California has a Super Majority of Dems in Both our State House and Assembly

Californians have elected a 2/3 majority in the Senate and a super majority in the state assembly. And as we’ve all heard, “as California goes so does the nation.” I think this, as much or more than the presidential election show that people are waking up to the fact that the Republicans are double talking southern strategists who protect the interest of the 1 percent and the 1 percent only. It is heartening. I believe this is what spirit was referring to in the summer when it gave me such high numbers for the assembly and senate in CA and maybe referring to the mid-term election. CA will be a petri dish for the nation. It has always been “conventional wisdom” to split the house and senate in order to, I guess, keep balance? But this strategy I think we are already seeing has been a stupid one with the new radical right wing Republican party. It may have worked when rational thought was still in vogue but alas now days it’s passe’ among Republicans as there are no longer any moderate ones.

I do want to go into some darker things about visions I have had about the backlash. As all my readers can see there are some seriously psychotic, nasty, delusional people who populate the far right. They seized control of the Republican party and in essence have dismantled it ,because lets face it, most people are not psychotic, nasty, delusional people who want to see others starve while the upper crust pick the bones of the dead from the rotting corpses after the self induced Rapture. 

Most people are reasonable – and it used to be that the Republican party (many years ago in a long lost time) were reasonable, normal people. They even did some amazing things like Lincoln who freed the slaves. They used to be a moderate party who just had different ideas on how to get things done but alas they have been highjacked by the birthers, tea-baggers, plutocrats and religious zealots who have EVERYTHING in COMMON with the Muslims zealots they are so “afraid” of, yet they believe exactly the same things – that women should be chattel, have no rights to their own bodies, and government should be a theocracy.

Yet somehow they don’t see the irony, or similarity between their desire to merge State with Church as those zealots in the Middle-East who started a similar movement back in the 70s and turned countries like Iran from moderate western leaning countries into theocracies that we now are horrified by. I ask these people why they believe merging Christianity with State business would be any better – that experiement was tried during the middle-ages and was an abysmal failure similar to what we have seen in the middle-east. Or the merger of the  made up, bizarre Nazi religion that was merged with their government.

THEOCRACY really DOESN’T WORK. Seriously, just look at the history.

Problem is most people who support a theocracy think that theocracy will be a theocracy that looks like their religion – but what if it isn’t? What if you were a Christian and had to convert to Buddhism – would that be OK?

Yeah, no, we all know the answer…

This is why the founding fathers seperated church and state. And those who say they were “Christian” should do a little digging into what those of us who read call “history” as it turns out most of them were occultists.

Yes, they believed in God (used as a general term for a higher being) but they weren’t all Christians – Ben Frankly I’m pretty sure was an atheist.

Controlling religious belief is what the COMMUNISTS did to their people. They would NOT ALLOW ANY RELIGION. They REQUIRED a belief in ATHEISM because of the statement by Marx that “Religion was the Opiate of the masses.” What the extreme right are proposing is in essence no different than what the Chinese do to their people (but on the other side of the same coin) by disallowing personal freedom to choose how many children to have. This is the same thing the right-wing Christians want to do – they just want to take the choice away on the opposite side. Ironically, both the far right’s ideas truly mirror the very things they are terrified of.

Government – at least in a DEMOCRACY – has no right to invade people’s bedrooms, privacy or lifestyle. I have a ministerial credential and have married Gay couples many times because I believe that being GAY IS COMPLETELY NATURAL and people shouldn’t be punished or disallowed rights that other people have because they fall in love differently than the majority. Just as being Wiccan, Buddhist, Mormon, a Spiritualist or whatever religious or non-religious persuasion one has – should not be discriminated against – nor should it be the business of the public or the government.

It states plainly in our BILL OF RIGHTS. We have the right to:  Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

So unless those rights impinge on the welfare of others than case closed. THE END. NO more discussion should be had – it is not the business of those who are straight to decide the fate of gay people anymore than it is the right of men to decide what women do with their bodies or for women to decide that male pattern baldness should be punishable by law. It’s all ABSOLUTELY ABSURD. There is NO MORAL arguement to be made – sorry folks on the right. Give me one actual MORAL arguement not the lame “God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve,” crap. Actually God did make Adam and Steve because 10 percent of all animals on this planet are homosexual. My beloved cat Geb was gay and lucky for him he wasn’t born human or he would have been made to feel like crap about himself for the way GOD made him.

