There once came from the north country, to what is now the upper western portion of New York state, a young man of Huron birth. He was called Deganaweda. Even as a child he talked of a peaceful way of existence and of harmony among the tribes. He spoke of the importance of the heart and called for an end to war- like ways and sacrifices of blood. But he found only deaf ears amongst his own Huron people, for they were war-like and not given to the ways of peace.
Hiawatha by Thomas Eakins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Our story begins when Deganaweda began a pilgrimage that would eventually bring his teachings to the five tribes of the Haudenosaunee and later, six when they were joined by the Seneca peoples. He helped them create a confederation of tribes, under a form of self-ruling government, in which there would be no royalty, no tyranny, no need for war. This unification of the tribes would later be referred to as the Great Iroquois Confederacy. Which would include the Mohawk, Onandaga, Tuscarora, Cayuga and Oneida people, who would later be joined by the Seneca and the Mohican. The Mohicans would later be all but wiped out by the Hurons, leaving the Confederacy composed of six nations as it is described in our history books. In the confederacy Daganaweda’s words were welcomed with enthusiasm and discussed around the council fires of the elders. During his pilgrimage Deganaweda met Hiawatha. Hiawatha, it is said, lived as a hermit deep within the forest. He lived alone, holding a great bitterness in his heart. He grieved over the slaughter of his family by the blood-thirsty Onadaga chief. It is said that Hiawatha had even taken to cannibalism. Deganaweda was challenged by a Grandmother to share his teachings with Hiawatha. She told him that if he could convince the angry Hiawatha, the beast of the woods, to walk in peace and harmony, then perhaps there was something to this wisdom. If he succeeded in changing the heart of this beast, then all the tribes would surely listen to him.
Deganaweda met with Hiawatha and spoke with him from his heart, for he was filled with the Great Spirit and had no fear. This meeting with Deganaweda caused a transition within Hiawatha’s being. They became inseparable, and from the wisdom taught to him by Deganaweda, Hiawatha became a renewed human being. A great friendship grew between the two, and Hiawatha became Deganaweda’s chief disciple. It is said that Deganaweda suffered from a speech impediment; he had stuttered since childhood. For this reason, Hiawatha became known as the chief spokesperson for Deganaweda’s Great Peace– the Kia ëneri Kowa.
Both Deganaweda and Hiawatha taught that the human race was one great family. They taught of love and unity, with reverence for the Creator of all mankind and the sacredness and honor of all life. The way of the Great Peace was established. It was a great plan for social order that centered its strength around the family fire. They taught of the inner balance of male and female within the self and in all relationships, the importance of the Mother/Father Principle. This teaching was to spread through the many single family firesides. In the Great Peace it was taught that from these single families would come the basis of authority, leadership and the strength of the people. A natural order of social living was encouraged that allowed for the spiritual expression of all individuals. This concept was intrinsic to the integrity of their society and the establishment of the Long Houses that exist to this day.
In the way of the Great Peace, women are the keepers of the family lineage and as the bearers of life, they teach the knowledge of harmony and balance within the family. The tribe is the extended family, and neighboring tribes should be considered relatives who are necessary for a healthy genetic evolution, an extended family, if you will. The balance within the whole of a society originates with the individual. The balance of male/female within the individual expands to the relationship between man and woman, and then into relationship with their offspring. This then expands into the extended family. All women are mothers to all the children, as are all men their fathers. The tribe was a living ecosystem for human consciousness, a living heart.
Women had equal status within the tribal council. They formed the Council of Grandmothers that looked out for the survival of the family structure above all things, for without the family structure, the people could not continue. No major decision that would affect the tribe as a whole was ever made by one individual of either gender, or any singular council; all councils were accountable to the Council of Grandmothers. Thus, they had devised a matriarchal system whereby no structure of dictatorship could arise and seize power from the people themselves. There simply was no position that allowed for the rise of a tyrant within their society.
