Animal Totems: Hummingbird

Aboriginal/Indigenous and Native American religious traditions embrace the power and cycles of nature. In fact, their beliefs are inseparable from their understanding of nature and the roles they play in a unified cosmos.

A “totem” is a symbol, emblem, logo, trademark – usually a person or thing that represents something else. Anthropology teaches that totems are representative of individuals, groups, families, clans, sects and tribes.

Frequently, but not always, totems are animals. Some totems are deeply personal… while others are collective or universal. Animal totems are also called “spirit animals.”

Some Christians and Jews and Muslims believe in guardian angels. Indigenous peoples believe in totems. Totems are outward signs. Some are messengers; some are heroes; all are symbols that have purpose and meaning. Understanding totems presents the possibility of understanding the subtle communication between totems, their meanings and the people that honor them.

Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell wrote extensively about the purpose of totems, their messages and their powerful contribution to the development of a culture people to people, generation to generation, place to place. Totems exists to remind us of something else.

Look around. Indeed, totems surround us:
tattoos, body art, jewelry, T shirts, dollar bills, billboards, wedding rings, the American flag, the Christian sign of the cross, Chevron’s logo, the Jewish Star of David, the peace sign, the Nike swoosh, NBC’s peacock, Wells Fargo stagecoach, Twitter’s bird, the Buddhist man with the fat belly sitting in the lotus position – all totems. Totems are simple ways to communicate complex meanings.

I have come to appreciate and especially honor animal totems – particularly having lived in the desert Southwest – New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Nevada for many years. Native signs and symbols permeate the history, the land and the local culture here. They are part of our story.

Personal totems are things personified with special personal meaning and significance beyond the ordinary. Totems are usually cherished and sometimes revered.

At particularly intense moments in my life, hummingbirds show up. I have no logical reason to explain why. They just do. And sometimes, they seem to show up repeatedly until I “get the message.” I have learned to stop analyzing the synchronicity… and simply cherish the moments they visit my experience.

Hummingbirds represent life’s enjoyment literally while seemingly appearing completely out of no where…hovering for a moment and then vanishing just as fast as they appeared. Their essence is joy.
They are innately attracted to the sweetness of life which sustains them.
Hummingbirds symbolize fearlessness, ceaseless efforts and the reminder of a jeweled iridescent tiny dancer filled with grace and beauty.

“Myths suggest this extraordinary bird has the ability to float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration.
Hummingbirds are capable of amazing feats despite their small size. They are known to travel great distances and are the only bird that can fly backwards. Their delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.”

They working really hard – biologically, a hummingbird’s tiny heart can beat 1,260 times a minute while breathing up to 250 times per minute. They are extraordinarily efficient with their use of energy.
They can lick up to 15 times a second while feeding and drinking.
They cannot smell but they have excellent eyesight.
Hummingbirds can fly up to 30 miles per hour while being able to to reach up to 60 miles per hour in a dive.
They are truly aviary acrobats and gymnasts.
Hummingbirds lay the smallest eggs of all the birds.
They are native only to the Western Hemisphere.
They need to consume 1/2 of their weight in sugar every day.
Most hummingbirds eat 5-8 times an hour.

My connection with hummingbirds has proven them to be messengers… reminding me to take lessons from their extraordinary adaptability and enchanting resiliency while staying playful, optimistic and joyful.

Animal Totems: Hummingbird

Native American Blessings

Lakota Prayer

While studying Interfaith Theology during my ministry training, I took a course in Aboriginal, Indigenous and Native Religious Texts. The course taught me a great deal about their primal beliefs, ancient world views, Native traditions and the history of the inhabitants of lands before European invasion.

I particularly honor the legacy of Native American spirituality. Where ever I have lived, I’ve tried to connect in some way with the spirit of the indegenous people whose bones, blood, sweat and tears are literally part of the land. I often reflect on the heritage they provide for our contemporary contexts of interfaith and of ecospirituality. I believe Native peoples have much to teach us about the Sacred, our relationship with Nature and our interconnectedness across the globe as one people with the gods and goddesses.

Pray with me:

Navajo Chant
The mountains, I become a part of it…
The herbs, the fir tree, I become a part of it.
The morning mists, the clouds, the gathering waters,
I become a part of it.
The wilderness, the dew drops, the pollen…
I become a part of it.

Apache Blessing
May the sun bring you new energy by day,
may the moon softly restore you by night,
may the rain wash away your worries,
may the breeze blow new strength into your being,
may you walk gently through the world and
know it’s beauty all the days of your life.

Lakota Prayer
Oh Great Spirit,
Whose voice I hear in the wind,
Whose breath gives life to the world,
Hear me!
I come to you as one of your many children.
I am small and weak.
I need your strength and wisdom.
May I walk in beauty.
Make my eyes behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things that you have made,
And my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may know the things
That you have taught your children–
The lessons that you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
Make me strong, not to be superior to my brothers, but to be
able to fight my greatest enemy: myself.
Make me ever ready to come to you with straight eyes, so that
When life fades as the faded sunset
My spirit will come to you without shame.

Ute Prayer
Earth teach me stillness
as the grasses are stilled with light.
Earth teach me suffering
as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility
as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth Teach me caring
as the mother who secures her young.
Earth teach me courage
as the tree which stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation
as the ant which crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom
as the eagle which soars in the sky.
Earth teach me resignation
as the leaves which die in the fall.
Earth teach me regeneration
as the seed which rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness
as dry fields weep in the rain.

Mohawk Prayer
Oh Great Spirit, Creator of all things;
Human Beings, trees, grass, berries.
Help us, be kind to us.
Let us be happy on earth.
Let us lead our children
To a good life and old age.
These our people; give them good minds
To love one another.
Oh Great Spirit,
Be kind to us
Give these people the favor
To see green trees,
Green grass, flowers, and berries
This next spring;
So we all meet again
Oh Great Spirit,
We ask of you.

Hopi Prayer for Peace
Great Spirit and all unseen, this day we pray and ask You for guidance,
humbly we ask You to help us and fellow men to have recourse to peaceful ways of life,
because of uncontrolled deceitfulness by human- kind.
Help us all to love, not hate one another.

We ask you to be seen in an image of Love and Peace.
Let us be seen in beauty, the colors of the rainbow. We respect our Mother,
the planet, with our loving care, for from Her breast we receive our nourishment.

Let us not listen to the voices of the two-hearted, the destroyers of mind,
the haters and self-made leaders, whose lusts for power and wealth will lead us into confusion and darkness.

Seek visions always of world beauty, not violence nor battlefields.

It is our duty to pray always for harmony between man and earth, so that the earth will bloom once more. Let us show our emblem of love and goodwill for all life and land.

Pray for the House of Glass, for within it are minds clear and pure as ice and mountain streams. Pray for the great leaders of nations in the House of Mica who in their own quiet ways help the earth in balance.

We pray the Great Spirit that one day our Mother Earth will be purified into a healthy peaceful one. Let us sing for strength of wisdom with all nations for the good of all people.
Our hope is not yet lost, purification must be to restore the health of our Mother Earth for lasting peace and happiness.

I welcome your submissions and will be happy to add them.

Native American Blessings

The Peace Seeds: 12 Interfaith Prayers for Peace

October 27, 1986, Assisi, Italy
World Day of Prayer for Peace 1986 Assisi,Italy

On October 27, 1986, world religious leaders gathered in Assisi, Italy for the Day of Prayer for World Peace. The 12 prayers for peace offered have become known as the Peace Seeds.

“Like the bee gathering honey from the different flowers, the wise person accepts the essence of the different scripture and sees only the good in all religions.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Oh God, lead us from the unreal to the Real. Oh God, lead us from darkness to light.
Oh God, lead us from death to immortality.
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti unto all. Oh Lord God Almighty,
May there be peace in celestial regions.
May there be peace on earth. May the waters be appeasing. May herbs be wholesome.
And may trees and plants bring peace to all.
May all beneficent beings bring peace to us.
May they Vedic Law propagate peace all through the world.
May all things be a source of peace to us. And may thy peace itself, bestow peace on all,
And may that peace come to me also.

May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
Quickly be freed from their illnesses. May those frightened cease to be afraid,
And may those bound be free.
May the powerless find power, and may people think of befriending one another.
May those who find themselves in trackless, fearful wilderness –
the children, the aged, the unprotected –
Be guarded by beneficent celestials, and may they swiftly attain Buddhahood.

Peace and Universal Love is the essence of the Gospel
preached by all the Enlightened Ones.
The Lord has preached that equanimity is the Dharma.
Forgive do I creature all and let all creatures forgive me.
Unto all have I amity and unto none enmity.
Know that violence is the root cause of all miseries in the world.
Violence, in fact, is the knot of bondage.
“Do not injure any living being.”
This is the eternal , perennial and unalterable way of spiritual life.
Any weapon, howsoever powerful it may be,
can always be superseded by a superior one;
But no weapon can, however, be superior to non-violence and love.

In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful.
Praise be to the Lord of the Universe.
Who had created us and made us into tribes and nations,
That we may know each other, not that we may despise each other.
If the enemy inclines towards peace, Do thous also incline towards peace,
And trust in God, For the Lord is the one that hears and knows all things.
And the servants of God, Most Gracious, are those who walk on the earth
in humility, and when we address them, we say “Peace.”

God judges us according to our deeds, not the coat we wear.
That Truth is above everything, but higher still is truthful living.
Know that we attain God when we love,
And only that victory endures in consequence of which no one is defeated.

Be generous in prosperity and thankful in adversity.
Be fair in judgement and guarded in speech.
Be a lamp for those who walk in darkness and a home to the stranger.
Be eyes to the blind and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring.
Be a breathe of life to the body of humankind,
A dew to the soil of the human heart,
And a fruit upon the tree of humility.

Although the people living across the ocean surrounding us,
I believe are all brothers and sisters,
Why are there constant troubles in this world?
Why do winds and waves rise in the ocean surrounding us?
I only earnestly wish that the wind will soon puff away all the clouds
Which are hanging over the tops of the mountains.

Almighty God, the Great Thumb cannot evade to tie any knot;
The Roaring Thunder that splits mighty trees;
The All Seeing Lord up on high who sees even the footprints of an antelope
on a rock mass here on Earth.
You are the One who does not hesitate to respond to our call.
You are the cornerstone of peace.

O Great Spirit of our Ancestors, I raise my pipe to you.
To your messengers the four winds and to Mother Earth who provides for your children.
Give us the wisdom to teach our children to love,
to respect and to be kind to each other so that they may grow with peace in mind.
Let us learn to share all the good things that you provide for us on this Earth.

We pray to God to eradicate all the misery in the world;
That understanding triumph over ignorance, that generosity triumph over indifference,
That trust triumph over contempt and that truth triumph over falsehood.

Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord
that we may walk the paths of the Most High.
And we shall beat our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning hooks.
National shall not life us sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
And none shall be afraid for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts has spoken.

Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be known as Children of God.
But I say to you that hear: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.
Bless those who curse you and pray for those who abuse you.
To those who strike you on the cheek offer the other also.
And from those who take away your cloak, do not withhold your coat as well.
Give to everyone who begs from you
And of those who take away your goods do not ask them again.
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

*Thanks to the Chaplaincy Institute (www.ChaplaincyInstitute.Org/library).

