Written Thoughts by: James Warren ‘Flaming Eagle’ Mooney, Elder Seminole Medicine Man Emeritus and Co-Founder
of Oklevueha Native American Church
A Good Day’s Work
One early spring morning, before the crimson sun had risen, the spirit eagle showed a man named Flaming Eagle during his dream journey that he needed to climb a snow-capped mountain. The Spirit Eagle revealed to him two humans, also known as two-legged, who wanted help. As he abruptly sat up in bed, his wife, Bright Hawk, asked, “What is it?” He responded by saying, “I have some work to do.” He then shared the Spirit Eagle’s message.
After listening to the dream, Bright Hawk arose with her husband and took the wool marriage blanket off of their bed. The blanket was a warm brown color with vivid hues of the sunrise and sunset, as well as green running throughout the pattern that signified healing power. Bright Hawk placed the medicine blanket around Flaming Eagle and quietly said, “This will give you comfort and protection on your journey.” From a shelf above Flaming Eagle’s side of the bed, he took a Pipe bag decorated with red, yellow, black, and white porcupine quills arranged in a symbol that represented the earth and its four directions; east, south, west, and north. The bag contained a portion of his medicines, sacred prayer pipe (Casuse), tobacco, and fire-making material. As he began to leave, Bright Hawk “anxiously” reached out with her hands and held her husband’s eyes with her emerald green crystallized gaze, for a few “eternal” moments that filled his soul with a protected aura of unity. Then, with an emotional and loving embrace, she gently whispered, “A Good Day’s Work, my Medicine Man.”
Flaming Eagle gazed at Father Sky in the early morning light. The eastern sky, for new beginnings, was a deep red color that tinted the silvery fluorescent snow-capped mountains that stood majestically in front of his home. The air was brisk. With a determined calmness and the sleekness of a Black Panther, he began his “work.”
By midmorning, he had barely reached the top of the foothills of the mountain. The briskness of the early morning had been replaced with a chilly breeze. He placed the blanket bundle of Medicines on the ground next to a sparkling emerald spring. He then faced the east and sat on one of the blanket’s corners. He draped the rest of the blanket over his head and around his shoulders. He prepared himself and the Casuse for a Seeking Ceremony.
As he prayed, the earth elements spoke to him: the black lava rocks advised him the value of stableness of thoughts coming from his ancient elders, while the juniper and pine trees standing their ground taught about honor and healing, dragonflies magnifying their dreamlike images on the water below taught to respect the inspirations of the heart, hummingbirds with their joyous flitting from one flower to the next gave the lessons of appreciation for all of life’s experiences, a herd of elk grazing in the distant green valley below reminded him of the importunateness of stamina, the trout patiently and motionlessly resting in their crystal clear pools, and two deer, a buck and a doe, skittishly running from an open plateau into a secluded forest above him, gave Flaming Eagle the perils destination of this day’s work. Upon receiving this council, that Mother Earth presented him, he re-bundled his Medicines, got up and continued his journey toward the isolated forest.
By noon, “Flaming Eagle” noticed a dense, swirling array of clouds moving rapidly towards him and the forest. The air turned bitter cold in an instant. By the time Flaming Eagle crawled through the crack of an Old Spanish mineshaft hidden by an overgrowth of forest shrubbery, seven inches of powdered snow covered the surrounding landscape.
Flaming Eagle was feeling grateful for the safety of the shelter when the spirit of the Eagle informed him that he was not alone in this hidden sanctuary. In a pitch-black recess of the mineshaft there were two human beings who were nearly frozen to death. They were disguising themselves as rattlesnakes. The bigger one had bitten off his own rattle in an effort to deceive others of his true and lethal nature. Both snakes said they wanted to change, for they were miserable and had forgotten their purpose in life. The snakes asked cunningly, “Will you carry us to the warmth of the valley where you and your wife reside?”
Flaming Eagle, who also carried Coyote medicine, jokingly responded to the snakes, “What’s the urgency? You’re going to die someday, anyway. Besides, you’re rattlesnakes. You’ll bite me and my wife “No, no, we won’t bite you. How could we do such a thing after you saved our lives?” hissed the two-leggeds. After hearing this, with a knowing coyote smile on his lips and a gentle nod of his head, Flaming Eagle said, “Ok, I will do what I can.”
As Flaming Eagle was bundling up the snakes in his blanket, the bigger snake asked if he could be held close to Flaming Eagle’s heart and the smaller snake whispered compliments about the beauty of his medicine blanket. He secured the snakes close to his body as he ventured out into the blizzard. As he worked his way down the mountain, the moisture and heat of his body began to warm the snakes. By the time he reached the foothills, the blizzard had subsided and the snakes were no longer afraid of being frozen.
As he attempted to lay the snakes gently on the ground, the larger snake, without warning, bit him in the area of his heart. This momentarily shocked Flaming Eagle. The instant the smaller snake reached the ground, she started rattling and she repeatedly bit his ankles and legs. As the two snakes slithered away, Flaming Eagle called out, “Wait! You said you wouldn’t bite me if I saved your lives.” The larger, of the, two legged turned and said, “Wake up, Flaming Eagle, you fool! You knew us to be snakes.” The Coyote smile instantly began to show itself upon Flaming Eagles lips but within another instant, it changed, a gentle and understanding expression began radiating from his entire being. As he watched the two-leggeds proudly and gleefully re-enter they’re earthly walk, he blessed them with a “New Beginning Chant.”
Again, Flaming Eagle, this time timidly placed his medicine bundle containing his marriage blanket on the ground. He sat on one end of the blanket and draped the much-loved and protective medicine blanket around his body, this time facing the western horizon, signifying death and renewal. He took some sacred tobacco and put it into his mouth. He spit the moist substance into his hands and proceeded to firmly pack the Medicine poultice into all of the snakebites with his fingers, honoring Crow medicine.
He then prepared himself and the Casuse for his “last” evening Thanksgiving Ceremony. As he prayed he respectively gazed at all of Great Spirits creations around him: the rocks, trees, insects, birds, four-legged, fish, and now the snakes. Peace and gratitude saturated his entire being.
Flaming Eagle, slowly, stood up, tenderly picked up his blanket and gently draped it around his shoulders, for the “last” and very “first” time. He paused for an “eternal” moment, with appreciative tear soaked eyes; he received the soothing powers of the shimmering lavender sunset and a rising full silvery-white moon, then he quietly breathed in the fresh evening air and with a “deliberate slowness” movement of a mortally wounded Panther, Flaming Eagle resumed his “eternal” journey.
As Flaming Eagle entered his wife’s warm and loving embrace, she felt the ever-present “insightfulness strength” of Eagle, the familiar “playfulness” of Coyote, the respectful balancing “law” of crow and the New “transmutation” power of Snake. In the compassionate moment, just prior to her husband’s nightly dream journey with Spirit Eagle, Bright Hawk lovingly with “eternal” gratitude, whispered, “Another Good Day’s Work, my Medicine Man”