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The Sacred Pipe
Bear Medicinewalker, LoreKeeper
A T (or Plains) pipe on another Petroglyph in Pipestone
An Elbow Pipe on
the Pipestone Petroglyph above
Most of the Peoples Nations have stories
about the 'Sacred Pipe', many of you may think of it as a Peace
Pipe. Hollywood has glamorized the pipe through old western
movies. Yet they could not be farther from the truth. Sacred
Pipe is to the Native American People as the cross would be
to Christian cultures. The pipe, in many forms is prevalent
in most tribal cultures around the world. Every Nation has used
the pipe in some form of ritual and have passed the stories
of where the pipe came from. One of the more well-known is the
Lakota story of the White Buffalo Woman bringing and sharing
wisdoms with them.
It is not important how the pipe
first arrived, or who it came to first. What is important is
that the pipe is revered as a sacred item and was a gift handed
to us by The Creator. The Sacred Pipe was brought to all people
of this world, for we all must share this world, as one race
...the Human race This story is from the T'salagi and shows
the importance once again of the Pipe as means to Prayer, Balance
At a time when the world was new,
a tribe of red skinned people came to live on the lands around
The Blue Smoke Mountains. This is a time animals of the world
still spoke to all of us teaching us how to live and care for
the land. These people were called "Ani Yun Wiya"
or the One True People. In this tribe lived a brave warrior
woman. She was called 'Arrow Woman'. As a young woman she was
taught to use the bow, the spear and the knife. Even though
it was a man's job to hunt and fight, Arrow Woman could shoot
straighter with the bow than any man. She could throw the knife
so as split a branch no bigger than your thumb and she could
throw the spear into eye of a hawk in flight. Because of all
this, no one would tell her to act like a woman should within
One day while on a hunt, Arrow Woman
came upon the tracks of "Yona" the bear. She saw blood
on the ground and knew him to be wounded, so she followed his
tracks high into the mountains. Soon she came to a place that
she did not know. It was at this place, a place known only to
the animals that she finally saw "Yona" the bear.
He had a deep gash in his side. As she watched him, he bowed
down in prayer. She saw him bowing toward a large field of tall
grass and speaking words that she had not heard before. Suddenly,
the grass shimmered and became a lake. Arrow Woman saw "Yona"
the bear, dive into the water. After a time he emerged from
the water, his side was completely healed.
"Yona" the bear looked
up and saw Arrow Woman walking towards her he spoke, "This
is the sacred lake of the animals. It is called, 'Atagahi' and
its location is known only to the animals. It is where we come
for healing and strength. You are the first human to see the
Sacred Lake. You must never tell your kind of it's location
for it is the home of 'The Great Uktena'. After speaking to
her "Yona" the Bear turned and walked into the woods
Arrow Woman sat and contemplated
all that had occurred. Yet she was tired from following "Yona"
all day and needed to rest a while. So she built a small fire
next to the lake, and sitting down she began to prepare a meal
that she had brought with her. She reached over and took a drink
of the water from the lake as she did Arrow Woman felt instantly
refreshed. Amazed, she felt strong as Yan'si the Buffalo, and
as if she could run faster than Coga the Raven could fly. The
woods were quiet, the Sacred Winds were sleeping, Father Sun
was shining bright, the surface upon the lake was completely
calm, Arrow Woman began to get sleepy.
It was at this time that 'Uktena'
appeared to her. As a child she had been told of him yet no
one in her tribe ever claimed to have seen him. High above the
water he raised his great serpent's head, the jewel in his forehead
glistening. He began to move toward her. Arrow Woman grabbed
up her spear and stood up to face the
great creature coming to her, standing proud, showing no fear,
the way any warrior should. She raised her spear and prepared
to strike the huge beast.
Uktena stopped a short distance from
her. He smiled at her, showing his fierce rows of teeth he began
speaking to the brave woman on the bank of his lake, "Put
down your weapons for I mean you no harm. I come only to teach."
Arrow Woman laid down her spear and began to relax, somehow
knowing Uktena spoke truly.
Uktena told her to sit and to listen.
He then dipped his head below the surface and came back up a
moment later. In his mouth he had a strangely crooked stick
and a leather pouch. These things he laid on the ground in front
of Arrow Woman. Then the teaching began.
"This that I have laid before
you is the Sacred Pipe of The Creator. Pick up the pipe. The
bowl is of the same red clay The Creator used to make your kind.
The red clay is Woman kind and is from the Earth. Just as a
woman bears the children and brings forth life, the bowl bears
the sacred tobacco and brings forth smoke. The stem is Man.
Rigid and strong the stem is from the plant kingdom and like
a man it supports the bowl just as man supports his family."
He then showed Arrow Woman how to
join the bowl to the stem saying, "Just as a man and a
woman remain separate until joined in marriage so too are the
bowl and stem separate. Never to be joined unless the pipe is
used." Uktena then showed her how place the sacred tobacco
into the pipe and with an ember from the fire lit it so it burned
slightly. He then spoke these words, "The smoke is the
breath of The Creator, When you draw the smoke into your body,
you will be cleansed and made whole. When the smoke leaves your
mouth, it will rise to The Creator. Your prayers, your dreams,
your hopes and desires will be taken to Him in the smoke. Also
the truth in your soul will be shown to Him when you smoke the
pipe. If you are not true, do not smoke the pipe. If your spirit
is bad and you seek to deceive, do not smoke the pipe."
Uktena continued his lesson well
into the night teaching Arrow Woman all of the prayers used
with the pipe and all of the reasons for using the pipe. He
finished just as the moon was beginning her nightly journey
across the sky in search of her true love. He told Arrow Woman
to wrap the pipe in cloth, keeping the parts separate. With
this done He told her that she would never again be able to
find this place but to remember all that she had learned. Uktena
then returned to depths of the lake. Arrow Woman saw the water
shimmer and become again the field of grass. She left, taking
with her the pipe and her lessons and a wondrous tale. Ever
since that time, The Peoples have used the sacred pipe and never
again has any man seen the sacred lake of Uktena.
The Sacred Pipe is not a symbol of
things that are sacred. The Pipe itself is sacred. Not everyone
is called upon to be a pipe bearer. The person who carries the
pipe and practices the pipe ceremonies and traditions has a
great responsibility to his brothers and sisters, his land and
country and to the Great Earth Mother.
The pipe bearer does not 'own' the
pipe that they carry. They simply carry the pipe until the time
comes for them to pass it to the next bearer. The pipe bearer
is given certain powers of sight from the pipe as well as an
ability to heal and purify. Should the bearer fall from grace
and become a liar, thief, neglected thier duties when asked,
or become deceitful, the pipe would repossess these gifts and
then the possibility of misfortune for the former bearer may
One should be ready to accept the
responsibility of the pipe for it may make demands upon you.
It will become your teacher and guide. It can also be your worst
enemy if used for the wrong purposes.
Copyright: Cinnamon Moon & River WildFire Moon (Founders.)
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