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4/24/2009

Medicine Wheel

The Cowboy has always been interested in Plains Indian culture, especially Cheyenne. So Cheyenne artist and historian Serle Chapman s talk last fall at the Smoky Hill Trail Conference got me to wondering about making my own Medicine Wheel. There is a hill in our pasture that offers a great view of the surrounding area. There are particular stars that were important to the plains tribes. They created a stone system in the form of a 28 spoked wheel to mark the early morning rising of those stars plus the summer solstice. The Cheyenne marked their spring and summer celebrations by the rising of those stars. The first was Formhault (The Morning Star of the Spring Moon). I was out Tuesday morning looking for its rising and thought I had missed it. So I stayed till sun up and headed home disappointed.  
 
The next morning I realized that I was thrown off the day before by the sight of the crescent moon with a star nearby. I used to be pretty familiar with the stars but have not kept up that old connection. I thought that star was Venus, but this morning I finally realized when it rose by itself that it was Formhault. There was a line of clouds and lightning on the horizon which obliterated its actually rise on the horizon but it was so bright that it began to shine through the clouds. The Morning Star of the Spring Moon was a sign of renewal. The buffalo were calving and prayers for renewal were being answered. My medicine wheel will not be accurate to the 18th & 19th centuries. The stars have progressed in their own march across the heavens and Formhault which used to rise in May, now rises in April. The rising of those stars coupled with the solstice was at one time 28 days apart signaling a ceremony every 28 days from spring until fall. Today they vary in their time frames, but I am interested in making a wheel for an insight into prairie culture. 
 
The plains tribes saw the rim of the wheel as a symbol of the earth about them. And as I stood in the dim early morning I became very aware of the rim of the earth that surrounded me no matter which direction I faced. Darkness gave way to light. Owls gave way to morning birds. Turkeys chortled in distant valleys, sounding much like Indians calling from the past. Coyotes were unusually quiet. Only a small family sang to the morning from somewhere far to the south. It was all very interesting, exciting and calming at the same time. 
 
I m headed off to Downs Kansas this Saturday for the Downs Storytelling Festival. Marti Wagner of Lazy Daisy, a store specializing in Kansas items is hosting a book signing for Desperate Seed. I m looking forward to meeting a lot of new folks! 
 
Here is the Saddle Tramp Schedule for this weekend. 
 
24th-25th Kansas Story Telling Festival @ Downs 
785-454-3808 
 
25th Desperate Seed Book Signing at the Kansas Story Telling Festival @ Downs 
785-454-3808 
 
25th El-Kan Western Riders Ranch Rodeo Day @ Ellsworth 
Alan Stefek, 785-472-3847 
 
25th Victorian Day @ Waterville 
785-363-2515 
 
25th Tommy Cash A Tribute to Brother, Johnny Cash @ Buhler 
Old Mill Theatre, 620-960-6455 
 
25th Victorian Style Spring Ball @ Cottonwood Falls 
Ye Olde Community Building, Derrick Doty, 620-767-8316 
 
25th Powder Creek Cowboys Cowboy Shoot @ Lenexa 
Tame Bill, 913-441-5660 
 
25th-26th Gun, Coin & Antiques Show @ Philiipsburg 
Phillips County Fairgrounds, 785-543-7293 
 
26th Capital City Cowboys Cowboy Shoot @ Topeka 
Earl Butch Holden Olson, 785-266-6382 
 
26th Sand Creek Raiders Cowboy Shoot @ Denver, CO 
Aurora Gun Club, Steve Bat Masterson Fowler, 303-745-2529 
 
26th Southern Missouri Rangers @ Willard, MO 
Smokie, 417-759-9114 
 
27th The Cowboy Speaks! & Desperate Seed Book Signing @ Lyons 
Rice County Historical Society Meeting, Celebration Center, 620-257-3941 

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