#Shamanism Wish List

Ollantaytambo, Peru

I want to live in a society that rewards people for being good to the water, air, land and animals and people.

I want to live in a society where equal rights for all is rewarded, and shaming or ostracizing others is criminal behavior.  

I want to live in a society where people frequently talk about the other realities that shamans experience.  For example:  What do you see in the Ukhupacha (lower world), Kaypacha (middle world), Hananpacha (upper world)?  How do I know which is which?  What does this mean?  Who is helping right now so I can thank them?

I would like to live in a world where shamanism is respected very deeply–perhaps because it’s tens of thousands of years old and is effective when done properly.  

I would like to live in a world that has respected and researched standards for shamanism so that everyone has the right teacher and learning program for them.  

I would like to live in a society where I am financially and socially rewarded for all the unseen, energetic, shamanic or esoteric hurdles I’ve had to overcome since I was born.  

I’d also like to live in a society that has other people like me who have overcome a great deal and who are positive and healthy.  Perhaps we can all learn from each other.

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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.

 

#BlackHillsUnityConcert Begins a New Way of Relating to Sacred Sites

 
Oglala Sioux Tribal President Theresa Two Bulls explains:  “We feel that we have a sacred obligation to our people to come together in unity.  We put forth sacred intentions to help our Great Sioux Nation understand these grounds are beautiful and sacred and they are not for sale.”  The Black Hills Unity Concert will start a new way of relating to sacred sites on the Earth.  At the core of the environmental protection of sacred sites, is the need for each person’s spiritual connection to the land, in this case the Black Hills.  The concert is August 28-30, 2015, free admission for those attending.  If you can’t attend but want to donate, go to:  Unity Concert.  Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/08/20/star-studded-black-hills-unity-concert-focus-sacred-161455

 

A Native Wisdom Sampler: World #IndigenousDay

Indigenous Worldviews-August 2015

In honor of World Indigenous Peoples Day, here is a sampler of indigenous wisdom teachings from the Q’ero (Peru) and Onandaga (NY).  Click above to enjoy more videos and quotes in magazine format.

Ayni is a Quechua word meaning reciprocity. Ayni permeates daily life among the indigenous people of the Andes Mountains as it is not just a sustainability principle but is also practiced in despacho (offering) ceremonies to the Apus (mountain spirits), Awkikuna (nature spirits) and Pachamama. To learn more about Ayni, watch this video from Dr. J.E. Williams at Ayniglobal.

Seven Generations Principle  Native North Americans honor the sacredness of all life through the seven generations principle.  “Seven generations ago somebody was looking out for me and that’s why I am here. Seven generations from now, I hope, there is somebody there.”-Oren Lyons of the Onondaga Nation

 

Some Thoughts on Responsible Local Travel

While viewing the Responsible Travel and Wildlife Conservation Hangout, I was inspired by Martin Hatchuel‘s conversation with Nombulelo Mkefa where she said, “Sustainable travel is the destination, responsible travel is the journey.”  What are the principles that embody responsible travel?

1. Respect and care for the environment whether it’s land, air, water, animal or plant life.
2. Indigenous culture should be represented in an authentic way so that it is not a commodity, but a celebration of the culture and sacred sites with respect and dignity.
3. In the case of hotels, workers should receive competitive wages, work in a safe and clean environment, and live in the local area.
4. Travelers and businesses are responsible for buying local.

Tourism in the USA has a long way to go to meeting these goals, but with innovation, discussion and action, maybe tourism can work in harmony with the environment.

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.