Allyship Theory provides an excellent framework for correct protocol, ethical interactions and solidarity with First Nations. To explore the guidelines for cross-cultural relationships in your own community and beyond, access "Good Allies: A Synthesis of Contemporary Ally Theory" by Pegi Eyers here:
BY PEGI EYERS
With deep pre-Christian roots, the Celtic fire festival of Samhain (an old Gaelic word meaning “harvest at summer’s end”) celebrates the beginning of the Pagan Year in many traditions, and marks a liminal time when the Wheel of the Year turns from light to dark, and winter is coming. In Celtic Reconstructionism, Celtic Spirituality, Avalonian, Druidic and Pagan traditions today, Samhain or All Souls Day has been revived as an important holy day for solitary ritual or “gathering of the tribes,” with practices emulated the ancient traditions and rituals of lighting the sacred fire, divination, masquerades and costumes, feasting, dances, songs, storytelling and practical jokes.
At Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is thin, spirits, deities, fairies (the Fair Folk or “aos sí”), or souls of the dead may choose to visit, and with offerings, rites or libations, much can be accomplished in communing with our Ancestors or interacting with the gods, goddesses and spirit beings. The borderline time of Samhain is excellent for remembering our Beloved Dead, receiving their wisdom and guidance, and acknowledging the cycle of life, death and rebirth according to our own specific ancestral traditions.
“In many non-western cultures, the Ancestors have an intimate and absolutely vital connection with the world of the living. They are always available to guide, to teach and to nurture. They embody guidelines for what is most valuable about life.” (Malidoma Somé)
All during the year and especially at Samhain, we can keep the connectivity to the Ancestors alive by invoking their memory on a daily basis, with prayer and gratitude, making offerings, and politely asking for assistance and guidance. Contact with the ancestral realm brings rewards of empowerment, resilience and strength, and we may find that our ethnocultural path is meaningless without the recognition of the Ancestral Spirits. The best way to revive the magical potency of Ancestral connection and receive their blessings and wisdom, is to give them an honored place in our hearts and homes.
Designing ancestor altars with special objects such as photography, artwork, poetry or heirlooms that represent our Beloved Dead, create a vibrant channel or “portal” between the living and the spirits. At Samhain, candles, flowers, incense, fragrance, and offerings of food and drink can be arranged to honour and welcome the spirits back home. Portable Altars are great for travel, pilgrimage, offerings, outdoor installations, creating sacred space or visiting grave sites, and also function as containers for our grief, respect and honor.
Indigenous and earth-emergent societies worldwide practice Ancestor Veneration with altars, ceremonies, processions, celebrations, offerings and elaborate burial grounds. Honoring the Ancestors at Samhain and keeping them close creates a powerful link between the past and the present, and can bring us great joy, peace and good fortune. As we become more comfortable with interacting in the continuum of nonmaterial reality and honoring the Council of Ancestors - politely engaging their help with visualization, prayer, song, offerings and ceremony - we are participating in the ancestral veneration that is at the heart of all indigenous societies.
Also, honoring the Ancestors opens a valuable channel of knowledge that travels back and forth from the Ancestors to ourselves. The Ancestors are waiting to make contact! As much as we want to communicate with our Ancestors, they are willing to communicate with us.
Waking Memories are the sudden realizations and "epiphanies" that arise from spending time with the memorabilia and myths of our Beloved Dead, and travel to the geographic places of our our ancestral heritage. Tapping into the reservoir of "epigenetics" or ancestral messaging that resides in our physical essence can affirm the vitality of the unseen worlds, and the deep sense of belonging that dwells in our hearts and souls.
Dreamwork and Intentional Dreaming allows us to deliberately create the conditions for the Ancestors to meet us in the dreamtime, and to return to the exact same dream for more information. The process of Dream Archaeology is the extensive research that can be done to validate the symbols, messages, and direct communications we receive. In addition to paying attention to our dreams - guided meditations, visualization and pathworking are other kinds of spiritual modalities that can bring us closer to the spiritual realm of the Ancestors.
Constellation Work is a deep healing process whereby participants "stand in" for the members of one's extended family circle. Magically and spontaneously, from the deep inner knowing of the participants (or possibly the Ancestors themselves?) gestures and simple words indicate the residue of family blessings or intergenerational trauma. These often cryptic messages are interpreted by an experienced professional, and are then acknowledged and incorporated into present-day reality. A deeper awareness of family dynamics leads to the healing that is possible for both the subject and the Ancestors themselves. The experiences and stories of our relations do not need to hold us back, as we can transform our family legacy and grow into our best selves with inner work and other modalities such as meditation, therapy, journaling, poetry, expressive arts and dance.
“With prayer, you may be offered help by those who have crossed over into Spirit. Many cultures make invoking the wisdom and assistance of the Ancestors a part of their daily spiritual practice. The spirits of the Ancestors live on and can connect to us, and they are there to help us everyday.” (Sonia Choquette)
As we become more attuned with our heritage, both our own stories and the memories we hold from the family soul, can become a rich source of guidance and strength. Any healing work that we do in our lives heals our ancestors as well, as they continue to send us their blessings, and cheer us on! Samhain is the perfect time to renew our respect for the Ancestors, reconnect with their energy, and receive their gifts, support and spiritual guidance.
Working with the Ancestors and reviving the magic of ancestral veneration is vital to the re-enchantment of our world, and is an organic part of the recovery process for the reconstruction of earth-rooted societies. By honoring our ancestors on All Souls Day, we acknowledge that these “wise mentors,” “special messengers,” “spirit elders” and “loving spirit guides” are there to help the living. As they shaped us, and passed on the gift of life with their intentions, sacrifices and achievements, thanking the ancestors is an extension of gratitude for our entire Earth Community.
“We call upon those who have lived on this earth, our Ancestors, who dreamed the best for the future generations, and upon whose lives our lives are built. With gratitude we call upon them to teach us and show us the way.” (Chinook Blessing)
~ BLESSED SAMHAIN! ~
Pegi Eyers is the author of Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community, an award-winning book that explores strategies for neurodecolonization, social justice, ethnocultural identity, building land-emergent community & resilience in times of massive change.
With all the dialogue happening on decolonization today, a reminder on baseline definitions can be helpful, before widening out to other personal/collective interpretations and actions. There are movements happening right now across ethnic and cultural lines (including the dominant white society) that use "decolonization" to describe a wide array of practices. Do we need to re-examine how we use the term? What does “decolonization” mean to you? The following definitions can offer starting points for discussion, and for action going forward.
