Wiwila Oyate

All over the world, on every continent and in every culture one can hear stories of a tiny race of people who live underground. Through the illustrations of children’s books one can see that this belief survived the Inquisition and the domination of Christianity. The Little People may be small but their presence is strong among those who have seen and encountered them. Like the Tree Spirits (Fairies) and the Sasquatch (Bigfoot), many cultures share the lore of these mythical beings, even into present day.

Lore of the Little People, Elves, Leprechauns or Gnomes is so incredibly vast that it would take a lifetime to record all the known stories of them. Like the Tree Fairies and Bigfoot, the stories continue as people encounter them. One theme that remains constant in all cultures is how these mythical being are visiting us less and less as we recede away into the realm of logic. The more domestic we become, the more preposterous these old stories seem.

Wiwila is the Lakota word for Spring, a place where water flows from the earth. Wiwila Oyate is one of several names for the Little People, The Spring Nation. The Wiwila are said to have been created before humankind. Made to regulate the seasons, the movement of the planets, the waterways and springs, these people are some times seen by others, reminding us of the stories of old.

Whatever the culture, the stories of them usually include the granting of a wish, some sort of trickery or a combination of both. Always there seems to be an element of danger or harm that may befall one who harasses them. It is believed that when venturing into the wilderness one should take heed not to trespass into Wiwila territory or suffer the invisible arrows shot by little men. While the Wiwila is feared and avoided in most cases, there is a time and place where they are still called upon for help, Yuwipi.

Nowhere is the Wiwila more prevalent than in the Yuwipi and lowanpi Ceremonies. They can be seen, heard running about and are often felt and recognized by their tiny hands. Usually one would not speak of them, let alone write about them on the computer! Now we have reached a time where we must remind the human race about the servants of the earth and of the other beings who live in symbiosis with us here. It may seem unreasonable to modern culture that they exist, but the fact remains that they do.

The Wiwila, among other beings, are said to have inhabited the earth before humankind, at some point they are said to have called us, or wished us here with their intention, drawing us from the Pleiades. This is not just Lakota myth, many cultures believed this at one time. It is said that the creator gave us intelligence to appreciate his artwork, but it is also said that we were given intelligence in order to communicate with the divine beings. So that when the Wiwila needed help in regulating nature, they could call upon the humans for help.

As a race, we seem unable to hear them now but they are calling to us still, even through the chatter of our own minds. Around the industrial revolution there are literally thousands of stories of warnings from the Little people all over the world. It is so strange that these stories are so obscure and hard to find because it was not so long ago that the Industrial revolution began. In Germany, each town and province has stories of their warnings, that the they are leaving because of the construction of some machine or factory in the area. There are literally thousands of such stories across Europe.

Could it be that the modern concept of aliens is none other than the original inhabitants of this world? In Native American understanding, the Star Nations (wicahpi Oyate), are the the gods and goddesses who live in the heavens, not alien races. Obviously there seems to be life everywhere, but these alien characters seem more like elves than astronauts! Whatever the case may be, their message is clear to those that listen carefully.

The Sacred


August 2013 014

We live in a world of rapid change, of changing priorities and changes in our perception. Have we as humans recorded this change, Have we measured the the passage of our perceptual change? How much has the light of knowledge dawned and to what degree have the shadows receded? We know there has been a change in the world around us, so what of the change within us? What is the spiritual significance of this change in our lives, for spiritual people?

For the spiritual seeker there is a clear distinction of what is sacred and that which is mundane. Our beliefs and our experience determine the degree and the extents of the boundary of the sacred. It is our perception of the sacred that defines the world around us, not only for the spiritual seeker, but for us all. The way we feel about things, our opinions and our perception paint the world around us. Perception is everything to us and it determines the quality of our life.

To our forefathers and mothers, the world around them was traced with certain dividing lines. There were places of great holiness according to the stories of old. There have always been those geological wonders that inspire in humankind a sense of divinity. Places, that according to the creation stories were blessed from some  divine event. Likewise, in the desolate waste land there exists a not so sacred place, perhaps a place of danger that is to be avoided. Perhaps a place condemned by myth.

For untold thousands of years we have lived with this precept of that which is sacred and that which is profane. In the minds of all of our ancestors were the dividing lines of varying degrees of sacredness, of sacred space. The ancestors listened to the teachings of the elders of the sacred center, Hocoka Wakan. Like the top of the sacred mountain. Not just the mountain that is sacred, but its’ summit. That pristine untouched place, pure and undefiled by man.

The lesson of the medicine wheel is one of sacred space and in it’s center is that neutral ground, the origin of all. From every place in the wheel the center remains, the scenery changes and our awareness of the center changes yet it is still the center. This central point represents the first place, the creators’ first perception, its’ first vantage point. I am here! This is the time before time and it deals with space, the center of the universe!

