Singingcrow's Rattle

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Buffalo Woman, A Story of Magic

  I am offering some old American Indian tales. Enjoy!

Snow Bird, the Caddo medicine man, had a handsome son. When the boy was old enough to be given a man's name, Snow Bird called him Braveness because of his courage as a hunter. Many of the girls in the Caddo village wanted to win Braveness as a husband, but he paid little attention to any of them. One morning he started out for a day of hunting, and while he was walking along looking for wild game, he saw someone ahead of him sitting under a small elm tree. As he approached, he was surprised to find that the person was a young woman, and he started to turn aside. "Come here," she called to him in a pleasant voice. Braveness went up to her and saw that she was very young and very beautiful. "I knew you were coming here," she said, "and so I came to meet you." "You are not of my people," he replied. "How did you know that I was coming this way?" "I am Buffalo Woman," she said. "I have seen you many times before, from afar. I want you to take me home with you and let me stay with you." "I can take you home with me," Braveness answered her, "but you must ask my parents if you can stay with us." They started for his home at once, and when they arrived there Buffalo Woman asked Braveness's parents if she could stay with them and become the young man's wife. "If Braveness wants you for his wife, we will be pleased," said Snow Bird, the medicine man. "It is time that he had someone to love." And so Braveness and Buffalo Woman were married in the custom of the Caddo people and lived happily together for several moons. One day she asked him, "Will you do whatever I may ask of you, Braveness?" "Yes," he replied, "if what you ask is not unreasonable." "I want you to go with me to visit my people." Braveness said that he would go, and the next day they started for her home, she leading the way. After they had walked a long distance they came to some high hills, and all at once she turned round and looked at Braveness and said: "You promised me that you would do anything I say." "Yes," he answered. "Well," she said, "my home is on the other side of this high hill. I will tell you when we get to my mother. I know there will be many coming there to see who you are, and some may provoke you and try to make you angry, but do not allow yourself to become angry with any of them. Some may try to kill you." "Why should they do that?" asked Braveness. "Listen to what I am about to tell you," she said. "I knew you before you knew me. Through magic I made you come to me that first day. I said that some will try to make you angry, and if you show anger at even one of them, the others will join in fighting you until they have killed you. They will be jealous of you. The reason is that I refused many who wanted me." "But you are now my wife," Braveness said. "I have told you what to do when we get there," Buffalo Woman continued. "Now I want you to lie down on the ground and roll over twice." Braveness smiled at her, but he did as she had told him to do. He rolled over twice, and when he stood up he found himself changed into a Buffalo. For a moment Buffalo Woman looked at him, seeing the astonishment in his eyes. Then she rolled over twice, and she also became a Buffalo. Without saying a word she led him to the top of the hill. In the valley off to the west, Braveness could see hundreds and hundreds of Buffalo. "They are my people," said Buffalo Woman. "This is my home." When the members of the nearest herd saw Braveness and Buffalo Woman coming, they began gathering in one place, as though waiting for them. Buffalo Woman led the way, Braveness following her until they reached an old Buffalo cow, and he knew that she was the mother of his beautiful wife.For two moons they stayed with the herd. Every now and then, four or five of the young Buffalo males would come around and annoy Braveness, trying to arouse his anger, but he pretended not to notice hem. One night, Buffalo Woman told him that she was ready to go back to his home, and they slipped away over the hills. When they reached the place where they had turned themselves into Buffalo, they rolled over twice on the ground and became a man and a woman again. "Promise me that you will not tell anyone of this magical transformation," Buffalo Woman said. "If people learn about it, something bad will happen to us." They stayed at Braveness's home for twelve moons, and then Buffalo Woman asked him again to go with her to visit her people. They had not been long in the valley of the Buffalo when she told Braveness that the young males who were jealous of him were planning to have a foot-race. "They will challenge you to race and if you do not outrun them they will kill you," she said. That night Braveness could not sleep. He went out to take a long walk. It was a very dark night without moon or stars, but he could feel the presence of the Wind spirit. "You are young and strong," the Wind spirit whispered to him, "but you cannot outrun the Buffalo without my help. If you lose, they will kill you. If you win, they will never challenge you again. "What must I do to save my life and keep my beautiful wife?" asked Braveness. The Wind spirit gave him two things. "One of these is a magic herb," said the Wind spirit. "The other is dried mud from a medicine wallow. If the Buffalo catch up with you, first throw behind you the magic herb. If they come too close to you again, throw down the dried mud." The next day was the day of the race. At sunrise the young Buffalo gathered at the starting place. When Braveness joined them, they began making fun of him, telling him he was a man buffalo and therefore had not the power to outrun them. Braveness ignored their jeers, and calmly lined up with them at the starting point. An old Buffalo started the race with a loud bellow, and at first Braveness took the lead, running very swiftly. But soon the others began gaining on him, and when he heard their hard breathing close upon his heels, he threw the magic herb behind him. By this time he was growing very tired and thought he could not run any more. He looked back and saw one Buffalo holding his head down and coming very fast, rapidly closing the space between him and Braveness. Just as this Buffalo was about to catch up with him, Braveness threw down the dried mud from the medicine wallow. Soon he was far ahead again, but he knew that he had used up the powers given him by the Wind spirit. As he neared the goal set for the race, he heard the pounding of hooves coming closer behind him. At the last moment, he felt a strong wind on his face as it passed him to stir up dust and keep the Buffalo from overtaking him. With the help of the Wind spirit, Braveness crossed the goal first and won the race. After that, none of the Buffalo ever challenged him again, and he and Buffalo Woman lived peacefully with the herd until they were ready to return to his Caddo people. Not long after their return to Braveness's home, Buffalo Woman gave birth to a handsome son. They named him Buffalo Boy, and soon he was old enough to play with the other children of the village. One day while Buffalo Woman was cooking dinner, the boy slipped out of the lodge and went to join some other children at play. They played several games and then decided to play that they were Buffalo. Some of them lay on the ground to roll like Buffalo, and Buffalo Boy also did this. When he rolled over twice, he changed into a real Buffalo calf. Frightened by this, the other children ran for their lodges. About this time his mother came out to look for him, and when she saw the children running in fear she knew that something must be wrong. She went to see what had happened and found her son changed into a Buffalo calf. Taking him up in her arms, she ran down the hill, and as soon as she was out of sight of the village she turned herself into a Buffalo and with Buffalo Boy started off toward the west. Late that evening when Braveness returned from hunting he could find neither his wife nor his son in the lodge. He went out to look for them, and someone told him of the game the children had played and of the magic that had changed his son into a Buffalo calf. At first, Braveness could not believe what they told him, but after he had followed his wife's tracks down the hill and found the place where she had rolled he knew the story was true. For many moons, Braveness searched for Buffalo Woman and Buffalo Boy, but he never found them again.

