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Merry Christmas! . . . and the meaning of Christmas to Native Americans

Merry Christmas! . . . and the meaning of Christmas to Native Americans

Wishing all of you a most joyous Christmas and that the days that follow the Winter Solstice will be a time of renewal and spiritual growth.  As descendants of America’s indigenous peoples, each of you can become a beacon of light to a nation becoming spiritually dead from the false promises of materialism and the obsession to control others.

The word, “Christmas” is under attack from both  right and left ends of the political spectrum.  Have you noticed how  politicians from both major parties, TV advertisements and network talking heads intentionally avoided using the word this year?   By substituting the word “holidays” they hope to garner the maximum percentage of profits and voters.   A central religious tradition of Western Civilization is being diluted into nothingness.

Although religious traditions introduced from Europe,  Hannukah and Christmas  was highly compatible with the Spiritual Path of the Muskogean Peoples.  The Winter Solstice was always an important time in the spiritual life of most Native American peoples.  It symbolized the Creator’s promise that the days of sunlight would steadily get longer and eventually warmth and new life would come to the land again.

The days of Hannukah in Jewish traditions is essentially a statement of hope in the face of darkness.  Christianity added another dimension by celebrating the birth of a baby, Yeshua ben Yusif (Jesus Christ)  with direct links to the Creator, who would introduce a new, spiritual way of living.  We will get back to that baby in a moment.

Native American observance of the solar cycle

The spiritual ties between the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the solar cycle go back a long, long time.  I am currently working on the analysis of a complex of three structures on the coast of South Carolina that have been radiocarbon dated to 2110 BC.   The structures are clearly  oriented to the movement of several celestial bodies, including the sun.   This was public architecture!

Beginning around 200 BC in traditional Creek territory, pyramidal mounds were constructed that were oriented to the solar azimuth.  The oldest mound, on the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta was oriented to the sunrise of the Winter Solstice.  Between around 0 AD and 900 AD the principal temple mounds  faced the sunrise of the Summer Solstice.

Beginning with the construction of the Great Temple Mound at Ocmulgee around 900 AD,  principal temple mounds were oriented to the azimuth of the Winter Solstice sunset.  This marked the adoption of the Mesoamerican calendar, whose years begin on December 21  . . . the Winter Solstice.  Typically arranged perpendicular to the Sun Temple was a smaller, oval Moon temple. This suggests that they were also worshiping a moon god.  Ocmulgee also had a temple mound that seemed to worship a corn god or goddess.

There was some sort of political and religious revolution between 1350 and 1375 AD.   Thereafter, principal temple mounds associated with Apalache Kingdom (Lamar Culture) faced the south and were much smaller.  They did not require the massive amounts of labor to construct as such edifices as the unfinished Mound A at Etowah.  This change marked the adoption of the Muskogean calendar, which begins on the Summer Solstice and included “Leap Days” that are celebrated as the Green Corn Festival.

When Richard Briggstock visited the capital of the Apalache in northeast Georgia in 1653,   worship of the sun had evolved into a monotheistic religion, very similar to Judaism at the time of Christ, except that there were no animal sacrifices.  In fact, shedding of any blood, including hunting, was forbidden within two miles of a temple.

Like the Jews 2000 years ago, the Apalache practiced ritual baptism by immersion before entering the temple and in the case of women, after their monthly period.  They also had to announce their sins publicly before a religious service along with publicly forgiving those who had sinned against them.  Of course, this practice is very much akin to the essence of Jesus’s message.

The only form of sacrifice practiced by Apalache religion was very akin to our modern concept of Christmas.  On the Winter Solstice, the Apalache elite would bring their finest woven clothing to the temple and place them on the altar.   The priests would then distribute the clothing to the needy among the Muskogean commoners.   The elite were also expected to give food to the temple for distribution to the needy in times of food shortages or natural disasters.

The Apalache openly stated a belief in a single, invisible Creator Goddess, symbolized by the sun, but not the sun.   Only a mother could love her children, despite their failings.  They disdained the pagans in Florida and on the South Atlantic Coast, who worshiped idols and regularly sacrificed humans . . . even babies . . . to their bloodthirsty gods.  They also disdained people like the Caribs, who conjured demons that dwelt inside of fires.   The Sacred Fire inside an Apalache Temple had exactly the same meaning as the Sacred Fire inside the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Apalache and their descendants, the members of the Creek Confederacy, were initially hostile to the Spanish, because they seemed to worship idols and inanimate objects,  plus claimed to drink blood at their worship services.  However, in 1566 the Paracusi-te (High King) of Apalache, plus his family, quickly converted to the Protestant version of Christianity, when it was presented by the French Huguenot survivors of Fort Caroline, who were given sanctuary by the High King.  The Apalache elite did not see any conflicts with their traditional beliefs, but were attracted to the message of Jesus concerning salvation through faith.  Their traditional religion was very vague on the soul in eternity.

