Ceremonies & rituals

Larger Ceremonies

Below is a list of larger ceremonies that take place either regularly, or not. Some descriptions are quite detailed. New ceremonies will be added to this page as soon as possible.

Naming ceremony, by Sie

Birthing/Naming Ceremony

Three days after pups from a pair of mates are birthed, the pups are taken to the highest ranks Priest of the Tribe. If, for any reason, there is not a Priest, they are taken to the Chief himself. The family and the Priest or Chief then take the pups to the nearest body of water, where they say a short prayer to the Spirits for the pups, trickle water down over their heads, and are then returned to their parents. It is then that the parents name their children. The parents then return to the rest of the Tribe with their pups, introducing them with their new names, and a great feast is had in honor of the new life.

Death Ceremony

Traditionally, there are two main options when it comes to death ceremonies: the body can be put in a boat with personal belongings, weapons, food and clothing and sent off on a river or out on the ocean by itself, or the body can be cremated along with their items and foods. The items and foods are meant to aid the deceased in their travels to the afterlife, so that their spirit will not get lost. The closest family member or friend of the deceased decides what is done with their body, though the Bone Bearer to perform the ceremonies usually has his/her strengths and weaknesses, and thus preferences as well, and may pitch in his opinion. Special requests are also taken to heart and fulfilled to the best of the Tribe's ability. The Bone Bearer cares for the body, taking time to see how the member died and cleaning them up for their ceremony. The family may ask for a private ceremony. The Bone Bearer, or/along with the highest ranking Priest gather the rest of the Tribe/family members to sing songs, say prayers, dance, and remember the fond times before the boat is delivered to the water, or while the cremation fire is burning. Cremated bodies are collected and buried in mounds.

In the case of easily transmittable and dangerous diseases, bodies are always burned. Usually the ceremony is held after the cremation, and the ashes are dumped far from the tribe's village to ensure the disease does not spread.

The Wedding Ceremony

After a courting couple has properly asked each other for marriage (see here), they arrange with their families and the Great Priest to conduct a wedding ceremony. The ceremony takes place outdoors if it is in the warm half year, and indoors if in the cold half year. The bride and groom dress up as they see fit, but will attend the ceremony barefooted. They also prepare some personal vows and thoughts for the ceremony. Once they arrive at the wedding area, they walk up to the Great Priest and stand facing each other. Between them is a pedestal with a tray of fresh river water in it. The couple wash their hands three times each, an the seventh time together, to cleanse themselves of evils and memories of past love. Then, the couple offers gifts: the bride offers an ear of corn in a promise that she can provide bread for her family. Likewise, the groom offers meat in a promise that he can provide meat. After this, the Great Priest ties one of their pairs of hands together with a braid; one of the strings is colored after the mane of the bride, and one of the groom, and the third one is red, for their love. Tying them together, the Great Priest finishes the knot by fastening it with a stone - it symbolizes the strength of their union. Finally, the couple exits the ceremony and walk alone over to the Great Fire. There, they will speak only to themselves, and give the vows and thoughts the had prepared o both one another, and the Great Fire, seeking its blessing. Now, the couple is married, and the celebration remains!

Other/Post-wedding celebrations

It is completely up to the couple to decide which of these ceremonies or customs listed will be used, if any.

Blanket ceremony

According to the old Cherokee wedding traditions, the bride and groom were both wrapped in a blue blanket, and when the ceremony was over they exchanged the blue blankets with one large white one, in which both were wrapped. They may choose to take the blanket off as soon as the official ceremony is over, but many remain in it for some time. The blue color symbolized past griefs, and the white purity and a new life together.

Hearth ceremony

The hearth ceremony is a lovely tradition that some couples choose to incorporate into their wedding ceremonies today. During this ceremony, a fire circle is created using stones and seven types of wood. There is one large unlit stack of firewood built in the center of the circle, as well as two small hearths that sit to the north and south of the circle. These small fires represent the bride and groom's individual lives. After the two smalls hearths are lit, prayers are offered by the bride and groom, and then they push their individual fires into the center stack of wood, igniting one large fire

A wedding prayer

Wedding Braids
By Stan Davis

Now you will feel no rain
for each of you will be shelter for the other
Now there is no loneliness
Now you are two persons
but there is only one life before you
Go now to your dwelling to enter into the
days of your life together and may your days
be good and long upon the earth

Common variation
Unknown source - May be Apache or Cherokee

Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now you will feel no more loneliness,
For each of you will be a constant companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
But there is only one life ahead of you.
Go now to your dwelling place,
To enter your days of togetherness.

Sources:[1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]

Smaller ceremonies/rituals

Hunting ritual

In line with the thought that all life has a purpose, AniWayans often perform a quick ritual after performing a kill, be it a rabbit or an elk. Some members do this through a short song, but the preferred method is to leave a portion of the slayed animal behind for nature to own, to show that you are not greedy. The main point of any such ritual is to redeem yourself to the spirits by showing humility, and thus maintaining the balance between yourself and your actions, and the rest of the world.

Blue blessings, by Sie


Often, expecting mothers, sick/ill tribesmembers and elderly might receive blessings from other tribesmembers, or set up blessings for themselves. This can be done in many ways, but is most often done by painting circles on one's doors with blue paint, or tie blue ribbons on oneself or one's lodging. Collecting blue items or flowers is also a way to wish someone well through a blessing. Often, expecting mothers decorate their dens with random blue items throughout their gestation period, with hopes for the coming litter.

The Raven Mocker

The Raven Mocker is more of a traditional story, passed down through the Tribe as something of a scary bedtime story. A Raven Mocker can be of either sex, and there is no real way to know one, usually looking old and withered, because they have added so many lives to their own.

During the night when someone is sick or dying, the Raven Mocker goes there to take their life. He flies through the air with his arms outstretched like wings. There will be a wild wind noise around him, and sparks trailing from behind. Every once in awhile he will dive, and make a sound similar to a raven's cry. All those who hear it are afraid, because they know that someone's life will soon end. When the Raven Mocker makes it to the dying person's house, he often finds others of his kind there. Unless there is a Priest watching out who knows how to drive them off, they will all go inside and frighten and torment the sick person until they kill him. Sometimes, those who are attending the sick think the person is just fighting for their breath.

After the witches take the life, they take out his heart and eat it, and by doing this, they add to their own lives as many days or years as they have taken from his. Nobody who is attending the sick can see them, and there is no scar where they have removed the heart. Upon further examination, they will find that there is no heart left in the body.

Only a medicine person with the right kind of medicine can recognize a Raven Mocker, and if that medicine person stays in the room with the sick person, the witches will be afraid to come in. When one of them has been recognized in his right shape, he must die within seven days. Often, when there is no more hope, they will try to have one of these medicine people stay in the house and guard the body until it is buried. Witches will not steal the hearts after burial.

Last updated on Sat, 05 Jul 2014 at 02:42 PM by Marit