                                                                 The First Fire
In the beginning of the world, there was no fire. The animal people were often cold. Only the Thunders, who lived in the world beyond the sky arch, had fire. At last they sent Lightning down to an island. Lightning put fire into the bottom of a hollow sycamore tree.
The animal people knew that the fire was there, because they could see smoke rising from the top of the tree. But they could not get to it on account of the water. So they held a council to decide what to do. Everyone that could fly or could swim was eager to go after the fire. Raven said, "Let me go. I am large and strong." At that time Raven was white. He flew high and far across the water and reached the top of the sycamore tree. While he sat there wondering what to do, the heat scorched all his feathers black. The frightened Raven flew home without the fire, and his feathers have been black ever since. Then the council sent Screech Owl. He flew to the island. But while he was looking down into the hollow tree, a blast of hot air came up and nearly burned out his eyes. He flew home and to this day, Screech Owl's eyes are red. Then Hooting Owl and Horned Owl were sent to the island together. But the smoke nearly blinded them, and the ashes carried up by the wind made white rings about their eyes. They had to come home, and were never able to get rid of the white rings. Then Little Snake swam across to the island, crawled through the grass to the tree, and entered it through a small hole at the bottom. But the smoke and the heat were too much for him, too. He escaped alive, but his body had been scorched black. And it was so twisted that he doubled on his track as if always trying to escape from a small space. Big Snake, the climber, offered to go for fire, but he fell into the burning stump and became as black as Little Snake. He has been the great blacksnake ever since. At last Water Spider said that she would go. Water Spider has black downy hair and red stripes on her body. She could run on top of water and she could dive to the bottom. She would have no trouble in getting to the island. "But you are so little, how will you carry enough fire?" the council asked. "I'll manage all right," answered Water Spider. "I can spin a web." so she spun a thread from her body and wove it into a little bowl and fastened the little bowl on her back. Then she crossed over to the island and through the grass. She put one little coal of fire into her bowl and brought it across to the people. Every since, we have had fire. And the Water Spider still has her little bowl on her back.

