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The Ceremonies...

Ok, I'm a little more awake now so I'll go into some detail of the Naming and Adoption ceremonies from Saturday. The ceremonial grounds were at the farm of another member of the Shawnee Nation nearby where Starhawk and WhiteHawk live in the NC mountains. The grounds are shrouded by evergreen trees on all sides. The Eastern entrance is guarded by a good sized totem pole carved by a local artisan. Past this you enter the fire ring. Huge stone slabs make up the inner ring and small boulders which make comfortable seats comprise the outer ring. To the rear and northwest is the entrance to the sweatlodge. Unlike many I've seen and built, this one is dug into a low cliff and extends 15 feet back into the hillside. As you go inside, the ceiling is low so you have to crouch. The back opens up into a circular chamber and the ceiling is almost high enough for a medium height person to stand up. Not me of course, I bumped my head. In the center of the chamber is a firepit where you could build a fire to heat stones for the sweat. Outside again, to the rear and southwest stands a large tipi. Continuing southwest, behind the tipi you enter a second clearing which holds a stone medicine wheel about 20 feet in diameter, carefully laid out on the ground.

We gathered at dusk, WhiteHawk, acting as Medicine Woman or Midi Welah, Starhawk acting as her assistant, Deb, me and my folks. Midi Welah asked my father and I to start the ceremonial fire. We built it of oak and pine and soon had a warm fire going. Midi Welah motioned for all of us to take up standing positions around the fire to form a complete circle. She then opened the circle with an offering of sage smoke in each of the directions. She invited the spirits to come and partake of the ritual by leaving them an offering of corn. She then smudged everyone in the circle with sage. Then Starhawk painted a red spot on everyone's foreheads, a sign of the Shawnee Nation. Next, Midi Welah brought out a set of deer hoof rattles and shook them all about the circle, calling the spirits in. She also shook the around each of us. At this point, the evergreens around us appeared to become alive with the voices of the spirits all around us.

Midi Welah and her assistant assembled the Sacred Pipe and filed it with kinickkinick. Starhawk lit the pipe and Midi Welah made smoke offerings to each of the directions and to the Great Spirit, asking the great spirit to join us in this ceremony. Then she offered the pipe first to my mother who didn't smoke which was acceptable. Instead, she touched the pipe to each shoulder then passed it on. Deb was next. She smoked it, then me and then dad who both smoked the intoxicating mixture. Then Starhawk and back to Midi Welah again.

Then Starhawk led the procession out of the circle and back to the Medicine wheel. We all entered from the east, following her and making stops at each of the four directions. At the appropriate directions, Starhawk said the follwing words:

"As we enter this medicine wheel we enter the Sacred Hoop of Life. In this life
there are four elements we must have to sustain us. These are Fire, Air, Water,
and Earth. We have a beginning and yet no ending as we make our journey from
birth until we cross the Great Divide.

In the East is the fire, the sun, the beginning of each new day, the beginning of each new life. As we need the warmth of the sun, for our lives so too do all things of this earth.

In the South we find the noontime of the life here on the Earth Mother. This is the time when we are at our peak in the journey, our time to give birth. We see the continuing growth of all that is around us.

In the West we have Water, and the setting sun. These are our days of teaching the young children, guiding them in their journey. Our time to reflect on the beauty of the life we have known as we prepare for the next step in our journey around the sacred hoop.

In the North is the air we breathe. This is the direction of remembrance and preparation to meet the Ancestors. The air cleanses us and it is upon the air that we leave this earth to travel across the Great Divide."

Then we were directed to stand outside the circle. Midi Welah and Starhawk stayed inside. Midi Welah asked each of us to come forward in turn for our naming ceremonies. Deb went first and recieved her name of Moon Dancer. This part of the ceremony is private to her so I will not reveal what was said here. Next I came forward and faced the others present. A mask of leather and beads was tied across my face so I could not see and no one could see my face. Then Starhawk spoke the following words:

"As we travel through this life, many discover that Great Spirit has given us wondrous gifts. For some these gifts go unrecognized, unused. For others this gift comes to the forefront and we are able to discover the richness of learning and sharing our gifts.

You have knowledge given by the stones, and recognize them as the gifts of the Earth Mother to the two leggeds. You appreciate that when we take from the Earth Mother we must give back and that we must acknowledge and thank Her for the gift. You recognize which stones are used for healing, dreaming, calm, mediation, repelling negative energies, and all their many other abilities. This wisdom is with you and you are able to share and thereby help others. Therefore your name begins with these Stones.

The strength of the Bear stands with you as well. Bear protects both the territory they roam and the family. They are not naturally aggressive, but can be fierce. You protect, and nurture those around you helping each to become all they are capable of. You search for the truth as bear searches for food and comfort. It is deep within you to climb to the heights watching and waiting for danger, or simply playing and enjoying this life. Just as the bear moves quickly and decisively, so do you when you know what is right. Bear is also playful, climbing trees and playing in fields or streams. Keep this playfulness within you and do not allow yourself to remain always in hibernation. Keep the balance of the bear. Maintain the adult self while keeping and allowing time for that cub within.

Bear teaches us to draw upon that which is within, digging to our very essence. Here we find through meditation and ritual, the very depth of our soul. It is here we will find the answers, our truth. Bear lives in a cave, within the Earth Mother, within the stone.

