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A VERY old Thanksgiving Prayer

Long before pilgrims, the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois, or The League of Six Nations) had an opening prayer for gatherings. Still spoken today, Ohenten Kariwatkwa (which literally means “Words That Come Before All Else,) is used to remind us of our inter-connectedness with each other, other living beings, and the cosmos. There are many versions of Ohenten Kariwatka. It is up to the speaker to chose what the gathering of people will express gratitude for. Consider this as you express your thanksgiving today! FYI: The Haudenosaunee are considered one of the world’s oldest participating democracies (over 800 years!) and they are credited with contributing the formation of our own nation. Their leaders spoke at our Continental Congress in 1776, and you can see their influence in our Declaration of Independance and Constitution. I suggest that today, we also express thanks and gratitude to The People of the Longhouse! Words That Come Before All Else ~ The People ~*~ Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People. Now our minds are one. ~*~ The Earth Mother ~*~ We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send greetings and thanks. Now our minds are one *** ~*~ The Waters ~*~ We give thanks to all the Waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms– waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit Water. Now our minds are one. ***** ~*~ The Fish ~*~ We turn our minds to all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the fish and send our greetings and thanks. Now our minds are one. ~*~ The Plants ~*~ Now we turn towards the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come. Now our minds are one. ***** ~*~ The Food Plants ~*~ With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting and thanks. Now our minds are one. ***** ~*~ The Medicine Herbs ~*~ Now we turn to all the Medicine Herbs of the world. From the beginning, they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines Now our minds are one. ~*~ The Animals ~*~ We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so. Now our minds are one ***** ~*~ The Trees ~*~ We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, other with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many peoples of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the tree of life. Now our minds are one ~*~ The Birds ~*~ We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds– from the smallest to the largest–we send our joyful greetings and thanks. Now our minds are one ***** ~*~ The Four Winds ~*~ We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messengers and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds. Now our minds are one ***** ~*~ The Thunders ~*~ Now we turn to the west where our Grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightening and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunders. Now our minds are one. ***** ~*~ The Sun ~*~ We now send the greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun. Now our minds are one. ~*~ Grandmother Moon ~*~ We put our minds together and give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the nighttime sky. She is the leader of women all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon. Now our minds are one. ***** ~*~ The Stars ~*~ We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to all the Stars. Now our minds are one. ***** ~*~ The Enlightened Teachers ~*~ We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring Teachers. Now our minds are one. ***** ~*~ The Creator ~*~ We turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator. Now our minds are one. ***** ~*~ Closing Words ~*~ We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intent to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way. Now our minds are one. Read the original post on the Gaia Girls blog.
gaiagirls Lee Welles is the author of the Gaia Girls book series.

I am the author of the award-winning Gaia Girls book series. I live in Corning, NY with my third-grade teacher hubby, two dogs (one young and wild, one old and patient) and an orange cat who thinks he is king of the whole pride. I am elected City Councilman here because I believe in putting your money where your mouth is and I drive VW Beetle that runs on waste veggie-oil. Writing a fictional sereis about girl-eco heroes is extremely fun and I have discovered the profession of writing suits my nature. Half the time I'm squired away from the world and lost in my own daydreams and the other half I get to go into schools, libraries and other interesting venues to talk about my work and, more importantly, about Gaia.

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