You can’t have it both ways – God = all powerful and loving and God = makes mistakes and creates horrible suffering and evil. (And don’t try making the Devil argument he’s a later invention.) He’s an amalgamation of many other demonic figures, old Gods/Goddess and even the word Hell comes from the Ancient Goddess of the Hell Fires up in Scandinavia where souls crossed over into the next world. Maybe that was like heaven to them – it is REALLY REALLY COLD there. 

All I ask from the far right wingers is they stop watching their daily zombie diet of FOX News and just do some actual research using BOOKS and CREDIBLE sources. It’s not a coincidence that the more educated one is in the bible the more one sees inconsistencies and questions their religious beliefs. In fact many great theological scholars end up Agnostics and all the priests I knew back when I was quickly converted to Catholicism after my father’s death were openly so. 

However the urge to be ONE WITH GOD is absolutely and totally human and noble. I absolutely get the need to merge with this mysterious and beautiful force that is so beyond our understanding that we have hundreds of different interpretations of the same religion in each organized religion and in older religions like Hinduism there are thousands not to mention how abstract and esoteric the ideas get. 

I totally applaud the desire to be close to God/Creator/Goddess/Great Spirit/Life Force/Universe/Multivesre whatever you want to call it. I get it. I have it in excess. This is exactly why no one way works and why we should never NEVER judge or associate right/wrong or hatred with this SACRED FORCE.  We have to allow each soul to find his/her way to the Great One. 

As Rodney King said, “Can’t we all just get along.” I mean really. God has a plan for everyone and the truth is if you are judgmental and nasty for sure you don’t know it. In fact you are lost yourself. God doesn’t work through fear because fear is the opposite of love not hate. I say this because love brings compassion and understanding and fear brings intolerance, hatred and disconnection and the source of all love is GOD/SPIRIT/UNIVERSE/CREATOR/MULTIVERSE/PLACE YOUR WORD FOR IT HERE. 

I am heartened today by the fact that the stars (which reflect the Great Spirit’s plans for us) have been abided.

I however am not naive to the very strong and powerful forces of greed, selfishness and shortsightedness which fuel the motives of those who must feed their need to feel important by lording over other human beings – aka plutocrats (think of Trump as the inadvertent spokesman for their subconscious thoughts as he appears to be a walking Id.) These dark forces will rear their ugly heads again and we have a long way to go to correct the many years they’ve had to game the system. 

One must always be vigiliant against these forces everywhere. Lets not forget Germany was a Democracy before Hitler was elected.

And for those who said it couldn’t happen here (those I argued with as far back as HS) take heed – ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

Many blessings and peace be with all of you,

Denise

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California has a Super Majority of Dems in Both our State House and Assembly

Thunderbird and Heyoka

I’m reprinting the information from another site the author is Steve Mizrach.  I’m doing so because this information is important to me. I dreamed of lightning and was approached by Thunderbeings who told me, “We are walking in a sacred manner,” the repeated this over and over. I had this dream about six months ago and I knew at the time it was a harbinger of chaos and war. The next night I had a visitation from an angel Yah-Shew-Ah or Joshua at first he came to me in a white tunic covered in dirt and then revealed himself to be an angel. He claimed to be an ancestor of mine. He then gave me a spiritual gift that I have been spending much time using. It is the gift of protection – in the way that those who were spiritually pure were protected during passover.

I had wanted to give readings for people on the site, but my life became very hectic, as I dealt with many friend’s crisis’ as well as trying to work and raise a toddler. So I will do this instead. I can offer this gift. It is the gift of spiritual protection. Anyone who needs it can contact me via this website through a comment or through the e-mail: astrologyandpsychicpredictions@gmail.com. I know it sounds strange but there are many weird things to come and if you give me your name, birth date (time would be good as well as where you are born so I can locate you on the Auric plane) I will put protection around you. My only caveat is that if you ask me to do this I will get information about you and if I can’t protect you I will let you know the reason – for example if you are sick and are ready to cross over I can not protect you from that or if you have done heinous things I can not protect you from your own karma. If this occurs I will contact you via this site in a post stating your initials and place of birth and ask you to e-mail me so I can let you know why the protection did not work – if of course you contacted me for help in post form if not I will just e-mail you back from the astrologyandpsychicpredictions@gmail.com.

