It’s a deep and complex question. I agree with a lot of what is written but not all of it.
Certainly I am 100% against superficial taking of native traditions which get mushy new-age-ivied into absolutely disrespectful clap trap – people running around with feathers in their hair and bone hair pipe chokers and so forth.. dreadful shallow nonsense.
But I think if people are going to truly learn from Native Teachers in a respectful way thats different – if people are going to honour the traditions etc in a solid grounded way then I think if Native people want to teach it’s Ok to learn from them – the Western world needs some grounded solid sacred ways.
This is mostly a thing with Native Americans are concerned about – and I can fully understand why. Tibetan traditions are freely shared to any who have the capacity for them – as are Mongolian and Siberian traditions.
I am completely against the plasticisation of the sacred and also the rank commercialization of it too.
I think it is a little unfair to show several of the people who are in the article – like :
John Lockley (top left) who is a recognized South African Sangoma – fully initiated. (I don’t know the other people in the top image)
Second image down – the girls with feathers – I am 100% against that sort of thing
Third image down, I can say that two of those people do not work with traditional Native American ways, they do core-shamanic, culturally stripped shamanic things and their hot on that page is slanderous. I can’t speak for the other two people in the photos as I don’t know them.
The article is very biased and ill informed in many ways – but I am 100% against the fluffing new-aging of traditional sacred ways so I also stand by the article quite a bit too.
D?ja vu from earlier today – also, an excellent example of why I was asking about the topic. After a little bit of looking, the woman on the far left is Lynn Andrews, and the man is Oscar Miro-Quesada (as far as I can tell).
It also rankles with me that articles and advertising all over the internet use pictures of shamans (usually non-white) as generic ads for ‘shamanism’. As if the people in the photos aren’t individual people with names and their own practices and clients. Particularly bad in the new age circles. I find new-ageys will take anything they want. I’ve had my own original workshop material taken and used without any permission – by colleagues who see nothing wrong with taking whatever they want. Having now ranted about that I will say the people that I know of in the photos here are serious people with ethics.
Aha! I wasn’t 100% sure about that one – I thought of Villoldo, but couldn’t remember how to spell his last name, and my phone wasn’t being helpful. Kardashian, however, it knew. <sigh>
If it looks like a duck..
I wasn’t sure if it was Villoldo or not so didn’t say.. I don’t know him, never felt I wanted to have contact – don’t like the scent of him
I have a friend who almost took a second mortgage because of the cost of his classes
One born every minute..
I agree with your take on it. There are some excellent points, and some less insightful ones.
I wondered if it was her, but again was not sure
That’s her. :/
Yes, I agree, Doug. This article conflates all “shamanism” as having derived from Native American belief when that’s not the case. It even gets the history of the word “shaman” in English wrong. It goes back to the 1600s. I agree with a lot of the article, but there are points where it’s too broad and sweeping, or too shallow, and it’s misleading in places. Even so, it’s a good conversation for us to keep on having.
I agree with your take on the article Nick. My question is if it’s slander toward people doing genuinely good work, why would you choose to amplify the signal on it?
We need to respect the origins of these things but I also believe that most the people need to follow what is in their heart and spirit….. cause each person hears spirit differently~ nobody owns the right to a feather or a rock or a prayer or a song. But I do think the most powerful people don’t advertise it
Just because we’re spiritual ~we can’t micromanage other peoples’ spiritual beliefs
Here is another one
My word rather brutal
As “people of the earth” why all the division & righteous indignation ? sorry I don’t get it, probably why I’m happiest on my own in my field , because whatever path any of you are convinced is THE way & sacrosanct, implies someone is right & someone else is wrong & excluding or criticizing people because they are a certain colour culture spirituality or not suitably knowledgeable or spiritual enough (but perhaps just trying to be,) isn’t something that sits well with me. I don’t think anyone has the monopoly on practices , symbols, rituals & even if any were reproduced with malicious intent , if they are good things & have any real significance then they won’t produce evil .That people are offended is not good but if someone ridicules the bible for instance & someone believes in it implicitly they should only feel compassion for the perpetrator.
I found this thread interesting because my father ( a clergyman) was obsessed with protecting the sacrament from ‘devil worshipers’ way back in the 50s & 60s, guarding them obsessively & I used to argue that if the wafers were blessed & good & it was all true, then no one could use them for evil & if they did get hold of them they could only have the power of good & not be corrupted, his fear only made me question the value of the ‘magic’& authenticity. On another
tack, interesting that you said you thought you were a bit ‘on the spectrum the other day Doug JohnsonI think there are quite a few of us round here , my Aspergers diagnosis clarified quite a lot for me
I am dyslexic and I have some other aspects which ‘might’ be on the AS, I think the diagnosis of such things (both AS and dyslexia) is very broad brush and inaccurate. I am me, I think I would leave it at that
whatever works for you , I managed 50 years accepting I was a bit different but whatever you call it, autistic/eccentric/ a loner etc:- I did find knowing lots of other people share some traits was helpful , especially face blindness, spatial awareness problems etc etc that were constantly referred to as being stupid when I was growing up
My son has the spatial awareness thing ; causes so called clumsiness; and being called stupid as a child
The division is the appropriate and understandable anger Native American have to their genocide – which was massive and a deliberate policy – by the European invaders who stole their lands, totally destroyed their culture and outlawed their spiritual practices until 1978 when they were then allowed to practice them. Coupled with the kidnap of many children to remove them from their heathen parents, so they could be brought up as nice Christian ‘apples’ (red on the outside but white on the inside). Is it any wonder that native Americans get mightily pissed of by white people playing Indian like it’s their God given right?
lots of terrible things done in this country too & everywhere since time immemorial often in the name of religion. Seems to me mankind is cursed by greed & powerlust. What is the ‘right’ way? no one will ever agree on that. All rituals & creeds are laid down by people originally who all truly believe they’re enlightened so yes there is lots of bullshit out there that helps people feel everything will be alright
I don’t see this discussion as having anything to do with anyone saying there is a “right way” to do anything. That would imply that discussing cultural appropriation is some kind of theological debate about how we connect to spirit. As I see it, the p…See More
In this challenging world I would say whatever works for you is fine, just don’t label it as something it isn’t. Labels are the curse of our age. Studying traditions and practicing parts of it that you feel connected with is perfectly ok. It might not …See More
I was referring to the comment below “Anglo culture does not sit respectfully asking to be shown the right way” I fully understand the indignation of oppressed & abused people .
and what’s worse is Anglo culture does not sit respectfully asking to be shown the right way, the new age steals native culture and spirituality and mixes it with bull shit and sells fake ‘medicine’ more often than not to ignorant Anglos who have no clue for the main part of the plight of NA, and no clue about their sacred traditions, many of which are restricted as to who can know them, and were so persecuted by Anglos they barely survive now – in fact many don’t.
