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Posted by on in Paths Blogs




see also - Elemental Spirits and Lore: The Thunderbird

 

 The first time the spirit of the Thunderbird visited me was, as described in the above article, in the spring of 2019. Again over the past week or so I’ve been having visitations and visions, in both waking and dreaming life, of hawks and eagles and I feel their powerful return.

Spring is the season of the Thunderbird. In the fall they take their storms away and in the bright, renewing springtime they soar in with their beating wings and bring the rains and thunder back.

The Thunderbird is one of the few ubiquitous characters across Native American lore. While they have some variations from one tradition to another, there are many attributes that remain consistent, one of the most significant being their dual and contrary natures. As they are essentially allegories of natural forces, i.e. rain and storms, this makes perfect sense. Rain brings life and cleansing to the land and all that grows, but storms can be incredibly destructive too.

We humans are a part of nature and a reflection of the dualities in nature. We are comprised of all the elements, just as the Thunderbirds are, and we are often in conflict with ourselves and with other people. Some tribes believe that there are benevolent and malevolent Thunderbirds that are constantly at war with each other. Other tribes believe that the Thunderbird may be, at different times, either “good”, happy and bestowing blessings and protection, or “bad”, angry and snatching up children and livestock to feed upon.

We have emerged from a very dark and challenging year, in which perhaps we may feel like Thunderbird has been angry and vicious, and sending only storms and destruction into our lives. Though it hurts and may be hard to see, sometimes that destruction is for our own good, as it makes room for better things to grow and it forces us to question the necessity or value of what was destroyed or changed to begin with. Sometimes though there is also unnecessary and wicked destruction. There have been and still are people who are in power and who have great influence, unfortunately for darkness, injustice and chaos, and that is not the purifying destruction enacted by nature.

The chaos has not yet passed, and we don’t know if times just as hard or even harder may still be ahead. Some cities and whole states are relaxing their safety measures against the pandemic prematurely and countless individuals all over the country are still not taking the care they need to. While some things undoubtedly seem much better now than they did for much of last year, on both national and personal scales, we simply aren’t out of the woods yet.

This spring is an important time to reevaluate, to take stock and slow down. Too many people have been over-reactive, impulsive and are much to quick to judge and try to control others and usually very hypocritically so. There is far too much that is out of our control and the wild, primeval nature and power of Thunderbird reminds us of this. We all have our place in the world but we cannot impose our personal beliefs or limited viewpoints on the rest of the world.

This is also a great time to ask ourselves just why we believe what we do, and if perhaps it is time to change or altogether release some of those beliefs. We have to dig up and throw away the old, the dated and decaying if we are to make room for new shoots to come in and new buds to bloom. This is a cleansing and renewing time.

Trance and shape-shifting are very powerful and appropriate rituals for this spring. If you are fortunate enough to have a drum, spend some time sitting either in nature or in a comfortable corner of your home and beating the drum (or simply play a shamanic drum track, many can be found on Youtube) as you imagine the beating wings of the Thunderbird. Fall into a trance state to calm, cleanse and renew yourself, and let the resonating vibrations crumble and shake away any beliefs, fears, thoughts or doubts that are holding you back. Imagine yourself shifting into a mighty hawk or eagle, or even an owl if you prefer, and soar high in the sky and look down on all the vast land below. Try to gain a new perspective and balance your own inner gentle rains and roaring storms.

If you try this, or even if you don’t, try to bring simple awareness to the energy of the Thunderbird, to constant change and to the dualities of nature and yourself. See if perhaps hawks and eagles start to appear more and heed their call to become your own medicine woman or man and seek to destroy that which needs to be destroyed, and heal that which needs to be healed.  

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Connect with your Taíno ancestry, Abuela said when I complained about my stomach ache.   

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Elemental Spirits and Lore: The Thunderbird

Only those who have had visions of the thunder beings of the west can act as heyokas. They have sacred power and they share some of this with all the people, but they do it through funny actions. When a vision comes from the thunder beings of the west, it comes with terror like a thunder storm; but when the storm of vision has passed, the world is greener and happier, for wherever the truth of vision comes upon the world, it is like a rain. The world, you see, is happier after the terror of the storm.” – Black Elk Speaks, as told through John G. Neihardt, 1932

The thunder beings and the thunderbird(s) are synonymous throughout Native American lore and cultures. This powerful spirit associated with water, storms, holy powers and the West is known and revered among tribes from the Pacific northwest to the plains to the Eastern coasts, including the Sioux, Arapaho, Lenape, Cherokee, Iroquois, Ojibwe, Salish, Menominee and many others.