(1) Break Free
The first and most basic meaning for “decolonization” is when a nation seeks to become free of the oppressor/oppressed regime imposed on them by a colonial power, and to physically and legally undo the colonial state, or Empire, that has dominated their society. Dependency can be transformed to independence through nonviolent revolution, or national liberation wars, and there have been several active periods of decolonization in modern times. For example, the breakup, or dissolution, of the Spanish Empire in the 19th century, the German, Ottoman and Russian Empires following WWI, and the Soviet Union following the October Revolution.
(2) Settler Removal
The next profound meaning for “decolonization” is for the colonizer to “de-colonize” - that is, withdraw and leave the lands of the oppressed they have taken by stealth or force. Here in the Americas, there is a justified belief among First Nations that the colonizer (folks of European descent) must return to our lands of origin. So far, there are a few progressive Settlers who are exploring their own removal, yet for the majority this is far beyond our capabilities, or even our desire. Everyday life in the homogenous American or Canadian nation-state does not support this kind of yearning, or any substantial link to a European homeland. And the trail to Europe has grown very cold, if your motherline has been on Turtle Island for over 12 generations. So, if it is impossible to leave the Americas (as much as we want to) it may be helpful for Settlers to think of this directive symbolically, and to ask ourselves what exactly an America or a Canada would look like, if we were able to reduce our Eurocentric imposition, dominance, supremacy and power? And what would a re-indigenized society look like, if First Nations and POC were in the ascendant position?
In the face of these realities, we can be grateful for alternative approaches being offered by First Nations leaders such as Robert Lovelace (Tslagi/Algonquin).
“Indigenous peoples and Settlers have our own histories, where those histories have led us, and where the possible futures might lie for us together. Because guess what? We are here and now, and we’re not going to change that fact, but what we can do is change the possible futures that we face.”
To maintain cultural continuity, and to show up for common causes with our diversity intact, the most we can hope for is to practice good intercultural competency skills, tolerance for "the other," mutual respect, and peaceful co-existence. Throughout human history, these are the elements that have been missing.
(3) Return the Land
For Indigenous freedom fighters, scholars and community peoples, decolonization cannot happen until the ancestral lands are returned. As the source of epistomologies, cultural keystone(s), TEK (traditional ecological knowledge), food sources and medicine for good health, the land is deeply embedded in the communal heart and soul. At the root of Indigenous community, the priority to care for and protect the land is for the Web of all Life, and the Seven Generations yet to come. In marked contrast, Empire has failed miserably in the protection of pristine ecosystems. Now, all people, including Settlers, who reject the paradigm of endless growth and recognize the value of IK (Indigenous Knowledge), can support the repatriation of lands to the original Earthkeepers and First Nations of Turtle Island.
In the truest sense of the word, for the recently colonized (Indigenous and POC) "decolonization" is not a metaphor. Those in the dominant society are being asked to avoid using "decolonization" to refer to ideas or actions that do not hold indigenous resistance, sovereignty, land restoration, and other repatriations at the center.
(4) Resistance & Resurgence
As a baseline here in the Americas, for the recently colonized (Indigenous and POC) "decolonization" is the active principle that attempts to undo the Settler State on a daily basis, both from within and without. Eurocentric dominance, white supremacy, racism, ethnic cleansing, genocide, slavery, land theft, imposed treaties, broken promises, relocation, forced assimilation, government manipulation, corporate control, psychic violence and all the associated forms of oppression that continue to impact Indigenous people and POC in the Americas are identified, confronted, called out, and resisted. One step at a time, and marking the victories along the way, decolonization attempts to undo the colonization of the individual, the community and Earth Community with protest, social justice activism, civil disobedience, education, cultural projects and legal battles.
At the same time that the Settler State is challenged, the necessary recovery and rejuvenation of pre-colonial heritage, language and tradition is taking place, with further preservation of culture ongoing. A focus on health and healing translates into relationships that realign individuals and entire communities with their Original Instructions. The majority of references to "decolonization" by BIPOC and their allies refers to the active principles of resistance and resurgence, and the ongoing education that supports and empowers these actions.
The minds of ALL people who navigate within Empire have been occupied, or colonized, by the memes and values of the Settler State. In today's era of massive change and climate disaster, root causes such as monotheism, imperialism, white superiority, hetero-patriarchy, capitalism, corporatism, resource extraction and binary political systems are rapidly being exposed as outdated frauds. Even if we have learned to thrive within the simulacrum of these human-created systems, the fact remains that Empire is toxic to all life, including our own. The conditioning and domestication we have received over millennia has translated into many artificial beliefs, habits and behaviors. Here is a sampling - what others come to mind?
The process of neurodecolonization gently challenges the memes of Empire (western thinking) in our individual or collective consciousness, and replaces that ideology or action with pre-colonial, or Indigenous thinking. For ourselves, our families and our communities, the move toward life-enhancing and creative patterns, and compassionate and inclusive solutions, can be a life-long undertaking.
The key thing to remember when engaging with the ongoing neurodecolonization of our psyche is that "humans are not fundamentally flawed creatures. That is a myth perpetuated by industrial capitalism in order to naturalize the behavior of violent imperialists. They are the insane." (Derrick Jensen)
Neurodecolonization and the reprogramming of the psyche can naturally lead to an interconnection with the evolving processes of all life, and return us to our essential bio-lineage. We are invited to learn from, and emulate the values of IK systems without indulging in cultural appropriation, and a natural extension of this work is to recover specific indigeneities based on our own ethnoculture, as suggested by Zainab Amadahy.
“If the aim of decolonization is to rid ourselves of colonial mindsets why not centralize our own wisdom traditions when they enable us to think and act in ways that support our communities, including Mother Earth, Our Relations and the Great Spirit?”
Decolonization insists that we understand ourselves as we existed before modern civilization, and that implementing holistic solutions and traditional earth-emergent ways of life are vital to the survival of the human race. In these times of unlimited access to information, reclaiming our own root ancestral heritage(s) or EIK (European Indigenous Knowledge) has become a real possibility. The most exciting movement of our time is underway to Reject Empire and its toxic hegemonies, and to shift toward rewilding, economic alternatives, food sovereignty, spiritually-based ecological wisdom, decolonized community, bioregionalism (if possible), and inclusion in the Sacred Circle of all Life.
To recover our pre-colonial eco-self we must stop taking our cues from the dominant society, and become spontaneously directed by the natural world.
(7) We Have All Been Colonized
By the time our Ancestors arrived on the shores of Turtle Island, honoring natural law and living in balance with Earth Community had already been outdated concepts for centuries in Europe. They were part of a social organization based on hierarchy and control, and instead of taking their cues from the Indigenous civilizations already thriving in the “new world” our Ancestors went on to repeat the colonial pattern. For our generation today, the question remains - what are we going to do about it?
