22 July 2007


White Buffalo Woman (Ptesan Wi)
Spirit Guide and Goddess of the Lakota

White Buffalo Calf Woman brings the gift of the Sacred Pipe to honor all creation. She then turns into a white buffalo and returns to her people.

This ‘collage’ combines the work of two artists:
White Buffalo Woman by Pam McCabe
White Bison by M. Caroselli
White Buffalo Mandala by Pam McCabe


I am currently writing an action-adventure-love story that has, as a central character, a spirit guide or goddess. Her name is White Buffalo Woman. How perfectly does that fit in with Melanie’s theme this week!

The above ‘collage’ is actually a piece from my storyboard on this character. I thought you would enjoy reading the historical and factual account of White Buffalo Woman’s origins as told by members of the Lakota Nation. Later this week, I might include a small excerpt from my story…will see how it goes.

The Story of White Buffalo Woman
Joseph Chasing Horse, Traditional Leader of the Lakota Nation
Richard Wronski, Chicago Tribune
Floyd Hand, Lakota

The Lakota people have a prophecy about the white buffalo calf, their sacred peace pipe and a sacred bundle that was brought to them two thousand years ago by a Spirit Guide they know as White Buffalo Woman. As the story goes, two young warriors were out hunting buffalo in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota. This was a time of near starvation for the Lakota people. The warriors spotted something unusual in the distance. As the form moved toward them, they realized that it was a woman; an extraordinary beauty not of this world but lila waken (very sacred). Both warriors knew that Spirit Guides could not be treated with disrespect.

The two young men were astonished. One was mesmerized but the other desired her body and reached out to touch her. Lightening struck the disrespectful youth and burned him into a charred crisp instantly. Only a small heap of blackened bones was left. Some tribal elders say that it was not lightening but a cloud that covered his body and within this cloud he was eaten up by snakes that left only a skeleton, just as man can be eaten up by lust.

To the warrior who behaved rightly, White Buffalo Woman directed him to return to his camp and tell the people to prepare for her arrival. As the prophecy goes she said,

“Good things I am bringing, something holy to your nation. A message I carry for your people from the buffalo nation. Go back and tell your chief to put up a medicine lodge with twenty-four poles. Let it be made holy for my coming.”

The warrior returned to his camp and told the chief what the sacred woman had commanded. The tribe built the medicine lodge and after four days White Buffalo Woman appeared. The great chief welcomed her,

"Sister, we are glad you have come to instruct us.”

White Buffalo Woman told him to build a sacred altar made of red earth in the center of the medicine lodge tipi. The altar was to have a three-stick rack and a buffalo skull for a holy thing she was bringing to the people. After this was completed, she traced a design with her finger in the smooth earth and circled the lodge sun-wise. White Buffalo Woman then opened the bundle she had brought with her. Inside was the chanunpa, the sacred pipe. She held it out for the people to see; holding the stem with her right hand and the bowl with her left. To this day, that is how the sacred pipe is held by all who touch it.

The chief spoke,

“Sister, we are glad. We have had no meat for some time. All we can give you is water.”

He dipped some sweet grass into a skin bag of water and gave it to her. Even today, the Lakota people dip sweet grass or an eagle feather into water and sprinkle it on a person to be purified.

White Buffalo Woman showed the people how to use the pipe. She filled it with red willow bark tobacco and walked around the Medicine Lodge four times to honor the great sun which represents…the sacred hoop, the circle without end, and the road of life.

Then she placed a dry buffalo chip onto the fire and lit the pipe with it. This fire became known as ‘the fire without end’…a flame to be passed on from generation to generation. The smoke rising from the bowl of the pipe was the living breath of the great Grandfather Mystery.

White Buffalo Woman taught the people the right way to pray; the right words and gestures. She sang the pipe-filling song, lifting it towards the sky, toward Grandfather Mystery, then down toward Grandmother Earth and finally to the four directions of the universe. This is the origin of the six directions we call: East, South, West, North, Earth and Sky.

White Buffalo Woman prayed with the people,

“With this pipe you will walk like a living prayer. With your feet resting upon the Earth and the pipe stem reaching into the Sky. Your body forms a living bridge between the Sacred Beneath and the Sacred Above. Wakan Tanka (Sacred Spirit) smiles upon us because now we are as one…earth, sky, all living things, the two legged, the four legged, the winged ones, the trees, the grasses. Together with the people, they are all related, one family. The pipe holds them all together.

Look at this bowl. Its stone represents the buffalo, but also the flesh and blood of the red man. The buffalo represents the universe and the four directions because he stands on four legs…for the four ages of man. The buffalo was put in the west by Wakan Tanka at the making of the world to hold back the waters. Every year he looses one hair, and in every one of the four ages he loses a leg. The Sacred Hoop will end when all the air and legs of the great Buffalo are gone and the water comes back to cover the Earth.

