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please rethink using the term Blessingway to describe your baby shower*new info* - Page 12

post #221 of 274
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I dont claim to have all of the rights of full-blood Indians, but I still consider it a valid and important part of who I am. I have never put in for any type of assistance (like with education funding) or claimed any rights to anything, other than my nationality and heritage....
But I am also proud to have ancestors from Ireland and England too. We celebrate our Irish heritage a great deal. As much as we celebrate our Native American hertiage. I'm not less of one because I am some of the other.
You said it better than I did. However, what I disagree with here is that, imo, you *should* have "all the rights of full-blood Indians". My reasoning for that is this: "we" have lived with the repercussions of "our" ancestors signing treaties and "we" should also enjoy the benefits for which they bartered. The majority of treaties were signed by NA chieftains under the agreement that their descendants would receive the "benefits" in perpetuity, not only those with a certain percentage of "Indian blood" but ALL of their descendants.

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Originally Posted by autumnbloom View Post
I DO think that its important to know what you're doing if you're going to celebrate different traditions, like a Blessingway. That's why I think that the respectful and progressive thing to do would be to work together to share knowledge about things like this. Not only would it provide a way for people who are truly interested in understanding and adapting these amazing traditions do so in the *right* way, but it could also help to bridge a gap that has been there for so, so long (for good reason in the beginning, but the idealist part of me hopes that we can move past that horrific time, learn from it, and use that to grow stronger together as a community, appreciating respecting and honoring our differences. That's a "nutshell" version of that aspect of it. I know that there is more to it, but again, thats my idealist hope).
I'm glad we agree on that.
post #222 of 274
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Originally Posted by autumnbloom View Post
I totally get what you're saying. I really wasn't addressing that specific part to you (so please dont take offense). There were posts earlier on that indicated that was an "issue" for some people and I really only said it "tongue-in-cheek." Like I said - I dont feel it gives any more or less weight to my points, as I feel they stand strong enough on their own.

Anyhow - on being "Indian"... I do have to respectfully disagree that you are all or nothing. That, or maybe come to a *type* of agreement with your stance in that you can be fully Indian (even with only "1/4 blood" or however much - as an example), and fully ____ (Irish, English, Mexican, what-have-you). In my opinion its not right to expect someone to claim only one nationality when their heritage is so colorful.
Regarding the first part, I took no offense, I was just sharing my stance on it.
Regarding the second part, you again said it better than perhaps I did. I wasn't trying to say that because you are fully Indian, you could not be another heritage. What I'm trying to say is that by saying "I'm part Indian", you deny being *fully* Indian and allow others to buy into the "blood quantum" mindset.

ETA: I'm sorry for taking this thread so off-topic. I'll stop now.
post #223 of 274
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Missy View Post
It's really one thing when you are invited to learn about the traditions, and quite another when you appropriate a custom without that invitation.

And I get that you're stirring conversation, but the idea that "I'm just doing it because I respect the Dine and want to honor them" has been hashed out repeatedly on almost all of these threads, and what it boils down to is that it's simply not respectful if you continue to ignore the requests of those who own the tradition, y'know? That kind of defies the definition of respect.

To be clear, autumnbloom, I'm using "you" as a general term, even though I'm responding to your post.
this. if you meet a Dine, and they decide to share their ritual with you, then wonderful. the few i have spoken to have said that they wouldn't share it with anyone outside the tribe, not even other natives of other tribes, because it just wouldn't make sense...they have their own traditions. it wasn't to be mean, or inclusive or be a jerk...it just makes no sense to them to share something that to understand fully you have to be of the people.

and i'm not sure you really celebrate passover. i have been to passover dinners, but i didn't celebrate it like the people who truly believe it and live it. it was wonderful to experience, but i can't fully participate because i don't have the experience and knowledge to fully get what the ritual means. same with friends who i have brought with me to catholic mass. they participated, but they didn't take communion because they had respect enough to know that if they didn't truly believe that the host is the body of christ it would be almost blasphemous to take it.

