Copyright 2004 – by Steven McFadden
While dwelling amid the high mountains along the North American Continental Divide, Bennie LeBeau of the Eastern Shoshone tribe experienced a torrent of dreams and visions, especially in 1999. The visions directed him to set in motion the plans for a massive Medicine Wheel Ceremony.
Over the last year Bennie has become aware of many sharply distressing changes in both land and animals at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. These changes are becoming even more ominous right now, he says, and they have prodded him into direct action to bring his visions alive.
The huge Medicine Wheel Ceremony that Bennie envisions is intended to be a mass spiritual event. The ceremony is set to take place at High Noon on Saturday, May 8, 2004 at more than 20 sacred sites in the American West, and at many other sacred sites elsewhere around the world, including Australia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Ireland, Germany, and the Middle East.
The Grand Teton peaks in Wyoming –The Four Grandmothers Standing Tall – will serve as the center of this Medicine Wheel. The long spine of the Rocky Mountains runs roughly North and South in the Wheel; and the circumference reaches from California deep into America’s heartland. Simultaneous prayer ceremonies at other sacred sites around world will help to re-attune the web of subtle energy pathways that envelop planet earth.
“All nations, all peoples are invited to participate,” Bennie said, adding, “all nations, all peoples are needed to work together on this — the black, white, yellow, and red nations of Mother Earth.”
A Medicine Wheel is an ancient spiritual tool with a history of widespread use all over Turtle Island (North America). Stones are set to mark the Four Directions of North, South, East and West, and also of other major points. In this manner, if done with knowledge and respect, a sacred space is defined. Within that space, the people can direct thoughts, feelings and actions toward a unified idea.
The Medicine Wheel also helps people to be grounded physically, to properly orient to the Four Directions, and thus to have a clear sense of where they are. That foundation of stability gives a reliable base for high spiritual work.“The Earth is drastically out of balance now,” Bennie LeBeau says. “This Medicine Wheel ceremony will strive to re-set the basic tone — or vibrational pattern — of the West, and by extension help to re-attune the whole of the earth.
Message for Peacekeepers
I met Bennie LeBeau in Placitas, New Mexico on February 9, 2004. He had driven down from Wyoming to meet with some members of a group called the Spiritual Elders of Mother Earth, a network of indigenous people from 21 different tribes in North, Central, and South America.
The elders began coming together as a group in 1999 in response to the global crises of environment and culture. Their traditional teachings have long warned that such crises would arise.
The elders say they understand from their traditions that part of their original instructions as human beings was to serve as keepers of the Earth. They were also told that one day they would have to step forward in a time of extreme crisis and lead — to educate people about how to restore balance — for the survival of life on earth would depend upon them remembering and acting in a sacred manner.
Bennie LeBeau was born on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming in 1950, and is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone tribe. He served in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam in the early 1970s. In the years after his military service, he supported himself mainly through outfitting, taking people out fishing and hunting in the mountains.
Bennie told me that he began to have visions when he was in his late 20s, while guiding hunters along the Continental Divide. He went to the local Medicine People to ask for help in understanding, but they were unable to offer interpretations. So Bennie lived with the visions.
Bennie said he eventually came to understand on his own what his dreams and visions meant: “The land is out of balance. The bio-electric energy of the earth is being profoundly scrambled and disturbed by mines, electric transmission lines, railroads, highways, damming of the rivers, and also from development of factories, trucks, cars and so forth. War is adding to this.”
“It’s time to do something important, to reconnect the energy. So many sacred sites are not kept, not tended. But this is what is needed, for things are out of balance, out of harmony. It’s extreme now, and it’s time to come together around this, the old ways and the new ways. Every human being has a stake in this, no matter their color or their spiritual tradition.”
Talking with the Elders
To bring this massive, multi-tradition Medicine Wheel ceremony about, Bennie was inspired to travel and talk with representatives of the indigenous Nations near the waters and mountains of his vision, and also with other cultures. He began his journey in January, 2004. “I am to ask for assistance in re-activating these sacred sites,” Bennie explained. “We must all do our parts as humans to bring about harmony.”
