Native American healing wisdom may be needed for the survival of Indians and non-Indians alike. Its emphasis on respect, justice, and frugality with generosity is sound ecology. We need to learn these lessons if we are to prevent the widely prophesied political and economic conflicts or catastrophes and "earth changes": cataclysmic natural events that may occur as part of the Earth's attempts to re-balance the scales that Western civilization has upset. The elders say that the time is right to share sacred teachings. On August 20, 1994 a rare white buffalo calf was born on a farm in Wisconsin. Native medicine people recognized the calf as a symbol of the rebirth of the sacred in a world that has long suffered for its lack.
The urgency of sharing these teachings was confirmed for me during a Sacred Pipe Ceremony that I conducted at the turn of the millennium. The Pipe Ceremony is a way of communing with the forces of life, all of which are symbolically placed in the tobacco, ignited by the fire of transformation, and sent prayerfully up to Creator with one's breath. At the end of the Pipe Ceremony, I had a vision in which I saw, with the eye of spirit, layers of shimmering clouds hovering overhead. Eagles were flying slowly, almost meditatively, in the highest clouds. They transmitted a message to my mind, "In the Old Days, our spirits lived in and around the people. But today, people are polluting and destroying our home; few see or respect us physically or spiritually. Our spirits have withdrawn upwards. We no longer dwell naturally among you but must be enticed down through ceremony and personal sacrifice."
The Eagle Spirit grants people the ability to dream and to see life from a higher, wider, and more balanced perspective. How sad that at a time when we need Eagle's inspiration the most, the Eagle is farthest away. We have made the world inhospitable to the Eagle, and like a traumatized person, his spirit has dissociated to an inaccessible realm. We can bring the Eagle back by caring for the Earth, by making the Earth a beautiful place where the Eagle will wish to nest and raise her young, and by prioritizing sacred knowledge, especially the wisdom that comes in dreams and visions, over material wealth.
© 2003 Kenneth Cohen, adapted from Honoring the Medicine: The Essential Guide to Native American Healing