The Naming Ceremony
Over the weekend, our elder came to visit. This woman, this goddess, this Midewin Healer, has brought so much cohesion, knowledge, love, ceremony, healing and understanding into our family. I am grateful everyday for the relationships that have transpired because of you and me, songbird. Songbird is one of my best girl’s and our elder is her mama.
The Naming Ceremony
This particular visit was to ‘officially’ offer her sema (tobacco, one of the four sacred medicines) to seek a name for our new growing baby, still on the inside, so that she may begin the task of prayer and fasting. For those of you who don’t know, this is part of the process called, The Naming Ceremony, a First Nations Cultural ceremony.
It is where one receives their spirit name, which tells you something about that person, their personality, their mission in this life. Parents may choose to use the spirit name given by their elder as a first or second name.
When a name is decided upon, the naming ceremony begins. Most of the time, the one who presents the name is the one to whom the sema was given, but this is not always the case. The name is presented to the grandfather spirits in the four directions, and everyone who is in the ceremony has to say that traditional name is presented. The family usually prepares a feast and does a giveaway.
With Wyndham, our WSL, aka: Wee Strappin’ Lad – we were lucky enough that our elder received his spirit name just before he was born. This is not always the case – sometimes it takes months, in some cases – years, for the spirit name to come. This is why it is most often not a child’s legal name. I feel strongly connected to the belief that this manifested so quickly for us because of our close ties with our elder.
She is a part of our family and we hers. Our history (mine and hers), are similarly bonding and the connection she has with my partner is deeply intense. She can reach him in ways no one else can.
It was in early December of 2009, but a few short weeks after he was born (November 15) when we held the Naming Ceremony & Feast. Another aspect of the Naming Ceremony is that the parents choose sponsors for their child. Up to 6 we were told to choose, each of whom we met with and also presented sema to. Traditionally the sponsors chosen are Anisihnaabe only and outside of your direct blood relations.
With respect to the fact that our boy is of mixed race from me, and his father does not hold any Anishinaabe blood, we had to hold a small space for talk and ceremony to discuss this with our elder and to pray to the Creator for his direction and understanding.
The choices we made are diverse and these beautiful humans are forever connected to our circle, our community, ultimately – Wyndham’s life. They are there for his support and our support as a family. As teachers, guardians, friends and leaders. It is a very special and honoured role have, as a sponsor. Each of Wyndham’s have been and continue to be incredible influences and friends to both he and us.
Feast & Giveaways
Planning a ceremonial feast is much like organizing any other celebration. Except the focus is on life, prayer, unity, respect to our Creator and love. Not partying. So. No booze. We sent out invites to friends new and old and all of our family. We prepared traditional dishes and prepared giveaways for all of our guests.
We made wild buffalo stew wild rice and berry salad, root vegetables, wild salmon and an assortment of other smoked (wild) fish. We presented our guests with small medicine bundles holding each of the four sacred medicines to thank them for being a part of the ceremony, our son’s life and ours. We presented our sponsors with an additional gift of a framed picture of Wyndham, a sweetgrass braid and medicine bundle.
Our elder shared of her dream, the way the name came and the meaning attached to it. Wyndham was brought around to each present and introduced. His name was repeated on both sides each time for the full length of the circle of family and extended family and friends. In this way his name was brought to him, to our family and community and all of creation. It became known. Wyndham took his place in creation. The spirits and our ancestors joined in our feast and a place was made for their presence. When the ceremony was done the BSM, the firekeeper – placed that feast food out.
Wyndham’s Spirit Name – Niighanighijzik: Leader From The Sky
Leader From the sky. Little Big Spirit Running, you were dreamt about by our elder as a wise leader from the spirit realm; here now, to run wild, happy and free. Running to discover the knowledge you have, as given to you by our grandfathers.
Our son carries an understanding of how the spirit realm works on a deeper level. He is a leader on this path into the the lodge life, here and now. Part of his challenge will be to stay true to the teachings in a time when the teachings are not so universal, honoured or accepted. The Seven Grandfather Teachings – knowledge is strength, humility, sharing, honesty, kindess -> this is wisdom. Niighanighijzik, here is kindness. Niighanighijzik, here is sharing. Niighanighijzik, here is wisdom. Niighanighijzik, here is honesty, Niighanighijzik, here is strength. Niighanighijzik, here is humility.
Part of our elders dream had a sense of vastness, huge expanse, the immense within the miniscule. Seeing without seeing. Hearing without hearing. The chickadee was ever present in the dream, sitting on the left shoulder and also present in the physical realm. The chickadees represent guidance, Niighanighijzik’s ever present cheerleaders.
En Route: Baby Number 2!
Time rushes by and here we are again, preparing for this new life and his or her Spirit name. The waters are calling us back home, to these ways, and we are joyous in our faith. It is Beautiful. Spiritually Grounding.