In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Monday, May 25, 2015

Black Elk’s Vision and Lehi’s Dream

Black Elk

This blog post is technically an extension of my previous post on Crazy Horse and Joseph Smith except this post deals with one of the main sources of my information for Crazy Horse, the one and only Sioux Oglala medicine man/healer and visionary Black Elk.  Much of the previous post’s information on Crazy Horse was taken from Black Elks accounts of his and his father’s dealings with Crazy Horse (Black Elks second cousin).  The source for most of this information was John G. Neihardt’s book “Black Elk Speaks” which shares the life story of Black Elk and covers the history of his people as well as his history of his visions and dealings that lead to him becoming a warrior and Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux.  While reading his story I couldn’t help but feel his love for his people and his family as well as his desire to understand his purpose here on earth. This desire was magnified by an early vision he received as a kid when he was about 9 years old when he had become very sick for several days and received an interesting vision.  He used this vision to search for understanding throughout his life; he even used it to gain insights into other visions he later received.  This blog post is in regards to one of his “later” visions he received and its comparison to Lehi’s dream which was also seen by his son Nephi. 
The vision I speak of happened in the spring of 1890 according to the book.  This would have roughly made Black Elk about 27 years old.  He was assisting in a dance on Wounded Knee Creek just below Manderson South Dakota.  During the ceremony Black Elk states he was taken into a vision and described the visions happenings as follows,
“As I touched the ground, twelve men were coming towards me, and they said: “Our Father, the two-legged chief, you shall see!”
Then they led me to the center of the circle where once more I saw the holy tree all full of leaves and blooming.
But that was not all I saw.  Against the tree there was a man standing with arms held wide in front of him.  I looked hard at him, and I could not tell what people he came from.  He was not a Wasichu (white man) and he was not an Indian.  His hair was long and hanging loose, and on the left side of his head he wore an eagle feather.  His body was strong and good to see, and it was painted red.  I tried to recognize him, but I could not make him out.  He was a very fine looking man.  While I was staring hard at him, his body began to change and became very beautiful with all colors of light, and around him was light.  He spoke like singing: “My life is such that all earthly beings and growing things belong to me.  Your father, the Great Spirit, has said this….
Then one of the twelve men took two sticks, one painted white and one red, and, thrusting them in the ground, he said: “Take these! You shall depend upon them.  Make haste!”….
There was a fearful dark river that I had to go over, and I was afraid.  It rushed and roared and was full of angry foam.  Then I looked down and saw many men and women who were trying to cross the dark and fearful river, but they could not.  Weeping, they looked up to me and cried: “Help us!”  But I could not stop gliding, for it was as though a great wind were under me.”
Black Elk entered this vision by being greeted by twelve men who advised him that “Our Father, the two legged chief, you shall see”. In the Book of Mormon Lehi was a prophet about 600 B.C. in Jerusalem who was given many visions.  One in particular was not only given to him but also to his son Nephi who was also a prophet.  Lehi and Nephi and their families and followers were led by the Lord to the Promised Land which is in the Americas (presumably in Central America).  Lehi’s children broke apart into two civilizations the Nephites and the Lamanites. It is commonly thought that these civilizations have contributed to some degree to the current Native American populations found throughout the Americas especially in Central America and the South Western United States.  I will be using both Lehi’s and Nephi’s accounts of this vision in comparison with that of Black Elks. 
Like Black Elk Nephi was also shown twelve men in 1 Nephi 11:29 he states,
“And I also beheld twelve others following him (Christ) and it came to pass that they were carried away in the Spirit from before my face, and I saw them not.”
Both Lehi and Nephi also saw a sacred and holy tree as well and Nephi referred to it as the “tree of life”.   Lehi explained it like this in 1 Nephi 8:10,
“And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.”
Nephi went into further detail saying,
“And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me: Look! And I looked and beheld a tree; and it was like unto the tree which my father had seen; and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow.
  And it came to pass after I had seen the tree, I said unto the Spirit: I behold thou hast shown unto me the tree which is precious above all. (1 Nephi 11:8-9)”
Now Black Elk also beheld a man standing in front of the tree who was not Native American or Caucasian but he had long hair and stood with his arms wide open.  He stated he was a very fine looking man and light shined all around him.  Nephi’s vision also beheld a man, the literal Son of God!
“And behold this thing shall be given unto thee for a sign, that after thou hast beheld the tree which bore the fruit which thy father tasted, thou shalt also behold a man descending out of heaven, and him shall ye witness; and after ye have witnessed him ye shall bear record that it is the Son of God. (1 Nephi 11:7)”
Now Nephi’s vision went into further detail into the things that the Son of God would do and how he would be born which are details that were obviously not included in Black Elks vision.  I would like to skip to the end of Black Elk’s vision where he sees “a fearful dark river….which rushed and roared and was full of angry foam…and many people who tried to cross this river but they couldn’t”.  A similar river was seen in Lehi’s dream as he recalled,
“…I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking of the fruit. (1 Nephi 8:13)”
His son Nephi was able to receive further clarification about this river in his vision when an angle advised in 1 Nephi 12:16,
“…Behold the fountain of filthy water which thy father saw; yea, even the river of which he spake; and the depths thereof are the depths of hell.”
So we see that there are multiple similarities between the visions of Lehi/Nephi and that of Black Elk.  Interestingly enough both Nephi and Black Elk feared for their people and their welfare as if these visions were to lead them in future events to help save them.  Nephi had seen the entire destruction of his people in vision and Black Elk had seen signs he hoped would offer future assistance.  It is this future assistance which I would like to shift the focus too.  I will have to back track to a point in Black Elks vision where he stated,

The Bible and the Book of Mormon
(The Stick of Judah and the Stick of Joseph)
“Then one of the twelve men took two sticks, one painted white and one red, and, thrusting them in the ground, he said: “Take these! You shall depend upon them.  Make haste!”….
Joseph Smith taught that the Biblical prophecy given by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:16-17) regarding the “two sticks” one of Judah and one of Ephraim was fulfilled through the combination of the Bible and the Book of Mormon, the Bible being the record of Judah and the Book of Mormon being the record of Ephraim.  Could this “two stick” prophecy about the Bible and Book of Mormon have been a sign for Black Elk to look for throughout his life?  Could the truths contained in these “sticks” have been and still be part of the answer needed to help redeem these Native cultures to their fullness?  The Book of Mormon cover page seems to think so when it states,
“Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile…Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever… And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations”
On top of all of the above noted parallels and similarities there are a lot of interesting symbolism taking place in the background of these visions and prophecies.  One in particular is that the one of the twelve men who appeared to Black Elk took the two sticks and “thrust them in the ground”…as noted above these could very well be interpreted to be the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  The Book of Mormon is noted as being “A voice from the dust” meaning that it was a record that was sealed up and buried in the ground only to be revealed at a later date.  Could this stick thrust in the ground be a hint at the voice from the dust connection?  I find the parallels stunning and the possible message intriguing especially for the future of the Sioux people for whom Black Elks vision was shared.  If this is indeed the case I hope that the time will come when the connection will be made and the prophecies tested!  Exciting things may still await.  

No comments:

Post a Comment