What is our pipe ceremony?
The pipe ceremony begins with herbs, a natural substance, into a pipe and then acknowledging the four directions.
The pipe is held firmly by the bowl in the palm of the hand with the stem pointed outward. The last step of the pipe offering is the holding up of the pipe with its stem pointed straight upward, out into the center of the universe. Although we admit that Creator is everywhere, in ceremony it is easier to think of Creator as above.
A preference is starting in the east, because the sun rises in the east, and it is the beginning of a new day for each of us.
The following description begins with an east-facing celebrant, besides this is how we have been taught by each and every one of my elders, while teaching me that Creator always arrives from the east at our gatherings, good enough for my ancestors good enough for me!
The pipe holder stands to face the east, holding the pipe with its stem pointed eastward in one hand, a pinch of herbs ( kinnick, kinnick ) in the other, and sprinkles some herbs on the ground before inserting the herbs in the bowl of the pipe.
By sprinkling a portion on the ground, the pipe holder is acknowledging that we must always give back to Mother Earth the first part of what we have taken.
The sprinkling also demonstrates to the on looking spirit world that a portion of the herbs is for the powers from the east.
The pipe holder may ask the on lookers, please also face east while the pipe is loaded in such a manner.
Red is the east; It is where the daybreak star, the star of knowledge appears.
Red is the rising sun bringing us a new day we thank you, Great Spirit, for each new day that we are allowed to live upon Mother Earth.
From knowledge springs wisdom and goodness and we are thankful, for the morning sun that rises in the east.
Knowledge shall become the beginning of peace throughout this world.
The pipe holder turns to the south and points the pipe stem in that direction. A new pinch of herbs is held slightly above eye level in a southerly direction, on lookers should be also facing south.
The south is yellow. Mother Earth gives us growth, gives us all that sustains us, and herbs that heal us.
She brings forth the bounty of warm south wind and the yellow so that we think of strength, growth and physical healing and a time for planting.
Another pinch of herbs is put into the pipe bowl.
The pipe holder and all on lookers then face west.
Black is the color of the west where the sun goes down.
Black is darkness, release, spirit protection.
In the darkness, the spirit beings come to us.
The spirit beings warn us and protect us.
Black is the water; the life-giving rains come from the west,
where the thunder beings live Water is life.
Black stands for the spirit world where we shall all enter someday.
What we do or do not do upon this earth, we shall carry with us over into that spirit world.
We shall all join together and either be ashamed or proud of how we treated one another, how we respected or disrespected our Mother Earth,
How we respected or disrespected all living things made by the Great Creator.
We will see each other and know each other in the spirit world. Those we have harmed will remind us for eternity. The west is where our spiritual wisdom comes from
If we care to seek it.
The pipe holder sprinkles some herbs upon Mother Earth and puts some herbs into the pipe bowl.
Every time the pipe holder faces a direction, all onlookers face that direction and listen to the speakers words intently.
The last of the four directions is the north.
White is for the north power strength, endurance, purity, truth stands for the north.
The north covers our Mother Earth with the white blanket of cleansing snow the snow prevents many sicknesses.
Courage and endurance these strengths we seek and wish to be blessed with as we stand here facing north.
The herbs is sprinkled to the north and then inserted into the bowl.
Green is the color for Mother Earth
every particle of us comes from her through the food we take from her daily.
We all start out as tiny seeds we have grown to our present state and status through what she provides she is truly our mother and must be acknowledged and respected.
Kinnick~Kinnick is sprinkled upon Mother Earth and the pipe is loaded.
The pipe is then pointed at an angle to the sky. We usually point our pipe towards the sun; if it is evening, we point it towards the moon, to acknowledge Father Sky.
Father Sky gives us energy from the sun.
Father Sky provides the fire that
Fuels our homes and our lodges
And the energy that moves our bodies.
Father Sky has daily communion with our mother.
Together, they are our true parents.
Some herbs is sprinkled on the ground, and the major portion is loaded into the pipe.
The pipe receives a portion` of Kinnick~Kinnick one last time, and then the pipe is held almost straight up into the sky.
Great Spirit, Creator of us all Creator of the four directions,
Creator of our Mother Earth and Father Sky and all things, we offer this pipe.
If there is still some unburned herbs remaining in the bowl after the pipe has made its journey around the circle, the ashes will be cleaned from the pipe and sprinkled upon Mother Earth. The pipe ceremony is then finished.
A pipe is never lit or loaded indoors;
a pipe is loaded and lit outside then brought in.
A Tribal mother will usually serve as acceptor for the Kinnick~Kinnick that is normally sprinkled on Mother Earth.
The woman will take the herbs offered to the four directions, Mother Earth, Father Sky, and the Great Spirit outside at some later time and sprinkle the herbs upon the earth.
My grandfather, Sachem Chief Tallfox’s (Mgisse) friendship pipe, was awakened for him by his grandfather (Ahtchwechteed) William Thomas Storey married to Mary Tracy fielding in 1859, the pipe was blessed by Creator in 1898 at their eastern paw paus that summer!