so again, this is a personal choice. not everyone is going to agree with me. that's okay.
post #224 of 274
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You said it better than I did. However, what I disagree with here is that, imo, you *should* have "all the rights of full-blood Indians". My reasoning for that is this: "we" have lived with the repercussions of "our" ancestors signing treaties and "we" should also enjoy the benefits for which they bartered. The majority of treaties were signed by NA chieftains under the agreement that their descendants would receive the "benefits" in perpetuity, not only those with a certain percentage of "Indian blood" but ALL of their descendants.
Ahhhh - I see what you're saying here! That makes a lot of sense! (though i dont plan on going out and asking for any assistance/rights afforded to Native Americans, still, because I worry that it might possibly take away from someone else who could use it more than me!)

You make a lot of good points Jacqueline!! Thanks for having such an awesome intellectual discussion with me on this. I love learning new things, and I think we both were able to see and appreciate a different perspective. Can't beat that
post #225 of 274
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JacquelineR View Post
Honestly, your opinion would mean just as much to me if you were "white" as it does coming from someone whose heritage is similar to my own. With that said, I need to ask you the same question my foster mother, a Medicine Woman, asked me when I said I was "part Indian". What part? Do you have some line on you where you stop being "European" and *start* being "Indian"? Basically, you're either "Indian" or you're not. "Blood quantum" means nothing and is something which was imposed on "us" by the people who oppressed "us" (and, in some ways, continue to do so through laws which are still on or have not been removed from "the books"). Imagine if other cultures were told "You have to be <whatever percent> "blood quantum" to count yourself as such." If we want to get into blood quantum, I am "1/4 Indian", but I still consider myself "just as Indian as" someone who is "full-blooded" and "no more Indian than" someone whose "blood quantum" is 1/8. My mother says I'm "more Indian" than she is because I was lucky enough to be exposed to and taught the traditions of "our People".


ITA. BUT when people not of the originating culture start using a word for a sacred ceremony to describe something supposedly based on it but having no knowledge of the origin, much less the actual ceremony, I take issue.

I
Again, ITA. However, again ime- and bear in mind I'm from Canada where "Treaty Rights" are still enforced to some degree, when the dominant group starts complaining about the supposed "privileges" "we" have (ie hunting without a license, as per treaty agreements) and simultaneously taking "our" ceremonies without any knowledge of the ceremony whatsoever (*definitely not* bartered for in treaty agreements), I take issue also.


Certainly. I am definitely excited to share my culture with people. That does *not* give them the right, however, to go and *perform* or *mimic* sacred rites without any knowledge of how to do so. I equate people holding non-NA "blessingways" with some person on the street with no theological background holding mass. Priests and pastors have gone to college and apprenticed to learn how to perform certain rites "properly". Just because a Medicine person's education is not from a college and "only" through a (usually very long) apprenticeship, it is somehow less than that? I think not.


Exactly.
thanks for all this. i am so tired from being up with a teething toddler all night that i can barely think straight, but this is the gist of what i would responding with had i two brain cells still awake. excellent points.
post #226 of 274
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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
this. if you meet a Dine, and they decide to share their ritual with you, then wonderful. the few i have spoken to have said that they wouldn't share it with anyone outside the tribe, not even other natives of other tribes, because it just wouldn't make sense...they have their own traditions. it wasn't to be mean, or inclusive or be a jerk...it just makes no sense to them to share something that to understand fully you have to be of the people.

and i'm not sure you really celebrate passover. i have been to passover dinners, but i didn't celebrate it like the people who truly believe it and live it. it was wonderful to experience, but i can't fully participate because i don't have the experience and knowledge to fully get what the ritual means. same with friends who i have brought with me to catholic mass. they participated, but they didn't take communion because they had respect enough to know that if they didn't truly believe that the host is the body of christ it would be almost blasphemous to take it.

so again, this is a personal choice. not everyone is going to agree with me. that's okay.
I understand and to be clear, I would never even *attempt* a Blessingway without *full knowledge* of what it entails or the assistance of someone who does. I would very much like to *learn* more about this tradition, though I would *never* feel comfortable sharing it with someone else since it is not "mine" to share. I hope that makes sense.
post #227 of 274
Thread Starter 
because i am going to edit the posts i put on the other Blessingway thread so it's no longer hijacked, here are the responses i put when someone asked for more links:

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.not necessarily on the Blessingway, but the general cultural appropriation that is being done to NDN "spirituality"...trust me, American Indians care about this shit:

this is my favorite, because it is a collection of some Indian Activists thoughts on the new age movements ripping off of their traditions:
http://www.sonomacountyfreepress.com...es/native.html

http://gonativeamerica.homestead.com...riation07.html
http://www.lelandra.com/comptarot/tarotindian.htm

from this link:
http://archive.uua.org/ga/ga01/2038.html
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the context in which cultural symbols and practices are expressed is extremely meaningful. "The specificity [of their use] is so complete, that visiting Native Americans do not participate in another tribe's rituals, and to do so would be perceived as foolish. "I would not even practice the rituals of my own tribe, because I am not an elder or spiritual leader." If t
his is true of her own people, then the use of these things by others who share no cultural context is seen not only as particularly foolish and inappropriate.
from this link:
http://www.quakersweat.org/appropriation.html

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" . . .the unspeakable indignity of having our most precious Lakota ceremonies and spiritual practices desecrated, mocked and abused by non-Indian "wannabes," hucksters, cultists, commercial profiteers and self-styled "New Age shamans" and their followers . . . ."
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Many people hold that cultural appropriation is wrong because by stealing an element from someone’s culture and then representing it in a different (and often shallow) context, you both damage and dishonor the culture you have taken the ritual from."
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Appropriation occurs when one party takes upon itself to uncover and absorb the practices of another culture without proper understanding, training, respect or permission."
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"Cultural Appropriation - refers to the process by which members of relatively privileged groups "raid" the culture of less powerful or marginalized groups, and removing [sic] cultural practices or artifacts from historically or culturally specific contexts.
from this link:
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http://www.legendarysurfers.com/naw/...1_archive.html
In the so-called postmodern culture of late consumer capitalism, a significant number of white affluent suburban and urban middle-aged baby-boomers complain of feeling uprooted from cultural traditions, community belonging, and spiritual meaning. The New Age movement is one such response to these feelings. New Agers romanticize an "authentic" and "traditional" Native American culture whose spirituality can save them from their own sense of malaise.....Meanwhile, their fetishization of Native American spirituality not only masks the social oppression of real Indian peoples but also perpetuates it.
from this link:
http://www.thepeoplespaths.net/articles/warlakot.htm
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While Native Nations continue the flight for religious freedom rights, "New Age" hucksters and other exploiters of Indian spirituality run rampant throughout the country, forcing Native people to take a stand against the desecration of their spiritual ways
.

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... urges people to identify instances where sacred tradition are being abused and to work toward stopping the abuse through demonstrations, boycotts, press coverage and direct intervention.
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...center for the SPIRIT (Support and Protection of Indian Religions and Indigenous Traditions), a San Francisco-based organization of Indian people committed to halting the exploitation of Native ceremonies. The Center in dedicated to protecting Indian spiritual practices and traditions and is working to raise public awareness on American Indian religious freedom issues.
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As the epidemic of exploitation and expropriation of Indian spirituality continues to spread, more Native people are taking direct action to put a stop to the "spiritual genocide" being committed by those who imitate Lakota ceremonies.
i can keep going too, if you want me to. there are tons more articles, books, websites. just let me know.