I liked the bit in the article pointing out that often First Nations people are stereotyped as frozen in time, rather than seen as members of contemporary culture. Another friend posted this article today …See More
How do we heal trauma suffered by Native communities?
It is not enough that the Attawapiskat First Nation…
if I was Native American I would be very angry indeed – I think it’s amazing some of the medicine people have enough forgiveness in their hearts to be open to teaching white folks anything
past my bedtime, night
I totally agree with the sentiment behind this piece. I also noticed a picture of “Little Grandmother” aka Keisha Crowther in this article. I met her a few years back in Sweden where people literally worshipped the ground she walked on. She claimed to be a Sioux Shaman- which immediately rang alarm bells for me as the Sioux don’t call themselves that, nor do they have shamans. Then she claimed to be on the International Indigenous Council. Well I know a few genuine elders involved with the World Council of Indigenous Peoples- so I wrote a few emails asking about this woman who dressed in traditional men’s clothing and brought a huge crystal ( found at the North Pole apparently ) as a gift to Sweden from her people. I knew by this stage she was a fake but the outrage at her from native peoples all around the world was surprising. She is white of course. Apparently she visits native communities in the Pacific, Africa, South America and claims authority by having her photo taken with them. I was told she has several warrants out in the US for fraud and that’s why she operates out of Holland and the UK now. There are far too many like her…
Kiesha Crowther exposed as fraud
Here’s a typical New Age wannabe posing as a Native “shaman.” Hundreds or thousands of…
Yikes! That’s the common type at the Shamanic Community group on fb..
Little Grandmother is one of the worst
She came to my local town (I didn’t see her) and we estimate she took over £20,000 for the weekend
When I saw her she was asking $150 US for a twenty minute “healing”. And the punters were lined up around the block. The worst thing about Keisha is she does know she’s a fraud. I was at a weeklong festival with her and had a long chat with her away from her minders during which she exhibited awareness that what she was doing was wrong and hoping she wouldn’t get caught. I do believe actually that she’s quite a vulnerable person, psychologically, and that perhaps she’s been manipulated by others. But yes, she’s one of the worst. She’s made millions from her scam.
She’s also the reason I stopped playing new age festivals. I was appalled at how foolish, naive and downright stupid the new age crowd could be. So I’m grateful to her for that awakening.
yes I agree with you, they can indeed be very ‘un-aware’
but then – I say ‘they’ and of course I can be un aware too – we are all humans
I certainly was… and I certainly can be too. There’s no fool like an old fool as they say.
I guess you are referring to ängsbacka retreat center. The problem is not just Keisha aka little grandmother but the center that invited her. There are several retreat center here in Sweden that operade by inviting faux native teachers. And not just in Sweden. This is a practice that takes place all over Europe. They simply foster this attitude. Just look at the advertising they did for that event. There is hardly any research done into teachers and their background. It seems as if people running these centers are not realy keen on doing so or worse- don’t care. They would have far fewer people to invite and less money to earn. Little grandmother is now getting invited to Sweden more frequently because of that one event you are referring to.
omg, she is so popular in asia. many workshops from city to city in 2017 in China. and same story that she is a Sioux Shaman appointed by the elders…I’m sure China is a great market for making more money on her fake claims and above all ,most of Chinese don’t know the details of the native American history.
that is interesting to know about her claim in china. Here in Europe she has airbrushed her website completely and has stopped to promote herself as being ”Sioux” . As too many people have proven her wrong. Interesting that she has a different approach in China. haha, international marketing strategies! great marketing team behind.
Ohh Looks like it. So sad.?
i know. it is very sad. You mentioned that some centers in Sweden are inviting teachers without putting any effort into researching their background. this also happens in Asia from my observation. besides money making part, i personally feel tha…See More
Yes. Mira. Looks like this is a human phenomenon and deep need the world over. Your analyses is spot on. And i imagine that most of us have been there ourselves, not knowing what information and whom to trust in the beginning.
Keisha Crowther aka cashi(ng)a that my rez friends and fb friends named her .made both me and my friends really pissed off -I was tempted to travel to Sweden to confronting her as well a magazine here in Norway was spreading so much false information about the Lakota nation and was promoted her here in Scandinavia…lucky for her I was broke back then. but I did my very best effort to stop her biz by sharing information about what the Lakota people had told me as well sharing the information about the rallies and demonstrations against her in US over here in Scandinavia.
there wete rallys and demonstrations in the us? Could share a bit more?
Yes it was Ängsbacka where I met Keisha. If only I’d seen the advertising they did for her before I arrived. Maybe I would have avoided that circus. I had never heard of her before. But as the week went on it became clear she was a total fraud. I was deeply shocked no one had done any research on her. A Google search would have shown her for what she really is. Her marketing team is very forceful. Her lover at the time was a former marketing executive. I watched with horror the way people blindly put their faith in her. It shook me to the core to see the people with genuine gifts and teachings to share being shunted aside and those who spoke up being derided, even attacked. Keisha has a huge stage presence. At one time she had 8-900 people in a massive marquee and it felt like an American evangelical meeting with people crying, beating their chests and tearing their hair. I was among others who were pressured to join her on stage but I walked out in the middle. Afterwards I was told I was rejecting her message of love and light- that I was a servant of the shadow for questioning her story. Many never forgave me for leaving in the middle of her “ceremony” and I received some heavy abuse and threats for stepping away and for simply researching her. I was invited to one more festival there a few years later after Keisha had been exposed but my heart wasn’t in it any more. That year an American guy turned up who claimed to be a Tibetan black Tantra teacher ( whatever that is ) from the Bon tradition. My partner and I watched in absolute horror as he performed a faux Tibetan ritual with human bones, human ashes and blood, after which he proceeded to put out candles on people’s foreheads in some kind of initiation he claimed was a cleansing. And they loved it. But when we slipped outside there was a black cloud literally hanging above the venue- the only cloud in a bright blue Swedish summer sky. I walked away from all the new age crowd after that. Genuine experience and practice isn’t what they want. Most people are after a quick fix. The need for spiritual connection in a disconnected consumer world is so great and there are so many charlatans taking advantage of that need. This idea that someone else can mend what we perceive in ourselves to be broken is dangerous and deeply disempowering.
