The Lakota have no alphabet, so any phonetic spelling is as correct as any other. The first was seen on a license plate prompting a question, sending me on this search. Her motorcycle plate spells it with a “y”. But what does it mean?
The majority definition states, “This is good day to die.” It was use by Crazy Horse to exhort fellow warriors to action. A different opinion was that it is in conjunction with the “good-day-to-die” statement, and means “Let’s go!” A finer shading indicates deeper, soul meaning, with the peacetime translation being “Welcome to the soul.” Eagle Voice, a Lakota Holy Man, told John Neihardt, biographer of Black Elk, it literally means, “Hold fast. There is more.”
It isn’t clear, so its user, the license owner, gives it the most meaning. She is a hospice nurse, who quietly talked with Mother, telling her all was well, that it might be a little tough getting there, but that where she was going would be fine. She told Mom to listen to her body, it has the wisdom of knowing what the mind sometimes resists. In spite of being hearing impaired, Mom heard every word, visibly relaxed, accepting and serene. Magic was happening there.
Later, the nurse told me she has studied seven years with the elders. When she came here to the mountains, she did not know that was to happen, but seemed to imply it was the inevitable reason for doing so. The meaning of Hokaheh, says she, is to live life in such as way that one has done all that one should upon one’s last day, so it is indeed a good day to die. After watching those moments with Mom and hearing this history of working with the elders, “there is more” and “welcome to the soul” are indeed within her definition.
Magic happens. I am blessed I now see it for what it is. Hokaheh.
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