Think Before You Shoot (or if you must, for you own health, think after… read on and you will see what I mean; it can’t hurt to know these things 🙂
This post was motivated by love for both human and animal kingdoms.
One With The Earth; are you awake or asleep? A myth is a legend and as many historians will tell you, the power of the myth (See: Joseph Campbell) is…. well, powerful and it holds a truth that is deeply engrained in consciousness. That is, if one is conscious enough of consciousness to ‘be’ conscious of it. Either you get that or you don’t. Let’s move on…
Do you find hunting, the hunter—sport hunting with no reverence for the animal—emotionally upsetting? Are you a hunter who is looking forward to the upcoming hunting season and one who has never considered the spirit of the animal and its connection to your christian god? Do you believe nature and its inhabitants are on the earth for the sport of serving your destructive pleasure? On the other hand, you might carry the memories in your soul of the early days when man was merged with nature as one.
Perhaps, like me, you dread the start of the upcoming hunting season. May you find some comfort or balance with your emotions with that by reading this post.
Whether you have an aversion/abhorrence to hunting OR an attractionto killing animals (either way), my intention in writing about this whole issue of hunting and killing animals is that it be of service to the reader.
If you’re a hunter with no conscious awareness of your spiritual connection to your animal brothers and sisters, maybe you could develop a-little-bit-of one by reading the story of the Little Deer below. You may want to think about what you are doing when you shoot to kill in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina–you are on sacred ground, the Cherokee Ancestral Home where animals were considered ‘relatives’ and their clans respected.
This information comes from some writing by Warren Jefferson who compiled such information on beliefs of the North American Indian.
The lives of the North American Indians were infused with the supernatural and there was a constant interaction between the spirit world and theirs.
In my recent study which comes from a renewed interest in Indian culture I came across a Cherokee myth or story referred to as Little Deer. I am most interested in the ancient ancestors, before Europeans came to North America.
Many Indian tribes throughout North America tell of a time when humans and animals ‘shared common ancestors’ and ‘spoke the same language’ with animals. (See Ted Andrews, Animal Speak) We see groups with semi-animal and semi-human ancestors in American Indian culture–half-man and half-animal. But then don’t we see the same thing in the ancient cultures of Egypt and Greece for example?
Pre-patriarchial times is what I mean… the matriarchal days when earth mother was honored have an influence on the consciousness carried forward into some Cherokee myths.
There were animal totems and certain animals were seen as protectors of the animal clan. The person would, in those days, enter into the relationship with the spirit of a particular animal species such as the wolf, bear, caribou, elk, deer or other animal and incorporate the animal’s characteristics into one’s self drawing the animal’s qualities, strengths and survival skills.
Perhaps there are many of us who have the memories of living in such ways still alive in our souls? And we are the ones who would likely shutter at the thought of sport killing and hunting.
Once a totem animal, in Indian tradition, has been acquired, the person is bound to certain actions and taboos regarding that animal.
Christian or non-spiritual hunters today seem to have no taboos other than their enjoyment of the kill as a sport without any consideration for the soul of the animal.
And, Yes. North American Indians believed not only animals but trees had a soul too. Living closely with nature thousands of years ago it was as obvious to them, just as it would be to today to anyone who lives close to nature and who has thrown off patriarchal religious conditioning which poisons the mind to the sacredness of nature.
Often a person could not hunt or kill his totem animal even as a matter of survival and even if the spirit of the animal was honored. This is because someone’s totem animal is, for them, in effect a special “relative”.
The Cherokee ancestral home is in the present-day western Appalachian Mountain region of North Carolina. Today, many (or most) Cherokee people live in Oklahoma, since their forced removal from the region in 1838 known as the Trail of Tears. I live in the Cherokee Ancestral territory.
I believe the following information comes from James Mooney’s “Myths of the Cherokee” about North American Indians.
Man is the paramount power and hunts and slaughters the others as his own necessities compel, but is obliged to satisfy the animal tribes in every instance, and according to the Indian system, the bones of the dead are covered with presents for the bereaved “relatives”—the other animals of the animal tribe. (I wonder how many hunters stop to think of the bereaved animal relatives of the animal they kill.)
