White Buffalo Calf Woman – Healer, Teacher, and Inspirational Spirit for the Lakota People
Goddess cults have existed in every part of the world. The myths and legends of the Lakota people discuss a powerful female figure in the stories of White Buffalo Calf Woman. She is a supernatural woman who taught the Lakota people their “Seven Sacred Rituals.”
White Buffalo Calf Woman is also known as Pte Ska Win or Ptesanwi. Her story seems to be centered in Lakota mythology, but other Native Americans also have legends about her. She is traditionally known as an individual who brings messages from the ancestors, but she has also been regarded as a healer who comes to help during critical situations. White Buffalo Calf Woman brings inspiration, strength, and the power of creation. Moreover, modern Native Americans provide interesting connections between the legends of White Buffalo Calf Woman and Christianity.
‘White Buffalo Calf Woman.’ ( nativeheritageproject)
The Sacred Pipe
To understand the cult of White Buffalo Calf Woman it is necessary to examine how generous she was to the Lakota people. In fact, their beliefs say that she gave them their most powerful tools to communicate with deities and improve their lives. Apart from providing them with daily protection and inspiring activity, Lakota mythology says that she taught them much more.
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One of the most important tools in Lakota rituals is a sacred pipe - chanunpa. The one who showed them how to use it was White Buffalo Calf Woman. The legends say that she took a pipe and filled it with regional tobacco, then walked around a lodge four times. This is how she showed the people the endless circle - a sacred road of life. She told the Lakota people that the smoke rising from the bowl while she was dancing was the breath of Tunkashila, the living breath of the great Grandfather of Mystery.
A White Buffalo Pipe. ( Barefoot’s World )
She also showed the Lakota people how to pray. Furthermore, White Buffalo Calf Woman taught them how to dance, make special gestures, and gave them the words for prayers to worship their deities. She explained that the people who followed her directions would be heard more easily by the gods.
A Traditional Story
Another traditional story says that there was a time of famine so the leader of the Lakotas sent people to hunt. While searching for animals, two men saw a beautiful young woman dressed in white clothes. One of the men desired this woman and decided to get closer to her. He said to his companion that he wanted to take her as his wife. His friend warned him that she didn’t look like a normal woman, and told him that she could be a sacred one or spirit. When the other man ignored this words, his companion could only watch what happened next.
When the man reached the beautiful woman, a huge white cloud covered them both. As it disappeared, the man vanished too. He was punished for his behavior. The woman explained to the other man that she would not hurt him. She said that she only hurt his friend because he wanted to harm her while she was a buffalo. This story was later connected to the goddess Wohpe (or Wope, Whope) as well.
The White Buffalo Calf Woman meets two men. (Crystalinks)
White Buffalo Calf Woman Today
The first recorded white buffalo in the USA was killed by Cheyenne during the Leonic Meteor Showers in 1833. The white buffalo is an American bison and is considered a sacred animal in Native American beliefs. Many tribes in North America associate the symbol of a white buffalo with world harmony and rebirth. Legends and myths about the sacred animal and White Buffalo Calf Woman are still very popular with people who identify their origins as Native American.
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‘Big Medicine,’ a sacred white buffalo that lived from 1933-1959 on the National Bison Range, is now on permanent display at the Montana Historical Society. (Los Paseos/ CC BY SA 2.0 )
An article by Shannon Smith published on the University of Nebraska website discusses the modern importance of Native American stories about White Buffalo Calf Woman. Smith writes: