Culture and Spirituality



5 minutes - Article

Spirituality is about who we are, our truth, loyalty, discipline and love.

By Cree Elder Connie Forbister

Spirituality in an individual’s life is a personal experience and choice. It can work to improve your life by adding great value.

There are opportunities to help at ceremonies, and in that way make new friends and even get involved in a community of people working to improve their lives. Important relationships are formed and can be helpful in daily life as a part of a support system.

There are many ways that the ceremonies are delivered to the people. Tribes differ slightly but the teachings are much the same. The following are meant only as a guideline:

Smudging - a sacred ritual done to spiritually cleanse and be open and ready for positive healing energy. The smudge consists of one of the four sacred plants: tobacco, sweet grass, cedar and sage or a mixture of the plants.

Sharing/Talking Circles - a ceremony used by some people to discuss issues or share feelings in a safe climate of trust and cooperation. Equality and respect are encouraged and reinforced through the sharing circle.

Sacred Items - many items may be used by traditional Indigenous communities for ceremonies and healing gatherings.

Tobacco Offering - tobacco holds a special significance and serves as a means of opening communication with the spirit world. It symbolizes honesty and respect.

Sacred Teachings - sacred teachings or values are taught to promote healthy living. There are a variety of teachings. Some include wisdom, love, respect, bravery, courage, honesty, humility and truth. They are intended to help the community and environment live in harmony.

Natural Laws – are also teachings about how our people lived harmoniously with the Universe, including human beings, animals, plants and minerals.

Spirit Names - names generally given in the language of the individual being named. The name describes an individual’s character and often comes with some responsibility of serving the community. Your Spirit Name has the potential to guide you in your Life. These names are special, and much preparation is required prior to receiving them. Only some Elders have the gift of name giving.

Sweat Lodge Ceremony - this ceremony may vary in how it is conducted as well as in the teaching that explains its origin. It is generally conducted in sacred lodges, dome shaped structures often built from bent willow, for the purpose of prayer, cleansing and purifying body, mind and spirit.

Traditional Healers - Some traditional healers are:

Spiritualists – focuses on the spiritual well-being of a person and acts on his or her behalf to recommend lifestyle changes to the individual or family and offerings to various kind spirits. This person often serves as a counsellor, mentor or teacher to individuals and families.

Herbalists – uses knowledge of traditional medicinal plants. Practice can be highly specialized in one area, such as remedies for specific ailments, or diverse for other types of illness.

Diagnosis Specialist or Seer – communicates with spirits, the supernatural and the physical entities that assist in the diagnosis. Diagnostics are often the seers or communicators through ceremony who identify ailments, remedies or ceremonies required to restore good spiritual, emotional and physical health and wellbeing.

Ceremonialist – are individuals who have earned and been given the right to facilitate a particular ceremony or several ceremonies.

(Image Credit: NCSA Journey Home)

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