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still more:

from this link:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m...11/ai_15449850
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Irony. Pathos. Hilarity. You needed a sense of each of these to appreciate a New York Times story in December about some ritualists in Boulder, Colorado, who were praying to Mother Earth and Father Sky. The devotees burned herbs, beat drums, and offered words expressing reverence for "the red nation," the Native Americans or Indians. Writer David Johnston comments: "All that was missing was an Indian." The 40 ceremonialists whom he visited for his story were white New Agers, part of a movement that imitates, borrows from or snatches Indian ways. But many Indian tribes and organizations, Johnston reports, "far from being flattered by the imitators, have denounced the movement as cultural robbery."
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...Spiritual "genocide,"....
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These wannabes live in "trendy, affluent places." Avoiding and rejecting "the faiths of their youth," says Johnston, they had found their inherited, usually Jewish or Christian, religions "boring and not very much fun at all."
this sounds somehow familiar.:

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defends their cultural robbery by calling their Native American critics "Indian fundamentalists," who practice "reverse racism."
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"When you uproot something one culture and plant it in another culture, it is not the same thing. The danger is that these mutations of spirituality will make their way back into the Indian world."

from this link:
http://www.thetrackingproject.org/wr...ftofspirit.htm

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“We are members of the Bay Area American Indian community, and we are outraged by non-Indian wannabes and would-be gurus of ‘the New Age’ shamelessly exploiting and mocking our sacred religious traditions... These sacred ways have enabled our people to survive five centuries of genocide. We will not allow these most sacred gifts to be desecrated and abused... OUR SACRED SPIRITUAL PRACTICES ARE NOT FOR SALE, AND IF YOU TRY TO STEAL THEM FROM US, YOU ARE GUILTY OF SPIRITUAL GENOCIDE.”
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just rereading the very first link i posted and this particular line really stood out:
http://www.sonomacountyfreepress.com...es/native.html

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There is a disinformation campaign in progress in Sonoma County to undermine Native peoples' nationwide efforts to protect their ceremonial processes from abuse. The promulgators would have you believe that only a few "militant" Indians are concerned about this exploitation by those who have no real knowledge of the deep inner meaning inherent in these ceremonies. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of Native people DO object to this phenomenon.
__________________
post #228 of 274
Quote:
Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
and i'm not sure you really celebrate passover. i have been to passover dinners, but i didn't celebrate it like the people who truly believe it and live it. it was wonderful to experience, but i can't fully participate because i don't have the experience and knowledge to fully get what the ritual means. same with friends who i have brought with me to catholic mass. they participated, but they didn't take communion because they had respect enough to know that if they didn't truly believe that the host is the body of christ it would be almost blasphemous to take it.
I *do* celebrate passover. I'm Christian, and even though I may not be Jewish (who celebrate passover as a very important part of their faith), I still understand and appreciate and believe in everything that goes into it.

But honestly, if my church (ie - my "culture") had taught me that because we are Christian we ignore our Jewish brethren, and don't learn anything about why people celebrate different things, we would be ignoring a part of our own spiritual history.

I've been a part of churches that "own" their own traditions and I've been a part of churches that are open to teaching people who don't know, what it means, and including them so that they can experience it for themselves. The difference is that in situations where you're able to learn and take part, you gain a respect for it, and even if you dont wind up finding that it is for you, you learn to appreciate why and how they celebrate / have traditions.

*ETA* - took out marriage examples... i wasn't saying things as clearly as I wanted... I'll try to come back to that later...

Quote:
not everyone is going to agree with me. that's okay.
Yes, it is okay to disagree, or to not be able to understand where another person is coming from... that's the varying opinions and the value of diversity that I was talking about earlier too... everyone comes to this from different experiences and understanding.

*ETA*:
Quote:
I understand and to be clear, I would never even *attempt* a Blessingway without *full knowledge* of what it entails or the assistance of someone who does. I would very much like to *learn* more about this tradition, though I would *never* feel comfortable sharing it with someone else since it is not "mine" to share. I hope that makes sense.
Yeah that!
post #229 of 274
How many words do you know that have different or somewhat similar meanings?
I don't have an exact number but if we started going through a dictionary/thesaurus we would find a lot.

This is why I believe that trying to imitate the ceremony is the problem. Using the term and doing what is your style without trying to imitate it is not a problem.