This is a crucial time in human history. It is not the end but it does have the potential to be the end of many things which could lead to major re-adjustments. If you want spiritual protection during this time of transition please do not hesitate. I will make a nightly list and do the ritual for you. This is the most I can offer at this time but in my opinion it is much more powerful and helpful than simply “knowing” what you will live through in the next year.

Please read this very interesting article that I reprinted which was sent to me by my husband due to my connection with the Thunderbird spirits and heyoka. Interestingly my husband is of Native American ancestry (I mean he’s nearly half and a registered member of a tribe – a direct ancestor of those that walked the trail of tears) as far as I know I’m not, (I’m almost entirely Eastern European w/some Scottish/Irish on my mother’s side, but I know nothing about my mother’s father (the Scottish/Irish side) so perhaps I have some Native American roots I am unaware of. Either way all humans are related and all racial memory becomes universal human consciousness that we can tap into.  Also on a side note the angel was from the old testament (which I don’t know very well since I was raised Catholic after my Jewish father’s death – despite being raised culturally Jewish – crazy, huh? I guess that’s why I figure all religions are fine as long as they make sense to the person who belongs to them – different strokes and all. Whatever gets you close to the Great Spirit/God-Goddess is great.)

Many blessings to all of you – make everyday count – let the Great Spirit whisper to you through your heart and your life will be complete,

Denise

 

by Steve Mizrach

http://www2.fiu.edu/~mizrachs/thunderbird-and-trickster.html

Thunderbird and Trickster

Introduction

The Thunderbird is one of the few cross-cultural elements of Native North American mythology. He is found not just among Plains Indians, but also among Pacific Northwest and Northeastern tribes. He has also become quite a bit of an icon for non-Indians, since he has also had the honor of having automobiles, liquors, and even a United States Air Force squadron named after him. Totems bearing his representation can be found all over the continent. There have been a number of curious theories about the origins of the Thunderbird myth – ones which I will show are probably wrongheaded.

In this paper, moreover, I want to examine how the myths and legends of the Thunderbird tie into the sacred clowning/trickster ritual complex of Plains tribes such as the Lakota. I will show how the Thunderbird is intimately connected to this complex, and attempt to explain why. It is the intimate association between these two traditions that may help explain some features of Plains culture and folklore. Aspects of the Thunderbird myth only make sense in light of these associations.

Plains Indians myth and folklore

In order to understand Plains Indians folklore, we have to realize that their myths were not just “just-so” stories to entertain, divert, or make inadequate efforts at naturalistic explanation. Rather, Indian myth functioned in religious, pedagogical, and initiatory ways, to help socialize young people and illuminate the various religious and other roles in society. Indian myth was always fluid, and grounded in the present, which is what might be expected of societies which largely lacked static, written traditions. Storytelling was an art which was maintained by the medicine people with great fidelity, because it was used to explain the development of certain rituals and elements of society. (Hines 1992)

Some have looked at the Thunderbird myths through the same lens of understanding applied to European mythology. The Thunderbird is like the Indo-European dragon or ogre or Leviathan, a huge monster who kidnaps virginal maidens, and who must be slain by the brave hero. Or the Thunderbird is simply treated as some kind of fantastic oddity, like the mythical unicorn or mermaid – an impossible construction borne from the extremes of the imagination. Both these attempts at explaining myth lose the important point of seeing Thunderbird as a personification of energies in nature – those found in violent thunderstorms and such – and his crucial dual nature.