My god, thats awful. I had really bad vibes about her when she came here and I refused to go and see her… I heard people were evangelical about her in the theatre she hired in Wales about 15 miles away from where I live – and as I said before she easily raked in over £20,000 for a sort of weekend workshop thing.
I horrified – I’ve heard stories about her before but hearing them again has horrified me again
You should have seen her show. It was so disheartening, Doug. She made a lot more than 20 oo0 pounds that week, I can tell you. Folks were throwing money at her. When I got her alone she sat in the forest with me and chain smoked. She made me promise not to tell anyone she smokes. A very frightened individual with very few scruples…
goodness – what is pulling her strings I wonder
She sounds like an Anthony Robbins Motivational Speaker/Sales Motivator/exploiter type. Tis a shame so many in the Shamanic fb Community worship her and dream of her financial success / business model.
yeah it was but this was quite some years ago were people from several nations as well their allies around the country (as well over here in Scandinavia and Europe online protest trying to shutting her webpages down) went out towards the locations
Tribe of Many Colors or Tribe of Many Dollars
Kiesha Crowther AKA “Little Grandmother” has…
Thank you for sharing. What an awful experience. I am genuinely taking aback and shocked. Although I have genuinely researched her and followed all her new inventions and claims over the years I am just stunned. And what you tell about t…See More
Friend, here you have something that I did find about one of the rallies in this blog: “It turns out that “Little Grandmother” and her lesbian lover, Jennifer Ferraro cooked up the entire “Little Grandmother” scam at their home in Santa Fe along wit…See More
She has a powerful presence to be sure. I don’t blame anyone for getting caught up with her at first. But a little research is all it takes. We live in the age of Google.
My experience has been that people don’t want to know it. Even if I provide them with information about her, they reject that and follow that intriguing radiance. It is a paradox phenomenon which really puzzles me. So I mostly keep quite.
Very puzzling. Though I must admit that until she started claiming to be a Sioux shaman I didn’t question her authenticity either. Those claims set the alarm bells ringing.
sadly there are a growing number of people following this same model….claiming to be under a cloak of many colors…….or international shaman…..or with Mongolian ancestors ……and it doesn’t take too much work to see that it’s all nonsense…….we live in the age of illusion….
People want to be tricked and scammed in hope for something better in their miserable life — they easily ignore any warnings they get from others or warnings signs they get before or during the time they around the scam people until they figured out …See More
Yes. The alarm bells do ring very loudly. Wonder what it takes to shut them out? Nice pun there Willa”the cloak of many colors”?
I think I have got to the point that if people choose to believe someone is an ‘international shaman’ then they deserve the person they follow……
ha-ha I love reading stories about trickster’s whatever Loke or some of my Lakota friends is telling trickster stories there is always a moral/lesson to be learn from them.
Scam artists abound in every walk of life, and in every culture.
Spirituality and religion especially offer soooo many opportunities for scammers. In a way, you might say the spiritual path(s) offer b.s. artists some pretty low hanging fruit!
Think about it.
If we in the USA would teach critical thinking skills in our public schools, along with the history, culture, and current state of affairs of indigenous peoples in this nation, and globally, along with an understanding of the habitat/environment that belongs to ALL living things, and towards which we ought to exercise wise stewardship, we’ll have really accomplished something worthwhile, wouldn’t we?
However, $$$ runs the show, as do small, predatory minds; and until this larger reality changes, fake medicine people and plastic shamans will continue to pursue their shameless hucksterism – with little attention paid them unless, and until, things go really wrong.
My two cents.
As usual the more moderate view is needed in this matter. Yes of course Native Americans have a right to be angry when their own spiritual practices are appropriated and misused. But at the same time, no culture has the ‘right’ to claim Shamanism, or indeed any type of spirituality, exclusively as their own. When I teach about Shamanism, it is from the basis that all cultures and ancestral lines at some point in history practiced some form of Shamanism. For Europeans, there are very rich pre-Christian practices and mythos which cultivated Shamanic principles and worldviews. Today, cultural sensitivity is very important to Shamanic practitioners and most if not all would never presume to ‘copy’ native culture. Shamanism is an individual practice, and varies from person to person. Receiving guidance from Spirit is the right of all humanity, not limited to any race or people.
one Anishnaabe elder said that a lot of Native folks have come back as whites.
Yes, I’ve heard there’s a lot of charlatans who are claiming to be reincarnated elders.
And Joel, on the contrary there are cultures that have a right to claim the word. The word comes from their language and it has been misused. Wouldn’t it be better to find a word that isn’t borrowed and misunderstood? In Mongolia and Siberia for example the word shaman has a very specific meaning. Maybe we need a new word for the vague umbrella that’s called shamanism in the west.
To me a westerner using the word shaman is just a marketeer really. It’s marketing. If that word wasn’t available what word would you use?
About words… Personally I think we have to accept the word “shamanism” as an international concept by now. It is something that non practitioner at least vaguely recognizes, and words are used for communication, shared and spread between cultures and languages. While it is important to recognize the problem of wrongful appropriation and downright fraud that occurs in order to claim false authority, there is no easy clear cut way to deal with “cultural appropriation” in general. Where should we draw the line exactly? Cultural expressions are shared between different peoples as soon as they come in contact with each other. That is just what human beings do. I saw an exhibition in Canada about First Nation traditional dress, where some tribes had incorporated Ukrainian flower patterns into their costumes, taken from Ukrainian table cloths they had seen in farmers’ homes they had visited. Should the Ukrainians be upset about that and forbid First Nation people to use them because they are used “wrongfully”?
Really thorny subject. Celtic stuff is not shamanic in the anthropological proper sense of the word. What I do is shamanic in that sense and I have Mongolian shaman friends that fully accept me as a shaman… It’s really so knotted up I don’t think we can untangle it. I don’t call myself a shaman openly, but I use the word because it is the word, we don’t have another one, so it’s not marketeering, and yet I agree many do use the S word to sex things up
I guess I made it more difficult by bringing up two issues in one entry. The word “shamanism” on one hand which by now is an issue all by itself, and then the difficulties drawing lines between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” borrowing of other peoples´ symbols and artistic designs.