Here are a few questions to consider, as we look at how we use the term "decolonization."
At the local level, the popular "acknowledgement of territory" before public events provides a solid foundation for the decolonization of self, family, community and the wider world. After decades of denial and ignorance, the unadorned truth of this "first step" declaration centers Indigenous reality, and is integral to the decolonization journey.
Find out whose land you are on, and honor it ~ https://native-land.ca
"Decolonization ~ Meaning What Exactly?" was published by Unsettling America: Decolonization in Theory & Practice October 11, 2017 >link<
Quotes in Order of Appearance
1) Robert Lovelace (Tslagi/Algonquin), "The Architecture of a Decolonized Society: Reindigenizing the Self, Community & Environment," Kawartha World Issues Centre (KWIC), Trent University, Peterborough, January 18, 2013
2) Derrick Jensen, Deep Green Resistance, comment on social media
3) Zainab Amadahy, “Why Indigenous and Racialized Struggles will Always be Appendixed by the Left,” Unsettling Settlers: Where We Talk about Unsettling Our Settler Selves, August 1, 2012
Joyce Green and Michael Burton, 12 Steps to a Post-Colonial Future," Rabble http://rabble.ca/news/2013/12/12-steps-to-post-colonial-future
Pegi Eyers, Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community, Chapter 19 "Rejecting Empire: Re-centering Indigenous Values /The Psyche & Myth-Busting," Stone Circle Press, 2016
Pegi Eyers, "Rejecting Empire 1" and "Rejecting Empire 2" Academia.edu
Jürgen Werner Kremer and R Jackson-Paton, Ethnoautobiography: Stories and Practices for Unlearning Whiteness, Decolonization, Uncovering Ethnicities, ReVision Publishing, 2013
Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang, "Decolonization is Not a Metaphor," Unsettling America: Decolonization in Theory & Practice, September 26, 2012
BY PEGI EYERS
As a term for activating our most primal and authentic eco-self in the wild, many important definitions for Animism exist today. Yet these descriptions can obscure this ancient way of knowing with the clutter of western mind. Seeking out the reassurance of intellectual complexity as we "return to the garden" may be the norm for a society disconnected from the land. But Animism is as natural as the flowering of our senses, and it's not that difficult to bypass linear thinking and experience the wonders of nature first-hand. Animism is simple, direct, immediate and profound, and as close to us as the green space, seasonal cycles, and other-than-human-world that surrounds us.
“Everything in nature is alive and speaking. Our spiritual practice is about opening our eyes, ears and hearts to hear, understand, and communicate back. The elements, the Ancestors and the spirit beings that surround us want us to communicate with them. They want to work with us to heal the Earth, but they need our invitation.” (Starhawk)
ANIMISM UNBOUND You wander far into the wilderness, to where it seems no human being could possibly have gone before. You wait quietly for something to happen. And sure enough, although you cannot pinpoint the source, small bell-like notes rise up in a pure waterfall of sound, like seeds floating in orbits or flower circles chiming in bliss. Surrounded by harmonious bands of singing green and streaming blue, somehow you traverse bogs, meadows and the antlers of branching trees, to find yourself at your cabin door once again.
Looking to Indigenous societies worldwide (including those in Old Europe), we are reminded that humans thrive best within an animistic reality in which everything, inanimate or animate, has life, energy and spirit. To the practicing Animist, every part of Earth Community is aware, and a mountain or an entire territory can be the outward form of spiritual presence, or an abode of elemental forces inhabited by sentient beings and creatures. Without a doubt, the life force in nature such as the movement of waters and stars, or the growth of plants and animals, implies the presence of indwelling spirits.
Deeply personal messages and affinities are all around us, and the appearance and timing of phenomena like a rainbow, the cawing of a raven, patterns etched in sand, or the visitation of a snake can have great individual purpose and meaning. Interpretations can either come easily with an undeniable “knowing,” or become clear over distance and time.
In my own case I have always held an Animist knowing and companionship to wild nature, as I continue to see, feel, sense, observe, know and communicate with other presences out on the land - creatures, beings, elementals, earth spirits, deities, plant allies, and the archetypal animal spirits. These conversations can be one-off, or depending on the place, evolve and strengthen over time, with great care and devotion.
Having interactions with the ecosystem as part of our daily lives, Animists are in agreement that our dependency and reciprocity binds us to the Earth Communities with whom we share our world. Deeply connected to the land and its seasonal cycles, Animists are in rapport with the animals, plants, living spirits, Ancestors and spiritual forces, and “Indigenous animism looks to the wholeness of nature for its principal teachings.” (Emma Restall Orr)
ANIMISM UNBOUND The day you finish a Daniel Quinn book that reinforces the sentience of Earth Community and changes your worldview forever, you leave the house, and just outside the door a magnificent toad is waiting. You long for the day when you are as at home in your environment as this attentive being. You place a blessing of protection on the small creature, which leads to a conversation full of magnetic knowing and mutual love. And from that day onward, you remember Wise Toad as a guardian of life's passages.
Western society has finally realized what Indigenous societies have always known, that Earth Community is awake and aware, albeit in different ways than how we perceive consciousness as humans. Stones, trees and other aspects of the natural world are autonomous and willful beings who possess their own traits and dispositions. A spiritual force pervades all of nature, and the magical and mysterious presences and spirit beings in forests, shorelines, caves, mounds, springs and meadows continue to present themselves to us, and communicate great insight, awareness and numinosity.
The world is alive with purpose, energy and sacred life. The elementals, earth spirits, plant allies, faeries and “devas” can have identifiable characteristics, personalities or gender, and narratives from oral traditions can portray these other-than-human beings as neutral, lovable, exuberant, terrifying or even mischievous!
ANIMISM UNBOUND You find yourself encountering turtles everywhere you go - images and other icons - and you spot them on summer lawns and in the wild. You feel a sense of the miraculous beyond serendipity, and begin to know a closeness to Mother Turtle, who tells you life lessons of the most sacred symbols unfolding, in the deep recesses of both cosmos and Feral Earth. Then one day you encounter a broken turtle beside the highway, psychopomp and sing to her as she crosses over, and are driven to spend the next four years raising exorbitant sums of money for a turtle rescue organization.
