Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Powwow Circle Revisited

I'm wrapping up the year with some of my favorite or most popular posts from 2008. This one, first posted in July, looks pretty good to me right now in contrast to the blizzard raging outside.

I spent the Fourth of July weekend in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. Known as the Soo by locals, it's a port of entry with Sault Ste Marie, Ontario and home to the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians on both sides of the border. Site of one of the longest-running continuous powwows in North America, this year was the 27th annual.

Powwows are laid out in a circle, like the medicine wheel. In the center is the arbor. This is where the drums gather to sing and beat out the rhythm of Earth's heartbeat for the dancers.

The dancers' circle moves around the drum arbor. Like the medicine wheel, it begins in the east, where the gate for entry and exit is located. Movement within the circle proceeds, like the wheel, from east through south, to the west and then north before winding up back in the east where all begins.

Around the outside of this blessed circle is the area where people gather to watch and the vendors set up their canopies and sell their wares.
Symbolizing the unity of all as children of the same creator, as well as calling to mind the different stages of life as a human, the wheel is a powerful emblem in many traditions.
In the Anishinabek traditions of the Great Lakes the wheel is laid out with yellow to the east, red in the south, black to the west and white in the north. The colors represent the different races in some teachings, and in others they stand for stages of life or states of mind. There are wonderful teachings available on these things, and better venues than my blog; I recommend this website as a place to start: http://www.anishinaabemdaa.com/medicinewheel.htm


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