Burden Basket Prayers

During these challenging times of fear, worry and isolation, we should think about the Burden Basket.

It is good to do inner work with the Burden Basket during our quiet time.

- Grandmother Wind Daughter Panther Wind Woman

In the time before the Trail of Tears, First Nations People freely moved their communities around to more appropriate locations across Turtle Island. Women gathered wood for their Fires in a Burden Basket. The wood was needed for their cooking fires and for the Grandmother Fires to heat their lodges. They were called Grandmother Fires because it took only a small amount of twigs and wood for a small Fire. The women were never asked to bear a burden heavier than their Burden Baskets could handle. At other times, they used their baskets to carry tubers, corn, berries, or medicinal, herbal plants.

When the Burden Basket was not in use, it was placed outside the lodge. It was left there to remind people that their worries, troubles and burdens were not to be brought into the lodge which was considered Sacred Space. They were to be left in the Burden Basket outside the door.

If a person had a burden that they could not resolve, they sought counsel from an Elder or Medicine Person by offering Tobacco or appropriate gift. It was usually done in private counsel. But most often the person had to wait three days for their advice or decision. On the fourth day, their answer would be given. During the waiting period, the Elder would smoke the answer or dream the solution. Then the teaching was given.

The Burden Basket is a symbol of the internal strength necessary to counsel ourselves and bear our own burdens without inflicting them on others. The Burden Basket teaches us to trust that we can seek our own answers through our connection to Great Mystery and our spiritual Medicine Helpers. This requires a strong heart to keep from adding to the problems of others by being a burden to them. However, hopefully, you have people to ask if they can help with your burden, especially an Elder or Medicine Person.

Through this process of the Burden Basket, you will gain inner-strength and self-reliance. You can conquer the world when you let go of the burdens by trusting your ability to find your own answers. Problems cease being burdens when solutions are found. Don't waste the precious time of others if you do not respect the wisdom offered. Also, know that it is not your job to solve the problems of others. Don't rob others of their right to self-reliance.

Remember that we carry only the burdens we wish to carry. We need to practice the “Art of Letting Go”. We need to learn how to be self-reliant and use our talents to find our own solutions. A good way to release burdens is the practice “Spiritual Hygiene” through smudging. It is important to release energy as soon as possible and as often as needed. You will not want to take on other people's burdens and negative energy into your spiritual aura and well-being.


Obtain a special box or basket. Put some blank pieces of cut-up paper into the basket. Every time a burdened thought of worry, fear, concern, embarrassment, anger, stress, etc., write it on a piece of paper. Crumple it up and put it into the Burden Basket. When the time feels right, do a ritual to release your burdens to Great Spirit. The element of Fire will burn, release and transform the energy back to the source of elements in Mother Nature.

A big Grandfather Fire is not required, unless you have access to it. Make a small Grandmother Fire in a fire-safe container with a few twigs in it that will burn quickly with little smoke. Put your paper burdens into the container on the twigs and make a prayer to Creator. Ask to have your burdens released from you and to fill you up with peace, inner-strength and inner- reliance, etc. Light the Fire, watch it burn as you hold gratitude in your Heart. You may want to do this ritual periodically to release what is no longer serving your best and highest good.

Burden Basket carries my grief,

And gives me strength to go on.

Burden Basket reminds me to not take

My burdens to other's homes.

Burden Basket sings to me, When the winter is long,

Reminding me of summer's heat,

Bringing warmth to ancient bones.

Referenced from Sacred Path Cards by Jamie Sams

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