"Animism, because it seeks to relate and converse with the world, rather than to define and control it, always renews itself. It wakes up every morning fresh and alive, and every evening it tucks itself to bed to dream again for the very first time. Since animism involves a relationship with the world, a living being that exists in the now, the present moment, what more relevant perspective could you find?” (Willem Larsen)
If we are open to sharing through our heart, mind, dreaming body and other senses, the stones, trees, plants, animals, birds, insects and sacred creatures with whom we share this wondrous planet have an infinity of healing, guardianship, and learning experiences to offer. By stilling our inner dialogue, focusing on positive intent and emotions, and listening deeply with our ears plus our entire range of senses, we have the ability to initiate conversations with earth spirits and energetic beings. The results can be surprising and awe-inspiring! Some people hear actual speech, for others it is a waking dream, powerful vision or spontaneous experience, while others receive messages through night-time visitations, strong feelings or intuition.
We have never been separate from the life-affirming power of the natural world. As it was in ancient times, the other-than-human world embraces a host of endlessly expressive and individualistic living entities whose actions we may adore, emulate, decipher, predict and even influence! Our relationships with all beings, whether spiritual or physical, indicates an acceptance of multiple realities in the world.
Deeply related and interactive in our mutual admiration, kinship and needs, the cycles and manifestations of growth that occur in self and nature correspond both materially and spiritually. The macrocosm and microcosm meeting within ourselves, the divine principle of “as above so below” are also realized. By virtue of being connected to the holism of Earth Community, we become attuned to a vast cosmovision, and all notions of monotheism fall away. Animists evoke, honor and obey a multiplicity of spirits, deities, elements and powers.
“In tribal societies, there is so much to see and hear. The bear speaks, the river speaks, the rainbow signifies, the eclipse is a sign. The animistic personification of natural objects may be difficult for us to accept in any ‘literal’ way. Yet, judged solely on intellectual grounds, animism can be credited with a more sophisticated perception of physicality than Western Knowledge. Far from regarding matter as dead stuff, tribal societies perceive it as infused with mind, will, and intention.” (Theodore Roszak)
As a clear example of an Indigenous tradition, within Anishnaabe epistomology the intrinsic cooperation and communication between humans, animals, birds, insects, plants and spirit beings is known as the “Council of Life.” Also, in the traditional language of the Anishnaabe, most nouns are animate, indicating that in this conceptual framework “things” are alive, and have autonomous standing and spirit.
The Animist perspective is also apparent in the cosmology of the Haudenosaunee, as “the world around and all its features – rivers, trees, clouds, springs and mountains are regarded as alive, endowed with spirit and sensibility every bit as real as those of humans, and in fact of exactly the same type and quality as a human’s. Among the Iroquois this was called Orenda, the invisible force inherent in all parts of the universe.”
ANIMISM UNBOUND "Like echoes like" you are thinking, as you pick up a stone marked with lines of red ochre, exactly the same as the ancient petroglyphs you have visited with indigenous friends. Asking permission, the patterned stone willingly joins the other objects in your sacred pouch, that includes a small figure of divine feminine blessing. Weeks later on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico the pouch is lost to human greed and grasping, yet when you return home, the stone marked with red ancestral pigment is on your altar waiting. You accept this magic as willingly as the Petroglyph Stone has accepted you.
There are an infinity of examples found worldwide that reflect interactive success between the human/nonhuman world, such as the miraculous communications in the Findhorn community. By developing empathy skills, opening up their consciousness and widening their sensory abilities, Eileen Caddy, Peter Caddy and Dorothy MacLean were able to hear the wisdom and tutelage as expressed by the overarching nature spirits, or “Devas” of the plant realm.
In a state of heightened awareness - a space of great joy, freedom and unconditional love - they found that the Devas were thrilled to be noticed by humans, and with ongoing interaction became close companions in cooperative gardening and co-evolution. All forms of life start with energies that are materialized into specific physical form by the overarching soul essences of each being, the “Kingdom of Devas” who hold the archetypal patterns. Feeling and harmonizing one’s self with the soul essence of a plant can evoke a response, such as this communication received from the Flowering Gentian.
An abundance of interactions with the other-than-human-world are just waiting to happen! Numinous encounters tend to be immediate and profound, and then morph into the heart and soul of one's personal mythology. Lived experiences on the land can even form the basis for new oral traditions, as the storied landscape gives rise to new cultural narratives and lifeways. As we focus on the wild as our cultural and spiritual practice Animism will thrive, and by sharing these old/new ways of living with others, the syndrome of nature disconnect will fade away. By extension, our collective responsibility to all life applies to our human clans and kinship groups as well, with the all-inclusive community practices of sharing, care and support.
“Nature is alive and talking to us. This is not a metaphor.” (Terence McKenna)
Honoring the life force in creation and knowing that all beings are sacred are the core beliefs of Animism, and it is our collective responsibility to support this interexistence with the highest respect and generosity of spirit. Human beings are just one strand woven into the complex systems of Earth Community! By respecting the Earth as a living entity and acknowledging all forms of consciousness in the natural world, Animism is the worldview that works best for humanity when we take our appropriate place within (not above) the Circle of All Life. Our reawakening to Animism, arising from our collective ancient past, will naturally move us forward to a future of ecocentric ethics and reciprocity with Earth Community.
ANIMISM UNBOUND In a state of shock and confusion you practice earthing on the lakeshore for a few hours. Your cares and doubts fall away, and you focus on one particular small shrub who has been gently waving. Remembering your lessons on green energy you pay close attention, but the plant spirit is offended and turns away. After a while other layers open up, and in the healing waters of the deep lake currents you sense a great and ancient feminine being. You think you know her, but hesitate to call her name. It is a brief yet incredible encounter, and as you walk home a voice crystallizes in your mind. "Thank you for seeing me. I have been here since time immemorial, and I will be here after you are gone. Gather your kindred spirits who love the Earth - the time to act is now."
 Starhawk, “A Pagan Response to Katrina,” Starhawk’s Tangled Web: Goddess and Pagan Resources, September 14, 2005.
