Why Buffalo Dance is not another ordinary run of the mill book of meditations following the normal outline or guide as it were for meditations. Instead, this is a refreshing book of meditations, in which Susan writes in a unique style a collection of observations and wisdom based upon her own adventures within the natural world and with our nonhuman relatives of the wild. For one such as me who loves nature, the naturally occurring things within nature, and animals, Susan’s book is almost poetical, and was a balm to my spirit.


Susan sets the tone for learning about the seasons of life by drawing from her own escapades. She weaves the learning process in simple and easily understood words, teaching one about nature’s seasons, and the multitude of gifts bestowed upon one when they are willing to stop and quietly listen, and how these seasons and gifts correlate to the seasons of our own lives. Susan’s teaching style reminds me of the old adage, those whom have the eyes to see and the ears to hear will.


Starting with winter, Susan writes about cultivating a rich landscape of emptiness as essence in ones’ actions and thinking, by journeying within oneself to their own personal cave, like the snow covering the outline of the world, which creates a palette of shades ranging from gray to white. Once released, Susan relates the regeneration process where one will find they have within themselves an invincible summer. The calls of the great horned owls on the night of the winter solstice herald the turning of the season and bring the hope of spring’s return.


In early spring, Susan tells of a young bison frolicking, tap dancing on the top of a picnic table despite his gauntness from lack of food during the wintertime, teaching one that this is the time to play, to be creative. The magpies and meadowlarks teach about spring being a time of planting, new beginnings, and that it is time to prepare our own gardens within ourselves.


Summer brings a teaching about the pulse/rhythm of life from the moving waters, also teaching one about cleansing and purity, offering a medium in which we can cleanse ourselves and start over again. During this time, grizzlies come out of their dens from a long winter’s hibernation with their lean cubs, and big-eyed baby animals becoming sturdier. It is a time of reaping our own harvest. This is a time of greening and growth.


Autumn is the time to reap ones harvest, and it is a time that calls for rituals of release, letting go things/feelings that no longer instrumentally serve ones needs, a time of clarity, and a time of urgency to complete the work we have started during the season’s cycle.  All of these preparations are done in accord with the need to prepare for the wintertime that lies ahead, which is the beginning of a new cycle of life.


Throughout the book, one theme is always apparent, for which I quote from Susan:

 “Each season is bequeathed an energy unique to it. Living in harmony with the energy patterns of each season, as all wild things do by nature, we can learn again how to synchronize our own lives with the larger life of the planet and to align ourselves with the distinct possibilities of each fourfold cycle.”


I found myself wishing there was more to read when I reached the end of the book because I had enjoyed and learned so much from it. I am sure I will reread it many more times, each time gleaning further insight than the previous times of reading.


I highly recommend this book.


~review by Lone Eagle Eye

Author: Susan Chernak McElroy

New World Library, 2006

pp 187, $16.00


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