The wooden stem stands for all that grows on the earth. Twelve feathers hanging from where the stem (the backbone) joins the bowl are from the spotted eagle, the very sacred who is the Great Spirit’s messenger and the wisest of all. Look at the bowl. Engraved in it are seven circles of various sizes. They stand for the seven ceremonies you will practice with this pipe, and for the seven sacred campfires of our Lakota nation.”

Then White Buffalo Woman spoke to the women. She told them that the work of their hands and the fruit of their bodies is what kept the people alive,

“You are from the Mother Earth. What you are doing is as great as what warriors do.”

White Buffalo Woman also talked to the children,

“You are the coming generation, that’s why you are the most important and precious ones. Some day you will hold this pipe and smoke it. Some day you will pray with it.”

She spoke one last time to Chief Standing Hollow Horn,

“Remember, this pipe is very sacred. Respect it and it will take you to the end of the road. The four ages of creation are in me. I am the four ages. I will come to see you in every generation cycle. I shall come back to you. I shall see you again.”

Before White Buffalo Woman walked off in the same direction from which she had come, outlined against the glow of the setting sun, she spoke of a prophesy that told of the birth of a white buffalo calf.

White buffalo calves would be a sign signifying that the time was near when she would return again to purify the world; a time when she would bring back spiritual harmony and balance. As she walked into the sunset, White Buffalo Woman stopped and rolled over four times. The first time, she turned into a black buffalo. The second into a brown one. The third time into a red one. Finally, the fourth time, she rolled over and turned into a white female buffalo calf. Then…she disappeared over the Horizon.

As soon as she had vanished, great herds of buffalo appeared. The great bison allowed themselves to be killed so that the Lakota people might survive. From that day, the sacred buffalo furnished them with everything they needed…meat for their food, bones for tools and skins for clothes and tipis.

Today, if you ask a Lakota what White Buffalo Woman means to them; they will tell you that her return will mark the arrival of a sacred new era for reconciliation among all races and respect for the Earth.


megan said...

What is it about the combination of white with that blue...oh, guess it's the sky. This is an uplifting piece...it feels so strong and free. And the story is just what I always picture of feminine energy...bringing what she has to places where it's needed. Yeah!

Deb G said...

I like this a lot. Thank you for sharing the story. I'll be thinking a lot about the idea of walking "like a living prayer."

Julia said...

Thank you for your lovely comment @ my blog ! I loved it ! Your art is amazing and wonderfull !

Pattie Mosca said...

"sister...we are glad YOU are here"!!

This is a wonderfully strong piece both visually and the written words!
I can feel it in my core...and walking like a living prayer...I agree with deb g...I will be thinking of this idea also!!!!!

Goddess of Leonie said...

i am a big fan of WBW... she is a precious and dear sister-friend-spirit to me...

i love that you have honoured her here :)

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love your collage and thanks for sharing the wonderful story.

AscenderRisesAbove said...

I've always enjoyed the story of the white buffalo... (also really like that red rabbit to the right)


mbc said...

Very inspirational and calming. I enjoy your "goddess". :-)

Laura Scarlett said...

Like mbc said, this is very still and calming to look at. I like the structure of it and the different parts making up the whole. I also love the way you've done the sky.

Landi said...

This is a really a lovely and peaceful collage. The colors are perfect.

Cheryl said...

Oh, Royce, I just love your work! This piece is wonderful, and the story you have shared makes it even more special.

Cheryl Finley: said...

Oh my gosh, the story of White Buffalo Woman and the Lakota people is amazing, inspiring...and I feel it's sacredness. Thank you so much, Royce, for sharing a bit of sacred culture with us. And the collage illustrates the story magnificiently; it's the perfect punctuation to the incredible art from your heart.
Thank you.

Cheryl Finley: said...

P.S. The "walking like a living prayer"...thanks to all who pointed that out. I don't think one can "walk that way" without feeling peace permeate their being...
Again...thank you, Royce.

Dani D said...


just me said...

Good stuff. :) And I like that you say you are a creative alchemist.

omgirly said...

I love this story-I am exploring and learning more about my native american heritage-thank you for adding new knwledge!

Nicole said...

Ohhhhhh this is wonderful, love it ;-)

Pilar said...

Beautiful tribute to a very special Goddess.

starwalker said...

It is said that myths and legends have a basis in fact. I am firmly convinced that White Buffalo Calf Woman existed and still exists. So many Lakota "legends" make so much sense in this crazy world and we would do well to heed them.

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed, in some moments I can say that I acquiesce in with you, but you may be considering other options.
to the article there is still a question as you did in the go over like a lead balloon a fall in love with issue of this solicitation www.google.com/ie?as_q=panorama magazine hazleton pa ?
I noticed the utter you have in the offing not used. Or you partake of the dreary methods of inspiriting of the resource. I suffer with a week and do necheg