Yuwipi Ceremony


        We believe in the night sing, the power of Inyan the stone, the miraculous healing power of the ancestors and the sacred songs.  We believe in the Wiwila Little people, animal spirits, and the various other Tunkasila (spirits). We believe in the emptiness of the Medicine Man as a hollow bone for the spirits’ work.

Yuwipi Ceremony

Click this link to read Yuwipi details before attending.

Painted Buffalo Skull

A Yuwipi  Ceremony is known as a Night Sing. Invocation songs are sung in a darkened room to call upon the help of woodland spirits. Fairies, little people, stone spirits, and animals arrive creating an almost indescribable situation.  This ritual is a profound experience of spiritual beings manifesting into the physical.


If you are planning to attend a Yuwipi\Lowanpi, there are some details that must be mentioned.

Women on their Moon Time (menses) may not attend this Ceremony. Women who do attend must be fully clothed covering shoulders and knees. It is traditional for women to wear a shawl but not mandatory. No shiny objects or electronics are allowed (cell phones, watches, or jewelry). Children are welcome to attend and usually fall asleep so blankets and pillows are helpful. Participants may bring a pillow or blanket to sit on as well. There will be no bathroom breaks so try not to drink large amounts of liquid before the Ceremony. 

 Black Bear

This ceremony truly defines what Shamanism is and it is considered by many anthropologists and archaeologists to have been the Neanderthal’s primary religion. The Yuwipi, Sweat Lodge and Vision quest are considered a trinity of rites. This practice is used for healing, connecting with spirits, finding things and solutions to problems.  We begin with a sweat lodge rite (Inipi) and an explanation of the evening’s events (hanblagloka).1.16.11 008

The Medicine Man is bound within a sacred blanket and laid down upon a special altar to commune with spirits and enter into their world.  Flickering lights can be seen in the darkness along with many other hard to describe things.  The spirits are able to remove illnesses from people as well as answer questions from beyond.  The spirits can be sent to find lost objects or people and even perform healings outside of the circle.  Yuwipi is also known as the tent shaking rite and is famous for its levitation and other unexplained phenomenon.  This experience lasts a few hours and always takes place after dusk.  The event is followed by a meal and another optional sweat lodge the next morning.


The Night Sing, or Lowanpi, is probably the most fascinating rite in the western hemisphere. Anthropologists believe that it has its origins in Siberia and that it spread from there to many places throughout the world. It is believed to have been practiced in Nepal and northern China thousands of years ago.  There are ancient traces of it among the Laplander, The Mongols, The Icelandic peoples and The Amazonian. Recent findings suggest it was prevalent among the Maya and Aztec.


Ainu of Japan


In the 1960′s it is said to have died out in Siberia but it has made a recent come back from North America. Versions of the Yuwipi/Lowanpi have long been practiced by tribes of the Northern and Eastern United states. The Tent Shaking rite among the Ojibwa were well documented in the 1800s, as well as the various plains tribes.


When the Medicine Man is tied and bound it is known as a Yuwipi rather than Lowanpi, which uses no bindings. It is this act of tying, untying, the frame drum, as well as the general events of the ceremony are what allowed Anthropologists to trace the yuwipi to Siberia and beyond. The Canli Pahta, or prayer ties are a purely Lakota element in this beautiful practice.

blog artwork 006

Recently, people say things like “these ceremonies came about when our people had to hide their spiritual practices”. These views are inconsistent with Anthropological and Archaeological facts as the Yuwipi is thought of as the Neanderthal’s primary religion. The Yuwipi, Sweat Lodge and Vision quest are considered a trinity of rites. There is some question that the Yuwipi/Lowanpi was ever one of the Seven Sacred Rites of the White Buffalo Calf Woman. Elders have varying opinions on the subject. In the case of the Lakota version of Yuwipi, the  Prayer Ties and the use of the Sacred Pipe were, at some point, added to the Yuwipi. Similarly  songs as well as other elements have come from the Yuwipi/Lowanpi and entered into the Sundance.