On February 10, 2004 — the day after I met with him — Bennie journeyed west from Placitas to the Turquoise Mountain (Mount Taylor near Grants, New Mexico). This is one of the sacred mountains that mark the Four Corners area of Turtle Island (North America). Turquoise Mountain is a massive dormant volcano, towering more than a mile above a vast desert plateau.
With Leon Secatero of the Canoncito Navajo, a Grand Elder for the Spiritual Elders of Mother Earth, and Red Eagle of the Cherokee Nation, Bennie visited with the traditional keepers of Turquoise Mountain: Navajo Grandfather Martin Martinez and his wife, Grandmother Janíce.
Bennie told them of his dreams and visions, and also of his plan. Grandfather Martin, who is in his 90s, was pleased to hear it. He told Bennie that his visions were in harmony with the Navajo teachings and prophecies that he keeps. He also mentioned that with his wife, Janíce, he had a vision of a multi-tradition ceremony to be held near a holy spring on Turquoise Mountain. They wanted to realize their vision.
As it happens, in the context of the 600-mile radius of the Medicine Wheel of Bennie LeBeau’s vision, the Turquoise Mountain of New Mexico is in the South position — the South Mountain.
In the Medicine Wheel teachings of Turtle Island the South is a direction sometimes represented by Mouse. Mouse is so small and defenseless against the rest of the world that he must rely on trust and instinct to live. Much larger forces of Spirit are at work in the world, and Mouse understands how humble a creature he is in relation to all this. But good and surprising things can happen when trust leads Mouse to make a bold move for survival, guided by Spirit.
“This was prophesied a long time ago,” Grandfather Martinez told Bennie and the other elders. “I am glad you have come and taken responsibility to be a messenger.”
“The mountain is the pillar, our helper,” Grandfather Martinez said. “It listens to us when we are in harmony with the stones, trees, clouds, waters, and stars. This is the wholeness that keeps life together. We will communicate with the mountain.”
Grandfather Martin gave Bennie his blessings to go forward and make his Medicine Wheel Ceremony a reality. He said it was a good mission and that now is the time.
All the elders traveled up onto the flank of Turquoise Mountain after their meeting. There by a sacred spring they made ceremony together to prepare for May 8. Grandfather Martinez also initiated the drum that Bennie had made for himself, a drum laced with symbols representing the Medicine Wheel ceremony.
Grandfather Martinez shared with his guests some Navajo lore about Turquoise Mountain — the South Mountain of the four sacred mountains of the Navajo, known to them as Tsoodzil, the Blue Bead Mountain. (Turquoise Mountain is sacred to several other native groups as well; all have been invited to the May 8 ceremony).
Grandfather Martinez said there were giants on the mountains in the old days, and they were the guardians. Some were good, and some were not. The giants have gone, but their energies are still around, and a lot of it is negative energy. The negative energies and entities are coming back strong now, and it is affecting the people.
In the context of Grandfather’s words, the ravaged land all around Turquoise Mountain bespeaks an ugly story. Over many years large-scale mining has dug up and released uranium for the sake of eternally toxic nuclear energy.
“We need to do ceremonies continually to strengthen and cleanse and empower,” Grandfather Martinez said. “It is very important to do this now. The ceremonies help to keep the negative forces at bay.
Grandmother Janíce told the circle of elders that the ceremony would put in place another set of vibrations. “The ceremony will happen at a time in the spring when all the plants are surging with new life,” she said. “If we come together in respect with the plants, she said, we can use this energy to help bring about the intention of the ceremony.”
Grandfather Martinez spoke of the Medicine Wheel ceremony as a universal wake up call. The mountain ranges have sovereignty over lines of energy that radiate around the entire earth. Thus, he said, the ceremonies we do encircling the Rocky Mountains will radiate out to other points.
Grandfather noted that many people and groups do things individually, their rituals or ceremonies. “That’s okay,” he said, “but right now Mother Earth and all the living things upon her have need of something more — something where all the people are together and of one heart, one mind.”
