Excerpt from: The Moon of New Wind
Warrior of spirit
Love be your spear
Awareness your bow.
Warrior of spirit
Take aim when you feel
Forgetting all that you know.
It was in the time we call The Moon of New Wind that Big Mind allowed me to see The Great Renewal. Like wildfire raging across the plains of my ancient Cheyenne cousins, this renewal will bring much death and destruction before the light shines, but when the light shines, there will be a joy throughout the cosmos never known to man, The Great Spirit, or even Big Mind.
Many times our ancestors have prophesied what is to come. Many times their visions have been clouded. Thoughts, events pressed against their vision like binoculars, allowing them to see the one thing clearly and the whole not at all.
In the days when White Tide nearly washed our ancestors from existence, Paiute messiah, Wovoka, became one with Big Mind, but had not the strength to keep Little Mind thought from mingling with truth. He preached like the white man, taught The Ghost Dance and even spoke of Christ. The Great Sitting Bull allowed his people to partake in The Ghost Dance, knowing it was not truth.
“I was Wovoka,” Sitting Bull told Popping Tree, my father’s father, many times before, “and Wovoka was I. Both one with Great Spirit. We did not see any Christ. We did not come to know, as The Ghost Dance told, that the great flood would follow the next green grass. On the mountaintop were not only Paiute, Cheyenne and Sioux, but also many whites and other tribes whose colors we have never known. But Wovoka was drunk with spirit, for I could feel he had never been one with Great Spirit before. Now he is drunk with thought and intoxicating all Indians. I have no heart to dispel what little joy they now know.”
There was no joy among our people when White Tide washed over the land, but Sitting Bull knew the truth of Wovoka’s vision. As with our people, I have come to learn that all tribes, even the whites, have wise prophets who have seen truth and, though warriors in the spirit ways, were not strong enough to keep Little Mind from poisoning the truth.
It was The Night of the Dying Moon when I fell in love. Cunning Tree is what I came to call Tela Covington. It was a night when my ancestors would have held an annual dance of renewal and thanksgiving, but these days the closest thing I would find to that celebration was the half-hearted, self–conscious dancing at Fire Star Tavern. Why was I there? With the enormity of my task, to get down the greatest revelation ever gifted me, I wondered to myself, why was I there? Little Mind may have already penetrated me, and my jubilation led to superficial celebration. A drink. This, of course, has become my people’s new way. Maybe the loneliness brought me there. Maybe, beyond all explanation, it was destiny.
I would have never noticed her dancing, were it not for her persistence. When I glanced up from my notebook, looking at nothing in particular, it was impossible not to notice her arms waving wildly as her body gyrated in a very unconscious, free manner. Kayla motioned for me to join her and her friend on the dance floor. She had a great big smile. I shook my head and returned to the solitary business of scribbling down the vision I’d seen only minutes before, or maybe hours before, but sometime between first light and dusk.
“You don’t dance, huh?” she smiles wide, making herself at home in the chair next to mine. Her energy is strong, warm, contagious. There is something about that energy I can’t quite grasp.
I return her smile.
“That’s not a real smile,” she says. “Show me your teeth. That’s a real smile.”
“What if my teeth are bad?” I ask, straightening my mouth, lips together. Her face is strong, soft, beautiful.
“They’re not,” she insists, “I know they’re not.” She is one of those. She has no reason to know, but she knows.
“Hi,” the girl next to her says, “I’m Tela.”
“Yurok?” I ask her.
“I’m what?” she puzzles.
“Tela,” I look at her, “that’s a Yurok name, no?”
“Oh,” she shrugs, “could be. I grew up on the Navajo Res, but I think I’m a half-breed so who knows? I never even heard of Yurok.”
“Sorry to interrupt your writing,” Kayla says, “I’m Kayla.”
“I do dance,” I explain, “not usually in these places.”
“Funny,” Kayla quips, “I do write, but not usually in these places.”
Many seasons ago, before I realized my true spirit warrior nature, I believed I was in love with a young woman. She believed she loved me too. She also believed life was too big to let a thing like love slow you down. We fell apart. Sometime after, when I came to know the true nature of Big Mind, I saw no distinction between the love of any human being and another. Now, sitting at Fire Star Tavern…
“You’re dangerous,” I tell Kayla. I am warm, flush. My mind, a flurry. I need to get this thing down on paper before I unconsciously contaminate it, leaving it to the clumsy hands of memory and thought.
“And what are you?” Kayla asks.
“I’m dangerous, too,” I smile, fixing my eyes on hers. She looks straight into me, the way a shaman might. Our eyes are like two deer. Frozen, fixed.
“Well,” she says, “you’re definitely some kind of Native American.”
“Aren’t we all?”
“What tribe?” she asks, as if we’ve engaged in a game.
“I’m a mutt,” I smile.
“Now you’re lying,” she says with perfect confidence. How does she knows this? “It’s no fair if you lie.”
“What do you know of Injins?” I ask.
“Why don’t you dance in a bar?” she smiles.
“Why don’t you write in a bar? A bar is the best place to learn about Injins, isn’t it?”
“Is that what you’re writing about?”
“I need a drink,” Tela interrupts. “Anyone else?” Neither of us responds, but she is off.
Kayla leans into me, her face close enough that I can taste her breath. It is sweet.
“Why so mysterious?” she asks. I feel her wanting, discerning. Something comes over me and I can’t lie to her.
“I am of a tribe thought to be extinct,” I tell her. “There are six of us living today. None of us will ever reveal our true ancestry. This is who I am. I am writing down a vision I received. And now, I sit here willingly, at risk of losing its truth because there is something about you that is like the energy of Big Mind.”
