Throughout history, Native American shamans, or medicine men, carried a spirit stick to use in their quest to evoke powerful, healing spirits. Also known as a medicine stick, or prayer stick, depictions of this religious implement and its associated rituals vary among Indian tribes.
Strength and Spirit
Some Native American prayer sticks are crafted from spiritually chosen wood. The wood from a tree that has been struck by lightning is revered because of its strength, states LittleHawkDrums.com.
A Native American medicine man would perform a dance using the Indian spirit stick to banish any evil lurking within the camp, according to AlaskaAntlerArt.com. Feathers attached to the spirit stick symbolize the departure of the evil entities.
Prayer sticks of Southwestern Indian tribes, including Navajo, Hopi and Zuni, are planted in the ground near unsullied water and spiritual sites. According to AllExperts.com, special feathers attached to grooved cedar or cottonwood sticks are chosen to unite with the wind, then carry prayers to the Creator and garner assurance from the spirits that water may always be found.
A Tigua Indian’s medicine stick and attached prayer feathers are covered in leather. Sage and cedar collected in the Native American tradition fill an affixed medicine bag, along with a wheel that represents Earth’s four sacred directions.
The Sioux holy man wields his influential medicine stick to bless the tribe, and any animal prior to its use by the tribe. The holy man also uses the medicine stick to conjure spirits for the protection of warriors while hunting or during battle, according to IndianArtandCollectables.com.
- feathers image by lidian neeleman from Fotolia.com