The May 8 ceremony that the elders have envisioned for the South Mountain, Turquoise Mountain, is to be a Blessing Way. That is how it will happen. Drums and singers from many nations will pass the song from sunrise on May 8 until sunset, and some may choose to sing in the night. “We will also be calling all our ancestors to be with us in this ceremony,” Leon Secatero said, “that we may all reconnect with our ancestors.”
There will be a particular emphasis when High Noon comes to the Four Grandmothers Standing Tall (Grand Tetons in Wyoming). That is when ceremonies in the entire Medicine Wheel will also be putting a focus on being of one mind and heart, expressing their gratitude for Creation by raising the vibration to its highest level.
For the elders of Turquoise Mountain in the South, the ceremony will also mark the starting time of an effort to establish a permanent public park on part of thier ancestral lands, so that people can go there to pray and make ceremony when they feel called. They also envision a healing center.
While Bennie initially saw the massive Medicine Wheel ceremony-taking place over a 600-mile radius, reaching out from the center point of the Four Grandmothers, Grandfather Martinez saw it more globally. They came to agree that everyone who chooses to participate, at whatever holy sites are accessible to them anywhere in the world, would be invited and welcomed.
One Heart, One Mind, One Circle
The call for people of all nations, races, and traditions to participate in this massive Medicine Wheel ceremony comes at a time of widespread military conflict, and of profound environmental damage to the earth, the wind, the fire and the water. It is also a time of intense culture war.
The same kinds of passionate forces that bitterly pit religion against religion, race against race, and political party against political party, are also at work in Indian Country. There are many factions.
Not everyone endorses the idea of White, Red, Black, Brown, Yellow and Rainbow peoples coming to participate together in ceremony.
But the intention of the Medicine Wheel Ceremony on May 8, 2004 is for something all people can hold in common without dispute: the realization that a healthy earth is necessary to our survival, and to the survival of our children and grandchildren.
In responding to his visions and by calling for this ceremony, Bennie LeBeau is forcing the issue. Will Native peoples open their ceremonies and share their teachings? There are lots of strong viewpoints on whether this is a good thing.
Bennie says the indigenous tribes will have to open up and teach. He is well aware that not all tribal groups will welcome this.
“Some tribes will open, some will not,” he told me. “Each will make their own decision. This is going out to the world. There is no set ceremony. People may follow their own hearts and traditions. They know their holy places and their Medicines. But we must all do it together. There is no one person who is in charge. It is up to the people.”
“The old traditions alone will not work to meet this current challenge,” Bennie said. “Things have changed. We need to take the best of the old and add it to what is emerging. This is the medicine that we — and our Mother Earth — need now.”
Bennie says that the big mess the world is in now is the very reason why the ceremonies were preserved for so many generations, against such overwhelming persecution. “This is why the ancestors suffered and sacrificed, to save the songs and dances that set a tone of harmony in the relationship between the human beings and the earth, for the universe which provides our essential sustenance of food, water, and shelter.”
The May 8 Medicine Wheel ceremony is intended to bring the people together through a unified vision on one day and to be guided by Native American neighbors and relatives, who have a millennia-old tradition of ceremonies to respect and maintain the balance of life on Earth.
About this diversity of viewpoints, Grandfather Martinez said, “Our gratitude will answer all the questions. We will be energized by this ceremony, making connections with all our relatives, all our cultures. All cultures must be valued and welcomed, not one left out.”
The Massive Scope of the Medicine Wheel
The boundaries of the May 8, 2004 Medicine Wheel Ceremony that Bennie LeBeau has envisioned reach in a huge circle, touching on major sacred mountain peaks and bodies of water. He has interpreted his vision as “The Magnificent 19 + 1 = 20.”
The planned Medicine Wheel ceremony covers an area with a radius of some 600 miles. The Grand Tetons in Wyoming – The Four Grandmothers Standing Tall — are at the center of the wheel, and 19 major mountains and waterways mark the perimeter of the wheel. The idea is to have ceremonies happen simultaneously around the whole wheel while centered on the Four Grandmothers Standing Tall, and stabilized in space and upon the Earth by the traditional Four Directions.