Friday, November 8, 2013


I have been asked about books on shamanism that I would recommend. Many of the current books out there on shamanism I am reluctant to recommend. It is not because I feel they are poorly written or do not give the reader accurate information. Many are what I would call pseudo-shamanism. Most are good as spiritual, "New Age", and/or self-help publications, but really do not provide information about traditional shamanism. A number of them seem to be a rehash of Michael Harner's "The Way of the Shaman." Ecoshamanism by James Endredy is a book that I would recommend. This book is more inline with traditional shamanism. Mr. Endredy says; "It is an incredibly sad fact that most of the shamanic cultures of the world, primarily due to their mostly peaceful nature, have not survived into the twenty-first century." I agree wholeheartedly.

Here is a list of books on shamanism that I have read. Some are better than others.
"Where Eagles Fly" Kenneth Meadows
"The Shaman" Piers Vitebsky
"The Way of the Shaman" Michael Harner
"The Hollow Bone, A Field Guide to Shamanism" Colleen Deatsman
"The Shaman's Toolkit" Sandra Ingerman
"Awakening to the Spirit World" Sandra Ingerman & Hank Wesselman
"Shamanism As a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life" Tom Cowan
"Shamans of the World" Nancy Conner with Bradford Keeney PhD
"The Four-Fold Way, Walking the Path of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary" Angeles Arrien PhD  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Concept of Soul Retrieval

In shamanism it is believed that part of the human soul is free to leave the body. The soul is the axis mundi, the center of the shamanic healing arts. Shamans change their state of consciousness allowing their free soul to travel and retrieve ancient wisdom and lost power. Because a portion of the soul is free to leave the body it will do so when dreaming, or it will leave the body to protect itself from potentially damaging situations be they emotional or physical. In situations of trauma the soul piece may not return to the body on its own, and a shaman must intervene and return the soul essence.

Reasons For the Soul's Departure
There are various reasons for soul loss. If a person was in an abusive situation part of one's soul may leave to protect itself from the abuse. Sometimes as a child, fighting parents may prompt the soul part to hide because the child is scared. If a traumatic accident is about to occur such as an impact or accident the soul would leave so that it wouldn't be effected by the force of the accident. If a loved one is lost, the soul part may go until the person is ready to deal with their grief. All of these are very healthy mechanisms of protection. In some cases the soul part will return on its own. But if it does not realize how to return, or if it does not know that it is safe to return - the shaman may need to assist the return of that missing piece.

Another way to lose ones soul is to give it to someone. When two people are in love, or when they are in a family, it is sometimes occurs that they will give portions of their soul to their loved ones. A mother may give some to her child because she wishes to protect him or her. This type of soul exchange may seem acceptable because of a person's desire to share themselves with another, but it is generally not a good idea. An individual can't use another person's soul, because simply: it is not their soul. The person must then deal with this unusable energy in addition to his or her own problems. In addition, the persons who have given a piece of their soul away have disempowered themselves. The giver's journey is made more difficult because they are not fully present to do the living of their life. It is a lose lose situation.

Because we are not taught about soul loss we do this soul sharing unconsciously. As individuals becomes more conscious of this dynamic they can find more empowering ways of sharing love and affection in their close relationships. You can see the language of soul loss in everyday speaking, people referring to how they "lost a piece of themselves" when they parted with a lover, or people saying "you stole my life from me."

Another reason for soul loss is called soul stealing, perhaps we should say borrowing. As we said before, the average person today is unconscious of the soul dynamic. So soul stealing can be innocent, you see someone with lots of energy and you want to borrow some of it. You are afraid of losing someone, so you take a piece of that person with you so that you will always have him or her close by. Soul stealing can also be a way to dominate another. For instance soul stealing may be seen where an abusive spouse has taken his or her partner's soul. When you take someone's soul you take some of that person's power.