All I am able to say now is that I think one must try to be reasonable and not see every cultural exchange as appropriation. The other thing I think one must consider is the difficulty deciding who has authority over something cultural – when it comes to cultural expressions that is very difficult. If you really want to get down to rules and legislation and stuff you will discover that.
To make that comment without asking who it was is degenerate non-conversation, unworthy of this thread.
I’ve met a lot of charlatans claiming to be reincarnated elders Richard. I haven’t felt any of them were genuine. A genuine teacher doesn’t need to claim authority from some past life that can’t be authenticated. I’ve met genuine teachers too. They are a breed apart. They never speak about past lives. I’m sorry I’ve offended you. I can only speak from my own experience.
I did not mention anyone claiming to be a reincarnated shaman. I quoted an Anishnaabe elder speculating about that happening. Listening skills are in order. “Re-spect” means “look again”. You did not offend me personally. You fell short of integrity in the public discourse.
Thank you for your cutting appraisal of my character. If an apology isn’t enough for you then it isn’t enough. Belittling me in return for a mistake I have admitted to seem rather churlish and ungraceful. But each to his own. Have a lovely evening.
Again, it has NOTHING to do with you and me as persons. It’s about standards of integrity, and the quality of the public discourse. I’m just standing up for honorable conversation. If you are too, then we’re on the same page. You literally have not heard, or responded to, a single thing I said. That’s not an attack, it’s a neutral fact, like “It’s raining outside.”
I don’t want to argue with you Richard. You don’t know me or have any idea of my experience of life. I don’t think it’s appropriate to accuse me of lacking integrity. I’m sorry you’re so offended by what I’ve said. I happen to know a great many Indigenous people both in this country and overseas. I’ve have worked for the World Council of Indigenous Peoples in admin and support. I can only report what the Indigenous people from Australia, Mongolia, the US, Canada, New Zealand and the Pacific tell me. And the consensus I’ve heard is anger that white people are claiming to be reincarnated elders. I’m not doubting that one genuine elder told you this. But it’s certainly not the consensus and I was indelicate in the manner in which I expressed this. I was mistaken. To call my integrity into question is extreme. You are angry and I can see that in your words. I hope your anger passes.
I have no great anger, and my emotions are irrelevant. I simply said that your behavior was beneath the standards of communication I respect. “Indelicate” is your word. Kinda like when my sister said “OK, Trump is crude”, and I thought “Being accused of sexual assault by 12 women is a little more than crude.” Indelicate, fine, I’ll settle for that. Good luck in your fine work.
And that would almost qualify as a response. Thank you.
Just like there is no such thing as “reverse racism” it is impossible for oppressed people to appropriate from the oppressor. Here is the official definition. “Cultural exploitation is the appropriation of elements from a subordinated culture by a dominant culture without substantive reciprocity, permission, and/or compensation.” (Richard A. Rogers) To determine if cultural appropriation is happening, examine the power dynamics in that country. Are the cultures on an even footing, or is one dominating the other? Is the cultural or spiritual property being shared freely because both groups are on even footing, or is the appropriation just another extension of the oppressor’s dominance over the subordinate group? I hope this helps.
Ah, dogmas, they’re so much more comforting than thinking. “Everybody knows” there’s no such thing as ‘reverse racism’, just as everybody knows that jc died for my sins, and everybody knows that capitalism/socialism is the problem, or the answer, or the only sensible thing, or an abomination–depending on which “everybody” you’re hanging with. Geez, I must be a slow learner. Thank Goddess.
And determining whether something is ‘dominance’ should be interesting. The Rolling Stones helped prosper and popularize a lot of black blues folks and deeply respected, even revered them. As with Paul Simon and the African crowd. Though many might disagree. Then again, someone might fall in love with medieval art, or Balinese batik, or or or or or…and then mix it with other elements from any period, culture, religion, social class, genre. Then it’s REALLY hard to call.
The example of the Stones is a ridiculous one, and cultural appropriation from medieval Europe is not going to harm anyone (apart from those who are forced to listen to most American early music groups)
Ah, there’s that word ‘ridiculous’ again, your favorite choice when you don’t want to respond to content or offer any. I wonder if Buddy Guy, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, who saw their careers soar from all the publicity and reverence the Stones gave them, and appeared onstage with them, thought it was ridiculous. I made a list awhile back of “14 things you will never hear a bigot say”, and among them were “It’s complicated”, “There are different ways of looking at this”, and “I could be biased on this one.”
And in addition to South African music (and having the exiled Miriam Makeba share a duet of his “Under African Skies”), Simon “appropriated” Andean flute music for “El Condor Pasa”, New Orleans zydeco, Brazilian drumming, on and on–yet he made them into something original, a bit dif perhaps from this lady, but I reserve judgment. A novel idea!
And speaking of un-bigot, there is wide divergence even within the Native community on these issues, despite all the folks who claim to speak for them in one voice (always beware of the ‘one voice’ people). Even on the sports team issue, from names like Chiefs and Warriors all the way to the to-me-obnoxious Redskins.
There IS such a things as reverse racism in terms of prejudice and rejection – I live in a country where you can encounter it every day. The difference is that minorities rarely have control over or are able to bar others from assets they truly need – so the consequences of it isn’t the same on society as a whole. Bur for the individual that is affected it can be tough enough. (What I mean here is simply that all kinds of people can be racists to others, not only whites.)
