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Author Topic: Cherokee Spirituality  (Read 6467 times)

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dragonspring

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Cherokee Spirituality
« on: August 23, 2009, 07:20:26 AM »

The following is based on a workshop I attended with my daughter several years ago.  The  Cherokee Nation originated in the area where we live.

Some of the practices of the Cherokee are surprisingly familiar to Wiccan practices. One such practice is the creation of sacred space. The Cherokee’s practice circle casting, or more specifically, they create a sphere of sacred space. One difference is that they construct and take down the circle in the widdershins direction. Following are the correspondences:

North – The Path of Quiet, animal – deer (A wi), color – Blue (sadness, humility, defeat), Season – Winter, Lesson – calm and healing

East – The Path of the Sun, animal – eagle (u wo ha li), color – Red (victory, power, war), Season – Spring, Lesson – personal truths and interpersonal experience, family commitment

South – The Path of Peace, animal – rabbit (Tsi sdu), color – White (peace, happiness, serenity), Season – Summer, Lesson – curiosity, playfulness, innovation, creativity

West – The Path of Introspection, animal – bear (yona), color – Black (hidden things), Season – Autumn, Lesson – knowing ourselves well, the Ancestors, Land of the Dead

Above – Color – Yellow, represents peace and order of the Seven Worlds

Below – Color – Orange/Brown, represents chaos and turmoil of the Earth – ever-changing

Center – Color – Green – the Kitawha place, this is the place we are now and where we are connected to all others.

Before entering the circle, each person is smudged by the Medicine Man or Woman, sometimes males are smudges by males and females by females. Smudging is done in a particular way, beginning with the heart – where Cherokee’s believe our souls reside. Generally, small children are not allowed in circle, nor do people leave the sacred space. The people believe that by wearing items owned by their dead ancestors (or perhaps a bit of their ashes in a bag) that they are taking those people into the ceremony as well, so the sacredness is quite important.

After entering the circle, the participants may go to a particular cardinal point depending on their need. For example, healing prayers would be offered at the North.

The Cherokee are Pantheists, believing that spirit resides in all animate and inanimate objects. One should thank the sacrificing spirit when killing game or taking anything (such as harvesting herbs). Tobacco, sage, and corn meal are common gifts for this purpose. They also make use of crystals for healing, magic, and divination.

The Cherokee regard the number Seven as sacred, thus they celebrate 7 sacred ceremonies. The ceremonies are celebrated when the first sliver of the new moon is observed. In case of cloudy weather where the tribe cannot view the moon, the ceremony does not take place. The seventh ceremony is only held every 7 years. Following is a brief description of the Ceremonies:

First New Moon of Spring – celebrated at about the time the grass begins to grow. Prior to the ceremony, the women perform the friendship dance. During this festival, all the house fires are extinguished and restarted from the sacred fire. Each family would sacrifice the tongue of the next deer killed in the newly kindled fire in their home.

New Green Corn Feast – When the corn has reached the ripeness that it is “fit to taste” an ear is gathered from each of the seven clan and thanks is offered by the Uku (High Priest).

Ripe Green Corn Feast – starts 40 -50 days after the New Green Corn Feast. If the corn is ripening as expected, a dance is held. 20 days after the dance, a great feast is celebrated with much happiness and exultation.

Great New Moon Festival – This is celebrated at the appearance of the first new moon in Autumn and marks the beginning of the Lunar year. This festival celebrates the creation of the Earth.

Propitiation and Cementation Festival – A day or two after the Great New Moon Festival the Uku and seven counselors meet to determine the date (which is always 7 days later). This festival marks the expression of devotion for the source of blessings. It is also a time for cleansing impurities and the replacing of fires in the home.

Bounding Bush Festival – This marks the end of the festivals for the year. It is a joyous feast where offerings of wild tobacco are offered to the great sacred fire.

Ookah Dance – This festival occurs every seven years and is the time when thanks are offered to the Creator.

Recommended Reading:

The Cherokee People - Thomas E Mails

James Mooney's History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees - James Mooney and George Ellison

The Cherokee Nation: A History - Robert J. Conley

The Cherokee Full Circle: A Practical Guide to Sacred Ceremonies and Traditions" - J.T. Garrett and Michael Tianusta
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Wolfsrain

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Re: Cherokee Spirituality
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2009, 05:21:44 PM »

Thank you for that, dragonspring. :)
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dragonspring

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Re: Cherokee Spirituality
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2009, 05:26:45 PM »

You're welcome sweetie!
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Re: Cherokee Spirituality
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2011, 02:14:05 PM »

I found this very interesting. Do you think the Cherokee and the Chippewa have similar beliefs? I have Chippewa ancestry and might find my way to doing more research as I follow my path.
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dragonspring

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Re: Cherokee Spirituality
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2011, 02:20:07 PM »

A lot of NAI traditions have similarities but I am not sure about Chippewa.  I am sure there is information available in books and online.  My information came from a workshop taught by a Cherokee Medicine Woman - perhaps you could check into Chippewa pow-wows and such for some resources to learn from.
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treeforest

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Re: Cherokee Spirituality
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2011, 07:53:07 AM »

Thank you for sharing!! There are a lot of Natives in my area, this being reservation country, and Haskell Indian Nations University is also here. My sister in law is registered Cherokee and so are two of my two nephews. I love Native spirituality because it is so real-life. Sometimes with Wicca or Witchcraft one feels a need to purchase supplies (I know I do : ) all the tools you've mentioned here are available out in nature.