It is important to know that no one can take your soul without your consent. If someone has stolen your soul, you have in some sense given it to them or allowed them to have it. If you feel for some reason that someone is tugging at your soul, make a firm decision within yourself that they cannot have it and they will not be able to take it from you.

How Do You know if You need a Soul Retrieval?

Many people know instinctively that they are missing something. They hear about soul retrieval and it makes sense to them, or they have an "Ah ha." moment where they realize that it is something that applies to them. But for those people who aren't so well connected with their intuition, they might not have that awareness. As mentioned above symptoms/indicators of soul loss can include:

-Feelings of depression
-A feeling of being incomplete
-Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, or PTSD like symptoms.
-Inability to move past an issue despite efforts to do so.
-Feeling like you've done everything you can do but are still stuck.
-Feeling disconnected from life, like you don't really feel anything, or you feel you can't connect to things.
-Memories or incident in your past when you can say, I feel that I lost something that I never got back.
-A sense that someone took a part of you, your heart, your soul, or that you were not the same once they left you or died.
-You keep wanting to return to a person, or a location that seems unhealthy or unlikely, even though there is no apparent reason for you to do so.
-Lost memories, like a part of your history is "missing"
-The feeling that soul retrieval may help you.

It isn't necessary for you to have an extreme symptom, to indicate soul loss. It is certainly true that some people have experienced benefits even though they were not sure that they had soul loss or not. If you feel this is something you might want to try, that is a good reason to contact a practitioner. They can go on a diagnostic journey to find out if this would be best for you at this time. If you feel that you aren't ready that is an emotion to honor. Sometimes a soul retrieval will bring up issues that need to be healed. If you aren't in a place where you are ready to do that, it may be good for you to wait. The following benefits are possible with soul retrieval, although there is no guarantee what will happen, all soul retrievals are different: -You may find it easier to move forward on an issue that has been troubling you. -You may feel a sense of being more fully present in your life.

You may find it easier to make certain decisions or make certain changes. -You may find that some characteristic you have struggled with such as hopefulness, confidence, anger.. may improve or go away after a soul retrieval. -You may find that you can connect to things more easily.

You may feel more fully present Additionally it is possible for the following challenges to be brought up with a soul retrieval:

You may have feelings of sadness or depression because of the time that went by missing this part of you.

Issues that you have previously been unwilling to deal with can come to the surface. -You may find that you can no longer stay in a situation which you have been living with - such that you find you must make changes in your life. -You may find feelings that you previously did not wish to deal with assert themselves, such as grief or anger. -

You may begin a long healing process. There is no knowing what may happen as the result of a soul retrieval. In a few cases a person may literally experiences a complete turn around of their life to a more joyful way of being.

In some cases it begins a process of changes that take time to fully emerge. And of course some people feel that not much really happened as a result of their soul retrieval. Your instincts should tell you what to do, and the practitioner can help you determine if a soul retrieval would be helpful to you at this time. If you need support after a soul retrieval, your shamanic practitioner may be able to help you. You can also find support from a therapist or a counselor.

 If you feel that you would like a soul retrieval, but have a feeling of fear because it is unknown, you can always contact a practitioner simply discuss soul retrieval or your fears. See how you feel after you have discussed it with him or her, and then decide whether or not you wish to proceed. Finally, a benefit of a soul retrieval or any shamanic healing is seeing that someone cares enough to help you. Most shamanic practitioners feel a strong desire to help make your road a little easier. Some people say that this is the most helpful part of the healing process for them. Good luck with your journey. Remember that whatever you decide, it is often the process of looking for healing that brings healing to you. When we ask the question, what is it I need, what do I need to do next, the act of questioning will often bring a flow of answers into our lives from unexpected sources.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cherokee Medicine People

Cherokee medicine people can be male or female. They believe there are evil medicine people and good ones. In fact, there are many kinds of medicine people in the Cherokee culture. Just as many modern doctors specialize in one area of expertise, so do most natural healers. Most medicine people are really good at curing some things, and don't even try to cure others. And like modern medicine practitioners, there are still a few general practitioners who will try to treat most things, but will refer you to someone else if it's something beyond their personal knowledge.