This pardon by the hunter is made easier, according to the shamans, through their knowledge of reincarnation in which it is understood that every animal has a definite “life term”, which cannot be curtailed by violent means.
If the last paragraph above is true, it will help me get through this year’s deer hunting season—the beginning of which is closely approaching. I find it highly significant that I seem to have drawn in the information exactly at a time when it is most beneficial to know!
According to the shaman, if the animal is killed before the ‘expiration date of the allotted time for that animal’s life’, the death is only temporary and the body is immediately resurrected in its proper shape from the blood drops, and the animal continues its existence until the end of the predestined period, when the body is finally dissolved and the liberated spirit goes to join its kindred.
This belief appears in the story of Little Deer (below). In that story, certain supernatural personages have dominion over the animals and are therefore regarded as the… well, for the lack of a better word, perhaps the one who disseminates karma.
Here is the short story of the Little Deer from Cherokee Myth (and there are truths in myths!) about a hunter who neglects to do a ceremony for the animal’s spirit after killing a deer. The following story comes from beliefs of North American Indians regarding their animal “relatives” who they call the “four-footed tribes”.
The Little Deer
Now, whenever the hunter shoots a Deer, the Little Deer, who is swift as the wind and cannot be wounded [the Soul of the animal group leader for the deer], runs quickly up to the spot and, bending over the bloodstains, asks the spirit of the Deer if it has heard the prayer of the hunter for pardon.
If the reply is yes, all is well, and the Little Deer goes on his way; but if the reply be no, he follows on the trail of the hunter, guided by the drop of blood on the ground, until he arrives at his cabin in the settlement [the hunter’s living quarters], when the Little Deer enters invisibly and strikes the hunter with rheumatism, so that he becomes at once a helpless cripple.
No hunter who has regard for his health ever fails to ask pardon from the Deer for killing it, although some hunters who have not learned the prayer for the animal’s spirit may try to turn aside the Little Deer from his pursuit by building a fire behind them on the trail. (Moony 1900)
Here is another version of the mythical tale of The Little Deer:
In these early days, the plants, the animals, and the people all lived together as friends. As the people multiplied, however, the animals had less room to roam, and they were either slaughtered for food or trampled under the humans’ feet. Finally the animals held a council to discuss what to do. The deer held a council and decided to send rheumatism to any hunter who killed a deer without asking its pardon for having done so.
When a deer is shot by a hunter, the fleet and silent Little Deer, leader of the deer, runs to the blood-stained spot to ask the spirit of the killed deer if the hunter prayed for pardon for his affront. If the answer is no, Little Deer follows the trail of blood and inflicts the hunter with rheumatism so that he is crippled.
The more you are motivated by L.O.V.E., the more fearless and free your action will be
Could I possibly have ancient shamen buried with the local tribe just above my house? (Correction; the house I rent.)
The world’s oldest profession is the shaman!! The ancient shaman is the ancestor to the modern-day doctor and the priest.
The oldest religion of which we have any secure knowledge is shamanism.
Ahhh, and to think one or more may be buried here upon this property… no wonder the crows circle above that area and nowhere else. And no wonder the crowd of deer come and go from that very place. More on that later… but first…
Inserted Later: I’ve just learned that in the archaeologically termed “Woodland Period”, the Cherokee in this area actually did create their burial mounds on the top of mountain ridges or “high up” —this according to a Cherokee Archeologist from Cherokee, NC. —More on this below
(This has nothing to do with anything but if I could have a “DO OVER”, I’d have studied archeology in college instead of physical therapy…. Note to Soul: next time!)
That’s twice now! Yes, I know that posting something like this is risking appearing crazy to some; so be it— I’m used to it. I just have to blog this quickly because it happened AGAIN and after this weekend… well, you’ll see what I mean.
I’m taking a bit of a break from outdoor work, mowing and raking all those things that make landlord’s happy. A few weeks ago (and if you are a regular follower of this blog, you may recall this), I found a “mounds” candy bar wrapper in my yard when I was mowing. I live on a country road two-lane curvy highway in the mountains of North Carolina and many people are of the habit of tossing their litter and it ends up in the yard now and again.
