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Question Title Posted By Question Date
Can Native American rituals hurt? Isabella Thursday, January 8, 2009


I am a native american. Several years ago I went to a few healing ceromonies on the reservation including sweat lodge. I was given a prayer/peace pipe. I have it stored in my closet. I have not used it in years. Is it ok to keep it in the house? Is it dangerous to begin with? My relatives that practice the traditional way (red road) are not witches or anything like that. I was just wondering if it was opening doors? Should I send the pipe back? I live out of state and not sure how to handle this, don't even know if it needs handling. Please advise.

Question Answered by Bro. Ignatius Mary, OLSM

Dear Isabella:

Sorry for the delay in responding.

The spirituality of the aboriginal peoples of North America include concepts and practices that are not only inconsistent with Christianity but can be spiritually dangerous in some cases. Not all practices and rituals are problematic, but those that seek to contact spirit guides or familiars, or petitions to "spirits" is flirting with real danger as these "spirits" are not from God.

For our readers, the Sweat Lodge differs somewhat depending on the tribe. In many traditions the sweat lodge usually starts with the loading and offering of the sacred chanunpa -- "peace pipe" -- in prayer, that the participants may know and speak the truth in their supplications of Grandfather, Earth Mother and the spirits. In other traditions, when you are called upon to go into the sweat lodge you will have some tobacco to offer to the sacred fire, saying a prayer or asking a question, the smoke from the tobacco carrying your request to the Great Spirit.

The problem with this is unless this is translated into a Christian context of praying to the One True God, the prayers are to a spirit other than God.

As for possessing the Peace Pipe, I do not think that is a problem. But, I do not think it is wise to participate in a sweat lodge unless it has been Christianized.

God Bless,
Bro. Ignatius Mary

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