Native American Wind Symbolism
Native Americans were very in tune with their natural surroundings. As highly receptive people, they attributed a large degree of symbolism to every day creatures, plants, and occurrences. They did this in a way that most people would not typically be inclined to engage in. One of the most important natural phenomena that they focused on spiritually was the movement and sound of the wind. They saw the wind as a god and autonomous living force with amazing capabilities and powerful messages.
To them, the wind was a chief communicator that spoke in a sophisticated and deep language that could only be accurately interpreted by a select few: shamans, medicine men, and the wise leaders in each tribe. In order to hear and understand this language, gifted people must force themselves to listen carefully to the messages that the wind carries.
Most Native American tribes have specific motifs to symbolize the wind. The Navajo, Apache, and Hopi, for example, utilize the diamond shape, which serves as a protective emblem and symbolizes the powerful four-fold nature of wind. As a symbol of life, the wind and this four-sided symbol signify some of the most crucial elements of life: freedom, eternity, unity, and balance.
In Inuit culture, the wind was perceived as an important air spirit that placed high in the ranks of the Sila, or wisdom and weather. In their eyes, this air spirit was in control of the seas, skies, and, most obviously, the wind. Most of the time, the air spirit was kind, generous, and advantageous to the people. However, it was also capable of unleashing a nearly inconceivable wrath against people who had committed wrongdoings, such as lying, begging, and stealing. The wind would then invoke punishment on these sinners in the form of illnesses, foul weather, and poor hunting. As we can see, this was a spirit that was not to be tampered with. It was highly respected, prayed to, and feared.
In what is now called Canada, the Micmac tribe had a legend containing a hero named Strong Wind. This character was essentially a vigilante, turning evil people into thin aspen trees. The Micmac use this story to explain how the aspen tree moves in the wind: they tremble and shake in fear whenever the Strong Wind comes near their forest.A
Outside of North America, the mighty Aztecs also recognized the significance of the wind. In fact, they also had an entire deity within the wind, Ehecatle. This god was believed to control the orbit of the sun and moon with its breath.
No matter which area of the world or which tribe you consider, there are obvious themes in Native perceptions of the wind. In all these separate cultures, the wind appears to be personified as a powerful and divine being. This being serves as a messenger, rewarding and caring for the well-doers while admonishing and teaching a lesson to wrongdoers.
By doing this, the wind uses each of us to set an example; it is not an unjust or corrupt kind of spirit. Its behavior is symbolic of all that is good and just in life. The mighty wind is capable of manipulating many kinds of energy, both physical and spiritual, and we have much to learn from its intricate language.
These wind spirit(s) are more beneficial to humans than most of us care to think about, but the Native Americans recognize and embrace this fact. It also serves as an adviser, speaking to the select few who are wise enough to hear it, according to the Natives. However, we, too, can learn from the voice of the wind. We need only open our eyes and ears.