Sometimes the Thunder Beings put on a show!

 I didn’t see this in person, but check out this recent photo from Bear Butte (west river), SD:

The Thunder Beings ( Wakinyan Oyate, or Thunder People) visited Bear Butte. The Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires- the United Nations of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people across South Dakota) had just finished the Buffalo Dance over at Standing Rock. It was the first time in nearly 100 years the Buffalo Dance was at Standing Rock, so I guess the Thunder Beings were pretty thrilled about it! 

At St. Kateri Parish 2022: Holy Trinity Circle: Father,
Son (cinhintku) and Holy Spirit (7 eagle feathers in the
seven directions in which one prays. The Circle
represents “all my relatives.”)

The traditional understanding teaches that all things are imbued with the spirit of the Creator, Tunkasina (literally, Grandfather) or Wakan Tanka (Holy Great One, Sacred One, Great Spirit) being used interchangeably with the understanding that these address God. All beings and all things are relatives. Things like water, rocks, earth, etc. are considered to be sacred, living beings. Humans are not “over” anything, but rather are equal members in the circle of relationships.

Every prayer is finished with the phrase mitakuye owasin, “all my relatives.” Humans are related to everyone and every thing, an all-encompassing world-view that is difficult for us who are raised in a hierarchical and paternalistic world-view to embrace. It is difficult to integrate the traditional understandings with that presented by much of Christianity- where God is not only at the “top” of the picture, but humans, via sin, can disconnect from God…. some would even say are disconnected by Original Sin until baptized- and humans are toward the bottom. In this world-view, animals are not considered as beings at all- after all, Christianity teaches that animals have no “soul,” right?

What a gift it is to see how people integrate both world views! It can’t be easy!