Mystical Experience of Black Elk

Black Elk (1863 – 1950) was a famous American Indian medicine and holy man of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.  At nine years of age, Black Elk suddenly fell ill and remained in very poor condition for several days.  During this time, he had a great vision and learned many things to help heal his people. Black Elk had many other visions throughout his life that reinforced the vision he had as a boy. He once stated, “All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really one.”

John G. Neihardt, author of Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux, quoted Black Elk as saying the following about one of his mystic visions:

“I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world.  And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.  And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all children of one mother and one father.  And I saw that it was holy…but anywhere is the center of the world.”

Black Elk further said that, “The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Taka (the Great Spirit), and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us” (as quoted by Joseph Epes Brown in Sacred Pipe: Black Elk’s Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux).

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