The lore of the Native American Indians is rich with symbolism and mysticism. They were the first people to inhabit this country and they lived in harmony for many years without distraction or discord. Their deep respect for nature shaped their culture, their faith and their morals. The beliefs and rituals of the Native American people are fascinating and full of deep meaning.
The Connection to Nature
Native American Indians believe that all things contain a power within them. This power is not limited to human beings alone. It resides in animals, trees, rocks, mountains and even the air and clouds. Called different things by different tribes, “wakanda”, “orenda”, “manitou”, this internal power is the key concept in understanding the ways that Native American mysticism works.
All animals are considered magical by Native Americans. Each type of animal is believed to manifest a different kind of magic. For example, eagles are considered a highly sacred animal by all tribes. They are thought to have healing properties and their wing and tail feathers yield powerful magic that can only be used by Medicine Men and Women. Wolves are seen as symbols of leadership and protection. They were prayed to in times of hunting and revered as courageous and loyal.
The traditional worship practices of the Native American Indians include rhythmic song, drum beating and dance. References to nature and animals are woven throughout the rituals that the tribes perform. The underlying principle in all of Native American ritual is that of connection. The connection of people to animals, of animals to nature and of all things to the Great Spirit.
Considered the creator of all things, the Great Spirit is the supreme deity of the Native American Indians. Similar to the ‘God’ referred to by many Western religions, the Great Spirit is seen as the all powerful ruler of the universe. Native American tribes believe deeply in the importance of worship and in the sanctity of the Great Spirit and his power.
When praying to the Great Spirit and all things he reins over, members of the tribe would light candles and smudge sticks and repeat a prayer similar to this:
Great Spirit gave me special wings, calling me to soar above; He adorned my heart and gave me earth
......so I can simply love.
Great Spirit gave me friends and family, calling to my heart, He showered my life and showed me love,
......so I will never part.
Great Spirit gave me compassion and patience, calling me to be, He covered my eyes with loving kindness,
......so I can always see.
Great Spirit gave me special wings, calling me to soar above, Earth is such a special place that I dearly loved.
Great Spirit says my time is done, soul calling to his light, Do not fret and cry those tears, I am with you all the time.
I will always love you, my earthly being gone; I live within the hearts of all my loved ones.
Great Spirit gave me special wings, calling me to soar above, my transformed body now complete,
......I fly on the wings of love.
Shamans and Medicine Men
Native American Indians sought spiritual advice and healing from the Medicine Man or Woman of their tribe. These spiritual healers had a deeply sacred connection to all of the elements of nature. They were seen as mystics, prophets and teachers.
Highly respected by all of their tribesmen, Medicine Men and Women performed rituals containing chants, smudging and symbolic dance. These rituals were used to resolve any imbalance between good and evil that may exist within the tribe at a given time. The Native Americans believed strongly that bad spirits were the cause of sickness, death and discourse within their people.
Medicine Men would turn to their medicine bag and its contents to treat whatever was ailing a member of their tribe. Items found in this sacred bag are still used today in rituals and spiritual ceremonies. Things like sweet grass braids, witch hazel bark, white sage, echinacea and incense were all integral parts in the healing rituals performed by the Medicine Men and Women.
Within the Native American Indian culture, some healers also had the ability to induce visions. These people were known as shamans. The most skilled of all healers, the tribal shaman was able to enter a deep trance that connected them to the underworld in search of healing. These vivid and intense dreams brought the shaman to a higher state of reality.
It was believed that in this heightened state, the barrier between humans and animals was blurred and they could communicate with one another. The spiritual journeys that shaman traveled on were thought to connect them to the spiritual guides that offered them knowledge and insight into the needs of their tribesmen. Each shaman would have a spirit animal that they connected to and that protected them on their voyage through consciousness.
The Native American Indians have a deep rooted belief in nature and spirituality that is both beautiful and profound. Their connection to all things - living and non-living, big and small, is inspiring and honorable. If you have a curiosity or interest in performing the rituals of the Native American people, these products can help you on your journey.