Most of the Muskogean commoners did not convert at this time.  They soon went back to their traditional religions, which had elements of animism  in them, but nevertheless, were very spiritual in nature.  The priests of the old religion became rebellious when there were few donations to support their livelihood.   After a horrific smallpox plague struck in 1696, the Apalache Kingdom fell apart.   It was replaced two decades later by the Coweta Confederacy.

The establishment of Christmas as a holiday

Christmas was not observed by the original Christian church.   Until the reign of Emperor Constantine,  Christian congregations worshiped on the Jewish Sabbath.   In 313 AD Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, which gave freedom of worship to most religions, including Christianity.   Constantine’s mother was a Christian. Over time, he favored Christianity over paganism, but also began to manipulate its political structure.

Christian congregations were encourage to move their worship day to Sunday, which was the holy day for worshipers of the sun god, Solus Invictus.  The sun god religion was the next most popular religion in the empire.  Constantine hoped that the move would encourage sun worshipers to unite with Christianity.  His mother was a devout Christian, but at the time Constantine considered the Hebrew-Christian god as the most powerful among many gods.

Jesus was not born around the time of the Winter Solstice.  According to the Gospels, “the shepherds were watching their flocks by night.”   Goats and sheep generally give birth in late winter, when the cold air prevents the spread of pathogens, but the days are longer and warmer.   By the time the grass comes up, the kids and lambs will be ready to wean.

Constantine encouraged Christians to establish a special worship service on the Winter Solstice to honor the birth of Jesus.   This was a political move to unite the empire.   The Winter Solstice was already a holy day for the worshipers of Solus Invictus, the Saturnalia festival of traditional Roman pagans,  plus the worshipers of the Persian deity or angel, Mithra.  Mithraism had become a major religion in the Roman empire and was an element of  Zoroastrianism in the Middle East.  By tradition, Mithra had been born of a virgin on the Winter Solstice.

Despite its questionable origins,  Christmas became a very positive element in the cultural traditions of Western Civilization.  Its spiritual form is now observed by the majority of indigenous peoples in the Americas.  After 500 years it has become a tradition that unites all the indigenous peoples of the Americas, no matter what religious denomination they are affiliated with.    The current attempts to erase Christmas from being anything but a time of frantic commercial activity is a threat to indigenous unity.

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.

11 Comments

  1. Perhaps I should explain that in 1653, the High King of Apalache considered himself a Christian, but that many aspects of traditional Apalache monotheism remained like multiple “baptisms” in water and the Winter Solstice sacrifice of clothing. Apparently, the Apalache still considered God to be feminine, because in the 19th century this was a sore point with Christian missionaries to the Creeks, along with the fact that Creek women were full citizens in every sense of the word. Perhaps Apalache Christianity was similar to Messianic Judaism in the way that it continued many monotheiastic traditions under a Christian label.

    Reply
  2. markveale@hotmail.com'

    Richard, in the Book “4 Voyages of Amerigo Vespucci” it is noted that the Native Americans at one location called their land “Parias” which seem to match some of the spelling of the “Paracusa-te” (High King) or “Par-achi-cora” you have decoded for the South Eastern U.S.
    I should note that the word “Paris” means similar to “is”, a lost city long ago and perhaps the Greeks paganized the original city name? to “Atlant-is”, which they got from a city called “Sais” on the western delta of Egypt. Almost all the Egyptian cities of the of the delta were ending with the “is” spellings during the exodus of the 1400’s BC.
    It is known that the “Amar” people arrived from the West of Egypt during the 2500’s BC and settled into the Canaan lands and perhaps all the way to the “Tigris” river in Iraq. The city of “Assur” is carbon dated to 2500 BC noted in “the 4 rivers of Eden” statement of the Torah. This migration from “Armorica” by the Amorites in France /UK most likely was caused by the flooding of Europe that created the 4 Sea’s of that area in the 2600’s BC. All Creation goes around and around in a circle.
    As stated: “The first is “Pi shon”….. There is Only one land in shape that would match the WORD “Pi shon” and that would be “Ant-arc-t-ica” which was livable before 3-4 thousand BC.
    Fisherman from Tigris most likely in catamarans followed the Whales long ago. That would Give JESUS “The King of Kings” Rightful claim to all the worlds land of the first Kingdom. As it is stated “Thy Father was an Amorite and thy Mother was an Hittite” for “Is-ra-el”. 3 Generations of 14 X 120 years=5040 BC …..the First Kingdom that JESUS is Heir too.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

    Reply
    • A-para-si-cora means “From – Ocean – Offspring of – People. The word Para was used by several peoples in Peru for ocean. It is the origin of the word Peru and also the Paracus/Paracas People who created the giant effigies of field stone on the Nazca Plain. The Nazca People create the Nazca Lines after the Paracus People left Peru.

