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Patricia Pearson - Native American Indians - Ojibwa and Cree shaking tent



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

From Opening Heaven’s Door – Patricia Pearson

In the summer of 2010 I flew more than a thousand miles north of Toronto to visit the Ojibwa and Cree on their traditional lands in the boreal forest near Hudson's Bay. The Elders there were born in the forest, following an age-old way of life.

They had scarcely more contact with modernity than the tribes of the Amazon or the Andaman Islands, until their children were brutally forced into boarding schools in the twentieth century, as late as the 1970s.

These Elders spoke of their shamanic "shaking tent" ceremony, which they had used, for all intents and purposes, as a radio.

The shaking tent consists of long strips of hide forming a narrow sphere, almost like a closed umbrella. The shaman stands inside it, although its width is barely larger than his body. As he enters into a trance, the hide strips begin to flutter, as if he's created some kind of energy field.

But, explained the Elders, the shaking tent isn't merely a ritual means to commune with the spirits. It was how they learned what was going on before they had telephones-what the weather was like, what hunting conditions other families and groups were encountering hundreds of kilometers up and down their main waterway, the great Severn River. Like the Masai with their "telegraph," there was - there always had been - this other way to know things.

The source of the experience

Native American Indians

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Science Items

Activities and commonsteps