Read an excerpt from Richard Wagamese's final book, One Drum
One Drum is a collection of stories and ceremonies inspired by the foundational teachings of Ojibway tradition
One Drum is a collection of stories and ceremonies inspired by the foundational teachings of Ojibway tradition. Richard Wagamese's original plan was to focus on each of the seven lessons, known as the Seven Grandfather Teachings, but he died in 2017, before completing the manuscript.
The Seven Grandfather Teachings are humility, courage, honesty, wisdom, truth, respect and love. One Drum focuses on the lessons of humility, respect and courage.
Below is an excerpt and images from One Drum, which was released at the end of October.
Medicine burns when touched by fire. The smoke curls and spirals upward, plumes of it rising, swirling, pushing themselves in ribbons higher and higher until the smell of it becomes the ancient aroma of blessing, teaching and communion. Within its fragrant cloud you can feel peace descend upon you. There is Spirit here. You can feel it if you allow it and that is the heart of the Teaching — the Allowing. If you close your eyes and breathe, drawing both air and blessing inside you and then exhaling long and slow and languidly, you can come to know that Harmony is a living thing — if you allow it. When you do, the act of burning medicine becomes a ceremony, and in this small, ritual way you are transformed, at once becoming more spirit than physical self, and the blessing is the feeling that comes over you. Emotion becomes your own medicine, rising with the smoke, higher and higher and higher, until it reaches that point of disappearing, vanishing, changing worlds and bearing your thought and hope and prayer outward into the realm of the Spirit World, where all petitions are heard. This is spiritual. This is truth. This is Indian.
In our Native way the medicines are sweetgrass, sage, cedar and tobacco. The smoke of them is the smudge that we pass over ourselves to return us to the purity and innocence we were born with. It cleanses us. It soothes us. It makes us ready for the ongoing ceremony of life. To smudge is to open ourselves to receive. To smudge is to become prayerful. To smudge is to join our energy to the great wheel of nurturing, creative, loving energy that is Creation — and it is the doorway to true Consciousness. This is also spiritual. This is also truth.
But it is not ours alone.
Wonder is the gift we share — if we allow it.- Richard Wagamese
It was then that stories were told. The wise ones in their midst, the seers, spun great legends and teaching tales and the people learned that the world and the universe were full and alive and evolving. Out of those great tales came the feeling of mystery, of awe. Later, alone perhaps, standing outside the influence of that fire, one of our ancestors put their head back and scanned the heavens. It would have been a spectacular sight. Free of carbon clouds, the sky would shimmer brilliantly with the light of a million stars. The sense of space would be captivating. The ancestor felt wonder and out of that feeling came the need for ceremony, for rituals to re-create that feeling of wonder within their participants. And the quest for a spiritual life was born. Everywhere. In everyone. Wonder is the gift we share — if we allow it.
From One Drum: Stories and Ceremonies for a Planet, Richard Wagamese. ©2019 Estate of Richard Allen Wagamese Gilkinson. Douglas & McIntyre. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.