Spirit dolls are ancient talismans against all negativity and evil. They embody spirits that have gone before, representing their strengths, positive energies, and beauty.
Here are some examples of specific Apache Spirit Dolls by celebrated artist Cynthia Whitehawk and what they represent.
Raven Medicine – Ravens carry great responsibility to Spirit and are the messengers of magic and healing from the universe where all knowledge waits for us. Raven also symbolizes changes in consciousness, of levels of awareness and perception.
Raven Shaman Spirit Doll (below)
Necklace beads of sky blue turquoise, coral and sterling silver with hand painted bone raven feather pendant. She wears a genuine tiny beaded medicine bag – inside are rare Sacred Arizona Sweet Sage, Sacred Golden Tobacco, and tiny polished clear Quartz gemstones. These contents keep her energy clear, positive and powerful.
Raven Dream Keeper (below) is keeper of the eternal flame of life, Medicine Healing Spirit, Spirit of the Bird Clans
There are several Bird Clans depending on tribal affiliation. The Cherokee Bird Clan are messengers between earth and heaven – between humans and the Creator. The Cherokee Bird Clan has 3 subdivisions: The Raven, Turtle Dove, and Eagle. The Raven, a large Crow, is governed by Crow Medicine. The Crow is the power of the unknown at work – ceremonial magic and healing.
Raven Dream Keeper wear a necklace of tiny shell birds for her connectedness to the Bird Clan.
Grandmother Medicine – Grandmother Shaman guides with the ancient wisdom and practical knowledge, ever the kindest of souls, ever the most helpful, a quieting and soothing presence. Her medicine bag is adorned with coral and turquoise. It contains a rich mixture of smudging herbs and resin, sage and golden tobacco with tiny clear quartz stones.
Grandmother Spirit Keeper – Bird Clan (below)
The carved tiny shell birds represent the ancient following of the Bird Clan. The gourd represents the vessels made from gourd, gourds which carried water and food for life. She wears a beaded talisman/amulet which is a carved turquoise bear, silver beads and penn shell heishi.
Crystal Keeper Medicine Woman (below)
Her necklaces are quartz and silver beads and large natural quartz points. She wears a tiny medicine bag beaded with quartz and silver beads. The bag contains Sacred Sweet Sage, Sacred Golden Tobacco, and tiny polished clear Quartz gemstones. These contents keep her energy clear, positive and powerful.
Grandmother Shaman: Gourd Dance Clan (below)
Her necklace is of sky blue and coral red old glass beads, silver and a tiny gourd, which represents the rattle made from a gourd in the Gourd Dance Clan.
The Gourd Dance was given to the Kiowa in the 1700s by a red wolf when the Kiowa inhabited the Black Hills and Devils Tower area of South Dakota and Wyoming.
The dance was a gift to the Kiowa people and the songs and dances were performed by a specific society until the 1930s – with a good wolf howl at the end of each song in tribute to the red wolf.
Thankfullly, before the tradition was lost, some Kiowa elders revived the Gourd Dance in the mid 1950s and officially formed the Gourd Dance Clan.
Ledger Art evolved from Plains Indian hide painting. Traditionally Plains tribes decorated tipis, leggings, buffalo robes, shields and other clothing items with depictions of life events. The figures were usually drawn with a hard, dark outline and then filled in with color. The painting was done with bone or wood sticks that were dipped in naturally-occurring pigments.
The women of the tribes often made designs while the men depicted scenes of war, hunting, other personal feats or historic events. Besides battles, the changing lifestyle of the Plains Indians and infusion of Euro-Americans was documented in the art – trains, covered wagons, guns, and even cameras.
Ledger art began in the 1860s and continued to the 1930s and is experiencing a revival with a few contemporary Lakota artists today. It is called ledger art because instead of the paintings being on buffalo hides (which had become scarce from near extinction of the vast buffalo herds) the drawings were done on paper, often ledger book paper that was discarded by government agents, military officers, traders or missionaries. In addition to the new paper format, Plains artists also had access to pencils, pens, crayons and watercolor paints.
Noted Lakota artists include Black Hawk and Sitting Bull. Black Hawk, in an effort to feed his family during the very harsh winter of 1880-81, agreed to draw a series of 76 pieces of art for an Indian trader that depicted one of Black Hawk’s visions. He was paid 50 cents a drawing. That book of 76 drawings sold in 1994 for nearly $400,000 dollars. Although not technically ledger art since the drawings were on new lined paper, not ledger paper, Black Hawk’s work are one of the finest examples of that style of Lakota art. Two examples of that series are shown below.
Contemporary Lakota artist Alan Monroe uses traditional ledger-style designs on rabbit skins.
Native American Ceremonial Sticks
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There are many types of sticks used in Native American ceremonies. The hai detoi is a stick of madrona wood with feathers on one end and a flint on the other – it is used by a Pomo (Northern California) shaman during healing ceremonies.
A hatcamuni is an Acoma Pueblo prayer stick. It is made by the individual (or an individual’s family member) that is requesting healing. It is cut from a live willow or cedar, may be notched or painted and might have feathers attached to it.
The Zuni bundle up a group of prayer sticks, kaetcine, offer them up to the spirits and then bury or deposit them in a prescribed location.
Lakota Horse Stick – To the Lakota and other Plains Indians, the horse was a working partner that provided transportation when moving, and a heroic companion on hunts and raids and in battle.
When a warrior lost a horse, he would honor the horse by making a horse stick. The effigy would represent the likeness of the horse and be decorated with markings and adornments that recounted the life and achievements of the horse.
The horse stick would then be carried by the warrior in dances to pay tribute to the great horse before other tribal members, most notably those of the Horse Society. By making and carrying the stick, it was hoped that the spirit of the horse would follow the warrior in life and give him added strength and power.
The horse stick was usually made of wood and decorated with paint, leather, fur, feathers, beads and other items.
A door blessing is a wonderful hanging for the door of your home, office, tack room or other special place. It embodies many elements from Mother Nature and has specific symbolism.
With some elements of a prayer stick, a medicine stick and a sage bundle, a door blessing is intended to purify and bless the place and all who enter.
Paraphrased from the attached card:
- The Medicine Stick brings positive energy.
- The red, yellow, white and black ribbons represent the Four Directions from which all strength comes.
- The feather represents Freedom.
- Thoughts, Prayers, and Choices are represented by the bead circle which shows us that our thoughts return to us again and again.
- Turquoise protects us and keeps us Positive in thought.
- The rabbit fur is to help us keep a warm heart.
- The fur reminds us that Mother Earth is the Giver of Life and we should walk softly.
- The Sage Medicine Stick exists that we might all live in Love and Oneness.
Although these are not Native American made, they are inspired by Native American symbolism. They are made for us in Utah from rabbit fur, turkey feathers, sage, beads and ribbons.
Approximately 8″ wide x 12″ long with a loop for hanging.