To me, the Thunderbird represents a veritable symphony of all elemental powers. To Native Americans he was and is at once that embodied force of nature as well as a mighty cryptid creature, even if that creature only exists in our imaginations and hearts, without which we may manifest nothing. Why then must “imaginary” be inherently exclusive of reality? There is often a very fine line between the two.

There are theories that the earliest ideas for the Thunderbird were inspired by discoveries of pterosaur fossils (not pterodactyl, which only applies to a specific genus of pterosaur), if not perhaps by sightings of late-existing actual pterosaurs or some similar megafauna.

Thunder beings of various kinds are known in cultures the world over, most of which are anthropomorphic e.g. Thor-Donar of Norse and Germanic lore, and Zeus-Jupiter of Greek and Roman mythology. However, speaking of Norse cosmology, there is also a great hawk or falcon named Veðrfölnir  (Old Norse for “storm pale”, often Anglicized as Vedfolnir and roughly pronounced as VETH-fol-neer) who sits between the eyes of an unnamed eagle perched atop Yggdrasil, the world tree. 

From its three great roots the tree attained such a marvelous height that its topmost bough, called Lerad (the peace-giver), overshadowed Odin’s hall, while the other wide-spreading branches towered over the other worlds. An eagle was perched on the bough Lerad, and between his eyes sat the falcon Vedfolnir, sending his piercing glances down into heaven, earth, and Nifl-heim, and reporting all that he saw.” – Myths of the Norsemen by Helene A. Guerber

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    I see. Yeah I definitely know what multimedia is, just wasn't sure what exactly you meant in context! Thanks for clarifying, good
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I think the thunder beings and possibly the birds of prey are trying to transmit a story through you. Humans are story telling cr
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    The Foundation for Shamanic Studies website had some articles on it. In one of them the author described going to meet a thunder
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    I don't think I am either, as I said. Actually I know I'm not. That is a very specific and very powerful role that few have been o

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Two Spirits, Two Sexes, Many Genders

 

Z Budapest once stirred up strong feelings, ending in a demonstration, by holding a biological-women-only ritual at Pantheacon.  The previous year another group had also excluded trans-women from an all women ritual.  Some people decided it was time to challenge the legitimacy of such practices. It was quite the kerfluffel for a while. I was one of Z’s defenders. 

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My complete argument criticizing 'cultural appropriation,' and offering a more interesting alternative, is now up.

For those of you interested in examining the complete argument criticizing the entire idea of 'cultural appropriation' and describing a far better, and much more interesting, alternative view, I have now posted it up on my web site.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_Hiawatha_M._L._Kirk_-_1910.jpgThe people of standing rock North Dakota won a victory this week. The Army Corps of Engineers denied access to the Dakota pipeline. The pipeline, which is already 90% built, will be rerouted. Although exactly where it will be rerouted is still open to question. The pipeline route now being protested does not go through the current boundaries of the reservation, but the old reservation boundaries. And of course that change of boundary has also been contested, and rightfully so.

What is it like to have the land that was declared to be yours seized out from under you? People who have been affected by eminent domain could give you some answer to that. Although they could not speak to the cultural destruction that has been experienced by Native Americans.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Rianna Stone
    Rianna Stone says #
    Please tell me where you got your information from because I would love to know. You said, and I quote, "Reservations are owned by
  • Selina Rifkin
    Selina Rifkin says #
    My source is Naomi Schaefer Riley who wrote The New Trail of Tears She spent years visiting reservations and speaking with actual

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Sometimes you don't realize the power that energy carries.  I have been teaching my girls about energy, you know, how everything around us has a type of energy attached to it.  It's almost funny watching them as they discover this and the thought process clicks and they realize that there are reasons why they feel the way they do about things around them.

We talk about residual energy and how every person and thing that comes into our house leaves an energetic imprint of some sort.  As well, our emotions leave imprints of energy.  I explained that this is why we need to cleanse the house of energy as well when we vacuum, dust, and clean the house in the normal way that most people think about cleaning houses.  Intention plays a large part in this cleaning.  Most people who do not do energy work can still clear the energy out of their house through simple cleaning, as it is their intention to clean and make their space feel clean, feel fresher, feel better.  They seem to watch, pay attention as things change around them and us.  They are mindful of the people we meet and who come to visit.

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