Sacredness of Mother Earth at #COP21

Tom B.K. Goldtooth (Mdewakanton Dakota and Dine) and other Native leaders at a Sunrise Ceremony on 11/29/15 (COP21) via @g0ldtooth
Tom B.K. Goldtooth (Mdewakanton Dakota and Dine) and other Native leaders at a Sunrise Ceremony on 11/29/15 (COP21) via @g0ldtooth

People are starting to renew their sacred relationship with Mother Earth.  Native leaders are at the forefront of climate change activism, but more importantly, they are demonstrating the sacredness of life by performing ceremonies to give thanks to the Earth and talking about the spirit of all life whether it’s a tree, water or an animal.

Here are a few examples of how Native leaders integrate spirituality with their environmental activism:

  1. At a ceremony in Paris before COP21, Dallas Goldtooth (Mdewakanton Dakota and Dine) said:  “We encourage everyone to renew their relationship with Mother Earth.”  As part of Indigenous Environmental Network’s “Red Road to Paris”, there is an Indigenous Water Ceremony scheduled Dec.11, 2015 during the climate conference in Paris.
Red Road To Paris Water Ceremony 12/11/15 via Indigeous Envinmental Network
Red Road To Paris Water Ceremony 12/11/15 via Indigenous Environmental Network

2. After a recent anti-fracking victory in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Andrea Currie (Metis Nation) spoke about a water ceremony giving thanks for the victory:

“The pipes will be lit and smoked,” she says.  “This is to pay respect to the sacredness of water and how water is a source of life, and particularly for indigenous people in Unama’ki. The water is a huge part of the way of life.”

3.  In addition to ceremony, it is important to understand the deep relationship between all living things whether it’s a tree, a plant, a body of water, or an animal.  Andres Noningo Sesen, of the Wampi people in Puerto Galilea, Northern Peru (Amazon) explains his ancestors’ knowledge:

“My name is Andres Noningo Sesen, I live in Puerto Galilea, a community in Northern Peruvian amazon. We are Wampis, one of the first peoples…our relationship with the natural world is very different. It goes far beyond conservation. For us, we have a deep faith that the natural world will provide for all our needs as our ancestors have thought deeply about the world around them. They noticed that the animals speak and even the earth moves and they asked where do these animals come from? What is the origin of the air we breathe, who looks after the trees? What is the origin of life ? These are some of the questions they asked. To get answers our visionaries would spend up to three months in a forest in a small hut to seek wisdom.

They learnt that the plants we now cultivate in our farms were brought to us by Nunqui, the mother of the earth and the fish were given to us by Tsunkui, the people of the water. They taught us that every animal and tree are people just like us and have their guardians which protect them.”

The wisdom and ceremonies of indigenous people need to be an integral part of everything we do in our current society.  When we connect spiritually with our Mother Earth and every living thing upon it, our relationship with her is a deep, personal one.

Advertisements

Speaking with the Ancestors at a Cusco Huaca

Plaza de las Armas, Cusco, Peru

Click here to learn more about Cusco Huacas

One of the benefits of connecting with the Earth and with sacred sites is connecting with the ancestors.  When I visited Cusco, Peru, I had a conversation with one of my ancestors, but before I tell you about it, I must provide a little background to that experience.

Before going to Cusco, Peru, I had a difficult 2 months with a health problem.  I had been planning this trip for over a year and was nervous about being well enough to go out of the country.  During this challenging time, I had the love of family to help me through in addition to something else that may be considered unorthodox to some–psychic communication with the spirits of my grandparents and mother.  During this time, I had noticed that my grandfather’s spirit was absent and spirit communication was primarily with my mother and grandmother.  But, once I was on a plane to Peru, I felt a stronger connection with my grandfather’s spirit.

One of the most amazing experiences I had in Cusco was at the Plaza de las Armas, which is in the center of Cusco.  As I approached the fountain in Plaza de las Armas, my grandfather’s voice grew louder and louder.  I turned around and saw a dog trotting past me towards the fountain.  The closer the dog came to the fountain, the louder I heard my grandfather’s voice saying, “Hello!  You made it!”  I thought in my head,  “Where have you been the last few months?!”  He replied, “I’ve been hanging around here and waiting for you!”