These ways may have come from Siberia, but the reverse may be the case just as well. One thing is definite, the Yuwipi, Inipi (Sweat Lodge) and Hanbleceya (Vision Quest) spread with the mastodon hunters who followed the herds. It is Well documented that the yuwipi, the ceremony that truly defines Shamanism, moved with the migration of the mastodon. The Lakota primarily hunted Unhcegila (Mastodon), as did various other tribes.

blog artwork 003

The healing that occurs in these ceremonies  may not be accompanied by any tactile sensations. This does not affect the power of the healing.  The most difficult manifestation seems to be for the spirits to make sound. Auditory experiences seem to occur less (the singing or speaking of spirits) than tactile ones. There are no real generalizations though, it is up to the Spirits alone, next it is up to the Medicine Man’s relationship with those beings and last but not least the faith of the participants.

blog artwork 040

It is strange to see the (new-age) shamanic drumming sessions that are so popular now. This practice is directly mimicking the ancient ways without any of the outward manifestations or initiation  that are usual to these ceremonies. On the same token, it is Interesting to note that certain individuals are born with, or acquire the ability to create situations characteristic to Yuwipi. Daniel Dunglas Home and Carlos Mirabelli are two individuals known to have brought about such situations outside of Native American culture.


First thing one could experience in a Yuwipi or Lowanpi is levitation and movement the rattles and various other objects. Second thing would be flickering lights, rain, hail, wind and other similar sensations. The third type of manifestation one could expect is the touch of a spirit’s hand, the touch of an animal, Little person, or other such being’s touch. The fourth thing that can happen is teleportation.

blog artwork 013

The Yuwipi man may experience asphyxiation, usually followed by resurrection. This is not always the case as sometimes “the man in the middle” experiences dream like visions and communications without flat-lining. The visions are usually followed by the untying. The untying does not always occur, even in profound situations. Another thing that the Yuwipi man may experience is levitation, being touched or lifted. Other than that, the Yuwipi man Has a very different experience from the rest of the people.

blog artwork 004

A Yuwipi man has a tremendous responsibly as he literally lays his life down for the sake of the people. He is fettered not only by his bindings but by the Yuwipi Spirits themselves  He is no longer a free man, in this life, or the next. It is said that each time he holds a ceremony he sacrifices part of his soul until his power is finally exhausted. After passing he works as a healer from the other side, though the ceremonies. I say “man” because it is for the “empty” man to be the (hollow bone) sacrifice for the fullness of the woman. There are accounts, though, of women, that after menopause, have done Lowanpi-like ceremonies. One does not DECIDE to practice Yuwipi, They are chosen during Hanbleceya (Vision Quest). Do not reach out to the yuwipi spirits. let them reach out to you (this saying is meant figuratively as well as literally). 

blog artwork

The Yuwipi ritual may be held for very specific purposes.  Among them are healings, finding lost or stolen objects, and finding solutions to problems.   It is part of a trinity of rights, Yuwipi, Sweat lodge and Vision Quest.  After performing a sweat lodge, the rite begins in a room in which all lights can be extinguished.  The leader or Yuwipi man is bound within a quilt and laid face down in the center of the room, (Yuwipi means they tie him up).  The room is plunged into total darkness as the lead singer begins to drum and sing with great enthusiasm.  In the darkness the spirits play the rattles and untie the leader.

blog artwork 011

The lights are turned on and the Yuwipi man narrates the events of the ceremony and the sacred Canupa is passed round.  This all takes about four to six hours and is an evening event.  Yuwipi is followed by a  pot luck. The Yuwipi is an important Ceremonial that we are excited to have in our community as well as visitors from all over.

blog artwork 021

Singing for the Yuwipi/ Lowanpi ceremonies

Singing for Yuwipi / Lowanpi is a very serious matter. The lead singer and the accompaniment should not take it lightly. It is of utmost importance for the singer to be able to sense the man in the middle within the cover of total darkness as well as the coming and going of the various spirits that may be present. To get started the sacred Canupa will be filled with Cancasa with the accompaniment of the Pipe filling song or Opagipi Olowan. Sometimes two other pipe songs may be sung with it. Then for the tying this song can be sung although it is not necessary. Sometimes a special tying song is sung.

