Now Our Minds Are One: An Iroquois Prayer of Gratitude

Sunrise over the earth, Smithsonian, Public Access

This ancient prayer of Thanksgiving comes from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people. The prayer is used to give thanks, bless gatherings, and greet the day. I plan to read it at a Thanksgiving gathering this year and hope it touches your heart as much as it touches mine.  

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The People 

Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.

Now our minds are one.

Earth Mother (E Mansfield)

The Earth Mother 

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

Taughannock Falls

 

 

 

 

The Waters 

We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms- waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.

Now our minds are one.

The Fish 

We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

Milkweed seeds

The Plants 

Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.

 

The Food Plants 

With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs 

Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.

The Animals 

We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.

Now our minds are one.

The Trees 

We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one.

Bluebirds

The Birds 

We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds 

We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.

Closing Words 

We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

Now Our Minds Are One.

 

(Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World English version: John Stokes and Kanawahienton (David Benedict, Turtle Clan/Mohawk) Mohawk version: Rokwaho (Dan Thompson, Wolf Clan/Mohawk) Original inspiration: Tekaronianekon (Jake Swamp, Wolf Clan/Mohawk). Available through the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.)

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What are your favorite harvest or Thanksgiving prayers and traditions? The artist Lisa Baechtle reminded me of this prayer which I hadn’t read for many years. I also like a longer translation called the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World . I share the link to my recent post On Iroquois Land in case you’d like to know a little more about the Iroquois Confederacy. I plan to visit Ganondagan, the Seneca Tribe Cultural Center Museum soon. There’s so much to learn and so much to be grateful for in this life.

13 Comments
  1. For our friends, even though they be scattered in the four directions, we give thanks, as they, with us, are one and the same, reflections of the one Spirit: Now our minds are one.

  2. Oh, I’m loving your Iroquois themed posts! Thank you Elaine for sharing this beautiful, thanksgiving prayer of unity. Becoming conscious of Truth has been and continues to be a long journey for many of us (spiritual) seekers, however, in essence I do believe that we all share one mind, one heart and one body. Spirit and soul are in no doubt, nevertheless, my ego often resists this profound truth. Still, after reading such a coming-together invocation, a wedding of sorts must take place within as mind, body, spirit and soul briefly become one.

    Although I won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving myself tomorrow (here in the UK), I do think that having read your wonderful post I shall certainly be thinking about how thankful I am for having such great friends and family in my life. In a way, because I’m never one to pass up on a day off work and a good feast with loved ones, followed by a sated doze in front of the fire, I do wish Thanksgiving would take off more here because there’s nothing more enjoyable in life than being with people you love I feel. Warm autumnal blessings, Deborah.

    • Thank you, dear Deborah. I think of this as more than a Thanksgiving Day prayer–a prayer to start each day, appropriate for me to remember at all times. My country, like yours, is at war with itself. We have a bloody history of slavery, invasion, and subjugation of others and it feels important to remember the big issues–but also important to remember in the most mundane ways at a long line in the grocery store (with my impatience and full cart) or when I have to face my need for support from friends and family. I’ll spend Thanksgiving with people who grew up in other countries and don’t have a Thanksgiving tradition. It will be about vegetarian feasting and friendship and gratitude we are together and safe for the moment. I’ll love reading this prayer. I wish you and yours a warm fire and nourishing dinner as I await your December poem.

      • A daily prayer, yes indeed! Enjoy your family, friends and vegetarian feast. Sending you much love and light across the oceans between us, Deborah. Okay, back to the poem..

  3. Thank you Elaine, this is truly beautiful and while, like Deborah, we don’t have a Thanksgiving Day as such, it reminds me that we can be grateful for the bounty that is given us so freely by Mother Nature. By giving thanks, perhaps we become more aware of how we despoil all her living creatures and we can take steps in trying to restore Nature to her full beauty.

    I say a prayer for all those departed to the four winds –

    Happy Thanksgiving Day to you!

    • Susan, I somehow think Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama would appreciate this poem. I agree with everything you say and send out my prayers on tonight’s strong wind. I love those lines from Rilke, “A gust in the god. A wind.”

  4. I love this prayer/ greeting, Elaine. What a beautiful way to start each day. I, also, do a kind of gratefulness meditation every single day. It’s a good and healthy thing to recognize all that we have, even when feeling like we’ve lost what we loved most. Maybe it’s especially important to acknowledge what’s left and what’s to be grateful for when you think you’ve been robbed of so much. Walking this earth mindfully and with gratitude has always lifted me, my spirits, up.

  5. I will take a walk in the preserve and observe as many of the blessings you listed as I can. You have provided enough detail to open my senses to gratitude.

    In a comment, I noticed you mentioned that you will spend Thanksgiving with people who grew up in other countries and don’t have a Thanksgiving tradition. What a splendid way to share. May you have a warm fire and nourishing dinner too.

    At this season also, I pause to give thanks for your friendship and mentorship over the years and for the wonderful review you posted for my memoir, dear Elaine. 🙂

    • You have a great plan for experiencing the gratitude expressed in this prayer, Marian. Our beautiful sacred earth.
      We’ll have a nourishing, beautiful, and delicious vegan dinner, including tomato sauce made from my garden this past summer and frozen to eat now. Bean burgers (good with that tomato sauce), greens, and squash. Desserts, too. Thank you for your friendship, Marian. I always feel you there, even though we’ve never met face to face.
      Reading and reviewing your book was my pleasure.

  6. Thank you, Elaine, and others providing sustenance and reflection.

    Here’s slightly different one:

    Prayer of Thanksgiving by Max Coots

    Let us give thanks for a bounty of people.
    For children who are our second planting, and though they
    grow like weeds and the wind too soon blows them away,
    may they forgive us our cultivation and fondly remember where their roots are.
    Let us give thanks;
    For generous friends…with hearts…and smiles as bright
    as their blossoms;
    For feisty friends, as tart as apples;
    For continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers,
    keep reminding us that we’ve had them;
    For crotchety friends, sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;
    For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn, and the others, as plain as
    potatoes and so good for you;
    For funny friends, who are as silly as Brussels sprouts and
    as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes;
    And serious friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle
    as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as
    dill, as endless as zucchini and who, like parsnips, can be
    counted on to see you through the winter;
    For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time,
    and young friends coming on as fast as radishes;
    For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils and hold
    us, despite our blights, wilts and witherings;
    And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past
    that have been harvested, but who fed us in their times that
    we might have life thereafter.
    For all these we give thanks.

    Source: “Garden Meditations” by Rev. Max Coots, minister emeritus of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Canton, New York

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