Black Elk does not speak of the Lakota pipe ceremony

Nicholas Black Elk and John G. Neihardt
Image credit: Black Elk-Neihardt Park

In filling a pipe, all space (represented by the offerings to the powers of the six directions) and all things (represented by the grains of tobacco) are contracted within a single point (the bowl or heart of pipe), so that the pipe contains, or really is, the universe. But since the pipe is the universe, it is also man, and the one who fills a pipe should identify himself with it, thus not only establishing the center of the universe, but also his own center, so he ‘expands;’ that the six directions of space are actually brought within himself. It is by this ‘expansion’ that man ceases to be a part, a fragment, and becomes whole or holy; he shatters the illusion of separateness.
Francis La Flesche in “War Ceremony and Peace Ceremony of the Osage Indians” published as Bulletin No. 101 of the Smithsonian Institution’s Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington, D.C. (1939), p. 62-3. Commonly misattributed to Heȟáka Sápa (Black Elk). Cited by Joseph Epes Brown in The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk’s account of the seven rites of the Oglala Sioux, (1953), p. 21.


Francis La Flesche Posted on behalf of on Sunday, December 6th, 2009 under Misattributions, Quotations.

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