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Debbie V
05-18-2011, 07:51 PM
The following is a line from my manuscript, referring to carving a wood block into an animal shape. The character speaking knows more than I do again.

“Native Americans would say I’m freeing the tree spirit trapped when the tree was cut down.”

I need to know whose tradition this fits with best. And then to tweak it to make it accurate and specific to that tradition. If Native Americans don't fit, I'll take anything that does. If it's just wrong, tell me what's right. Thanks for your help.

Ambri
05-19-2011, 01:44 AM
Well, I'm not an expert on Native American beliefs; you might be able to find some books on the subject at your local library. But from my limited knowledge, this could fit into a Pagan or Wiccan belief system.

Debbie V
05-19-2011, 02:33 AM
Thanks, Ambri.

I searched my library's online catalog but came up with nothing. The internet search yielded the Fox Indians as a possibility, but I have questions about the accuracy of the site I was reading. The info also lacked depth.

I have a Wiccan friend I can check with on that front, but Native American works better for the feel of the character.

Hoping someone else has more input.

Xelebes
05-19-2011, 06:41 AM
You might want to be specific in terms of tribe-family you are talking about. It also may help to find the resources you are looking for.

Rowan
05-19-2011, 02:09 PM
There's an excellent thread in here about all things "Native American," but I can't recall the thread title. Anyone remember that one?

Debbie V
05-19-2011, 08:50 PM
Rowan,I'll search for the thread. Thanks.

Xelebes, I noted in my second post that the Fox Indians might work, but the tribe-family doesn't matter to me. As long as there is something about tree spirits and whittling, I can make it work. The character speaking in the book would know the tribe, so I need to.

I struck out at the public library. Hate to spend the gas to drive a half hour each way to a University, but I will if I need to.

comradebunny
05-19-2011, 09:12 PM
I'd check if the Fox tribe has a web site. I lived with Dakota/Lakota people. I know that they have many websites where you could access info. Unfortunately, they don't have tree spirits.

Debbie V
05-19-2011, 09:41 PM
Thanks, Comrade. The website is very practical and doesn't contain info on the belief system. I'll try calling or writing if no other resource appears.

I didn't find the thread here. There's over 500 that mention Native Americans, too many to go through. Adding religion didn't turn up what I was looking for.

Canotila
05-19-2011, 10:39 PM
If it helps, you can probably rule out most of the Pacific northwestern tribes. The only one I personally know of that talks about tree spirits are the Makah, but not from dead trees. You have to ask the tree for permission to cut it down, harvest roots, carve a canoe out of it, etc. so its relatives don't drop branches on you.

Debbie V
05-19-2011, 11:06 PM
Thanks, Canotila. That gives me something real to work with instead of what my brain contrived.

What if the wood came from a tree felled by nature? Just thoughts, in case I can't get closer to the original idea.

Underthelivingmoon
05-20-2011, 01:46 AM
I'm not an expert by any means, but most of the native tribes that I am aware of have a belief that all living objects (trees, animals, people, the sun and moon, etc) have a spiritual essence that must be honored. If you use any part of a living thing to create or consume (making a tree into a piece or art, or killing an animal for food,etc) you must thank the Great Spirit(has many names) for providing you with your needs. Even if your character did not hurt the tree themselves, they would still honor the spirit contained within the once living object.

Your line :“Native Americans would say I’m freeing the tree spirit trapped when the tree was cut down.” Is the person who originally created the carving Native? If they practiced the traditional ways, most likely the person would have honored the spirit before creating their art. Or is it just some random guy who chopped down a tree and sculpted an animal?

Does your story require you to name specific Native traditions? You are going to have a bit of a hard time then. There are hundreds of tribes- each with their own language, cultural, and spiritual beliefs.You would be able to find general information of their belief in spirits but many are not too keen on sharing some of their deeper beliefs and customs with outsiders.