In all ceremonies you will find such a space, hallowed ground upon the altar, maybe even too divine to touch, like the sacred mountains’ peak! One can locate such places easily, even to the untrained eye looking within the center of the Sweat Lodge or out to the center of the Sun Dance. The elders tell us of the wisdom of walking with sacred foot steps from this center into the rest of our lives. Every foot step taken in humility and respect in a sacred way upon our holy mother earth. Here we define the limits of sacred space, push the boundaries of divinity with our own respect and love for Mother Earth.

In the Creation stories emerge all that there is from the center and then space is measured and divided as the body of the divine mother, made out of the very primordial essence of the Creator. So here we have that level of sacredness that pervades all space, with every thing as sacred and not merely by virtue of its’ origin but also by virtue of its existence. It is sacred because it is, because it is not void. Void, then, could represent the mundane, the boring, even with the understanding that these are special too. There is this sense then, that a cursed place of wondering ghosts and wicked spirits is within the realm of this holy creation even though it is profane and cursed.

Here we venture into the realm of consecration, the act of forgiving a place. This is the idea of lifting a curse on a broken space, of filling the void of desolation with love and the acknowledgement if its divine origins. In the act of forming the altar of soil we consecrate it and by showing its center with the placement of the staff or blessed object we affirm the center of the universe and the origins of all space. Making a place a physical representation of the creation stories, redeeming a mundane place by acknowledging it as part of the goddess’s body.

With our minds we cast the divisions of sacred places even into modern day. The most non-spiritually focused person will still have that special warmth for ones place of birth. Affinity for ones childhood home and places of play are sacred within the mind of desacralized man. De-sacralized : to have removed the aura of sacredness from; secularize. For those with no concept of holiness, some things are still definitely special and for them, and therefore, sacred.

Within all creation myth is that sacred point of beginning which is marked by the center. From that center something very special happens, Movement! Like the center of the Aztec calendar we can see the central glyph of Ollin, motion, the Lakota God, Skanskan. This speaks of movement that came from stillness and stagnation, time that elapsed after timelessness. Just as form came from the void, motion came to the stagnant.

Here we have another thing that can be measured and perceived. Like space, it is the quality of our perception that determines the relativity of time. If you are waiting in vain for a very late friend, that time spent can be downright nasty, not sacred! Finally when the point of meeting with your friend and joy begins, time quickens and is savored as sacred in every cherished movement.

In essence, the act of ceremony is the re-enactment of the creation stories. The religious rite is now enacting the dawn of time and space. In the Sweat Lodge, Yuwipi, Sun Dance and every spiritual rite in every sane and sacred tradition one can find this division of sacred time and space. For the ancestors, the beginning of time was a holy time and the act of ceremony transformed the mundane time into sacred time, The consecration of time!

Our ancestors had a lot of sacred time. The four sacred divisions of the day and night, the dawn of light being the beginning of time and a space between time. The midday when the shadows are smallest and mark the apex of the sun, then dusk in its calmness and rest, also a space between time. Then midnight ( some say 2 or 4) when all is at rest and the Eagle is said to take a drink of water and the Mole ascends to feel the air. As it is with space, in the big picture we can see that all time could be seen as sacred by virtue of it not being non-movement.

For the Spiritual, time is a sacred movement of Great Mystery from beginning to end, from the time of the creators first awareness until the very fulfillment of that awareness all the way into omnipotence! From the first motion until that point that every thing that could have been done, moved and realized has been done. So the ancestors listened to the wisdom of the storyteller account that each passing moment in this life is to be lived in respect and honor and that each transition from one moment into the next is a sacred dance of the divine.

To modern man time is limited and not as vast as it was for his ancestors. It is measured by its limit and not by its infinity. For him time is running out and he is waiting, waiting for that place in time that, to him , is sacred. We live in a time where special time exists in leisure, after work. For our ancestors work was sacred, ritual drama and thought were seen as sacred acts and not as mundane things. To the original ancestors, leisure was more mundane than the hunt and the work.

Rather than speculating through the lens of our myopic spiritual opinions, let us look at what can be measured and counted with scientific processes. The elders speak of vast expanses of space and time as being sacred, The Sacred Mountains. Now they are seen more as national resources and places of leisure rather than the breasts of Mother Earth. Time can be counted for the domestic human in terms of seconds, minutes and hours rather than by experiences.

For industrialized humans, all time is mundane until those special moments finally arrive. Now the sacred has become the weekend, the party and for him the only true rituals are weddings and funerals. Most of the time is in passing now and in wait for something not boring. Such sacred events such as giving birth have been reduced to a medical procedure. The holiest of holy, in women’s time, the menses or moon-time is seen with shame and embarrassment, especially the first Moon-Time. Time is slipping away for the domestic human, and yet it is a dance for the aboriginal. Time always seems to be running out for those attempting to not be late and for Industrial man, death awaits him to mark the end.

