Totem Artifacts And Healing Essay

915 words - 4 pages

Totem Artifacts and HealingNative American tradition communicates that each of us is individually connected with various different animals that serve as a guide and companion in accompanying us through our walk of life. Depending on the direction we may choose, these animal guides will come in and out of our life. Native American tradition also holds a more constant belief that each of us has a totem animal that is with us for our lifetime, in both the natural and supernatural realms. Though we may evolve and characterize ourselves through different animal guides during our life, our totem animal remains constant.According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a totem is "an object, such as an animal or a plant, serving as the emblem of a family or clan and often as a reminder of its ancestry." (Merriam-Webster) Totems are not to be confused with fetishes, which are defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as "An object, such as a small stone carving of an animal, believed to have magical power to protect or aid its owner." (Merriam-Webster) Fetishes and totems often compliment one another; but the basic difference between a fetish and a totem is that the fetish spirit is the solitary slave of the person who owns it, whereas the totem is his personal patron spirit.Totems are a central and highly important theme that is present through the history and culture of the Native American people. The grizzly bear is a good example of a totem, as it is found on every continent and comes in a diverse array of sizes and colors. The grizzly bear is revered across the world, especially North America where the indigenous people place a large emphasis on the spirituality behind the grizzly bear totem and its fearless power. (Ebscohost 2) Bear people are also known for their use of herbs and other plants in healing. Once a person has a deep understanding and relationship with his totem, it becomes a symbol of what one is capable of, and allows the healing powers to be unlocked. Many American Indian tribes have bear clans and practice these healings in bear ceremonies, as the grizzly bear totem is venerated as a guide to the river of meaning. (Andrews 252)The pipe is known as one of the most sacred objects used in Native American healing practices. When the pipe is separated, it is two separate fetishes. "The bowl represents the Earth Mother and the female powers of the universe. The stem represents the plant kingdom and the male powers of the universe. When the bowl and stem are joined together, the pipe is sacred." (Fontaine 108) The pipe ceremony is especially important to the Native Americans during their healing rituals, as they used the smoke as a medium for their prayers to be carried to the Creator. During the pipe ritual, everyone is highly mentally focused, as all of their thoughts are believed...

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