Yes, very thorny. I hear the perspective expressed in that article. I have always been interested in “indigenous” ways, because they are ways of relationship with Life, and they meet something in me that I haven’t found in mainstream culture – mainstream culture didn’t offer me anything at school, in church, on the TV or at the job center that would answer a deep call of my soul. And that call isn’t to be a Native American or be anything other than which I am a human being, an expression of Life. Some people call me a “shaman”, but I don’t think of myself as such – whatever a ‘shaman’ is. I think of myself as a ‘Medicine” person. And to me that means I am interested in Wholeness and Balance. Another thing is what does ‘indigenous’ mean? Maybe it means the people who are still living where their ancestors lived, before the conquerors. What part of me is ‘indigenous’? Cause in a sense we’ve been conquered too. Our traditions of spirituality were uprooted, glossed over, suppressed and we were given concepts like original sin, separation from the divine, superiority over other creatures – (and superiority is separation). No, I don’t want to be a ‘native person’, other than a native of where I live. No, I don’t even want to be an ancient Anglo-Saxon. But I’d love to know more about them, about how they felt the dreaming aliveness of the Earth and all her offspring. But the ancient Anglo-Saxons are no longer here. I can only read about their ways, and dream into them. And yes, I feel called by the drum because the drum is powerful. So I’m not here to rip off native people, or misappropriate native ways, but there is always a cross-cultural fertilization that goes on when different cultures rub against each other. In the way that the word ‘medicine’ has been slightly mistranslated from the Ojibway and that language absorbs words from other languages and other cultures – I mean English took “medicine’ from the French, who’d taken it from the Ojibway, who had a similar sounding word for people who cared for Wholeness and Balance. Excuse me going on for a bit.
I see ‘medicine’ and ‘shamanism’ as being rather different – with a huge overlap – where the one ends and the other starts is really hard to say
We are a culture denuded of meaningful spirituality – our ancient ways are gone and I am, personally, not a big fan of modern recreations – Wicca, druidary, Celtics – because they are not living traditions and I think it’s easy for people to get into romanticized fantasy with them.
Now, of course, because we are a people divorced from a deep understanding of spirituality we can equally romanticize the spirituality of Native people too – we can be a very crass culture with little sensitivity.
But – because we are out of touch with spirituality I think it’s really important to learn – humbly and with great respect – from a living root – rather than trying to create, or recreate something new or dead.
I remember one of my teachers – Martin Prechtel – saying once that he “came to show what the authentic tasted like, so when people meet it in the future they will recognize the taste”
I think that is essential – we need to develop our palate so we can tell the difference between real a junk (spiritual) food – we need to know what authentic things taste like.
But we HAVE to do that with humility to both the native people who teach us and to Spirit and the spirits. And sadly I don’t see a lot of humility in the new-age machine very often.
Alot of the sami shamanism is gone. I’m southern sami and I practice the old ways (I don’t want to call myself a nåjd/noaiddi but I don’t mind if other people call me a nåjd/noaiddi).I’ve been told to not look back to try to restore traditions that are long gone and can’t be found but to just trust my visions and my spirit guides which are my teachers and will eventually teach me the way of a nåjd/noaiddi
I notice Facebook don’t provide a button specifically for the word ‘Ho’. So I’ll just ‘like’.
I love reading your posts.
Jaswinder, ah shucks
Can you tell me what you know about the remaining natives like the Sioux tribe? Someone told me that what is left is mixed races and the ingenious natives are completely wiped out. What is your knowledge on this?
No, that’s not at all true – the Oglala (Sioux) still have plenty of full bloods in the tribe
Finding a teacher who wants students rather than disciples is really difficult. I feel very keenly the loss of our own native traditions and I am blessed to have crossed paths with some genuine, profound people bringing shamanic and other practices to our shores to reawaken our spirituality. We will find our way.
What I miss in this thread is the question: “how am I taking part in cultural appropriation my selves?”. That is the only way how things will change. The topic of cultural appropriation was first brought up by indigenous people. And these are the ones we need to listen to. Arguing instead of deeply listening and acknowledging is simply a refusal to engage in that personal process
I think what has been expressed here is that those drawn to ‘Native-style’ spirituality certainly don’t INTEND to appropriate. They are trying to find their own way, and simply draw-upon what is available. For better or worse, I see Indigenous peoples living in our Modern World struggling to do the exact same thing. At this point, we are all in the same boat, and finger-pointing does little to help unite us and causes much more strife than peace…
No we are not in the same boat. To claim that is appropriation in it selves. If indigenous people say they feel appropriated than we better listen and change our ways. The western world is full of people that claim to have good intentions yet they are taking part in the deconstruction of native spirituality. It is about learning to be an ally, which is badly needed in these times. And you certainly can’t learn that by refusing to look critical at your own ways. It all comes down to daring to ask yourselves how you are taking part in it yourselves. As long as you reject that question you won’t change your ways. .
Being an ally means having compassion and being sympathetic to the plight of others. I wholeheartedly agree that appropriation of sacred symbols, ceremonies, and stories are inappropriate and contribute to the disintegration of culture
Yes spirit has its own way. And I never said that we aren’t allowed to practice spirituality or animism. That need comes with being human. I think we agree on that one. The only point I am making is that it is up to indigenous people to define what appropriation is. And they have done so for centuries. Now science has caught up but we as a society haven’t. Being an ally means as well to engage in a process of decolonization. Where you become aware of your own colonial thought patterns and actions. We all have them. There are very much alive and dominate the way we live but we are unaware of them. Being an ally means as well to take a step back and support indigenous people lead in the way they choose to. And being an ally means as well to shut up, stop arguing and listen. I certainly have a lot to learn in that regard.
Fair enough. I think we agree. I would just add that much of the Shamanic movement today is about that exact thing – a process of decolonization, not appropriation…
My experience regarding the modern shamanic movement is one full of appropriation. People engaging respectfully and selves reflecting with it, are in a minority. It is very rarely that people research a teacher or a modern tradition. The advertisement for “native spirituality” by uninitiated teachers or courses held by faux native teachers is all over the place in Europe. And people flock to it in the thousands.
I have no experience in Europe or out west – only here in the Northeast US. If what you say is true, I can only hope and pray that over time the paradigm will continue to shift within such communities, as it has here. I will say that overall the fact that so many Westerners are abandoning the patterns of their ancestors and seeking something better is a good thing, and hopefully will end in something much better for humanity as a whole…
Yes. Appreciated! That is why I keep banging on about appropriation. ?
After all we have done to Native Americans, (among others), we should be treading lightly. I am a Shamanic practitioner. I would never call myself a shaman. That, to me, is a title that should be bestowed upon someone, not self-proclaimed. Those that do are shams.
Absolutely. There really should be a better word, an opinion which others have echoed. Modern Shamanic practitioners are nothing like Native ‘Medicine Men’ of the past, if only for the fact that our culture simply doesn’t exist in that sort of close-knit tribal way. At the time the term ‘Shamanism’ became popular, appropriation wasn’t even considered because it was a term ‘borrowed’ from across the globe in Mongolia. Now, it is up to us how best to move forward – both in our language and in our cultural sensitivities.
