Michael Wombat’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: The Great Circle
The old Lakota people were wise. They knew that a man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that a lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans, too. So they kept their children close to nature’s softening influence.
Everything natural was possessed of personality, only differing from the people in form. Knowledge sat inherent in all things. The world was a library, its books the stones, leaves, grass, streams and the birds and animals that shared, along with them, the storms and blessings of earth. They learned to do what only students of nature can learn; to feel beauty as a sensation inside themselves. They never railed at the storms, the furious winds, and the biting frosts and snows. To do so intensified human futility, and so whatever came they adjusted, by more effort and energy if necessary, but without complaint.
They did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, the winding streams with tangled growth, as ‘wild’. Only to the white man was nature a ‘wilderness’ and only to him was it ‘infested’ with ‘wild’ animals and ‘savage’ people. To the Lakota it was tame. Earth was bountiful and they were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery.
Look at Mother Earth now. See what devastation the white man has wrought upon her, first by building ugly structures high upon her face, and then by raping her for fuel and resources. When she could give no more, they fought over the little that remained. They rained incandescent fire upon each other’s cities, towering mushroom clouds of devastation that rendered flesh and steel alike to ash, until nought but ruin remained. They poisoned the water. They poisoned the air. The clouds of their destruction covered the face of Anpetu Wi, the sun bison, for two years. The vegetation and animal life became sick, and died. Most humans died of the air-sickness, but a lonely few survive, frightened and deep underground. They do not have long to live.
Everything the Power of the World does works in a circle. The sky is round, the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for they too worship us. The sun spirit Anpetu Wi and his moonwife Hanhepi Wi come forth and go down again in a circle. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything. The tepees of the Lakota were round like the nests of birds, and were always set in a circle, the sacred hoop of the Sioux Nation.
Now is our time. We shall fall to Earth once more, we spirits, to teach the pitiful remnants of humankind the lost way; the way of the Great Mystery. Tate, the god of wind, will decontaminate the poisoned air. Untunktahe, the water god, will clean the tainted seas. Maka, earth goddess, will purify the seared land. And White Buffalo Calf Woman will re-educate the people in the Seven Sacred Rites. The Earth will become whole and beautiful and a paradise for humankind.
And then Iktomi, spider trickster spirit, will once again set his twin worms, Evil and Greed, to burrow into the hearts of men and the long, slow fall into destruction and despair will happen once more, as it has times uncountable since I first created time itself. For such is the way with circles. Everything repeats.
So speak I, Wakan Tanka, The Sacred, The Divine, The Great Spirit.
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Michael Wombat has published several books - search for him on Amazon, or go talk to him on Twitter where he is @wombat37.