This is dedicated to the Creator
and our connection to the Creator
This is dedicated to the Creator
and our connection to the Creator
Last edited by day; February 9th, 2010 at 09:18 AM.
Sacred Ceremonies for a Price?
by Takatoka, Manataka Correspondent
Sacred Ceremonies for a Price?
We believe American Indian spiritual beliefs and practice cannot be bartered or sold at any price.
It costs nothing to enter the Sacred Circle because it does not belong to anyone, it is a gift of the Creator. There is no admission fee to a Purification Lodge because the messages, visions and teachings of the lodge are not owned by a human, but come directly from the Great Mystery. There is no monetary price to pay for the honor of going on a Vision Quest because the Spirit of God is there. When money and greed are present, the Spirit of the Creator is absent and thus there cannot be a Vision. The spiritual connection has been broken.
Several years ago, this Manataka member wrote in the article False Shamans "...Our ceremonies, dances, songs and symbols are sacred. They must be protected from theft, exploitation and desecration. We should encourage all people to seek their own ways of spiritual expression, the ways of their ancestors, and not to use American Indian ways to find spirituality within themselves..."
Our belief has not changed nor is it in danger of being compromised after many years of bombardment and assault from those who wish to imitate American Indian spiritual ways, and by others of mainstream society who simply do not understand. Most of these people who try to justify "voluntary donations" or an "abundance exchange" and otherwise attempt to force the acceptance of money in trade for ceremonies are intelligent and otherwise caring individuals. Yet, they find our very simple philosophy difficult to understand. It may be greed that clouds their thinking, or it may be a lack of respect for the beliefs of others or a lackadaisical attitude toward anything not born in Eurocentric thinking. We do not know why they find it hard to understand that accepting money for sacred ceremonies is not acceptable -- regardless of how it is arranged, how it is worded, or how it is accomplished. Could it be they do not care to take the time or make the sacrifice necessary to comprehend the depth and breath of this ancient philosophy?
Our ceremonies are sacred. We do not own them. The messages, visions, healings, insights, teachings and miracles given during ceremonies do not originate from the human psychic or even the human soul, they come only by the grace of God -- the Creator of All Things. We cannot sell that which does not belong to us. The act of accepting money in exchange for sacred ceremonies is an admission the person conducting the ceremony owns it and thus what happens is not born by the grace of God.
Coyote Grows Spirit Wings
A Manataka Elder was invited to give a lecture on top of an Arkansas mountain where his ancestors once lived. It was to be a large gathering in September 2009 that featured 'healers' of many disciplines. Months after accepting the invitation, the Elder spoke for the first time to the organizer who informed him that during the three-day event time will be arranged for each presenter to provide services such as "blessings, healings, dream interpretations, counseling, etc. during individual private sessions. On top of spending hundreds of dollars to participate, unsuspecting guests are expected to ante-up a "donation" or a "abundance exchange" of $55 per half-hour for personal sessions.
The Elder decided not to participate in the private sessions because money would be demanded in exchange for spiritual interventions.
But, the non-Indian organizer persisted and attempted to entice him by saying, "...voluntary donations will support your work..." The fast-buck organizer, then lectured the esteemed spiritual Elder in the customs of American Indians with "...Voluntary abundance exchanges often occur in Native American ceremony... Elders have always been able to receive gifts in exchange for vision quests..." The organizer, who says he has been on three Vision Quests (he paid money for at least two) went on to arrogantly instruct the Elder about the right ways of gifting and ceremony by saying, "...abundance exchange is appropriate when energy is expended to complete the energy value cycle..." No response was given by the Elder. As a result, the lecture was cancelled by the organizer.
The Elder would have presented the lecture as agreed, but he refused to be bullied and disrespected. Because he refused to perform sacred ceremony for an "energy exchange" (the promoter's words for money), hundreds of people were denied a portion of the program promised by the promoter.
From the organizer's point of view, money may be accepted for sacred ceremonies when a Spiritual Elder expends "energy" so the so-called value cycle may be completed. What the heck does that mean? A promoter's mumbo jumbo.
It was later learned the promoter often brags about the tens of thousands of dollars he makes from selling reservations to various events and rakes in thousands more during the events.
