“Young man ‘Eyes in the Sky’; you have completed preparations for your Vision Quest. You have purified your body in the sweat lodge and have fasted since yesterday’s sunrise. Now we must venture forth, past the streams and trees, until there is but rock beneath our feet.”
The Medicine woman swathed in decorative hides, ornate with bones, bags, bangles and beads led the young brave away from the camp and into nature. Large walking stick in hand, she rattled and jingled as she walked through the solitude of the woods. Higher and higher she climbed, not winded in the least even for her sixty plus years. They stopped on a ledge about half way up the mountain allowing ‘Eyes in the Sky’ to look down upon their village, which resembled child toys with a scurry of ants. Even the war horses appeared to be no larger than gnats.
They rested but did not sleep when the darkness enveloped them. The shaman woman chanted over the flames but neither ate. ‘Eyes in the Sky’ yearned that his vision would show him where his future lay, hoping in his heart that he was meant to be a warrior like his brother and father before him. They were a proud tribe of hunters too. Either would be fine. His eyes grew sleepy until the shaman shook her rattle in his face.
“Stay awake, stay alert, young pup. How can your spirit helper show you the way to your vision if you are asleep?”
The next day they reached the summit where neither bush nor grass grew within the chalky, white rocks. Aspen and pine so blue it blended with the sky. Juniper, fir and cottonwood had led the way until all that remained was thin and stunted. The medicine woman picked a flat spot for him and one a bit back from the edge for herself. The shaman prepared a fire.
“Earth and sky, wind and water, grant ‘Eyes in the Sky’ a vision that will lead his way in life. Help him to become the man he is meant to be.”
Dropping incense from the bags about her neck, she then passed him his first pipe. He choked on the first pull as it burned to his gut. The air about him warmed, and the rock beneath him felt as soft as a fur cover. Last words he heard from the medicine woman was that they would fast and pray for three days. Between the fasting, the thin air and the exertion, ‘Eyes in the Sky’ fell over onto the ground in a deep trance. He could feel the blood pumping through his body, his muscles relaxing and his mind opening to enlightenment.
In the dream he was sitting among his people but no one
noticed him. He cried out but no one answered. Late that night a huge bat
landed on his shoulder. Days past into years; still he sat, watching. His
people went from a proud strong nation, to poverty, distrust and weakness.
Illness claimed the children who hadn’t enough to eat. The warriors and hunters
were all gone; taken by the white men.
The dream began to change. Many bats joined the large winged bat that had kept him company. They guided the way. The shaman looked up, seeing the bats but not the boy. She told the village to pack; they were leaving. Those that survived walked towards the south, away from the only land they had ever known. Days and nights they walked, eating what little mother earth provided. After many moons had passed they reached a fertile land of water, grass, buffalo and trees laden with fruit. A few stray braves joined the women as they walked. The shaman stated that they would stay in this place Earth Mother had gifted them. Young men came from further south and showed them how to plow the land and grow abundance of foods to feed their people. Soon the village was safe and productive again. They made baskets that resembled horns and filled them with plenty from their gardens to give to others living close by. They invited them to come to a grand feast. Tables were erected and covered with meats, sweets, fruits, nuts and vegetables. His people rejoiced and shared the bounty.
‘Eyes in the Sky’ awoke suddenly from his vision. When he returned to the village, the medicine woman took him back into the lodge to decipher his vision while the village people prepared for a celebration of him becoming a man.
“Your power animal is a bat. He symbolizes letting go of the old ways and embracing new. Your vision tells of battles to come which we will not win. If we stay, we shall loose our people. We must venture forth and live as growers of the earth. Some will consider you an annoyance but you must stay persistent. Some will not listen and they will parish in the end. You ‘Eyes in the sky’ must be strong and lead your people to the south where they will find peace and prosperity.”
The boy who became a man began his crusade. As the wise woman foretold, many warriors would not listen and remained behind. Some of the hunters and young men followed their families though. Years later they found the land of plenty but mourned all those they lost. They celebrated their fruitfulness and rejoiced over the vision that brought them to this land of plenty. The last thing they celebrated was the life of a great chief who had the vision to change. ‘Eyes in the Sky’ lasted but two years after they had arrived but he died in peace. He sailed away into the night on the wings of the great bat.
Each year, on the anniversary of his death, they honor him by the sharing of cornucopia symbolizing fertility, fortune and abundance. Each is decorated with the symbol of the bat.