December 15, 2017

Prayers and Offerings on the Mountain

Whether you believe in prayers and offerings isn’t the issue of this post.

Showing respect and honor for the four-footed creatures of the earth, the winged ones of the air and the finned ones of the waters is what it’s all about – and prayer is the traditional and respectful vehicle of communication with these living entities for many peoples of the north lands, who see them through the prism of a powerful spirituality tied directly to the Creator of the earth we all inhabit.

Offerings of tobacco, sage or burning sweet-grass given with these prayers are an outwardly visible sign of the respect and honor carried in the hearts of those who speak the words of a prayer in this manner.

I’m honored to say that I am a part of that belief system, being both married and culturally accepted into a tribe of Native peoples who’s roots are tied deeply into those ancient values and the beliefs of prayers and offerings that go with them.

For example, the mountain where I fire-watch every summer is a wonderful natural habitat for both the black, brown, and grizzly bear populations of our region.

At the start of every fire season on my first trip up the mountain it’s become my custom of choice because of those beliefs to come to a halt at the bottom of the hills, shut down my vehicle and step out  into the quietness of the day. I am mindful of the creatures whose lands I am about to enter.

I call out to the grandmothers and grandfathers of the great grizzly, black and brown bear clans living on that mountain, giving them my Indian name so they will know where the roots of my respect for them springs from, and I speak to them with prayerful words of the honor I hold for them in my heart.

I ask them for their permission to come live within their lands for the summer, and ask too that they watch over and protect me, my family, and all visitors who come up the mountain during those months, and invite them to send their family members for a visit if they wish – requesting that they come only in peace if they do.

Then I thank them for hearing my words and give them an offering of tobacco which is sprinkled to the four directions of the mountain on which they live and I return to my car and resume my drive to the top, confident and at peace with their presence around me for the summer season.

Over four years time they have sent only two young black bear twins up top for a visit with me. I spoke to them with respect and gratitude for their visit. They listened to my words calmly before turning away to begin their trip back down.

I felt honored by that visit, and tie it directly to the attitudes of my heart which are demonstrated in those prayers and offerings given them at the start of, and then periodically again over the course of every season I spend there.

It’s all about respect and honor and the attitudes we carry in our hearts toward them as the sentient living creatures they are, inhabiting together with us this place we call Mother Earth.

And they know it when we show it with our prayers and offerings.

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