      So it is quite conceivable that Para would be the root of a place name like Parasis . . . Oceana . . . and could relate to Atlantis.

      It is also quite conceivable that the Paracus were the People of Atlantis. They were the folks, who were super tall and had massive brains. There were numerous concentric circle structures built in Peru during the period that would be called the Late Bronze Age in Europe. That is after Atlantis was destroyed.

      Reply
      • markveale@hotmail.com'

        Richard, “From the Sea” True…. The “ring and the bar” symbol started being used in the Middle East (Akkad, Sumerians, Egypt) after the arrival of the Amorites from their migrations from Antarctica “Pi”- South “Ica”- North America “Ha”-France “La”(“Lamesh”, “Language”, “Daughter”)? in the 2500’s BC. That was the symbol of “GOLD” and then add that symbol over the “I” and you have the ancient symbol for “Copper”. Later the copper symbol changed to a “circle” and a crossed “t”. As JESUS said “one YOT or one tittle” one meaning of many: A “symbol”.. Copper.
        The copper of the Great lakes IS (99.7 pure) and found with a man, with a “Tomahawk”, frozen in the Alps called “ICE MAN” carbon dated to 3300 BC…So copper was being mined and carried over the North Atlantic to a city called “IS” by the coast of the land once called AR-MOR-ICA, by those people (Native Americans/ “Micmac’s” and Amorites/ “Pi tani”) that had those great Ocean type ships named “Tarshish” in the Torah and noted by the Romans.
        Copper mining started in the 5000’s BC around the Great lakes and connects to the Amorites ( match of Tools) that settled INTO… the country of Syria (Some native Americans appear to have settled in County Kerry, Ireland for a time, as sailors that had Piloted/manned the large Ships). When the Amorites (Amar/ Mar-TU, “MER” clan) cities were destroyed in the 1200’s BC by the “Iron age Sea peoples”, Massive copper mining (1 million pounds) stopped for 200 years… then it started again in the 1000 BC time period for another 200 years then stopped after Ireland received the iron age in the 800-900’sBC. Of course the Natives of North America continued to use some the copper, but did not mine at such a massive scale as before.
        The GOLD of Georgia might have had a special “reddish” color with the “Zinc” metal imbedded,.. not understood until the Roman times in the Med i-Europe areas. Most likely, the Gold of Georgia… mined by “conical” hat wearing people like the “Tyrians” or “Byblos” ( 8800 BC) were connected to the “Ah-Pa-la-Ah-chi” -Te peoples of Georgia. If connected with the Biloxi / Natchez (Ah-Palasi) peoples, they had 3 clans all ending with “Yadi” in North Georgia. Very…. close to a name for King Solomon’s (Royal House Guards”Yedi” warriors). King Solomon built Ocean ships and were piloted by the sailors from Hiram’s ( Seafaring conical hat wearing people) city “Tyre” to the site known as “OPHIR”.
        That Ocean journey took 3 years to return to the “House of IS-RA-EL” as the “House of Judah” were not the sea fairing types, on most accounts, and had been cut off from the Sea for 100’s of years, based on their allotment of land. MOSES Only blessed 3 tribes of “Ten lost Tribes”(enslaved in the 700’s BC by ASSUR) of Northern Israel with the WORD “Sea”. Any other connections? Coat of “many colors” that was given from Israel (Jacob) to his son? Sounds Like the A-pa-la-chi people wore those same bright colors too? YHWH a match for the God of Israel and the Natives of the Appalachian mountains towards the East seaboard. Three part wood temples built on “flat top mounts”, Lunar year calendars (good to know for Low/high tides) and a lot of those words that end with the “AH” sound like “Savannah”.
        “The people of one fire” chose those symbols to display on this web site but separated them into 2 symbols. We Hittites or Amorites both made it to America’s long ago from the Sea that surrounds the 4 landmasses (2 are shaped like a circle, one RED and one White as seen from Heaven these days).
        “From the Sea”….we just took different directions to get here from 3 directions to this land called “Havilah”

        Reply
  3. DymNorsia@aol.com'

    Richard,
    I expect I am one of many who look forward to reading your Poof. Just wanted to say , thank you.
    Bill Anderson

    Reply
    • Well thank you sir! Just wait till you see what I have been working on during December. It is about finished and will amaze you!

      Reply
  4. quarefremeruntgentes7@yahoo.com'

    Though it is true that December 25th was a pagan feast under the Roman calendar, the same is true of just about every other day on the calendar. It is also true that the early church made December 25th a Holy day of obligation, at the council of nicea in 325 AD, as a strategic move to prevent Christians from attending that pagan feast, but that does not mean the date was chosen for that purpose.