Lets look at the modern spiritual seeker and domestic man on the timely path of salvation and redemption. Here we can easy measure that sacred time has been scheduled as a day of the week and sacred space has been confined to the inside of a church building! Even for the religious, the sacred has receded, it has been extracted from within the home. The personal shrine within the home and hearth and has been placed behind lock and key under the charge of a “spiritual middle man” who will intercede with God on you behalf. The spiritual path has devolved into an academic pursuit rather than being measured in terms of experience alone.

At the center of spirituality as well as life it’s self is our perception and our perception determines what we are aware of. Like all domesticated animals, we are focusing on our thought rather then our emotions. domestication is where neurosis are born and the mind prods and judges the feelings (which is the reverse for the untamed). The intellect is over shadowing bodily awareness and it can be proven scientifically. At the expense of our direct instinct we seem to be trading our knowing-ness for reflection, thinking about things.

Our modern cultures’  pursuit of intelligence may cost us our symbolical mind altogether. The symbolical mind has receded into our subconscious with the increase of language, meaning that we think more and more with words and less and less with symbols. This allows humans to be more intellectual at the expense of our ability to directly perceive things. This is scientific fact. What people are not measuring scientifically (anthropologically), are the changes in spiritual experience among domestic culture.

We now live in a world where the earth itself is seen as profane and something to be harnessed and dominated. With our perception we paint the world around us and as we open our minds to rationalization we can also be seen as closing our our minds to the Spiritual. The spirit is outside of math, measurement and logic. The spiritual defies the mind just as the void defies form. The Sacred is becoming superstition and collectively the human race is shutting itself off from non-rational possibilities. “Miracles” are quickly becoming “impossibilities”.

It is up to us to keep the dream alive and who knows what fate awaits our kind? Do not rely too heavily upon the mind. Many wonderful things are coming from the organization of human affairs, let’s not cast ourselves into the mundane in the process. Hold on to the magic unbridled, release everything you think you know and deify the unnatural ways though which you have been conditioned. Arrive alive in sacred space and time. Here and now, everywhere and forever! Shine as brightly as you can.

Show Father sky and Mother Earth your urgency, live life aloud and rise above your petty comfort zones. Resist being comforted into a state of complacency, refuse being lulled away into the suckling comforts of domesticated inertia. Fight and overcome what is rightfully yours as humans, for the wildness and unpredictable spirit untamed. Reclaim what you really want of your selves, feel the power of Nature and the timeless connection to the very center of all that is. You are an Immortal being, fearless and impervious to everything on this earth.

Claw through your thin domestic veneer and be who you were always meant to be. Come alive and face the storm with abandon. Show some backbone in your life and roar aloud! Be bold and real, stop cradling your precious internal dialog and false self image. Go beyond all that and break through to your savage, real and animal connection to your Mother Earth.

Aho Mitaku Oyasin!



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With a basic understanding of Comparative Religion, it is easy to see that spiritual traditions are all fundamentally the same. Especially with respect to the major deities. No matter your tradition, you focus upon the center of the universe and the source of all life. All religions and spiritual paths inherently celebrate the same thing really. Aside from the obvious creator/creatrix, there are the spirit helpers, Angels, messengers, immortals (saints) and spiritual intermediaries.logo FSICC,9

A Spiritual Helper can be several things. First and foremost is the idea that one of the major deities of the creation stories is presiding over you and helping you. Secondly, there are the Messengers, those beings who carry our prayers to the Major Deities / Gods and Goddesses so that they might hear them and eventually answer them.

The messengers are Divine beings. Regardless of your tradition and what you think you know, these Divine beings can be many things, Angelic beings (Wakinyan), Fairies (canotila) and Little People (Wiwila). All of these messengers have a few things in common. They were all created to work for the Gods and Goddesses (Collectively known as Wakan Kin), and do not procreate as we do.

Then, lastly, there are the Spirit helpers in the form of Immortals. Immortals are many different beings. These are the saints, or mortals who have attained special power by fortifying their souls. In most Indigenous traditions, these can be humans, animals and other mortal beings that have transcended their limitations. These are the Spirit Helpers that make one tradition different from another. This type of spirit helper is what makes a tradition different than no tradition. and this is what I want to talk about here.

Some descriptions of Native American saints are wrongly labeled as ghosts. What is known as the Ghost Nations, can be more accurately described as Immortals. This concept is not limited to humans and can be an animal, plant or other being that has attained enlightenment. For example, a great bear of the forest may somehow be granted power for some brave selfless act and thereby attain sainthood.

In all of this is the idea that some Immortals are better than others to have as Spiritual Helpers. Immortals are important and unique in that they can tell you things and help you as a friend. The eagle can see where the buffalo are and show you how to find them. The Human immortal can speak and give advice.

