The Soul of America: New Beginnings 27

The Iroquois, Hiawatha, and the Way of Grief

The Legend of Dekanawida


The Iroquois are intimately linked with the roots of peace. The path of peace ( peace is not the opposite of war – think of it as the path of harmony) connects with the legend of Dekanawida (The name means “two river currents flowing together.” – we will see that these are the rivers of life and death.)

When Dekanawida grew to manhood he built his canoe of white stone (this is an image of going to the world of the dead — this is where we got to in the last two blogs — Coatlique). His intent was to stop the shedding of blood among human beings.

He crossed Lake Ontario in his canoe of white stone and approached the land of the Iroquois. The five Iroquois tribes were at war with one another. When they saw Dekanawida’s boat of white stone, they were filled with wonder.

Dekanawida brought the message of peace to the tribes. The message has three parts: Righteousness – justice between men and nations; Health – soundness of mind and body; Power – the authority of law and custom. (In the U.S. Constitution, which was modeled on these three principles – they became Life (Health), Liberty (Righteousness), and the Pursuit of Happiness (Power) ). These principles were to be worked out among the tribes in the Longhouse (This became Congress) – where there are many fires. The five nations live as one household – under one chief mother; the women have the power to name the chiefs. The Mother of Nations is called “New Face.”

The Longhouse


This was the plan. But, it was not easy. The tribes practiced cannibalism at that time. Dekanawida went to the house of the ‘man who eats humans’. He climbed to the roof of this man’s dwelling and looked straight down the smoke hole. The man below was looking into the water of a kettle – he was about to cook a man. He saw Dekanawida’s face reflected in the water and he thought that it was his own face. He had never seen such wisdom and righteousness. He thought –“now I will no longer kill humans and eat their flesh”. He then asks if there is anyone who can tell him how to make amends. Dekanawida came down from the roof and sat with him. “The New Mind” has come to you – to heal the memories by working to make justice prevail and bringing peace to those places where you have brought pain.”

Dekanawida names this man Hiawatha (He who combs).

Dekanawida sent Hiawatha to visit Atotarho – a great and evil wizard. Hiawatha combs the snakes out of Atotarho’s hair… there is much more to the legend – this is the part we need to work with.



Dekanawida was an initiate who tries to introduce new spiritual principles – by going through the depths of soul (that is, one has to go inward and down – down to the region of Coatlique, for example –remember, her head is a vicious snake and she wears a skirt of snakes) – in fact, the Iroquois are related to the Mayans).

Hiawatha is a soul-being between two initiates – Dekanawida – good, and Atotarho – evil. He is an imagination of how we are to work with evil. Evil cannot be fought against because to do so requires using the means of evil to do so.

The clue to the beginning of the healing of greed: feeling the sorrow of Earth and her people; and an unending meeting of our ‘failures’ – shortcomings – not simply knowing about them, but meeting them in soul.

Hiawatha goes through extreme sorrow in seeking the transformation of Atotarho – that is, the transformation of evil. His three daughters and a fourth were killed.

He establishes the ritual of Condolence —- The ritual of Grieving





Hiawatha combing the Snakes out of one who is possessed by Otatarho


Wampum Beads with the White Tree of Peace


He invented wampum – we take that word to mean a form of money – initially it was not (later, in another blog, we will see what happened, how wampum became “money.. Wampum beads were a way of marking sorrowful stories. After the death of his family, he was wandering and came to Tully Lakes, where he walked in desolation, picking up shells. He threaded them onto three strings. Hiawatha says:

“If I found anyone burdened with grief even as I am, I would console them for they would be covered with the night and wrapped in the darkness. This would lift with words of condolence and these strings of beads would become words with which I would address them –

Presenting the first string of wampum beads to one grieving, he would say:“With these words, I wipe away the tears of your eyes so that you may see clearly”.

Presenting the second string, he would say: “With these words, I wipe away the obstruction from your ears so that you may once again have perfect hearing.”

Presenting the third string, he would say: “ With these words, I remove the obstruction from your throat so that you may once again have perfect speaking.

