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Girl Talk: Getting to Know the Goddesses

White Buffalo Calf Woman

The Mother of Life

The legend of White Buffalo Calf Woman is around 2000 years old.  The reason she is thought of as a Goddess is because her message is central to the spiritual practices of numerous Native American nations, although the Lakota Sioux nation are considered to still be the keepers of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe.  The story of her origin is almost always told as such:  Two warriors were out hunting buffalo when a white buffalo calf suddenly appeared.  As it approached them it changed into a beautiful young woman, which is how she came into her name.

One of the young warriors had lustful thoughts of the beautiful woman, and as he reached out to touch her he was consumed by a black cloud which left only his bones.  The other warrior fell to his knees and began to pray.  The White Buffalo Calf Woman told him to return to his people and tell them she would appear to them in four days, bringing with her a sacred bundle.  And she did so, appearing to them as a white buffalo calf descending on a cloud.  Stepping down, she rolled over on the ground, changing from white to black, then yellow, then red.  It has been said that this was to represent the colors of all mankind.  When White Buffalo Calf Woman arose, she was once again the beautiful woman, cradling the sacred bundle in her arms.

She spent four days with the people, she taught them sacred songs, dances, and ceremonies, as well as the traditional ways.

White Buffalo Calf Woman told them to be good caretakers of the land and to be always mindful that the children are the future.

In a slightly different version of the legend a young woman, during an enemy raid on her village, saw a toddler injured, and she ran to cradle him in her arms and comfort him as death approached.  Soon she too was mortally wounded and her body crumpled with the child still cradled in her arms.  Her spirit went quickly to catch up with the child’s so that she would be there to care for him when they crossed over.  To honor her noble act the Sioux gave her the name Mother of Life.  It is said that later it was she that appeared as White Buffalo Calf Woman.

During the four days she spent with the people she suggested that all children be taught to hold baby animals with love and caring, so they would grow to learn to love all the other babies of the world.  It is also said that she showed the people how to use the pipe, she filled it with red willow bark tobacco, and walked around the lodge four times in the manner of the great sun.  This represented the circle without end, the sacred hoop, the road of life.  She showed the people the right way to pray and how to lift the pipe up to the sky toward Grandfather, and down toward Grandmother Earth, and then to the four directions.  “With this holy pipe,” she said, “you will walk like a living prayer.  With your feet on the earth and the pipestem reaching into the sky, your body forms a living bridge between the sacred above, and the sacred below.”

She spoke to the women and told them that it was the work of their hands and the fruit of their bodies which kept the people alive. “You are from the mother earth, what you are doing is as great as what warriors do.”  Therefore the sacred pipe is also something that binds men and women together in a circle of love.  It is the one holy object in the making of which both men and women have a hand.  The men carve the bowl and make the stem; the women decorate it with bands of colored porcupine quills.  When a man takes a wife they both hold the pipe at the same time and red cloth is wound around their hands, thus tying them together for life.”

It is also said that she taught the people many other rituals, and spent time especially with the women teaching them many things.

If you wish to know more about White Buffalo Calf Woman, there is endless information available online, including interviews with tribal elders and songs to honor her.

Her specific symbols are;

General:  White buffalo, peace-pipe, circle, the numbers 4 & 7

Animals:  Buffalo, eagle, and hawk

Plants:  Buttercup, Pasque flower, spruce.

Scents:  Sage, Wisteria, tangeine and rose geranium

Gems and Metals:  Agate, Rose quartz, gold, silver, and red clay.

Colors:  White, yellow, red and black

Although I found no specific spell work concerning invoking White Buffalo Calf Woman, there are many things touched on in the legend, such as spells for gentleness or children, spells for the Earth, and for peace, or women’s issues seem perfectly acceptable to me.