Four Parts of Ceremony

David Lemon
[from newsletter 9]

All the things I've read about traditional wisdom never made much difference in how I lived until I began to participate in ceremony. Ceremony gives me an intensified experience of where I am in the cycle of life Creator weaves. This calls for a response from my heart. When I think about ceremony, I see four aspects: focus, response, celebration and respect. If one is left out, ceremony seems like a chair with a missing leg—it just doesn't work.

My sense of focus comes mainly through preparing for the ceremony. Things like making prayer ties, splitting firewood, assembling an Inipi or making food for the feast are all important—not just because they're needed for the ceremony, but because doing them puts the ceremony at the center of my attention. I can feel the reason for taking part.

My response—what I do to carry out the focus—also begins long before the first song is sung, and continues through the ceremony. Fasting, sitting up all night, or surrendering to the stone people's heat, are tools that open my heart and help me connect to Creator and all my relations. This is the clearest part, but ceremony doesn't end when the fire has gone out.

Creator has given me every thing I have, including the blessing of ceremony, and it seems important to celebrate these gifts, to share my joy with the community. Feasting is a big part of every tradition I know. Like the spirit plate which begins the feast, this is not an afterthought; it's at the heart of the ceremony.

Finally, I respond by giving back in many ways. Giving service and money to the Red Road helps me remember my gratitude, as well as helping to enable future ceremonies. It comes naturally when I respect the great gift that ceremony has been in my life. The power of ceremony deserves my full respect, and I don't feel ok about cutting any corners with it. If I don't have the time or energy to honor the full ceremony, I feel I'm not ready to participate.

—A ho, David Lemon

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