October Holidays

milkweedHere in Vermont we are enjoying a long, warm autumn. Day after day we have been greeted by bright sunlight and warm breezes. The other night there was a rare display of the aurora, which, sadly, we missed. We know that at some point the warmth will give way to cold, bright skies to seemingly endless murk. That is the way of our climate. November brings chill and cloud, and features the least sunshine of any month in the calendar year. Fortunately, November is still a few weeks away. Continue reading

Shamanism and Appropriation

This weekend is the Equinox, a major point in the ceremonial year. Since the summer we have been receiving many requests for shamanic aid and ceremony. Thinking about the work we do has brought me back to considerations of shamanism and appropriation.

My belief is that shamans arise in all cultures.  Skin color simply does not matter to the spirits. They are much more concerned with their own needs, and having people who will work with them. I believe the spirits will continue to call those who are destined to follow the shaman’s path. I also know there are many paths to the Creator, ancestors, and spirits.  Continue reading

Thoughts On reading:The Spirit Always Grows Deeper On the Other Side of the Fence

A couple of days ago northierthanthou wrote a lengthy post about an experience he had while teaching on the Navajo reservation. On a snowy winter’s night he found himself with an unexpected house guest, a Caucasian man with untreatable prostate cancer who was seeking a Medicine Man to perform a sing for him.  Remembering that experience set off a riff of thoughts about healing, spiritual questing, and cultural appropriation. The post is well worthy of a thorough read, and I originally reblogged it. Then I realized I need to provide some CONTEXT for doing so on this blog. Continue reading

In the Cauldron

I’ve been reading Keith Carlson‘s The Power of Place, The Problem of Time: Aboriginal Identity and Historical Consciousness In the Cauldron of Colonialism. Delicious!

Carlson’s thesis is that Native peoples utilize place as a focus for Self and tribal/clan identity. Place functions as a vast cauldron in which history, personal experience, spirituality, and the trials of colonialism mix. He contends, I believe correctly, that one cannot truly understand Indigenous identities without accounting for the effects of that cauldron, including Aboriginal resistance to the colonial agenda.

There is a temptation in the media, and I imagine, in the everyday lives of non-Natives, to both imagine Natives as Noble Savages of a bygone era, and to ignore the ongoing colonial experience of Aboriginal people. Even so, lately, the Internet has been awash with colonial, and neo-colonial, assaults against Native lands and identities, almost entirely reported by Aboriginal people and our allies. Yet, many of the most unsettling and disruptive insults are of the everyday variety. Let me recount one such colonial encounter I had recently. Continue reading