Rainbow Thunderbird and Red Phoenix
of the brothers said much after dropping of Grandfather and driving west into
the orange smile of the sun. Soon the orange-gray hue hovering above the
treetops lost its battle to hold off the colorless night, the sun falling over
the prairie table to hibernate for the night. They agreed on more buffalo
burgers at The Wounded Knee.
came by with pints of Hoegaarten as Thomas slouched, drained of strength.
man! You're a phoenix! Now I'm beginning to see." He flicked his
lighter to light a cigarette.
being a phoenix is hard-core. Regeneration, immortality. It's all there,
man. Full package." He looked at the blank expression in front of him.
bro, it's very cool and an important spirit name. Only one phoenix
exists. A phoenix has no young because there is only one phoenix. From what
I know, the phoenix left the West to escape people touching its red-and-orange plumage
because it was so beautiful, so the phoenix lived in the East where the sun
rises every morning, and where it sings its song to the sun every morning. The
sun declared the phoenix a sacred bird and that it would live forever.
Every 500 years it's reborn from the ashes of a fire that had been its nest."
"Is that right," he said flippantly. It was
all too much.
you know that the phoenix was depicted on the first Great Seal of the United
States in 1782?"
I didn't. When-"
to the eagle in 1902," he replied, reading his mind. "It represents immortality
and some say the phoenix is a symbol of the Messiah. That's a biggie."
Josh was quiet for a moment.
I'm a firebird and you're a thunderbird," said Thomas, realizing there was a
connection only after he said it. He thought the naming ceremony would help him
make the transition from being all white to being Métis: white on
the outside and red on the inside. He knew for the sake of mental health, he
needed to understand his true identity in the hope of being less marred by
pestering internal incongruities. It was a major paradigm shift.
when we used to live in Winnipeg and you used to stare at the sun?"
can I forget," he said, amazed that he remembered. "That was when we were in
kindergarten. I don't know why but I still have a thing about the sun."
now at forty, you toss lightning and I cough thunder." At that moment Thomas
had a tingling sensation creep up his spine.
you plan all this?"
could I? Grandfather gives a naming ceremony based on the spirit he sees in
you. I didn't know, but it's pretty freaky isn't it, all this coincidence." He
removed his bandana and pushed back his long hair.
he say I was a crow during the ceremony?"
That's your embodiment of the mythical phoenix. And isn't it weird that there
were two crows on his front yard when we met him?"
the two crows in the painting you gave him?" There were too many coincidences
to string together.
take their naming ceremony very seriously. The name describes the character
of your spirit."
about your name? I've never really asked you about it. The Thunderbird is a
mythical bird isn't it, like a griffin in Celtic lore?"
the Thunderbird is thought of as a great eagle in Indian belief, that claps his
wings to produce thunder and flashes lightning from its eyes. It is believed
that he who dreams of a thunderbird may be destined to become a medicine man."
Medicine man, yes. He could now see Josh as a medicine man.
symbolizes the bridge between the mind and spirit represented by the seven
colors of the rainbow."
you're telling me that your name literally means the one who bridges between
mind and spirit? Or the bringer of spiritual medicine for those out of
I would never say that, but between you and I, yes, that's what it means."
brother the shaman." Rarely was Josh ever embarrassed, but he was at the
mention of this.
you know what the seven colors in the rainbow are?"
I'd say red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. That's six."
won't get the last one. Burgundy is the seventh color and the top on the
spiritual plane. Guess what each color means and I'll buy the next round."
red would be anger. Blue is probably tranquility or serenity or something. And
purple is probably wisdom."
one. Red is courage. Orange is balance. Yellow is creativity - and also the
color of the Creator. Green is spiritual growth. Blue is truth. Purple is
indeed wisdom, and burgundy represents impeccability."
colors of the rainbow; I didn't know something so simple and so common had so
much meaning." It intrigued Thomas, this new side of Josh. All this newly
acquired knowledge of Indian beliefs could be more interesting than he thought.
don't think I own anything that's orange," said Thomas.
tall chap walked into the bar, causing Josh to nudge him.
me telling you that I had met Louis Riel's grandson?"
I do." Josh gestured toward the new arrival.
him who just walked in."