Directions: a native American ceremony

by Nicolle Foster
December 2000

Each year, I am invited to participate in the Thanksgiving Celebration at the Jewish Synagogue. It is held each year at 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. People from many different faiths and cultures are invited to attend. The service celebrates diversity, faith, and thanks for the harvest. We sing hymns, Jewish songs, and English pub chants. There is usually a Native American drum song as well. And we each light a candle for our own beliefs.

Following is one of the ceremonies performed each year at this celebration. I personally find it meaningful, and I would like to share it with those of you who were not be able to attend this year’s service.

“Many native tribes have a ceremony by which they begin their day. It goes by many different names and body movements. This description is a composite of what I have learned from others and what has developed within me from my own practices. I encourage you to find herein what truly resonates with you and release the rest. You are your own process. Honor it, and be at peace.”
– Rev. Kathryn E. McDowell Sept. 8, 1991

East: I face the East, the place of beginnings, the place of the morning sun. This day I make the declaration that my life is new. This is my beginning. Everything that has happened before this day is done, and I begin afresh with new ideas and courage. I welcome this day as my opportunity to shine like the sun.

South: The South is the place of fertility, the seeds of tomorrow. Here, in this moment, I place all my ideas, my plans, my dreams, to be fertilized by my faith and my strength, and to be nurtured by the One Spirit which gives me all I ask, both with my lips and with my heart. I now offer to the South my ideas and dreams.

West: This is the place of the setting sun, the place of completion and endings. Here I release all worries and burdens from yesterday. Here I also release all joys and successes from yesterday, for even they cannot hold me back from my new life already begun. Just as surely as the setting sun sets ablaze the sky, I set ablaze all that would restrict or inhibit me from living my greatness. I am cleansed and purified in the fire of the old passing away so that the new can be fully free to manifest.

North: As I turn to the North, the place of the Great Wisdom, the Great Mystery, I stand in awe of my life and all I have accomplished to date. I step forth into this day with faith, and I trust that the Great Mystery provides me with the guidance, directions, answers, and knowledge which I seek. I step forth with courage, confidence, faith, and peace knowing I am a part of the entire Universe and it is part of me.

Above: I salute the sky that covers me. It is the place of the sun which makes the crops grow and which makes me feel so vibrant. It is the place where I often think of the Great Spirit. It is the place where I always know that as great as I may have been or may yet become in the world, there is an aspect of myself that is always greater, always higher than I have ever reached

Below: I salute the ground upon which I stand. It holds me and sustains me. My pathway upon it is smooth and straight. This is the Mother Earth, the point of origin from which all things come up from the roots, from the nutrients, from the soil. I give thanks for this strong foundation of love and life upon which I stand before.

Within: This is the place where it all comes home. Here, inside me, I sense and feel and know all of the other directions. This is the place where it all comes together and I understand what”one” means. I am one with the beginning, one with the fertile fields of my mind. I am one with my willingness to release the past, to move on to the Great Mystery, the Great Unknown. I am one with all that is above and below me and it all comes to rest in this center point of my being. I celebrate this and give thanks.

Upon completion of your Blessing, remember that you carry it with you throughout the day into every situation and that you are always blessed.

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