The teachings of the Great Peace likened all war to quarreling amongst children. Spiritual teachings were intermingled with the teaching of balance in the social order. In this culture there was no separation between living an abundant, full life and the expression of spiritual practice and beliefs because social laws were created out of an evolved spiritual understanding of human nature. In this manner, human beings learned to live in harmony with nature, thus they dwelt in a state of harmony within themselves. For nature was the kingdom with which humankind shared their dream. Mankind and Womankind were seen as spirit alive in the flesh. There was One Creator, One Father. There was one Mother. From this union came forth all their children–the human race.
So powerful were these teachings that the tribes of the Algonquin peoples formed the Iroquois Confederacy. It is from this Confederacy that much of the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence came. It is from the doctrine of life expressed by the Iroquois Confederacy by which the invading white Europeans forged the foundations of the American constitution, the basis of all Western Democracy
The Great Prophet, the Peacemaker would spend many seasons with the Haudenosaunee people they who would later be known as the Iroquois Confederacy establishing the ways of the Great Peace. All things must change and the Peacemaker would not be amongst the people forever. He heard the call to move on along his journey but before he would go he would deliver his final message to the people. It was time for him to fulfill his agreement here that he had long ago made with Creator. The people were very saddened by the announcement of his departure from them.
He met with the People one last time upon the shores of the Bay of Quinte, near what is now Lake Ontario. All the tribes were asked to send representatives to participate in a great ceremony to show their integrity and their commitment to the Great Peace. At this ceremony it is said that the people who represented each tribe of the confederacy buried their weapons of war into a huge pit over which they planted an evergreen tree.
. This tree represented the Tree of Life. Its branches reached to the heavens, to the Father. The tree and its roots represented the five tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy. The tree would grow, and send its roots deep into the earth to draw its nourishment and strength from the Mother as did the people. The tree of life was planted upon an island in the lake, which was mostly white granite. The White granite represented as did the white shells of the wampum belt a blanket of purity, the Mothers most pure mind. Some say that this tree is still alive today.
Lake Hiawatha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Wrapped within her robe of purity and wisdom, the Mother protects that original dream and wishes of those who participated in this great ceremony. Deganaweda spoke to them of Three Great Double Ideals, upon which they could build their foundation of self government:
1. Ne Skin. Purity of the mind and of the body are tied together through the experience of the flesh. It is called the Human Drama, which is our dance through this life. Harmony between groups of people, for all of our human existence is realized through mastering the experience of relationships between each other. Inner harmony and peace, and the true union with creator, the source of all life is realized through maintaining of the balance of the spirit, while it is alive in the flesh.
Our purpose along our path is the expression of divine love of the Creator and the divine Mother through our actions, and emotions given and received through our expression of that divine love. For all has been given to us, without question, that we might reflect that which we receive from Creator and the divine Mother which is unconditional love.
2. Ne Gaiihwijo. Righteousness in deeds, action, as well as our thought should be the premise for all conduct. Our action is the expression of our true thought. Our actions often times speak louder than our words, for it is through action the inner self, the true state of being is expressed.
When we maintain a state of most pure mind, we deal with life’s events with open heart. Thus we are acting as the expression of the Creator. In this manner we maintain a justice and equality in dealing with human rights, in integrity of spirit. The superior quality within all beings is the expression of Creator who always speaks through the human heart.
Remember always it in the heart of a thing that its spirit can be found, and within its spirit is the very essence of the Creator. Creators deeds being from the heart are always righteous and Sacred. Our actions thus applied are filled with the power of that which is Sacred. The state of Sacred, by its own decree is the state of most pure mind. Although often silent, and sometimes soft in its action this path is for us never without power. Consider this truth, is not the Creator realized within all things? What thing exists that is not by the decree of the Creator?
3. Ne Gashedenza. It is good to maintain within your society a force that councils a skilled power for the self-defense of the people. This force must always be tempered by employing the guidance of your spiritual understandings of the higher reason of the mind. All actions taken must be of righteous intent. All things that can be called righteous are the results of the balance between the physical and the spiritual, there are no exceptions.
