Friday, July 30, 2010

Not always what they seem

I am currently planning a trip to Greece for next year.  As you might imagine, I am beside myself with excitement about the possibilities.  There are so many places I want to visit and so many things that I want to do.  I keep wondering what kinds of experiences I might have while I'm there.  Will they be life altering spiritual epiphanies or more subtle brushes with the divine? 

Which reminded me of something I wrote before.  The following piece was published in PanGaia magazine in the Winter 2003 issue.  I wanted to share it here, unedited, as it appeared in the magazine.  A lot in my life has changed since this time, and it isn't Persephone-centric, but I think the lesson I learned in Wisconsin nearly 10 years ago is universal.  (Also, I think - and hope - that I am a better writer now than I was then!)

The Goddess in America

Janesville Wisconsin

With all of the lessons I have had over the years, there is one that speaks the loudest to me. Don’t go looking for a spiritual experience, they have a way of finding you. There will be rituals that can blow your mind and conversations that will enlighten you, but often the Gods chose a more subtle approach. I learned this on a very special trip to Janesville Wisconsin in March of 1998.

Pagans are generally aware of the teachings in Native American Culture. In 1994, when a white buffalo calf named Miracle was born, the news fanned out quickly across the country. Her birth was celebrated by all Earth Centered people. The little white buffalo was the answer to a prophecy made in the legends of the Lakota peoples. The buffalo ranch in central Wisconsin was flooded with visitors, whom they welcomed with open arms.

I graduated from college in 1997 and moved close to my hometown. I began a job that was good for opening doors, but terrible for my daily stress level. In March of 1998, myself and my newly handfasted husband decided to take a long weekend vacation to see the Frank Lloyd Wright houses of Wisconsin. I realized as we were planning this trip, that we would be very near Janesville…and Miracle.

My personal connection with White Buffalo Calf Woman began while I was still in college, so to have a chance to meet her felt like a culmination to a spiritual experience. Little did I know, it was only the beginning. Before this I could only piece together a little about the story of White Buffalo Calf Woman. My connection began with dreams in which a white buffalo or young Native American woman would appear. I asked a couple of people what it might mean, but I put very little thought behind it. One Sunday afternoon I made a routine trip to a local grocery store where I fell in love with a small stuffed white buffalo. I bought it and brought it home. That very afternoon I was watching TV while cuddling with my new buffalo. I came across an episode of Unsolved Mysteries that told the story of “Miracle”.

The legend of the Lakota peoples of North America tells us that there was once a great famine among their tribe and a maiden Goddess appeared to them and taught them how to hunt the sacred buffalo. She then told them that she would return seven generations later in the form of a female white calf. The legend further explained that as she grew her coat would change from white to black to red to yellow, representing the four colors of human skin. Seven generations later, the ranch in Janesville, Wisconsin witnessed the birth of Miracle. I was struck by this story and I threw myself into learning everything that I could about Miracle and the legend of White Buffalo Calf Woman.

I learned that it was customary to prepare an offering representing a prayer for Miracle. I put my time and heart into making a beaded gift for the White Buffalo. We flew into Madison, Wisconsin and armed with only a map from, we set out to find the Buffalo Ranch that was owned by Dave and Valerie Heider. We drove and drove through rural Wisconsin, unable to find our Miracle. I was frustrated and angry about being lost and having to stop and ask directions several times. We almost aborted the mission more than once as our tempers short circuited. Finally, we found the ranch, not even 10 feet from a spot where we had turned around 30 minutes before. I was surprised that there nobody was there; everything I read told me there were always great numbers of Native American and Earth Religion visitors present. We entered the “Gift Shop” which showcased local Native American crafters. Once inside, “Grandpa”, Valerie Heider’s father, greeted us. He and his wife were the only two people at the ranch that day. We explained to him that we came from Michigan to see the White Buffalo and he eagerly took us to where she was kept. Miracle had reached her yellow phase, which seemed rather buffalo colored to us, so she mixed in well with the other buffalo. Before Grandpa had to point her out, I knew which one she was. I could feel her energy.

As I approached the fence she stepped toward me. I pulled out the offering, thought a prayer, and looped the beads onto the fence. Grandpa told us that she was going to be a mother soon and pointed her mate out to us. After some small conversation, Grandpa reached to the ground and pulled out a handful of grass and clover. He handed it to me.

“They don’t like it when we do this,” he said, “The Indians don’t want us feeding their sacred animal, but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.” So I reached my hand through the fence. Miracle sniffed at the clover and gently licked it out of my hand.

Before we left for Wisconsin I anticipated an intense spiritual experience. It hardly felt profound as it happened, but now as I reflect on the events that day, it was deeply spiritual. It was a moment that I alone shared with the White Buffalo – the incarnation of a Goddess. That is a very powerful experience.

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