Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Day to Greet the Returning Fire and the Returning Sun

Over the next week, many Cherokee communities will celebrate Nvda-igvyai, or First Moon. In some areas it is called Green Grass, New Fire, or New Beginnings.  The end (and survival) of winter and beginning of the new growth cycle was and is a cause for celebration!

It's appropriate that this year, it falls on a Firepit Day, the third day of the 20 day cycle.  Firepit is a reminder of the gentle, nourishing fire of the home and kitchen, and of the times our ancestors sought refuge in mountain caves. It is also called Abyss, House, Temple, Pyramid, Mountain. Some say all the pyramidal temples and mound sites were artificial mountains with an interior chamber containing at least a symbolic fire.

The chamber of refuge is also the tomb of the ancestors, and reminds us of the caves where our ancestors sought refuge from the elements, cyclic disasters, and adversaries. In psychoanalysis, it is a symbol of regression. It is also a symbol of the maternal womb, to a time of innocence and complete dependence in mother’s womb and after birth.

The ancestors saw the Turtle as conception, the Tornado as quickening, and Firepit as emergence, either as a birth or rebirth. The new life emerges from the cave on the third day. As in the creation story, we leave the cave/ womb/ tomb and emerge as full adults.

In the Cave of Refuge, we depend on the fire for our very existence. Once we leave and return to the outside world, our survival depends of carrying that sacred fire with us in our daily lives.

Judging by your response a searchable Cherokee dictionary would be a great aid for you. I've already started work, and plan to have it available in a few weeks.

Brian Wilkes
I had mentioned that the 2011 Cherokee Calendar will be withdrawn after April 1, and one of you asked if the price would be reduced, since we're already two month into the year. A traditional Calendar is still used in parts of the eastern mountains, especially east Tennessee and Kentucky. It clearly derives from Olmec-Mayan-Aztec sources, and its progression provides a framework for understanding ancient Cherokee tradition and the links to Central America.

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