|A Perspective of Soul|
|When I lived among the plains and the hills of the open lands of the continental united States of America, I was able to enjoy my freedoms in a way that few people consider. I did not belong to any of the leading races that were pioneering this country frontier from abroad, rather I was among those who belonged to the land as an indigenous people.|
|Early one morning I had gone out to be with nature, as I was gradually becoming more aware of how to listen and commune with her in what you would think of as prayer. I was a young Indian girl, who was stepping out from the home, you may call me Wakita, which means, "looking."|
|On this particular morning as I was walking with nature, taking in all that it had to offer, I stopped for a while on a grassy hillside and began to pray. As I have just mentioned I never called it prayer, it was more of a commune, but you can think of it as prayer. While in this state, which seemed to last an extraordinary long period of time, I was able to connect with the inner aspect of all things. I was able to feel the movements of the wind and the animals inside of me; I was able to feel the sun from an inner place of warmth, even hear the messages of the speech of the animals, and the trees, and the earth itself; I was outside of time and space. As my consciousness soared, I began to grasp a higher view of the earth and the greater cosmos, as it spanned from its origins; I was able to see how the many parts of life were connected with one another as if belonging to an intricate web. There was no thought of my parents from my Indian life - rather everything was part of a whole.|
Gradually I came back to my surrounding as I left that deep inner place within myself and I returned later to my village in what must have been a less than triumphant arrival. Everyone was going about their daily chores and routines - a natural part of life - completely unaware of the moving experience I had some time earlier. It was an experience that would remain with me for the remainder of my life, and I often would look back to it in fondness of the peace and joy and tranquility experienced in those moments when things were otherwise difficult to bear.
As time moved forward I was matched up with one of the warriors of the village after the elders had consulted with the spirit of the ancestors as was our tradition to do. The belief that the spirits of Indians (and all peoples) were brought together with purpose upon entering this world, and it was important to ensure that people were matched up according to the desires of the spirit that brought these souls together. In other words, the elders used a method to indicate which people were to be married based upon soul choices prior to entering this world. While this has often been called arranged marriage in contemporary circles, they used the arrangement based upon what could be discerned as the desires of the soul-self - they viewed marriage as a union of souls, and their perspective was in accord with one of the soul. This spiritualization of an arrangement - not merely for physical gain, but for spiritual purpose means much more to the soul self than the physical aspects alone speak of.
However, I was a bit of an enigma as far as traditions are concerned, and the elders had some difficulty in determining what exactly should be done in my case. Eventually it was decided that I would be matched with one of the already aspiring prominent warriors, and the arrangements were made for the ceremony. Part of the difficulty of my match was a result of my purpose in that life, but marriage was a necessary part of life that would help me reach that purpose.
|As a Native living in the 1800's, we were faced with the challenges of the day. These especially included survival. Not only was there diminishing herds and expansion of settlers, but the white man came with threats of violence in an attempt to convert those less civilized, or worse, kill for material wealth, such as gold and land. By the reasoning of the white man, the only rights that you had as a Native was the right to die. As a Native, it was difficult to understand the white man's preoccupation with the materialistic mindset because it was not only foreign to the teachings and traditions of my people, but it was against the Great Spirit to believe that anything we have is not provided for us for the use and benefit of all. While this does not necessarily mean that no one owns anything, and is a bit of a simple and crude way of looking at the concept of ownership, because it makes little sense to own something that is alive, and everything possesses life, it is rather, a union - you own what you use because of need- no one has a right to take away from you - and you would never really think to sell it, otherwise you would not have needed it to begin with. You could say, you possess what is possessed by you.|
To explain what this means, consider a shirt. When you wear a shirt, it is yours and respected as such. When you take it off, it is still yours because you intend to use it. But if you leave it behind, it belongs to everyone - or the next one who needs to make use of it. You left it without need, so it no longer is possessed by you. Something such as the land was thought of similarly, only it was possessed by all, in the same way that the country is owned and possessed by, "We the People." This is a collective ownership in the spirit of brotherhood, and it becomes very childish to fight over a piece of dirt that was provided for you by the Spirit and Force of Life. The white man could be seen in this child-like framework - one that uses force of arms or threat of force to ensure he gets his piece of the sandbox. To an Indian who was looking to the greater perspective, the white man seemed rather foolish, and his ways were not our ways- he was strange to us. He did not respect the things we respected, and he even did not respect himself. This was the thinking that the "Christian" ministers came up against in their attempts to bring the Indians out of their "heathen ways" by salvation in Jesus. This "ministering" was spread as the white man expanded and claimed new territory. The white man was completely ignorant to his own heathenism.
|As the years progressed, Natives were forced further and further back from white establishments. There came a point where the chiefs decided that enough was enough - the white man would push them off the land entirely if left unchecked. Skirmishes broke out with the hostilities that were erupting on either side. I remember waiting for the warrior men- including my husband to return home from war parties, as I feared for those who came back injured or those who did not return at all. It was a difficult time, and the white man did not live up to his words. Many felt he was not worthy of trust - I myself began to hate the things that he had done to force us into ways that were difficult. Although I did not have to meet the white face to face in battle, and I would not have thought myself capable of killing another person, there was little doubt that had I been forced to defend myself, I would not have hesitated to do so.|
As the intensity of the situation increased, these was a new element added into the mix that began spreading through the various tribes. It was a technique that altered a person's consciousness in such a way that it allowed them to command over a lesser part of themselves, and through separation, a person's lower part could be given a mission to accomplish, before returning to the person. This is what became known as the ghost dance, and it anything struck fear into the white man, this was it. After all, how do you fight someone that does not feel pain, or fear whatever you might do to him?
In time, because of concern for the consequences of using the spirit in this way, one of the chiefs ordered that the ghost dance be given up. Many followed, but some continued for a time. Many reading this may wonder how is this spiritual? Rest assured the implications of what I state are quite large in scope, and the Natives, as an earthly people used many natural aspects of man in a spiritual manner. The ghost dance could be justified given that the alternative that the Natives faced was annihilation.
Eventually treaties were signed and the people, although they had lost much, had the opportunity to survive until another time. As age began to take hold of me, I became a guide for the people, as I began to fill the role of a wise woman. Although my husband was gone now, and this new life and purpose found me, I could not deny that the role of wife and mother was a necessary step along the path.
It is important to understand that the Natives that I belonged to were generally considered a peaceable people. Husbands and wives filled different roles that could not be interchanged, and they were not even attempted to be. While a woman was considered to be submissive to her husband, this was not a passive submission, but an active one, very deserving of respect. In fact women - like all life - were considered sacred and held a place of honor. They are to be protected, and cared for because they do not possess the physical strengths of a man. They have other strengths with which a man can not compete, and in order to actively use them, they need to be in a safe environment where their strengths can be enacted upon.
To illustrate what I mean, as a woman, I could feel things within me. For
example, if my husband was talking about taking a particular course of action, I
might feel as if there was a hot fire burning within part of my being. This
indicated to me that choosing that particular course would be dangerous. But if
the course was spirit enhancing, and useful, I might have felt as if there was a
cool breeze blowing within me.
Although these are simple illustrations, it is important to recognize that similarities to actual events, such as a hot fire, or a cool breeze, are just that. Those external events that you perceive with your outer senses, were like what I experienced with an inner sense. Men generally do not perceive these things, so it is difficult to compare to an actual experience they participate in - only that there are differences other than just sex organs, and these important differences are one of the things many people fail to understand.
Because of these such differences the society was organized and structured around the strengths of the two oppositional genders. For example, although no women were allowed to be on the tribal counsel, for good reason, neither were men allowed to vote on a decision unless they had first consulted with their wife. It was expected that when a man spoke about a decision on the counsel, he was speaking with a mind that included both his and his wife's thoughts, and it was because of this union of thought that decisions made were in the best interests of all concerned.
As a wise woman, one of my roles involved education of the young ones. This did not involve indoctrination as is carried out today, but was assisting in the unfolding of the journey that began to take place in each person's life. In this role I was a spiritual leader, and held a place of honor among the community of my people. It was my purpose in that life to help ensure the survival of the people. I was able to do this at that point in my life by passing on the traditions as they had been carried on and taught.
In time, my time came to be and I passed from this world peacefully as my breath gave out. As my spirit was then freed, it left behind my physical body and its limitations along with it. In my new found "body" I began to experience how different I felt now that I was separated from how I had been. My existence was no longer physical. There was no longer any lingering fear of what might happen to me, no longer any distrust or hatred towards those who had brought destruction along with them to my people, there was only expansion and all encompassing, all inclusive harmony.
In this place, before a mighty powerful and wonderful Being of Light I was able to experience what is called a life-review. This description has been used by many who have died, only to return to their body on earth. They call this the near-death experience. More correctly, it is a death experience. The physical body is animated by the spirit, when that spirit leaves the body, the body begins to die. But if that spirit returns to the body, it can restore it to animation again.
So there I was before the Being of Light, as an altered conscious spirit being, able to ask any question that I had, able to experience what I had not known. During this time of reflection I had to be evaluated to determine if I had been successful in my life's mission. Now to understand the life mission you must understand that every person, every soul has the same mission in life, but the complexity of this mission means that only a part of it is achievable in a given lifetime. In this respect equal does not mean the same. While many people do little towards their life mission, those who do are often given other missions to accomplish during their lifetime. As I have stated, my mission was to ensure the survival of the Native people, and this mission was part of a group effort - which we had been able to succeed at. But as my work was not complete, I am here among you now.
The spirit of the body of the woman known as Wakita was eventually absorbed and
became a part of the Being of Light. Her essence and experiences continue to
live on through this Being in a timeless state. As I am also a part of this
Being I was and am able to experience that part of my Being that lived at that
time, in that woman.