When an Elder agrees to perform ceremony it is not for the edification of the crowd or to please any promoter. If an American Indian spiritual Elder agrees to provide healing ceremonies in a private session, it is not done because there is money involved. It is done because there is real human need for healing and both parties exhibit strong faith in Almighty God to bring about the unbroken circle of love, peace and wellness.
However, it has been our experience that some people who gladly pay for ceremony are nothing more than novice wannabe shamans who plan to use bits and pieces of the actions and words of the ceremony to advance their own careers as so-called authentic healers. They pay for spiritual training, just like the promoter's vision quests experiences. Don't these idiots know that spiritual training is free? -- provided proper respect is given first.
We have witnessed first-hand at private events where people pay large amounts of money for the privilege of hearing the words of someone masquerading as an authentic Indian healer who charges money for ceremonies. Some people come away confused because they did not understand what really transpired. Some refuse to accept the thought that they were duped. Others, who want to play the copy-cat shaman game, come away with misinformation, poor examples of real ceremony and a lot of false ideas.
When money is offered for ceremony, the intent of the alleged spiritual Elder is suspect. Is the intent to act as a 'hollow bone' or conduit for Spirit or is the intent to grab the money and run? Whenever money is demanded for spiritual favors, the needy person is bit by a persistent feeling of doubt. "Is this guy real or does he only want my money?" Doubt is the exact opposite and the nemesis of faith. Faith is the one element the needy person must bring to ceremony. Without faith, there can be no healing. Therefore, instead of facilitating a beautiful moment when divine grace touches a person in need, it is turned into a farce.
Yes, we are aware of some American Indians openly solicit money for ceremony. Many genuine spiritual Elders publically speak out against their brothers and sisters who sell ceremony. Indians who sell ceremony will sometimes justify their actions by saying, "who cares if we taken money from stupid white people? They deserve to lose their money!" Therefore, the problem is not just pseudo-shamans and fast-buck promoters, the problem is also us. Indian people who use sacred Ways to enrich themselves know better, but the money has turned their heads and hearts.
Performing American Indian ceremony became stylishly popular several decades ago as "pseudo-Indian" groups, fake-shamans, and promoters began spouting concerns about the environment and animal welfare. Today, they talk about manipulating energy, channeling spirits, grids and crystal vortexes. They use distorted versions of Indian ceremonies and surround themselves with Indian dancers, singers and medicine people to enhance the appearance of realism.
Yes, the coyote with wings of gold is among us.
Money does not mix with American Indian spiritualism
In this case, the organizer confused the American Indian custom of honoring Elders with gifts and the performance of ceremony by linking two separate acts as if the power and grace of God can be bartered and exchanged for money. There is a big difference here.
First, there is a set price asked before the private session / ceremony. The idea that the exchange is 'voluntary' is a lot of superficial crap. The person who seeks healing certainly does not feel the price is voluntary. The person in need is put in an uncomfortable position of having to ante-up greenbacks for the right to receive blessings. The so-called 'healer' is forced by acceptance of the money to provide spiritual intervention when in fact, no spiritual relief may be possible because that decision rests solely with the Creator. Therefore, two people are made to feel cheap, one may feel cheated, and the only one to benefit is the organizer.
Let us imagine a person in need who paid money for healing, or some other blessing, is actually touched by Spirit during one of the pseudo-healing sessions. This is rare, but again it could be the decision of the Creator to do so. The question then becomes what lesson has the needy person learned? Did the individual learn that $55 worth of the healers time will buy a magnificent blessing of the Spirit? Did the person understand the miracle did not happen through the power of the human conducting the session, but it was a miracle of God? There are a dozen questions and no good answers for the unsavory practice of so-called "energy exchanges".
Healers of many disciplines including Reiki practitioners, Massage Therapists, Acupuncturists, Ayurvedic Practitioners, Herbalists, Chiropractors, Nurses, Doctors, etc., all accept money for their services. Is this wrong? Absolutely not. These and other healing methodologies rely on human knowledge and experience and are not necessarily spiritual in nature or include American Indian ways. People who practice soul or power animal retrieval, divination or other forms of shamanic extraction often charge big fees for these services, but again they are not American Indian and it is none of our business if they charge money or not.