And today was no exception, there were some papers in the yard and as the mower and I came across from one, upon picking it up I nearly froze in my tracks! There it was again! A MOUNDS candy wrapper (coconut filled dark chocolate). So what you might say and I’d agree. Apparently someone who likes Mounds candy tosses their wrapper when they come around this particular bend—and it happened twice. So what! Right? But there’s more to it–there always IS with me!
The first time it reminded me that the landlady told me that there is a Native American Mound (burial place—mound of earth—ceremonial ground for Cherokee) here high on the ridge. I’d been meaning to investigate that for years but the timing was never right and I wasn’t about to mountain climb the steep ridge alone. I’ve also been waiting for the right weather and when the overgrowth wasn’t so dense to make the ascent. Well, my grandson got up there a few weeks ago and reported a headstone of some kind. Hmmmm, no mound? A headstone? Yeah, he said, adding that it wasn’t raised up, bur ‘sunken in’ and the headstone had some strange writing on it. He got up there to have a look before I had time to explain what a Mound actually is; so he didn’t recognize it. The ‘sunken in’ graves, according to him, sounded strange to me. (My grandson is 13 years old.)
So this past weekend my daughter, granddaughter and I, attempted to repeat the feat. My grandson warning me that I’d never make it up there which is all I needed to hear in order to vow that I’d get there! O, really? Watch me!
It wasn’t easy; but we made it up after doing some honest to goodness vertical rock climbing (like the real-deal ‘where do I put my foot next and where to I put my hand’–that kind of thing). It was quite THE adventure! Any tree root, protruding rock or nearby limbs were grips for hands and feet. Anyway, the point is that we got there! Eventually!
The mound plus two christian graves off to the side of it were obvious. Bingo! LOL My grandson only found one christian grave and the strange writing that he reported actually could be made out with some effort. My daughter had to put her fingers over the letters to ‘feel’ what she couldn’t make out with her eyes. This was carved with a rough tool; perhaps a stick when the cement was wet. We’re talking the 1800’s. It read this way… her first name (omitted out of respect) and then the words “wife of” and the first initials and last name of the husband. Beneath that it said, born (month/day) 1831, died (month/year) 1893. It appeared ‘sunken in’ to my grandson because it wa directly next to the native american mound.
Next to headstone was another. That one said FATHER (_______) [last name intentionally omitted for privacy purposes], died 1907.
Why do I say they are christian graves? On the wife’s headstone it says, “Blessed are they who trust in the lord”. Strange trivia–the date of her death as indicated on the hand-marked grave stone happens to be the same month and day as my own mother’s crossing.
Here is a general image of a Native American Mound if you’ve never seen what one looks like; I just took this image below off google as an example of what a mounds looks like for readers who don’t know.
Very Unusual Green Vine Growing Over the Top of the Native American Mound and Surrounding the Two Christian Graves that are Off to the Side of the Mound and a Circle of Trees Surround the Entire Magical, Sacred Area <p>
And all along the ground where the headstones were and the Cherokee Mound itself was the greenest thickest vine type of growth. It was only there and nowhere else–you can see it in the images below. I’m going back up there to take more pictures of the mound and surrounding area. After I found the mound, I read online that mounds are good places to meditate and after being up there, I can see why!
The general location of the property that I rent and thus the mound is very close to the V-fork (or the Y) of where two creeks merged–the Cherokee, it is said, believed that places where water meet to be sacred and often burial mounds are to be founds where 2 or 3 bodies of water merge as it does right at this location. (Across the street is a creek that merges in a V with a creek on the other side of the property here.)
The energy up there was quite sacred and peaceful and the trees around the area seemed to be protecting the spot–yeah, I know I’m repeating myself now but it deserves that emphasis. This spot, by the way, cannot be seen by any human from any direction and there are huge rocks upon which to sit and meditate nearby. And these huge rocks are up against trees.
