Reflections from Harvest Ceremonies

I found something very new at our Three Fires Harvest Ceremonies in Kettle Point last week.  The Spirit made a visible appearance to me.  It may not have been truly visible, but it was real to me like the smoke rising from the sacred fire.  I was able to see something new in our beautiful Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge.

—- Thinking…  over the past few months, I have been thinking about that next level of our society and the work of the second degree of the Midewiwin.  In reality, I had never thought about it. It wasn’t something that was really for me.  I had always thought I would be first degree forever.  During spring fasting camp, I had smoked a cigar with my uncle Nick and we talked about it.  I didn’t give it a second thought. —-

It was a beautiful Lodge.  The storms had past from earlier in the week, the warm sun was out, and it was truly breathtaking.

Thanks to Biindigay-giizhik (Danny Deleary), I was asked to dance the Little Boy Water Drum into the Lodge.  I was sitting at my Uncle Migizi-inini (Nicholas Deleary’s) drum and had the pleasure of sitting there and singing for most of the two first days of ceremonies.

—- Thinking…  I had been thinking to myself, perhaps I should give my tobacco for the second degree.  Will I ever be ready?  When will I know?  Then I thought, well the Spirit will tell me when I’m ready. —-

I sang my heart out, intently looking to the leadership of our Grand Chief Bawdwaywidun (Eddie Benton-Banai) across the Lodge, and Onabinaise (Jim Dumont) sitting right next to me.  I looked to the high roof of the Lodge and took specific notice of the Trail or Road, a parallel series of maple saplings that join the Lodge east-to-west along its length.

—- Thinking…  What’s going on in here? —-

At first I sensed what I describe as “swirling”, which I mistakenly thought was the physical swirling of the breeze and smoke in the Lodge.  This swirling was a constant brisk motion throughout the Lodge.  I could feel it on my face, on my hands, alongside the Little Boy Water Drum sitting in front of me. 

I didn’t let myself get distracted, I looked towards the Grand Chiefs’ drum placement.  I maintained my focus.  I let the Spirit take me away with the moment.

Each “push-up” or verse of the song generated a different feeling.  First, I felt the “swirling”.  Next, I could actually sense a great bird, whose feather-tips were displacing the air around us.  Then I felt the touch of the great bird’s wing.  Finally, I felt the embrace, Love and Kindness of Mide-Binaise – who I recognized as the Midewiwin spirit bird.  As the song ended, the swirling had ceased.  The Lodge looked so peaceful and the people within it, my fellow Midewiwin, looked so beautiful.  I felt an intense rush of emotion and a warmth inside my chest.

—- Thinking…  Was that real?  Did anyone else feel that?  Wicked!  That was intense. —-

I looked around the Lodge which began to settle into an afternoon of work, including the introduction and declaration of the Midewiwin initiates.  Following my experience, I took notice of the inner-goings-on of the Mide leadership.  Over and over, the Lodge Directors would ask for “all declarees and initiates”… “all those willing to declare”… “all declarees must sweat tonight”.

—- Thinking… Was the Spirit telling me something? —-  

It was then that I noticed something very new.  I could now see the Second Degree around me.  The midewayaanag (mink pelts and their hawk feathers) behind me and across the Lodge.  The various second degree Midewiwin people.  That second degree work was apparent to me, in the words, actions, instructions, teachings, songs of the Midewiwin.  The new initiates were right in front to me, each greeting my spirit in some strange, non-verbal way.  They were calling me.  My focus remained on that bowl accepting all the tobacco.  When that tobacco was burned, the smoke trail leading to the Spirit was also evident and visible to me.

All I could say was, Migwetch G’zhemanidoo.  (Thank you, Creator). 

I even went as far to talk to Hector Copegog to save me a place in the Sweat Lodge that night.  I told him I was not a declaree or initiate, I was “undecided”.

I was able to speak to Mary Deleary, who would tell me the significance of this finding: that I am being pushed in that direction of the doorway again.  I couldn’t just ignore it.  I must be mindful of it and even acknowledge it to those Spirits.  Also, I needn’t rush towards that door either.  In my own way, I’ll know when that time comes.  Until then, I can appreciate the new found clarity, vision and guidance by the Spirit.  I could use the next few moons to begin preparing.

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