Still, the Indians were not merely “mythmaking” in the pejorative sense. They no more literally believed in a giant bird generating storms through the beating of its wings, then Christians today literally believe in their divine being as an old man with a beard sitting on a marble throne. Thunderbird is an allegory; his conflicts with other forces in nature are then an attempt to allegorize relationships observed in the natural order, such as the changing of the weather. Like other Thunder Beings, he is essentially an attempt to represent the patterns of activity of a powerful, mysterious force in a way that can be understood simply and easily – sort of the way in which a weather map functions today. (Edmonds and Clark 1989)

The Plains Indians believed that everything that was found in nature had a human representative in microcosm. Everything in nature often contained its own opposite polarity, hence the expected existence of beings such as contraries, women warriors, and berdaches. Because the Thunderbird in particular represented this mysterious dual aspect of nature, manifest through the primordial power of thunderstorms, it is not surprising that his representatives were the heyoka or sacred clowns, who displayed wisdom through seemingly foolhardy action. Western thinking has prevented us from seeing the reasons why Indians perceived this connection. Few anthropologists have sought to locate how Thunderbird may have been mythologically linked to Trickster.

The Nature of Thunderbird

In Plains tribes, the Thunderbird is sometimes known as Wakinyan, from the Dakota word kinyan meaning “winged.” Others suggest the word links the Thunderbird to wakan, or sacred power. In many stories, the Thunderbird is thought of as a great Eagle, who produces thunder from the beating of his wings and flashes lightning from his eyes. (Descriptions are vague because it is thought Thunderbird is always surrounded by thick, rolling clouds which prevent him from being seen.) Further, there were a variety of beliefs about Thunderbird, which suggest a somewhat complicated picture. Usually, his role is to challenge some other great power and protect the Indians – such as White Owl Woman, the bringer of winter storms; the malevolent Unktehi, or water oxen who plague mankind; the horned serpents; Wochowsen, the enemy bird; or Waziya, the killing North Wind. But in some other legends (not so much in the Plains), Thunderbird is himself malevolent, carrying off people (or reindeer or whales) to their doom, or slaying people who seek to cross his sacred mountain. (Erdoes and Ortiz 1984)

Many Plains Indians claim there are in fact four colors (varieties) of Thunderbirds (the blue ones are said, strangely, to have no ears or eyes), sometimes associated with the four cardinal directions, but also sometimes only with the west and the western wind. (According to the medicine man Lame Deer, there were four, one at each compass point, but the western one was the Greatest and most senior.) (Fire and Erdoes 1972) The fact that they are sometimes known as “grandfathers” suggest they are held in considerable reverence and awe. It is supposed to be very dangerous to approach a Thunderbird nest, and many are supposed to have died in the attempt, swept away by ferocious storms. The symbol of Thunderbird is the red zig-zag, lightning-bolt design, which some people mistakenly think represents a stairway. Most tribes feel he and the other Thunder beings were the first to appear in the Creation, and that they have an especially close connection to wakan tanka, the Great Mysterious. (Gill and Sullivan 1992)

The fact that Thunderbird sometimes appears as something that terrorizes and plagues Indians, and sometimes as their protector and liberator (in some myths, he was once an Indian himself) is said to reflect the way thunderstorms and violent weather are seen by Plains people. On the one hand, they bring life-giving rain (Thunderbird is said to be the creator of ‘wild rice’ and other Plains Indians crops); on the other hand, they bring hail, flood, and lightning and fire. It is not clear where with them worship and awe end, and fear and terror begin. Some Indians claim that there are good and bad Thunderbirds, and that these beings are at war with each other. Others claim that the large predatory birds which are said to kidnap hunters and livestock are not Thunderbirds at all. Largely, I suspect that this dual nature of the Thunderbird ties it to the Trickster figure in Indian belief: like the Trickster, the harm the Thunderbird causes is mostly because it is so large and powerful and primeval.

Origins of the Thunderbird Myth

Cryptozoologists like Mark A. Hall, having studied the Thunderbird myths of numerous tribes, and compared them to (mostly folkloric) accounts of unusually large birds in modern times, as well as large birds (like the Roc) in other mythic traditions, suggest that there may well be a surviving species of large avians in America – big enough, apparently, to fly off carrying small animals or children, as has been claimed in some accounts. (Hall suggests the wingspan of such a species would be several feet longer than any known birds – certainly bigger than that of the turkey vulture or other identifiable North American species.) (Hall 1988) Such researchers feel the Thunderbird myth may have originated from sightings of a real-life flesh-and-blood avian which might be an atavism from earlier epochs (a quasi-pterodactyl or teratorn, perhaps.)

