To the Cherokee, there are sacred colors and they followed those beliefs in every aspect of their lives. Per “History, Myths and Sacred Formulas” by James Mooney in 1900, there was an important part for color symbolism within the shamanistic system that the Cherokees followed, Each cardinal direction having a corresponding color. There was a symbolic meaning to each color and the Shamans used the knowledge of those symbolic colors to summon the spirit that paired with the color.
The following is the symbolic color system:
· East was red and represented success and triumph
· North was blue and represented defeat and trouble
· South was white and represented happiness and peace
· West was black and represented death
Here we will look at each one and the meanings each color and direction held for the Cherokees:
The Red Man lived in the East and was considered the spirit of power, success, and triumph. Red symbolized success and war club color when in battle as they would strike the enemy and protective shield for the warrior. It was believed that red beads summoned the red spirit that insured a long life, recovery from illness and brought success in love or play.
The Blue Spirit resides in the north and is the symbol of disappointment, failure, or unsatisfied desire. The expression “they shall never become blue” was the expression that a person would never experience failure in their endeavors. Love charms are red in an effort to turning a rival lover blue, thus being disappointed in their efforts for the same love.
To the South is the White Spirit, denoting happiness and peace. The tribes would dine on white food during ceremonial addresses, and afterward, they would dance and play games before returning to their white houses along the white trail. When a man wanted to impress a woman that he loved n love charms, the man, would boast, “I am a white man,” which implied that where he was, it was happiness. And when it came to bead conjuring, he would wear white beads which were the same color as ancient stone pipes that were used during peace treaties.
Black spirits live in the West and was always a characteristic of death. Black War Clubs would continually beat an enemy’s soul to destroy it and black beads were used by the priest, invoking the black spirits to rip out the man’s soul and take it West, place it in a black coffin and bury in black mud then coil a black serpent above it.
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