THE PERSONAL LEVEL OF SPIRITUALITY
Each of us has a number of spiritual attributes, such as our spirit name and spirit guide, that are part of our being whether we are aware of them or not. Learning of these things allows us to properly acknowledge their roles in our lives, and helps us to use the attributes to find and stay on our paths. there are a number of different ways to determine your attributes, including asking a knowledgeable spiritual leader for a Naming Ceremony. However, with prayer and with careful attention to signs, we are often able to determine these for ourselves, if we can listen patiently with our hearts for the answers.
According to the teachings, we each have a spirit name from the moment our spirit first comes into existence, and the name follows us from life to life, and back into the spirit world afterwards. For this reason, we are not 'given' a spirit name by someone, we can only be reminded of the name we already carry. It is possible, however, that a person's spirit name will be added to, depending on the roles and experiences that are given to that person. If you ask for your name, be prepared to accept it as it is given to you, even if it is not something you may have hoped for. remember, this name has been yours for much longer than you might think, and its importance reflects into many levels of existence. There is generally a connection between your spirit name and your Spirit Guide, but it may not be obvious.
One of the most important beings in our lives is our Spirit Guide. Whether we are aware of it or not, each of us has a Spirit Guide, and it is that entity's responsibility to guide us on our path, and to provide answers (or connect us with those who can provide answers) when we have questions. Spirit Guides are animal spirits, such as the Bear (Muin) or the Moose (Tiam) or perhaps a bird like the Eagle (Kitpu) or the Owl (Kokokwes). Each has associated with it certain traits and strengths, and those of your particular Guide are the best for your needs while you are here. Once you have learned to acknowledge and heed your Spirit Guide, it is much easier to stay on your path.
Each of us has one (or occasionally more) of the four directions that is important for us, because it allows us to make our best connection with spiritual energies and knowledge. If we address our prayers to this direction, or face this way when we sleep or meditate, we are at our most receptive for spiritual guidance. You may be able to determine your own direction simply by closing your eyes and facing each of the cardinal points of the compass, and waiting for a slight surge of energy or a feeling of connection. However, because the sensation can be subtle, it is important to do this without preconceptions or a desired direction, so that your head does not deceive your heart.
The attribute that we refer to as our spiritual colour is actually the colour of our aura. While our aura may vary slightly depending on conditions, overall it will have a particular identifying colour, which is referred to as our spiritual colour. Do not be surprised if your colour is not one of the colours of the four directions, because our auras can be any colour, even multi-coloured, sparkly, or crystal clear!
In Mi'kmaw tradition, our clan has nothing to do with our spirit guide. Instead, it is a way of determining our family lineage. Clans are identified by animals, like the turtle or moose, and we each inherit our clan from our mothers. In Mi'kmaw tradition a person's clan can be very important, since you are not allowed to marry anyone from within your own clan.
In every Naming Ceremony we have performed or attended, the participants have been asked to agree to several commitments. Generally, each has been required to abstain from recreational drugs, and to limit or abstain from alcohol consumption. Each was also required to promise to do everything within their power to guide people away from having abortions. The strictness of these commitments may vary from person to person, and a given individual may have additional commitments to make as well. In each case, in our experience, the nature of the commitments was uniquely suited to each individual.
PERSONAL SACRED ITEMS
As you walk the Red Road, you may find that certain special objects come to you, which seem to have spiritual meaning and importance to you personally. Obvious examples include things like eagle feathers or whistles, buffalo teeth, bear claws, and so forth. However, other items may also come your way, such as items you are given as part of a ceremony, or even things that you find that have some undefined but undeniable connection with your spirit. These things become part of your collection of personal sacred items, and should be treated with utmost respect. They are generally kept in a medicine bundle, and should be wrapped in red cloth for protection. They should be brought out periodically to refresh your connection with them and to remind you of how they came to you. Also, in some cases you may find that a particular object has no further connection to you, or has to go to another person. In cases like this, follow your heart.
Many traditional people carry a personal medicine pouch. This is a small pouch, generally worn around the neck, which contains medicines and tiny objects that will provide personal protection to the wearer. The contents of such pouches are totally unique to the individual, and should be determined by a person who is knowledgeable in the ways of medicines. If you have such a pouch, you should keep it with you at all times, but keep it concealed and do not allow people to touch it, because the protections offered by a properly-prepared pouch can be powerful enough to kill. If you are in the hospital for an illness or operation, most doctors today are sensitive enough to allow you to retain the pouch, although they may ask to cover it with a surgical dressing or tape to keep it sterile and out of harm's way. Also, when passing through airport security, you will find that most security personnel have been told about such things and will let you pass after simply checking your pouch with the metal-detecting wand.
One of the hardest things to master can be the art of finding a balance between the things we must do in daily life, and the things we must do for spiritual reasons. It is not always appropriate, or even possible, to do all the spiritual things we would like to do. Smudging in public, for example, can attract unwanted attention that will ruin the effect of calm that we are trying to achieve. We may also have to delay fasts or other ceremonies, because it is necessary to do some work-related task instead. Perhaps the toughest conflict comes from our modern lifestyle, which inevitably causes harm to the Earth that we also wish to protect. Always remember that we must live in both worlds, the spiritual and the mundane, just as our Ancestors did, and sometimes we must make compromises. As in all things, we simply do the best we can, and incorporate our spirituality as much as possible in our daily lives while still living in the modern world.