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childofbast
February 17th, 2009, 02:16 PM
Some of this was inspired by Nuada's questions in another thread.

The more I study Irish spirituality and CR, the more I realize the importance of rivers to my ancestors and, well, to all ancient people. A friend and I have been talking about the importance of getting to know the waterways of where we live in Upstate NY. It seems appropriate for a CR to do.

But where I live once belonged to the Iroquois - to the Mohawk, the Oneidas, and others. The main river where we live is the Mohawk. I'm trying to learn more about the river but most of what I find is geographical or about the history of European settlers. I've found that the Seneca, apparently, called the Mohawk Te-ugé-ga. So far I've been unable to find out whether or not the First Nation people honored spirits in the river.


Have any of you made an attempt to honor a local river in America? Do you know about the history of that river and whether or not any Native Americans placed religious significance on it? Do you feel that this matters? Do you see yourself worshiping Native American Gods/spirits, or simply spirits of the land that go beyond culture?


Thanks for any insight you can provide!

Peace,
Melanie

monsnoleedra
February 17th, 2009, 09:04 PM
I am not sure of what your geeting at here so will answer in regards to my particular slant on things.

To many native groups the river was many spirits with many names and faces. The same river may have many names, names from a peoples enemies, names from the various locations it ran through and names for special parts of the river that do not include the whole river. In many ways the river may have had a general name for the whole river and specific names for areas that had major influences in the area.

Your words strike me as trying to know the man facets of the river and not the spirit (s) facet of the river and the land through which it runs.

To know the river spirits one must also now the land spirits that live on its banks and reach into and under the river bed. One must know the temperment of the river and the area through which it runs. A wild river in the mountains has a different feel than a lazy river it becomes on the flats. The spring river with its winter thaw has a different face and feel than the autumn river or the summer river when the heat lies heavy upon the land.

One must know the winged people that live on the river and the two and four legs that live in or on its banks. Know the water people that inhabit it's various areas and where each is most likely to be found based upon the rivers acceptance of them and making a home for them.

To many native groups the river was also seen as being possessed of spirit places on its path. Water falls often were seen as the home of significant elementals or spirits, the more powerful the falls the greater the spirit that lived there. Spots in the river were also seen as evil or sick, especially in those places where the river eddied and the water was dank and smelled of decay and rot.

Sometimes the spirits had to be appeased and demanded sacrifice. Yet the sacrifice may vary from purpose to purpose and even include sacrifical death rites for deceased. To find many of those type things one needs to look to the lore of the specific area and the lore of the enemies of that area.

Sometimes the creatures of the water world are the best means of finding the spirit of a river and where it goes. Look for the creatures that spawn and return to their river beds and the great journies they undergo to get home and the places they must pass.

I don;t know if this helped or hindered or maybe gave a few clues on where to go but I do hope it helped.

Deerwoman
February 17th, 2009, 09:16 PM
Many spirits of water in North America are not friendly spirits. In most legends they are either water sprite-like creatures who drown people, or great serpents (http://www.lilithgallery.com/articles/2005/canadian_seaserpents.html) who live in the sea, rivers, and lakes who have the powers of a shaman and who can shapeshift - the legends of these usually involve eating and killing people. There are many other water spirits however, and many are different depending on the location and the native tribe the legends come from. Where I live many of the water spirits are based on the local wildlife (sea otters, frogs, seals, whales, fish, etc) and there are also mermaid-like creatures. As with all spirits, there are both helpful and deadly ones. I don't know if your local Native tribe's legends were as well documented as those of the Pacific Northwest, but it's worth a shot looking for collections of tales at you public library.

Many rivers are known for taking sacrifices, so I would make sure your Mohawk river isn't one of these before attempting to work with it and its spirit(s). I used to live on a Native reservation with my house right on a very deadly river - everyone in the small town new to stay out of the river, but someone died each year nonetheless.

Happy researching!

childofbast
February 17th, 2009, 10:36 PM
Thank you to both of you! I'm sorry if my post was a little fuzzy, but I appreciate your answers.

I would actually like to study and get to know, first hand, the spirits around and in the rivers if possible. My friend and I have been talking about taking walks along the river and trying to visit it at different times. We've also talked about visiting the local marsh and other local springs.

In what little I've found online, the Iroquois did believe in various water spirits and some of them sound down right mean, like the serpent you referred to, Deerwoman.

We're lucky in that we live close to an Oneida cultural center. We're thinking of visiting and asking different questions about the lore surrounding the Mohawk.

What I don't want to do, basically, is upset any river spirits by doing Celtic inspired rituals. Personally, I see most nature spirits as beyond culture, if that makes sense. Tree spirits, rock spirits, winged spirits, furry spirits... etc... But I also believe that there are some who are Native American spirits and some who are Celtic. I hope that makes sense... Just as many CRs don't pour alcohol on the ground in these parts to upset Native American land spirits, I don't want to do something to upset them in a river. For example, I wonder if throwing a small bit of silver into the Mohawk river would be an appropriate offering or not. These are the things I'm trying to figure out...

