Tag Archives: lakota

The Butterfly Effect


out of control stressThat first year that I attended a Sun Dance in support, I was about as stressed and overworked and frustrated as I might have ever been.

In a Sun Dance, there are the dancers, the singers and the supporters.  I was informed that should I go, I would be a supporter for him as a dancer participant.  He kept emphasizing that it truly was a support role and I would be expected to help out as necessary.  Kitchen duty to prepare meals for the singers and other supporters along with pretty much any duty as needed.

going to be worth it

He kept wondering if I was okay with that role.  Really?  That is the role I play every day with my family. And ‘other duties as assigned’ is part of my job description as well.

I don’t think I will get into the every  nuts and bolts of it, but I do have a story that relates just to me about the event.

It was held on private grounds in South Dakota – a five and a half hour drive.  It was a beautiful day and my first time in that region of Wyoming and first time to SD.  Once you get into Wyoming, except for a few spots, it is easy to be going eighty miles per hour and not even realize it.  I had the windows down and pushing past that eighty mark for a few hours when I felt something on my leg.

I was wearing shorts for one of the last times in days as I had been told that once the event started I would need to wear a dress or skirt the entire time.  I’m sure there are plenty of folks that would have paid to see me in skirts for five days since I didn’t even get married in a dress!

When I looked down to see what was tickling my leg, I saw a fairly large butterfly!  I had the windows up with the air on at my last stop and since then had been going with the speed limit or more once I had rolled down my windows and yet on my leg was a butterfly that was at least 3 inches wide at it’s larges span.  I took a photo with my Itouch that was on the seat so that I could later identify it and then it flew to the passenger window.  I rolled down the window and let it be sucked out (sure, in hindsight I could have slowed down).  But then, it made it into the car at 80mph, surely it could make it out at that speed too.

mourning cloak butterfly


Obviously the photo above is not the one taken of the specimen that was resting on my knee but it could be it as it is identical in markings.

I told my cousin about it when I got there before he was sequestered as a dancer and he said that it was good for me that the medicine man was not here as that is the kind of thing that gets people put into the dance.  I kept my mouth shut and didn’t tell anyone else until the dance was over and then I only revealed it to one other person. The other person’s reaction was the same as my cousin’s. Had it been another year when the medicine man was alive, I might have been dancing.

I didn’t fully realize until I got there that I actually wouldn’t get to speak to my cousin for the 4 days that he was dancing.  This left me with a group of people who are tightly knit and have a strict way of abiding by the customs.  I tried my best to pitch in when I could see a need and do whatever was necessary.  Not knowing anyone allowed me to just ask questions and experience the ceremony following the examples of what the other supporters would do.  I could compare it to going to a different church and not knowing how they run their service, you kind of sit back and watch and jump in when you feel you know the system.

I’ll have to skip through most of that week or you’ll be reading for a month, but to say that it nourished my soul would be not even giving it enough of it’s due.  Any of the pent up frustration and angst of work was drained of me in that week and as I would tell my cousin many times, it was a special and incredible gift that I was able to be there to experience.

When the dance, the thanksgiving meal, gifting and memorial were all over, we left, each in our own vehicles, for the return drive to my house where he would stay the night before heading off.  As we were driving out of South Dakota, we started driving through masses and masses of butterflies. I could see they were smaller and did not have the coloring of the one that had graced my presence on the way there.  I also noticed that they were all the same color and very dark.  They were literally on the roads and fields next to the road and would fly up in a wave just as they do when you encounter a flock of them in a field.

millions of butterflies

We went through several miles of what to me were millions of butterflies.  They finally dissipated and soon we were out of the state and stopping for gas.  As we were both fueling our vehicles, I was washing the butterfly gunk off of my windshield and asked cuz if he wanted me to clean his windshield as well and commented that wasn’t that a wild thing to see?  He asked what I was talking about and I said that of course I was speaking of all the millions of butterflies we had driven through a while back.

He just looked at me and kind of shook his head and said flat out that he hadn’t seen any butterflies.  There was no way I was believing him as he was just behind me and even if my car was the only one plowing through them, he would have seen the rest flying over and on each side of the cars!  “No” he said. He sincerely hadn’t seen any butterflies.

Great, I had another three hours of driving to try and figure this out before we would get to my house and I could see if he was pulling my leg or not.  Turns out, he never did see those butterflies.  He did say they meant something, he just didn’t say what that something was.

I had to wait a year to find out what they meant.

You will only need to wait a day – maybe two.

Love Sally


A Cousin Calls

05/19/15cousins are awesome

This trip probably started about three years ago when I received a phone call out of the blue from a cousin of mine.  He use to come stay with me when we were young and unmarried, but after he graduated from college and life got busier for the both of us, we just didn’t keep in touch for a while.  Eighteen years or so of a while.

I find it ironic as I write this to realize that at the time he was phoning that he having his own RAW Challenge (being that I started this blog because of the Australia RAW Challenge).  His RAW stood for “restoring ancient wisdom”.  He phoned that he was going to be passing through from Arizona where he had lived on a Hopi Indian Reservation for several months and going up to South Dakota to visit the Lakota Indians.  I won’t go into his vision too much as that is his story to tell, but let me say that he has incredible, beautiful stories to tell as he has visited tribes of many cultures on several continents and has come away with  marvelous knowledge and glimpses of cultures that few of us ever get to experience.  He knows the value of these ancient rituals and he endeavors to help to keep them alive.

As part of his journeys and meetings, he met a Lakota Medicine man who had a vision to teach other cultures about even the most sacred and previously secret ceremonies so as to show the power and prayerfulness of their ways with the knowledge that to teach others is to take away the fear and ridicule that manifests in persecution.

communication problem

My cousin started participating in these sacred ceremonies and not only learned about the people he was working with and their traditions, but of himself.

Skip ahead a year – to two years ago when he phones me and during the discussion he mentions that he is to participate in a Native American Sundance Ceremony.  Having only heard of such a thing in a movie, I asked if there was any possibility that I could come and watch.  It was one of those times that I felt that there was a chance to experience something most never will and didn’t want to miss the chance.  I did go and was amazed at the serenity of the rite and prayerful time.

more than pray

The medicine man had passed away just a month or two prior to the Sundance and at the end there was a memorial for him.  Because of this, I was immersed in a time of sharing and reflection for what had transpired with many folks there for many decades with him.  The stories of how each person met him that unfolded to me over the five days was nothing short of miraculous.

I’ll save the stories for another time. More tomorrow on how this leads to going to Tennessee.

Love Sally