 Peter Nabokov, Where the Lightning Strikes: The Lives of American Indian Sacred Places, Viking Penguin, 2006
 Emma Restall Orr, The Wakeful World: Animism, the Mind and the Self in Nature, Moon Books, 2011
 Willem Larsen, “Becoming Traditional: Animism, Culture, and the Newly Born,” The College of Mythic Cartography, March 6, 2007
 Theodore Roszak, “The Greening of Psychology: Exploring the Ecological Unconscious,” The Gestalt Journal, Volume 18, Number 1, Spring, 1995
 Kirkpatrick Sale, Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Vision, University of Georgia Press, 2000
 Dorothy MacLean, To Honor the Earth: Reflections on Living in Harmony with Nature, HarperCollins, 1991
RESOURCES ~ ANIMISM
Indigenous Narratives ~ Immediate and Fluid, Lived Experience
The Sacred: Ways of Knowledge Sources of Life – Peggy V. Beck, Anna Lee
Walters and Nia Francisco >link<
Messengers of the Gods: Tribal Elders Reveal the Ancient Wisdom of the
Earth – James Cowan >link<
The Manitous: the Supernatural World of the Ojibway – Basil Johnston >link<
The Seven Dawns of the Aumakua: The Ancestral Spirit Tradition of Hawaii –
Moke Kupihea >link<
The Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Living – Joseph M. Marshall III
Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future – Melissa
K. Nelson >link<
Western Interpretations ~ Structured, More Complex
Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology - David Abram >link<
Animism: Respecting the Living World - Graham Harvey >link<
Everything You Need to Know About Animism - Sarah Anne Lawless >link<
The Wakeful World : Animism, Mind and the Self in Nature - Emma Restall
Nature Spirits & Elemental Beings - Marko Pogacnik >link<
Talking with Nature, Journeys into Nature: A Michael J. Roads Reader -
Michael J. Roads >link<
Thinking Like a Mountain: Towards a Council of All Beings – John Seed,
Joanna Macy, Pat Fleming and Arne Naess >link<
So the privileged creatures of civilization, the white sybarites of the comfortable boomer generation, have decided to “get back to the land.” They already tried it in the hippie era, but never mind (!) this recycled idea has merit what with property values these days. Retirement is looming on the horizon, so why not re-land oneself in the neo-romantic crucible of beach, fen and forest? After all, the Canadian wilderness goes on forever, and everyone is entitled to those magnificent vistas of sunrise and sunset. What are wide open spaces for - except to “be yourself,” let loose, and express your inner “lord and lady of the manor” that has been caged up for so long?
Now, taking into account your boredom with your own mainstream and your disdain for the hillbillies in "the back of beyond," why not purchase property right next to First Nations as a way to exotify yourself? Then, you can brag about being so urbane, sophisticated, multicultural, and “spiritual” that you have had the foresight to position yourself right next to the “tribal!”
And be sure to benefit from your romanticization of the “other” by making your business more interesting and palatable to other culturally-starved and spiritually-deprived white people. And then of course, your “gentrification” of the colonizer/colonized relationship allows you to claim there is “cultural diversity” in your neck of the woods, which makes everything just so much more inclusive, and colorblind, and “one tribe” and kumbaya!
Smooth move, neo-liberal.
Now, in the interest of wage slavery and your "zoomer-boomer" business plan, don't forget about the folks right next to you on the "Rez." Desperate to put food on the table (or make some sort of progress in the “white world”) you will find a willing person (“token”) from the native community to support you in your scheme. However, you might also need personal assistants, wait staff, dishwashers and groundskeepers. No problem! There is no place for cognitive dissonance in capitalism, so feel free to draw on the interchangeable pool of Indigenous labour right next door. And then, by all means let everyone know that your First Nations neighbours are on board with your project, so that makes it 100% alright!
Of course, (and in keeping with your fantasy) you and your clientele of cultural tourists would not dream of helping the First Nations community as a whole, or fighting in the trenches, or conducting Allyship in solidarity with First Nations struggles, as that is too far beneath you. Rallies, marches, mobilizing and political actions are NO place for fashion statements, artistic expressions, great music or food! And for sure, getting your “hands dirty” with social activism would only tarnish the exotic representation of Native People you have so carefully constructed to bring in the business.
So my dear Zoomers - never mind that the First Nations community right next door are still in the throes of recovery from 500 years of cultural genocide, oppression, displacement, racist microaggressions and land theft, that’s just “so in the past!” Let's just keep quiet about all that, for when it comes to obnoxious white-privileged Settler interloper-opportunists and snake-oil sellers, it's truly about “me-me-me.”
>click image to enlarge<
To understand how cultural appropriation shows up in our environmental movements and spiritual life, we need to look at the backstory, or how cultural appropriation came to be. About 50 years ago a strange phenomena began to happen. In mainstream society young white people were rebelling against the imperialist machine, while in a much less visible sphere, First Nations were just starting to recover from the dark ages of genocide, oppression, residential school displacement and segregation. In the dominant society of the mid-20th century, ties to a genuine spiritual life had been broken, organized religion was on the decline, and all of a sudden young white people were reconnecting with nature. This was a wonderful thing (!) but they had no role models to follow. So they turned to First Nations, freely adopting their cultural tools and spiritual traditions, and some going so far as to create a whole new Indigenous identity for themselves. Without proper boundaries, the whitewashed genre of "Native Spirituality" was born, and cultural appropriation became imbedded in the flourishing New Age Industry.
Of course we owe a huge debt to the original rebellion of the hippies and the counterculture that gave us the alternative choices, sexual freedom, new spiritualities, holistic self-care, and healthy life-sustaining practices we enjoy today. These are features of society we take for granted, but unfortunately within the massive self-help, transformational and New Age marketplace the genres of “Native Spirituality” and “Shamanism” have been normalized. Being exposed to this material for so long, many New Agers and Pagans are shocked to find these genres being questioned, yet an interrogation is exactly what is needed. Not only are the white practitioners of "Native Spirituality" on shaky moral ground, First Nations have made it abundantly clear that they are completely opposed to any theft of their cultural and spiritual property.
Today, cultural appropriation occurs on a continuum from relatively harmless practices, to serious mental disorders such as identity theft found in the worlds of entertainment, literature, self-help and spirituality. Having moccasins, native jewellery, native art, or a drum in the privacy of your own home (acquired from native artisans) can be considered good Allyship by supporting the livelihood of First Nations. But on a larger scale, in mainstream industries like fashion, fine art, entertainment and home décor, items like dreamcatchers and headdresses are big business, and these cultural signifiers are casually and carelessly used by white people for fun and self-expression. Many of these symbols, often products made in China, are the sacred property of First Nations! We can just imagine how deeply hurtful this must be.
Native-themed fabrications in the marketplace and media rely on stereotypes, and infer that First Nations are a thing of the past, or “frozen in time,” whereas the reality is that Indigenous people are part of contemporary, living cultures. Indigenous people are also erased and made invisible by the use of sports team names and mascots, and dehumanized by decorative props used to sell goods, ideas and services. With all this "Columbusing" going on, the genuine voices, cultural markers, and indigenous knowledge of First Nations themselves are lost in the shuffle.