Anyway, the whole time I’m mowing the lawn today, I’m thinking about going back up there if I can find a safer way up than yesterday’s adventure. Do I risk it at my ripe old age of 64? Maybe if I take my cell phone along with me!? Yeah, I’d bring the phone and also what I forgot to take up there with me yesterday, which is CORNMEAL to make an offering to the earth. I can’t get over the vine covering the ground up there just in those specific burial areas. It’s fall (autumn) now and there’s nothing much that is green and fresh looking growing right now; I’ve not seen that vine anywhere else. It’s as if mother earth covered that area with the vine to honor the contents beneath.
Yeah, so anyway, I’m waiting to get a call back from the Cherokee Nation. I called them today; they may not call back but it seemed right to reach out to them for some reason.
So I pick up this stray paper as I mowed the lawn today and there it is a second time–a mounds candy wrapper!
I brought it in and snapped a photo of it just for me to remember—the universe is recognizing the connection with the Native American Mound and that I went up there yesterday. I saw that same wrapper weeks ago which reminded me about the mound to start with.
After all, I didn’t find the mounds candy paper any other day. It was today!
Today–the day after I hiked up there with my daughter and granddaughter!
And whoever tossed the wrapper had no idea he or she was working in such harmony with the happenings here!
Photos of the christian grave markers; I have whited out the names out of respect and for privacy purposes….
Notice the green vine?
it is only present around the graves and the mound ONLY!
PS — Intuitively, I feel the Cherokee buried in the Native American Mound next to these graves are from the Deer Clan. (I’ve read there are four major clans in the Cherokee.)
There are many deer on this property and they can often be seen coming down from the top of the ridge there (sometimes 10 or 20 at a time) and returning to the place where the mound is up there.
I read online that the sacred wood of the Deer Clan is OAK and there is a huge old Oak Tree growing on the edge of the mound itself, seeming to be guarding it. One more thing and then I have to get back outside to finish my work; it must be done today, for tomorrow the rains come.
I’ve always seen big black crows circling the top of the ridge in the area of the mound! Rather spontaneously I call them the guardians or ‘the watchers’ and will catch myself saying aloud to myself, Oh, the guardians are back. Funny how you just say things like that without knowing why, isn’t it?
Lately, I’ve been finding crow feathers–a single feather here or there–around my back door or the side of the house. I’d like to believe these are the crows and Cherokee ancestor spirits acknowledging me. These feathers are (to me) magical and sacred.
Congratulations if you haven’t shaken your head, rolled your eyes and clicked off this blog post up until now and made this far! Maybe you and I are a “relation”! 🙂
ADDENDUM ~ I just spoke to a few Native American experts from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation and they said that the Mound is likely from what they call (in archeology terms) the “Woodland Period” and when I asked what that meant, he said that the natives buried there were from the 1,000 BC to 800 AD timeframe. Wow! We’re talking pre-European, pre Columbus! In that time period is (according to archeology studies) is when the Cherokee in this area would bury their dead high up on mountain ridges as the case here.
So obviously Mr. and Mrs. christian people from the 1800’s had no way of knowing the Cherokee buried in the Mound next to them–the mound is from some 2 or 3 thousand years before they were even born!
It was very interesting talking to both of the Cherokee men from Cherokee, NC today; they told me how to enter the mound from the East (the doorway) and offered other ceremonial information, etc.
Just as a side note, if anyone in North Carolina or Tennessee who finds a mound on their property comes across this blog post, apparently many (not all) of the Mounds were documented during the time of the “Thompson Project” and one could call the State Historic Preservation Office to find out more.
And one more thing–color me crazy but I think that the spirits of the crows and deer around here are connected to the natives buried on the ridge. Shaman of that period would shape shift or it is thought ‘turn into’ an animal — as in merge with the animal’s consciousness. These ideas are not at all foreign to me or my soul, especially because of the work that I do–that concept is not strange to me at all. Although, I realize that for some readers, this would seem incredulous. When one realizes (as shaman do/did) that everything is energy and consciousness… well, that’s a whole other topic for another day.
I found some drawings of what the Cherokee natives living here thousands of years ago would have looked like, including their homes. Here’s one below. I’m having all these imaginings and fantasies of how they walked this very same ground as I am today–they would probably scratch their heads and laugh at my lawn mowing! And at the idea that I could “rent” the land or even the house that is upon it.
