Birch Tree: A Native American Tribal Story

A few posts back I told you of the Birch Tree and how it belongs in the Native American Totems.  Today, I would like to tell you the story of Birch Tree and how it came to have the marks on its bark.

A long time ago back in the days of our ancestors, Old-Man was really hot. You see the time was of summer and the earth had become very warm, too warm.  Old-Man traveled to the hilltops and it was still too hot. He traveled to the riverbed and found it too warm. Everywhere he traveled he found no relief and the traveling made him even hotter.

Old-Man called to the winds to blow so that he might feel some coolness from the breeze. The winds blew but not too hard because they feared they would make Old-Man angry.

“Blow harder, winds! Blow harder than you have ever blown before and push this heat from the world!”

The winds obeyed and blew as hard as they thought they could.

“Bend and break Fir Tree!” And the fir tree did bend and did break. “Bend and break Pine Tree!” And the pine tree did bend and break.  “Spruce Tree you bend and break!” The spruce tree obeyed and bent and broke as it was commanded. “Bend and break O Birch Tree!” The birch tree bent but did not break.

“Ho, Birch Tree! Bend and break! Mind me!” All the birch tree would do was bend. It bent to the ground. It bent double trying so hard to please Old-Man, but it would not break.

Old-Man became very angry and told the winds to blow even harder and break the birch tree.  The winds tried but they could not blow any harder than they were.  “I tell you Birch Tree, break right now!”

“I will never break for any wind” said Birch Tree. “I will bend but I shall never break!”

This made Old-Man so angry that he went a little crazy. He took out his knife and slashed the bark of Birch Tree.  He made slashes all up and down the tree in his anger.

“There! That is for not minding me! You shall look like this forever for as long as time lasts so that all will know that you refused to mind your maker! All the birch trees will look like you.”

And as you know, they do. If you have ever wondered why the Birch Tree has the marks on their bark, now you know why from this story.

Old-Man in this story represents the Great Spirit or the Creator of all things.  In Native American Totems, Birch Tree helps us remember Ancient Traditions and wisdom perhaps because it always bends and never breaks.

~Mitakuye Oyasin~ We are all related

A Cherokee Story of Blue Heron

When learning the medicine of Native American Totems it sometimes helps to relate a story about the animal, plant,Great Blue Heron Poster print or mineral that the lesson is coming from.  The First People of Turtle Island (North America) have left us with wonderful stories that help us understand more about a messenger who has come to us on our journey.  Yesterday, I blogged about the Blue Heron and how it teaches us about self-reflection.  Here is a story about Blue Heron from the Cherokee tradition.

I have heard that a very long time ago there was a race of Little People.  These people were very small, perhaps only  5 or 6 inches tall.  The Little People enjoyed a good life for the most part. They did suffer from the occasional attacks from visiting birds, though.  You see, my friend, these birds were larger than the Little People and it caused them much worry that they might be mistaken for food.  One day a Cherokee hunter, whose name has long been forgotten,  gave the Little People a gift.  He showed them how they could make little bows and arrows to defend themselves against the birds. They were very grateful to this friendly hunter.

For the next hundred years the Little People lived by the marsh in harmony with the world around them.  One day a flock of Blue Herons came.  The long legs of the Heron caused the arrows to fall  short and they did not scare the Blue Herons away.

The long beaks of the Great Blue Heron frightened the women and children and they fled, screaming into their homes at the sides of the marsh.

The tiny warriors stood their ground  and faced their fears of these enormous foes.  The Great Spirit saw that these Little Men had faced the challenge bravely and were using the skills they had.  So, a punishment was given to Blue Heron for terrorizing these Little People. It is why the Blue Heron has to feed alone and is never seen in flocks to this day. This is why Blue Heron brings us the message of self-reflection as it has to feed alone.  Alone we have to face our fears, look at our gifts, and be in harmony with our world.

I love to find these tribal stories and see how they relate to the Native American Totems that work with us in our journey on Mother Earth.

~ Mitakuye Oyasin ~ We are all related