Sacred Rituals

Sun Dance | Peyote Ceremony

Peyote Ceremony

The Peyote Ceremony, often associated with the Native American Church, consists of a mix of native beliefs and practices along with Christian symbolism. God, Jesus, and Mary are offered prayers in addition to the peyote. Peyote allows members of the Native American Church to seek and obtain wisdom. It is also considered a sacred medicine. When a member of the tribe seeks the peyote, he receives characteristics that are part of the cactus, rebalancing with nature.

Song and ritual are very important in the ceremony. Songs help the Arapaho receive the emotional, physical, and intellectual properties of the peyote. To begin, the leader, sings the opening song, while the man wit the peyote drum keeps a rapid, even drumbeat and sings along at his right. To the left of the lead, sits a man with a cedar branch. Moving clockwise, the drum and rattle are passed from one person to another, each of them singing the four ceremonial songs. Throughout the ceremony, groups of four songs are sung by every person present: Opening Song of the Peyote Ceremony, Midnight Song, Daybreak Song, and Closing Song. Rhythm and song texts of the peyote songs are simple and melodic. The rhythm of the songs is basic with count divisions chiefly composed of quarter and eighth notes. Vocables, paired phrases, make up the song texts of peyote, ending in "he ne ne yo way."


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