These are the basic three words of the Condolence Ceremony, calling people to the three principles of righteousness in conduct, health of body and mind, and equality among people.
You may know that the Iroquois influenced the forming of the American Constitution – it was modeled on their ways of the Longhouse and the way of Condolence. — this is long lost on us.The story just told contains within it the qualities of the Spiritual Way of America – which we have been getting to, which we have been touching into all along.

Cannibalism still goes on – eating one’s neighbor – cannibalism is a far better word that greed!

In this midst of the cannibalism of greed, the spiritual path of America is the spiritual path of life/death – and condolence.We do not see, do we – that the constant violence – bombings, school shootings, the lying, corporate cannibalism, are the pathology of the spiritual way of death, the spiritual way through death — if you do not die, you are killed! That is the pathology – killing – because the cannibalism of greed has not been seen as killing and killing as a way to avoid coming to terms, within oneself, with the great mystery of dying, that is, the dying of ego and the entering of soul. A mystery that needs to be met daily as a way of entering the deepest depth of soul. As a nation, and even as individuals, we no longer go through the mystery of dying, the mystery of soul; and we do not experience condolence (when 17 children are slaughtered, there is, at best, a moment of Silence – that passes as condolence, or a few political words); we cannot even phantom the three ways of condolence.

We either enter the way of death (do not take death here literally or you wind up right back where we are – killing) – or we are killed. Think of 9/11! It is a large picture of what is happening to us all. When greed takes over, we no longer go through dying. We are killed – by terrorism, tornadoes, floods, fires, hurricanes, Ebola, criminals. – these ways of being killed are a necessity in the absence of living the mystery of life/death happening each moment. ( It is important to deeply contemplate this – yes, we are the cause of earthquakes, volcanoes…and all the rest).

The choice is not one of living or dying – it is how we live with our dying. Greed denies death, chooses not to live with our dying – pretending that having everything we desire can kill consciousness of dying – and It does — it necessarily then means we meet our dying through violent means. It is a matter, for each of us – is death an angel or an executioner?


The Soul of America: New Beginnings 26

Coatlique, Tonantzin, and Guadalupe

The title of the last blog was “More on Our Lady of Guadalupe and the New Earth”. This followed from the prior blog concerning Coatlique and Lady Guadalupe. Let’s, in this blog, continue for a moment with this theme as it has to do with finding the way through the decimation of Earth and finding Earth as the Vast Self, the sacred, creating-being that we also are — beings of the sacredness of earth-bodies rather than robotic look-alikes, having the capacity, through awarenes, to BE HERE. The difficulties we face stem from our ignorance — we are not here because for us there is no HERE HERE. We live in concepts, reactions, opinions, mentalness, impulse, tech, and beliefs, and some live deeply connection with spiritual presences while not knowing Earth as such a spiritual presence.

After further contemplation, the interpretation of Lady Guadalupe given by the earth geometer Peter Champoux last time, the sense of Lady Guadalupe signaling the evolution of Earth into the “Sixth Sun” (The name given by the Mayans, which refers to the time of the NEW EARTH), is perhaps in need of just a slight modification. Modification because that understanding does not give quite the right emphasis to Coatlique.

Certainly not to her fierceness. Just look:


She holds her head. and from the place above her shoulders there is the head of a great snake, and Coatlique wears a skirt of snakes! She is the goddess of Life and Death — simultaneously, not life now and death sometime in the future, the literalists view, devoid of actual experience. Earth and all of Nature are the simultaneities of Life/Dearth. Just look and see! And so are we, and we can see/feel that if we did not live in such fear of death — and we live in fear of death because we are no longer HERE!

“Coatlique” —

“Coa” in the language of Náhuatl, means “snake”— And they are FIERCE-Earth.…of the very vibration of Earth herself.

A more benevolent form of the feminine goddess is also the goddess of this same site. She is named

Tonantzin who is the earth and fertility
goddess known as “Our Lady Mother”:



But Coatlique and Tonantzin are the same! Tonantzin’s sacred site was also the hill of Tepeyac, the site of Coatlique on which a temple had been built. When the Spanish conquistador, Cortez, approached the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), the emperor Moctezuma II met the Spaniards at the temple of Tonantzin. The invaders knocked over the statue of the goddess at that site and replaced her with a Madonna statue from Europe.