I liked reading about the seven ceremonies. Seven is a highly important number in my life. I am so very drawn to their commitment to do something once every seven years. Thank you for posting!
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Rovay

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Re: Cherokee Spirituality
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2012, 03:35:33 AM »

Native american culture always amazed me, and Cherokee one especially, I feel unhappy I am never going to be able to get close to it physically, though, considering how close it is to my own.

I would like to include in this topic something very cherokee related, from the sacred texts archive. So far, it is also my favorite book on shamanism as well. Thank you for posting some of the most important things about their culture in short and understandable fashion, I find it to be very practical for myself.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/cher/sfoc/index.htm

P.S. I see you included it in the "should read" section, I am just linking it as well.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 03:37:26 AM by Rovay »
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Re: Cherokee Spirituality
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2013, 10:34:00 PM »

Thank you for this great information.
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dragonspring

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Re: Cherokee Spirituality
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2013, 10:37:16 PM »

You are welcome! 
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Wookie8662

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Re: Cherokee Spirituality
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2013, 03:53:18 PM »

I am not sure why I never saw this thread before (rattles marbles in head).

My better half is part Lakota.
I will make sure she gets to see this topic.
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Re: Cherokee Spirituality
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2013, 11:43:43 PM »

How much Cherokee blood must one have to know if you're connected with the earth? I always wondered if the more pure blood you are the more you're one with alliance. Can anyone confirm? I have some friends that have some blood in them, and want to know should I practice with them for the sake of being exposed to the right vibes?
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dragonspring

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Re: Cherokee Spirituality
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2013, 12:05:53 AM »

I am not really sure what you are asking here.  All humans are capable of being connected to the Earth regardless of how much NAI blood they have.  At one time, all of our ancestors had indigenous and tribal beliefs.  NAI spiritual practices can be a powerful way to connect to the land spirits in North America and having some knowledge of the tribes around where you live could be helpful in developing a connection to them.
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Re: Cherokee Spirituality
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2013, 06:16:48 AM »

How much Cherokee blood must one have to know if you're connected with the earth?

Don't have to have any. One's connection to the living embodiment of Earth (Mother Earth in certain traditions, NAI traditions being among them) is simply something you can develop. The Earth is willing to accept anyone who wants to connect to her.

I always wondered if the more pure blood you are the more you're one with alliance.

Blood Purity means nothing. I'm as much of a mutt as you can get. Primarily I'm Irish/Lithuanian with a mixture of English, Scottish, German, Spanish, Ukrainian, Swiss, Swedish...and that's just what I can find out on my own. The Earth gave birth to all who is on it. All the animals, all the plants, and she sheltered and fed the hominids who would eventually evolved into us.

So as long as you're human? You're blood is "pure" enough for her.

Quote
Can anyone confirm? I have some friends that have some blood in them, and want to know should I practice with them for the sake of being exposed to the right vibes?

It's not really going to help you in that way. You're not going to get connected to her by osmotically soaking up the "good vibes" from a NAI ritual. You are already connected to her (and to everything on her). What you want to do is to open your heart, mind and spirit to her and that can be done any number of ways. Primarily by actually seeking to open yourself to her. Being an active and open-minded (and heart and spirit) participant in any rituals involving the Mother Earth is the best way to do it. Any Shamanistic path will do as would many other pagan traditions that have a connection to the Living Earth. NAI may be your easiest path since in Texas you have a practitioners close at hand.

What I suggest is that you ask to see if they would be willing to teach you and to join. If you are honestly willing to open yourself to the Earth and learn her lessons, someone will be willing to teach you to open the communication lines. You may or may not want to stay within the NAI traditions, but once you have made the connection you can study and research other paths to strengthening the bond with her. Dialing it in as it were until you hit the path that best suits you.

NAI may work well for you, or you may find that other Shamanistic paths may be closer to your needs. It takes an open mind, heart, and spirit as well as a bit of research and a smidge of soul-searching. But eventually you will find yourself on the path that makes the most sense to you as well as giving you the spiritual fulfillment that you are seeking.
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Re: Cherokee Spirituality
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2013, 08:00:14 AM »

How much Cherokee blood must one have to know if you're connected with the earth?

None.

Quote
I always wondered if the more pure blood you are the more you're one with alliance. Can anyone confirm? I have some friends that have some blood in them, and want to know should I practice with them for the sake of being exposed to the right vibes?

No.
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