Hello everyone. My name is L. A. Kelley and I’m a new member of this blog. I hope you’ll join me here every month on the 27th for my latest post. In keeping with the ghost theme, I’ve chosen Apache spirit beliefs for my topic.
A common theme in Native American religions is that mortals have a direct connection to the spirit world through their ancestors. Southwest Apache tribal culture revolves around the belief that these benevolent guiding forces imbue everyday life. Ancestral spirits don’t inhabit a far-away ethereal plain, but, instead are an integral part of the physical world. Without human form, they live among their descendants in natural objects such as rocks, trees, wind, or mountains.
The different tribes of the Apache used a variety of spirit worship with most tied in some way to nature. Since Apaches considered spirits exist as part of the environment, they treated the earth with dignity and respect out of reverence for their ancestors. Spirits even gifted power directly. The Jicarilla Apache tribe believed that at birth a child might receive a special ability related to an animal, a celestial body, or some natural phenomenon. In later years this gift appeared to the select individual who then must decide whether to accept the power from the spirits and become a shaman. Upon acceptance, he or she underwent a test of courage. Other tribes believed these gifts can be sought on their own, and both male and female tribal members who acquire healing powers are considered shamans. These special religious leaders may use ceremony along with a significant knowledge of plants and herbs for healing.
Women as Leaders
An interesting aspect of Apache spiritual beliefs is that unlike Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, women have a central role and serve as family leaders. The Apache believe that women become more powerful at the onset of puberty, and a special ceremony called the sunrise dance is used to prepare a girl for adult life. For four days following the ceremony, girls are attributed with significant power to promote healing or incite rainfall. Women could also have a warrior’s spirit and some joined their tribes in battle.
Using Fact in Fiction
In my paranormal Western, Spirit Ridge, I play around with the different beliefs. The hero, Sam, has an Apache grandmother who is a shaman. Sam, on the other hand, has been plagued with unsettling spirit dreams since childhood, and isn’t quite ready to accept the gift until he meets Nell, a plucky newspaper reporter. Together they must unite to stop a murderous crime lord from taking over the Arizona Territory. Both their courage will be sorely tested. If only the spirits will lend a hand…
About the Author L. A. Kelley writes fantasy/sci-fi adventure stories with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. You can learn more about Spirit Ridge and her other books at http://lakelleythenaughtylist.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html