|The Sacred White Buffalo, courtesy of former Spirit Mountain Ranch.|
Legend of the White Buffalo
The White Buffalo are sacred to many Native Americans. The Lakota (Sioux) Nation has passed down the The Legend of the White Buffalo--a story now approximately 2,000 years old--at many council meetings, sacred ceremonies, and through the tribe's storytellers. There are several variations, but all are meaningful, and tell of the same outcome.
Spirituality among Natives Americans and non-Native Americans has been a strong force for those who believe in the power of the Great Spirit or God.
It matters not what you call the Creator. What matters is that you pray to give thanks for your blessings and trust the guidance given to you from the world of Spirit. Many truths about Spirit are told and handed down from one generation to the next.
The legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman tells how the People had lost the ability to communicate with the Creator. The Creator sent the sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman to teach the People how to pray with the Pipe. With that Pipe, seven sacred ceremonies were given for the people to abide in order to ensure a future with harmony, peace, and balance.
Legend says that long ago, two young men were out hunting when from out of nowhere came a beautiful maiden dressed in white buckskin. One of the hunters looked upon her and recognizing her as a wakan, or sacred being, lowered his eyes. The second hunter approached her with lust in his eyes desiring her for his woman. White Buffalo Calf Woman beckoned the lustful warrior to her, and as he approached a cloud of dust arose around them causing them to be hidden from view. When the dust settled, nothing but a pile of bones lay next to her. As she walked toward the respectful young hunter, she explained to him that she had merely fulfilled the other man's desire, allowing him, within that brief moment, to live a lifetime, die and decay. White Buffalo Calf Woman instructed the young man to go back to the People and tell them to prepare for her arrival to teach them of the way to pray. The young hunter obeyed. When White Buffalo Calf woman arrived with the sacred bundle (the prayer pipe) she taught the People of the seven sacred ways to pray. These prayers are through ceremonies that include the Sweat Lodge for purification; the Naming Ceremony for child naming; the Healing Ceremony to restore health to the body, mind and spirit; the adoption ceremony for making of relatives; the marriage ceremony for uniting male and female; the Vision Quest for communing with the Creator for direction and answers to one's life; and the Sundance Ceremony to pray for the well-being of all the People.
When the teaching of the sacred ways was complete, White Buffalo Calf Woman told the people she would again return for the sacred bundle that she left with them. Before leaving, she told them that within her were the four ages, and that she would look back upon the People in each age, returning at the end of the fourth age, to restore harmony and spirituality to a troubled land. She walked a short distance, she looked back towards the people and sat down. When she arose they were amazed to see she had become a black buffalo. Walking a little further, the buffalo laid down, this time arising as a yellow buffalo. The third time the buffalo walked a little further and this time arose as a red buffalo. Walking a little further it rolled on the ground and rose one last time as a white buffalo calf signaling the fulfillment of the White Buffalo Calf prophecy.
|White Buffalo Calf Woman, Original artwork by Rogue Guirey Simpson, 1992|
The legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman remains ever promising in this age of spiritual enlightenment and conscious awareness. In today's world of confusion and war many of us are looking for signs of peace.
"With the return of the White Buffalo it is a sign that prayers are being heard, that the sacred pipe is being honored, and that the promises of prophecy are being fulfilled. White Buffalo signals a time of abundance and plenty." (from Sams and Carson, Medicine cards)
Though harsh as the world we live in may be throughout recorded history there have been spiritual leaders teaching peace, hope and balance (synergy) amongst all life. This was taught by great teachers such as Jesus, Buddha, the Dali Lama's, and Native American leaders.
Chief Crazy Horse, Chief Seattle, and Chief Red Cloud are a few of the visionary leaders who committed their lives to bring peace, and internal happiness to all who they touched. They were tangible signs of goodwill toward all men, women and children.
Legend courtesy Jim and Dena Riley
Added March, 2005, updated March 2013 to remove contact information to former Spirit Mountain Ranch. http://www.legendsofamerica.com/na-whitebuffalo.html
Native American Legends: White Buffalo Calf Woman (Ptesan-Wi)Name: White Buffalo Calf Woman
Native names: Ptesan-Wi, Ptesanwi, Ptesanwin
Type: Native American goddess, culture hero, buffalo spirit
White Buffalo Calf Woman is one of the most important Sioux mythological figures. She brought the sacred pipe to the Sioux people, and taught them many of the arts of civilization.
White Buffalo Woman StoriesWhite Buffalo Calf Woman Brings the First Pipe:
Lakota legend about White Buffalo Woman and the origin of the peace pipe.
Recommended Books of Related Native American LegendsThe Sons of the Wind:
Good collection of Sioux legends told by a Lakota author.
Native American Legends About Buffalohttp://www.native-languages.org/legends-buffalo.htm
reposted from http://www.native-languages.org/morelegends/white-buffalo-woman.htm
Among the bands assembled were the Itazipcho, the Without-Bows, who had their own camp circle under their chief, Standing Hollow Horn. Early one morning the chief sent two of his young men to hunt for game. They went on foot, because at that time the Sioux did not yet have horses. They searched everywhere but could find nothing. Seeing a high hill, they decided to climb it in order to look over the whole country. Halfway up, they saw something coming toward them from far off, but the figure was floating instead of walking. From this they knew that the person was waken, holy.
At first they could make out only a small moving speck and had to squint to see that it was a human form. But as it came nearer, they realized that it was a beautiful young woman, more beautiful than any they had ever seen, with two round, red dots of face paint on her cheeks. She wore a wonderful white buckskin outfit, tanned until it shone a long way in the sun. It was embroidered with sacred and marvelous designs of porcupine quill, in radiant colors no ordinary woman could have made. This wakan stranger was Ptesan-Wi, White Buffalo Woman, also called Ptecincala Ska Wakan Winan. In her hands she carried a large bundle and a fan of sage leaves. She wore her blue-black hair loose except for a strand at the left side, which was tied up with buffalo fur. Her eyes shone dark and sparkling, with great power in them.
The two young men looked at her open-mouthed. One was overawed, but the other desired her body and stretched his hand out to touch her. This woman was lila wakan, very sacred, and could not be treated with disrespect. Lightning instantly struck the brash young man and burned him up, so that only a small heap of blackened bones was left. Or as some say that he was suddenly covered by a cloud, and within it he was eaten up by snakes that left only his skeleton, just as a man can be eaten up by lust.
To the other scout who had behaved rightly, White Buffalo Woman said: "Good things I am bringing, something holy to your nation. A message I carry for your people from the buffalo nation. Go back to the camp and tell the people to prepare for my arrival. Tell your chief to put up a medicine lodge with twenty-four poles. Let it be made holy for my coming."
This young hunter returned to the camp. He told the chief, he told the people, what the sacred woman had commanded. The chief told the eyapaha, the crier, and the crier went through the camp circle calling:
"Someone sacred is coming. A holy woman approaches. Make all things ready for her."
So the people put up the big medicine tipi and waited. After four days they saw the White Buffalo Woman approaching, carrying her bundle before her. Her wonderful white buckskin dress shone from afar. The chief, Standing Hollow Horn, invited her to enter the medicine lodge. She went in and circled the interior sunwise. The chief addressed her respectfully, saying:
"Sister, we are glad you have come to instruct us."
She told him what she wanted done. In the center of the tipi they were to put up an owanka wakan, a sacred altar, made of red earth, with a buffalo skull and a three-stick rack for a holy thing she was bringing.
They did what she directed, and she traced a design with her finger on the smoothed earth of the altar. She showed them how to do all this, then circled the lodge again sunwise. Halting before the chief, she now opened the bundle. the holy thing it contained was the chanunpa, the sacred pipe. She held it out to the people and let them look at it. She was grasping the stem with her right hand and the bowl with her left, and thus the pipe has been held ever since.
Again the chief spoke, saying:
"Sister, we are glad. We have had no meat for some time. All we can give you is water."
They dipped some wacanga, sweet grass, into a skin bag of water and gave it to her, and to this day the people dip sweet grass or an eagle wing in water and sprinkle it on a person to be purified.
White Buffalo Woman showed the people how to use the pipe. She filled it with chan-shasha, red willow-bark tobacco. She walked around the lodge four times after the manner of Anpetu-Wi, the great sun.
This represented the circle without end, the Sacred Hoop, the road of life. The woman placed a dry buffalo chip on the fire and lit the pipe with it. This was peta-owihankeshini, the fire without end, the flame to be passed on from generation to generation. She told them that the smoke rising from the pipe was Tunkashila's breath, the living breath of the great Grandfather Mystery.
White Buffalo Woman showed the people the right way to pray, the right words and the right gestures. She taught them how to sing the pipe-filling song and how to lift the pipe up to the Great Spirit, up toward Father Sky, and down toward Mother Earth, and then to the four directions of the universe.
"With this holy pipe," she said, "you will walk like a living prayer. With your feet resting upon the earth and the pipestem reaching into the sky, your body forms a living bridge between the Sacred Beneath and the Sacred Above. Wakan Tanka smiles upons us, because now we are as one: earth, sky, all living things, the two-legged, the four-legged, the winged ones, the trees, the grasses. Together with the people, they are all related, one family. The pipe holds them all together."
"Look at this pipe," said White Buffalo Woman. "Its stone represents the buffalo, but also the flesh and blood of the red man. The buffalo represents the universe and the four directions, because he stands on four legs, for the four ages of man. The buffalo was put in the west by Wakan Tanka at the making of the world, to hold back the waters. Every year he loses one hair, and in every one of the four ages he loses a leg. The Sacred Hoop will end when all the hair and legs of the great buffalo are gone, and the water comes back to cover the Earth.
The wooden stem of this chanunpa stands for all that grows on the earth. Twelve feathers hanging from where the stem- the backbone- joins the bowl- the skull- are from Wanblee Galeshka, the spotted eagle, the very sacred, who is the Great Spirit's messenger and the wisest of all who cry out to Tunkashila. Look at the bowl. Engraved in it are seven circles of various sizes. They stand for the seven ceremonies you will practice with this pipe, and for the Ocheti Shakowin, the seven sacred campfires of our Lakota nation."
The White Buffalo Woman then spoke to the women, telling them that it was the work of their hands and the fruit of their bodies which kept the people alive. "You are from the Earth Mother," she told them. "What you are doing is as great as what warriors do."
And therefore the sacred pipe is also something that binds men and women together in a circle of love. It is the one holy object in the making of which both men and women have a hand. The men carve the bowl and make the stem; the women decorate it with bands of colored porcupine quills. When a man takes a wife, they both hold the pipe at the same time and red cloth is wound around their hands, thus tying them together for life.