June 10th, 2007

Shaman - Sun

Primal Foundations

These are the primal foundations of Native American religious traditions as presented by Joseph Epes Brown. He says the points are the common threads that the diverse NA cultures shared. I find these to be incredibly important to understanding the reactions of our brothers and sisters.
  1. Religion is not separate from the other aspects of the American Indian culture. Another way to say this is that the spiritual life of the American Indian is interwoven throughout their life.

  2. Words have a power and force that is integral to their specific sounds. Thoughts can carry the same power. Words used in the recitation of myth are understood to be an actual reenactment of the event.

  3. The natural materials used in the creative activity manifest sacred powers in accord with their particular nature and place of origin. The result of creative activity is not a symbol as the dualistic world understands the word. Instead, the creation has its own sacred potency. The arts and crafts are seen as equal manifestations. In the dualistic world ‘art’ is religious and ‘crafts’ are mundane. This separation does not exist for the Native Indian.

  4. Time is viewed as being cyclical and reciprocal. Myths and ritual manifest the primal forces in a place that is outside of linear time.

  5. The presiding characteristic of a primal people is the special quality and intensity of interrelationship with forms and forces of their natural environment. Dependency on nature required a detailed knowledge of all aspects of the immediate habitat. The accumulated pragmatic lore was interrelated to sacred lore. Together, the two described the metaphysic of nature.

Source: “The Spiritual Legacy of the American Indian” by Joseph Epes Brown.