Thursday, November 26, 2009

An Iroquois Thanksgiving prayer

If you know me well enough, you can imagine that while I have fond memories of Thanksgiving as a part of a wonderful, loving family, I have come to understand that what I was taught in elementary school, per the original Thanksgiving and it's meaning, was at best a glorified story with minimal truth to it. Simply a product of dominant culture and its Manifest Destiny through the ages, so I've learned to accept the situation for what it is. For our First Nations peoples, this is no holiday worth celebrating, for understandable reasons.

Being thankful at a special time is Good, though I would suggest that EVERY day should represent EVERY holiday and special thought wrapped up into One. And, so, I pass along to you an Iroquois Thanksgiving prayer/address that, for me, hits home as we all try to come to grips with what is our unavoidable Oneness...of which we all are, but few truly embrace. I welcome this time of Thanksgiving...given the rat-race pace and materialistic bent many live, this earthen Native perspective rings truths all of us would do well to hear...


"Ohenton Kariwahtekwen"


Iroquois Thanksgiving Address

Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life

continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and

harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we

bring our minds together as on as we give greetings and

thanks to each other as people.

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives

us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we

walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to

care for us as she has from the beginning of them. To our

Mother, the Earth, we send greetings and thanks.

We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching

our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We

know its power in many forms waterfalls and rain, mists

and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send

greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.

We turn our minds to all the Fish life in the water. They

were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also

give themselves to us a food. We are grateful that we can

still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send

our greetings and thanks.

Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as

the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They

sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together,

we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for

many generations to come.

With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food

Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of

time, the grains, vegetables, beans, and berries have helped

the people survive. Many other living things draw strength

from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one

and send them a greeting of thanks.

Now we turn to all the Medicine Herbs of the world. From

the beginning, they were instructed to take away sickness.

They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy

there are still among us, those special few, who remember

how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we

send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the

keepers of the Medicines.

We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks

to all the Animal Life in the world. They have many things

to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give

up their lives so we may use the bodies as food for our

people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests.

We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.

We no turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many

families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses.

Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit,

beauty, and other useful things. Many people of the world

use a Tree as a symbols of peace and strength. With one mind,

we greet and thank the Tree life.

We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds

who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them

beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and

appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To

all the Birds from the smallest to the largest we send our

joyful greetings and thanks.

We are thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds.

We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh and

purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change

of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us

messages and a giving us strength.

With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four

Winds. Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder

Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they

bring with them the water that renews life. We bring our

minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our

Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the

Sun. Each day without fail, he travels the sky from east to

west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of

all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and

thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest

Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the nighttime sky. She is

the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the

movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face, we

measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the

arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send

greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky

like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to

light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and

growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home.

With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings

and thanks to the Stars.

We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened

Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When

We forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way

were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send

greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.

Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit,

God, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of

Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on

this Mother Earth. For all the love that is around us, we

gather our mind together as one and send our choicest words

of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

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