However, the big problem with this theory is that most ornithologists consider it to be quite farfetched. If such a species existed (a situation akin to the folkloric Sasquatch), it would be amazing that to this point it has remained unidentified and uncatalogued. A species of birds that big, unless it consisted of an extremely small number of members, would find it hard to avoid detection for long. Hall does suggest the possibility that maybe, like the mastodon, these large birds were hunted to extinction prior to the arrival of Europeans on the North American continent. Still, the other problem with his theory is that it ignores what Indians themselves have to say about the Thunderbird.

They describe the Thunderbird as a spiritual, not just physical, being. It is not seen as just a large, fearsome predatory bird that people tell stories about. Rather, it’s an integral part of Plains Indians religion and ritual. Only by ignoring this fact could we put our Western ethnocentric biases into effect, and reduce it to a zoological curiosity. The Thunderbird is much more than that; the Indian attitude toward it comes from more than just the mere fact that it is supposed to be really big. To understand the origins of Thunderbird myths, it’s necessary to see how they connect with other elements of Indian belief and ceremony – especially the Trickster complex – and see how they fit into the structure of Plains Indian myth as a whole.

Clowning around in Plains Indian culture

Clowning, like the icon of the Thunderbird, could be found in almost every North American Indian society. In every case, it involved ridiculous behavior, but on the Plains it especially exhibited inversion and reversal as elements of satire. There were four types of clown societies on the Plains – age-graded societies, military societies, the northern plains type, and the heyoka shamanistic societies. The behaviors of all sorts of clowns revolved around a few basic themes or attributes: burlesque, mocking the sacred, playing pranks or practical jokes, making obscene jokes or gestures, caricature of others, exhibiting gross gluttony or extreme appetite, strange acts of self-mortification or self-deprecation, and taunting of enemies or strangers. (Steward 1991)

The age-graded clown societies primarily consisted of older people who had been inducted into their ranks – groups such as the Gros Ventre Crazy Lodge or the Hidatsa Dog Society. These clowns were assumed to simply be playing a role appropriate to their sodality, rather than receiving some sort of supernatural inspiration. They carried out certain expected ritual performances on proscribed days, such as the Crazy Dance or the imitation of animals. In contrast, the military clown societies such as the Cheyenne Inverted Bow String Warriors, often carried comical or ridiculous weapons, but were also expected to show absurd bravery in battle, provoking the enemy into giving up its discipline and cohesion with taunts and insults. Not surprisingly, they sometimes rode their horses backwards into battle.

The northern plains clowns, found among tribes such as the Ojibway, wore masks which made them appear to be two-faced, and costumes of rags which made them appear comical. All of these three types of clown societies practiced a sort of conventionalized or patterned sort of anti-natural behavior. That is, they might do something which seemed strange or contrary, but under somewhat regular conditions. You knew when they might do something weird – and there were times when they were forbidden to perform their antics. Further, they might often “give up” the clowning way of life, and return to a non-contrary state by marrying and engaging in a more normal mode of existence.

The heyoka were different in three primary ways from the other sorts of clowns. They were truly unpredictable, and could do the unexpected or tasteless even during the most solemn of occasions. Moreso than other clowns, they really seemed to be insane. Also, they were thought to be more inspired by trans-human supernatural forces (as individuals driven by spirits rather than group conventions), and to have a closer link to wakan  or power than other clowns. And lastly, they kept their role for life – it was a sacred calling which could not be given up without performing an agonizing ritual of expiation. Not surprisingly, these unique differences were seen as the result of their having visions of Thunderbird, a unique and transforming experience.

Testimony of Black Elk: the heyoka and lightning

The Oglala Indian Black Elk had some interesting things to say about the heyoka ceremony, which he himself participated in. Black Elk describes the “dog in boiling water” ceremony in some detail. He also describes the bizarre items he had to carry as a heyoka, and the crazy antics he had to perform with his companions. He also attempts to explain the link between the contrary trickster nature of heyokas with that of Thunderbird.

