Saturday, December 10, 2016

Singleton reflects on the moon, medicine men and the flight of wild geese

George Buster Singleton
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Moonlight flight of wild geese can foretell many changes” was originally published in the Dec. 15, 1994 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

The light of the full moon was something to behold during the latter days of November. As I stood atop a high hill (my favorite spot) and marveled at the huge, round, glowing ball of light in the eastern sky, I wondered how many, besides myself, were witnessing this spectacle of wondrous beauty as it slowly rose above the horizon.

As I watched in breathtaking silence at God’s handiwork, I thought of the early Indians and the importance they placed on the full moon and its association with changing times.

I had heard of many stories of how the old medicine men, or the wind walkers as they were often referred to, watched the phases of the moon and predicted the coming events.

As I stood there looking toward the heavens, I thought that there should be a way for every person on the face of this earth to witness that which I was seeing. There should be a way for man to witness a sight such as this each time when he is in trouble. He should be allowed to stand for a time and marvel at the beauty and the greatness of this wonder of creation until those moments of stress and worry fall from him.

Standing there, with my eyes toward the rising moon, I noticed what seemed to be a long, thin line begin to move across the face of the bright full moon. Then I realized that there in the chilly eastern skies, a flight of beautiful wild geese was about to pass across the face of that great silvery disc.

The joy of what I was witnessing was almost overwhelming. As I stood there and marveled at the wondrous sight before me, I wished that all the leaders of the nations of the world could look upon that which I was seeing.

If the leaders of the world could have been gathered here atop the high hill where I was standing and witnessed the wondrous beauty, there would be no ill winds of tomorrow. The dawn of the coming year would be as peaceful as the sleep of a beautiful child, and love and peace would sweep the world like the silver moonlight across the hill on this chilly and peaceful late autumn evening.

As I watched the straight line of wild geese slowly making its way across the face of the moon, I wondered what would the early Indians have gathered from this sighting. I could picture in my mind a wind walker or a prophet from ages past looking toward the heavens. He would have raised his arms to the heavens and prayed to the Great Spirit, thanking him for a bountiful harvest of corn, squash and pumpkins.

He would have asked for good hunting for the tribe, asking that the skins of the animals harvested be heavy and thick so that they could be made into protective clothing for the cold weather ahead. He would have also prayed for warmth and happiness around the glowing campfires when the icy winds howled down from the north. And, he would have prayed for good health for the members of the tribe.

The holy men of the tribes put great faith in these sightings. If the flights of the wild geese followed a straight line or were in a V-shape formation across the face of the full moon, this was a good omen. The coming year would bring forth a good crop of corn and squash. The streams would be full with fish, and the hunting would be good. The animal skins would be thick and strong.

Should the flight of the wild geese be crooked or seemingly disorganized, the wind walkers would know that the coming winter would be cold and the snows would be deep. The crops of corn and squash would be poor, and the fish and wild game would be scarce. There would be cold and sickness around the camp fires and the sounds of laughter would not ride the soft winds of the evening.

Standing there looking into the heavens, watching the great formation of wild geese stretch across the face of the full moon, I wondered if these age-old signs still worked today. I wondered if, by some miracle, my prayers to the Great Spirit would be heard as had the prayers of the prophets of the early Indian tribes. I wondered if I asked for peace in our world and for guidance through the coming year if the Great Spirit would listen.

Raising my arms towards the heavens, I stood facing the great moonlight valley before me. The faint cries of the wild geese were slowly fading in the distance; time seemed to stand still there for the moment.

The prayer of an ancient wind walker passed through my mind as though I had heard it only yesterday.

O Great Spirit that guides the great flocks of wild geese across the evening sky,
Reach down and touch my soul that I may know that all is well within me.
Let the coming of the new tomorrow be one of plenty.
May the corn grow heavy and the living good.
Circle our campfires with laughter, and let sickness and death ride away on the wings of the great birds that fly above.
Show my people the way of peace; let their days be filled with joy and contentment.
Teach them to stand for that which is good in they sight; for all that live here on this earth.
And, as I grow old from the passing of many winters, let me look beyond the glow of that final sunset into that land where the waters are sweet and pure, and the skies are forever blue.
Let me camp by the stream that gives eternal life.
And, as I rest in the morning of that new day, walk with me into that place where there is no death, where time is not measured by the seasons, only in forevers.

Total quietness had settled across the high hill as though a huge blanket had been spread over the area. The flock of wild geese had disappeared from across the face of the moon. It seemed as if I had stepped from the present into another time. Perhaps I had, but the contentment and peace of mind that I had experienced for the past few minutes had made the trip worthwhile.

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County, graduated from Sweet Water High School, served in the Korean War, lived for a time among Apache Indians, moved to Monroe County in June 1964 (some sources say 1961) and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. For years, Singleton’s column “Somewhere in Time” appeared in The Monroe Journal, and he wrote a lengthy series of articles about Monroe County that appeared in Alabama Life magazine. Some of his earlier columns also appeared under the heading of “Monroe County History: Did You Know?” He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

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