“You are dangerous,” she replies. Her eyes are glassy, reflecting primordial gravitation. Tela returns with drinks, placing them on the table. Neither of us flinches. “We’ll be here,” Kayla says, “when you’re done writing.”
I close my eyes, trying desperately to wash my mind of all thought. It is not possible. What if the same energy that allowed me to be one with Big Mind is why I am here? What if that energy is in Kayla? I can’t lose it. Can’t rid myself of Little Mind thought. Nonetheless, I must capture the vision as best I can.
In the winds of all the earth, new forms blow. Some are known as viruses and diseases. Others are the spawn of nuclear design. Still others, the seed of plants that never breathed before man mingled with creation, cross-breeding, cloning, reconfiguring natural life. People are unfamiliar with the energy of the new winds and a subtle confusion abounds, inspiring fear. The violence increases. Our science without sense culminates in frenzy. New forms of isolation, walls, defenses.
Atop three mountains, peoples of many nations gather. Most are of clear and like mind, of Big Mind. Few are followers of Little Mind by nature, and find themselves blessed.
Around The North Mountain, the earth has opened wide. Some of the land is swallowed deep into her belly. The land that is not swallowed is flooded with the gases, lava and fire that she has spewed from her bowels. Some escape, scattering south, east and west.
Around The East Mountain, people, big in ways of Little Mind, bring chaos and fear so that there is no place that one does not kill the other, in all manner of ways. One by one. Tens by tens. Hundreds by hundreds. Thousands by thousands. Some escape, scattering south and west.
Around The West Mountain, many seek refuge in technology, building invisible domes and walls. Some escape.
All who remain seek shelter in the South where there is an absence of chaos, where the earth does not burn and no walls keep them out.
Two great tsunamis rise, one from far in the North where none live, and one from far in the South where none live. The North is flooded and the South is flooded and the waters rise like two beasts meeting in battle. Only those on the mountains remain.
In this time of survival, all share the energy of one-ness, but persist in fear and in Little Mind until there is a great awareness. When this comes to pass, there is a joy that even Big Mind and Great Spirit have never known.
This is where my notes stop that evening. This was not the end of what I saw of The Great Renewal, but it is all I can say that is truth. For when I recalled what happened next, I found my mind invaded by thought, repeating the words, “a joy never known before”. A little mind clouded with thought.
Tela and Kayla are no longer celebrating The Dance of the Dying Moon. They sit at the bar, backs to me. From a distance, Tela appears restless, her mouth moving with the constancy of her tapping foot. I make my way to them.
“Hey there.” I take a seat on the bar stool next to Kayla.
“You’re done?” she smiles.
“Mostly,” I tell her. “It’s all I can do for now. My mind is distracted.”
“What are you drinking?” she asks.
“What do all us Injins drink?” I reply.
“Any particular kind? Jack, Jim, Wild Turkey?”
“I’ll get it,” I tell her, “but thanks.”
“You know,” she says, her expression serious, “you have to let me read it now.”
“Yeah, I know.” And I did know. I don’t know why, but I knew. “You have to promise me something first.”
“After you read it, you’ll kiss me…and…and not ask me about it tonight.”
She pauses. Takes a drink.
“I tell you what,” she replies, “I promise I’ll kiss you.”
Like my ancestors signing the treaties of The Great Father in Washington, I know the promise is not reliable, but consent nonetheless. I slide the notebook over. As she reads, I drink down a double shot of Jack on the rocks, splash of water. She takes her time. Reads it again. Slides it back over to me. Silence. She sips her drink, stares ahead, then turns to me. Still. Silent. She stares a long time. I feel the energy of Big Mind dwindling from her while Little Mind busies itself with putting out the fire of the promise she’s made. She speaks.
“You’re serious?” she says.
I am crestfallen and don’t respond right away. I slide my glass toward the bartender, but he doesn’t notice.
“It is the night of The Dying Moon,” I remind her. “It is a bad omen to break your promise tonight.”
She feigns a smile. Looks down at her glass, eyes fixed on me. Her head moves back and forth slowly.
“I want to read it,” Tela breaks the silence.
Neither of us responds.
“You’re serious?” Kayla repeats.
“You made a promise,” I remind her.
“How can you care about kissing me when you’ve just written – if you really believe that millions, billions of innocent people are going to die? Just be wiped off the planet? My promise? Are you serious?” Her tone is a medley of disdain and sadness.
“I want to read it,” Tela says again.
With no thought but to occupy Tela’s little mind, I slide the notebook past Kayla.
“How can you think about kissing me?” Kayla repeats.
“I can’t think about kissing you now. Not because of what I’ve seen, though. Because your energy has become that of fear and Little Mind distractions, and not of love.”
“Love!” Kayla scorns, “Love? Is that love?” she accuses me as if I made the whole thing up of my own personal wishes.
“Another round?” the bartender asks.
“Please,” Kayla says as I quietly slide my glass toward him.
“And you?” he asks. We look at Tela. She does not hear. She is one with what she reads.
“Would you like another?” he repeats. She doesn’t flinch.
“She’ll take another,” Kayla answers.
When the drinks arrive, Tela has tears in her eyes.
“Dreadful, isn’t it?” Kayla asks. Tela doesn’t hear her.
“It’s dreadful,” Kayla turns to me. “I don’t know how you can believe that.” Kayla does not hear her friend, but I do.
“Beautiful,” Tela repeats. “Beautiful.”
“Beautiful?” Kayla protests. “How can you say that? It’s the…”
With all the energy in her, Tela embraces me.
“Can you show me Big Mind?”