Also, fyi, there are a number of tribes that have merged Christianity in their belief systems. So while some might honor the spiriual essence of living things in the traditional way, others might do it with more of a modern mix. I am not familiar with that way but I thought that you might like to know.

Sorry for prattling on... :)

Debbie V
05-20-2011, 06:06 AM
Yay for prattling.

My main character, a fourteen year old, is carving a block of wood left in a drawer by his dead father. The line is said by the father, either it's a memory or a ghost speaking. Neither is Native American (not raised in the traditions though I don't know about bloodline), but the father was aware. I feel like he'd mention a specific tribe and not just say "Native Americans" as I have it. He was a man of vast and varied experience and more at home in the woods and the sky than with people.

So all of this is just to get those one or two lines right. I believe in always having the exact right words.

Thanks.

frimble3
05-20-2011, 06:28 AM
If he's a man of vast and varied experienced, and more into nature than people, maybe that's why he says it's a 'Native American' belief. He might have heard of this belief, feels that it's true or at least worthy of consideration, but didn't catch the speaker's tribe, or it was someone he'd known for ages, and they never really discussed origins. Some guys can be friends for years and know nothing about each other's family.
(Also, depending on his age/background, he might have more naturally said 'Indian', which his son mentally translates to 'Native American, as the term he's more familiar with.) You could acknowledge the lack of specifics, maybe have the son wonder if it was a particular tribe, without searching for a tradition that might or might not exist, and perhaps not in the way your story needs.
And, if you don't want the tree to be 'cut down' deliberately, why not 'came down', which implies anything from blown-down in a windstorm, to chopped, to rotted out and fell over.

Debbie V
05-20-2011, 05:34 PM
Thanks, Frimble. I will change to came down. There is no further discussion or mention of the line in the book, except the son makes a quick request of the spirit to be freed too. The reader gets only that line.

Underthelivingmoon
05-20-2011, 07:35 PM
I would simply say--“Native Americans would say I’m freeing the spirit that was trapped when the tree came down.”

Debbie V
05-20-2011, 11:28 PM
Simply stated, but I'd still like a tribe.

Underthelivingmoon
05-20-2011, 11:53 PM
Simply stated, but I'd still like a tribe.

Well, I am a quarter Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and my ex was half Ojibwe- both believe in the spirits of any living thing, even the wind, stars, thunder, moon and sun, etc...

Debbie V
05-21-2011, 01:05 AM
Are you comfortable with the idea of the tree's spirit being trapped when it's felled?

Diana_Rajchel
05-21-2011, 02:31 AM
I'm Wiccan - it might be something to a specific Wiccan, but it's definitely not part of any specific tradition. I also don't know of any specific Native American nation that has that view of plant life.

It DOES sound like something a Hindu or Tibetan Buddhist might subscribe to. Plant spirits and "devas" fit within those cosmologies.

Rowan
05-21-2011, 04:56 AM
Rowan,I'll search for the thread. Thanks.

Xelebes, I noted in my second post that the Fox Indians might work, but the tribe-family doesn't matter to me. As long as there is something about tree spirits and whittling, I can make it work. The character speaking in the book would know the tribe, so I need to.

I struck out at the public library. Hate to spend the gas to drive a half hour each way to a University, but I will if I need to.

I found it! :) http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=201373&highlight=indian%2C+myth

The OP should be able to help you if you don't find what you need in the thread. I'll admit I haven't read all the posts, but the OP was very helpful and very knowledgeable.

Best of luck!

Purple Rose
05-21-2011, 09:12 AM
The Thais have a special prayer ceremony before they chop down a tree, especially a grand dame of a tree. those are the ones that have to go to make way for a new road or a building. Proibably way off from your part of the world but just in case you're interested...

Debbie V
05-21-2011, 10:17 PM
Diana, if you have more specific info or can point me to a resource on how either of those belief sets works in regard to trees, I'd be very happy. Many points to you.

Purple Rose, thanks for the info.

Rowan, blessings. Searching the thread now.

-Debbie