When something happens outside their realm of understanding, that cannot be explained by the rules of their culture, Cherokee people will say someone has been practicing bad medicine.

The Cherokee believe in witchcraft, but not in the context witches are thought of in anglo cultures. There are two kinds of witches in cherokee culture: ordinary witches and killer witches. Ordinary witches are considered more dangerous since a person can never be sure he is dealing with one, and they are more difficult to detect and counteract. They may deceive a medicine person, and cause them to prescribe the wrong cure if not guarded against. One killer witch who is still spoken of often today, and is mentioned in many Cherokee legends of the Cherokee Nation is the Raven Mocker.

Cherokee medicine men and women study for many years, and learn specific treatments from a written Cherokee syllabary given to them by their mentors. It is forbidden for anyone to look at this book if it isn't theirs, and it is often written in code, or parts are passed on verbally to keep the whole from falling into the wrong hands. Medicine ceremonies which are incomplete or performed out of context can do more harm than good and in the hands of the untrained can be downright dangerous.

Some Cherokee people see only Cherokee medicine people for mental or physical illnesses. Others prefer a combination of treatment from a medicine man and conventional modern medicine. Some Cherokees no longer believe in the powers of traditional medicine people.


Didanawisgi is the Cherokee word for medicine man. A common thread woven through all Native American remedies is the idea of “wellness” a term recently picked up by some in the modern medical professions. A state of “wellness” is described as “harmony between the mind, body and spirit.” The Cherokee word “tohi” - health - is the same as the word for peace. You’re in good health when your body is at peace. The “medicine circle” has no beginning and no end and therefore represents a concept of “harmonious unity.”

Cherokee medicine is a prevention-based system that incorporates the whole person, rather than the cure-based system that is used by most modern doctors of medicine today, which focuses on the disease. It is the belief among American Indian “doctors” that to achieve wellness we must have a strong connection to all things natural and both create and receive harmony not only within ourselves, but also in all our relationships. Once harmony is restored, illness and other health distortions simply disappear. To some, this would be a “cure.” In the Cherokee tradition, this is just good health - the way it should be.

Here the goal is to first help the patient recover - to cure the sickness rather than treat the symptoms- to help the patient find his or her balance - the harmony of our living. The ceremony performed is as important as the potion or salve made from the plants or herbs. This is what is now known as holistic healing - a healing of the complete person.

There is a legend among the Cherokee that tells of the origin of medicine. It tells how the animals and birds met in council to decide what to do about the encroachment of man upon their world and how carelessly he was treating them. One by one they listed ailments and maladies that would afflict the humans. Had they succeeded, humans would surely have disappeared by now. But nearby, listening to the council were the plants and herbs and, not being troubled by the humans, they agreed to supply a remedy for each and every one of the diseases the animals wanted to thrust upon humankind.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I am a certified hypnotist who is interested in past life explorations using hypnosis. I became interested in hypnosis and past life exploration in 1985. I was living in Tulsa, Okla. at the time and attended a metaphysical workshop on past lives. The woman conducting the workshop talked about a woman in Colorado named Virginia Tighe who supposedly recalled a past live as a 19th-century Irishwoman by the name of Bridey Murphy.

The story goes that in 1952, Colorado businessman and amateur hypnotist Morey Bernstein put housewife Virginia Tighe of Pueblo, Colorado in a trance that sparked off startling revelations about Tighe's alleged past life as a 19th-century Irishwoman and her rebirth in the United States 59 years later. Bernstein used a technique called hypnotic regression, during which the subject is gradually taken back to childhood. He then attempted to take Virginia one step further, before birth, and suddenly was astonished to find he was listening to Bridey Murphy.

I developed a friendship with the workshop facilitator and learned the basic technique of hypnosis. In 2006 I took a one month advance course in hypnosis and became certified.

I have used various hypnotic techniques in my shamanic healing practice. Hypnosis is a safe drug free way to break free of bad habits and overcome phobias. I have helped a number of people to quit smoking (myself included) and used hypnosis for those bothered by anxiety attacks.