You have combined the hardness and beauty of the stones with the strength and majesty of the bear. Therefore from this time forward, you will carry the Spirit name of StoneBear."

The mask was then removed and Midi Welah said aloud "Now see this man you knew previously as Mark Dierker. Now embrace this man you love as Mark StoneBear. I bent down to embrace Midi Welah and Starhawk in turn and said the them "Megwich" (Thank You). I turned and walked out of the wheel and embraced Moon Dancer, then my mothere and father and in unison, Midi Welah and Starhawk said "Aho!" (It is done!).

So we all went back to the fire circle and there was time for a brief period of explanation of the ceremonies and questions and answers. At this point they allowed photos as long as I didn't take any of the altar. I'll post some of these when I get them developed.

Dad and I built the fire up some and as we did, the voices of the spitis increased. It was time to start the adoption ceremony.

Starhawk and I stood facing each other at the Southwest part of the circle.

Midi Welah made the announcement of what was to take place. She had the ceremony written upon a piece of paper which she was holding and explained to all present that she was using the paper "because we are crossing cultures and we don't want to assume that all will have a full understanding of this ceremony we will read portions."

Midi Welah turned to face Starhawk and I and said "Though you did not come from the womb of the same woman to become brother and sister you must both come from the same womb."

Starhawk spoke and explained that because of the many dreams and visions we share and because I have acted as her protector and she as my teacher, she believed we were meant to be brother and sister and indeed we both came from the womb of Mother Earth.

Midi Welah then asked, "Who will be adopted today
I replied, "I will he adopted".
Midi Welah then asked "Who will adept this man?"
Starhawk responded, "I will".

Bracelets of leather, bone and beads were placed upon both our wirsist and the bracelets were tied together with sinew. Midi Welah then asked, "With this bracelet can this brother and sister be joined together?"

We both responded"Yes!"

Midi Welah asked "Can these two be separated?"

We both answered," Only by distance."

Starhawk then presented me with a chain made of shell, beads and sinew which was a symbol of the journey the Shawnee Nation had taken from the begining until now.

Sand was placed in an earthen bowl by Midi Welah then placed in my hands. Water was placed in a conch shell then placed in the hands of Starhawk.

Midi Welah asked "Can this water and earth be mixed?"

We both responded, "Yes"

Then, Starhawk poured the water from the shell into the bowl which I held.

Then Midi Welah said to Starhawk, "Can you separate the earth from the water?"
She responded, "No
Then Midi Welah said to me "Can you separate the water from the earth?"
I responded, "No."

Then the Midi Welah put some of the mixed earth and water in the center of each of our foreheads, saying, "Now you are one, now you are the same."

Then taking a huge hunting knife, Midi Welah said "Families are bound by one another's love. No matter the distance this love shall always be free." With this, she cut sinew which bound us together.

She then said to the two of us, "In order to complete this adoption you must first understand the seriousness. The final step is entering into the womb of the Earth Mother, when you emerge you truly are brother and sister forever!"

With this, we both entered into the cliffside cave. It was pitch black inside but once we reached the end, we were able to see ach other just a bit. We hugged each other and said "I love you!" Then we went back down the tunnel and emerged holding hands.

Midi Welah shouted,"Come and embrace this brother and sister and share in their joy!"

Everyone gatherd about and embraced us. Then Starhawk gave me a gift wrapped in deerskin. I opned it and inside was a long lance head made of sacred buffalo horn and a piece of coyote fur. In turn, I gave her a coyote skull wrapped in elk skin and a medicien wheel I had made. We hugged each other again.

Midi Welah held up her hands to the sky and said, "The ceremony has ended, AHO!"

And it was over with. The spirits themselves gathered all around us and we could feel their energy.

We closed the cirlce and put out the fire. Moon Dancer and I each gathered a bit of ash to transfer to our next sacred fire. Then we all went back to the Nations Home and had a feast.




( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 19th, 2001 03:38 pm (UTC)
Nov. 19th, 2001 03:49 pm (UTC)
Nov. 20th, 2001 07:55 am (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed reading of it.


Nov. 20th, 2001 07:56 am (UTC)
Thanks. It was very moving for me too.


Nov. 19th, 2001 06:07 pm (UTC)
Absolutely breathtaking... congratulations!
Nov. 20th, 2001 07:54 am (UTC)
Than you dear. I told them all about you. I plan to sweep you up over the holidays and take you up there to see them. No protests accepted.


Nov. 20th, 2001 11:48 am (UTC)
Heck, if I'm not working or occupied, which I shouldn't be too much, I'll be ecstatic to go with you! :)
Nov. 19th, 2001 06:16 pm (UTC)
I'm in awe.. congratulations!
Nov. 20th, 2001 07:53 am (UTC)
Thanks so much.


Nov. 20th, 2001 08:18 am (UTC)
Nice..... like everyone else said congratulations. It sounds like quite an experience, and you sound happy about it.... everything's good then!
Nov. 20th, 2001 08:28 am (UTC)
I'm still floating around from it. Deb's mom came over last night for dinner and we had to explain the whole thing to her with demonstrations which was fun and nice to re-live it. My film is getting developed today. If anything good comes out, I'll post some pix later.

How is your day going my lovely?


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )