The Sacred Pipe is the Natives most treasured possession. It is the center of the American Indian’s
teaching and ceremonies. It is the summing up of the Native American’s wisdom and outlook on life, for the Sacred Pipe is more than a spiritual tool, more than a ceremonial tool. It is even more than a symbol of representation of all that exists, also it shares the common source and common breath. It is the art of friendship and the calling of friends to smoke it peaceful and taking in of your surroundings of all involved and exhaling it with your spirituality. The smoke mingles and acts as a smudging among Elders, friends and all who participate. It is your spiritual breath mingling with other spiritual breaths. It soothes the air with greatness and spirit. It should be revered as a great happening among us. Personally I don’t smoke so when I smoke with others I merely take it in my mouth and taste its richness and then release it so others can enjoy its spirituality and aroma.
The Sacred Pipe is made in two sections, the bowl and the detachable stem They should be separated when you are not using them and carefully wrapped individually and carried in a hand made pipe bag.
Pipes that are sold as souvenirs or for show in any form or fashion , museums, exhibitions are usually made with the stem attached to the bowl. The Sacred Pipe is with a detachable stem is considered a sacred object and highly revered by the Native American, no matter what Nation or Tribe he is associated with. The Sacred Pipe is thought as the same as a crucifix or holy relic that Christians use.
The bowl, as its shape suggests, symbolizes the female aspect of divinity, and the stem symbolizes the male aspect of divinity. The joining together is spiritual and also moral connection. The bowl and stem are joined then the female and man become one and are joined together as soul-mated, marriage, or a sacred union of their spirituality and also as earthly hu-mans (Divine Mortals). Material
to make a Sacred Pipe is a rock like substance called Catlinite, it is known as pipestone. Pipestone comes from Minnesota or Wisconsin. There is a pipestone quarry in south western Minnesota on land which was owned by Eastern Sioux. The right to quarry pipestone there for making pipes was given to all tribes when the Pipestone National Monument was set up by the United States Congress in 1937.
There are stories told by all Nations and Tribes about how the Sacred Quarry was formed. Some say that thousands of years ago there was a great natural shakening or disaster. It is thought that it took place thousands upon thousands of years ago. Only a few people survived. The multitude of peoples who survived and occupied land in that area of what is now known as the United States, were crushed under the shaking of Mother Earth as it was covered in great tidal waves and by a great flood which covered the land. The blood of these ancestors, solidified (became solid) under great pressure of Mother Earth and water and became the petrified blood red rock now know as pipestone.
If one can believe in the gathering or the happening then one can also believe in such a thing. I personally can believe that because you can dig up fossils now of other animals that are embedded in many different rocks. Why not remains of pressurized human beings that became a form of Mother Earth. The bowl of the pipe is made from Mother Earth and that the Mother Earth itself contains the substance of our ancestors whose bodies, like our own, were derived from the Earth and in due time will also be returned as I spoke before.
The stem of the pipe is made from wood, sometimes cedar or ash or from a wood that has a soft, pithy center so that a channel can be formed so that the smoke can move easily from the pipe.
The carving of the bowl from the red pipestone is very much an art and it takes a good craftsman or carver to form it. Some bowls are carved along straight and clean lines, similar to a ninety degree angle. This pipe usually represents that a single or unmarried man has made it. A pipe that has the similarity of a “T” indicates that the holder and maker of this pipe is a married man who has already started a family. Others may be carved with animals and other effigies on it.
When you assemble the pipe it has a lot of representations. It represents four kingdoms. The bowl made from Mother Earth represents the Mineral Kingdom, The stem, made from wood represents all that grows the Plant Kingdom. The feathers and fur that are hung from the stem when it is united with the bowl represents the birds and animals, the Animal Kingdom. The Human Kingdom is represents by the person who made the pipe and by the one who puts it together and smokes it.
All the elements of Mother Earth, tobacco and herbs that are smoked. Fire when the bowl is lit. Air that is sucked in to keep the material in the bowl fired and lit. Water by the spittle. The Creator is represented by the smoke the is ever present and flowing among us spiritually. He is likening to the Wing and Air and mingles among us and then is changed into another form and we cannot see him but he is still present and among us. He is eternal and can change form at anytime. Alpha and Omega.
The bowl also represents Mother Earth and the stem Father Sky. It shows us that it is a bridge between them It is the duality of the Creator. That can be seen and that cannot be seen. Infinity or infinite, eternal and permanent, is impressed within the Sacred Pipe.
It is said that the White Buffalo Woman appeared before a tribe and she was carrying the bowl of the pipe in her left hand and the stem in her right hand. This is the way that people should carry the pipe today. She instructed the people with the holy pipe you will walk living prayer, your feet resting upon Grandmother Earth, the stem reaching all the way up into the sky to the Grandfather, your body liking the Sacred Beneath with Sacred Above. Wakan-Tanka smiles on us because now we are as one, Earth, Sky, all living things, and the ikce wicasa, the human beings Now we are one big family . The pipe binds us all together.
That is why at every important meeting and Ceremonies the Sacred Pipe is smoked. It is spoken “For All my Relatives”, the relatives are all plants, rocks, animal and humans. The White Buffalo Woman told all the women of the tribe that it was the work their hands and the fruit of their wombs that kept the tribe alive. Their task was as great as that given to the warrior and the hunter. The Sacred Pipe bound them together in a circle of love.
The little children were told that their parents and other members of the Tribe did for them represented the coming generation and therefore completing the circle with no end.
The legends say that when the people watched the White Buffalo Woman walk away that she turned into a Great White Buffalo
These words are things that I have studied over the years and to those that have ears let them hear. For educational purposes only.
Walks With Hawks