At the far end of the cultural appropriation continuum, identity theft is by far the most serious problem. White people who have a superficial understanding of traditions held by Indigenous people for millennia create a fake native identity for themselves, and then offer spiritual services and ceremonies following the business model of consumer capitalism. Spiritual guidance is not part of the economic structure within traditional First Nation societies, so this is the first boundary (among others) to be breached. The phenomena of the self-styled "Shaman" charging big bucks for ceremonies and other quasi-native experiences, is shockingly reprehensible and morally wrong.
Contemporary Shamanism was first adopted by the early anthropology and New Age communities, and as we unpack these movements today, we see that the contemporary "Shamanism" genre is based on intrusive and homogeneous European interpretations. And yet the title of “Shaman” to describe one’s practice is now so widespread, it is no doubt impossible to send it back to the Pandora’s Box from whence it came. The origins of the term “shaman” first appeared in the 1914 reports of American ethnologists to describe the practices of the Evenki-speaking Tungusian and Samoyedic tribes of eastern Siberia, and it can be argued that only practitioners from those specific societies have the right to use the term.
Why is cultural appropriation such a serious problem, and why is it so harmful to First Nations?
Fabricating a fake native identity is a continuation of Settler-Colonialism, which (1) seeks to eradicate indigenous people, (2) seize the land and resources, and (3), erase the cultural identity of the indigenous people themselves. And when we consider the phenomena of cultural appropriation on a deep level, we see that the activity of white wannabees or pretendians is not harmless or “spiritual” – it is an act of the deepest racism. The cultural markers white folks are drawn to, like drums, pipes and sweatlodges, are the very same things that were outlawed by the colonial powers. What white people freely use in their everyday lives are objects First Nations could be killed for using, not that long ago. What could be more macabre?
Cultural appropriation is an enormous widespread problem that interferes with First Nations resurgence and sovereignty. More than just the lifting of ideas, practices and physical objects, cultural appropriation dominates how oppressed groups present themselves to the world, and undermines their efforts to preserve their own traditions. Not to mention the disempowerment and loss of basic human dignity this suggests, Indigenous people no longer have their own autonomy or control over how they are represented in the public domain, which is a fundamental right for every human being. When white academics, scholars, writers, New Agers and Pagan practitioners (those with advantage and power) appropriate, write or teach about the cultural and spiritual traditions of indigenous societies, they are in fact dominating the original indigenous knowledge (IK). Their versions of IK become the valid narratives, fabrications that are sold back to the white majority, and even to Indigenous peoples themselves.
Playing around with one’s personal identity is an indulgence for privileged white folks, and critical responses by First Nations to the appropriation of their spiritual and cultural property is readily available in books, essays, blogs, Facebook groups and pages. Judging from their comments, they are shocked, horrified and insulted by any adoption of native identity in any sphere of popular culture or spiritual life. NDN’s stress over and over that there are absolutely no conditions that make it acceptable for a non-native person to assume a native identity and become a “cultural ambassador” of First Nations IK to other white people. Battling cultural appropriation has been at the forefront of Indigenous resistance in the Americas for many decades now, and has been addressed with legal means, documents from leaders such as Chief Arvol Looking Horse, and up to the highest level with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIPS). White pseudo-shamans are also the object of ridicule and derision. This can easily be witnessed by following the work of indigenous activists and organizations that monitor cultural appropriation such as NAFPS: New Age Frauds & Plastic Shamans; Native Appropriations: Examining Representations of Indigenous Peoples; or F.A.I.R. MEDIA for a couple of days.
In response to the white seeker's claim of having "permission" from one First Nations person to use their spiritual or cultural property, it doesn't follow that the rest of that FN community agrees. By going ahead and using FN spiritual or cultural property as a non-native person, you are (a) still going to look ridiculous, (b) appear to be "tokenizing" by separating out one FN's opinion from their wider community, (c) are still indulging in racist and colonizing behavior, and (d) are showing that you have no clue what your own cultural identity is. Beyond the universal tools found in nature to make fire and shelter, and regional wild foods that are going to be similar whatever culture you belong to, it is best to recover the indigenous practices of your OWN ancestry.
So what is the difference between cultural exchange and cultural appropriation?
There is one simple Rule – ask yourself if the cultures are on a level footing, and if one culture is freely sharing with another, or is there an oppressor/oppressed relationship, and is the oppressor taking from the oppressed? With the history of Settler-Colonialism on Turtle Island, identity theft is the final link in the chain of cultural genocide. Cultural appropriation is made possible by white supremacy and systemic racism.
What does cultural appropriation say about our own identity as white people?
In the massive Empire-building project on Turtle Island, our ethnocultural identity was stripped from us as we joined the homogeneous nation-states of Canada and USA with whiteness as the default. Colonized for centuries now, white people have forgotten why having an ethnoculture is important, yet we yearn for it at the same time. This collective soul loss is at the root of our attraction to Indigenous societies and the exotic "other." We may exist in the cultural vacuum known as Settler-Colonialism, but Turtle Island Indigenous Knowledge is not our culture!
The popularity of New Age Capitalism has allowed us to use the spiritual property of Indigenous people without realizing that it is cultural appropriation. Boundaries should have been in place years ago, but the timetable of healing from genocide and slavery did not enable people of color to be empowered to speak out on this serious issue until recent times. Now that white people are aware of the problem, we are obligated to educate each other and stop these harmful practices.
Even if the false “shamanic” identity has been perpetuated for years and the practitioner has an established business, they need to stop aligning with the racist policies of colonialism and white knowledge domination. Shifting to the authentic earth-connected wisdom traditions of one’s own ancestors and offering that European Indigenous Knowledge (EIK) to one’s cultural group is not all that difficult, and would be a blessing to all involved. So-called “shamans” have re-created themselves once, and can do it again (!) this time using their own true identity and ethnicity, and their followers will love them for it. In fact, with the millions of spiritually-starved and culturally-alienated diasporans in the Americas, it is inconceivable that those focused on spiritual and cultural renewal would not see the value in offering their own authentic EIK teachings to others!
When First Nations people are telling us over and over that cultural appropriation is demeaning and disempowering (as well as a continuation of Settler-Colonialism), we really need to rearrange our ethical maps and stop this offensive behavior. In grappling for the shiny treasures we lack in our own lives, we have forgotten the basic values of honour and respect.