The ceremonial points around the perimeter of the Medicine Wheel are located in close proximity to these sacred sites:
. Lake Sullivan, North
· Saskatchewan River
· Qu’appelle River
· Souris River
· James River
· Missouri River
· Platte River
· Arkansas River
· Cimarron River
· Colorado River or (Lake Mead)
· Lake Tahoe
· Okanagan Lake
· Turquoise Mountain (Mt. Taylor, NM)
· Mt. Humphrey (Flagstaff, AZ)
· Mt. Whitney
· Mt. Shasta
· Three Sisters
· Mt. Rainier
· Lake Louise
As Bennie LeBeau explains it, “the intent of the ceremony is to place back into balance those lands, mountains and bodies of water that are now out-of-balance due to reckless development. We will use our drums, songs and dances to re-vitalize these sacred sites. Working together as the ancestors once did, we will re-attune these sacred sites. Our ceremony will become an important tool to teach all people the importance of our Mother Earth.”
According to Bennie, it is important to understand the relationship of the energy lines that link place to place on earth, and also the earth with the heavens. These energy pathways are like the nervous system of the human body and its wiring system, he said. The lines (ley lines) make up a matrix, or a network of energy for the body of the earth, and they can be adjusted the way a human body can be adjusted with acupuncture.
Bennie said that right now bad vibrations have built up to massive levels, and are stressing out the Earth Mother as well as many of her people. One clear evidence of this distress that is of particular concern to him is seismic activity in and around Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, near the homeland of his Eastern Shoshone tribe.
Geologists call Yellowstone a super volcano, because of the massive caldera of molten fire beneath the park. Over 10,000 geysers — including “Old Faithful” — rise from the depths of the earth. Yellowstone has more geothermal activity in one concentrated region than all the other sites on the planet put together.
Bennie LeBeau says that recent eruptions, 200-degree ground temperatures, bulging magma, 84-degree water temperatures in the lake, and a massive, unexplained die off of elk tell him that something big is happening at Yellowstone right now. The earth is profoundly disturbed.
He notes the following: in July, 2003 Yellowstone Park rangers closed the entire Norris Geyser Basin because of bulges in the land and excessively high temperatures. Ground temperatures on that bulge reached 200 degrees. It became a dead zone for fish, trees, flowers, and grasses.
Some geologists have speculated that if the massive caldera we know as Yellowstone were to erupt, every living thing within six hundred miles could be affected with devastating consequences.
The long-term effects of such an eruption would also be severe. Thousands of cubic kilometers of ash would shoot into the atmosphere, blocking light from the sun and dropping global temperatures, just as in the case of a nuclear winter.
Park officials disagree with this assessment of the situation. Franklin C. Walker, Assistant Superintendent of the National Park Service, addressed these concerns in a Dec. 12, 2003 letter to the chairperson of Eastern Shoshone Tribe “From the perspective of geologists, the Yellowstone volcano is not preparing to catastrophically erupt. No indication of increased volcanic activity is evident.”
Yet since then three earthquakes have rattled the ground at Yellowstone: A 5.3 mg quake was reported on Feb. 6, 2004, a 3.5 mg. quake hit a week later on Sunday, Feb. 15, and then Saturday Feb. 21 a 3.2 mg. quake struck.
Further, as reported by the Associated Press on March 12, 2004 the elk herds in Yellowstone Park are suffering a massive and mysterious die off. Since Feb. 22, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has discovered over 300 dead and dying elk. This mass die off is unprecedented and unexplained
Of note, Yellowstone Park is also the site of a legal, on-going Buffalo slaughter. The Buffalo are killed to prevent them from becoming “too numerous.” In native understandings, Buffalo are widely considered to be healers of the earth. The places where their hooves touch the soil are especially fertile.
Now — early in our new milennium — at Yellowstone the joined rhythm of buffalo hooves is being replaced by the throb of snowmobile engines, and also by the sharp, invisible, unceasing waves from a 100-foot high cell-phone tower that has just been erected. The new tower overshadows Old Faithful and the entire Yellowstone historic district.