In the Lakota language, all of these Spirit helpers, as well as any divine beings, are known as Tunkasila. Roughly translated this means grandfather, but the term is applied in a genderless way. When someone says “Wakan Tanka, Tunkasila”, it can be understood as Creator, Spirit helper. A female Immortal would still be referred to as Tunkasila because the spirit world is somewhat more genderless than the physical realms. Tunkasila are the ancestors, whether they be the gods, Goddesses, gnomes, fairies, stones, trees or whatever.

In Native American traditions people speak of animal totems. This has to do with family ties to the animal nations. It is believed that far in the past most humans and animals could change their species. Humans could transform themselves into animals and animals could become humans. There are still a few individuals that can do this. This is known as shape shifting. As the story goes, humans and animals intermarried creating ancestral inter-species relations.

Ones’ animal totem has to do with an ancestral link with a particular animal. most people can see, when looking at a family, what animal is more prevalent. You can tell which parent past on the animal of their family to their children. The bear is a very prevalent family totem among all humans. This is so because bears came from humans. In the same way that it is believed that humans came from primates, we believe that bears come from people. That is why many tribes won’t eat Bear meat, it is considered cannibalism. Likewise, a medicine woman who works with the buffalo or has a strong family connection to the buffalo, will not eat buffalo meat.

A healer may have an ancestral link to the Elk nation, yet may have a “ghost” Spirit Helper of the mountain lion (for example). Inherently  a totem animal is a spirit helper of sorts, in that there is a connection to another nation, as relatives.

All beings are created in the image and likeness of the creator, on earth as it is in heaven, as above, so below. That’s true for everything and every event we experience. In Lakota philosophy this is known as Gapemini. For every visible/physical thing there is an invisible/ethereal counterpart. Likewise, for the creator to make the trees, it would have first had something like a tree within itself (for example). So, all trees have an over-soul, an angelic being “Tree” after which all trees were modeled.

There then is a messenger or angelic being representing of all forms of life in the universe. In the Lakota belief there are then 405 angels. That is why we make 405 tobacco prayer ties for the Hanbleceya (Vision Quest Ceremony).This is to address them all, perhaps only one or two of them will come to hear our prayers, but they are all invited. It is interesting to note that in European Christian lore, the Angels started to be depicted as humans (and as males), when in the original biblical descriptions, they are combined animal forms and never depicted as people.

Whatever the case may be, there are many types of helpful spirits. what I am wanting to focus on are the spirits that make one altar more effective than another. The reason why ancient traditions are more effective than domestic, contemporary traditions, is because they have more seniority and more validity with the founders of the universe.

People of our modern culture have difficulty understanding this concept. Those who do experiment with different spiritual paths, usually settle for something more tame and comfortable. These times are forging a whole new era of simplified, domestic religious systems. The problem with this is purely metaphysical and has little to do with doctrine or philosophy. It has to do with who you know and what kind of connections you have (spiritually).

Suppose you wanted a job as an executive for a large business. You would have to get credentials, get the right kind of education. The person hiring you would have to actually like you, You couldn’t just act like a jerk and expect to get the job. You would have to show that you have the skills to communicate by communicating in the right way. Suppose you got the job, you would have to learn who is who and fit into the pecking order And it would be of utmost importance to go through the proper channels.

As it is in the spiritual world, Just like anything else, it is all about who you know, the friends you make and your ability to forge and maintain good relations. A medicine man may gain a few Spirit helpers in his lifetime. This is within the context that he has a 26 thousand year old tradition backing him up. A tradition that forms a collective of Spiritual immortals that could not be achieved in any other way.

When someone just starts a new religion it will not have the power that an ancient tradition has. Most people in our culture would never even know the difference. In Indigenous Traditions, miraculous events are commonplace. Contemporary traditions scoff at this, claiming that it is the work of evil spirits. Some of the most powerful traditions of this earth have been massacred under this pretext.

When a ceremony is about to begin some of the The spirit Helpers are signaled by the activity itself, others are called from far away with songs. It is said that we were given intelligence and a voice originally for the communication with spirits. Some how we are so busy talking to ourselves or each other that we barely notice the spirits nowadays. All animals may use their voices to speak to one another, but if you pay close attention, you can catch them in the act of calling out to the very center of the universe, praying.

The Messengers or Angelic Beings are likewise specially attuned to the human voice. They were designed to hear us, to help us, as part of our birthright. An audio recording of Incantations to a spirit will not conjure that spirit, only the true voice will do that. If you have been praying for something and it has not come to pass, perhaps you haven’t spoken your prayer out loud. Many spirits may be able to read your mind, but not necessarily the messengers meant to carry your prayers.