Therefore, when differences arise as they will, the councils between your peoples must always be held with both the spiritual leaders and the military leaders present. The views of these councils should then be presented to the Sachems, who are your spiritual elders. They in turn must answer always to the Council of Grandmothers. The council of Grandmothers represents the social order of the people. In your societies all relationships are born from the foundation of the family fire–Mother, Father, and their children. Brother, sister, nephew, niece.
This structure is of the Mothers own design and purpose, and will reach out through your society like the roots of a great tree, seeking its strength and nourishment from the Divine Mother herself. Without the purposeful maintaining of the family fire your social order would quickly fall into disorder and decay. You are all extensions of this family fire which is your strength when the times of change and calamity overcome you. Standing together you have the strength to withstand the storms that will come. Standing separately, without order you fall easy prey to the forces darkness which are born of fear out of chaos, and as a people you would vanish like leaves before the wind.
We are all, in the end, brothers and sisters of one family, the children of one Mother and one Father. The balance of the male and female must be maintained within your relationships. It represents the balance of the Mother and the Father in the very process of creation, from which all of life is manifest .
In this way the Great Peace shall be established. In this way it shall be a living dream of the people that shall be handed down from Mother to Daughter, and as the bearers of life they shall pass it from Father to Son. And this peace which is born of the heart, and the people who live through this heart shall be forever. For they shall be in rhythm with the heart beat of the Divine Mother which never ceases.
He told them that they had done well living in accordance with the Great Peace. He told them they would know much abundance, and they would be happy for awhile. However, he also told them they would have great trials in the days ahead of them. He told them that a time was coming in which many of them could start to forget the principles of the Great Peace. A time was coming when the way of the serpent would rise from seeming sleep upon the land.
If the ways of the heart were forgotten and the people took to their old ways of warring amongst each other dark days would come as a result. He foretold that if the Serpents were awakened there would be a time of great trials and much suffering. In the darkness of this time they would come to mistrust themselves as well as their leaders and they would doubt even the very principles of the Great Peace.
Daganaweda told the people that he saw that during this time of the return of the serpent energy, that a White Serpent would come into their land. For a time, it would intermingle with the people. It would be accepted by the Indian people, and they would come to regard the Serpent as a friend and a brother. This Serpent would grow and be nurtured by the people and over time the Serpent would become powerful. As it grew although outwardly friendly towards the people the ultimately become obsessed with having more and more power.
This Serpent would have an insatiable appetite for power. It would seem that there would never be enough to satisfy this Serpent. It would reach out a giant claw and attempt to choke the life force from the People. If they did not succumb to the twisted will of the Serpent which would grow more and more delirious with its quest for knowledge and power. The Serpent would grow mad and think that it could own the very Earth itself.
In its desire for more and more power, it would eventually attempt to drive off and even kill the very people who had befriended it. It would threaten to completely destroy them, and any other People that dared defy its will. Many would become addicted to the seemingly easy way of life that the Serpent would offer them, and through gradual corruption of the spirit they would fall under the power of this Serpent. The Serpents power lied in its ability manipulate the people by creating fear, and self doubt in the true spiritual path.
The Serpent was a master of illusion, and could even fool itself for a time into believing that it was liken the people itself. That it was no longer a Serpent. But while it talked of love, and a new way of life for the people it would be devouring the Earth itself. Even the beast of the forest and the great seas would flee in terror when it showed it face amongst them.
However, there would be People who would who would continues to live in the way of the Great Peace. they would see the Serpent for what it was. They would not give into fear and illusion. Although small in number they would somehow survive, the times that were coming. Many however would choose to leave rather then endure the years of struggle and hardship that would come to this land. It would be very strange times. A great struggle would develop between these few people who still held to the ways of the Great Peace and the Serpent.
