The Seven Sacred Laws – As Shared by Elder Nii Gaani Aki Inini (Dr. Dave Courchene), Anishinaabe Nation, Eagle Clan, Founder of Turtle Lodge
In the Anishinaabe world, and others, the Seven Sacred Laws have acted as the foundation of our way of life and connection to the Spirit and the land.
The Seven Sacred Laws are represented by seven animals that ensure our close relationship with Nature. Each animal offers a special gift and understanding of how we as people should live our lives on Mother Earth.
We are living in a time that we need a vision of hope based on values and teachings that can set the foundation for a change of heart. The Seven Sacred Laws are the foundation we are to live by. These Laws emanate from having the spirit of kindness.
It is the spirit of these seven animals that we call upon to teach and remind us of the Seven Sacred Laws, beginning with the law of Respect – Represented by the Buffalo.
Respect is to be a giving and sharing people, first and foremost, following the example of the buffalo who gave its whole being for the life of the people.
Love – Represented by the Eagle – is about loving the Great Spirit, loving the land, loving ourselves in the way we were created, and loving each other in the highest way, as the eagle brings vision that is always based on love. The essence of love is understanding, with empathy and compassion. Through the unconditional love of the Great Spirit, we have all been given the ability to have vision, and to make our visions come true.
Courage – Represented by the Bear – is living from the heart, and having the courage to be ourselves. It takes courage to do the right thing for the sake of the children, the way a mother bear would die before seeing harm come to her cub.
Honesty – Represented by the Sabé or Bigfoot – is being honest with ourselves, speaking and living our truth from the heart. Honesty is refusing to lie or engage in gossip about others. Honesty is being true to our words. Honesty is never judging or condemning others, but to speak well of others, honouring their uniqueness within the human family.
Wisdom – Represented by the Beaver – is about using the gift the Great Spirit gave each of us to serve, and to build a strong family, community and Nation. Our gifts do not belong to us as individuals, but belong to all the people, to serve the good of the Nation. If the beaver did not use his gift to build, his teeth would grow long, and he would die. Similarly, if we do not use our gifts in a good way for the benefit of the Earth and the brothers and sisters of our nations, we too would die spiritually.
Humility – Represented by the Wolf – is about showing gratitude for life received, never overstepping the natural laws of Mother Earth. Humility is to know that not one of us is ever above or below our fellow human beings. We are all equal in the eyes of the Great Spirit. There is so much we can learn from the wolf. The teaching of humility is especially important for the leaders of our Nations.
The teaching of Truth is represented by the Turtle. Our motherland is referred to as Turtle Island. To know and live truth is to walk and live all the Seven Sacred Laws. Living truth means living in the spirit of Respect, Love, Courage, Honesty, Wisdom, Humility and Truth. It is when we live truth that we will know peace and find the truth of our humanity. Our spiritual constitution is written on the turtle. The turtle lives in the water and on the land to remind the whole world of the truth we should be living by.
The animals that represent the seven sacred laws ensure that we have a close relationship with the land – an alliance with nature. The animal world are our brothers. They live with each other in harmony and bring us teachings.
When one is able to walk the spirit of these Seven Sacred Laws is when one becomes truly free, it is then that one receives the full support of the universe, and the forces of the Earth itself.
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