It is interesting to notice, if you pay close attention to a spirit that is listening to a person’s prayer. notice what happens when the normal speech of the prayer breaks into a shaky crying voice. The spirit reacts with great urgency! Perhaps this is why in some spiritual traditions, prayers are recited, purposefully, in a shaky, weeping tone.

 Many spirits recognize any rite as being a ritual, especially by the presence of fire and water,  fire and water are part of what forms a doorway for spiritual beings. Just to make up a ritual one may attract attention but that is not always a good thing.  When a leader of an ancient tradition of any kind presides over a ceremony, he or she calls a group of spirits specific to that tradition.  To lead a made up ceremony may call upon one’s individual spirit or ones own ancestors.  When calling ancestors you should be aware of many things, as an example, when they show up, they may be angered by the breaking of some family taboo.  It may be something long forgotten by you in the present.

For example, if you have family ties to the Deer Nation, and your family was forbidden to eat deer for thousands of years, but somehow lost that ancestral vow, you could be in quite a fix when that spirit shows up. If your ancestors made any agreement with the spirits you would have to remedy that in the present, after all, you are here on behalf of your ancestors and therefore have somewhat of a responsibility to them.

Some spirits of one tradition may not jibe with the spirits of another.  In most all religions and systems of magic, it is understood that whatever you offer you attract. If you offer alcohol, you will attract spirits that like that stuff. Don’t offer Buffalo kidney to a vegetarian Hindu goddess! this represents what we call the mixing of medicines.

In the Voodoo tradition,  for instance, you will notice altars of conflicting deities are kept separate and not crossed. Different and even enemy forces of nature my be honored by one person, yet their altars are not lumped together like some new-age mishmash. These things are subtle to us, but very important to them.

When someone becomes a Medicine Man or Woman it is because they are initiated in a true tradition, regardless of anything else.  Whatever the case, a position like that exists because a group of spirits are assigned to a person by another person according to that tradition.  By merely understanding Native American spirituality by itself one may not  necessarily enlist the help of those spirits. There has to be an unbroken line of tradition making the connection.

As an example, from the Catholic tradition one can see then, the emergence of the Protestant faith. This is an interesting example because the protestants actually cut themselves off from the Catholic saints. Aside from God, the other major deities and the Angels, the protestants basically had to start from scratch. Over time they gained Spirit Helpers.

Keep in mind that there really is no wrong or right way to pray. The creation herself is the body of the goddess. No one goes unheard. We are all inherently connected to the source of all that is. No matter what wrongs we commit we are all inextricably connected to the creator. We are made out of the very substance of god and cannot even escape our divinity if we tried. It is a reality that we, as beings, can offend the spirits in the same way we could offend each other and even ourselves. Part of any Indigenous tradition relies upon the adherence to ancestral vows.

Nevertheless, though beings may take many forms and many bodies, we have one spirit. There is one force fueling all perception and that is the one thing beyond math and comprehension. The fabric of the universe is woven with one thread! Each one of us, and everything, has a direct connection to Wakan Tanka.

What makes a Tradition powerful is it’s collective of spiritual Helpers, particularly the immortals. Spirituality is the same with anything else. There is a structure and order to all things. When we are born, we work hard to learn to move. We learn slowly to stand, walk, Talk and everything else. the same thing goes with the spiritual path. We can’t just walk right after being born. In the spiritual life is no different.

A true spiritual tradition is characterized by it’s saints or Immortals. When a person claims to have spiritual power outside of a traditional context it is actually very rare.  There are many who take up a priest like position alone, like the new-age shaman or the solitary practitioner among neo-paganism.  The problem here lies in the issue that one person cannot enlist the help of enough spirits to form a group of spirits that characterize a true tradition.  The spirits of Native American spirituality in general are a culmination of thousands of lifetimes of spiritual work, sometimes more.

Being a Medicine Man or Woman is not dependent on what you know or how you behave.  Those factors do determine how long you keep that power.  Like many indigenous paths, a two way communication with the spirits is inherent.  This allows everyone to be informed directly rather than from written or oral instruction.  As you can imagine all this could be very dangerous without a traditional connection to a living lineage.

What does enlist the help of spiritual forces regardless of anything are the making of offerings.  A personal sacrifice, changing your behavior, leaving behind your ugly old ways or putting water out for your ancestors.  This is something that anyone can do and is probably the best thing to do to form spiritual alliances.

12 Lakota Virtues

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A view from the arbor

12 Lakota Virtues

Essential to balance and happiness, there are 12 Lakota Virtues that were a part of everyday life for our Native American ancestors. These are lessons that were taught by storytellers who lived the lessons they imparted. They practiced what they preached. These virtues were and are the foundation of Lakota culture. The teaching is that our quality of life is not measured by material possessions but by how well our life’s journey flows and dances through these virtues. In Lakota “wicozani” is a word which describes wealth by living a happy well balanced life with physical and mental health in harmony with creation. We remember how our ancestors lived, remaining true to ourselves and to them by listening to the stories while being mindful of these important specific teachings.


These are the 12 Lakota Virtues:

1. Humility (Unsiiciyapi) – The first and most important step in life and especially on the spiritual path is humility which is the opposite of pride. In terms of spirituality, if the step of humility is skipped it results in delusions of grandeur. Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues. If you brag about your generosity then it spoils the generosity.

2. Perseverance (Wowacintanka) – In spite of difficulties we persist in our efforts which is a deeply empowering source of strength rising from within. To taste success we sometimes are forced to pick ourselves up and the gift is feeling how much life is worth living as we accomplish what we have set out to do. Many of our ancestors were faced with challenges that could only be helped through spiritual strength. This perseverance was what carried them through even to the afterlife.

3. Respect (Wawoohola) – A basic teaching among all tribes was that of respect towards all beings (sentient and insentient) which includes plants, animals, stones, wind, little people, and all of creation. In our present culture this important virtue has become lost with a general message of excess as well as intolerance for those who are challenged, elderly, or different in any way than ourselves. Our Lakota ancestors would ceremonially hunt their bison which would provide clothing, shelter, and food for the people. Every part was used and their spirit was honored by placing their skull facing east to meet the rising sun in unison with the rhythm of life.

4. Honor (Wayunonihan) – Being honorable means having strength of character by being a good person. Honor goes hand and hand with respect and many of the other virtues. To live the virtues it shows that someone has the integrity and dignity that makes up honor. Humility waters the roots of the tree of honor which then bears the fruit of love. By having honor means that one would choose the path of non violence and compassion rather than dishonorable actions.

5. Love (Cantognake) – More than just compassion, love is having the flame of emotion in one’s heart. Love rules over all things. The whole universe exists because of love, it is the motive of all creation.  It is not attachment because love can even be the incentive to be unattached. Love represents the balance that exists in everything. The warmth of the sun’s rays is the sun’s love for us. The ultimate love is spiritual joy which is responsible for life. Deep within each one of us and everything is this basic emotion known as Spirit.

6. Sacrifice (Icicupi) – Sacrifice is giving of oneself. The fruit of love is sacrifice. In the beginning the Creator sacrificed itself to make all that there is and through this humble act we can understand the significance of offering ourselves. In order to accomplish anything, one must be able to make a sacrifice. Whether it be the small sacrifices in your daily life or major sacrifices of your lifetime, we all reap what we sow by this fundamental act. We sacrifice our time and effort every day just to get things done but on a larger spiritual scale we can give of ourselves and give back to the Creator and Creation.

7. Truth (Wowicake) – Truth is being honest about yourself and the world around you. There is ultimate truth and then there are all of our individual truths. In this world of illusion we must rely upon our inner truth to know which way to go. Through gaining an understanding of life we learn to see beyond the illusions into what is real for us. We all have our own individual perspectives, it is relying upon our own perception within the greater reality that allows us to be in truth.

8. Compassion (Waunsilapi) – Doing what is right in caring for others as you would yourself is what makes a person compassionate. One need not feel sorry for or sympathetic to  anyone in order to live this virtue. In fact it is that inner strength that allows us to have the unconditional love that creates true compassion.

9. Bravery (Woohitike) – When an understanding of destiny and chance matures within the mind there is a dawning of faith within the heart. This is true courage. Bravery is born of the wisdom of life and death as well as one’s honor. It is not blind or reckless and can come from the very depths of our being in times of need. This open act of vulnerability despite circumstances can help us defy even the worst odds.

10. Fortitude (Cantewasake) – After learning patience and inner endurance one gains the strength necessary to have fortitude. Emotional stability, being alert, and having determination can help in having this persistent integrity. This is not an inflexible force. It is a quiet, gentle voice of a Grandmother with deep faith, trust, and understanding.

11. Generosity (Canteyuke) – “To have a heart” is the literal translation of this Lakota word which is a timeless virtue residing in the heart. True generosity has always been encouraged and exemplified in Lakota society while accumulating material possessions was greatly discouraged. As our Earth Mother gives everything, we should in turn do the same. True generosity embodies love and the understanding of impermanence.

12. Wisdom (Woksape) – Only after one has learned about life and is able to act on all the other virtues, can one be considered wise. First we attain knowledge then we learn to apply that knowledge. Wisdom is acting on what you know. Our gift to life is wisdom as well as life’s gift to us. It is knowing the difference between truth and the illusion. One can have knowledge without wisdom but one cannot have wisdom without knowledge. Wisdom is a reward from life for persevering through all of the virtues.