    The truth is that the celebration of December 25th as the Nativity of Our Lord can be traced back at least to 125 AD and the institution of the Midnight Christmas Mass by Bishop Telesphorus of Rome. Early Church Fathers Tertullion, Hippolytus, Cyril of Alexandria, and John Chrysostom all identified either December 25th or January 6th as Christ’s date of birth. Pope Julius in the 4th century examined census documents brought by Titus to Rome to calculate the birth date of Christ and he, also, arrived at the date December 25.

    In fact, as far back as we can go, only two dates were generally excepted- December 25th and January 6th, with the majority adhering to the December date. This is why the early church established this space of time as the Christmas season.

    In the 2nd century, a massacre in the catacombs on December 25th was recorded as having occurred on the date of the Nativity.

    Alfred Edersheim, a Messianic Jew, wrote, “There is no adequate reason for questioning the historical accuracy of this date. The objections generally made rest on grounds which seem to me historically untenable.”

    Again, this does not prove that December 25th was in fact the birth date of Jesus Christ. however, it does prove- beyond a shadow of a doubt- that the celebration of Christmas on December 25th, predates the edict of Milan by at least 200 years and can be placed within less than a century from the death of the Savior.
    —–Don Hartley, “The case for December 25th, 2 BC”
    http://www.deepertruthblog.com/blogsite/best-of-dtb-42-the-case-for-december-25th-2-bc-2/

    Reply
  5. There may have been unusual phenomena, but sheeps and goats in the Levant – like most temperate regions of the world, have their offspring in later winter and spring, not at the beginning of winter.

    Reply
  6. quarefremeruntgentes7@yahoo.com'

    My impression has been that the climate in Israel-Palestine is more sub-tropical and semi-arid than temperate. This would seem to be more the case, given the regular effects of proximate high pressure systems from N. Africa and Arabia. Meanwhile, Don Hartley also responded to this objection in the article mentioned earlier:

    “Southern Israel’s weather in late December is actually quite mild and would have have actually been the very best time for grazing sheep. This argues for the second course of Abijah in the Temple. If it had been the first course, it would have occurred in about February. Not only is this inadequate to explain the large multitudes, it places the sheep in the fields in late spring during the dry season when the fields would be barren.

    “The second- and even stronger- argument is the area of Israel that is cold and snowy- the hill country. If we are to believe that Jesus was born in spring or summer, then we must believe that Mary traveled to the hill country by herself, in the dead of winter, to visit her cousin Elizabeth…”

    Don Hartley, “The case for December 25th, 2 BC”
    http://www.deepertruthblog.com/blogsite/best-of-dtb-42-the-case-for-december-25th-2-bc-2/

    Reply
  7. quarefremeruntgentes7@yahoo.com'

    Had to attend to more pressing matters, but I should mention that Dec. 25 would not be a good choice of dates if Catholics really intended to supplant Pagan holidays. By then, the festival of Saturnalia (Dec. 17-23), would already have concluded. Dec. 25th also falls four days after the winter solstice. Sol Invictus did not become a popular observance in the Roman Empire until 274 A.D., when it was made an official holiday by Emperor Aurelian. As my sources in my previous comment pointed out, Christians were already observing the Nativity on Dec. 25 at least as early as the 2nd century.

    More information here:

    http://home.earthlink.net/~mysticalrose/pagan8.html

    Reply
  8. quarefremeruntgentes7@yahoo.com'

    The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has further supported late December as the date of the Nativity:

    “… a discovery of recent years has shed definitive light on the date of the Lord’s birth. As long ago as 1958, the Israeli scholar Shemaryahu Talmon published an in-depth study on the calendar of the Qumran sect [Ed. based , in part, on Parchment 4 Q 321: Parchment Number 321 from Cave 4Number 321 — 4 Q 321 — of the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls, see picture at left], and he reconstructed without the shadow of doubt the order of the sacerdotal rota system for the temple of Jerusalem (1 Paralipomenon/Chronicles 24, 7-18) in New Testament times. Here the family of Abijah, of which Zechariah (Zachary) was a descendant, father of John the herald and forerunner (Luke 1, 5), was required to officiate twice a year, on the days 8-14 of the third month, and on the days 24-30 of the eighth month. This latter period fell at about the end of September. It is not without reason that the Byzantine calendar celebrated ‘John’s conception’ on September 23 and his birth nine months later, on June 24. The ‘six months’ after the Annunciation established as a liturgical feast on March 25, comes three months before the forerunner’s birth, prelude to the nine months in December: December 25 is a date of history.”
    —–Professor Tommaso Federici, article in “Osservatore Romano,” Dec. 24, 1998;

    loc. cit. “Notes on the Date of Christmas,” fisheaters website:

    http://www.fisheaters.com/customschristmasnotes.html

    Reply

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