Shamanism and Native Spirituality

The Red Race has understood and utilized many unspoken languages for centuries. We have been taught to read the signs in the faces of the Cloud People; the changes in the weather; the movement of the herds; the habits of our Brothers and Sisters, the Creature-beings, the cries and howls of the wild; the messages in our Medicine Dreams; and the language of the heart.

Smoke Signals are another universal unspoken language of Native Americans. The Sky Language is achieved through lighting a fire of mixed green and dry wood and using a wet blanket to smother and then release clouds of smoke. In times of battle, each Tribe used different signals to mark a path of action or to change their secret plans. This constant activity kept the enemy bewildered and confused.

Smoke Signals are the bridge between the Earth and Sky. The smoke from the Pipe is the essence of our prayers in visual form, traveling to the Great Mystery. In this manner, All Our Relations are put on notice that the prayers of the People are traveling to the Great Star Nation to be heard. The Smoke Signals used in communication between scouts sitting long distances apart are no different than the Smoke Signals sent through the Pipe to Great Mystery. Both are unspoken languages that signal the sender’s intent.

Few people know that the first revolution in the United States began with two unspoken languages. These were the knotted cord carried by various runners to various locations and Smoke Signals.

In 1680 the brave, yet peaceful, Pueblo Indians had been made a slave race by the invading Spaniards. The Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico was formerly known as Aztlan. It was the homeland of the Aztecs long before Cortez and Coronado began their quests for gold. Each Pueblo had a different set of laws and a different language; however, all had lived in peace with each other and in harmony with the Earth Mother for centuries.

After many years of cruel domination, a Pueblo Medicine Man named Popi united each Pueblo and helped to orchestrate the revolt that crushed the hold of the Spanish. This brilliant plan signaled the return to power by those who lived with the land rather than taking from it.

Runners were sent to the first Pueblo with cords knotted in a certain manner but were caught and killed by the Spanish. The Smoke Signals that told of revolution were issued forth three days later. The runners’ attempt was pure subterfuge and it worked. The Spaniards had tortured two young runners who had carried knotted ropes and were told that the revolt would take place on the fourth day after the runners were shot. The actual revolt begun on the third day was begun by Smoke Signals.

The possibility of victory for the peaceful Pueblo people struck a chord in the hearts of the raiding Apaches who had plagued the Pueblos for many years. The Apaches joined the fight in some areas and the Spanish were ousted from the mountains and valleys of Aztlan.

The intent of the Red Race was to reclaim their right to their own Knowing Systems and to use their own Medicine. The Masks, Kachina Dolls, Rattles, Drums, Eagle feathers, and other sacred objects had been burned by the orders of the Catholic Padres in an effort to force Christianity upon the Pueblos. The Smoke Signals sent the intent of the People to the Sky Nation as a resounding cry for freedom and they were victorious.

The unity of one heart and one mind among the different Tribes who could not speak each other’s languages was accomplished through the unspoken tongues of Smoke Signals and knotted ropes.

Smoke Signals are the language of the Sky Nation that relay the intention of the sender to those spirits who understand the heart’s whispers. The answers to the Smoke Signal’s questions can be read in the faces of the Cloud People. When Smoke Signals are sent to Great Mystery via the Fire or Pipe, a seeker is asking for an inner-knowing about some question.

Smoke-forms are one way in which spirit can be visually seen by humankind and the manifestation of these Medicine Helpers can bring serenity to the heart of a seeker. If, on a Vision Quest, a person lights a Fire to sent the heart’s intent to the Sky Nation, the answers may come to that person in forms created by the Cloud People.

~Jamie Sams

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