It is the phony fast-buck promoters and healers who use corrupted forms of American Indian ceremony for pay who must be stopped.
Second, presenting a gift to an Elder is something that is prayed about, thought about and planned for days or weeks before. Most of the time, the gift is handcrafted with loving hands or acquired by great labor. Or, the gift may be a simple stone, tobacco, sage, or a blanket. The intent of the gift is not to swap money for a favor as is the common Eurocentric idea of capitalism, but it is done from a heartfelt feeling of love and respect for the Elder and for his or her ancestors who suffered to gain the learning that has been passed along in a beautiful way. A gift given to an Elder is not an enticement, bribe, or an exchange of any kind. It is given freely without any attachments. When money is given with the expectation of receiving authentic Indian ceremony the entire process is tainted.
A spiritual Elder needs to eat and pay bills like everyone else. But, it must be remembered American Indian spirituality is not a profession. It is a way of life, it is a divine calling. Unlike organized religions with its hoards of paid clergy, clerical staffs, and huge facilities that require large amounts of money to operate, American Indian spirituality requires nothing but faith. Any attempt to pay American Indian spiritual leaders for ceremony is a direct assault on our sacred ways. So, how does an American Indian spiritual elder pay his bills? Simple. He works for a living or the tribe, family and supporters contribute to his or her welfare by providing necessities of life.
Third, it is true an Elder will expend a great amount of spiritual strength and energy during a healing ceremony. The Elder may take on or absorb negative energies that must be dealt with spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. The strain can sometimes be leave the wise healer exhausted. Yes, a great service of love is extended by the spiritual Elder, but the needy person is not required to give anything in exchange, except faith in the omnipotent power of God and a desire to help themselves.
It is by faith alone that allows the spiritual Elder and the person in-need to work together to bring about wholeness by the Grace of the Creator delivered by Spirit.
Fourth, money is not energy. Money is not a fair exchange for the beautiful works of Spirit --- Spirit has no value because it is priceless, beyond all human wealth and comprehension. An "energy exchange" cheapens the value and strength of American Indian spirituality, it is an abomination of true American Indian philosophy and belief to insinuate that money is a proper exchange. Oh we know in some circles money is said to possess great energy because it is believed people with money have power and people with money are to be feared. It is this same idea that builds huge institutions that attempt to control human thoughts and beliefs -- called organized religions. It is the same idea that compels some people to own and control everything in sight -- called imperialism or capitalism. It is this same idea that drives some people to create warring armies -- called oppressive governments. Fear and greed are the driving forces behind the love of money.
Freedom of worship is paramount
But people who follow the Good Red Road, do not want large institutions to control their spiritual beliefs - we have no large edifices to worship inside, no paid clergy, no written dogma or doctrine. Freedom of worship is paramount. We do not want to own every thing -- we believe the Creator gave us the gifts of the Earth Mother to share equally and fairly with our all brother and sisters - be they human, animal, plant or any other part of creation. We do not build large military complexes to protect us from our fears -- our families call upon the Spirit of Great Mystery to protect us, as they have done for thousands of years. Money is not an answer to our needs. Faith is the only answer we need.
There is much to learn and much to teach about the Beauty Way, the Good Red Road, American Indian philosophy. The depth and breadth of its wisdom has long been ignored and misunderstood by dominant society. People hunger to connect with the simple, yet profound concepts of our ways -- that we believe will help humankind to ascend to a higher plain of knowing and survive as a species on Mother Earth.
This cannot be done unless we divorce ourselves from the idea that money can be exchanged for sacred ceremonies.
The Mounds and the Constant Fire: The Old Sacred Things
Some say that the mounds were built by another people. Others say they were built by the ancestors of the old Ani Kitu’hwagi for townhouse foundations. The townhouse was always built on the level bottom lands by the river in order that the people might have smooth ground for their dances and ballplays and might be able to go down to water during the dance.
When they were ready to build the mound they began by laying a circle of stones on the surface of the ground. Next they made a fire in the center of the circle and put near it the body of some prominent chief or priest who had lately died - some say seven chief men from the different clans - together with an Ulunsu’ti stone, an uktena scale or horn, a feather from the right wing of an eagle or great Tla nu wa which lived in those days, and heads of seven colors, red, white, black, blue, purple, yellow, and gray-blue. The priest then conjured all these with disease, so that, if ever an enemy invaded the country, even though he should burn and destroy the town and the townhouse, he would never live to return home.
