White Buffalo Woman

October 21st, 2007 by sabrina

Several years ago I persuaded my husband to take me to South Dakota. I had always wanted to see the Badlands, the Black Hills, and the memorial at Wounded Knee. While we were there, I was also lucky enough to see a white buffalo calf, one of a handful that have been born since the early 90s throughout the US and Canada. Given that there are only about 250,000 buffalo alive today, and that the odds of a white one being born are 1 in 10 million, the existence of any white buffalo can only be explained (to me, anyway) as a sign that we need to remember White Buffalo Woman’s messages.

White Buffalo Woman is the Lakota Goddess of secret knowledge. Also called Ptesan-Wi, which translates as “White Buffalo Calf Woman“, she appeared one day to two hunters. She was dressed all in white and carried a small bundle on her back. One of the men was overcome with lust for her, but the second man recognized that this was no ordinary woman. The first man approached White Buffalo Woman, intending to embrace her, and she smiled at him. No sooner had he reached her than a white cloud of mist surrounded them. When the mist cleared away, nothing was left of the man but his bones. White Buffalo Woman explained to his companion that she only given him what he had desired, and in that moment he had lived a lifetime, died, and decayed.

The second hunter was sent back to his village to prepare the way for White Buffalo Woman. She told the people that she had come from Heaven in order to teach them the seven sacred rituals–the sweat lodge, the naming ceremony, the healing ceremony, the adoption ceremony, the marriage ceremony, the vision quest, and the sundance ceremony. From the bundle on her back, she gave the people all the tools they would need for the rituals, including the chununpa, the sacred pipe. She taught of the connection of all life, and the importance of honoring Mother Earth. White Buffalo Woman told the people that she would return to them when needed, to restore their spirituality and harmony with the land. As she walked away from the village, she looked back and sat down. When she stood again, she had become a black buffalo, signifying the direction west and the element earth. After walking a little further, she lay down again, this time rising as a yellow buffalo, signifying east and the sun. A third time, she walked, lay down, and arose as a red buffalo, signifying south and water. Finally, she rose as a white buffalo, signifying north and air. With one last look back at the people, she galloped off and disappeared.

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