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The Importance of Ceremony During Difficult Times

Updated: Mar 24, 2020

In the last couple of weeks, we have been faced with a great deal of uncertainty. The unknown has a way of creating fear and paranoia. There is an imbalance and difficulty in using rhetoric that finds a happy medium between creating panic and promoting complacency. The distribution of misinformation and half-formed opinions distorts our mind, creates stress in our body, and displaces us from our spirit. This extra stress created by fear can make us more susceptible to being sick. Ceremony gives us a chance to reconnect to our spirit and to become grounded again.

Four Medicines. Teko Photography.

On Thursday, March 19th, the Spring Solstice, we welcome the new season, and along with it new life and new opportunities. Spring is a season of new beginnings. We are exiting a period of rest and introspection. Now is the time to plant seeds, fertilize ideas from the dark months, and nurture our ambitions.

However, we find our world currently at a crossroads. In light of this coronavirus pandemic, there is an opportunity to question and restructure how we relate to our world and to each other. Communities that are accustomed to a perpetual state of bliss and prioritized legislation join the marginalized in making the most out of resource shortages. Unheard voices are amplified in this moment, and are creating a reckoning in areas that are upstream and free of extraction and morally void industry.

"Indian Land" image by Teko Photo at Standing Rock in 2016. Standing Rock was one of the largest demonstrations against the extraction industry, spearheaded by Native people in North Dakota against an oil pipeline set to go through their sovereign Native territory. It was the first movement that gained mass media attention and attracted support from across the world. Native communities across the U.S. and Canada continue to fight for clean water and environmental destruction.

Unlike other hard times that have befallen our nations, modern technology keeps us connected with each other and occupied. On our screens, we can stay up to date with what's going on, and we can also be inspired by hopeful messages that bring us a sense of peace. Social media has given us a platform to adapt to hard times. We can still visit our loved ones at a safe distance through video chat, and we can host our large gatherings online.

Olivia Richardson, Haliwa-Saponi, jingle dress dancing. Photo by Ivan Richardson. The jingle dress dance is a healing dance, and dancers often pray for the healing of individuals, communities, and Mother Earth.

No matter what your religious or spiritual affiliation, people across the world are praying and burning medicine unanimously. In Native country, jingle dress dancers across the county are dancing for the healing of Mother Earth, people affected by the pandemic, and for our leaders who are making decisions to curb the impact of this unfortunate situation on our heroes. Health care professionals are working tirelessly to save lives, create medicines, and provide evidence-based information to the public. Despite the discomfort of desperation, we are also seeing a beautiful side of humanity in misfortune.

Bibles in church pew. Wix images.

At home, we can have our own ceremony. Every time we pray, take a moment to be thankful, burn our medicines, and cleanse our space, we are participating in ceremony by promoting wellness within ourselves and extending our wellness to the world around us.

Muslim woman praying. Wix Images.

In future blogs, I will discuss specific medicines that Indigenous people use in ceremony, their purpose, properties, and using them in an appropriate and culturally sensitive manner. I will also begin to break down powwow dances, with guidance from cultural leaders about how each powwow dance has been used for healing ceremonies.

Prayer candles, Wix images.

Follow CDC and WHO updates on corona virus, and how to flatten the curve, reduce spread, and keep yourself and loved ones safe.

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