The mound was then built up with earth, which the women brought in baskets, and as they piled it above the stones, the bodies of their great men, and the sacred things, they left an open place at the fire in the center and let down a hollow cedar trunk, with the bark on, which fitted around the fire and protected it from the earth. This cedar log was cut long enough to reach nearly to the surface inside the townhouse when everything was done. The earth was piled up around it, and the whole mound was finished off smoothly, and then the townhouse was built upon it. One man, called the Firekeeper, stayed always in the townhouse to feed and tend the fire. When there was to be a dance or a council, he pushed long stalks of atsil sun ti (fleabane), "the fire maker" down through the opening in the cedar log to the fire at the bottom. He left the ends of the stalks sticking out and piled lichens and punk around, after which he prayed, and as he prayed, the fire climbed up along the talks until it caught the punk. Then he put on wood, and by the time the dancers were ready there was a large fire blazing in the townhouse. After the dance he covered the hole over again with ashes, but the fire was always smoldering below. Just before the Green corn dance, in the old times, every fire in the settlement was extinguished and all the people came and got new fire from the townhouse. This was called atsi’la galunkw it’yu "the honored or sacred fire." Sometimes when the fire in a house went out, the woman came to the Firekeeper, who made a new fire by rubbing an ihya’ga stalk against the under side of a hard dry fungus that grows along locust trees.
Some sat this everlasting fire was only in the larger mounds at Nikwasi, Kitu’hwa, and a few other towns, and that when the new fire was thus drawn up for the Green Corn dance it was distributed from them to the other settlements. The fire burns yet at the bottom of these great mounds, and when the Cherokee soldiers were camped near Kitu’hwa during the Civil War, they saw smoke still raising from the mound.
The Cherokee once had a wooden box, nearly square and wrapped up in buckskin, in which they kept the most sacred things of their old religion. Upon every important expedition, two priests carried it in turn and watched over it in camp so that nothing could come near to disturb it. The Delawares captured it more than a hundred years ago, and after that the old religion was neglected and trouble came to the Nation. They had also a great peace pipe, carved from white stone, with seven stem-holes, so that seven men could sit around and smoke from it at once at their peace councils. In the old town of Keowee they had a drum of stone, cut in the shape of a turtle, which was hung up inside the townhouse and used at all the town dances. The other towns of the Lower Cherokee used to borrow it too, for their own dances.
All the old things are gone now and the Indians are different.
(Myths of the Cherokee As Told by Swimmer to James Mooney, 1887-1890.
NATIVE ELDERS REVEAL CENTURIES OF
For ten days in June, the Yankton Sioux Reservation on the windswept high
plains of South Dakota was a gathering place for indigenous tribal leaders
from around the globe and hundreds of Native and Euro-American listeners.
The occasion was the Star Knowledge Conference and Sun Dance, convoked
by Lakota (Sioux) spiritual leader Standing Elk in response to a vision. The
vision showed that Native American spiritual knowledge about the Star
Nations was to be shared. This Conference also fulfilled ancient Hopi and
Spiritual shamans from the Plains tribes (Lakota, Oglala, Dakota, Blackfoot,
Nakota) were joined by spokespersons from the Eastern (Iroquois, Oneida,
Seneca and Choctaw) and Southwest (Hopi, Yaqui and Mayan) tribes. In
addition, the chief Maori shaman came from New Zealand at the southern
end of the world, as well as a professional formally residing in the land of the
Saami people from the part of Scandinavia above the Arctic Circle.
They came because they had seen signs now occurring which had been
predicted by ancient prophecies. These signs signified to them that the time
had come to speak openly about their most closely-held oral traditions.
These traditions include their origin from the stars, the influence of Star
People visitors on the formation of their culture and their spiritual beliefs and
ceremonies, and the imminent return of the Star Nations.....
Elders of the Twisted Hairs Society
Taken from Red Elk's Web Site IT IS TIME TO PREPARE THERE IS S A must see Site.
