A Lenape Ritual to Commemorate “Beginnings”

On the evening of March 20 (the 1st day of Spring), Bob wrote me this email:

Niko and I just went for a visit. We were sitting on the deck and it went like a mental tornado. I called out “Keme!” when it started to happen, as we were transported. We both arrived there, Niko as teme/dukey/niko and me in the person involved in the assault. We were in the center of a large circle. People were at least 10 deep in the circle. It was a ritual/celebration of the new season and of a new beginning. Nuttah was leading the ritual.  There were all the elders of the 2 clans that survived in the Wolf and Turtle tribe. Some of the Turtle tribe elders did survive in the Wolf clan. I didn’t know that. There was a ritual of rebirth played out by children and adults coming out of the soil. This was pretty involved, I didn’t get a lot of it, but understood the idea. Then they did a reenactment of the assault that ended it for the head of the marauders. We, including teme, were guests of honor. It was pretty strange to see. Very ritualized and drawn out, a lot of drama to each scene. Then at the end, there was a scene with a turtle shell made from branches and hides the size of a man, big.

Sacred Native American Drummers

Sacred Native American Drummers

Then a ritual scene with drums, as a man in a wolf-skin lifted up from under the shell, carried the shell above him and marched around the circle, led by Nuttah. This signified the joining of the clans. The warriors involved in the assault are now considered demigods, teme a full god. He was just on the ground through the entire ceremony with his paws crossed, very relaxed and regal. We ended it by walking to the creek and submersing ourselves, including teme; he actually led. That was cold, still shaking as I write.  Nuttah did a blessing or something while we were in water. No idea what that was. Came out. Everyone knelt and bowed around us  as the drums went to a crescendo and then Niko and I were back. Both a bit confused.

(Notes that I added as we spoke):
Bob said that there were 100’s of people total involved in the ritual. And that it feels like hours that he is there, but mere seconds pass here. “I was gone a lot longer there than what appeared on the clock here”.  He feels like his head is in both worlds simultaneously.


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