Lakota story characters

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Lakota story characters

Anog Ite Originally Ite, daughter of Wa and Ka and wife of Tate. Caught in a seduction, she was condemned to have two faces, one beautiful and the other hideous. A figure of disharmony, of turning aside from tradition. She is the mother of the Four Winds and Yum, the whirlwind. Because of her separation from her children, she causes birth pains to women and makes babies cry. She appears in dreams to young women, offering to teach them crafts, quill work in particular, which was a skill in which practitioners did not follow social norms.

Anp Spirit of light, particularly the reddish sunlight of dawn, source-less radiance.

Capa The Beaver Source and patron of hard work and domestic tranquility.

Cetan The Hawk Source and patron of swiftness in action, and inner stamina.

Han Spirit of Darkness Pre-existent to all things, Han and Anp follow each other to exile beneath Maka and return, balancing light and dark.

Hanwi The wandering Moon; created by the Sun to accompany him.

Hehaka The (male) Elk The source and patron of sexuality and intimacy. He is the relationship counselor and can be compared to cupid.

Heyoka , the sacred clown, both a divine entity and the effects of the spirit upon humans. Double-faced, showing joy on one side and grief on the other. He is the source of meteors, and people who dream of Wakinyan often become heyokas – doing everything backwards. These are known afterwards for their healing powers, and powers of dream interpretation, although they go through life terrified of thunder and lightening.

Hihankara (Owl-Maker) A crone Goddess who stands at the entrance to the Sky-Road (the Milky Way). She examines each who approaches, and if they do not have the correct tattoos, she pushes them from the path and they fall back to earth to wander as ghosts. Hihankara is comparable to the Greek Charon, the ferry man of souls.

Gnaska The Frog  patron of sorcery and magic. He is somtimes seen as a greedy trickster in some storys. Gnas means to fool. The Toad, Makpia, has to do with undoing sorcery.

Hogan The Fish patron of water, particularly as a cleanser and purifier.

Iktinike Son of Wi Banished to earth by the Sun for telling lies.

Iktomi, Son of Inyan and Wakinyan, is the tricky spider man, he has the power to speak to all things, living or inanimate. He gave the power of speech to humans and can talk to Wakinyan, He is regarded as heyoka, wise but a prankster, responsible for many difficulties humans have. He panics animals, and can shape shift or become invisible.

Inyan, Stone the Creator. patron of the Arts, original ancestor of all and source of all.  Because there was nothingness, he sacrificed a part of Himself in order to spawn the Universe and have a place to be. This act of self-offering caused him to become stone. His blood is water that became all the rivers, streams, and lakes. He made the Earth (Maka) his wife and created the Wakinyan to be his active counterparts. Iktomi and Iya are his sons. He is the spirit of Wakan Tanka.

Iya, Cyclone An evil child of Inyan and Unk, responsible, directly or indirectly, for all evil in the world. In his monster-like aspect he devours any animal or human and his breath is said to cause illness. Iya, is the brother of Iktomi and amounts only to destruction and sorrow.  Wakinyan is at war with him which started as jealously because Wakinyan was Inyan first companion.

Ka The first woman; wife of Wa and the mother of Ite. Banished to Earth and separated from Wa she became known as Wakanka, a great witch. If she chooses, she helps or hinders those she encounters.

Keya The Turtle patron of health, longevity, and healing rituals, especially surgery. the power of the feminine and protection.

Makpia, is a patron of sorcery and magic, The toad has to do with Rain, and especially with healing and undoing sorcery.

Maka The Earth Created by Inyan from his own substance. Maka was unsatisfied, cold and barren or too hot until Skan created Sun and Moon to follow one another in regular order.

Mato, The Bear  patron of wisdom and medicine. He is known as Hununpa or Tobtob. From him one learns knowledge of herbs, mushrooms, about love, fearless bravery and the language of the spirits. He is a healer, the wisest and is the spiritual archetype of all bears. Mato is said to have created the four legged animals. the bear is considered a two legged.

Mica , Sungmanitu, Coyote Trickster divinity especially involved in Tatanka Lowanpi, the girls puberty rite ritual wherein young women carefully wrap their first blood and place it in a tree so that the spirits of the tree will aid in their fertility. Mica tries to carry the bundles off so that he may control the girl.

Okaga A fertility spirit associated with the South as bringer of the south winds and warm weather. Okaga is the fourth brother of the Four Winds.  He is from the south and he marries Wohpe.

Skan source of all force, movement and power. He is the Sky and the wind is his helper. He sets the universe in motion along with the the order of all things. Skan is the judge of gods and mortals alike. Skan is comparable to the Greek Hermes.

Sungmanitu Tanka The Wolf Source and patron of the hunt.

Sunka The Dog patron of innocence and humility. Divine companion to humankind, He is the one responsible for watching over the humans and is their medicine when all hope is lost. The Dog is offered up to the wakinyan in the most dire situation as mans most valuable thing and then becomes  their most potent medicine as an inducer of humility.