There would be much contest and long suffering by the People, as the ways of the Serpent would have slowly corrupted many of them from the inside, separating them from the power of the great spirit that moved within them. The ways of the Serpent would separate them from each other, mother from child, child from grandparent. The family fire would be almost non existent in times that were coming. If the family fire was ever allowed to be broken , if brother took to warfare against his brother it would it would only be a matter of time before all was lost. A great despair would fall upon the People and the land. Since the People were the land it would be that in time event the land would start to die.
With the Great Peace broken the once proud People of the Long House would become weary from the endless torment of the soul that would never seem to end. Daganaweda told them if the peace was broken they would become as few in number as leaves on the trees in winter, that some tribes would have vanished from the face of the Earth entirely they would be as dust in the wind. As the seasons continued, many would forget their ways entirely, and the Great Peace would appear as a myth of a distant long ago past. He told them as a result they would endure spiritual pain that would seem to be endless. He saw the people falling upon the ground like turtles on their backs. They would be as helpless as children fighting this Serpent. Then one day a Great Red Serpent would appear There would develop a great battle between the two. So great that the whole Earth would appear to shake. this shaking would occur three times.
The battle between the Serpents would be unending, and after awhile the White Serpent would appear at one point to accept defeat by the Red Serpent, but only momentarily. This was only because the White Serpent was stunned by the sudden blow of the Red Serpent’s strange power and rage. For the Red Serpent would have grown quickly and mysteriously to great size. And this Serpent would have strange powers that would be unfamiliar to the White Serpent as if they came from another world.
With the coming of this Red Serpent even greater confusion, would befall the land. The White Serpent would let loose of its hold on the People in an attempt to fight off the assaults of the intruder. All of its attention would go to battling the Red Serpent. Some of the people would manage to run away to the hilly country towards the West which would be away from the Serpent’s grasp. Hidden in the hilly country their wounds would begin to slowly heal and they would seek once more a peaceful way of life and begin to return to divine order seeking harmony with the ways of the Mother Earth.
Some would begin to remember once again the old ways. They would begin to re-establish the principles of the Great Peace among themselves. People would come to them from all over, not just the Haudensaunee, but people from all nations from the four directions, from the beginning times. They would be called to gather together in the hilly country to heal from the war and terror. Here they would renew their original bonds of friendship and brotherhood, as it was during the Great Peace.
They would, at first be, small in numbers and would choose to remain neutral in the fighting that would ensue between the Great Serpents. They would slowly begin to awaken, as if from a bad dream or sickness. They would come to own themselves once again and through their renewed connection to the spiritual powers of the Earth they would grow stronger in their understanding of their dormant wisdom.
The People living close to the Earth would learn to become strong in their hearts. In this way they would become free from the fear that would be like a great plague upon the land. From this place in the hilly country their lookouts would be watching the Serpent’s battle in the distance. The Serpents warring would never seem to end, for the way of Serpent energy to renew itself is through killing and war. The Serpent would create fear in the hearts of the People who would become lost and be unable to connect to the source of their creation. From their fear these Serpents would draw their energy. For the Serpent would have no energy of its own. From their place in the hilly country, the People would hear and see the battle raging between the Serpents which would become so violent at times that the mountains would begin to crack open, Fire would spew from their mouths, for the Serpents would learn to use the lightning energy and they would even grow wings as they carried their wars even unto the heavens. It is then that the rivers would begin to boil, and the fishes would turn up on their bellies. There would be great flooding and great drought. Some of the great rivers would flow upstream in an unnatural manner. The weather would become erratic and nothing would grow as it once did. It would seem as if the Earth itself was lost in confusion and sickness. In those areas where the greatest of fighting took place there would be no leaves left upon the trees, and the grasses would burn up as great fires fell from the sky. Strange bugs would appear in the sky and coming from the ground. They would be like beetles, and they would crawl along the ground and attack both the Serpents and the people. Everywhere there would be death. The land would appear as if the whole of the Earth was dying. Everywhere the Earth and all her life forms would become sickened from the stench of death and destruction.
