A Red Path Primer

Beliefs vary among tribes but most believe in a Creator or Great Spirit creating the world and forces of nature. Creation stories, often retold at the quickening time of year (spring) and harvest (autumn) illustrate this. 

Belief and culture are unified. Red Path spirituality is a “way of life” and cannot be separated into component parts. Native American spirituality cannot be added to world religions because it has no dogma, other than “thou shalt have no dogma” and its central unifying creed is to take care of the earth and it will take care of you. Other common beliefs include: “the sacredness of the circle, a belief in the spirit world, the importance of making offerings and performing rituals, along with prayer, purification, healing, honesty, community, seeking visions, and communication with animals.” SAMS, Jamie, Sacred Path Cards, The Discovery of Self Through Native Teachings, (Harper San Francisco, 1999).

Spirituality is closely tied to daily activities and beliefs. Very little distinction is made between the physical and spiritual worlds often incorporating and speaking to spirit world figures in their day-to-day life (deceased relatives, spirit guides and helpers, nature spirits, etc). Miracles and the mysterium tremendum is an active part of an everyday encounter on the red road.

The symbology of the circle plays a large role in that life is unending. The hoop is divided into four sacred parts representing the four cardinal directions plus the added directions of above, below and centre (self) (making this a sphere rather than a two-dimentional circle).

The oneness of land and people is revered. Gifts from the spirit world like the sacred pipe, tobacco, medicine plants have been received from the spirit world directly. 

Prophesies are part of their belief systems and ancient wampum belts depict past and future comings. Similarly, human prophets have come to unite peoples as in Deganawidah (peacemaker and spiritual leader 1400s) who unified five nations under the Iroquois Confederacy.

Belief in an afterlife is part of this way of life. The term for dying is usually stated as “crossing over” from the stories of the great river that veils this world from the next. 

Lessor known is the belief of “original instructions” which are given to a soul before it incorporates in this lifetime. Original instructions are immediately forgotten when a child is born. The child then spends their lifetime understanding this mystery.

Healing is part of the energy of spirit. It is generally conducted in a spiritual way.