“When a vision comes from the thunder beings of the West, it comes with terror like a thunder storm; but when the storm of vision has passed, the world is greener and happier; for wherever the truth of vision comes upon the world, it is like a rain. The world, you see, is happier after the terror of the storm… you have noticed that truth comes into this world with two faces. One is sad with suffering, and the other laughs; but it is the same face, laughing or weeping. When people are already in despair, maybe the laughing is better for them; and when they feel too good and are too sure of being safe, maybe the weeping face is better. And so I think this is what the heyoka ceremony is for … the dog had to be killed quickly and without making any scar, as lightning kills, for it is the power of lightning that heyokas have.” (quoted in Neihardt 1959: 160)
Today, of course, Western physicists describe the dual nature of electricity. An object can carry a positive or negative electric charge. The electron is simultaneously a wave and a particle. Electricity and magnetism are thought to be aspects of the same force, and as is well know with magnetism, it comes in polarities, with opposite poles (north and south) attracting. Though the Indians did not have access to our modern scientific instruments, they are likely to have observed some of the same properties in lightning. Thus it would have been intuitive to link the dual spiritual nature of the heyoka (tragicomedy – solemn joking – joy united with pain) with the dual nature of electricity.

Thunderbird and Heyoka, the Sacred Clown

It was believed among the Lakota and other tribes that if you had a dream or vision of birds, you were destined to be a medicine man; but if you had a vision of Thunderbird, it was your destiny to become something else; heyoka, or sacred clown. Like Thunderbird, the heyoka were at once feared and held in reverence. They were supposed to startle easily at the first sound of thunder or first sight of lightning. Thunderbird supposedly inspired the “contrariness” of the heyoka through his own contrary nature. He alternates strong winds with calm ones. While all things in nature move clockwise, Thunderbird is said to move counterclockwise. Thunderbird is said to have sharp teeth, but no mouth; sharp claws, but no limbs; huge wings, but no body. All of these things suggest Thunderbird (and the heyoka) have a curious, paradoxical, contrary nature. You could become heyoka through a vision of the Thunderbird, or just of lightning or a formidable winged being of power. (Steiger 1974)

While clown societies were found throughout the Plains, the heyoka, or sacred clowns, were usually few in number, but were found in almost every clan. Heyoka were contraries, often speaking and walking backwards. They acted in ridiculous, obscene, and comical ways, especially during sacred ceremonies. They were thought to be fearless and painless, able to seize a piece of meat out of a pot of boiling water. They often dressed in a bizarre and ludicrous manner, wearing conical hats, red paint, a bladder over the head (to simulate baldness), and bark earrings. The heyoka was thought to usually carry various sacred items – a deer hoof rattle, a colored bow, a flute, or drum. His “anti-natural” nature was thought to be shamanistic in origin — and as a contrary, he was expected to act silly and foolhardy during battle (although this was found more among warrior clown societies such as the Cheyenne Inverted Warriors.)

However insulting or sacrilegious heyoka actions might be, they were tolerated, since it was assumed they were acting on the higher and more inscrutable imperatives of the Great Mystery. Heyoka were freed from all the ordinary constraints of life, and thus were usually not expected to marry, have children, or participate in the work of the tribe. Despite their bizarre acts (such as dressing in warm clothes during summer or wearing things inside out), they were trusted as healers, interpreters of dreams, and people of great medicine. Whenever they interrupted the solemnity of a ceremony, people took it as an admonition to see beyond the literalness of the ritual and into the deeper mysteries of the sacred. Like the flash of lightning, the heyoka’s sudden outbursts and disturbances were thought to be the keys to enlightenment – much like the absurd acts of Zen masters in Japan. (Hultkrantz 1987)

Thunderbird and Trickster

Part of the link between heyoka and Thunderbird comes from Iktomi, the Trickster figure. Iktomi is said to be heyoka because he has seen and talked with Thunderbird. Iktomi is the first-born son of Inyan (rock), and is said to speak with rocks and stones. Like Coyote and other Trickster figures, Iktomi likes to pull pranks on people, but is just as often the victim of tricks and misfortunes. This makes him at once a culture hero, and a figure to be feared and avoided. Iktomi was thought to be a hypersexual predator, one who frequently pursued winchinchalas (young virgins) who bathed in streams, through various methods of deceit. Yet his pursuits and antics often wound up with him inadvertently getting hurt or winding up in trouble.

