Sacred white cow goddess of the American Indians

Sacred white cow goddess of the American Indians

The American Indians believed that every white bison was born as a sacred symbol of hope and bringing good omen to the world.

This concept stems from a legend 2,000 years ago of the Lakota tribe (also known as the Sioux) of Pte Ska Win or Ptesanwi, a goddess depicted with the image of a young woman accompanying her. a white American bison.

Not only the Lakota, but many other Native American communities also worship and worship the god Ptesanwi. This goddess is considered the embodiment of the power of nature, messenger of the gods, and a guardian god helping the Indian tribes to overcome difficulties.

Ptesanwi, a goddess worshiped by many American Indian tribes. Painting: Native Heritage Project

Savior of the Lakota tribe

Legend has it that the Lakota tribe in the past fell into a terrible famine. Faced with difficult circumstances, the Council of Lakota elders gathered and decided to send two powerful warriors to find sources of food and water.

After crossing the fields and mountains, one morning, two warriors suddenly saw the god Ptesanwi, in the form of a beautiful young woman dressed in white fur, approaching them. One of the two warriors immediately developed lust He said that he wanted to take this young woman back as a wife, then tried to approach the god Ptesanwi, ignoring the words of discouragement from the warrior.

Sacred white cow goddess of the American Indians
Two Lakota warriors see the goddess Ptesanwi

But when he touched the god Ptesanwi, this warrior was suddenly covered by a white smoke and turned into ash. The other was scared, and hurriedly knelt to beg for forgiveness. God Ptesanwi reassured him and said that, please go back to your tribe and wait 4 days, the goddess will come and bless the Lakota.

The warrior did exactly what was told. As expected, after 4 days, god Ptesanwi brought a herd of cows to help people hunger. The goddess also taught them community practices and rituals, which are said to be the origin of the cultural identities that the Lakota tribe still preserves today.

The sacred shrine of Ptesanwi

Another legend also said that the goddess Ptesanwi brought a sacred treasure to bless the Lakota tribe. This treasure takes the form of a chanunpa, a traditional Indian cigarette.

To guide the villagers to perform the ritual with his cigarette, the god Ptesanwi put in it a cigarette called chan-shasha, then circled his tent four times, symbolizing the life cycle of each. lifetime.

After that, the goddess took a piece of dried beef fat, flipped it into the fire to light a cigarette. This is the peta-owihankeshni rite, which represents the inheritance of the tribal tradition from generation to generation. The goddess also explained to the people that the smoke rising from the sacred shrine represents the breath of the ancestors of the Indians.

Sacred white cow goddess of the American Indians
American chanunpa smoking cigarette.

“With this shrine, you will be living sacrifices,” the goddess told the people, “With your feet on the ground and your body facing the sky, your bodies will form a bridge. between the divine in the Lower and Upper. The spirit will smile with us, for we are now one: Earth, heaven, all living things, bipedal creatures, 4-legged species, winged species, trees and grass ” .

Ptesanwi’s chanunpa cigarette became a symbol of the harmony between Indian gods, humans and Earth species. This treasure is currently kept in a sacred place in the US state of South Dakota.

The mascot of the Indians

Legend has it that before leaving the Lakota tribe to return to heaven, the god Ptesanwi reminded that, whenever a white bison is born, it is an omen that the goddess will re-manifest, bring harmony and Blessings come to earth.

After that, the god Ptesanwi walked four times around his tent, turned into a white cow and disappeared into the clouds. Just as the goddess left, a huge herd of bison suddenly appeared around the village of Lakota tribe.

Since then, the white bison has become the most sacred animal in the Lakota beliefs in general, as well as of the American Indian tribes in particular. In the opinion of many Native Americans, bison symbolizes warmth and completeness. The birth of a white bison is said to be an omen of hope, and a sign of good things to come.

Sacred white cow goddess of the American Indians
The white bison becomes the most sacred animal in American Indian beliefs. Photo: Distinctly Montana

Later, although many Lakota converted to Christianity, they still preserve the traditional beliefs of their ancestors. They even create an interesting interference between two beliefs and religions.

Until now, Ptesanwi remains an immortal symbol in American culture. Some native Americans believe that the goddess Ptesanwi will come back to life someday, to bless them to preserve and develop their fatherland and ancestral land.


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