Categories
Uncategorized

Ojibway Ceremonies

Ojibway Ceremonies by Basil Johnston

Some of my favourite excerpts….

His fears had not been inspired by the owl or the fox or the whippoorwill–creatures who meant no harm, and who had awakened when others had gone to sleep only to come out and feed and talk among themselves as old men do. Instead, the fears had come from within himself, from within his spirit. And Mishi-Waub-Kaikaik ranged within his own soul in quest of the source of his fears. He found nothing; but he came to know a little of himself. He discovered things that he had not previously known because of his preoccupation with the activities of man and with the immediate and concrete world around him.

==========

And so they would teach, not by moralizing or by admonishing but by telling stories, using the words in which they themselves had first been instructed.

==========

Thereafter, the ritual of the smoking of the pipe was an essential part of every conference, performed before deliberations began in order to induce temperance in speech and wisdom in decision.

==========

Before you begin your council, bear in mind the history of the people, so that you may find inspiration and strength in knowing who and what we are.

==========

Buzwaewae (Echo Making Bird) taught the principles and the art of leadership. Noka (Bear), warrior and guardian, imparted the forms and methods of defending the family and the tribe. Waubizhaezh (Marten) demonstrated the manner of providing for the family and for the community. Waussee (Sunfish) instilled the methods of teaching and learning. And Misheekaehn (Great Turtle) taught healing and communion with the spirit world. After the five Mystery Beings departed, our ancestors adopted their totems as symbols of the five basic functions of mankind. And the totems became bonds of brotherhood and unity among our people.

==========

The story of our people does not end here. It goes on–it will continue to go on–and it is good, sometimes, to stop along the trail in order to rest and look back. We look back with pride and gratitude: pride in the courage and strength and deeds of our people; gratitude for the many things they have left us.

==========

We have derived wisdom from the elders to guide us in the conduct of our affairs. Our legacy is indeed great. Let us never forget our debt to our ancestors. And let us always remember our duty to our children.

==========

Although Mino-waewae’s words had faded away, the thoughts and the dreams that he had inspired lingered; and the men and women in his audience sat mute and transfixed. Not until the Keeper of the Fire moved to put more logs in the flames did they return to the present.

==========

For three days the chiefs sat in council, looking into the question from different angles. There was no debate. Instead, the speakers sought illumination through mutual inquiry.

==========

Spokesmen prefaced their words with remarks like: “I have yet another understanding ….” And new interpretations were acknowledged with words such as: “Our brother has provided us with an idea …” or “The Great Spirit has given me to understand….”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *