GRANDFATHER' S STORY
called anything else. It is a small thing. You cannot see it, but you can hear it singing - i f you listen carefully."
There was a long pause. We waited. Often much of the meaning of the message that our elders offer is in the quiet between sentences, sometimes it is just a hesitation. But this silence could last for an unbearably long time. It is certain, however, that when you are in the presence of the old ones and they feel it is time for them to continue, they simply proceed and you must not forget where they left off - even i f the story is continued a year later.
Breaking the silence, Grandfather continued, "We are told to be careful. Be careful while near this mountain. Always come to this mountain with a good heart. Mis Misa knows what you are thinking - always think good thoughts. Listen. I f you do not listen you wil l not hear the singing, and this is not respect-
Once he showed us where he was going when he died. There was a small spot near the handle of the big dipper that appeared to be unoccupied. That was his destination. There is a glint there now. ful. It is like breaking a commandment of the white man's god. You could be punished. Your whole family could be punished - even the children, the babies. That's what they say.
"The purpose of Mis Misa is but one: To balance the Earth with the universe and the universe with the Earth. When Quon created Earth and universe long ago, that power understood many things. Also that power knew that it could not make everything just right. That's a wise power. For this reason Quon made Mis Misa and put Mis Misa within the mountain. It lives there. You can hear it singing. Remember always this power. It balances the universe. It is a 'law'".
It was not many seasons later when Grandfather left us. His spirit had proceeded to its rendezvous with destiny. He was looking up into forever with clouded eyes. I longed to seek more answers from his wisdom, but he could not hear mortal beings now.
Once he showed us where he was going when he died. There was a small spot near the handle of the big dipper that appeared to be unoccupied. That was his destination. There is a glint there now.
Lessons fro m th e Story We look across the Earth today and see so much unnecessary destruction. Forests are being erased around the world. Rivers are sick and dying. The sky is grey over the huge cities. The air stinks. Pavement covers the meadows where flowers are supposed to grow. Mountains are moved and removed. Rivers are diverted and the water terribly polluted. Earth is being drilled into, and her heart and her guts and her blood are being used as private property for private gain.
There is an immense vacuum where the spiritual connection between human beings and Nature is supposed to be - that umbilical cord that we inherited long before our birth, and we were instructed to nurture and to protect for all of the existence of our nations. It seems as though too many people think that Nature is an element that they're not a part of. They, like the old Coyote, think that Nature, life, must be tamed, must be challenged, must be conquered, must be changed, in order to make it better.
History has unveiled many battles and many wars. In this era, we can look back through the pages of time like changing
channels on the TV. Yes, there have been some terrible wars. Yes, there has been much destruction. Yes, some wars have engaged the entire world. But those conflicts were over human supremacy - which king or which governing entity would rule the masses and control the bounty of Earth. Who would be the master over all of the people and who would control the wealth. Whose gnarled dreams would be unleashed at which time in history to make an indelible mark urged through vanity.
In these conflicts Mother Earth was treated as a woman slave. She had to yield the materials that were needed to continue the conflagration. She had to yield the waters for the thirsty battalions. She had to yield fruit and food to feed the armies that marched. She had to provide the medicine to heal the wounded. She had to provide the bounty that was the crown for the victor.
These are new times. The whole Earth is now threatened with extinction. No longer is it acceptable for human beings to contend for the supreme pinnacle of the various societies of Earth; from this moment forward there must be a battle, there must be an intense war - but this time for the salvaging of Earth itself. This time to see whether or not there wil l be only a 'moon' left here one day after all of the products are used up, after the balance of existence has turned for the worse, and after vanity has led us down a time-path that has an absolute expiry date.
Yes, Grandfather's story was only an old Indian story. But it was a story that has endured, and maintains its direction and its solemn concern. There is a moon - there is also Mis Misa. Not once have I encountered a reference to the symbolic power within that sacred mountain from the 'constructionists' and 'progressives' who plot the future of Akoo-Yet. The 'constructionists' see Akoo-Yet as a piece of valuable real estate. They fail to see its sacred value. For how many more seasons can these mistakes find pardon within Nature?
My thoughts lead me to walk among the stars every morning during the silver just before dawn, lok-mhe. Ringing in my ears are the worried words of Grandfather: "When I was a child long ago, my Grandmother said there was a war. It was a big war between the people - a war between thinkings. A terrible war. That war used up the moon. When the moon caught fire there wasn't enough water to put it out. It was all used up."
I look up at the moon, and I worry. I look down at the Earth and see the corporate entities exercising greed and profit as their reasons for their existence. I see children crying and hungry all around the world. I see the land of my Grandmother and Grandfather being used up.
Yes, there is a callousness in the manner that people have abused the world. Yes, environmentally-orientated people must oppose that irresponsibility. Yes, children have a right to live in respect and harmony. Yes, Grandmothers and Grandfathers have an absolute right to peace and protection. Yes, we, the able and capable, have an absolute duty to defend our loved ones in their journey through life.
Yes, there wil l be a terrible and great 'war' again. There must be; for the silver of dawn, first light, belongs to us all, equally. We must not deny its panorama to anybody - especially those we are, by our spirit, bound to protect forever. We should not fear. Besides the dawn of day and the strength of the power that turns Earth around the Sun, we have Mis Misa.n
Darryl Wilson, a member of the A-juma and Atsuge tribes, commonly called the Pit River Nation, is a poet and storyteller. He is currently a student at UC Davis, California.
First published in News from California. This edited version is reproduced with kind permission of the publisher.
The Ecologist, Vol. 30, No 1, January/February 2000 Archaic Societies and Cosmic Order
- A Summary
By Edward Goldsmith
"What man most passionately wants is his living wholeness and his living unison, not an isolated salvation of his soul. I am part of the sun as my eye is a part of me. That I am part of the earth, my feet know perfectly well, and my blood is part of the sea. There is no thing of me that is alone and absolute except my mind, and we shall find that the mind has no existence by itself. It is only the glitter of the sun on the surfaces of the waters." - D. H. Lawrence The character Tao
Across the world, from the beginnings of prehistory, the belief that society must follow a certain path - or 'Way' - in order to maintain itself, and the wholeness of the world around it, has been a common theme running through many societies and cultures. This Way, which a society must follow in order to maintain the order of the cosmos, is defined as that which conforms to traditional rules, or 'laws' laws which the Ancient Greek referred to as the Nomos, or the Dike - meaning justice, righteousness or morality. The Dike was "the way of the World, the way things happen."1
The Way was also referred to by the Greeks as Themis: "that specialised way for human beings which is sanctioned by the collective conscience."2 Themis was also taken to be the Way The Heliopolitan view of the cosmos: the sky goddess Nut arches her body over her brother and consort, the earth god Geb from whom she is separated by their mother, the air god Shu. Maat 'the right order in nature and society' is at the centre. 1300 B.C.
of the Earth, and sometimes the Way of the cosmos itself - that which governed the behaviour of the gods. When these concepts later became personalised within Greek mythology, Themis became the goddess of law and justice, and hence of morality. It also coincided with Moira, the path of destiny or fate. In Homer,3 the gods are seen as subordinate to Moira, and also to Dike - cosmic forces that are older than the gods themselves and that are moral. Against fate - hence against moral law itself - the gods can do nothing.
The Way, then, according to the Greeks, was to be followed not only by all human beings, but by the natural world, by the cosmos and the gods themselves. There was thus a single law which governed the whole cosmic hierarchy. "Themis in the world of Zeus," as Pythagoras writes, "and Dike in the world below, hold the same place and rank as Nomos in the cities of men; so that he who does not justly perform his appointed duty may appear as a violator of the whole order of the universe."4
Much of the country's vital force or sacredness was concentrated in the person of the king. So i t was critical that he should religiously observe the Way. Thus Odysseus tells us that when a blameless king maintains the Dike, "The black earth bears wheat and barley, and the trees are laden with fruit, and the sheep bring forth and fail not, and the sea gives store of fish and all out of his good guidance, and the people prosper under him."5
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The Ecologist, Vol. 30, No l , January /February 2000