MEGA-RESOURCES FROM A-Z
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Brown, Michael F. Who Owns Native Culture? Harvard University Press, 2004 Also, online resource for debates on the legal status of indigenous art, music, folklore, biological knowledge and sacred sites. http://web.williams.edu
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Deloria, Philip J. Playing Indian. Yale University Press, 1999
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Eyers, Pegi. “Beyond the Pale: Lifting IK and Inventing Identity.” Bringing Race to the Table: An Exploration of Racism in the Pagan Community. Brandy Williams, Taylor Ellwood and Crystal Blanton (editors), Megalithica Books, 2015
F.A.I.R. MEDIA (For Accurate Indigenous Representation). “Indigenous Peoples reserve the right to define how and where we are represented in popular culture. F.A.I.R. provides a safe, secure venue by and for Indigenous Peoples to confront stereotypes, while at the same time promoting accurate representations of ourselves in popular culture,” 2015 www.facebook.com
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Excerpt from Ancient Spirit Rising (Stone Circle Press, 2016).
Sections workshopped on Canadian Ecopsychology Network
(CEN ~ March 23, 2017), and shared to
Unsettling America on April 26, 2017
BY PEGI EYERS
Nature Spirituality is essential to my life journey, and the teachings of First Nations elders and community peoples have played an important role in my learning and personal transformation. In 2012 at an Elders Gathering hosted at Trent University, I heard revered Wisdom Keeper and Professor James Dumont (Anishnaabe) say that “everyone needs to get back to their own Indigenous Knowledge.” Like a lightning bolt from the blue, this simple statement activated a monumental set of questions about my own life, and issues in the wider society.
I found the implications of this statement fascinating, and began a research process that spanned 3 years of inquiry, writing and great discovery. Why were my white cohort creating "fake" native identities? What were some of the more obvious delusions in New Age Spirituality? Where were patterns of white privilege? Why was cultural appropriation a continuation of Settler-Colonialism? What were healthy alternatives for the non-native spiritual seeker? Where was our own European indigenous knowledge located? Why were Americans and Canadians so disconnected from their Ancestors? Why were Indigenous epistomologies better than western ways of thinking? What can we do as social justice activists, and is reconciliation with First Nations even possible? What does it mean to step back from the trajectory of Empire, and to find sustainable solutions both for ourselves, our communities, and Mother Earth?
When James Dumont said that “everyone needs to get back to their own Indigenous Knowledge," he was, of course, making a statement on the appropriation of First Nations cultural and spiritual property by white people, but at the same time he was giving us a great blessing, by implying that it is possible for all people to access Indigenous Knowledge from their own traditions. In my writing I was driven to explore these important, timely, and often controversial themes, and to advance my own personal knowledge in the process. I will be forever indebted to James Dumont for inspiring me to write Ancient Spirit Rising and offer it to the world.
For those of us of European descent, core questions continue to arise on locating our authentic wisdom traditions and reclaiming our roots in Earth Community, and the themes in Ancient Spirit Rising are an attempt to further this critical conversation. For the first time in human history with travel, the internet and other resources, we have full access to the Indigenous Knowledge (IK) of any culture, including our own. Then why must we take bits and pieces from the First Nations of Turtle Island when we have our own ancestral belief systems, sacred objects and ceremonies that are bursting with earth-connected wisdom, beauty and power? In these times of massive change, the reclaiming of our own ancestral traditions can provide us with spiritual and material tools for re-landing in our local ecosystems, challenging the toxic effects of capitalism, and creating a sustainable future.
As I was writing Ancient Spirit Rising I began to see that having a spiritual focus in life includes both social and environmental justice, and if we do not engage in activism on behalf of oppressed peoples and the other-than-human world, we may fall short of our full potential. In the rich environment of cultural pluralism that exists in the Americas today, taking responsibility for our privilege and the history of Settler-Colonialism will go far in establishing mutual respect and peaceful co-existence between all people. By increasing our solidarity and allyship with Turtle Island First Nations (our “co-existence in co-resistance”) Ancient Spirit Rising offers diverse strategies for healing the historic divide between colonizer and colonized.
Discovering alternatives to common misconceptions, reversing the racism of cultural appropriation, and developing skills for intercultural competency are all positive and empowering practices. Working for peace and justice is essential to personal and planetary healing, as is the directive to re-enchant and rebalance the world with a massive dose of holistic principles promoting biophilia and spiritual ecology. Essential to re-rooting ourselves as ecocentric peoples is to fall in love with the Earth again, and to revere all the elements, manifestations and creatures in the natural world as sacred.
“You cannot destroy that which you love.”
The “Great Turning” to ecological civilization is happening in all sectors of society, and the various knowledge systems and movements are doing an excellent job! Countless folks are finding the value in embracing ethics and lifestyles that reflect our connectivity to the new “Earth Story.” But what is often missed in these practices is the spiritual expression that could arise from a strong, grounded connection to the land, from the recovery of our own ancestral traditions, and from “getting back to our own Indigenous Knowledge.”
As we take on our cultural recovery project, there are a wide range of earth-connected spiritual traditions already in place that revive our European Old Ways. Although I advocate in Ancient Spirit Rising for specific ethnocultural paths such as Gaelic Traditionalism, Old Norse Traditions, Hellenic Polytheism, Religio Romana (ancient Rome) or Baltic/Romuva Spirituality (for example), the renaissance of reconstructionist paths such as Druidry, the Avalon Tradition, Neo-Paganism, Wicca and Matriarchal Studies is good news indeed. Also, contemporary nature-based spiritualities such as Animism and Ecomysticism hold elements of both ancient and modern practice.
Becoming part of a specific ancestral group can give us a firm foundation, and a place to turn for spiritual guidance, cultural values and familial connection. If we are able to seek out the details of our heritage, how honoring to our Ancestors to re-create our traditions, to the best of our ability!
Wild nature is calling us all back home, and Ancient Spirit Rising offers diverse paths to reclaiming our essential bio-lineage, such as earthing, rewilding, ecopsychology and visiting sacred sites. The recovery process requires the re-inhabitation of place, or getting to know the unique features of our home landscape. And we also have a responsibility to embrace green sanctuary work and geo-justice, and to do the hard work of caring for and protecting the land. We all have a part to play in the paradigm shift, and Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community offers exciting guideposts and modalities for the journey of transformation. We are all People of the Earth, and I invite you to join me on this exciting path of personal and collective revitalization!
The resurgence of the Divine Feminine today is a true revolution, as women everywhere reclaim their love for Mother Earth and the Creatrix that is the cosmic principle behind all life. The patriarchy is fading, and the rebalancing of the feminine and masculine are two aspects of the same reality, reconnecting all people with the stewardship that outlines our ancient relationship to Earth Community. The renewed interest in feminine deities, philosophers, intellectuals and strong role models has been phenomenal, and the rise of women in leadership roles is an integral part of the paradigm shift to egalitarian and sustainable societies.