My take on this all is this – to the people that claim spirit belongs to everyone yes we all have an individual relationship with spirit but those ceremonies and forms …..they belong to the people that spirit gave them to…….spirit put those ceremonies in the hands of certain people and they belong to them…….IF they choose to share them or teach them to people from outside their group then they also charge us with a holy responsibility to hold them respectfully and in a good way……when they share those forms we are being given permission to enter their world a little and just as when we enter anyone’s house there is an unwritten assumption around behavior and respect – when people take the form and the ceremonies without also take the responsibility to hold them in a certain way they are absolutely misappropriating …….we are not all the same…….it doesn’t even require a long look to see we are not all the same……there is a huge and historic power imbalance…….white colonialism took land and culture and people and everything it could……those of us that belong to that group have a duty to be mindful that it doesn’t try and jump up through us to…….because at some point it will try because that is our ancestral pattern…….we have a duty to be mindful of the power imbalance and turn it around …..To show we are willing to be on the other foot …..to give them back the power that was stolen from them…….this is hard for us I know…..we are so used to doing what feels right because we can……that has been a privilege for us for eons……but what ‘feels’ right is not always the good thing to do…..it feels right to have that other cream cake but it isn’t good for our hearts……we have a responsibility to hold the sacred respectfully and not make profit from it…..we must serve the holy not have it serve us…..and we have a duty to hold another culture or belief system as a duty constantly aware of the power balance that needs righting…….some of us find our home in places far from where we were born…….some of us need that depth and juiciness that only comes from an unbrokenness and aliveness…….that is ok……but with that comes the responsibility and duty of what we bring with us
What you speak of could be called our ‘collective shadow’, as Europeans. And yes, you are absolutely correct that any sort of continuation of past patterns needs to be carefully avoided. If we are to change the paradigm of European colonialism, we need to change the worldview of our own people – which is why I believe the modern Shamanic movement is a very good thing. It is not about trying to be Native. It is about healing the wounds of our cultural past, and bringing our people into a new story – not the story of a different culture, but our OWN new story. We need a path forward which respects all people, and the only way that will happen is by understanding where Western thinking led us astray and finding something better…
I see those past patterns played out again and again every time someone says ‘spirit belongs to everyone’ and then uses ceremonies from another land without due respect or any sense of responsibility……those people sell the sacred
Willa, I understand what you are saying, and yes there are some people out there who do treat it that way. These people simply need to be educated about cultural sensitivity, not shut-down and forced to find some other form of spirituality. Think about it – What would you suggest instead?
I don’t think has anything to do with cultural sensitivity……it is about power imbalance…….unless we are willing to acknowledge this and the bloody history and actually be prepared to let go of what we see as our right then this will always be this way – you only have to look a standing rock to see how this power imbalance still exists today…..the good white folk were listened to but the first nations were turned into terrorists for defending their land and water……if we really find a home in another belief system then we must be willing to stand with the people that it belongs to…..we must get dirty with them and plant corn in the fields with them……if we are lost and searching for a place to find home then we must start at home…..or even start to build that individual relationship with spirit and ask for our own ceremonies and then share them with others in the same place………taking ceremonies from others because we have nothing else is still taking……but if you find your home there then you must make a home there which means holding the whole of it and not just the ceremonies and the lovely parts
Yes, but there is also a double-edged sword there. I’m all for supporting Native interests and policies which support a return of their rightful place and property. I also support them maintaining and practicing their own culture and spirituality. But you don’t want the ‘White Shamans’ holding the whole of Native American Spirituality, because then you really will have appropriation and corruption. They should remain separate, and develop in their own unique ways. European Shamanism is about dismantling colonialism and overcoming the western thinking which has caused so much suffering. Native American spirituality should be about regaining their confidence and pride as a people, and being an example for the rest of us.
I’m not talking about spirituality as a disconnected thing…..that is an illusion……I’m saying that to take spirituality out of the context of the whole is appropriation…..I’m saying that if we walk into spirituality from another place then we walk into the whole of it but if we just take the prime piece (i.e. the spirituality)then that is a red flag for appropriation…….and we do it because of the power imbalance….we do it because we assume that we can……
How about WITH due respect and responsibility?
Right – but it is very difficult to introduce a Spiritual practice in it’s entirely without starting from a place of commonality. It is much better to give respect and deference to the cultural tradition as a whole, but then leave that as its own separate entity and work with students on an individual basis…
look I’m just as capable as anyone of appropriation…….and to be clear I also practice a spirituality that is not from the land of my birth…….but, for me, when I see the prime meat chopped off the whole and sold or used as the person sees fit the…See More
Yes, this is a problem. ‘European’ shamanism owes a debt to Native peoples, and should take steps to pay-back that debt. Financially would be ideal, but at the very least they owe it to Indigenous people to spread the truth about their plight and stand in support of their causes. Like the Military veterans who went in Support of Standing Rock and asked for forgiveness for the crimes of their collective past, today’s Shamanic Practitioners need to acknowledge that we too share in a large collective Shadow which needs undoing before humanity can move forward…
Perhaps asking permission from the spirit of that ritual might be appropriate and then to have a commitment to use it with humbleness and gratitude.
Following our ancestral traditions is still our own task today. Some people are called beyond their ancestral’ shores and traditions, of course, and this is what John Lockley (since he is depicted above) has himself experienced. The story of his calling was from the spirits in a rather strong way; after he asked for a sangoma training, his native teacher tested it and the results were confirmatory. Someone who has learned to speak Xhosa and work in that community, not just Western society, seems commitment enough to me.
I cannot now remember her name, but the first English Buddhist nun, back in the 60-70s was born with a vocation. As a girl, she kept taking down the yellow curtains from her room and dressing herself in them, to her mother’s great displeasure, with absolutely no knowledge of Buddhism. She finally took ordination in Taiwan. With DNA research showing that someone seemingly from one culture can be shown to have ancestors in remote ones, who are we to question a genuine calling? The daft guru types are pretty much easy to perceive, after all.
yes when the calling is there…..when we are called home in a far off place then it manifest whether we want or not…..it is an irresistible force……
Tenzin Palmo, I believe. She lived in a cave for thirteen years in order to seek enlightenment within the female form. Incredible woman.
