Thursday, December 08, 2005

Black Elk Speaks

I recently finished reading Black Elk Speaks for the second time since my early 20s. To be honest, the first time I read it, I found it somewhat boring, but this time I was enthralled with the spiritual imagery and deep sense of purpose. I agreed with Vine Deloria Jr. when he stated in his introduction:

"(Black Elk Speaks) will become a North American Indian theological canon which will someday challenge the Eastern and Western traditions as a way of looking at the world."

As just one sample of Black Elk's wisdom, I submit the following quote from his book:

"Everything an Indian does is in a circle and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round…the sky is round, and I have heard the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greateset power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our tepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children."

He goes on to describe the source of his power and the manner in which his power manifested in the physical world for the benefit of his people. I'm not sure he intended his words to serve as a guide for others to follow, but I can't help but see the faint outline of a spiritual path others can use in their individual search for purpose and meaning.

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