Travel in the Spiritual Worlds
Black Elk's Description of Crossing Over the Atlantic
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From: Black Elk Speaks

John G. Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks (New York: Washington Square Press, 1972), pps. 192-193

Black Elk fell unconscious at the breakfast table while visiting Europe, and was unconscious for three days. He returned to give the following account of what happened. Afterwards, his mother said she had sensed his presence when he saw her in his vision, and confirmed his account of what he saw. The doctor thought he was dead or very close to death, and his care-takers were making arrangements to buy his coffin when he awoke.

Then I was alone in a cloud, and I was going fast. I clung to it hard, because I was afraid I might fall off. Far down below I could see houses and towns and green land and streams, and it looked flat. Then I was right over the big water. I was not afraid any more, because by now, I knew I was going home. It was dark and then it was light again, and I could see a big town below me, and I knew it was the one where we first got on the first big fireboat and that I was in my own country again. I was very happy now. The cloud and I kept on going very fast, and I could see towns and streams and towns and green land. Then I began to recognize the country below me. I saw the Missouri River. Then I saw far off the Black Hills and the center of the world where the spirits had taken me in my great vision.

Then I was right over Pine Ridge, and the cloud stopped. I looked down and could not understand what I saw, because it seemed that nearly all of my people of the different bands were gathered together in one big camp. I saw my father and my mother's tepee. They were outside and she was cooking. I wanted to jump off the cloud and be with them, but I was afraid it would kill me. While I was looking down my mother looked up, and I felt sure she saw me. But just then the cloud started back, going very fast... Soon the cloud stopped over a big town, and a house began coming towards me, turning around and around as it came. When it touched the cloud, it caught me and began to drop down, turning around and around with me.

It touched the ground, and as it touched I heard a girl's voice and then other voices of frightened people.

Then I was lying on my back in bed and the girl and her father and her mother and here two sisters and a doctor were looking at me in a queer way, as though they were frightened.


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