The Magic Seed Pouch
by Waynonaha TwoWorlds
author of Voices:
A Collection of Native American Stories
The old rocker creaked as I sit on the floor watching my Grandmother's shuttle go in and out of the threads she was weaving. The little doll dress took form as she tatted away and rocked back and forth in her old rocking chair. I watched as her tiny foot tapped each time she pushed the rocking chair and wondered how someone so small ever managed to raise nine children.
I ask her to tell me a story as I always did when it was my turn to sit with her. She, as usual, grew very quiet until you thought that she would never speak. I could hear the soft intake of her breath and the clicking of the shuttle and then all became silent. I slipped a glance out of the corner of my eye and she was looking off into some unknown place only she could go. You never knew just what you would hear when you ask for a story, sometimes she would sing, others she would tell us stories of her life.
Her wrinkled hand reached over and picked up her tiny tea cup. The pattern of blue roses on the delicate cup matched the much larger cup of my grandfather’s that sits on the shelf in her room. She sipped a little of her tea and then sat the cup back down in the saucer with a tiny clink.
She said once we were true human beings and we were living in our own homes. Our land reached from the sunset to the sunrise, our people were strong, and we were happy people. The houses we build strong with our own hands kept us warm in the winter and dry in the summer. We had animals and gardens, fields of corn and other things to eat from the land and the water.
We had been kind to the strangers who came to our doors during the war. My mother put out the big cooking pots of food for them and we set out corn cake and jam for them to eat. I watched out of my window as the soldiers sat in our front yard and ate the food. Many were just young boys, not much older than my brothers. Some were wounded and sick and my mother tended them with her medicines.
One day some soldiers came with a paper and said we all must go from our land and leave our cattle and other animals. We were only to take as much as we could carry in our hands. My mother asked why and was told that they did not know, only that we must leave now. I was too little to know what was happening but I do remember it all.
There were nine of us in our family and my mother and father instructed the older children to get the wagon loaded up with food and supplies. Many people were now on the road walking with bundles on their backs. My Father decided we would take our wagon and our mules, as there were so many of us we would need this where ever we went. That night my mother had a vision and told us all to get in the wagon and lay down on the floor. She put blankets on us and she and my Father hooked up the mules and we started away from the farm.
We girls were all to dress in boy’s clothes. We were going on a wonderful adventure my mother said. Grandmother became silent for awhile and the sun started to go down behind the mountain.
The room became silent and my Grandmother sit with her hands in her lap clinched around the shuttle. The clock ticked and filled the room with its sounds.
My mother came in and lit the kerosene lantern that sat on the mantel of the old fire place. The mirror behind it lit up the room with a yellow dim light that made strange shadows appear on Grandmother’s face. She looked younger and her skin was no more wrinkled but smooth. The gray hair, tied in a bun behind her, seemed all black and shiny again. I watched her and saw a change in her that was like watching someone grow younger. Her tiny body was once again straight and she held her head up in pride. I was looking at my Grandmother when she was younger. I watched as she folded her hands in her lap, the long thin fingers holding a small lace handkerchief. She stopped the story of the soldiers and the flight from their home. I had heard it all before so did not mind her stopping in mid story. After a while she said "remember who you are."
“You must always remember we are the Human Beings.” I had heard this many times before from my mother and from my family. Today it becomes more clear what this meant to our people. To be a human being was the gift we were given from Creator. The connection to each other was the spirit that we all lived as. What affects one affects all, the old ones say.
She asked me to go to the top drawer of her dresser and bring her a small box. The box was hand-carved from cedar wood; it smelled so good that I held it to my nose for a deeper smell. It was carved with tiny birds that flew one after another around the sides and on the lid of the box. In the middle of the box was a star surrounded by little pieces of shiny moon stone. In the dim light, the stones glowed a soft misty white.
I handed the box to my Grandmother and she placed it on her lap with both her hands on the lid. It appeared she was saying some prayers or blessings for the contents of the box. We all knew to be silent when an elder was praying so I sat and did nothing until she was done. Finally, she took her hands off the top and opened the lid. From the box she brought out a small leather pouch. It was not all pretty like the ones we made. This one was old and dark. The leather had been many things and survived many years. The thongs that held it all together were all hard and twisted, making it almost impossible to open the top of the bag. Finally, she had opened the bag and spilled out the contents onto her lap. The small items lay on her white apron looking so lost in all of the folds.
For such a small bag it seemed to hold many things; the pile on my Grandmother's lap contained all sorts of items. I noticed that there were stones, feathers, bones, and claws of many animals. Small bits and pieces of plants, tiny bundles of sacred herbs lay tied in ball like shapes. Crystals, moon stones, and other treasures that she had gathered through her years were now asked to, again, be brought out to share their story.
I also saw some seeds like none that I had seen before. I asked Grandmother about these seeds and she told me that they were star seeds. I envisioned that they would, if planted, grow stars or some such nonsense. I asked her what they would grow and if we could plant some in our garden. She laughed and said no, they were for the future so that the people, when they came back to the sacred fires, would not be hungry. She explained that they were very sacred seeds that were needed for these spirit people when they returned. I asked her when they would be coming and she said that in my life time I would know these people. After that she took the pouch and placed all of the items back into it and then put it in the cedar box.
Many years later when I was living my adult life and taking care of my family a box arrived. When I opened it there were some things that my Grandmother had made for me. A quilt with a star in it that used to be on my bed, there was a collar of tatted lace, and ribbon scarves. My small doll that I had when I was a child lay in the middle of the box. Under the doll, wrapped in one of Grandmothers shawls, lay the cedar box. My hands shook as I picked up this box and looked at the birds and moon stones on the lid and sides. Carefully, I opened the box and lifted out the little pouch of leather. It looked so small and withered, hanging there on its stiff and dark leather thongs.
I carefully untied the pouch and let the contents spill out on to my lap just as she had, those many days ago when I sat at her feet listening to her stories. I pushed the small items around and remembered each one as a part of her life and the simple threads she wove into lace. I looked at the star seeds and thought that these were only symbolic and were not seeds at all but tiny stones shaped like corn. Looking closer I discovered that they were of many colors just as we all are of many colors.
Each of the stones brought back a story of my Grandmothers. To this day, those stories are a part of my life and have helped me to endure many hardships. The star seeds are thoughts and ideas that are in our minds and which, in time, will grow and help the little ones who come from some far off place. They are the ones who will remember the truth and will restore the balance to our Earth and to our lives. Creator will bring the peace and we, as elders, will protect the little ones until they can understand the truth of the seeds that were planted here long ago by our star sisters and brothers.
Now in my later years I fully know the hardship and struggle she must have endured. She never complained but remained a strong silent woman until her last days. I thank her every day for my own strength and connection to the True Human Beings.
Love and Blessings Waynonaha
Copyright © 2006 by Waynonaha Two Worlds All publication rights reserved