The Peace Seeds: 12 Interfaith Prayers for Peace

Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address (Prayer)

Native American 3 Sisters Legend - corn, beans, squash
Native American 3 Sisters Legend – corn, beans, squash

Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address (Prayer)

It is said as a daily sunrise prayer, and is an ancient message of peace and appreciation of Mother Earth and her inhabitants. The children learn that, according to Native American tradition, people everywhere are embraced as family. Our diversity, like all wonders of Nature, is truly a gift for which we are thankful.

When one recites the Thanksgiving Address the Natural World is thanked, and in thanking each life-sustaining force, one becomes spiritually tied to each of the forces of the Natural and Spiritual World. The Thanksgiving Address teaches mutual respect, conservation, love, generosity, and the responsibility to understand that what is done to one part of the Web of Life, we do to ourselves.

To read the entire Thanksgiving Address (Prayer) go to

With thanks to Curanderismo, the Healing Art of Mexico. Art: The Three Sisters, artist unknown.
According to Haudenosaunee legend, corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together,

*Thanks to All Paths Divinity School (my seminary) for sharing this post on Facebook.

Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address (Prayer)

Thanksgiving 2014

meister eckhart

This year has been very painful for me. Despite my losses, I am grateful.

A Native American Thanksgiving Blessing
We return thanks to our mother, the earth,
which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams,
which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs,
which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and stars,
which have given to us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to the sun,
that has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit,
in Whom is embodied all goodness,
and Who directs all things for the good of Her children. (Iroquois Nation)

A Jewish/Interfaith Thanksgiving Prayer
For the laughter of the children,
For my own life breath,
For the abundance of food on this table,
For the ones who prepared this sumptuous feast,
For the roof over our heads,
The clothes on our backs,
For our health,
And our wealth of blessings,
For this opportunity to celebrate with family and friends,
For the freedom to pray these words
Without fear,
In any language,
In any faith,
In this great country,
Whose landscape is as vast and beautiful as her inhabitants.
Thank You, God, for giving us all these. Amen. (Rabbi Naomi Levy)

A Hindu Thanksgiving Prayer Before Meals
This ritual is one.
The food is one.
We who offer the food are one.
The fire of hunger is also one.
All action is one.
We who understand this are one.

A Christian Thanksgiving Litany
Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so
freely bestowed upon us.
For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and
sky and sea.
We thank you, Lord.
For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women,
revealing the image of Christ,
We thank you, Lord.
For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and
our friends,
We thank you, Lord.
For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve,
We thank you, Lord.
For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play,
We thank you, Lord.
For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering
and faithful in adversity,
We thank you, Lord.
For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice,
We thank you, Lord.
For the communion of saints, in all times and places,
We thank you, Lord.
Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and
promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord;
To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the
Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen. (The Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer)

The Canticle of the Creatures
Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,
All praise is Yours, all glory, honor and blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong;
no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

We praise You, Lord, for all Your creatures,
especially for Brother Sun, who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
of You Most High, he bears your likeness.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Moon and the stars,
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

We praise You, Lord, for Brothers Wind and Air,
fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Water,
so useful, humble, precious and pure.

We praise You, Lord, for Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night.
He is beautiful, playful, robust, and strong.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Earth,
who sustains us with her fruits, colored flowers, and herbs.

We praise You, Lord, for those who pardon,
for love of You bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace,
by You Most High, they will be crowned.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in their sins!
Blessed are those that She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm.

We praise and bless You, Lord, and give You thanks,
and serve You in all humility. (St. Francis of Assisi)

An Interfaith Prayer of Thankfulness
For today, I am grateful. For tomorrow, I am hopeful. For my life, I am blessed
I thank my ancestors for their labors and survival.
I thank my contemporaries for their companionship.
I thank my descendants for carrying me with them.

For today… I do my best in all things. For tomorrow… I honor and heal the environment. For my life… I work to be a healthy cell in the body of the Universe.
I honor the journey of my life with conscious living
and honor the the lives of all I meet and those I will never know. (Abby Willowroot)

Thanksgiving 2014