June 2013 004         

It is important that this all happens swiftly and without delay (tying). As soon as the man is in the center face down the lights are extinguished and the directional song (Tatetopakiya Olowan) is sung. There are some very important things to know about this song. This song is received by the medicine man during vision quest and is his personal song. It is sometimes known as an altar song or as Wicakicopi Olowan (they call them song). This type of song can only be learned in person unless a regular directional song is being used. A good example of this would be the directional song of the sweat lodge.


Following the Directional song one usually hears spirit calling songs. This is usually accompanied by the spirit’s rapping,  shaking rattles (Wagmuha) or any such manifestations signalling the spirit’s arrival. These songs may vary greatly as each medicine person will need to call particular spirits. This part of the ceremony is leading up to the prayer round in which the intention will be stated to the spirits. Questions may be put to the spirits if needed or sometimes they may be dispatched to look in on a situation or to do something.

april2013 morelia 015

Prayer songs would be sung in preparation of the prayers. They are sung immediately following the calling songs in one continuous stream of music. The music then comes to a halt. Prayers will be made by the sponsor,  the Leader, the helper or by all present  depending on the ceremony’s purpose. After the prayers are made, singing would resume as the healing round begins.  Healing songs would be sung after the prayers as the spirits get to work on the sponsor and whomever requests to receive a healing. This usually happens after the prayer round. In some cases calling songs or animal songs could be added to these to effect a cure.

april2013 morelia 013

Depending on the medicine men a wide variety of songs can be sung now. It is common to hear Kettle songs, Ceh’ohomni Olowan. These are better known as Heyoka songs or Thunder being songs. These clown songs originally are used as part of the Kettle Dance and other Heyoka rites. It is said that the ghosts of the Heyoka Medicine men intervene in the Yuwipi /Lowanpi ceremony to affect a cure, who really knows? These songs may be sung solely to call the Thunder beings as well as other related spirits.

blackwiddow 006

Many other songs can be sung, there are the stone songs, spider songs, and all the various animal songs. The spirits Do the untying with the untying song. This song is known as Wicayujujupi Olowan. No matter how the ceremony progresses or how it is performed or whatever, the Spirits go home song and the closing song ( quitting ) are always sung. Sometimes a few songs are sung  just before this.


The singers actually call the spirits, they are the conjurers. The Yuwipi man is the conduit or medium of the spirits work. Usually, the spirits choose new yuwipi men from among the singers.

Una ceremonia Yuwipi es conocido como Night Sing. Cantos de invocación se cantan en un cuarto oscuro para recurrir a la ayuda de los espíritus del bosque. Hadas, gente pequeña, los espíritus de piedra, y los animales llegan creando una situación casi indescriptible. Este ritual es una experiencia profunda de los seres espirituales que se manifiestan en lo físico.

Esta ceremonia realmente define lo que es el chamanismo y es considerado por muchos antropólogos y arqueólogos que han sido la religión principal del Neanderthal. Esta práctica se utiliza para la curación, la conexión con los espíritus, la búsqueda de las cosas y las soluciones a los problemas. Comenzamos con un sudor lodge rito opcional y una explicación de los acontecimientos de la noche.

The Medicine Man está obligado dentro de un manto sagrado y lo acostó en un altar especial para estar en comunión con los espíritus y entrar en su mundo. Luces parpadeantes se pueden ver en la oscuridad junto con muchos otros difíciles de describir las cosas. Los espíritus son capaces de eliminar las enfermedades de las personas, así como responder a las preguntas de más allá.Los espíritus pueden ser enviados a buscar objetos o personas perdidas e incluso realizar curaciones fuera del círculo. Yuwipi es famoso por su levitación y otros fenómenos inexplicables. Esta experiencia dura unas pocas horas y siempre tiene lugar después del anochecer. El evento es seguido por una comida y otra casa de sudor opcional a la mañana siguiente.


Painted Buffalo Skull