Then there would come across the land a great heat. It would swell from the Mothers belly and move across the land in great clouds of fire. It would appear as if the bowels of the Earth were opening and spilling forth this great fire everywhere. This heat would last a long time, so long that it would cause the stench from all the death to become intolerable. Even the Serpents who would continue to battle for they loved war would themselves begin to sicken from the stench of death. Then one day a warrior who was standing lookout from the hilly country watching the Serpents battle, would see from his lookout post the Red Serpent reach around the neck of the White Serpent and pull from him a feather as he tore open his throat. This feather would be carried by the wind to the South. Here it would find its way to a Great Black Serpent that would have appeared from some mysterious place where it had been hiding in the darkness. It would have been awakened from all the commotion and warring in the North. The Black Serpent, upon studying the white feather, would be astounded, as the hair would begin to dance upon the currents of the wind as it turned itself into a white bird and then into a white-skinned woman.
This white-skinned woman would have power and wisdom. She would be skilled in the ancient arts of the People, and she would speak to him in their ancient language which he understood. She would tell him stories as she danced upon the wind shape shift before his eyes. She would tell the Black Serpent stories of great sickness that was upon the land and in the hearts of the People. Stories of death and horror going on in the North. These things he would know somehow to be true, but again he would have been asleep deep within the belly of the Earth for a long time.
He would ask her to tell him the stories once again, for it would be unbelievable to him that such things could be occurring upon this Earth. Then, when the woman was through with her tales, he would ever so gently place her down upon a rock, with great love and respect for her purity of spirit and her personal powers.
He would then turn to the North and let loose a great roar, filling the winds with his furry over the horrors he had heard. The winds and the sound of the great roar they carried would be felt over the whole of the Earth. It would rise up from the belly of the Earth, and even be heard in the heavens. With great speed the Black Serpent would then head towards the North to find the other two.
The two Serpents would already be weary from the fire storms, and the stench of death. They would be sickened to the point that they would weak and exhausted. They would rise in horror and shock at the sudden appearance of the Black Serpent which would seem to come from nowhere. They would recognize him but not believe his appearance possible.
The Black Serpent would attack the Red and White Serpents with a great vengeance, and he would defeat the Red Serpent entirely. Then he would stand upon the chest of the White Serpent, letting out a horrible and boastful roar as he tore him into two pieces. The battle would be short, it would not be too long before the Black Serpent would begin to look for yet another Serpent to conquer, filled with the energy of war and killing. He would have taken on the evil of both serpents and become a power of darkness That defies description. It would appear that he intended to devour the whole of the Earth, even the heavens in his furry.
The Great Black Serpent would look in all the directions for a formidable foe. When he turned towards the direction of the hilly country, he would see the People standing noble and erect, with their arms open, having fearless hearts, facing the winds of change. He would know that this was not where his fight was to be found, he would turn and look elsewhere. For a time the whole of the world would be in darkness. Great clouds will have formed from the battle and the spewing of smoke from the Mother belly. It would be as if time itself had stopped.
The Black Serpent would then turn towards a sound coming from the heavens and, for a moment become blinded by a great and mysterious light that would appear from the heavens. This light would be many, many times brighter than the Sun. This Great Light would be traveling East, coming from the West, over the great waters. It would appear in the skies for the passing of twelve of our days. When it arrives there will be no night and day. This would terrify the Black Serpent to such a degree that he would slither into the ocean, trying to hide himself from the great light. He would sink beneath the Great Waters and never be seen by the People again.
A part of the White Serpent would have survived. Although weak, he too, would see this light and make a feeble attempt to gather himself up and go towards that light. Suffering greatly from the wound received in battle with the Black Serpent, this portion of the White Serpent would find its way to the hilly country. Here it would be taken in and helped by the People, as it is their way to nurture the weak. This portion of the White Serpent would take on the ways of the People, but for a long time after, he would shake with fear whenever he again witnessed a great light.