In the tradition of the Cherokee secret medicine societies, the Elders of the Twisted Hairs Society, I have been moved by the secret knowledge and spirit to reveal these words…
-“Metis” Thomas ThunderEagle
THIS SACRED KNOWLEGE is from my Elder Heyoehkah, the war chief of the Twisted Hairs and a member of their council of Elders…
“You seek to know the origins of this clear receptacle which you call ‘the Crystal Skull.’ I tell you that it was made many, many thousands of years ago by beings of a higher intelligence…It was formed by a civilization before those you call ‘the Maya.’ Our level of civilization was, as you say ‘at that time’ far in advance of that which you now have by many factors. This receptacle contains the minds of many and the minds of one…It was not made using what you call the ‘physical.’ It was molded into the present form only by pure thought. The thoughts and knowledge are crystallized into this receptacle …
Please go to Red Elk's site for full message
A Message from Red Elk
Where Knowledge Comes From
Often times I am asked, "Where did the ancestors get their knowledge?" Well, this knowledge came in various ways. For example, our ancestors took the time to observe their surroundings. They observed for days, months, years, and generations - however long it took, they were patient. Unfortunately, that is not our strongest virtue today: everything is rush, rush, rush. The other thing the ancestors had going for them was their sense of total connection. They knew that they were part of a larger entity... and through this connection they had the ability to connect with 'spirit', whether it was through a fast, the sweatlodge, or other ceremonies. Through these portals, information flowed freely to the ancestors. With this, they did not doubt or question the spirits... and with trust came protection, and our ancestors were given the means of survival since the dawn of our nation.
We try very hard to place only accurate information on this site, as I am personally so tired of information that is so beyond what is true. Unfortunately, being around traditions and spirituality for many, many years, I have seen and heard a lot of things, to the point where I feel ashamed to think that people are being so misled merely to feed the ego of another. I honour and respect our culture so much that it really hurts knowing that there are people out there, including some of our own people, who are using the culture for their own personal gain - to be on a pedestal, as they say.
In my teachings I often tell that we need to totally give ourselves with humbleness to the spirits, to the Ancestors, and above all to our nation and future generations. Once this commitment is made, then and only then will the spirits pass on that knowledge. As Mi'kmaw people, and particularly as Mi'kmaw women, those who truly wish to follow in the ancestors' footsteps need to take a stand and reclaim our roles in our nation. That role is based on the foundation of a matriarchal society, within which our ancestors survived for millennia. I also truly believe that only once we individually reclaim our roles and responsibilities, then and only then will the spirits of our ancestors give the knowledge we require, and bring back the teachings that have been lost.
All my relations...
"Who are the Elders ?"
by Daniel Crowfeather
It seems that there are many people these days
who are trying to find a spirituality that they can
believe in. For whatever reason, we are beginning
to pay more attention to our spirit and to our
direction in life. Many of us have found ourselves
drawn to the First Nations beliefs, perhaps because
they are seen as clean and pure, and based on the
simpler times that we all seem to miss.
As we make our way along the Red Road, with luck
we are led to a person who has been given the
wisdom and knowledge to be a teacher. We call these
people Elders, and from them we begin to learn the
ways and traditions that form the heart of First Nations
beliefs. While these Elders generally do not think of
themselves as anything special, they are usually highly
regarded and treated with great respect.
For some of us, however, these early times can be
dangerous. Being human, most of us have a desire to be
respected by the people around us. When we see the
respect being given to our Elders, we may begin to hope
that, someday, we may earn that respect for ourselves.
We try to learn as much as we can as quickly as we can,
hoping to impress people with our wisdom. We forget that
knowledge of facts is not the same as wisdom, which only
comes from a lifetime of reflecting on these facts.
The danger is greatest at the time when we realize that
there are people who share our road that know even less
than we do. These people may be easily impressed by the
tiny amount of knowledge that we carry. Such people might
even mistake that knowledge for wisdom, and we may find
ourselves receiving some of that respect that we crave. We
may find that we enjoy the taste of that respect, and our
egos may even lead us to think of ourselves as Elders... and
the trap is sprung!
