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.

It All Starts With Pachamama

(Q’ero Paqo Shaman Don Sebastian Pauccar Flores, video courtesy of http://www.takiruna.com)

In our western society, having a relationship with the Earth is a rare topic of discussion or thought. Perhaps, due to technology, we have distanced ourselves so that now we are being challenged to renew our relationship with the Earth. It is a challenge well worth pursuing as I have discovered in my learning about the indigenous Andean teachings of the Q’ero people.

For the indigenous Q’ero of the Andes, I have noticed that it all starts with Pachamama.  In J.E. Williams’ book Light of the Andes: In Search of Shamanic Wisdom in Peru, he describes Pachamama as “the earth mother in space-time, the all creative cosmic mother”.  Pachamama is very important to the Q’ero and they frequently make offerings to her. When they say, ‘Gracias Pachamama’, you can hear their heartfelt gratitude echoing through each syllable. I have tried to emulate this concept when I offer thanks to Pachamama, whether through a tobacco ceremony or when I am praying to the Mesa (the Andean Medicine Bundle). I have noticed that the more I feel in my heart the love for Pachamama (as one would feel for a loved one), the deeper my connection. This has most certainly led me to a deeper relationship with the Earth.

Stay tuned for the next blogpost about sacred sites or huacas, in Cusco, Peru.