All About The Native American Prayer Stick
A prayer stick is a stick that has the purpose of making petitions and offerings to the world of spirits. It is also called a medicine stick or a spirit stick. A medicine man or shaman were the ones who’d usually use the prayer stick. But members of the tribe can also make and use them. If you find a prayer stick buried into the ground, then that prayer stick has sacred significance or sacred meaning. You’ll usually find them in caves, fields, and springs. The Zuni, Pueblo, and Hobi, which were Native American tribes in Southwest America, used the prayer sticks with their religious ceremonies. These tribes called prayer sticks “Pahos”
What Does a Prayer Stick Look Like?
There are many shapes that a prayer stick can resemble. They will usually be narrow and long, while it’s coloured in bright colours and adorned with feathers. The feathers will be picked depending on the petition’s nature as well as who the person praying with it is. The wood that is typically used to construct the prayer stick is usually willow, cedar, or cottonwood. The stick is also painted and carved into, and sometimes it will be wrapped in leather. The sticks have sizes that are measured from the fingertips to the elbow.
What is the Meaning Behind a Prayer Stick?
The prayer stick has a few names that will tell you how they’re used during rituals and religious ceremonies. As mentioned above, they are often used to make petitions and offerings to the world of spirits. The stick has numerous colourful symbols and signs, adorning it as it reflects or represents the message or prayer. The prayer stick will usually have a feather attached to it. The feather acts as a way to call upon the totem or spirit bird so the supplication, message, or prayer can be carried to the spirit world.
What is the Purpose of a Prayer Stick?
The purpose of a prayer stick is to be used to communicate with spirits during a prayer’s evocation. During blessings, cleansing or healing prayers, and funeral rites, the prayer stick will most likely be used. The prayer sticks aren’t used all the time, though. They are often saved for when they need to call forth spirits with immense power, such as when they want to perform a cleansing or healing prayer. The Great Plains tribes would often use prayer sticks during ceremonies and hunting rituals. They would create the prayer sticks so they could call the powerful spirits and ask for protection for their warriors when they were in battle. There are also talking sticks, which are a different kind of ceremony and ritual. They would pass around the talking stick around the tribal council, and whoever had the talking stick was the only one allowed to express themselves freely.
Who Could Use a Prayer Stick?
The tribes saw the prayer stick as a powerful way to communicate with the spirits. The medicine man or shaman weren’t the only ones allowed to make or offer a prayer stick. During a solstice, all family members would plant prayer sticks into holes that the household head would dig. Every prayer stick that they buried would each be prepared with the appropriate ceremonies and respect. Prayer stick planting was something that community members and families observed ceremoniously. As they did so, they prayed silently for rainy weather and successful harvests.