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Native Indian Lore
Cleansing [ L-S-6 ]


Remember we are speaking of a time before this. A time when children lived close to a stream or river and, part of their recreation was a bath time for them. Native American children became expert swimmers with beautiful control because of this. The side effects were the cleansing of their bodies. Again, we see the natural order of things coming from a culture strong in unity with the world around them.

Like many American and European customs to begin with cleansing rituals so too are some of the customs of the Native American. For instance, as cedar was brought into the house all the way back to the time of Moses, and is now brought into the house in the winter months for decoration, this is true of customs in some parts. We Americans, today, dust with cedar scented products. Closets are lined with cedar for moth protection. The ancestors of the natives used cedar in a sacred way, to cleanse the house after a death by burning the cedar and carrying it about the house. This is called a "smoke off," and is dealing with evil spirits who may have tried to take residence in their home after a death. Some have blended the tradition with Christianity saying it was the departed person they were "smoking off." However, it was originally to address evil spirits who might take advantage of one's weakness after a death. At any rate, today scientists agree cedar has an ester beneficial for cleansing.

The dance itself was an exercise in cleansing. As the dancer kept rhythm to the drum, his body was naturally burning calories, throwing off stored toxins in those calories. The feathers worked for the dancer in the same way it worked for the bird. Dance has been used down through the ages for the re-creation of one's emotional health. The joy of movement giving freedom and expression just as King David danced to express his joy, clearing out the negative, maybe even bringing the brain over to the right side, the creative side, as opposed to the left dominant brain.

Foods introduced to the Pilgrims of America were not a once a year food. They were daily fare. Sage as a spice in food is cleansing to the body. Sage was also used in storing of the feathered regalia's. This is the difference in the old ways and the new. Recently attending a hobbyist's dance I was rather put off with the smell of moth balls, instead of the sweet smell of the herbs the Native American stored with their regalia. Sage was used in the sweat lodge to cleanse one's sinuses and as a rub on the body to slough off the epidermis or outer skin. The outer skin is considered today as an organ and if it is kept properly cleansed it is of great benefit to the body since this allows proper perspiration and ridding one of toxins. Maybe these were some of the reasons the Native American were so physically strong, and believe me they were.

A way of life spoken of as that of living within a circle meant more than one can easily explain, but on the other hand it is probably, the best way to understand the culture. For all the adversity and the deliberate efforts to destroy the traditions, still it has remained and it is probably for this reason. A circle has no beginning and no end. One part of it is melted into the next part and where one ends off another begins. Although, I do believe there has been so much lost, so many changes, and as in any world of a blending of tribes, it would be interesting to see how the final tribe will survive.


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