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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Honoring the Ancestors, Part 2


Osiyo!

Ancestor Ceremony

Last week's post on the Ancestor Ceremony struck a chord with many people. I'll share two responses from Cherokee expatriates in Europe: 

Wado for the info Mr. Wilkes.
     It comes at a needed time as I was preparing something for this weekend to honor my ancestors with my young daughter. Again the coincidence surprises me. I am speechless. I wish a knew an old Cherokee prayer, to recite it properly and respectfully. 
     Don't know what else to say. I guess I will learn one old Cherokee story, Kanati and the Thunder Boys, or one of the funny stories of deer and rabbit by heart... and tell them to my 5 year old daughter. Actually, thinking of ancestors it’s just down on me to tell the story of the Bear cousins and how they went back to the forest. I think that this will be the best story to tell, showing that our ancestors never leave truly but may pass by to help if we ask respectfully and honor them.
     May your days be full of blessings.
     Donadagohvi.
     Mattia (Italy)

Dear Mr. Wilkes,
     This mailing list has helped me to learn something important about my ancestors that was lost.  I will start my first Ancestor Ceremony tomorrow and never forget it every year as long as I have life left to share. I am from a broken home. Learning these ceremonies helps me to feel connected to something bigger. Your mailing list has given so much and I wish to take the time to say thank you. 
     Best wishes,
     Robbin Lara (Germany)




On the weekend of February 4, many people will observe the Ancestor Ceremony.
Some of you have asked how they can conduct the ceremony. While the Internet is hardly the place to teach or even discuss ceremonial practices, this is more of a family observance. The formal ceremony is one that has been passed down through your family. If none has been passed down, the simplest thing to do is to set an extra place at the table. This is in addition to the "spirit plate" that is prepared and taken outside to share hospitality with any creatures who care to partake.
Bring out the genealogies, photos, personal effects of various family members who have crossed. Share stories of their lives. Play or sing their favorite music and songs, prepare their favorite foods.
  
Ancestor         tsunigayvlige-iyu, tsunigayvliiyvlistanv
Family            dudatihnavi, duhldinavi, tsidanalu, sidanelvhi
Clan                 tsuniyvwi, usdahlvi

The Ancestor Ceremony has become the modern replacement for the Midwinter Ceremony, which sought to drive off the spirits of cold, hunger and disease that claimed so many lives. The spirit-repelling ceremony evolved into the Masked Dance, common called the Booger Dance. In that ceremony, community and family are clearly identified in an “us versus them” scenario, with a group of “demon” party-crashers parodied, satirized, and danced outside into the winter to go their own way in peace. The characters, originally personifications of hardships and diseases, evolved into hostile Indians, whites, blacks and Asians. More recent characters include an anthropologist, and a white woman on the prowl for a hot, buff Indian pow-wow dancer.  I know for a fact that the Booger Dance continued into the late 1940s in East Kentucky and Tennessee, and have heard that it continued into the 1960s in some communities.

Ancestor Ceremony allows us to define community and family on our own terms, as appropriate to our own situation. It’s you dinner table, so select your guests wisely.
--- 
Several of you asked about the Calendar Analysis, which had been reduced in December. I’m actually planning to back away from doing them, because each takes almost a full day to do right. But with Valentine’s Day coming up, and people looking for unique Valentine gifts, I decided to put it back up for ONE WEEK ONLY.


FOUR of my biggest selling Cherokee titles bundled together for a bargain price!

- 2012 Cherokee Calendar & Manual 
- New Cherokee Hymnal
- 13 Moons Calendar
- New Cherokee Dictionary

Over $40 if purchased separately, $29 as a package.

Until next time, 


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Honoring the Ancestors

Osiyo! 


Ancestor Ceremony 


 On the weekend of February 4, or in some areas January 28, people will observe the Ancestor Ceremony. Some of you have asked how they can conduct the ceremony. While the Internet is hardly the place to teach or even discuss ceremonial practices, this is more of a family observance. The formal ceremony is one that has been passed down through your family. If none has been passed down, the simplest thing to do is to set an extra place at the table. This is in addition to the "spirit plate" that is prepared and taken outside to share hospitality with any creatures who care to partake. 


 This is the day in which the departed ancestors may be remembered with stories, or reviewing the photo album and family tree. It's a good day for teaching the younger generation about the ancestors they never had the chance to meet in this life, but who tradition says will be waiting on the other side to greet us. For example, I recently learned that one of my ancestors was a Confederate cavalry officer who was at the Battle of Petersburg, Virginia, the bloody encounter seen in the 2003 film “Cold Moon”. He also served with Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who led reconnaissance into the area of Marion, Kentucky, where I now live. 


 The important thing, according to all I've been shown, is not to "summon" the ancestors, especially not to "call" them back, but rather to let it be known that there is plenty of food, and all are welcome. One reader said this brought back memories of the family custom of holding family reunions in a graveyard, complete with table and chairs. The eldest grandmother, who was the ceremonial leader and stone carrier of the family, would say prayers in Cherokee over the headstones of the eldest ancestors. Since this was a private family cemetery, a table and chairs were set up, and a covered dish dinner held. Just why this had to be done in freezing mountain February never made sense to this reader, until she saw the mailing on the Ancestor Ceremony. She was able to recall details, even though none of the family had taken the time to explain what was happening to the youngest child. 


 One thing is to share parts of the ancestor’s lives… bringing out heirlooms they left. I have wooden candlesticks made by my carpenter grandfather, a steak knife from the family restaurant. Usually we’ll have cherry vanilla ice cream, because it was dad’s favorite. For those of you carrying an old tradition this weekend, bless you. For those of you renewing or initiating it, my best wishes. But either way, please take the time to explain it in ways that even the youngest among you can understand. Family gatherings and teachings, speaking, listening, hugging and sharing, are the true way to keep traditions alive. Blogs and mailing lists are a poor substitute. 


NEW WORDS 

Ancestor: tsunigayvlige-iyu, tsunigayvliiyvlistanv 
Family:    dudatihnavi, duhldinavi, tsidanalu, sidanelvhi 
Clan:        tsuniyvwi, usdahlvi 


NEW TITLES


 - 2012 Cherokee Calendar with Manual
 - New Cherokee Hymnal
 - 13 Moons Calendar 
 - New Cherokee Dictionary 

Over $40 if purchased separately, $29 as a package. 



Donadagohvi, 
Nvwadohiyada!


Brian Wilkes
www.SpeakCherokee.com