Sunday, June 5, 2011


My totem animal for the year is the white buffalo, or bison. What's the difference anyway, you may well ask. Basic geography. Bison live in the Americas. Buffalo live in Africa and Asia. You're probably actually envisioning bison in your brain when you think of buffalo. Like this guy. Sacred to the plains Indians of North America. Systematically wiped out by the white man. Now existing only in our national parks.

Honestly, they've never been one of my favorite animals. I don't understand how they don't tip over on their noses with all that weight in their hump, shoulders and heads, and those comparatively narrow little flanks. But I admit I was quite impressed with the few I encountered in Yellowstone Park many years ago: their big, shaggy bodies; their steamy breath in the snow; their cute little babies and they way they're so protective of them; that attitude of impatience that you sometimes sense in a wild animal (okay, I'll let you admire me for a moment, but I'm getting annoyed, and you should probably move on and leave me in peace before I gore the side of your car). Like all animals, they are in fact awesome if you stop to think about it for a minute.

The white buffalo (bison!) is especially sacred to the Lakota people because it plays an important role in one of their origin myths. Each time a white calf is born, it's believed to have special significance, and indicates the presence of the White Buffalo Calf Woman. The bison is a link between the earthly and the unearthly. Wasn't there an X-Files episode about this? She symbolizes rebirth, and a return to harmony, balance, spirituality, and feminine energy. The bison is a reminder of the greater whole, and the interconnectedness of all life. Of course the bison also symbolizes provision, gratitude, abundance, strength, blessing, prosperity, which all makes sense given how much the Native Americans relied on these creatures, and how much these creatures gave to them. So in that way, the bison is also a reminder that we should be grateful for what we have, and that we should be receptive and accepting of what is given to us in this life.

Much of this feels very relevant to me at this point in my life. Especially in conjunction with the other information and insights that came out of my tarot reading today (interpreted and guided so sensitively by the divine Ms. S.), and things I learned during my Spirit Springs retreat. So I'm embracing the white buffalo as my guide for now, and will try to remain open and receptive to whatever it has to show me.

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