Two Main Misconceptions about the Muskogee Creek People

By Dale Taylor

1.  Do Muskogee people worship fire?

The misconception heard most often about the Muskogee Creeks is that they worship the fire.  We do not!  It is true that we dance and perform our ceremonies around a central fire.  We believe that the Creator comes down and joins us during our ceremonies.  We believe the Creator actually resides within the Fire during these events.  This belief is very similar to the Christian faith which says when two or more are gathered in the name of Jesus, He will be there with us.  

At other levels of understanding, the Fire, due to its warmth and colors, represented the sun.  The sun, the Muskogee people knew, was the center of the visible solar system.  Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – all were known to the people as these bodies could be seen by the naked eye.  Thus, the Fire represented the center of the solar system, in miniature, inside the Square Ground.

The belief that the Creator resides within the Fire and is with us during our ceremonies is one of the main reasons why the most Muskogee people trace their history through the ashes of their fires.  It is our oral tradition that ashes used in starting the first Blessing Fire and then the first Square Ground Fire at Nene Hutke Ceremonial Grounds, was handed down through the generations and ultimately, some was given freely to our Mekko Heleswv.  Our sacred ashes were not obtained from any active Square Ground.

 

2.  Do Muskogee Creek people practice pantheism?

The answer again is, we do not!  This misconception is thought to stem from the use of our Medicine Circle.  In the past, many Muskogee parents taught a myth to their young children to help them understand where herbal cures came from.  This myth relates that in the past animals were once treated very badly by mankind.  In retaliation, each of the animals created a disease that would sicken man.  Soon man began suffering from the various diseases.  The plants and herbs of the earth begin to feel sorry for man and thus taught him how to identify, harvest, and process specific plants and herbs into herbal cures. These main animals are represented on the Muskogee Medicine Circle.  The Muskogee People discovered their herbal cures over generations of trial and error and through trade with other tribes.

The Muskogee People also had to study the animals carefully in order to learn their strengths and weaknesses, their tendencies and habits because the people hunted some animals for food,  hides, tools, etc., and others they had to protect themselves against. 

None of this is a worship of animals.  It is simply a respect for some of the Creator’s other creatures who share the Middle World with man.