Then, as if rising from the ground itself, the form of the Red Serpent would appear. He would also witness the strange Light shining like a great star, and he would tremble with fear. He would also try to crawl towards the North Country, but would die along the journey from his wounds. Leaving behind him a bloody trail that would split the Earth into a shaky canyon. This trail would split this land of the Turtle in two, and then into four pieces.
To the south where the Black serpent had vanished the Ice would begin melt, great pieces of ice would begin to fall from the sky, putting much of the land to the East into the deep sleep of winter. There it would be purified from the death that it had known . In these times we will witness other strange occurrences with the weather. The seas would become violent and rise covering much of the old shoreline. New cliffs would rise from the sea, as well as new lands.
The trail left behind by the Red Serpent would be washed clean as it filled with the waters from the North. New mountains would form along where the body of the Red Serpent lay still and cold in its death. This would form a new sea in the North Country, which would forever remind the people of the dark times through which they had passed.
The mysterious light would be as a mist and would engulf the entire Earth much like a giant cloud. We will be lifted from the wheel of time, and we will be unable to determine its passing. Death will cease to be. Our dream will blend and become many realities, all different yet all truth. As we experience the unraveling of the dream. We will witness the force that which allows our perceptions to manifest and express as our reality. For within this great light the nature of all things is dreamlike
From the center of the mysterious light the Great Star would begin to emerge. The light from this star would swell and eventually become brighter even than our Sun. It would appear to take form an eight pointed star as it came closer and closer to the Earth. It would become so large that it would block out much of the heavens from our view. Its presence would cause many things to be effected and we will witness much phenomena as the new world is born before our eyes
There will appear in the heavens a great bow having the twelve colors of creation. From this bow would be heard the sound of all people, all who ever were and all that would be . Then there would be a shifting of the sound like a great harmonic. It would then appear as if they were all one voice, singing the sound of the new Creation. The sound of what had been heard so long ago when this world was itself created. When we first walked upon the Earth and wondered at the newness of her.
When the Star emerges from within the light many of the People who will have been hiding will come forth from their seclusion. Many will come from their refuge in the hills and mountains. They will be strange as if they were walking for the first time. There will be many new colors and species of life that will come forth from the great void. For they will have lifted their voices to join with the voices of the heavens.
Man and beast all manner of life form upon this plane will recognize and acknowledge their part in the spider web of life. They shall know their part in the dream for life will have become in a moment the expression of each of their visions of how things would be. There shall come a day like no other for all the creatures of the Earth in that moment of forever shall be as one, and man and beast shall communicate as it was long ago, for fear shall be a no thing. A sound shall come forth from the great star.
The people who will be coming forth in little bands from all throughout the hilly country will witness the appearance of Daganaweda, as if walking right out of this Great Star, returning to the People. The Peacemaker would be joined by many others as the dream of horror would come to a close. With his return there would be much rejoicing, and the people would feel like they had awakened from a dream. They would once again walk the way of the Great Peace, Kia ëneri Kowa, and form a new and great civilization that will continue into forever, creating a new world from the essence of the old. In this world even the eldest of us would be as children, yet possess the wisdom of experience of the ages that had come before.
We will join once again with our brothers from the stars. No one shall be denied, and no one shall be untouched in this time. No dream shall not come to pass, and no thought shall go unrealized. To speak more of it would serve no purpose for it will be beyond our comprehension what will occur. The way of the Kia neri Kowa shall help create the new world you seek. That which is created shall be born of the heart.
The time for the need for darkness will have passed. You will once again be as you were in the beginning children of the Sun and you will feel as if you have awakened from a dream. Your need for death and dying shall no longer serve the purpose it did before, for you will be walking upon the pathway of your foreverness. Man and spirit shall be as one in the Great Peace.