My tribe is known as the Wai’a’atika. During my spirit walk to meet my totem as a young warrior brave, the Great Bear came to me. He told me he would walk the warrior path with me, teaching me his ways. The Great Bear wisdom is the way of courage and peace. Size and strength matter but it is only the foolish who let brash fierceness lead the way. The Bear warrior’s heart tempers the way balancing harmony and respect for all living things. For truly the Great Bear is a lover of peace and tranquility.
It is now my duty and honour to teach the ways of the warrior to my son. This is my story.
I AM NANUNJA
Nanunja sat by the embers of the evening fire hugging his knees. Deep in thought, he did not notice the darkening of the sky. The full, round, golden moon peeked shyly over the edge of the horizon at first before it courageously and majestically showed itself in the inky darkness in all its glory. Tonight it looked particularly large and bright. A haze that seemed to spread across half the sky surrounded it making it seem it was nested in downy feathers. Nanunja felt he could reach up and pluck it out of the sky, so close it was.
It had been many cycles of the seasons since the ceremonial ritual of The Passing deep in the forest with the young warriors in training. Much had happened in the Wai’a’atika tribe during this time. Lives had been lost and new ones added. Nanunja had fathered two more young ones, both girls. He sighed. Much as he loved all his children, he had hoped for one more son. It was not his way to follow trails of thought that led nowhere, so he dismissed this one too. Instead, his attention was captured by a shower of falling stars. So many of them, he whispered quietly to himself. What does this mean? The Wai’a’atika teaching stories were wound into visions from the sky. Falling stars were particularly sacred. Rarely were they seen in numbers such as this. And to be shown to only him was puzzling and humbling. Heart pounding, breath coming deep and fast, Nanunja slowly stood up not wanting to disturb the magic of the moment.
Treading softly in the way of the warrior, Nanunja moved as if in a trance, heading deep into the forest to the very place of ceremonial rituals. He had not visited since The Passing. The forest was quiet, the only sounds an occasional rustling of leaves disturbed by the soft breeze and the hoot of a night owl. Nanunja entered the inner sanctum , the place of the drums, totem pole and throne. The moon, now directly overhead, cast a soft glow that seemed to focus on these items creating an aura both surreal and tangible. Nanunja sat down on the intricately carved wooden throne as if he had always done so. In fact, this was his first time. Yet it felt familiar and welcoming.
He sat like a Chieftain surveying his lands and people with eyes that saw beyond the world in which he lived and toiled. How long, he knew not. Time seemed to stop still. Yet when he regained his senses and awareness of his surroundings, the moon had travelled across the sky and gone to slumber beyond the horizon. The sky was dawning in glorious shades of soft pink, gold and mauve. The morning trills and calls of birds waking to the new day filled the air. Nanunja stood up and stretched the stiffness from his aching muscles. Filling his lungs with the crisp morning air, he raised his face to Father Sky and welcomed the day with his heart and voice, as he did every morning.
The night past had been like no other he had ever experienced. Yet he felt strangely peaceful and calm. Exactly what had happened as he sat in the dream state on the throne he was not sure. But sure he was that it was of the utmost importance. In order to remember and understand the gift he had been given he would need to seek the wise counsel, wisdom and support of the tribe’s Shaman. But first he must go home to his family. He knew they would be concerned. It was not unusual for him to spend nights away. However, they were always planned and his family aware of his going and coming. Not this time. They would be worried.
Swiftly he ran through the forest to his home. Nanunja’s absence had not been noticed. Somehow the day was just beginning to stir as he arrived. Only the first few early awakeners were up. As Nanunja had always been one of the first to arise his presence this morning did not seem at all unusual. His own family were still asleep as he peeked into the home cave where they lived. What an extraordinary night and morning this had been !
To be continued on Wednesdays … welcome to following Nanunja, Warrior of the Wai’a’atika Tribe. The tale now turns to focus on the story teller himself, Nanunja.
© Raili Tanska