I’m suddenly (by looking at the image to the left) being whisked away in my memory now to being back up there like I was yesterday…. my gosh, the energy up there is totally amazingly serene and peaceful and sacred. They must have done many ceremonies up there!
I was just thinking how they probably washed things in the creek across the street.
Today I am waiting for a washing machine that the landlady is having delivered — what a comparison! One wonders if life was really as happy and simple as it looked in this image. I wonder what they’d think of a washing machine.
I have clear soul memories of living on the land that way and being connected to… well, a time of living simply and being One With The Earth. And those memories always make me feel so grateful for the walls and roof and my warm bed and being to a certain extent protected from ‘the elements’ as they call it now.
If you want to know what ‘the message’ that I mention in the subject line of this post actually is — in case you haven’t put it together by now. I’ve learned that to me what is obvious is not to others. So let me spell it out. The Universal Intelligence or ‘Universal Harmony Energy of Divine Guidance and Acknowledgment’ directed me (or reminded me) to follow-up on a desire that I’ve held for many years but not acted upon and had nearly forgotten which was to go looking for that Indian Mound that the landlord said was here up on the ridge. How? Via the “Mounds” candy wrapper in the yard that I came across while mowing weeks ago.
It took me a matter of weeks to actually get up there. The day after I did (today, the date of this post), I come across another Mounds candy wrapper–this being the acknowledgment that the mission was accomplished, a sign of the recognition that I had just come down from the ridge top where I saw the mount the day previous!
And (obviously) now I cannot get this whole thing out of my mind and feel that this is a lead to something else and I trust that I’ll be guided to that too.
I’ve always thought that we (you and me) are ‘our own ancestors’…. what do you think?
When I came to the mountains, the certain feeling of being back home again was (and still is) overwhelming.
ADDENDUM: I keep remembering the day that I first looked at this rental home where I now live. The elderly landlady was struggling with her key in the back door to get us inside to show me the home and directly behind us within less than 10 feet at was a curving 6-foot high retaining wall. That detail will be more important in a moment.
Generally, at that time of my life, I wanted to move from my previous rental because they were cutting down all the trees and they filled in a deep crater in the ground where the deer lived down in and under. Surrounding this crater were a number of saplings bent over and covering them were various vines and berry bushes. Perfect natural home for the deer!
The deer went down below ground there under the convenient hideaway year round. It was cool in the summer and warm in the winter being protective from the weather conditions. I could watch them come and go from my living room. They were my friends and I’d give them apples and corn and often I’d catch them looking into my window as I worked. I am not making this up! Many times there’d be three of them just outside my window looking in at me. Very magical!
When the humans tore down their home and clearcut all the trees, I was heartbroken and wanted to leave too… just the way the deer actually did; they had to… their home was destroyed. Late in the day when the human tree butchers had gone, I’d see them looking around confused and I’d cry for them and … well, if you want to know the truth, I really wanted to leave the planet back then. Anything to get away from humans! But back to my other story…
When the landlady fumbled with the key at the back door, something caught my eye and I turned to look behind me.
And there just at the curving retaining wall, which at that point was less than 10 feet away (so close I could reach out and touch him), was a huge deer with antlers–large enough to be an elk!
He stood there so majestically holding a pose looking right at me. It took my breath away.
” A deer”, I murmured. I was in such awe that I could hardly get the words out of my mouth.
I knew it was a sign and that deer were welcoming me to this new home–she hadn’t agreed to rent to me and I had no idea how much the rent was; nor had I even walked inside to have a look. Yet, I already knew that this was going to be my new home. How could I pull off a move? I had not a nickel saved or even a whisper of a hope of any sudden influx of money to provide for the relocation financially. You may be wondering why I was looking at a rental when I could not afford to move–that too is a whole other story for a whole other day! Suffice it to say that I was definitely divinely guided to that moment. But back to the deer…
I knew that it was no accident that this deer was standing so close to the back door at that moment looking right at me!
The lady seemed to glance my way to ask me to repeat what I’d said. “Look, a deer–right here, see?” and she barely glanced in that direction and went back to struggling to get the key in the door.
