Perennial Ceremony: Lessons And Gifts From A Dakota Garden

Peterson, Teresa

Travel through a garden’s seasons toward healing, reclamation, and wholeness—for us, and for our beloved relative, the Earth

In this rich collection of prose, poetry, and recipes, Teresa Peterson shares how she found refuge from the struggle to reconcile her Christianity and Dakota spirituality, discovering solace and ceremony in communing with the earth. Observing and embracing the cycles of her garden, she awakens to the constant affirmation that healing and wellness can be attained through a deep relationship with land, plants, and waters. Dakota people call this way of seeing and being in the world mitakuye owasin: all my relations. Perennial Ceremony brings us into this relationship, as Peterson guides us through the Dakota seasons to impart lessons from her life as a gardener, gatherer, and lover of the land.

We see the awakening of Wetu (spring), a transitional time when nature comes alive and sweet sap flows from maples, and the imperfect splendor of Bdoketu (summer), when rain becomes a needed and nourishing gift. We share in the harvesting wisdom of Ptaŋyetu (fall), a time to savor daylight and reap the garden’s abundance, and the restorative solitude of Waniyetu (winter), when snow blankets the landscape and sharpens every sound. Through it all, Peterson walks with us along the path that both divides and joins Christian doctrine, everyday spiritual experience, and the healing powers of Indigenous wisdom and spirituality.

In this intimate seasonal cycle, we learn how the garden becomes a healing balm. Peterson teaches us how ceremony may be found there: how in the vegetables and flowers, the woods, the hillsides, the river valley—even in the feeding of friends and family—we can reclaim and honor our relationship with Mother Earth. She encourages us to bring perennial ceremony into our own lives, inviting us on a journey that brings us full circle to makoce kiŋ mitakuye: the land is my relative.