Sheridan, Clare – Receiving the blessings of Crazy Crow
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Clare Sheridan – Redskin interlude
Crazy-Crow talked as he never had before. Not about his war-paths this time, but about the son he had lost.
He had never before mentioned his son, who died of injuries as a result of a kick from a horse. The son, when he knew he was dying, begged his father to come with him. It wasn't much of a world for an Indian since the White man came, it were better to slip off together to the Happy Hunting-grounds. Crazy-Crow decided he would go. He would not face a world that did not contain his son. However, he was frustrated in his plan by his sister, who begged him for her sake to remain, because, she said, she needed him. He was told, also, by the " above peoples " that he must not go before his time, as there was still work for him on earth.
"And there is still much for you," he said to me.
"Your time is not yet-you have long before you-it is hard, I have lived through it. The Great Spirit sends courage."
I was sorry we could not speak to one another without translation, for although Esto did her best, the magnetic flow was impeded. Presently Crazy Crow opened a bag, from which he took a roll of red flannel, unravelled it and spread its contents before him.
There was a dyed eagle plume, an eagle wing, a bunch of hawk feathers, a little rawhide bag full of red paint, and other things
"I want you to choose something," he began.
"Choose anything you like-I have a preference, but that does not matter. I want you to have something from me that will keep you always safe and well."
My mind's eye selected the eagle plume, but I did not like to say so, I felt he too preferred it to all the rest. Even as I was thinking this (it may have been telepathy) he picked it up and changed it to another place. He said: " This is what I care for most, and it is what I would like you to have, but you must choose-"
I might have known that he would give his best.
He bade me leave it where it was until he had finished.
"I will pray for you now," he beckoned me closer.
I sat on the ground before him and he began to make gestures as of wings around my head, and recited (or improvised) prayers, speaking low and rapidly. Esto did not move, did not speak-it was not the moment to translate.
Then he broke into a musical chant and I was conscious of the shadows of his hands, enlarged silhouettes upon the canvas wall. He was touching my forehead with his fingers, applying the powder paint. I could feel the pencil-point as he drew a design on my forehead, chin, and each cheek below the eyes. I was in a kind of trance, the tent seemed to be full of people, people who were wraith-like and misty, who swayed to the cadence of his chant, people intimately concerned with the thing that was happening, taking a part, so to speak, in which Crazy-Crow was perhaps only an instrument.
Then Esto whispered to me that he had " prayed so beautifully." He had invoked the blessing of the Great Spirit, and explained to me that “God – the God of the Indian-is the Great Being, Creator of all things. Although we pray to the Sun, the Sun is not our God, but the Sun gives us life, and the Sun was created by God." At the end he stroked my hair and touched my brow with the eagle plume before he gave it to me.
I received it in both my hands as something infinitely precious. " If you wear it," he said, "let it be always on the right "- but he gave no explanation.
As we walked back to the house I told Esto I would go in by the door next to my room, as I did not know how I looked and I would not like Sako or the boys to laugh. She said, "They would never laugh" … It was a form of blessing. Nevertheless I slipped into my room through the side-door, and immediately looked at my face in the glass:
The four pencil-marks were crosses in blue chalk.
There was only one red mark and it was on my forehead.
The eagle plume was tied in my hair on the right side.
Was it mere chance, I wondered, that the blue crosses marked the places where, when he was a little boy and I was "his lovely star" my son kissed me, holding my face between his hands?