And just because someone has a natural style of art, poetry, music, etc that they would use to celebrate a mother doesn't make them a copy cat on someone's ceremony or new agey. It is simply what is in their heart because I find that people who don't have that sort of mindset can't pretend to have one.
post #230 of 274
Thread Starter 
but jana'smom, if you research the many books and websites dedicated to this New Age Blessingway, they all reference it to "a native american ceremony"...they don't clearly state which one (which is almost more infuriating that they just lump it all together like NA spirituality is one thing, rather than many different traditions and religious beliefs that can very as much as any other two religions) but they reference it.
no it is not exactly the same, because these women who have been perpetuating this "tradition" haven't the inside knowledge of the full ritual of the Blessingway. but make no mistake, it is borrowed from that. look at any blessingway site (i listed many in the OP) they ALL reference the Blessingway as a NA tradition. ALL of them.
so it isn't just the word.
post #231 of 274
Thread Starter 
and word to the mamas who say that they are interested in learning about other traditions rather than just appropriating them. I find the blesssingway fascinating, and i have learned a lot more about it during this thread's research...i'm glad i know about it. but i would never do it. my BA is in Religious STudies. I LOVE to learn about other cultures and their traditions. but just because i find SUfi's traditions, poetry and dance beautiful doesn't mean i am going to use them...just because i think the Greek Orthodox CHurch's use of icons is incredible doesn't mean i am going to wall paper my house with them because they look neat. it's a matter of respect.
post #232 of 274
Quote:
Originally Posted by janasmama View Post
How many words do you know that have different or somewhat similar meanings?
I don't have an exact number but if we started going through a dictionary/thesaurus we would find a lot.

This is why I believe that trying to imitate the ceremony is the problem. Using the term and doing what is your style without trying to imitate it is not a problem.

And just because someone has a natural style of art, poetry, music, etc that they would use to celebrate a mother doesn't make them a copy cat on someone's ceremony or new agey. It is simply what is in their heart because I find that people who don't have that sort of mindset can't pretend to have one.
Using the term is part of the problem since it is so difficult (whether you realize it or not) as a young Native to define your *own* culture for what it *really is* as opposed to what the majority *displays it as*. Between misrepresentation in entertainment media and the misappropriation and obscene mimicry of our traditions, I am *terrified* that my children will not know anything true about their own culture and people. I will do my level best, of course, to inform and teach them, but against a dominant culture intent on taking what little we have left which is still ours, that won't mean much. I can see, all too well, how easily a young Dine person who had little contact with their people, through no fault of their own, might misunderstand a non-NA "blessingway" as a true Blessingway.
Go ahead, be creative. While you're at it, create a term which resonates for you which doesn't disrespect another culture and demean the suffering they've endured to maintain what they can of their traditions.
post #233 of 274
Thread Starter 
JacquelineR, i think i love you.
post #234 of 274
Thread Starter 
from mothering magazine's article :Blessings and Beads

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The blessingway is reputed to derive from a Navajo ceremony honoring the pregnant woman and preparing her for birth.
it's straight up a rip off of the Dine Blessingway. no two ways about it. so now that we have established that, can we please stop saying: "a word is just a word" and "words have many meanings" because that's not what we are talking about.
we are talking about cultural appropriation, done with out expressed permission from the culture who's tradition we are taking from.
it's not being done maliciously or with ill intent. nobody said that. i don't think women who want to have a more meaningful birth celebration are trying to be racist theives. that is not what i am saying. i am saying there is a lack of information here. there is not any representation of the people who perform this ritual. what small amount of information that we have been able to find points to it not being something that the Dine, or NA's in general want to have done.
post #235 of 274
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The danger is that these mutations of spirituality will make their way back into the Indian world.
This was in your longer post, Bellymama. I thought it might bear repeating, considering the last post's statement that we're concerned with "just words".
post #236 of 274
I don't feel that you guys are just concerned with words. And I don't know much about a Blessingway anyways, I've never had one or given one and I've certainly never studied them. I did read the Mothering article that bellymama linked to.

I understand that NA's would be concerned that this 'new' blessingway would enter back into their culture. That would be a good reason for NA's to make sure they are performing these ceremonies with their family/tribe.

My thing is that America doesn't have much of a culture on honoring mothers, babies or anything else for that matter. It's a bunch of baby bottle paraphanelia and little giggly faces. I guess some women are looking for something a little more real that keeps them in tune with the way they feel about being pregnant and giving birth....it's something they are doing, not something that is "happening" to them. Some women really have to search these days to find where they "fit", especially when they don't have a couple of generations of women in the family supporting them.

