to our people may never have been told.”

“I think I understand, Grandfather.” The boy smiled. “That was a very good story,” he said as he stood. “Is there anything I can do for you, Grandfather?”

“Yes, grandson, there is. Check beyond those rocks. Is your grandmother in the garden?”

“I see her; yes, she is there.”

“I’d like you to go to her and ask her if she will teach you about the spirits of the plants and the land. Will you do that?”

“All right, Grandfather. I will go.” He ran a few steps and turned around. “Maybe I will like talking to the spirit of the land.”

“Learning to talk with the spirits is a very good thing for you, grandson. You have made an old man happy this day.”

“I love you, Grandfather,” the boy said as he ran off to join his Grandmother. “Thank you!”

“I love you, too, grandson,” the old man said, but the boy was already too far away to hear him. “You are a very good grandson.”