Nature Spirituality has always been essential to my life journey, and the teachings of First Nations elders and community peoples have been an important part of my learning and personal transformation. At an Elders Gathering hosted by Trent University in 2010, 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. Why were my kindred spirits in the spiritual community assuming First Nations identities or taking cultural and spiritual property that did not belong to them, and where were our own indigenous expressions as people with European heritage? Over the span of the next three years I was driven to examine these issues, and Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community is the result of that exhaustive research on eco-identity, along with my own nature-based observations, conclusions, evocations, poetry and illustrations.
As I was writing Ancient Spirit Rising I began to realize that having a spiritual focus in life included social and environmental justice, and by not engaging in activism on behalf of oppressed peoples and the other-than-human world we are not reaching our full potential. In the rich environment of cultural pluralism that exists in Canada 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 peoples. 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 colonizer/colonized divide. 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 injection of holistic principles promoting biophilia and spiritual ecology. Essential to re-rooting ourselves as eco-centric peoples is to fall in love with the Earth again, and to revere the elements, manifestations and creatures in the natural world as sacred. “You cannot destroy that which you love.”
As we take on our cultural recovery project, there are a wide range of earth-connected spiritual traditions already in place that center on our European Old Ways. Although I advocate 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, and 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 the lucky ones who know the details of our heritage, how beautiful and how honoring of ourselves and our Ancestors to re-create our specific traditions to the best of our ability!
Pegi Eyers is the author of "Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community," a new book that explores strategies for neurodecolonization, rejecting Empire, social justice, ethnocultural identity, Apocalypse Studies, building land- emergent community & resilience in times of massive change.