One night last year, I dreamed I was gathered with others at Blacktail and we were standing on the hill near the Yurt...we were looking to the distant mountains and preparing for our journey to the Cave that morning. So vivid was my dream, that when I woke I thought I was in my bed in the cabin there by the DearBorn River. I woke thinking it was time to grab my drum and go join the Circle
to drum up Sun. It took a few moments for my mind to clear and realize that I was here at Rabbits Run.
And this year, there have been several times when I strongly felt or heard the Call that to Blacktail I must go - return with others who also wish to engage with the Powers, the Spirits, and the Cave of the Land there. Then in our August Philadelphia Circle, while drumming and sounding ourselves, I saw the Buffalo a'comin from the hills to join us there. As we continued singing them to us, I realized that the very distant hill, from which they were emerging, was a hill at Blacktail that one sees while standing on the ancient Sun Wheel there. Of course, distance and space collapses in such seeing and there were many, many hills over which they traveled from Montana to Philly. But I recall so clearly that specific hill from which they seemed to emerge. And when we were through with our drumming, I looked down to our altar where sat Iniskim, and I
"You really now are calling, aren't you!"
Iniskim is the small stone that the Plains Indians, esp. the Blackfeet, considered the Holder of special powers connected with Buffalo. Iniskim translates to: "Calls Buffalo" and is actually in the shape of a Buffalo. It is the oldest fossil vertebrae, from the ocean floor, that we have in North America. Historians and geologists speculate that the first North American Cave used by humans was once connected with the first inland lake to be formed when the glaciers began their melting.
Studies indicate that this stone surfaced as the glacier receded and the lake was formed - revealing the Cave. This is the Cave at Blacktail Ranch- a Cave into which some of us have descended, journeyed within, encountered Ancestral
Spirits, and sat in Circle round the stone altar upon the top of which is a stone bearing the graven form of Bear on one side and of Buffalo on the other side. Bear was the side facing up when the Cave was first discovered and for a while, I did not even know the other side contained an image of Buffalo. The owners and stewards of Blacktail Ranch have sought to keep intact as possible the ceremonial structures as they discovered them in the early forties.
I have shared in different Circles and my newsletter, the story of how Iniskim came into my life. Those of you interested can find this at my website. What's important in terms of a retreat at Blacktail next September is that I hear Iniskim as the One who calls us to that Land...just as She has been known for thousands of years as the Calls-Forth Buffalo she is also known as Calls the People and Calls the Peoples of the Buffalo.
There is something very essential to knowing the Medicine or the Ways
Great Bear who manifests the Medicine of 'Within-ness'
Great Buffalo who manifests the Way of the most "Without-ness"
And indeed we are called to both: within-ness and without-ness
For with one medicine we doctor, heal, evolve and grow ourselves.
Bear is called the Guardian of the Wilderness and appoints to others their roles and powers upon the Wheel---likewise do we learn the many
Beings upon whom we can call and who can assist us in our healing
And with the other Medicine- we take our place as members of the herd, the group, the Circle. This is the Wisdom Way of Buffalo, which considers all
action taken with reference to the 7th Generation, the Fire of the People, and the Balance of the Whole.
How do we move from uttering pretty and fine-sounding words to walking in beauty, having courage to stand-alone in Winter snows or on behalf of the Whole. Where are the Dreams and Visions that might inspire and wake up the sleepers. What are the stories we can speak that are real, that heal, and pass along the wisdom.
Some of our questions might find response deep within the Cave at Blacktail. Sometimes someone has been uncomfortable about going into the Cave only to find that holding space, for others in the Cave, was
their most powerful learning experience while at Blacktail. For some of us our vision may come standing on the Sun Wheel or walking in the Dear Born River. For others wandering in the wilderness there may bring encounters with plant, stone or animal that become our best friends and teachers. That is the Wonder and Magic of Blacktail I think: namely, everywhere you look, listen, walk, touch, or taste some unexpected experience will find you if you are willing to be found. The Land and Spirits there can help us to Home return if we are willing to come Home to ourselves.
This August when the Buffalo started coming from the Plains to Philly our Circle promised to make Home for them, for their returning. But this means making and returning Home ourselves...it is not either/or; not them or us.
Home is Us and Them and the Web of Grace holding All.
Home is integrating the medicine ways of Bear
and the wisdom ways of Buffalo.
We have much to learn and discover together. Over the Winter months, I plan to begin an email conversation among those coming next year so that we can begin focusing ourselves and thus be prepared to fully engage
with Circle and Land when we arrive next September. Learning to walk with Bear and Buffalo involves a wide range of ceremony, different forms for journeying and healing as well as sounding and singing ourselves. This wide range is suggested by the image of walking Blacktail itself: moving from one's place of denning, up and over the hills, alongside and into DearBorn River, down into the Cave, ascending from that Womb, and then the Return; all along the path, the Spirits, Animals, and Plants themselves beckon us under vast Sky above and wide Earth Below---sometimes within Light of Day while other times enveloped in Night, Moon, and Stars.
Since my first retreat at Blacktail, I have come to know this as a
very special place from which I always leave with some major transformation having occurred---I invite you to join this Circle in keeping another appointment in
this Holy Ground.
Blessings & Love,
Registering for Bear Medicine and Buffalo Wisdom:
Cost and registration information is below. Contact Pirkko if you know you wish to come to Blacktail Ranch. A deposit will reserve your space. A schedule, allowing for staggered payments between now and July, will be sent to those registering.
If you are interested in coming to Blacktail Ranch, Sun. September 11 - Sat. Sept 17, 2011, please write Pirkko Miller and let her know as soon as possible. Pirkko has graciously offered to coordinate this retreat.
Contact Pirkko Miller at:
Ph (574) 834-3460
North Webster, IN 46555
Enrollment is limited to allow for maximum participation in Circle. All lodging is comfortable. I encourage you to contact Pirkko and send in your deposit if you know you wish to come. In early November we will send a suggested payment plan to allow for staggered payments between now and July.
The only financial requirement now is to send in a deposit as soon as possible to reserve your space.
Total Costs: = $1,430 or (approx. $238 per day)
Cost varies according to lodging choice. All lodging is quite comfortable. The figures below are based on bedrooms in the Main Lodge.
For an additional $15 - $35 per day, lodging is available in single person Cabins or a
Cabin with single rooms. Details of this can be worked out with Pirkko.
We have sought to make this workshop as affordable as possible while still offering a retreat in incredible wilderness; and doing shamanic activities that require a staff 'team' both for teaching and for various shamanic explorations on the Land and within the Cave.
The complete expenses cover lodging ($750), tuition ($400) and expenses at Blacktail for three staff ($250) plus administrative/ & craft items ($30) This does not include airfare, travel, and shuttle service from the airport and to the Ranch.
A non-refundable deposit of $150.00 will reserve your space.
Refund and Cancellation Policy: Any cancellations prior to July 30,
2011 will receive a complete refund minus the $150 deposit. No refunds will be given for cancellations received after August 1, 2011.
**Partial scholarships are available. We are able to offer these due to the generous support of others. If you need this support, please let Pirkko know. If you are able to contribute to our scholarship fund, please do. This
exchanging of 'goods' among ourselves is one practice of Buffalo Ways.