Sunday, September 25, 2016
CELEBRATING THE EQUINOX
A group of Native American Women from the Northwest have made it a goal to protect a herd of albino buffalo. The picture makes them look golden, but in real life, they are white and much desired by hunters.
The Grandmothers of the White Buffalo Lodge came to Murphys to perform a ritual "Turning Of The Turtle" native ceremony to recognize and celebrate the Equinox on Sept. 22nd.
After the ceremony was completed, everyone gathered to a feast.
In recent years, interested people have joined the Grandmothers in their cause, and my neighbor, Jan Stewart became a Grandmother four or five years ago. She hosted this gathering, along with neighbors like myself.
Jan invited one Grandfather to this gathering, John Weaver, a naturalist who gave an eloquent presentation about his totem, the vulture. "I wanted my totem to be a raven, but the vulture spoke to me, raining down feathers in my path. He spoke of the bird as a cleansing creature. He repeated an ancient Indian legend about the vulture sacrificing its beauty by flying into the sun an getting burned when it moved the sun farther away from the earth to protect man. Then he invited each of us to pick a vulture feather to take home.
He gifted Jan with a little stuffed white buffalo.
Grandfather John also brought a selection of beautiful polished rocks for all of us to examine and touch and discuss. Here is a small part of his collection. But, I dally, on to the ceremony.
Each person is smudged before entering the ceremonial grounds.
Then anointed with essential oils, a mixture of favorites from all of the Grandmothers.
We gathered in a ring around the turtle.
Owl kept guard.
The ceremony of turning the turtle is sacred and no pictures are allowed. In essence, the turtle is made from earth untouched by human hands. Grandma Tanya stated she got her soil for turtle from Luli Ani, if my ear caught the name of gopher correctly. It is taken up with a trowel or basket and made into a turtle shape with rock legs, tail and head. In the ceremony, the head points West for fall.
During the ceremony, each person placed a small bouquet on the turtle's back and thanked the spirits for giving us the bounty of nature, or prayed for a loved one present or passed. We sang several songs, trying to follow along with the unknown Indian words. Then people got up and danced, shaking their gourd rattles, or drumming their animal skin drums. It was a fascinating ceremony and done with much reverence. Then four of us tied a bag of herbs on each pole representing North, South, East West, blessing the earth and praying for the harvest season or "fall".
As we looked up from our fine dinner, a beautiful pink cloud sailed overhead.
Guests were invited to select a gourd from the table before we left.
Jan has painted a gourd for her coffee table and has much to display her dedication to being a Grandmother of the White Buffalo Lodge. Two years ago, she made a trip to visit the buffalo and meet with the Grandmothers in their territory.