She appeared there in the field, out of nowhere, naked, as if she had fallen fresh from the sky. She was beautiful, too, her long, white hair the length of her body, flowing in the wind, a vision to behold. Two men spotted her, they had set out from the village to scout for game. They were hungry, these two men, in body and in spirit, just like everyone else.
The first man, when he saw that she was naked, turned away out of respect saying, “she must be a Wakan Win, a sacred woman.” The second man was overpowered by his desire to possess her and assuming she was vulnerable and helpless with no man to protect her, he attempted to rape her.
The other man, who had turned away when he saw her, lived, and humbly escorted her into the village, inviting her to do her work which he knew in his heart, a good heart, to be sacred work. In his heart of hearts, really, he considered all women to be sacred.
Her name was Whope’ which means Falling Star, daughter of The Sky, Mahpiyato. The Lakota who tell the story say she sang this song:
I am walking toward a buffalo nation,
and my voice is loud.
With a visible breath I am walking
toward this sacred object.
The sacred object that the sacred woman was walking towards was a community, a village, a nation, a people, it was, in fact, humanity itself, us. Nothing was going to keep her from her mission, not even one terribly violent man. Forcibly displaced from their homeland and struggling to provide for themselves, she had come for the people, a female messiah, to show them how to live. She stayed with them a few days and taught them what to grow, how to treat one another, she taught them a new dance, quite different from the dance of starvation and despair, she taught them how to dance with the Sun, the Sun Dance. She revived their sacred rituals and in doing so, gave them a new birth. Then, taking the form of a buffalo, she disappeared, leaving them a sacred pipe, the gift of Heaven, a way to invoke the sacred medicine of the earth, their story, the story of a people. It’s still there, in the Holy of Holies.
She had come to save them and the first reaction she got was violence towards her. Isn’t this typical of our own experience? Whenever we set out to do something good for ourselves or someone else, we are often met with anger, punishment and rage. The hostility of the world can be quite overwhelming when we set out to do the work of healing.
Yet, she persisted because she knew humanity to be sacred at its very core, though quite lost, she knew them to be capable of peace. But primarily, she understood the sacredness of her very self, and that was not a thing to be compromised, ever, in fact, compromising that would be the greatest sin of all.
She had to look beyond one man’s violence, and her people had to look beyond a nation’s violence; she had to look beyond one man’s desire to possess her and her people had to look beyond a nation’s desire to dispossess them of everything; in order to do their work together which was simply to heal, to invoke the sacred in all things. Healing is the sacred gift and it is also, quite ironically, the greatest revenge of all, this, the opposite of death.
This story, like every story, offers us medicine. Will we be the one with
the sacredness of the universe standing before us, and rather than surrender to it, (oh, terrible defeat) choose to dance with death? Or will we be the sacred woman, the humble man, and choose the other alternative, to dance with the Sun?
Today, choose the Sun as your partner and walk toward the sacred in you, singing her song: With a visible breath I am walking toward this sacred object.