It is important to understand what an Elder is. Aboriginal
traditions hold the elderly in high regard, because a long
life full of experience leads to wisdom. But an Elder in the
spiritual sense is not just old; today an elderly person
may have no knowledge whatsoever of spirituality. While
such a person may have valuable wisdom in other areas
of life, they obviously cannot be a spiritual Elder. A real
Elder carries facts about their traditions AND the wisdom
that comes from long study and practice of those traditions.
However, when you are just starting out on the path, it can
be hard to tell the difference. Those who are impressionable
can be fooled by an older person with a small amount of
knowledge, claiming to be an Elder.
Another very popular claim is to be a Healer. True Healers
are those who are given the ability to Heal others using only
their own energies and resources. Such people are extremely
rare: perhaps a handful walk the earth today. My wife and I
do not know of any, and probably neither do you. If you know
someone who is claiming that they are a Healer, rest assured
that they are either lying or deluded...true Healers never
advertise, because they know that the people who need them
will be brought to them, quietly and without fuss. They do
not seek recognition, because they are only too aware of the
heavy burden of responsibility they carry, and they do not wish
to add to it.
Finally, there are all the self-proclaimed Visionaries. At best, these
people learn from real Seers, then pass on the visions as their own.
At worst, they will invent any vision that will impress their audience.
Once again, if the person brags of it, then it is not so. True Seers do
not advertise, because they do not need to. Again, those who need
their help will be brought to them, and they know it. They never seek
The lure of prestige and notoriety can be hard to resist. I am saddened
that there are people within our own circle of friends who have started
to call themselves Elders, and pretend to carry far more knowledge than
they actually have. There is one who has appointed himself a spiritual
leader, and has created a following of people who have virtually no
knowledge of tradition. He tells them that they are Elders as well. There
is another who claims to be a Healer, and performs smudging and
purification ceremonies for others. Because she has not learned the
proper use and purposes of sacred medicines, she has no understanding
of the danger this poses for both herself and for the people she tries to
help. There are still others who ask questions of Elders, then pass on the
answers to other people claiming to have received them direct from the
spirits. We call this 'riding someone else's tobacco,' and it is a simple
attempt to gain notoriety at the expense of others. In each case, these
people have brought a great deal of trouble into their own lives by doing
these things. However, despite these warnings, their egos lead them to
continue to misguide others, and they cause much suffering as a result.
Each of us has a best possible path to walk, and each of us is here for
some specific purpose. For most of us, our walk is all about learning.
While we may not see this as significant, the Creator does not make
mistakes: each life interacts with many others, so each one is as
important as any other. Ignoring our path and trying to do something
more spectacular simply wastes a lifetime, and possibly endangers
ourselves and others. While a person's life is their own, to waste if they
so choose, causing someone else to waste or misuse their life is perhaps
the vilest and most disgusting thing that one human can do to another.
It is time for all the pedestals to be torn down, and for each of us to
walk the paths we were intended to walk. We must push aside our egos,
and listen to the spirits and to the quiet voice of our own hearts. To do
any less is to break faith with ourselves, and with the spirits who agreed
to help and guide us. Let the true Elders to do the teaching. Let the
Healers do the Healing. Let the Seers do the Seeing. Be content that
your life, lived as it supposed to be lived, is as important and necessary
as that of any other person. Learn, love, and be humble.
If you would like to learn more about the Mi'kmaw culture,
please visit Mi'kmaq Spirit
Mi'kmaq Spirit Home Page
Copyright 2005 Daniel Crowfeather
Who are the Elders ?
..... ..... ....
one of three, double click video!
Last edited by day; March 16th, 2010 at 06:12 PM.
adadoligi nvwato hiyada
blessings of peace
Unequa adadolisdi nihi owasa aquatseli tsunali
Great Spirit bless you all my friends
* "There is no such thing as 'part Cherokee.' Either you're
Cherokee or you're not. It isn't the quantity of Cherokee blood in your
veins that is important, but the quality of it...your pride in it. I
have seen full-bloods who have virtually no idea of the great legacy
entrusted to their care. Yet, I have seen people with as little as
1/500th blood quantum who inspire the spirits of their ancestors
because they make being Cherokee a proud part of a their everyday
life." Jim Pell, Principal Chief of the North Alabama Cherokee Tribe