My father, Chi-Maa'iingan-iban, taught me something that I want to share. What I am about to share aren't his exact words, but my perception and understanding of his words. I'm also sharing what I have continued learning about these teachings through my experiences in the short time I've been around. This is just my personal perspective, it may be different for everyone.
My dad taught me that Creation was the first ceremony in this physical world. It began with the dream of the Creator, and like the Creator, we have the gift of dreaming and creating. He said we are co-creators. Creation is the manifestation of Spirit into the physical realm; it brought all life, the cycles of life, and everything that is perceivable to humankind. We can understand Creation as a circular cycle like the cycle of ceremony and the cycle of life. Creation, the original ceremony, can show us that we are related to everything in existence. Creation shows us where to get life and healing. It is a reminder of who we are and where we come from. It is a way to embrace and understand the gift of life, to have access to the great love and healing that is accessible to us as long as we are walking this earth. Ceremonies are also like that.
I was taught that ceremonies help us reconnect to the Creator's unconditional love and give us access to healing that we can carry throughout our daily lives. Elements of the ceremonies are modeled after the elements and cycles of Creation, the original ceremony. In a sense, ceremony is a microcosm of Creation (multi-faceted Creation) and the union of physical and Spiritual existence. Man, woman, the cycles of life, water, fire, stone, Spirits, the 7 Directions, heartbeat, (and more) are all present in our ceremonies. Sometimes it's easy to forget where we come from and feel disconnected in our every day lives. We can reconnect to that original source of love and healing more easily through the elements of ceremony. We can remember who we are. Our roles in ceremony as women, men, parents, friends, Spirits helping others, Spiritual Caregivers, helpers, etc... don't end when we leave a ceremony. If we carry the love from our ceremonies into our every day lives and live the same way that we conduct a ceremony that is carried out with great love and care, I believe the world would be a better place and more people would have access to healing and healthy lives. When we sing for someone, give away gifts, help someone around the circle, dance for them, give people our time and energy, feed them, acknowledge that they are related to us, and show gratitude for life, these actions that take place in the ceremony can be a reminder and blueprint for us to carry out those actions into our every day lives, even after the ceremonial event ends. That is why I believe that we shouldn't think of our actions in ceremony as "going through some motions or ceremonial protocol". Our ceremonies are connected to our lives, The Spirit World, and the seasonal cycles of our earth. It doesn't end at the ceremony, it continues into our daily interactions. "Life is a ceremony", that's what my dad said. The ceremony reminds of how we walk the circle (or Good Red Road as he often called it), and how to move through the cycles of life with love, respect, courage, humility, honesty, truth, and wisdom. Miigwetch for allowing me to share my thoughts and perspective.