Paul Radin suggests that Iktomi and other Trickster figures are akin to the Great Fool or Wild Man of European folklore, who often shows up in the Feast of Fools and other ceremonies where the social order is turned topsy-turvy. (Radin 1956) Jung, following his lead, claims the Trickster as an archetypal part of the collective unconscious; and his “crazy wisdom” as emblematic of humankind’s earlier, undivided, unindividuated consciousness. Iktomi and other tricksters seem to be at the constant mercy of their desires; yet their blind luck always seems to protect them from the consequences of their missteps. He is dangerous primarily because he is so powerful, yet so rarely has the forethought or good judgment to use his power wisely. Radin and others proclaim him the representative of untamed, unpredictably wild nature, within the confines of culture.

In other cultural traditions, thunder and lightning are connected with the unexpected. We talk about a “bolt out of the blue.” In American folk culture, there are a host of legendary stories of mysterious cures or transformations wrought by someone being struck by lightning. It’s at once dangerous, and a symbol of sudden, shocking revelation and inspiration. It’s also the primary weapon in most pantheons of the chief sky god (such as Zeus in Greek mythology.) For the Plains Indians, thunder and lightning symbolized the vast, uncontrollable energy of nature. It’s not surprising, then, that the Thunderbird is connected with the strange, uncontrollable force of the Trickster figure, and his avatar, the heyoka.

Significance of the Trickster Figure and “Contrariness” in Plains Society

Psychological anthropologists, especially those oriented toward psychoanalytic theory and depth psychology, point to the Trickster figure as a sort of important cultural “release valve.” He represents the “return of the repressed,” the Dionysian aspects of life only temporarily held in abeyance by the Apollonian forces of civilization. The carnivals and feasts held in honor of fools in Europe, suggest some anthropologists, are “outlets,” allowing people to invert the social order temporarily as a way of promoting its continuity in the long run (avoiding its ultimate collapse.) The ruler is dressed in peasants’ clothes, and some ignorant serf is crowned king. Symbols of authority normally held in extreme reverence are mocked and desecrated.

Clowns and contraries in Plains societies do not just come out once a year, however. They are permanent parts of the society, and are seen as continual reminders of the contingency and arbitrariness of the social order. Long before French theorists came on the scene, the heyoka was reminding his own people about the social construction of reality. By doing everything backwards, the heyoka in a way is carrying out a constant experiment in ethnomethodology, showing people how their own expectations limit their behavior. Like a good performance artist, the shocking behavior of the heyoka is supposed to confront people and make them reconsider what they may have arbitrarily accepted as normal. It’s to “jolt” them out of their ordinary frames of mind. (Steward 1991)

More importantly, as a representative of Thunderbird and Trickster, the heyoka reminds his people that the primordial energy of nature is beyond good and evil. It doesn’t correspond to human categories of right and wrong. It doesn’t always follow our preconceptions of what is expected and proper. It doesn’t really care about our human woes and concerns. Like electricity, it can be deadly dangerous, or harnessed for great uses. If we’re too narrow or parochial in trying to understand it, it will zap us in the middle of the night. Like any good trickster, the heyoka plays pranks on others in his culture not to make them feel embarrassed and stupid, but to show them ways they could start being more smart.

The Account of John (Fire) Lame Deer: Heyoka and ASC

Lame Deer calls the heyoka the “upside-down, forward-backward, icy-hot contrary.” He describes in detail one particular heyoka trick which may give some clues to the nature of their antics. Apparently, they would grab pieces of dog meat out of a pot of boiling water, and fling them at a crowd of people, without being burned or harmed in any way. (Why dog meat? Lame Deer gives a clue when he says, “For the heyoka, he says god when he means dog, and dog when he means god.”) Lame Deer suggests before doing this they chewed a grayish moss called tapejuta. I suspect that heyoka were able to perform this feat through going into trance, an altered state of consciousness, by utilizing this and other psychotropic plants on occasion.

More importantly, I think they induced trance in others through their contrary behavior. Psychologists have noted that trance does not always occur through rhythmic repetition. Another way in which it occurs (the “paradoxical state”) is through a sudden shock to the nervous system. Ethnomethodologists have often noted the blank, glassy stares and strange states produced by violating peoples’ expectations – by, for example, getting into an elevator and facing the other people in it. It’s in such “paradoxical states” that people often may assimilate new information quickly, without filtering. They also may be able to “abreact” psychological trauma. For these reasons, the heyoka may have been seen as a source of wisdom and healing.

