Two Native American Inspired Rituals

Last week I wrote about a hand warming ceremony – an idea I came up with on a cold day. Another winter inspired ritual is a ‘blanket ceremony.’ It comes from a Native American tradition. 

Blanket Ritual

In the original, traditional Native American ceremony each partner is wrapped in separate, blue blankets. Then the officiant gives a blessing and removes the blankets. The couple is then wrapped in a single white blanket. The blue represents their past, single lives, and the white represents their new life, to be filled with peace and happiness. The white blanket is kept by the couple and displayed in their home.

In some ways it is simple ritual with clear symbolism, and I think it’s quite wonderful. 

This ritual can be easily modified to use just one blanket and choosing the blanket can also be part of the process for any couple. Why was it selected? Where does it come from? Who made it?  Does the color or colors represent something? Did you buy it on a special trip? You get the idea.

Martha Stewart Weddings featured the blanket ritual

You might also select certain people wrap the blanket, for example the mothers of each of the partners, or the couples’ ‘best persons,’ or have the officiant do it.

The warmth and unity of this ritual is also apparent. But as much as I like this, a blanket may not be the best symbol on a hot day. I’m thinking winter right now!

It works very well as a final ritual and having something special (besides being pronounced married) at the very end can exciting. I love adding some extra zest for the ending, whether it’s jumping a  branch or broom, shooting off confetti cannons, breaking the glass, or any number of joyful rituals to enhance that final moment.

Vase Ritual

Another Native American ritual that could be adapted is the Wedding Vase or Wedding Vessel. Originating among the Southwestern U.S. Navajo, Pueblo and Hopi Nations, the tradition has also been embraced by Cherokee tribes in the Southeast U.S. and Mexico. 

Historically the parents of the groom have been responsible for creating the wedding vase. To start, they go to a local river and find clay to create their vase. By combining the clay with temper (sand or silica to give the clay body) they hand-build the vase. The pottery is fired outside in an open pit and then cleaned and polished so it will be ready to be used during the wedding ceremony.  There is a long history of pottery making among these people.

Beautiful Native American crafts on display

No one is expecting you to do that today, especially if you are not Native American, but the spiritual meaning will still remain. 

For this ritual obtain a vase, perhaps from an authentic source. This vessel needs to have two spouts for drinking.  Each partner drinks from a separate spout showing  that although they drink from the same vessel, they are still individuals.  I found New Mexico artist Geraldine Vail creates one-of-a-kind pieces that are just perfect.  I’m sure there are many others.

As always I advocate that when you borrow something from a tradition that is not your own, you do so with respect.  There is a difference between cultural appropriate and appreciation. Don’t pretend to be a Native American if you are not, but if borrowing this tradition, give credit and explain why you have chosen it. You can certainly have a blanket ritual or wedding vase ritual as part of your wedding, but don’t dress up in some costume and pretend to be American Indian if you are not. It’s not disrespectful to use another tradition when you do it with love, just use common sense and respect boundries.

find me on facebook – Lois Heckman, Celebrant, and Instagram – Lois Heckman

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