I’ve spent the past two weeks on the Yankton (Ihanktonwan)Reservation in South Dakota, outside of a town called Greenwood. As stated beforehand, I decided to take a Rainbow Bridge (aka jump in a car with my walk-gifted Serpent Mound family) from Crawfordsville, IN across Illinois and Iowa. I couldn’t possibly be more pleased with the results…though, it has been trying to say the least.
You see I’m helping Tom and Terri’s volunteer spiritual family to help an elder heyoka (backwards medicine man) to build his house…and well, that’s a pretty big undertaking. And it’s an even bigger undertaking when it’s understand that this building of the house is also a spiritual trial…not just for you, but for everyone involved and pretty much every single person on the reservation. So, to say the least, there were trials. And, well, we probably didn’t pass all of them with flying colors. Let me put it this way, I stayed after most people to help put the roof on and ended up digging trenches and holes beneath the house for a root cellar and to steady the foundation….while it was raining…for four days straight. That’s how you know you’re building a heyoka house.
But, the spiritual fruits of this venture were apparent before I even got there. The last fifty miles to Crawfordsville was pure magic…scary magic…slightly painful magic. I was sick those fifty miles, probably purging something nasty. Some left over ancestral karmic goop. However, I got through it. I got through a night in the home of a couple with both dementia and alzheimer’s (confusing and a little scary), a night in a church (awesome, but creepy and phenomenally odd dream inspiring), stuffy nose for hours straight, migraines, and aching feet. Even in the moment the magic around me was worth it all. But when I got to Crawfordsville and met Gordon Plain Bull Jr. and Renee Kincaid, it all made perfect sense. I was still in the process of collecting pieces of my soul, and that means purging borders. It felt like we were family immediately, like we had known one another all of lives. We stayed up until four in the morning, despite all being exhausted, telling stories. They taught me so much that I felt like a completely new person by the time I went to bed. Before I left, as if by magic, I had the perfect gifts for all of them (a good pure energy tonic for Gordon, an amulet with the birthstones of all of her children for Renee, and a light-weight hiking chair in his favorite color for their son Devon)…all things that were gifted to me, but I realized that I was just the bridge for them. It felt good being that bridge. I knew that that was my calling on this quest. Gordon gave me prayer ties to deliver to Bear Butte and some medicine to give to the passed animals that I see alongside the road.
Despite (and because of) the trials that were being laid before us, the family that gathered in Greenwood to help Chief Walking Bear (Preston) and his wife Whirling Spider Woman (Jihye), created unbreakable connections between one another and we managed to complete a great deal of the house: floors, walls, trusses, and most of the roof within a week. We’re still hard at work on it (We’ve almost completed a solid foundation and root cellar and moved all of the heavy things to the property), but it will be completed soon. And it will be a work of a pure act of love for a man who has dedicated his life to healing others.
Right now Graeme and I, who stayed behind to help with the completion of the house, are on a spiritual trip to the Black Hills to deliver prayers to some sacred sites here. We just got back from an amazing experience at the face of Crazy Horse. First of all, we managed to get there. We were late for the walk, but the people at the desk actually offered to drive me to the face for free (Graeme’s dad offered to pay for him), something that is normally a 135 dollar donation to the park. The spirit obviously knew that we needed to be there. It was actually preferable to doing the walk, because this gave us the space and solitude that we needed to properly pray. We delivered a string of glass beads that we collected from the earth on the property where we are building Walking Bear’s house. We put one feather on it, just like Crazy Horse used to wear. While there, we smudged and prayed with the beads to each of the directions inside of a circle that I drew out from the center of his face and left tobacco for him. Before leaving I made the green prayer tie that I was instructed to add to Gordon’s bundle. So many beautiful bridges, so much energy and intention being raised up that everything afterwards was illuminated. In the museum I stopped and sat to meditate next to a model horse with beautiful beadwork in the Oglala Lakota tradition. When I opened my eyes a 6 or 7 year old boy was standing in front of me. I had passed him earlier while he was telling his mom, dad, and brother, “It’s deja vu. It’s deja vu. I’ve been here before. I know I have.” I took note of him at that time. His mom was Native and his dad African American. He was walking While in front of Black Elk’s vision tepee: the vision wherein he imagined all races dancing within the Sun Dance circle. I muttered aloud to myself. “I feel you, brother”. He was staring at me while I was sitting on the floor “Hi, my name is Josh.” His mother called for him. “Hi, I’m Crystal.” He started moving towards his family who was leaving the room and put his finger to his temple and said “Call me.” I was stunned. My mind shut off for a moment, but somehow I managed to vocalize “Okay, I will.” He turned once to look at me, smiling just a little.
We stayed until night fall, watched the light show, and I danced in the parking lot as the wind flutes and chants played over the loud speaker and Crazy Horse became all colors. The last set of colors was the iridescent black, blue, purple, green of the feather we left for him. We received it as his thanks and left, driving off to build another bridge: Bear Butte.
Below are some photos from the trip so far. There are many more, but these are all I can share for now, as the spirits felt it necessary to keep my phone behind in Greenwood. But enjoy these for now. I love you all.
Things Found Alongside the Road Game Round II