Peace,
Melanie

odubhain
February 18th, 2009, 07:21 AM
Some of this was inspired by Nuada's questions in another thread.

The more I study Irish spirituality and CR, the more I realize the importance of rivers to my ancestors and, well, to all ancient people. A friend and I have been talking about the importance of getting to know the waterways of where we live in Upstate NY. It seems appropriate for a CR to do.

But where I live once belonged to the Iroquois - to the Mohawk, the Oneidas, and others. The main river where we live is the Mohawk. I'm trying to learn more about the river but most of what I find is geographical or about the history of European settlers. I've found that the Seneca, apparently, called the Mohawk Te-ugé-ga. So far I've been unable to find out whether or not the First Nation people honored spirits in the river.


Have any of you made an attempt to honor a local river in America? Do you know about the history of that river and whether or not any Native Americans placed religious significance on it? Do you feel that this matters? Do you see yourself worshiping Native American Gods/spirits, or simply spirits of the land that go beyond culture?


Thanks for any insight you can provide!

Peace,
Melanie

When I got to Texas the last time I lived there, I went to a bluff over the Trinity River and made offerings to her and had a Guinness with her as we communed. When Deborah joined me later, we made votive offerings to her. In a group that we joined while there, the river was always the focus of workings held near her. The river was and is the lifeblood of the land there. She is the spirit and the deity supreme in the area. She does not belong to anyone. None has a right to claim her. She is a goddess. We humans should be aware of the goddesses around us if we expect to prosper. Native Americans have their ways and the people to whom I belong have their own deities by whom they swear. Sometimes these deieties have the same names in places and at other times they usually don't. How a people express themselves about a river,a spirit or a deity is uniquely theirs but these entities are owned by no one.

Listen to the words, the thoughts, the power and the essence of the river goddess and you will know what to do and say. She will guide you as she has guided all her creatures for thousands if not millions of years.

Searles O'Dubhain

Faol-chu
February 18th, 2009, 09:31 AM
Have any of you made an attempt to honor a local river in America? Do you know about the history of that river and whether or not any Native Americans placed religious significance on it? Do you feel that this matters? Do you see yourself worshiping Native American Gods/spirits, or simply spirits of the land that go beyond culture?


I live across the street from the James River...So, yes, it's hard not to know some of the history of the river...as it's been pivotal in the 'European' experience here.
Where I can, I learn about pre-European history concerning it, but, obviously, it's a lot harder to find, much less learn.
Whether or not Native Americans placed religious significance on it...I don't know for certain, but I feel that most likely they did.

You might say that my family is a 'river rat' family, because during the summer months, we spend a considerable amount of time canoing on the river and kayaking on it.

Where water and land spirits are concerned, I see myself as venerating entities (do not know if they'd qualify as "gods") that transcend culture...

HOWEVER, I feel strongly that our culture influences how we interact with THEM...and thus, how they, in return, interact with us. And so, they may show a different 'face' to us from what they showed to earlier cultures.

skilly-nilly
February 18th, 2009, 11:57 AM
I read this post yesterday and it generated some interesting thoughts (so thanks for posting).

As I have said elsewhere, I strongly believe that the Indwelling Spirits are primordial, that is They pre-date any human contact at all. Perhaps not in Africa where people evolved, but in both Ireland (the invasions) and in N.Y. State (the Ice Age land bridge) there were demonstrably no humans long after the Land was roughly the shape it is now. The First Peoples made contact with the Indwelling Spirits and it is very good to know something about what their experiences were. But you can make contact as well (I believe) using the format that you are comfortable with. If the Spirits like you, your offerings, and your ritual They will respond. I think that if you are respectful you will not generate negative response but you may likely have no response if the Spirits' attention or sensibilities are not spoken to. You just have to politely try and see what happens.

Rivers are important to fertility (and so connect to the Land) but also were (more in the past than now) very important highways of transportation, connecting cultures with the outside. Ports are even more important in this symbology, and often the part of the river which is brackish (affected by the tide) is considered a different Being than the fresh part. That doesn't really apply to the upstate Mohawk, but it is interesting. And the 'connecting place to place' part does apply.

I don't know anything at all about Oneida or Mohawk interactions with the Beings who dwell in water, but (as mentioned) much of European folklore identifies Them as hostile and dangerous. Kelpies and other Water-Horses, Mer-People, Sirens... there's a lot to look out for. As a general rule, I think Beings connected to water-breathing animals are inimical to air-breathing ones; something that would explain why Selkies are not as dangerous as Kelpies. If you are familiar with the Druidic usage of 'outsiders' I think this would apply; making an offering (cleaning up the river, not eating fish, supporting restocking) while specifying that it is not for connection but for a truce would be good, I think.

I think that trying to connect with where you are is a valuable endeavour.

childofbast
February 18th, 2009, 01:22 PM
Thank you for your responses! They make a lot of sense and are very helpful.

What you say about the Outsiders, Skilly-nilly, makes a lot of sense to me coming from an ADF background. I don't know what I hadn't thought of that before!

Peace,
Melanie