Monday, June 8, 2015

Purple Robe, Golden Heart: The Prairie Crocus

A Prairie Crocus flower blossoms on the Northern Great Plains.
Hokšíčhekpa, Wanáȟča Tȟá Unčí
Prairie Crocus, Grandmother Of The Flowers

By The First Scout
The Prairie Crocus is known by many names: Pasque/Passover Flower, Easter Flower, or Wind Flower. The Lakȟóta know this same flower as Hokšíčhekpa, or “Child’s Navel,” for it resembled a child’s navel in the process of healing after the umbilical cord has fallen off.

One of the legends associated with this flower is that long ago, it was white.

The Lakȟóta have the story of a young man who went to the hill to pray, a spiritual practice still with them today. As day became night, the air cooled, and the young man pulled his bison robe around himself for warmth. A small voice by his feet called out, “Thank you!” He looked down and was surprised to discover that it was a little white flower that addressed him.

As the days and nights passed, the young man and the white flower enjoyed one another’s company as they watched the yellow sun rise around a scene of purple mountains. The young man took great comfort in the little white flower’s companionship, who assured him that he would soon receive his vision.

On the last morning, the Morning Star rose into the sky and the young man received his vision; it was revealed to him that he would be a medicine man and help his people. For assuring the young man and for keeping him company, Morning Star gave the little white flower the option of choosing for herself three gifts.

The little white flower asked for a heavy robe of her own to keep her warm, the color of the purple mountains for her dress (petals), and the warmth of the golden sun in her heart. To this day, in the early spring, when winter snow can still appear, the little flower’s lavender robe opens to reveal her golden heart.

On occasion, 
Hokšíčhekpa opens a white robe. A white Hokšíčhekpa is very rare. When one encounters a white one, they say a bison drew its last breath in that very spot.

The Lakȟóta people say that the 
Hokšíčhekpa is the Unčí (Grandmother) of the flowers. She is the first to appear, announcing that spring is here and the bison will bear their young. She addresses all the other flowers as grandchildren. When all the birds have returned, and the animals have come back out, it is her time to die.

Hokšíčhekpa even inspires the other flowers with a song of encouragement, “Take courage children of the flower nation, you shall appear all over the land. As you wake and rise from Grandmother Earth, I stand here old and gray.”

She shows by her example that all must go on to the land prepared for them by their ancestors. Each spring 
Hokšíčhekpa returns to share the same message to the next generation of flowers.

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