Friday, July 22, 2011

Dance into manhood

By Julia M. Seton

The Dance into Manhood (or Womanhood)

In our highly practical way of life, we are neglecting a wonderful opportunity which all primitive peoples seem to appreciate. In most aboriginal races, there is a ritual of initiation into manhood or womanhood, which is enacted at puberty. We may not, in all cases, approve the exact form the ceremonies take, but the fact remains that these people are impressing ideas on the adolescent mind when it is Most susceptible to all such. Incidentally, much of the evil meaning we connect with some of these rituals is read into them by our own interpretation; there is no such thought, in the mind of the participants.
Light the Sacred Fire in the center of the circle, as usual, with the rubbing sticks. In a circle about four feet outside of this Central Fire build eight smaller fires, but do not light them.
Enter the initiate, stripped to breech clout and moccasins if a boy; in native dress and headband if a girl.
He (or she) does a simple, rather slow dance about the Central Fire, using a three point pivot step (see Fundamental Steps, No. 19, with three taps instead of five)    (12 meas.). Song No. 44.
Csong44.gif (23270 bytes)Song 44.
First Initiation Song
With Step No. 14, enter eight dancers, same sex as the initiate, and who have already passed through this ceremony. Each approaches the Central Fire with an easily kindled torch, lights it, then backs up to one of the eight fires. The initiate stands close to the Central Fire, on the side opposite to the Chief. He stands with hands relaxed at his sides.  The eight dancers hold their blazing torches high in air, and rhythm stamp in place.    12 meas.
Csong45.gif (42239 bytes)Song No. 45
The Ground Trembles
The initiate sings THE GROUND TREMBLES (Song no. 45), "The ground trembles as I am about to enter; my heart fails me as I am about to enter." 
Csong46.gif (13777 bytes)Song No. 46
I am Raising Him Up (Chippewa)
The group, softly swaying their torches, sing in reply, I am Raising Him Up (Song No. 46).
Each kneels at his own fire and lights it from his torch, then stands in place.
The initiate now dances (with Sioux hop step) about in a circle between the Central Fire and the line of eight lesser fires; while the group, still with the torches on high, progress sidewise in a circle (with step-lift-close, No. 2)  the Opposite direction from the initiate. They do this to the same song, I am Raising Him Up.     15 meas.
After one round, they twine in and out among the fires for one round, using the cross toe flat (No. 10).       15 meas.
Csong47.gif (16265 bytes)Song No. 47
We Now Receive (Chippewa).
They now stop.  The leader advances to the initiate and starts the song WE NOW RECEIVE (Song No. 47), "We now receive you midst, brother." He leads the initiate it to the Council Rock, where is is received by the Chief and given a seat. The others, still singing, exeunt.

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