Bennie sees all of this as distinctly ominous. He is determined to do something about it. He says one important, helpful, and peaceful way to respond to the whole mess — Yellowstone and the global megacrisis — is with ceremony. He says his visions have shown him that ceremonies can serve the earth in a way similar to the way acupuncture serves the human body.
If the abuse of the earth continues, Bennie believes, things may get so far out of balance that Yellowstone will roar loud enough for everyone on the planet to hear the cry of pain.
The collective songs, dances, meditations and prayers of the Medicine Wheel ceremony set for May 8 will be directed to the Earth with the intention of respect, gratitude, and healing.
Protocol of the Medicine Wheel
As Bennie envisions the Medicine Wheel ceremony, the Eastern Shoshone from the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming, and others from the area who choose to participate, will gather at the center of the wheel, in Grand Teton National Park on May 8. They will combine their songs, chants and drums.
At the same time other tribal nations, groups, and cultures near the other 19 sacred sites around the perimeter of the Medicine Wheel will use their songs, chants and drumming to vibrate and bless those areas.
This vast Medicine Wheel around the Rocky Mountains of North America will be in relation to, and supported by other ceremonies at sacred sites in North America and around the world — wherever people choose to gather together in respectful ceremony. The whole of the Medicine Wheel will come to its highest expression in the hour when High Noon comes to the Four Grandmothers Standing Tall.
Turquoise Mountain — the South Mountain on the Medicine Wheel — has already committed to ceremony under the guidance of Grandfather Martin Martinez and Grandmother Janíce, and many other elders and Medicine People from nearby Pueblos. With Grandfather Secatero, the elders established a Protocol for the Turquoise Mountain Ceremony and made the Protocol available for others to consider.
Many other points on the Medicine Wheel are set, while some are yet to be organized for ceremony on May 8.
“This is to be a joint effort,” Bennie said. “I call to all my relatives to come forward now, and help to make this Medicine Wheel Ceremony happen in a good way using their own protocols, and joining together in one mind, one heart at High Noon on May 8, and to remember the Four Grandmothers Standing Tall and Yellowstone in the center. We must be in the highest form of sacred thought while in prayer. We must work in a straightforward manner. There should be no disagreements as to who is right and who is wrong, for the mountains and rivers of this Medicine Wheel have already had enough of this.”
“The vision showed that this undertaking would be a joint effort working together in peace. We shall bring back peace of mind to our hearts, to our spirits, and to our homelands. We will release the bondage of negative thoughts and prejudice for the betterment of all living things.”
In a Beautiful Manner
“We need to do this dance,” Bennie said. “We need to fulfill this vision, and I cannot do it alone. It needs to be done by all the people, all colors, all faiths. They will come together from all directions.”
No one need change any religious or spiritual beliefs to participate, Bennie said. There is only one central, non-controversial thought form that participants will be activating with their meditations, songs and dances: respect and gratitude for Creation.
From his many dreams and visions, Bennie has developed a sense of what kind of impact the Medicine Wheel ceremony can have: “When the sacred mountains and waterways have been set back into good order and harmony, Mother Nature will be re-orchestrated in beauty. We will see a significant change in the attitudes of all those living inside and outside the wheel.”
“After the ceremony the Indigenous Nations, groups and cultures that have participated in the manifesting of this vision will work together. This will awaken and re-integrate the ancient teachings of the Indigenous Nations as brothers and sisters.”
“Together we can do this in a beautiful manner. Together, we can bring balance and harmony back to the land. It needs to happen now. So be it.”
In closing, Bennie articulated a point that he, Grandfather Martinez, Grandmother Janíce, and the Spiritual Elders of Mother Earth agree upon: “The human race is depending on us for we are the keepers of the earth and its sacred wisdom. As the Hopi teaching instructs us, ‘We are the ones we have been waiting for.’”
Film about the ceremony – The Sodizin Ceremony: the Reunion of Mother Earth with Her Children
Turquoise Mountain Protocol
Bennie LeBeau’s Home Page
Spiritual Elders of Mother Earth