The challenge for women coming into their power today, is to bring the feminine values of nurture and care to governance, instead of internalizing the patriarchy or assuming the agenda of Empire. If matriarchal culture and the worldview of inter-connectedness were reinstated today, the benefits would apply to all people. And the evolution of our species may depend on a shift toward the feminine values of balance, reciprocity, equity, grassroots democracy, negotiation, peacemaking, unconditional love, intuition and nature connection.
On a cautionary note, with roots in eco-feminism, Neo-Pagan and Wicca practice, Goddess Spirituality has also flourished within the canon of New Age Capitalism, and the many texts and tools in this corner of the self-help marketplace reflect the pervasive commodification and appropriation of Indigenous Knowledge (IK) to create consumer products. The modern Goddess Spirituality movement encourages women to work with any goddess deity, goddess metaphor or goddess energy from any cultural tradition they choose, and rituals, petitions and pathworking can remove the deity from the originating culture or epistemology in newly-created narratives. By taking the particular goddess out of context, and revising or fabricating the traditions and sacred knowledge of the “other” for the monetary gain of selling books and conducting workshops, Goddessians are dominating the IK of specific cultures and practicing cultural appropriation.
As members of the privileged white society, the same ethical considerations apply to all spiritual seekers, who may simply be unaware they are furthering the racist and destructive practices of colonialism. It may be best to resonate with the goddesses of your own ethnocultural group. Or, if you must reference the goddesses of Turtle Island First Nations and other Indigenous communities, be sure to cite genuine mythologies from authentic Indigenous scholars and storytellers themselves, and be discerning that these narratives are not Neo-Pagan or New Age versions that have been absorbed, whitewashed, “painted-up” and reflected back (which can happen).
For Goddess Studies scholars who are aligned with the principles of decolonization, engaged with deconstructing whiteness or reclaiming their own ethnoautobiography, the work they present to the Goddess Feminist public could easily be prefaced with "you really need to be focused on honoring the Goddesses of your own ancestral tradition(s)."
Excerpt from the essay by Pegi Eyers "The Tenets of Goddess
Spirituality (and a Cautionary Tale)" that appeared in the anthology
She Rises: Why Goddess Feminism, Activism and Spirituality?
from MAGO Books
The worldview that drives our civilization is one of endless growth, which is impossible on a planet with limited resources. Already we have pushed the natural world to the extreme limit of what sustains all life, with the pollution of water and air, the destruction of ecosystems, and the surface temperature of the globe itself being altered beyond natural law. And what is the main driver for climate change, the most destructive force of all? It is our high-carbon economy, our addiction to a massive fossil-fueled industrial transportation network, a nature-crushing grid of highways that supports this mess, “anthropocene” changes to the land with agricultural mega-business, and the manufacture of millions of objects, technologies, plastics, consumables, gadgets, luxuries and amenities that we take for granted. Throw in an out-of-control population bomb and the human infrastructure required to support the explosion, and the chaos we face is grave indeed. The looming disaster is human-induced, and increased greenhouse gases are leading directly to extreme weather events and massive global warming.
In terms of solutions, we are far past the point where individual actions like “recycling” will make a difference, and the only way forward is to dismantle our civilization by mobilizing the citizenry like in times of war. Yet do we see this happening? Are we collectively turning back from the worldviews and technologies that are killing the planet? Are we finally coming to understand that our humancentric worldview will destroy us in the end? Are we not just one interconnected part of Earth Community? Yet human beings are experts at cognitive dissonance, and it seems likely that we will remain in denial right up until the four seasons turn into one, the drought intensifies, water shortages increase each year, and the landscape re-arranges itself into strange corroded places we have never seen before. We cannot be absolutely sure what the future will hold, but the data projections on rising global temperature do not lie.
So what do we do in the face of the massive change that is coming? The environmental movement that created so much awareness at the beginning is essentially a failure. For the sake of the bottom line, governments and corporations continue to cling to extraction capitalism and toxic technologies, and the population is obsessed with consumerism, escapism and entertainment. Yet for all the tragic news, movements everywhere are seeking to “shift the paradigm” before it’s too late, to reduce emissions, install renewable energy, resist the lure of civilization with degrowth and voluntary simplicity, and seek out bioregionalism and the support that local community can offer. Alternative currencies, solidarity networks, localvore, rewilding, the ancestral arts, and reviving our bond with the natural world are all activities we can be pursuing right now, in our own place and in our own time. And as we experience Empire collapsing right before our eyes, there is a guideline we can all share.
“Decolonize now, voluntarily, intentionally, with full awareness and the selective use of resources, OR, decolonize later under duress and hardship, as a dramatic response to traumatic conditions when the current economic paradigm reaches the limits of its sustainability. But decolonize you must, or fade away with the memories of a lost civilization.”
Presentation by Pegi Eyers for the 10th Annual Community Movements Conference at Trent University, February 4, 2017. From Climate to Culture: The Complexity of Change
In times of massive change, we are challenged to recover our bonds to Mother Earth and be at home in wild nature, as an interconnected part of the flourishing of all life. And as we fulfill the directives of balance and right relationship, we realize the highest values for all those on Turtle Island - to participate in the beauty of Earth Community and protect the land for the Seven Generations yet to come! New versions of our timeless and archaic eco-story are needed more than ever, as we reclaim our relationship to the Ancestors and land-emergent knowledge.
We are all Ancestors of the future, and this is how Ancestors live. Learn the Old Ways of your people and find or adopt a piece of land to love with all your heart. Re-embrace your true home and become empowered to hold space for decolonizing community to arise. Carve out a natural lifestyle, listen to what the Earth is telling you, and form bonds of resistance in solidarity with the original Earth Keepers of the land. Live in harmonious and sustainable ways on the land, celebrate and honor the land, and praise the land. Create the ceremonies, rituals, artistic expressions, songs and dances that express your own heritage and convey your interaction with the spirits of the land you love. Practice the sacred activities that dovetail with the cycles and the Great Wheel of the Year on the land. Plant when it is time, harvest when it is time, rest when it is time, and respect the living things – the plants and animals that have given their lives for your existence. Practice reciprocity and honour all beings, write and tell the stories when it is time, and prepare the soil when it is time. Root your heart to the earth where it can stay strong, stay your face to the moon, your skin to the sun, your hands to the soil, your eyes to the beauty of nature, your heart to the creatures, your wonder to the interconnectivity of it all, your gratitude to the Great Heart of Turtle Island, and your soul anchored in the deep dreaming of the land that will hold you in loving embrace throughout your long revolutions of birthing, living, dying and being born to live again.
Excerpt from "Seeking Settler Re-landing" by Pegi Eyers originally published in Unsettling America: Decolonization in Theory & Practice, March 30, 2016
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