In one sense, human history is nothing BUT cultural appropriation. Bonnie Raitt drops out of Harvard to hang out with old black blues players, and adds her Broadway singer daddy’s influence to that. The Rolling Stones vastly increased Americans’ understanding of their own blues roots, and Eric Clapton et al. had an album called “Fathers and Sons” with the black blues folks on it. Then there’s “Graceland”, which took a lot of flak for the same “reasons”. Paul Simon and the then-exiled Miriam Makeba singing HIS composition, “Under African skies.” And putting Ladysmith Black Mombazo (sp?) on the map.
Wow- I almost didn’t get through your text Willa Harlatt. (Ordinary full stops would have made it a bit easier to read). Of course we “Westerners” need to be mindful of what we do – especially grave I think is if we contribute to misconceptions, especially now when the internet spread misconceptions fast. Even worse are people who claim authority to teach a specific indigeous spiritual path via made up ancestry and/or false claims to have knowledge/approval from indigenous elders/teachers. There is definitely a rightful anger amongst people of Native American decent over this, since it has been so rampant and so often misconstrued the real traditions.
Still I wrote an answer earlier in the thread where I pointed out that most borrowing between cultures is perfectly normal for human beings, has happened as long as humans have existed and that indigenous peoples also borrow (by their free will) from Western Cristian or commercial culture at times. Give power back to… well, I find that expression kind of condecending – not “try to take away” might be better. Still, (as I also wrote earlier), it can sometimes be difficult to decide who has the authority over a certain cultural expression – some “owners” may want to share it, others say adamantly no way! Political congregations of indigenous peoples sometimes run into trouble because there can be conflict of interests within different groups within the community – those in power there may not be morally “right”. So it is sometimes hard to determine who has the right to bless or condemn, and who to listen to.
Now there is a movement to condemn all Western culture as oppressive per se and all Westerners as racists by tradition (and almost by blood it seems). True that Westerners have excelled power over other peoples and cultures to a great extent the last 500 years, and sometimes deliberately practiced genocide to get resources they wanted (and want) and constructed ideologies to justify it. But so have other cultures done in the past as well. Some non-Western cultures do it today. It has been the backside of “power over” as long as humans have existed in groups. So personally I definitely agree we need to think about our actions and in what way we may act as users towards people with less power.
However, the “hard corers” amongst the “kill cultural appropriation” -movement like the person who wrote the article above, don’t see the whole human picture and take their demands too far in my opinion, at least if they want to impose collective guilt on Western and /or white people. Still, I can see that Native Americans, especially those living in reservations, often in deep poverty may see their cultural heritage as their only truly valuable asset and so be more sensitive to how it is treated and used outside of their communities. They have all the right in the world to protest if they see something they find offensive. And, if we are outsiders using or building on their traditions, we should listen!
Not to mention the discomfort when Christians claim Jewish traditions as their own, because of that unfortunate ‘Judeo-Christian’ label. The things that bind us together are more important than the things which divide us, ultimately. I remember a very uncomfortable interfaith gathering where the organizers had given little thought to their guest’s sensibilities, inviting orthodox Jews into a hall which was plastered with images of Hindu deities. They filed in, with a hand over their eyes, I noticed, and I asked if the images could not come down. Then the organisers wanted us to ‘put on the altar’ an emblem of each tradition, until we pointed out that an altar was not optional for some guests. Finally, we got the gathering in a circle and everyone added their own cup to water to a large bowl in the center. With some accommodation we can sit down together and represent our own tribe.
Sorry for my lengthy entries – I didn’t observe at first that this is your FB-page. I thought I was commenting in the Shamanism group!
hahahaha my page gets like a shamanism group pretty often – it’s fine to post as long as you like.. but if you are using a regular keyboard may i suggest you break your entries up into bite sized paragraphs.. I personally find a wall of text quite hard to read.
I want to clarify a comment I made above (somewhere this post) about not being a fan of Celtic stuff…. as a practitioner I am not and that’s true – but I stand in awe of people like Caitlín who dig away with research and I love to hear about the ways in which the Celts had the same ideas (which all cultures have) about the sacred.
The bones are all the same – but we dress them in different flesh.
I also – of course work with the spirits here – but I use non Celtic ways, so when I go and visit sacred sites here or meet a spirit I like to have education about the old ways in my kit bag.
My work is not solely Celtic, but ancestral in many sedimentary levels. I can only work with the ancestral background of my clients when I’m healing. Research has to be accompanied with practice and deep listening to the ancestors. My best work has always come from attending to the Deep Ancestors, who are the ancestors of us all, after all. The Celtic level is just the earliest one with a written record, and everything before and since is of course part of the tradition that we live with.
Your work helped to change my life. I was born in England but have lived much of my life in Canada. Although I had been able to draw spiritual sustenance from some elements of Catholicism when young – the dogmatic nature of religion made it impossible for me to continue. The blatant misogyny that permeates most religions is also a major deterrent for me. Rather than politics and ceremony I have always been drawn to nature and to spirit – and have also had several experiences, which did not fit with religious ideology, but felt completely natural for me. I met with First Nations friends who were beginning to uncover their own spiritual heritage and I noticed that many of the things that we spoke about connected with my own nature. I have great respect for their traditions but wanted to learn of my own spiritual heritage – England/Ireland/Scotland – of course much of our indigenous belief systems were also decimated as the result of conquerors who murdered our medicine people and attempted to destroy our heritage – the fact that it happened long before the decimation of First Nations cultures does not, in my opinion, make it any less significant. Still as evidenced in your research there are vestiges of those traditions found in folk lore, language and art. Despite some who disparage practices that draw on Celtic Shamanic learning – I have thrived on it and very much appreciate your writing on the subject. Since that time I have connected very strongly with my own guides – who appear unconcerned with cultural division and far more concerned with helping to support wellness and connection to spirit. I agree that there are far too many charlatans and also individuals who see their own practices, for one reason or another, as sacrosanct and so above reproach but we all have to start somewhere. Thank you Caitlin.
Thank you, Maggie. It was lovely to be recognized by the Micmac as kin!
Yes, Caitlin, it is….
I second what Maggie said. I honor and give thanks for all the hard work you and John do and have done for shamanic traditions of European descent.
A new form of shamanism is taking form in our time–Western Shamanism. I was told by an elder in Peru in 2003 that western people would be the next carriers of this ancient tradition and that it would change as we make it our own. It was always understood among the indigenous peoples that each new generation would refresh this continuously recreated tradition, even adding to and changing it in response to who they were becoming. It was always in this way that the ancient path remained meaningful and vital to those who walked it. The shamanic tradition is one of our birthrights. It belongs to everybody.
