Friday, April 30, 2010

The Ceremony

Hi! I thought you might like to hear what happened this morning. A very beautiful ceremony that took place at the Rio Nuevo dig sponsored by The Center for Desert Archaeology.

We arrived at the downtown Rio Nuevo dig site early 7:15 am and two Tohono O’odham Elders greeted each of us. Each Elder had a wand made of eagle tail feathers attached to a handle. One wand handle was made of carved bone the other was brightly beaded. Both were about 18 inches long and beautiful.

They said they had come to talk to the ancestral spirits of the site. Eleven of us stood in an arc as the Elders told us how much they appreciated our work. They said they were hoping this dig would give them information as to their ancestry as there is a “break” in their oral tradition.

The Elders explained to us that even though their ancestors are dead their spirits continue. They, the Elders, wanted to make sure the spirits of the ancestors knew why we were there and to assure them we would treat them with respect and for them to trust us.

The Elders told us:
Dirt is the body.
Water is the mind.
Wind is the emotions.
Fire is the energy.
Smoke is the spirit.

They started their incantations, facing their wands to the 6 directions: first facing east, then west; north then south; the sky then ground. A small piece of leather was being burned and held by one of the Elders throughout and the smoke swirled about the two of them.

I could see the Tucson skyline. An airplane flew overhead, commuter traffic went by, and I could hear a train in the background. 21st Century and here we were in a ceremony of unknown years! Yesterday meeting today!

At the end of the ceremony to the spirits and the 6 directions, the Elders came to each of us. With their wands they touched our hands, then our feet, next the top of our head, then each shoulder all while the chant in their language continued.

When the individual blessings ended they came to each of us and shook our hands and thanked us.

This was all so incredible that I just had to tell you.

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