Spirit Guides and the Spirit Ceremony - Plateau Indians in Olden Times
A very important ceremony was the spirit ceremony. The people of the Plateau believed everyone had a spirit guide. Your spirit guide was your special guide to health, safety, success, and happiness. But spirit guides did not simply show up one day. Kids had to find them, in a sense. They had to have a vision, where they actually saw their spirit guide. Guides usually appeared in the form of an animal, or the ghost of an animal.
Around age 9, kids began the process of finding their individual spirit guide. Kids seeking a vision would talk to the tribal medicine man, the Shaman. Some tribes had the Shaman give them something special to drink. Some tribes dunked the kids in icy cold water. Some believed a steam bath would help them have a vision. Some kids were sent into the mountains to spend a day or two without food or water in the hopes that a vision would come to them. The technique varied, but the goal was the same for most of the tribes on the Plateau – to find your spirit guide.
The belief in spirit guides was very strong. Sooner or later, everyone saw their spirit guide. It gave the people of the Plateau great comfort and courage to know a magical being was on their side, looking out for them personally. In the culture of the people of the Plateau, everyone had a job – spirit guides were no exception. Their job was to care for and caution when needed their person to keep them safe from harm. Spirit guides were not with you every moment of every day. They were guides. You could ignore their advice and direction, just as you could ignore the direction of a hunt leader – but it might get you killed if you did.