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There is a practice done by a majority of Nations in the Pacific Northwest that is commonly called “lighting up”. It is used much like the “smudging”, the practice of grabbing the smoke from sage, cedar, or sweetgrass and putting it on certain parts of your body to cleanse it. “Lighting up”, like smudging, is a ritual in and of itself, as well as an essential part of most other ceremonies.
Certain herbs, like sage, cedar, tobacco and sweetgrass have certain properties that help purify what many people call the energy body. These are not things that can be seen by scientific methods, but are commonly experienced by tribes throughout North American. Smudging is so commonly practiced that it is not even thought of as a ceremony, it is just a practiced process like brushing your teeth or washing your face. Lighting up is thought of in the same way.
Candles are commonly used in healing ceremonies throughout the Pacific Northwest from the old Sisseewis and Smokehouse traditions to the more recent Indian Shaker Church healing meetings. It is believed that firelight, fire in any form, has a particular unseen energetic power. This belief can be seen in many indigenous peoples all over the world. The Huichol of Mexico even call it “Grandfather Fire”.
Candles are set all over a room used in healing and when the drumming and singing begin, participants will pick up the candles and “push” the light of the candle on a patient, usually accompanying it with prayers and specific songs. (there are fire songs used for this purpose) It is believed the unseen energy of this primal element, fire, is a part of the original elements that created the Universe and that it’s energy restores power to a persons body that is damaged or in need of healing. It is important to pray or sing as you do this.
It’s as simple as that. A practical technique that can be integrated into other ceremonies for healing and that anybody can do. The elders have taught me this.
By: Steve Little Coyote
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