Sacred Pipe Black Elk Essay

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SAMPLE EXCERPT . . .

Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." The Making of Relatives certainly speaks to the idea that all humans are part of God's creation. I wondered, then, and will read more of Black Elk's writings at a later date; how then did the Lakota people reconcile this oneness of humanity with the terrible way they were treated by the Westward Expansion into their territories, the bloody carnage, the slaughter of the buffalo, and the eventual "incarceration" onto reservations?

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Chapter 7 (Preparing for Womanhood) -- When one studies other cultures, one often finds that there are sacred rituals that help prepare what we would call adolescents into adults. Each culture has a different set of rituals, but all seem to take the notion, as Black Elk said, to celebrate puberty, or "the time when a young girl becomes a woman… and realizes the change taking place within her is a sacred thing. For now she will be as Mother Earth, and will be able to bear children" (116). Of course, in the Lakota culture, it was imperative that there be children to grow up, become hunters, wives, mothers, chiefs, warriors, etc. Instead of hiding the ritual with secrecy, formality and in many cases shame, as Western culture has done; the Lakota saw puberty as perfectly natural and a celebration both of their cultural ties to nature and the positive nature of becoming an adult, and thus participating in the tribe's needs. I thought -- how different this is that our own Middle Schools in which sexuality is squashed in many cases -- "yes, you are becoming an adult, but you can't have sexual thoughts" -- or, as one of my friends put it, "It is impossible to be Catholic and an adolescent at the same time." The Lakota were not celebrating promiscuity, but rather the natural cycle of birth, growth, maturation and death -- much as they observed in nature.

TOPIC: Essay on Sacred Pipe Black Elk, or Assignment

Chapter 8 (The Throwing of the Ball) -- For Black Elk, the ball (or orb) represents Wakan Tanka or the Universal Creator. The game of "Throwing the Ball" represents the course of life -- trying to succeed in life is like trying to catch the ball -- sometimes you succeed, but often you do not. Instead, it is the path towards the creator that has meaning, not necessarily the catching of the ball. This reminds me of a bit of Aristotle, paraphrased, "It is not the destination that is important, but the journey." It seems that Western culture accentuates this in a great deal of philosophy from Kant forward and the idea of utilitarianism and deontology -- the greatest good for the greatest number balanced with it is the manner in which one finds their path in life that represents good or evil. The journey is that Wakan Tanka is everywhere, in all four directions, and thus every aspect of the human life is centered on the goal to learn and become one with the universe.

Conclusions

After reading The Sacred Pipe, I realized that there were far more "connections" between various cultures and belief systems. A very interesting aspect of our human experience seems to be the way in which certain themes appear continually over time in literature, religion, culture, spirituality, and religion. Chronology, geography, or even economic status do not seem to matter, but instead the innate human need to explain the unknown, to delve deeper into the causality of the universe, and to try to come to terms with how we as humans "fit" in with not only the rest of humanity but the creator (by whatever name or concept this is known). Looking at spirituality in this manner, in fact, shows just how unenlightened many have been -- in that for centuries, the strong have overpowered other civilizations and used religion (spirituality) to exploit differences when, in fact, the differences, as Black Elk said:

You have seen that the four-legged buffalo people were not able to play this game with the ball, and so they gave it to the two leggeds. This is very true because, as I have said before, of all the created things or beings of the universe, it is the two-legged men alone who, if they purify and humiliate themselves, may become one with -- or may know -- Wakan Tanka (Brown 138).

How incredibly similar this is to the Eastern conception of karma, the essence of Nirvana, or even the Doctrine of the Trinity. This idea of a central archetype has been discussed by numerous scholars -- as a human need to explain basic similarities and functions. Myth becomes religion and then becomes science and then returns to spirituality, argued Carl Jung, arguing that all humans share certain innate unconscious forces that express themselves not through culture, but through the individual mind. Thus, the way ritual and myth define the individual and the group allow humans the nature to reinvent, to critique, and above all -- to grow and learn:

The modern hero, the modern individual who dares to heed the call and seek the mansion of that prescience with whom is our whole destiny to be atoned, indeed, must not wait for his community to case off its slough of pride, fear, rationalized avarice, and sanctified misunderstanding. "Live," Nietzsche says, "as though the day were here." (Campbell 199).

References

Brown, J. The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk's Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2012.

Cambpell, J., et al. The Hero's Journey. New York: New World Library, 2003.

Stampoulos, L. The Redemption… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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