Lame Deer seems to suggest the power of trance is connected to the power of Thunderbird. As a paradoxical state of consciousness, it ties into the paradoxical energy of thunder and lightning. The crash of thunder can startle us and wake us up out of dreaming sleep. The trance of the heyoka comes from sacred power. He ties it all together in a way that’s fairly succinct:

” These Thunderbirds are part of the Great Spirit. Theirs is about the greatest power in the whole universe. It is the power of the hot and the cold clashing above the clouds. It is blue lightning from the sun. It is like atomic power. The thunder power protects and destroys. It is good and bad; the great winged power. We draw the lightning as a forked zigzag, because lightning branches out into a good and bad part… In our Indian belief, the clown has a power which comes from the thunder beings, not from the animals or the Earth. He has more power than the atom bomb, he could blow off the dome of the Capitol. Being a clown gives you honor, but also shame. It brings you power, but you have to pay for it.” (quoted in Erdoes 1972: 251)

Conclusion

The Thunderbird’s association with heyoka clowns is not simply serendipitous. The fact that the Thunderbird displays many paradoxical and contradictory attributes links it to Trickster figures and to the contraries of Plains  Indians culture. This culture complex probably resulted from Indian beliefs about nature and the ways in which thunder and lightning exemplified the manners in which it could be at once capricious, beneficent, and destructive. The Thunderbird’s own link to the original Great Mystery suggests that the role of the sacred clown was seen as one of the highest in Plains society – like wandering fools in Europe, they were thought to be touched by the Divine power itself. Like Thunderbird himself, the heyoka was thought to be a conduit to forces that defied comprehension, and by his absurd, backwards behavior he was merely showing the ironic, mysterious dualities that existed within the universe itself.

Bibliography

Edmonds, Margot, and Clark, Ella E., Voices of the Winds: Native American Legends, Facts on File, New York, 1989.
Erdoes, Richard, and Ortiz, Alfonso, eds., American Indian Myths and Legends, Pantheon Books, New York, 1984.
Fire, John, and Erdoes, Richard, Lame Deer: Seeker of Visions, Washington Square Press, New York, 1972.
Gill, Sam D., and Sullivan, Irene F., Dictionary of Native American Mythology, ABC-CLIO Inc., Santa Barbara, 1992.
Hall, Mark A., Thunderbirds: The Living Legend of Giant Birds, Fortean Publications, Minneapolis, 1988.
Hines, Donald M., Ghost Voices: Indian Myths, Legends, Humor, and Hunting Stories, Great Eagle Publishing, Issaquah, 1992.
Hultkrantz, Ake, Native Religions of North America, Harper & Row Publishers, San Francisco, 1987.
Neihardt, John G., Black Elk Speaks, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1959.
Radin, Paul, The Trickster: a Study in American Indian Mythology, Greenwood Press, Westport, 1956.
Steiger, Brad, Medicine Power, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1974.
Steward, Julian Haynes, The Clown in Native North America, Garland Publishing, New York, 1991.
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Thunderbird and Heyoka

Americhrist Gets Its Own Page

I’m publishing the entire book on its own page, instead of a chapter a week — this way if anyone gets into the book they don’t have to wait and read it. Also because it is fiction, it will keep it separate from the issues on the front page. The book really is an extension of this blog, or I should say this blog is an extension of the book, it did come first after all! 

Please excuse any silly mistakes that would be found by a copy editor such as their instead of there, stuff like that. After you’ve written 100,000 novel it’s hard to see these things no matter how many times you read it. Also my editor friend complained about my punctuation which I tend to avoid because it gets in the way of my flow. I personally don’t find it distracting, but it you are like my friend try to forgive me as this, too, would be fixed when it is properly edited by someone other than me. 

So you will be seeing what editors and agents have seen. And hopefully it will be polished again and readable at some future point in book form. I hope you enjoy it. 

The book came from a vision I had of the future, one in which Armageddon didn’t happen, no big war or dramatic explosion, just us killing our world through global warming and all the bizarre side effects this phenomena will include. 

The book got its title from 2 themes in the book. You’re a smart audience and I’m sure you can figure out why and how it got its name once you read it. 

Hope you enjoy it!

Best wishes.

Americhrist Gets Its Own Page