Native American Spirituality
By Lily Therese (Sacred Dove), Native American Visionary
The profound interest in alternative methods of healing, the recognition of the inter-connection of all life and the growing interest in environmental issues make it clear that we can no longer remain separate or indifferent. We are starting to understand that all things are inter-related. We are all linked to our environment. What affects one affects the whole. As our concern for ourselves and the environment increases we are beginning to seriously look at Ancient Wisdom with new and encouraging interest.
At this time there is a great desire to heal Mother Earth and much interest in Native American Spirituality. This article will introduce you to some basic concepts. Native American Spirituality has no fixed dogmas although it has many traditions. The people who practice it all believe in a universal web of energy or Spirit which supports all things. In fact, the inter-connection of all things is fundamental in the Native American belief system. There is a common energy force that all things share. We are all part of a greater whole, with one common destiny, one common goal.
Native American Spiritually teaches that we have a spiritual relationship and a responsibility for all our relations. We must establish good relationships with our entire environment. Bear, badger, ocean , desert and mountain are all our relatives. They are all part of our Earth family. All is related so we must walk in harmony with the two legged, the four legged, those that fly, swim and crawl. When we live in harmony with all our relations, we connect and align ourselves with their particular power and wisdom.
In the Native American view, there was no separation of nature and spirituality in daily living. The Native American lived his “religion” every day. Daily they practiced their spirituality with ceremonies, rituals, prayers, songs, dance, giveaways, and a common vision. Respect for all was at the heart of living, surviving and worshipping. They believed in unseen powers and showed respect for the Great Mystery by acknowledging it in all things. The Native American believed that the Creator gave life to all creation. All that exist are alive and connected. To acknowledge and respect this connection is to recognize the Creator in all things.
The consciousness of the Creator lives in the animals, plants, rocks, mountains, oceans and in us, collectively called The Great Spirit. We see and experience the Creator every time we see a tree, a majestic mountain, a winding river, a sunrise, a shining star and each other. We hear the voice of the Creator every time we hear the birds sing, the winds blow, the laughter of a child, the sound of falling rain and the cry of the eagle.
We seek to contact the Great Spirit that exists in everything, but we cannot make contact until we realize that contact can only be made by respecting the Creator where it lives now, in all creation. Native Americans were constantly aware of how their actions affected their relationships and affairs.
From early childhood and throughout their lives, Native Americans were taught about relationships and how they interact with each other. The medicine wheel was introduced at an early age. The medicine wheel is the circle of life which we must all travel. All who live must experience birth, puberty, adulthood, old age, and death. The four seasons and the four directions of the medicine wheel represent these life passages and changes.
Movement around the wheel helps us learn the lessons life has to teach. Celebrating and preparing for seasonal changes attunes us with the energy of the Medicine Wheel which is movement and change. We are then in harmony and relationship to each other, ready to meet life’s challenges with wisdom and strength.
Native Americans observed the Great Mystery in nature and adapted their lifestyle to its cycles. The Great Spirit was seen in the changing seasons, in the day that followed night, in the rising and setting sun, in the different phases of the moon and in the movement of the stars. Positions of the sun and moon were noted as the best time for planting, traveling and ceremony.
Observation taught them that there was a time and a season for everything. Movement and change were necessary for survival. There was a time to act, give, and receive. This knowledge was put into practice. The hunters followed game to various locations, prepared for the coming seasons, and shared their wealth with family and friends.
Sharing, thanksgiving and compassion were important concepts to the Native American. Sharing in the hunt, collection of food, rites of passages, healing and other celebrations all brought the community closer together. The people were taught self-responsibility but not in isolation from the rest of the community. The giveaway was another aspect of sharing. It was also practical when one had acquired too many possessions to travel comfortably. When someone moved or died their possessions were shared with the needy, the sick and the old.
Prayers were also an important part of sharing. There were personal prayers and collective prayers for the community’s well being. Thanksgiving and offerings were giv-en to the Earth Mother before planting and at harvest time. Before the hunt, special prayers were offered for a successful hunt. An apology and prayers of appreciation were made to the animals that were hunted. Every part of the animal was used for food, tools, clothing, bedding, ornaments, etc. Nothing was wasted.
Healing Ceremonies were held when imbalance with life caused disease and problems. All tribes had trained people called shamans , medicine men/women, priests, etc. These specialists were responsible for helping the patient maintain health in their bodies and affairs. The medicine people offered instruction, guidance and advice. A specialist was consulted to inform the hunting party of the location of game. Another specialist was consulted for their skill in interpreting dreams. The shaman communicated with unseen powers to learn their hidden medicine in order to help the people.
Some medicine people specialized in the use of plants for healing, cleansing and purification purposes. Because there was no written language, the teachings were memorized and the medicine people were responsible for passing on their specialized knowledge and spiritual practice to the next generations. Most of the specialists trained apprentices to carry on their practice.
Native American ceremonies have always offered changes according to the needs of the people. At times of great change or upheavals, ceremonies were adapted to meet those changes or to suit current times. In times of persecution by government and religious authorities, some of the original ceremonies were altered or replaced. Ceremonies, such as the Sweat Lodge, were replaced with the Pipe Ceremony because the pipe was much easier to conceal. Native Americans fought back for their religious freedom and were successful in pursuing their spirituality in ceremonies and in daily living. Today, the original rites are celebrated by most tribes.
Ceremonies provide us with inner peace, strength and renewal. They offer us time out from our ordinary reality to enter sacred space to find a deeper understanding of our spirituality and connection to Spirit. Ceremonies give us time to reflect on our personal quest while establishing a unity with the whole.
An integral part of Native American ceremonies is the cleansing ritual, called smudging. Smudging is a word used for cleansing with smoke. Smudging precedes many sacred activities. All participants must smudge before healing and other important ceremonies such as, medicine wheel gatherings, the vision quest and sweat lodge. Another important function of smudging is to cleanse the space you work or live in. Sacred spiritual tools are also smudged. The purifying smoke of sage, cedar or sweet grass is ceremonially fanned through the energy field to cleanse vibrations, attract positive energy, healing and protection. Surely, this sacred rite is beneficial for all people.
It is time to move beyond the limitations of our old perceptions and develop the strength to meet the challenges of the new millennium together. As we enter this new cycle of change and reach new levels of understanding, it is important to remember that there are many spiritual tools available to help us in our spiritual quest.
It is understood that most non-natives do not seek to duplicate the traditional Vision Quest, or the Sweat Lodge, but desire simply to make use of and understand the healing aspects and spiritual power of the ceremonies. They recognize the importance of the ceremonies’ healing and transformational properties.
Today, we can apply Ancient Wisdom in these modern times. Understanding that all things are dependent on each other helps maintain the balance that exists in all nature. The ability to survive depends on establishing right relations with the animals, plants, rivers and seas.
Co-operation, respect and compassion for all things are necessary if we are to renew the Sacred Hoop. We cannot renew the earth without renewing ourselves first. We must acknowledge the sacred flow that exists in all things. It is part of us and we are part of it. We are all part of the whole.
We all live together on Mother Earth. We all breathe the same air, drink from the same waters and eat from the same land. We, the people, belong to the tribe of humanity. Let us act with respect and unity with all our relations as we hold in our hearts a vision of peace and harmony in these changing times.
Information that was once known only to specific people is now available to all. We will be allowed to participate in some or all of the ceremonies if we approach them with respect and sincerity. Participate in ceremony but, if you have not been trained in conducting proper ceremony please do not attempt to do so.
To learn traditional ceremonies study with a medicine person and only perform ceremony when they have given you permission to do so. Some ceremonies require a long and demanding apprenticeship. Let us enter ceremony with respect for the Teachings, The Spiritual Leaders and All Our Relations. HO!
Lily Therese, also known as Sacred Dove, a noted Native American Visionary and Human Potential Specialist of Chitimacha/Seminole heritage, was born clairvoyant and has more than 35 years of professional expertise in Metaphysics, Goal Attainment and Intuitive Counseling. Her education includes extensive work in the areas of Ritual, Healing and Native American Spirituality. She was trained by her grandmother, a medicine woman, on the power of plants on the body, mind and emotions. Lily Therese’s Spiritual Specialty Products are the results of her grandmother’s wisdom and Lily’s determination to carry on the tradition of her ancestor, as a Healer and Spiritual Teacher. She is available for Intuitive Counseling, Seminars, and Life Passage’s Ceremonies. Please call (626) 961-5870 or check out her website at www.lilytherese.com .
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