Hoop of Nations

Most copies of Revelations over the last two thousand years were done by hand and by people who  either actively wanted to suppress the Horse Dance and all the ideas that went with it or had no experience of the Horse Dance at all. Even if the version I have was an effort to save the information, the archeo-astronomical details of both Black Elk’s ceremony and Revelations are specific to one particular ceremony focused one particular moment in time. Some differences, such as Revelations twelve tribes/twenty-four ancients and Black Elk’s sixteen horses arise out of the  archeo-astronomical observations of differing cultural contexts.  The numbers twelve and twenty four are more likely means of tracking the movements of the sun against the stars, while sixteen is number related to the travels of the moon (click here).

Focusing on the similarities between the two rituals once again, Black Elk describes the dancers circling the village four times, with the leaders changing, the Grandfathers singing,  himself praying and the four scarlet virgins blessing the people at each quarter, while the people came up with offerings, and then joined the dance themselves. Each of the pieces is pretty simple, but it ends up a  complex scene.

Black Elk says:

Between each quarter as we marched and danced we sang:

  • A horse nation all over the universe
  • Neighing they come
  • Prancing they come
  • May you behold them.

Each time the leading horse troop reached its quarter, the Six Grandfathers sang of the powers of that quarter, and there my bay faced, pricking up his ears and neighing loudly until the other horses raise their voices neighing.

Black Elk says:

When I thus faced the north, I sent a voice again and said:

  • Grandfather
  • behold me!
  • What you gave me I have given to the people
  • the power of the healing herb and the cleansing wind
  • Thus my nation is made over
  • Hear and help me!

Revelations says:

To him who thirsts I shall give of the spring of the water of life as a free gift.

Black Elk says:

When we reached the east and the Grandfathers had sung, I sent a voice:

  • Grandfather
  • behold me
  • my people, with difficulty they walk
  • Give them wisdom
  • and guide them
  • Hear and help me!

Revelations says:

He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall not be death any more, nor shall there be mourning, lamentation,or pain anymore.

Black Elk says:

When we had reached the south and the Grandfathers had sung of the power of growing, my horse faced yonder and neighed again, and all the horses raised their voices as before, And then I prayed with hand upraised:

  • Grandfather
  • behold me
  • the flowering stick you gave me
  • and the nation’s sacred hoop
  • I have given to the people
  • Hear me, you who have power to make things grow
  • Guide the people that they may be as blossom on your holy tree
  • and make it flourish deep in mother earth
  • and make it full of leaves and singing birds.

Revelations says:

  • He showed me a pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing out of the throne of the God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its main street; and on one side of the river and on the other was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits according to the months, each one yielding its fruit; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the people.

Black Elk says:

More and more got on their horses, milling round us as we went. until there was a whirl of prancing horses all about us at the end, and all the others danced afoot behind us , and everybody sang what we were singing. When we had reached the quarter of the west for the fourth time, we stopped in  a new formation, facing inward towards the sacred teepee in the center of the village.

(click for the next or go back to the beginning)

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2 thoughts on “Hoop of Nations

  1. Guess I never read Revelations. In the concept of prancing horses I can think of it and rejoice. A good ceremony for the equinox.

    • Personally, I find most versions of Revelations nearly unreadable. I woke up this morning thinking I need a pack of index cards so I can shuffle all the bits and pieces of this old Greek version around and re-organize them according to Black Elk’s ceremony.
      But yeah, having the horse nation enthusiastically carrying their riders into the visionary realms is a joyful prospect. Maybe that’s why I ended up with the rundown wreck of a twenty stall barn. Working with a group of horses and riders who want to create a horse dance would actually be rewarding for me, if I can manage to get it going.

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