Thursday, March 3, 2022

"I Asked For, I Was Given..."

“In my youth I respected the world and life,
I needed nothing but peace of heart;
And yet I changed despite myself and believed in Iktomi's lies.
He seemed to know all the truth,
he promised to make me happy.

He made me ask Wakan Tanka for wealth, that I might have power;
I was given poverty, that I might find my inner strength.

I asked for fame, so others would know me;
I was given obscurity, that I might know myself.

I asked for a person to love that I might never be alone;
I was given a life of a hermit, that I might learn to accept myself.

I asked for power, that I might achieve;
I was given weakness, that I might learn to obey.

I asked for health, that I might lead a long life;
I was given infirmity, that I might appreciate each minute.

I asked Mother Earth for strength, that I might have my way;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need for Her.

I asked to live happily, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might live happily.

I received nothing I asked for, yet all my wishes came true.
Despite myself and Iktomi, my dreams were fulfilled,
I am richly blessed more than I ever hoped,
I thank you, Wakan Tanka, for what you've given me.”

- Billy Mills, Oglala Lakota (1938-)
"In Lakota mythology, Iktomi is a spider-trickster spirit, and a culture hero for the Lakota people. Alternate names for Iktomi include Ikto, Ictinike, Inktomi, Unktome, and Unktomi. These names are due to the differences in tribal languages, as this spider deity was known throughout many of North America's tribes. Iktomi can be compared to the African trickster figure Anansi, and to some extent, the transculturated Yoruba Ellegua, also depicted as a trickster disguised in red. Due to his nature as a Trickster as well as patronage of communication, Iktomi is also comparable to the Greco-Roman Hermes/Mercurius (Mercury)."
"In Native American mythology, Wakan Tanka (great mystery) is the supreme being and creator of the Lakota Sioux. Sometimes called Great Spirit, he is similar to the supreme beings found in the myths of many other North American peoples. According to Lakota myth, before creation Wakan Tanka existed in a great emptiness called Han (darkness). Feeling lonely, he decided to create companions for himself. First, Great Spirit focused his energy into a powerful force to form Inyan (rock), the first god. Next, he used Inyan to create Maka (earth) and then mated with that god to produce Skan (sky). Skan brought forth Wi (the sun) from Inyan, Maka, and himself. These four gods were separate and powerful, but they were all part of Wakan Tanka.

The first four gods produced four companions - Moon, Wind, Falling Star, and Thunderbird - to help with the process of creation. In turn, these companions created various gods and spirits, including Whirlwind, Four Winds, Buffalo, Two-Legged Creatures (humans and bears), Sicun (thought), Nagi (spirit of death), Niya (breath of life), and Nagila (shadow). All of these beings were aspects of Wakan Tanka. Together, they created and oversee everything that exists."

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