In this post I will discuss the Naming Ceremony, the traditional ceremony conducted to name a native child. All baby naming ceremonies are different, even within tribes. The baby baning ceremony is a celebration of life and is extremely sacred in native culture. The ceremonies are supposed to pertain specifically to the family of the child, making each ceremony different and sacred in its own way. The Naming Ceremony is meant to welcome the soul of the child into the world by showing the child love, belonging, security, and embracement. The ceremony is said to be an “earthing” process because the child’s soul is exposed to the physical world. It is considered the first Rite of Passage for the child in native culture. The names are usually presented to the child by an elder of the community, but chosen based on a certain aspect of the child or pertaining specifically to the event of the birth. Many natives also acquire additional names throughout their lives. The child’s name is a representation of their mission and purpose in their community and their individuality. It pertains to the child’s spirit and is a taken very seriously in native culture.
At the beginning of the ceremony Imphepo, Lavender, Sage, and Sweetgrass are burned to cleanse those in attendance and purify the environment. The seven directions are then welcomed to oversee the ceremony. The ceremony itself is carried out in a circle, symbolizing the circle of life and how everything in life happens in cycles. Everyone is expected to bring a gift of the earth or something of significance to the individual and the child. Each person has the opportunity to present their own gift to the child, explain its meaning and importance, and send the child their wishes and prayers. Throughout the ceremony, songs are sung are people play special rattles that represent the retrieving of the soul. The child is blessed with the four sacred elements, earth, air, fire and water. When the ceremony ends, the attendees smoke the Sacred Pipe to connect with the Great Spirit and signal the conclusion of the process. After the Sacred Pipe is smoked, the attendees are welcomed to contribute to the child’s “Book of Days.” This book will remain with the child throughout their life as he or she keeps record of their significant events and sacred occasions. Each book is unique and special to the child in its own way.