An Aztec convert who took the name Juan Diego was walking by the hill of Tepeyac one day in 1531. Even to a convert, this was still a sacred site, connected to the deity of the Moon, and the place where the cosmic kingdom had begun to unravel. Juan Diego’s actual name was Cuauhtlatoatzin (which means “the talking eagle”). Guillermo Schulenburg, in 1996 suggested that he is not entirely a “historical” figure. The first written mention of Juan Diego is found in the “Nican Nopohua” document, almost a century after the events. He is more like an earth-angelic messanger.

As Juan Diego walked by Tepeyac, he was called by a young brown-skinned woman who called herself “Coatlaxopeuh”, “xopeuh” meaning to crush serpents (These are not the serpents Coatlique wears as a skirt or wears as a head.) One pronunciation of this name would be quatlasupe, which was similar in sound to Guadalupe, an Iberian Madonna who is sometimes depicted as standing on the head of a bull between its horns. Coatlaxopeuh who is known ever since as Our Lady Guadalupe sent Juan Diego to the bishop asking that a shrine (temple) be built for her where the previous temple to Tonantzin once stood.


Still, the above rings too strongly of a Catholic interpretation. And does not quite match the image of Coatlaxopeuh on the tilma, the cloak of Cuauhtlaotoatzin, Juan Diego (the Guardian of Tonantzin, perhaps?).
In the visual image, she is not standing, for example, on snakes. However, it is a historical interpretation to say, as they do, that first there was Coatlique, who was later “replaced” by Tonantzin, and still
later, replaced by “Our Lady of Guadalupe”.  Read imagistically — that is, just staying with what presents itself, and refraining from falling into historical (history is alway his-story, not her-story)
interpretations coming through, for example, Catholic tradition, She is all three of the images — at once. Mother Earth is all three of these imaginal (that is, both image and presences at the same time!
We are working with soul, and soul is image, not history. And this level of soul is myth, and myth is that which never happened but is always happening!

Who appeared to Cuahtlatoazin? Not exactly who we see as the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He saw a dark-skinned Woman, not a European Madonna. He did see her as depicted, but the mention
of “dark-skinned” tends to dissolve away in documents and history, which also dissolves away that she is the Black-Madonna of America(s). And, she is FIERCE, and she is EARTH MOTHER, and she
is the LIGHT OF THE SUN IN THE HEART, and she THE CLARITY OF MOON-AS-WISDOM, and she is LIFe/DEATH, and she is THE NEW EARTH, and she is The New BODY.

Yet one more attribute, quality that She is.

The tilma, used as a cloak which she wears, was woven of course maguey cactus fiber. The image is reputed to be a mixture of different artistic mediums, including oils and pastels. It was the perfect image for it equally appealed to both conquerors and conquered. The Spaniards saw in it a confirmation of their Marian devotions coupled with their mandate to subjugate the Americas, to commit mass genocide of the people, to enslave.

The conquered “Indios” saw something else. They identified with the goddess who was so powerful that she stood blocking the rays of the sun and standing on the moon. Yet so powerful, she is still so gentle that her feet are cushioned by an angel holding a pillow on which she stands. She wears a dress adorned with flowers of the region and she is wearing a waist sash indicating that she is pregnant. Mary of Tepeyac is the mother of the ultimate humanity — the humanity as hu-mus, humanity as earth-beings, beings that are HERE.

And that she finds within her being what seems and are violent oppositions – fierceness, nurturing, and love, the harmony of these opposing forces within her being instruct us anew: NO MORE OPPOSITION! It is not possible with her fullness of complexity, to be fully human by setting up………

the spiritual folks on one side

 and the villains on the other.

It is impossible to set the tree-huggers on one side and the tree-cutters on the other. That is OLD EARTH.THE NEW EARTH requires that we who claim the ground of ‘spirituality’, are
also those who claim dominion and domination and live and think of the earth as an “it”. Our task then shifts considerably. It is no longer to opposse and fight against evil, for in every instance, to do so requires taking up the tools of evil for the fight. Nor is it to be complacent about evil. Our task is to take it ‘in’, where inner light can shine on it. To do so requires that we see all evil in the world as also within us.