Native American Church {First Nation} – Special Doctrine

Book: Searching for Spirituality Unity … Can There Be Common Ground?
Chapter 25: Native American Church {First Nation}

Special Doctrine:

     Sweat Lodge Ceremony:  The sweat-lodge ceremony is practiced by many First Nations people across North America. It is used for rituals of purification, for spiritual renewal and of healing; for education of the youth, and can be performed by itself or as a prelude to other ceremonies such as the Sun Dance. The site of the lodge is usually chosen with great care. A fire-pit is dug in the centre, where specially chosen rocks are heated. The builder then gathers supple saplings, which are bent to form a dome; amongst many First Nations this dome represents the womb of Mother Earth. The saplings are covered with layers of blankets, and sometimes canvas tarpaulins are placed over the blankets (in earlier times furs and bark were used). The opening of the lodge usually faces east. Once the ceremony is ready to begin, one person will remain on the outside to look after the heated rocks and put them in the central pit during the ceremony.

The ceremony usually takes place in the late afternoon, and sometimes lasts until dawn of the next day. There are two styles: one where only heated rocks are used and another where water is poured on the rocks. Either will produce the desired effect of sweat. When the rocks are heated to the point where they are considered ready, the participants strip naked or to light undergarments. The host then enters the lodge on hands and knees; the others follow in the same manner and sit in a circle around the centre pit. Once all the participants are inside the lodge, the fire-tender begins to pass in the heated rocks, which are placed in the pit. Once a number of heated rocks are passed into the Lodge, the entry is closed and the host begins to pray. Participants can say prayers in their own way during this time. After some time, everybody leaves the lodge and then goes back in so as to prevent any health hazard of overheating. This process can be repeated as many as four times, depending on the needs of the participants. At the end of the ceremony, everyone wishes everyone else a good life. After the ceremony is over, a traditional feast is often held by the family of the host.

Pipe Ceremony: The pipe is very sacred to First Nations’ people. In the past, it was used to open negotiations between different nations as a way for good talks to take place. You mat recall the term “peace pipe”. This ceremony was also regarded as the way by which participants would be truthful, respectful and abide by the decisions and agreements that were made during the meeting time. The participants sit in a circle with the pipe carrier. Amongst some First Nations, the men sit in an inner circle and the women sit in an outer circle; in others, all sit in one circle. The pipe carrier, who is the host of the ceremony, says prayers to seven cardinal points: the Four Directions; the Above or Spirit World; the Below or Mother Earth; and the Centre or all living things. The pipe is then passed to the participants for them to either touch or smoke it. After this, the pipe carrier may speak a few words of gratitude about life and expectations; each participant is also invited to speak such words; and the ceremony is considered closed.

Smudging: Smudging is a sacred ceremony of most First Nations. Many First Nations people understand that there are negative forces which can cause harm: smudging is a method to protect oneself from these. Smudging should be done starting the burn at the tip of the plant. The plant should be used until about 5 cm, including the roots, are left; this part is to be returned to Mother Earth to assist in replenishing her. During the smudging, people through motions of their hands cover their body with the smoke; completion is indicated by turning the palms of the hands down. After each person has carefully smudged, the smoke is allowed to stop burning.

Sun DanceThe Sun Dance, also called Rain or Thirst Dance, is a sacred ceremony of First Nations peoples who live in the grasslands.  It fulfilled many religious purposes:  to give thanks to the Creator, to pray for the renewal of the people and earth, to promote health, etc.  The host can use any one of the three names, depending upon the reason for doing the ceremony.  This ceremony, which lasts from four to eight days, can take place from early spring to mid-summer.  The participants usually begin with the Sweat lodge ceremony, and gather to celebrate the renewal of life, good growing seasons, a safe community, good health, and so on. The Sun Dance lodge is built in a circle with the entry facing east, signifying the coming of light. Prior to this, the host will have chosen the centre pole, and a selected group of males will bring the pole to the site where the ceremony is to be held. The pole is not allowed to touch the ground until it is placed standing in the centre of the lodge. At the top of it sits the Thunderbird nest, for it is the Sacred Thunderbird as represented by the mighty Eagle who is the messenger for prayers sent to the Great Mystery. The host and the participant dancers continue to dance in shifts for several days, while stepping to the beat of the drum and saying prayers which are carried to the Creator. This sacred ceremony is one method for traditional Plains Indians to reaffirm their belief in their sacred ways. During the actual dance, the participating dancers will always face the centre pole with their eyes on the Thunderbird nest; they will continue until dusk of the final day, dancing and saying prayers for the good of family, community, and Mother Earth.

“Rituals were meant not only to communicate with spiritual beings but also to pass down tribal traditions. One of the most common rituals among Native Americans was the recounting of myths, which contained a wealth of religious knowledge. Myths provided communities with a cosmogony, a story of how the world came to have its present form; a worldview, a picture of how the various aspects of the world are related to one another; and an ethos, a code of behavior for human beings.” (1)

Native American Humor

·                2000 BC – Here, eat this root

·                1000 AD – That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.

·                1850 AD – That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.

·                1940 AD – That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.

·                1985 AD – That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.

·                2000 AD – That antibiotic doesn’t work anymore. Here, eat this root(1)

Below is a Hopi Indian prophesy for you to ponder:

“But there’s going to come a time when the earth itself will rise up and purify itself and this will be announced. It will be announced by the speaking of more than 16 Great Ones on the West Coast of this land. And when the 16 Great Ones speak, the purification will have begun. There was five years ago when Mt. Saint Helens, one of the 16 great volcanoes on the West Coast of this land, “spoke”.  Four years and four days later, Mt. Saint Helens erupted the second time (May 1980). ……. That was our grace period. We could have still done something really good. But now things are going to speed up. Now things are going to really happen fast. Time is going to go so fast.

The more we share the Message, the more we will cushion the Third Shaking of the Earth (first and second “shakings” were WW I and WW II), and the easier it will be on ourselves and others.

We are now within the purification of all things. Non-Natives call this the “Apocalypse”. The Native elders call this the “Purification”. But don’t despair. It sounds terrible, but we will survive it. We will live through it. I don’t think there’s anyone chosen to live through it, but some people will.

So, in closing I would like to call on each and every person, regardless of who you are, young or old, Native or non-Native, to arise now, and to awake, to embrace this time, to learn everything you can about the Teachings and the Writings, to arise and awake and go forth, all the peoples of the earth. Peoples everywhere are now receptive to the Message. This year is the year when that is really going to start, I believe, myself. Arise and awake.

There are people out there waiting to hear, waiting to hear… (5)


Continue Reading of Native American Church {First Nation}; Native American Church {First Nation}HistoryBasic DoctrineGod or GodsChristBasic Worship ServiceInfant Baptism or BlessingInitiation, Baptism or ConfirmationMarriageDeath & AfterlifeJudgment & Salvation and Special Doctrine



Book:  Searching For Spiritual Unity…Can There Be Common Ground? 

Chapter 25 – Native American Church {First Nation}

By Robyn E. Lebron


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