Long before the dawn of man, the Kwakiutl tribes inhabited the coastal region and believed the world was ruled by supernatural beings that took the shape of different animals. These bears, wolves, seals, ravens, bees, owls, and whales were the embodiment of nature and possessed supreme supernatural prowess.
The Kwakiutl tribe believes these beings endowed the first members of their tribe with a fragment of their power. Their descendants are the modern-day Kwakiutl and continue this tradition by engaging in ceremonies that connect them to the power of nature and these spirits of ancient lore.
The Kwakiutl Midwinter Ceremony is a time in the middle of winter when the tribes join together and reaffirm their belief in the supernatural elements of this world, strengthening the power that dwells within.
Some aspects of the ceremony consist of traditional dances, masks of the animal spirits, and a great feast of salmon, berries, crabapples, and more. The dancing rituals or “Hamatsa dances” are used to entice these ever-present spirits to visit the people of the tribe yet again. It’s understood that rigorous training is required to perform these dances and the tribesman that perform them are blessed with great power and wisdom for their efforts.
Two of the most significant figures in this ceremony are the Raven and the Salmon spirits. According to their beliefs, the Raven was responsible for bringing the sun, moon, and stars into the sky above. The raven is also seen a trickster spirit, taking the form of different animals and people as it sees fit but still highly regarded by the Kwakiutl.
The Salmon is an important figure because salmon were the main staple of the tribe’s diet, as their land stretched from northern California to Alaska. The Kwakiutl also believed that the salmon had a society similar to their own beneath the sea. Their ancestors were taught different ceremonies by these salmon.
The Kwakiutl Midwinter Ceremony celebration is a wonderful time to embrace all things supernatural and to once again take in the mystic elements of nature and myth back into your life.
Take a page from the Kwakiutl and embrace the natural world around you! Thanks again for reading, hope you keep coming back for more.