In those times lived a young lady who was called Flower of Spring. She was a joy for all those who knew her, she always had a smile and a kind word for everyone she saw, and her hands were similar to the freshest spring for those who were affected by a fever or a burn. She would put her hands on them and the fever or burning would immediately leave their body. When she reached adulthood, her power became even stronger and, thanks to the vision she had received, she became capable of healing people from many of the diseases which existed then. In a vision, strange and beautiful flying creatures had come to her and had given her the power of the rainbow which they carried with them.
Every colour of the rainbow had a particular power for healing which these flying beings revealed to her. They told her that during her life she would be able to heal others and that at the time of her death she would release to the air the powers of healing which would stay forever with the people. In her vision, she was given a name: She-who-weaves-rainbows-in-the-sky.
Whereas she advanced in age, She-who-weaves-rainbows-in-the-sky continued her healing work and distributed kindness to all those whom she met. She also met a man, a seer, and she took him for husband. They had two children together and raised them so that they were strong, healthy and happy.
Both children had certain powers of their parents and themselves became later healers and seers. As she aged, the power of She-who-weaves-rainbows-in-the-sky increased and all those who lived in the region where she lived came to her with their parents, asking her to heal them.
She helped those whom she could help. But the effort necessary to pass on all the healing power to so many people eventually exhausted her and one day she knew that the moment to fulfill the second part of her vision had come. Throughout her life, she had noticed that splendidly coloured reptiles always came near her when she sat down on the ground. They would come against her hand and tried to rub themselves against her. Sometimes one or two crawled up her the arm and rested near her ear.
One day when she was resting, one of these reptiles came up to her ear. She spoke to it asking it what she could do for them, because she had noticed that he and his brothers and sisters had always helped her. “My sister, the One who crawled said, my people were always there while you did your healing, assisting you with the colours of the rainbow which adorn our bodies. Now that you are going to pass to the world of spirit, we do not know how to continue bringing to the people the healing power of these colours. We are bound to the ground and people look too rarely on the ground to be able to see us. It seems to us that if we could fly, the people would notice us and would smile at the beautiful colours that they would see. We could fly around those who would need to be healed and would let the power of our colours give them the healing which they can accept. Can you help us to fly? She-who-weaves-rainbows-in-the-sky promised to try. She spoke about this conversation to her husband and asked him if messages could come to him in his dreams.
Next morning he woke up, incited by the dream which he had. When he slowly touched She-who-weaves-rainbows-in-the-sky to tell her about the dream, she did not answer. He sat up to look at her closer and saw that his wife had crossed to the world of spirit during the night. As he prayed for her soul and made preparations for her funeral, the dream returned to him in memory and it comforted him. When the moment had come to carry She-who-weaves-rainbows-in-the-sky to the grave, he looked on her shroud and, waiting for him, as he was expecting because of his dream, was a beautifully coloured reptile. He carefully picked it up and took it with him.
As they were putting the body of his wife in the ground and getting ready to cover it, he heard the reptile saying: “Put me on her shoulder now. When the earth covers us, my body also will die, but my spirit will mix with the spirit of the one who was your wife, and together we shall come out of the earth flying. We shall then return towards those of my people and shall teach them to fly so that they can continue your wife’s work. She waits for me.”
The man did what the reptile had told him and the funeral continued. When all the others had left, the man stayed behind. He looked at the grave, remembering the love which he had experienced with his wife. Suddenly, out of the grave came flying a creature which had on its wings all the colours of the rainbow. She flew towards him and settled on his shoulder. ‘Do not be sad my husband. At the moment my vision has come to be, and those whom I shall henceforth teach will always bring to others kindness of the heart, healing and happiness. When your hour has come to transform into spirit, I shall wait for you and shall join you. ’
When the man changed worlds, some years later, and was buried, his children stayed behind after all the others had gone. They noticed one of these new magnificent creatures which they called butterflies, fluttering near the grave. A few minutes later another butterfly of equal beauty came flying out of their father’s grave, joining the one who was fluttering nearby and, together, they flew northward to the place of renewal. Since then the butterflies have always been with the people, enlightening the air and their lives with their beauty.
If you want your wish comes true, you have only to blow it to the butterfly. Having no voice it will carry your wish up to the Great Spirit in the sky where your wish will be fulfilled.
Excerpted from ‘The Medicine Wheel’ by Sun Bear and Wabun
Sun Bear was a medicine man of great kindness and exceptional power and was my mentor for many years, until his death at the age of 63. He carried out one of the prophecies of his people, the Chippewa of White Earth Minnesota, that said that a day would come when a bear would poke a hole with his tongue through the veil of the new world. Indeed, he was one of the first Native American medicine men to travel everywhere to share the wisdom of First Nations. Here is a picture that dates back more than thirty years, of us two during one of his visits to my home.