I’ve always wondered if she actually even saw the deer–she surely didn’t act like she did.
And I can’t ask her now because I don’t see her anymore. (I deal with her daughter with any rental issues.)
Since I’ve lived here and it’s getting close to 9 years now, I’ve never had a deer that large with antlers that huge stand that close to the back door or to me personally in that way since. This only further validates the special-ness of that moment.
I’ve tried to make good friends with them (the deer), and they will look to me and let me come somewhat near but never as close as my old friends did where I lived before. Those other deer would eat apples out of my hand. These deer move around me almost like ghosts. Anyway, I digress.
I’ve often wondered if the animal that I saw that night was a spirit animal or perhaps a Cherokee shaman ancestor in animal form.
I think they know that I love this place. Yesterday, I looked up at the autumn beauty as the trees above on the ridge sent down their leaves in the wind that circled around me and said aloud with tears in my eyes, “I love all of you! I love you!” (a state of joy of course).
An essential aspect of Cherokee spirituality, philosophy, cosmology and NATURAL LAW is the belief that everything on Earth is the reflection of a star.
This includes not only people and animals but also trees, rivers, stones, and mountains–all are sentient (alive!) beings to the Cherokee.
They said on the local news station that deer hunting season starts November 14th (in just over a month). As you begin to think about Thanksgiving this year which may be around the 14th, will you keep our dear deer brothers in your heart? Perhaps take a moment to see them surrounded by light?
May you run fast and swift deer brothers! May you hide well from the hunters! I love you! and my heart breaks again as I type these words and am crying without reserve. Excuse me, sorry 😥
Many people here are baptist christians and therefore through their own admission and preaching, they clearly articulate that they do not know how to connect with nature in the ways in which I am communicating here. And, as they will readily and with glee tell you themselves, they do not equate nature with divinity in any way whatsoever. And thusly do not treat the earth and the animals as sacred.
They will not hesitate to inform you of your error in thinking should you suggest otherwise and will lecture you with great assurance, righteous and fervor. I’ve been ‘preached to’ several times from the religious locals who affirm with great conviction that trees, rocks and the mountains themselves have nothing whatsoever to do with god or divinity. They quickly add these comments too–they will say… and by the way, there is only one god (theirs–the white bearded one on the throne and you know the rest) and that there is only one life and this one is IT (sad) and THEN afterward it’s either heaven or hell (that’s it) and any second now, the rapture. And they’re going to be raptured and you’re not. Yeah. Okay, whatever! Things are slow to change in the Appalachians; and the consciousness of many of the fundamentalist religious locals seems to be like 13th to 14th century consciousness or twisted puritanism. It is well-known that the preachers in the churches have no formal religious training or have not studied theology or probably not even world civilization in any way. Formal education is not necessarily highly valued from what I can tell and the community college is filled with young women who are fearful that their husbands or fathers will find out they are in school. You get the idea.
Some days, when I am feeling my most cynical or discouraged (something I try to avoid), I’d have to admit to thinking that most folks around here may as well be called Muggles who live in Muggleville! A little humor helps us get by sometimes!
Anyway, about the deer and hunting season…if you could hold them in protective light in your thoughts…
One last thing, the last 2 trees standing across the street that I asked (via cyber request to readers) for protective light around are still standing–so far, so good. I’d like to thank readers for honoring my cyber request for protection for them. It did help! (Or so I’d like to believe) So anyway, Thank You
Remember the deer during hunting season… well, O well, here’s a kicker! the chart for deer huting dates for North Carolina all state SUNDAY RESTRICTIONS! Hmmmmmm…. I wonder if the hunters have made any connections with that one! No killing of animals on Sunday but the rest of he week, have at it? I can’t look at those websites because my stomach ties up in knots, but as far as I can tell, it looks like mid January is when hunters have to stop killing deer–by law.
Maybe if we say it this way,
May all deer and all other sentient beings (including but in not way limited to humans) be protected from killers and hunters. May all intentional killing and hunting for sport or religion or terror purposes be ended and may we all live peacefully together Now and Forever.