Bear in mind that while I have many psychic communications with my ancestors, this particular communication was unique in that it was so vivid that I felt as if my ancestors were alive and in human form.  My curiosity was piqued as to why did I have such a communication in the middle of the town plaza of Cusco?

  1. One possible reason is because the fountain at the Plaza de las Armas is a huaca.  What is a huaca?  A huaca is “a sacred natural setting or burial site, or shrine along a seq’e line”(Williams, p.162).  A seq’e is “the system of lines and corresponding shrines radiating out of Cuzco”(Williams, p.165).
  1. How did I determine that the fountain at Plaza de las Armas is a huaca?  According to John E. Staller, “Even as such things as tombs, altars, temples, offerings to the Sun, fountains, canals, and corners in houses were termed huacas….”(p.371)
  1.  Since the fountain at the Plaza de las Armas is a huaca located along a seq’e line, functioning as a portal to other dimensions, I assumed this was the reason for such an intense and vivid psychic communication with my grandfather’s spirit.  I verified this assumption with this quote from Anthropologist Garth L. Bawden:   “The ancestors are often associated with special places – caves, springs…” (Bawden, 2003, para. 12)

It’s true that Cusco is a magical city as I’ve described from my experience at the fountain at Plaza de las Armas.  A deliberate and intricate design of seq’es and huacas in Cusco acting as dimensional pathways to the ancestors allowed psychic communication with my own ancestors.  I am convinced we are all connected.

References:

Bawden, Garth. (2003). University of New Mexico Anthropology 324: South American Archaeology [Syllabus]. Retrieved from http://www.unm.edu/~gbawden/324-syll/324-syll.htm & http://www.unm.edu/~gbawden/324-shamanism/324-shamanism.htm

Staller, John (Ed.). (2008). Pre-Columbian Landscapes of Creation and Origin.  New York:  Springer Science & Business Media.

Williams, J.E. (2012).  Light of the Andes:  In Search of Shamanic Wisdom in Peru. (n.p.) Irie Books.

 

Sacred Sites and their #Indigenous Guardians

(The Gaia Foundation)

Over the last five years or so, I have become more aware of sacred sites both locally and abroad.  In an effort to understand my experiences at sacred sites, I have looked for information about the native cultures that lived at those sacred sites.

For example, when I went to Peru and visited Machu Picchu, I was enveloped in the most wonderful energy, but noticed that the energy improved as one climbed higher in altitude.  However, even mountains as powerful as they are, have to be honored from the work of the shaman, and by giving offerings and performing ceremony, the mountain spirits, and their energy are transformed.   “The wellbeing of huacas [quechua word for sacred] depends on the constant flow of offerings from the living to deceased ancestors, and the spiritual domain as a form of reciprocity.” (Staller, 2008, p.276)

Here in Florida, the mounds here as well as throughout the mound culture in the rest of the US, are places of great power and complex energy.  The complexity is most likely a result of years of environmental degradation and disrespect for these special places.  Because there is a highly elevated energy associated with power places or sacred sites, when the land they are on is disrespected or degraded, the energy becomes more turbulent and sometimes very unhappy.  “Sacred sites are living places. They have their own feelings like humans.  And just like humans, they can be happy or sad” (Sabella Kaguna, Custodian, Tharaka, Kenya)

Also in Florida, it is the Gulf of Mexico that is a very powerful nature force instead of mountains.   It is the Gulf of Mexico, the palm trees, plants, minerals and animals among many other things to whom we can offer our thanks.  In historical context, the Seminoles in Florida had core beliefs of giving thanks to the land and having a deep connection with the land as if it is one’s mother.  “Traditional Seminoles consider their environment a sacred source of life, and they themselves believe they are its guardians.” (Caufield, Catherine, “Selling a Piece of Your Mother”, 1998)

As I continue to learn more about sacred sites, I hope to integrate the same beliefs of reciprocity to the land as the native cultures who lived here before us.