Saturday, March 20, 2004

Becoming a Hunter Part 2

continued from the book: The Wind is My Mother

So the animals told us how to cure the illnesses and allowed us to hunt them because they knew that we were not killing them for sport; our need was to feed hungry people, and we used every part of the animal for our survival. As long as we kept our word, no sickness came.

That's why our children were taught when they went out to hunt: "Never kill out of anger, nor for sport to see how many animals you can kill. Take just enough for survival and always be respectful of the four-leggeds. If you must kill, present an offering and talk to the animal, explaining, "I need you for my family."

Children were not allowed to hunt until they became skilled with their weapons. We were taught the anatomical structure of each animal and exactly where to hit so it would die quickly and not suffer more than what was needed. When we brought back the animal, even that was a ceremony. We gave an offering to the animal, honoring it and explaining why we took it's life.

Young boys were taught never to eat their first kill-they were to give it to an elder. If you killed and made a sacrifice, giving that meat to others, then the motive was based on generosity and respect. Those were the traits of a good hunter.


Becoming a Hunter Part 1

The following exert is from the book : The Wind Is My Mother The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman by Bear Heart.

A long time ago humans were able to talk to the animals. We were that friendly with them. They could understand us and we understood them, but at some point humans got into such a tight spot we had to take the life of certain animals for food and then we started getting sick. It turned out, that various animals, including fish, were angry at us because we were eating them, so we started getting illnesses such as deer sickness and fish sickness.

A council of our people got together with all the four-leggeds, creatures of the waters, and those that fly in the air. We gave them offerings and told them, "My relatives, we have great need for you in order to live. When we hunt, we'll try to kill you quickly so that you will not suffer. In time, our bodies will lie down inside this Mother Earth and something will grow there so that our animal relatives can sustain their own lives. A cycle will be formed, an exchange, for the continuation of all life. In this way, we ask how to make our people well from the sickness you cause."


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The 13 Moons and their names

The 13 moons of the Turtles Shell:

1. Moon of Popping/Moon of Strong Cold

2. Baby Bear Moon

3. Maple Sugar Moon

4. Frog Moon

5. Budding Moon

6. Strawberry Moon

7. Moon When Acorns Appear

8. Moon of Wild Rice

9. Moose-calling Moon

10. Moon of Falling Leaves

11. Moon When Deer Drop Their Horns

12. Moon When Wolves Run Together

13. Big Moon


The 13 Moons of the Native Calender

The 13 moons, or the Legend of the Great Turtle, was essentially an  early Native American calender. Each tribe had it's own legend and names for the thirteen moons. This particular legend comes from a southern state where the Cherokee trail of Tears began.

During the great flood of Biblical times there was a great turtle swimming through the waters. Many Cherokee weathered the storm by riding on the great turtles back.

When the waters began to recede the giant turtle came to rest on Brastown Bald Mountain and Cherokee heritage began in the North Georgia mountains. Because the great turtle had saved their people from the flood, the turtle became very sacred to the Cherokee.

Eventually the Cherokee would be herded away from their land and made to walk what has become know as the Cherokee Trail of Tears because many Natives died along the way.


Tuesday, March 16, 2004

A Shaman's Guardian Totem

In Shamanic cultures the Shaman is required to have a guardian spirit. He cannot be a Shaman without one. The guardian spirit empowers the Shaman with it's magical powers and serves as the Shamans 'animal power' or alter ego.

Within an altered state of consciousness, in which he performs his duties, the Shaman assumes the form and power of the guardian spirit. He sees it, converses with it, and uses it to achieve his mission. The guardian is never harmful to the Shaman but escorts him through the underworld or accompanies him into mystical ascents into the skies.

The Shaman can contact his spirit regularily and this is called "dancing the animal". One spirit will not stay with the Shaman throughout all his life, but other spirits will come and stay and go as needed to empower him.

Guardian spirits are not to be confused with spirit helpers which have minor powers such as the messanger totem animals which come and go or the ones of healing for a particular need.

Guardian spirits are acquired through great vision quests, fasting and seeking in times of seperation, or in dreams or places of great power ceremonies.


Totem Guardian Spirits, Birth Totems, Power Totems

Totem guardian spirits are known amoung the Native North Americans, espicially amoung the tribes of the American Northwest coast.These totem spirits can protect an entire tribe or clan with collective power or the individual power of the animal. The totem animal is considered sacred to the entire tribe and no one within the tribe may kill their particular totem animal.

There are also messanger totem animals that will enter the young warriors life to give direction, wisdom, warnings, or the way that a particular situation must go.

Most Native American will have more than one totem. They will have a birth totem endowed upon them in ceremony at birth and a particular power totem they will aquire as they grow in wisdom and stature. They will also honor the totem of their tribe and they will also encounter certain totems frequently that are messanger totems given to them.


Animal Totems as Guardian Spirits

The belief in a spiritual guardian or guide spirit actually originated in tribal cultures. The spirit, usually in an animal form, protects individuals, tribes, and clans, and it provided magical shamanic powers. The power possessed by the animal is believed to represent the collective power of the entire species or genus.

These spirits usually appear in animal form but have the ability to assume human form. Hence the concept of shapeshifting is introduced and not feared. In their animal form it is believed that the  animal can talk to humans who have listening hearts and listening souls. This entire belief is centered in the concept that man and animal were at one time related.

Beliefs concerning animal spirits vary amoung the tribes. Many believe that every male child is born with a guardian spirit in animal form to protect him into adulthood.


Monday, March 15, 2004

The 10 Native American Commandments

1. Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.

2. Remain close to the Great Spirit in all that you do.

3. Show great respect for your fellow human beings and respect yourself.

4. Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.

5. Give assistance and kindness whenever needed.

6. Do what you know to be right, but be careful not to fall into self righteousness.

7. Look after the well being of both mind and body.

8. Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.

9. Be truthful and honest at all times, especially be truthful and honest with yourself.

10.Take full responsibility for your actions.


Dog Soldiers of the Cheyenne

The Cheyenne Dog Soldiers, as they were called by the U.S. Military, were created by a prophet of the Cheyenne Indians named 'Sweet Medicine.' These ferocious warriors were the leading military elit of the Cheyenne.They maintained law and order within the Cheyenne tribes.

Each year four of the bravest Dog Men were chosen to be honored and took suicide vows promising to defend their people to their death from the enemy raids.

Four is a number that is honored and seen in the medicine wheel and in the elements and in the four directions, north-south-east-and west.

Each Dog Soldier wore a sash of tanned skin that was about 8-10 feet long. These were called dog ropes and were used whenever a battle was going badly for the Cheyenne. The chosen Dog Men would drive a red wooden stake into the ground and tie the dog rope to the stake.

The Dog Men would then stand and fight to their death for retreat was not an option for these chosen warriors. It was expected that they fight and die rather than pull up the stake and retreat and many faught to their death to protect the Cheyenne people.