As these ceremonies are sacred to our people, I will not be describing them or speaking of their contents or purpose.
Kaianerehserako:wa (guy-yan-nay-leh-say-la-go-wah) or the Great Law in it’s essence is a way of living to uphold peace.
This law was given to us — as many already know — by Tekanonwi:ta (day-ga-new-wee-dah), or the Peacemaker. With this law he also passed on to us our four sacred ceremonies; which are only performed during a certain position of the Big Dipper constellation (around the new year, mid-winter).
But, the Kaianerehserako:wa isn’t just a law that tells the Haudenosaunee to be good people. This law holds three core principles of Peace, Power and Righteousness to lead fulfilling and united lives as clans and nations. The principles are considered to be a triad that takes time and consistency to appease.
Peace is associated with balance. The balance of life, relationships, and decisions are what is believed to create inner peace. This peace is what helped the people to think outside of themselves, for the present and future. The idea of negotiation stems from this principle within our confederacy system.
Power is associated with unity. This is where the analogy of ‘one arrow breaks, but a bundle cannot’ comes from. This principle is to understand that the people are stronger when they think and act as one, and this is considered the strongest form of power. This also branches into the practice of putting the people before all within our confederacy system.
Righteousness is associated with gratitude. The belief that giving thanks will help things to continue follows in line with the Law of Attraction. But it also shows the understanding of the mind being used as a way to bring forth goodness and positivity. Hence, our thanksgiving address calls for all minds to unite to acknowledge the gifts of the earth, always ahead of ceremony. Our confederacy is meant to operate with the most positive or “good” minds possible.
Put the principles together and you get the heart of our ancestors way of thinking. The understanding of each principle was what maintained peace after terrible times of conflict and war, and they were also what built the foundation for our culture to thrive upon. You could say that this triad is something ahead of our time, even today.
It was after I learned these three principles that soon brought me to learning the core of our ceremonies.
Now, it has been scientifically proven that a thought emits a frequency, and that frequency can be measured in energy. So, when it was explained to me that our ceremonies are a way to bring our thoughts together to gather positive energy for the people and for aspects of the earth, it made sense.
Our practices at the core, are used to heal and to feel good. Our feasts, our songs, our dances, even our medicines all have the ability to correct a bad flow of energy. So, it isn’t just a bunch of people wearing buckskin and dancing around a fire. There is an entire belief system behind our practices and many of them share similarities with other cultures. There is also a lot of symbolism behind each piece of a ceremony as well.
So, if at this time of year you hear of Sha’tekoserihen (sawt-day-goh-say-lee-heh) or the Mid-winter Ceremonies, understand that sacred and powerful ceremonies we nearly lost due to colonization and many other factors will be performed to welcome our new year.