Taku Skanskan The power of movement, one of the powers in wakan wicoh’an saced ceremony. That which causes every thing to move in the yuwipi / lowanpi.

Tatanka The (male) Buffalo Source and patron of plentiful food, health, and general tribal well-being. He is a magician, teaching proper rituals. Tatanka is regarded as remaining within the physical remains of the animal, especially the skull. He is the defender of young women’s first menstrual bundles that Mica tries to steal.

Tatankan Gnaskiyan (Crazy Buffalo) An evil spirit who wreaks havoc upon love affairs, causing fighting, murders, or suicides.

Tate The Wind Created by Skan to be His companion. Tate took Ite as His wife. She bore Him four sons, but was banished. Tate received permission for them to dwell upon Maka. They settle in the middle of the world, where Tate sends his four elder sons to the cardinal points, to establish dominion over them.

Unhcegila An evil spirit that dwells in secret places, resembling a large reptile. Disappearances and mysterious deaths are attributed to him.

Unk (Contention) Created to be a companion for Maka. She is the mother of Iya and Gnas. She was so beautiful that Maka became jealous and sent her away into the  depths of the waters, where she, with Iya, became the progenitor of all evil beings.

Unktehi A group of evil monsters, males living within water and females on land. Dangerous and malignant they cause flooding and contaminate water sources. They are also teachers, instructing humans in body painting for ceremonial purposes.

Wa, The first man; husband of Ka and father of Ite. He aided Ite so was banished to Earth and separated from Ka. Here, he became known as Wazi, great wizard. He helps or hinders those he encounters as he chooses. See Waziya.

Wakan ,  That which gives and takes life, the control of the life force.

Wakanpi General term for spirits, supernatural beings, Gods and Goddesses. Both good and bad, all watch over humans and expect proper ceremonies to be executed in their honor.

Wakan Tanka The Great controler of life. Wakan Tanka is the supreme power of the universe. The term refers on one level to the spiritual powers of the universe assembled together around a council fire. It is a council of spirits representing all of creation, and a single entity. So in Wakan Tanka is the collective power of all Gods and other entities. Together, they are one. Wakan Tanka controls all space and time, and is present in all things.

Underlying Wakan Tanka is the spirit Inyan, who caused all things to be by sacrificing his own essence, thereby infusing all things with it, animate and inanimate.  Wakan Tanka is addressed directly in prayer and ritual, but His influence in the material world is diffused through his elements and aspects.

Wakinyan, Thunderbeings The creators of all grass, living in the west the thunderbirds are winged bird-like creatures and patrons of cleanliness. They are known to have the voice of thunder and the glance of lightning. They are the enforcers of divine law. They offer protection to humans from Waziya. The Thunderbeings are eternally at war with the Unktehi, the monstrous forces of evil. Thunderbirds rule the heyoka.

Wambli The Eagle Overseer of battle and hunting kills and
patron of councils, especially hunting councils.

 Wamani Omini Hoksila The Whirlwind boy , fifth child of Tate and Ite. Has to do with mental health and the mind.  He rules good and bad luck in games, gambling and with love.

Wanagi The soul (nagi) of a dead person, as well as the spiritual aspect of one’s physical self, the body’s ghost. The spirit is a part of the wanagi along with many other things. (The soul in a living person is a Woniya). Wanagi leave the earth to travel the Sky Road (the Milky Way), but first they must successfully pass Hihankara.

Waziya the wicked wizard of the North. He is the north wind, consort of Wakanka, the archetypal witch. He is patron of winter, famine and disease. He also guards the aurora borealis, and controls ice and snow. Waziya is the father of Anog Ite. Waziya was formerly known as Wa (The first man).

Wi The Sun, is one of the four superior spiritual beings. He is Chief of the spirit world, the earth and the inner earth.

Wiyohipeyata The West, Spirit with the authority over all things that happen by night, associated with completion.

Wiyohiyanpa The East Spirit with the authority over all things that happen by day, associated with beginnings.

Wohpe Daughter of Skan and born of that one parent (movement). Wohpe is the Goddess of  beauty, harmony and happiness.  She is the helper of the Grandmother Earth, wife of the South wind (Itokaga). She teaches games, behavior, and dance. She is known as the mediator and the beautiful one. Wohpe means meteorite. She is also known Ptehincalasanwin, She is represented by the color blue and her stone is turquoise.  Another aspect of wohpe is the White Buffalo Calf Maiden, or Pte San Wi. In this form She gives the pipe and seven sacred rites to the people. Her other gift is the calendar.

Wanagi The soul. The soul is comprised of many parts, the ghost, or shadow is one aspect of the soul. There also is one’s reflection, or image,

 Zuzeca The Snake, Can be a bad omen. Represents hidden things, it is the symbol of the divine mother Earth (Maka Ina) along with the Rabbit.