Saturday, October 19, 2013
The Grand Medicine Lodge
I am currently reading a book entitled 'Murder in Minnesota' (Trenerry; 1962). In one chapter, law enforcement authorities from the new frontier state were searching for a Chippewa Amerindian who was wanted for the murder of a settler family. This was 1872, on the frontier of eastern Minnesota.
Excerpt from page 64:
At Sandy Lake on May 20, 1872, the Pillager (a Chippewa band) were holding a ceremonial of the Grand Medicine Lodge, a complex socioreligious society of considerable importance to the Chippewa. By late afternoon the group of several hundred men and women was in a mixed state of religious exaltation and drunkenness. Into the lion's den walked three white men to arrest the principal chief's nephew; Whitehead, the special agent, and D.O. Preston and George W. Holland, Brainerd attorneys.
For some reason, when I read "the Grand Medicine Lodge, a complex socioreligious society of considerable importance to the Chippewa," I thought of various other esoteric societies... and perhaps how the cultural forerunners of those societies had existed openly like this. For example, the German Builders' Guild or the Minnesinger Order. While those esoteric societies may have focused around architecture, symbolism, and sacred geometry--and perhaps the Grand Medicine Lodge may have focused on medicine and metaphysics--ultimately various societies of native believers have a lot in common.
Freemasonic, Rosicrucian, or Kabbalistic occult orders are--while similar in some ways--different in that they're not folkish associations. Personally, this is why I admire orders like the Grand Medicine Lodge or the Minnesinger Order. I don't see much virtue in any people pushing their way into, and meddling with cultures other than their own... such as what Westerners try to do with Hawaiian or Amerindian traditions. Admiration, study, or friendship should be sufficient.
A lot of cultures, like the Chippewa tribe, still possess their native traditions; while those of the West had been driven underground, like the German Builders' Guild (Odinic/Heathen). Every person in the world descended from pagan tribes, which all had institutions of knowledge like the Grand Medicine Lodge for tens of thousands of years.
Personally, I don't see any conflict between a persons Christian beliefs and what they could see as their native spiritual-cultural pursuit! You can have all the technology in the world, but if you lose all sense of yourself and of your ancient roots... you're lost. Everything doesn't have to be a competition either (capitalism, sports, material gain, political power, etc.); or, perhaps we need a new "competition" to see who can do the most to save our environment?
The Midewiwin (also spelled Midewin and Medewiwin) or the Grand Medicine Society is a secretive religion of the aboriginal groups of the Maritimes, New England and Great Lakes regions in North America. Its practitioners are called Midew and the practices of Midewiwin referred to as Mide. Occasionally, male Midew are called Midewinini, which sometimes is translated into English as "medicine man."