I appreciate the information you share here and I have never read any of the books that are teaching people how to have a blessingway. I agree that someone could use a different term so as to not confuse anyone. I guess in the end though, unless a word is considered holy (or whatever term is equivalent in ones language) there really isn't a matter of "respect" that has to be placed on the word. (For example: in Christianity, God and Jesus are words to be honored and shouldn't be disrespected.)

Is the term 'blessingway' considered holy (or the equivalent?) or is it the ceremony and/or rituals that are the honorable. I'm not being sarcastic here. I'm just trying to understand.
post #237 of 274
Quote:
Originally Posted by janasmama View Post
Is the term 'blessingway' considered holy (or the equivalent?) or is it the ceremony and/or rituals that are the honorable. I'm not being sarcastic here. I'm just trying to understand.
I understand you're not being sarcastic and I was not trying to offend nor speak down to you by any means. If I came across that way at all, I apologize.
To the vast majority of Native Americans who follow traditional practices, names have power. When that name is used inappropriately, the thing which holds that name *loses* it's power.

The only way I can think of to analogize this is to put it this way:
If you had a battery and it was your only battery and anytime someone else used it, they didn't recharge it, would you let them use it? Even if they didn't *know* how to recharge it? Okay, so teach them how to recharge it, right? Great. Now imagine that teaching them how to recharge said battery takes *years* and, in the meantime, more people have come to use your battery because they saw this other person using your battery and you are only permitted/capable to teach one person at a time how to recharge the battery. What would you do?

ETA: I'm not entirely certain I am explaining it well or properly at all. I will try to contact my foster mother (a Medicine Woman) to get her to clarify it for me again.

Regarding this:
Quote:
I understand that NA's would be concerned that this 'new' blessingway would enter back into their culture. That would be a good reason for NA's to make sure they are performing these ceremonies with their family/tribe.
Usually the only people permitted to perform these rites/ceremonies are Medicine People or Elders. The only way to become a Medicine Person is through many years of training. The only way to become an Elder is to live a long time immersed in the culture (as in, 50 or 60 years) and to learn the rituals that way. If a person moves away from their tribe, they have no access to a Medicine Person or Elder and so, *cannot* teach their children this, only inform them of what they know of it.
post #238 of 274
Basically, it's not "just a name" or "just a word". In Native American beliefs, the name *is* the thing. This is why Natives who follow a traditional path will not name their children for a living relative. By naming their child *for* that person, they take some of that person's life power.
But as I said, I will talk to my mom asap to make sure I'm giving accurate information.
post #239 of 274
Quote:
Usually the only people permitted to perform these rites/ceremonies are Medicine People or Elders. The only way to become a Medicine Person is through many years of training. The only way to become an Elder is to live a long time immersed in the culture (as in, 50 or 60 years) and to learn the rituals that way. If a person moves away from their tribe, they have no access to a Medicine Person or Elder and so, *cannot* teach their children this, only inform them of what they know of it.
just wanted to say that this is more eye opening and more information than i think has been given in the whole of what i've read so far. Thanks Jacqueline
post #240 of 274
Interesting info. I've heard about a few Blessingways online, but never in real life. When I have babyshowers we just call them baby showers.

I'm not really sure what to think. And in advance, please know I'm not trying to be argumentative when I post this. I'm honestly just curious.

How would someone taking the word Blessingway and using it to call their babyshower or whatever be any different than say, non-Christians celebrating Christmas?

I admit, I haven't read through the whole thread, I've just browsed posts. I can understand if the people throwing the shower are mocking or in some way disgracing the word or event, but what if they just think "hmm... what a pretty word! I think I'll use that!" ? I mean, before reading this thread, I would have thought "What a wonderful term. A WAY to BLESS the mother."

I'm sure I probably come off as very uninformed in this post, but I'm honestly just a bit... hmmm. Not sure how I feel about this, I suppose.
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