Black Elk Speaks

Reflections on some deep roots of the Morningstar House.

John Neihardt was the European man who translated the visions of the Lakota Sioux holy man into English in 1930.

This story appears in the forward to that book, and in a synchronistic way it came as a blessing upon this Morningstar house as I was beginning to share my home and my heart with guests from around the world, and many who came for sweat lodges and chanupa ceremonies starting in 2012.

This story took place on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The aging Black Elk met a kindred spirit, the famed poet and writer. The Lakota elder chose Neihardt to share his visions and life with the world in a beloved spiritual classic, which reveals his resounding vision of the wholeness of the earth, her creatures, and all humanity.

“Black Elk, with his near-blind stare fixed on the ground, seemed to have forgotten us. I was about to break the silence by way of getting something started, when the old man looked up to Flying Hawk, the interpreter, and said (speaking Sioux, for he knew no English): ” As I sit here, I can feel in this man beside me a strong desire to know the things of the Other World. He has been sent to learn what I know, and I will teach him.”

He was silent again for some minutes; then he spoke to his little grandson, who sat near us, and the boy ran up the log cabin at the top of the hill. Presently he returned with a sacred ornament which, I learned later, had belonged to Black Elk’s father (who also was a holy man) and had been used for many years by both father and son in their sacred ceremonies. It consisits of a leather star tinged with blue and from the center of the star hangs a strip of hide from the breast of a buffalo, together with a feather from the wing of an eagle. The ornament is suspended from a leather loop to be placed about the neck. Holding the star before us, Black Elk said: “Here you see the MorningStar. Who seeing the MorningStar shall see more, for he shall be wise.” Then lifting the eagle feather, he said: “This means Wakon Tonka (the Great Mysterious One); and it also means that our thoughts should rise high as the eagles do.” Then lifting the strip of buffalo hide, he said: “This means all the good things of this world– food and shelter.” Handing the ornament to me, he said: “My friend, I wish you all these things. Put it around your neck.”

I’m grateful to all my teachers of the wisdom ways– and my interest in “things of the Other World” grow stronger as I encounter many souls who come here, now.

The power visions are coming to many as they cross the threshold into the spirit of this house. The eagle feather and the buffalo hide– for wide angle vision, and the good and necessary things of earth– food and shelter. Hosting people here is more like just holding space… Opening my heart to the Mystery. Welcome to each of you who finds your way into the art of this, the heart of this sweet walk. Imagine there is and Morningstar pendant in my hand, being placed around your neck as you enter here in peace and community partnership. May we share this journey with those who come from the four winds, all races, colors, cultures and creeds… We are waking up, and we are One… and we are mending the sacred hoop of all nations.