Chinook Blessing Litany

I’m working on longer posts about Hestia and Neoplatonism, Reviving the Poet-Heroes, and Passage Meditation.  But today was spent on the beach teaching poetry, reading poetry, and writing poetry, while hawks and ravens flew overhead and a little deer wandered right into the middle of my Poetry Workshop.  I found this blessing in The Essential Mystics: Selections from the World’s Great Wisdom Traditions edited by Andrew Harvey.  I read it to my poetry group, and decided to share it with you, dear readers, on this beautiful Northwest day.

Chinook Blessing Litany

We call upon the earth, our planet home, with its beautiful depths and soaring heights, its vitality and abundance of life, and together we ask that it

Teach us and show us the way.

We call upon the mountains, the Cascades and the Olympics, the high green valleys and meadows filled with wild flowers, the snows that never melt, the summits of intense silence, and we ask that they

Teach us and show us the way.

We call upon the waters that rim the earth, horizon to horizon, that flow in our rivers and streams, that fall upon our gardens and fields, and we ask that they

Teach us and show us the way.

We call upon the forests, the great tress reaching strongly to the sky with earth in their roots and the heavens in their branches, the fir and the pine and the cedar, and we ask them to

Teach us and show us the way.

We call upon the creatures of the fields and forests and the seas, our brothers and sisters the wolves and deer, the eagle and dove, the great whales and the dolphin, the beautiful Orca and salmon who share our Northwest home, and we ask them to

Teach us and show us the way.

We call upon all those who have lived on this earth, our ancestors and our friends, who dreamed the best for future generations, and upon whose lives our lives are built, and with thanksgiving, we call upon them to

Teach us and show us the way.

And lastly, we call upon all that we hold most sacred, the presence and power of the Great Spirit of love and truth which flows through all the Universe, to be with us to

Teach us and show us the way.

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6 Comments

  1. Beautiful!

    On a somewhat related note, do you have any suggestions for appropriate offerings to bring with us on our trip? Anything you’ve found the local wights and gods to appreciate, or anything from various tribal lore?

    Reply
    • Great question! While I often offer libations of wine and/or water, various food items, and fresh flowers, there is one type of offering in particular I’ve noticed that seems especially prominent in this area: small, beautiful stones, especially stones gathered from the beach. Almost everyone I know up here collects beach stones, and I’ve built a herm out of them, but they are also a typical offering item. I always bring a beach stone up to the woods to leave at my outdoor forest shrine. And I’m not the only one who does this. Here on the island there’s a labyrinth behind the local church, which our group often uses to celebrate the Solstices and Equinoxes. There’s a tree stump/altar in the center, and the island tradition (and this had started long before we moved here) is to leave a shell, a piece of beach glass, or *especially* a beautiful stone after walking the labyrinth (which of course makes it look like there’s actually a herm in the center). This connects with Coast Salish lore that many rocks are actually spirits, ancestors, or powerful shamans who transformed themselves (or were transformed by someone/thing else) into stones and got stuck. She-Who-Watches (aka Tsaglalal) is an example of such a figure, having been transformed into stone so that she could always watch over her people. The many petroglyphs throughout the Northwest are another example of the importance of stones, and there are numerous myths/tales about sentient stones or stones endowed with spiritual power. There was an even an eccentric local character around here who spent years trying to teach a stone to talk, which led Annie Dillard (who lived here on the island at one point) to write an essay called “Teaching a Stone to Talk.” I met someone who knew the guy. So yes, while you’re up here, I would definitely pay attention to the stones . . . some may want to come home with you, and other might wants to be incorporated into an offering . . . the nymphs and land spirits up here in the woods especially seem to love stones (and shells) from the beach.

      Also, if you’d like to read the best (short) article I’ve found recently on the Coast Salish relationship to the land (and to the land spirits in particular), I *highly* recommend this essay:
      http://www.web.uvic.ca/~bthom1/Media/pdfs/ethnography/2006_CASCA_paper.pdf

      I found it especially illuminating, and I think you will definitely relate to some of the experiences described. Hope that helps!

      Reply
      • Wow, thank you so much for that very useful and insightful information. I should have known you would have a good answer for my question! I will definitely keep an eye out for stones that speak to me, and use them in my offerings while there. I am also bringing my normal stuff – libations, bone meal, mugwort bundle, a special mixture I use of vetivert, oakmoss and birch bark, jewelry, coins, beeswax candles, etc.

        Looking forward to reading that essay, although it may have to wait until after we return.

        Reply
        • Glad I could help! This morning I thought of two more things that might be of interest: 1) Because the salmon are such an important food source, a common ritual among the Coast Salish was to offer the bones of the first season’s salmon catch back into the river or sea. And last year when we went out on a crab boat, the crab shells and inedible bits were also thrown back into the sea.
          2) All trees are sacred of course, but the Western Red Cedar is especially revered in this area. The Coast Salish peoples named it the “tree of life” because the bark and wood of this tree was used to make almost everything: homes, vessels, canoes, tools, rope, baskets, clothing, masks, totem poles, ceremonial objects, etc.

          Anyway, check out that article when you get a chance (it’s a quick but fascinating and informative read), and if I don’t hear from you before we leave on our own journey, have a safe and wonderful pilgrimage to Washington!

          Reply
          • Thanks again for all that info. I did read the article and it was great.

            I really enjoyed our visit up to Washington, most of all the islands which we didn’t get to see enough of. The next trip up, I’d like to spend a longer stretch of time in one place and really soak it in, rather than rushing from one place to the next.

            Reply
            • I’m glad you had a good trip to Washington! And if you enjoyed the islands, and would like to stay in one place longer (at least as a home base), I am sure I can help arrange something for you (with us and/or friends) here on our island! Let’s email when I get back!

              Reply

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