Rating Now: 10/10
Max Rating: 10/10*
Native American wisdom and traditions are rarely found in books. Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions is one of the few, which is a memoir and cultural anthology wrapped in one. This is by far one of the top 3 most influential books in my understanding, love of, and devotion to indigenous spiritual beliefs.
Humor is a novel instrument, which John Lame Deer wields incredibly well. Numerous times I found myself laughing out loud and sharing passages with others. In a world of destitution, oppression, and abject-poverty, it is refreshing to see humor overcome.
Although written in the 1960-70s, the wisdom from this Minneconjou-Lakota medicine man and how we are treating the planet could have been written today. Indeed, it is more important today than it was then. This book was a portal into a world I am only recently starting to know and understand, but will never fully comprehend. It has helped me put together untold philosophies and answered existential questions. I highly recommend this book.
There isn’t much I can add to the profound quotes from John Lame Deer:
- “we must try to save the white man from himself. This can only be done if all of us can once again see ourselves as part of this earth. We cannot harm any part of her without hurting ourselves.”
- “The bald eagle is your symbol. You see him on your money, but your money is killing him. When a people start killing off their own symbol, they are in a bad way.”
- “…the earth, the rocks, the minerals, all of which you call ‘dead’ are very much alive.”
- Vision quest – I am feeling called to do a vision quest with a Muskogee/Creek elder named Will Taegel from whom I’m learning.
- Rewilding – more and more I am realizing this chapter of my life is about rewilding myself (phrase borrowed from Daniel Vitalis and Arthur Haines). What I have started experiencing through hunting, foraging, and gardening is starting to influence my spiritual and moral beliefs. Of course, the hunter-gatherers of the great plains of America had the wildness inherent in their culture until very recently. Lame Deer was one still hanging on to some of those beliefs.
- Fasting / non-psychedelic altered states of consciousness will be my preferred method of gaining perspective moving forward. I’ll still regularly participate in ayahuasca in ceremonial settings, but more often I will look to fasting as my tool of choice. Here are a couple of quotes from Lame Deer:
“...the discipline of fasting and abstaining from water opens up space for the nagi, “the spirit“, to enter.” and “...as I see it now, as I feel it, I want my visions to come out of my own juices, by my own effort – the hard, ancient way. I mistrust visions come by in the easy way – by swallowing something. The real insight, the great ecstasy does not come from this…instant visions through pills, plants, or mushrooms – that’s what I want to get away from. To my thinking that’s part of the white ‘instant’ culture“.
* The time of life I read a book impacts the score. My Rating Now is how valuable the book was currently. However, at a different part of my life it might receive my Max Rating. Sometimes they are one and the same.
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