Yes Hank – these times remind me of the Gnostic mystery schools of the later Roman empire (just before it crashed) – all the little esoteric schools that flourished as one big melting pot.
It was their new-age movement, and they had just as many crackpots in theirs as we have in ours. Christianity came out of theirs as the fruit of the pot …
Maybe a new and grounded shamanism will emerge – I don’t suppose you and I will live to see it
I do suppose.
“Maybe a new and grounded shamanism will emerge ” I think it already has. Yes there are those who may not have a clue, but there are also practitioners who are very grounded in the work and Path. It was unfortunate that the author chose to include pictures of practitioners who in reality clearly do not represent those who appropriate cultural ways.
yes I agree
I agree. The words of the article were ok, but the choice to put practitioners images in the article is in poor taste.
Why generify it?
Completely undermines the argument and casts serious doubt regarding the research/knowledge offered by the author.
the use of these images is deliberate, as they have been widely used already by many parties to illustrate how ridiculous white people appear pretending to be First Nations or New Age “shamans.” And further to the irony is the more well-known frauds (some who are portrayed in the blog) are busy dealing with real court charges laid against them by real First Nations people. Anyway, white people will go off on a thousand tangents and derailments to avoid the real issue, which is that white supremacy and white privilege have made the phenomena of cultural appropriation possible.
I stand by what I said – I understand that too many people are charlatans, and some appropriate that which is not theirs – and I think it’s appalling. Not all people who steal from other cultures are “white people”. Not all white people are “privileged”. I understand the history of colonization – over many different cultures throughout the world including First Nations and the Irish – but even white people are entitled to expression of spirituality – they also once enjoyed a profound connection with ancestors, the land and spirit which was stolen from them many centuries ago – a long time before the horrendous near annihilation of First Nation’s cultural/spiritual heritage but just as devastating. White people can also claim a spiritual heritage that has been recovered from poems, songs, stories and myths that have come from ancestors of ancient Ireland, Wales and Scotland, for example – my own research indicates that white people , women in particular, used drums, feathers and smudged (using natural materials indigenous to the land). I am the product of several different heritages and cultural backgrounds – one of which might even be First Nations. Quite frankly I didn’t see the need for a DNA test to find out. At this point in my life I live in Canada which means that I will use the natural materials of this land in order to continue with my practice. I am very connected to crows and ravens and so if I find a feather I will use it in my ceremony. I use crow feathers found in Ireland as well. I am in agreement that all cultures be allowed to pursue their own cultural/spiritual heritage without having to deal with pseudo-spiritualism however it presents. I also happen to believe that referring to people with white skin as “white people” as though there is only one kind – is a blanket term that stereotypes all “white people” as inherently oppressive – which is not helpful. Not all that different from suggesting that all “First Nations” are simply one large undifferentiated mass – with one agenda. With regard to this article – much of it has validity – but I think it was written with a very particular agenda in mind – from what position does the author write for example? Is the author First Nations writing on behalf of all First Nations? Also it appears that all white Shamans are positioned as guilty of appropriation.
I think that perspective demonstrates a rather one-sided perception of a very complex issue. As you know shamanic practice is not exclusive to any one culture – elements of this practice can be found in almost every, if not all, cultures in human history – just a look at prehistoric cave drawings and stone works make this clear. I understand that we need to be careful how we cultivate our individual practices – but I don’t believe that white people have no place working in the natural spiritual realms or in Shamanism. We all need to come together as best we can to save this planet and whatever is left of our environment before it’s too late – we all need to return to our spirit our ancestors and the land while we still can – we will make mistakes and we may not be perfect – many of us , yes, even white people, are genuinely invested in getting back what was taken from all of us who are called to this work in an attempt to make this world a healthier place for our children – if we don’t stop this constant bitter divisiveness there won’t be anything left of this beautiful planet to fight for.
The picture used in this article is inaccurate, as I know two of the shamanic practitioners, and they are not “new age”, nor do they appropriate cultural ways. Anyone who would suggest otherwise is embarrassingly ignorant of these two women and the work they do.
You know I showed great restraint in not “naming names” as that is exactly what usually happens in our necessary call-out culture. Really, the onus is on the consumer of spiritual products to do their own research, because in most cases New Age “shamanic” practitioners (including the ones in my blog) are fraudulent, and it is only our own privilege, naivety and desperation for spiritual services that blinds us to that fact. The shamanic industry is the COMMODIFICATION of the sacred, turning the knowledge that rightfully belongs to exotic cultural groups into palatable little packages for white minds. But you asked for proof, so let me do your discernment work for you. Starting at the top of the blog, the headdress models are images in the public domain found on First Nations websites and blogs protesting this practice (listed in “Mega-Resources from A-Z”), next set is the white couple from an “Unapologetically Indigenous” post (look them up on Facebook) who are “weekend Indians” showing up on the Pow Wow circuit, next up the notorious White Eagle Medicine Woman aka
This is crossing in to casting curses.
No, it’s called documentation and doing your research. People are not who you think they are. BTW please don’t shoot the messenger, I did not personally write any of these profiles on these people, First Nations did (NAFPS etc.). I simply found them online, as anyone with the wherewithal could also do.
yet, but I’m sure there will be a critique on her very soon for casting her lot with the New Age Shamanic Industry. Genuine FN teachers and Elders are not commonly found within the New Age Shamanic Industry.
I wish you the best . I’m going to remove myself from this thread. We are inseparable in Spirit ultimately. Casting stones at “others” is casting stones at ones own self.
As for the bottom row, known frauds Brooke Medicine Eagle and Little Grandmother make an appearance with other frauds selected for their sheer audacity. Little Grandmother is already covered in this thread, I’m sure you can do a bit more research on your own? Have a good day
If this slander is what you based your “research” on – then I’m sorry I responded at all. It wasn’t worth my time. Have a nice day.
Yes I know , it’s hard to come to terms with, I understand. As I say in my blog, “being exposed to this material for so long, many New Agers are shocked to find these genres being questioned, yet an interrogation is exactly what is needed. Not only are white practitioners of “Native Spirituality” on shaky moral ground, First Nations have made it abundantly clear that they are completely opposed to the theft of their cultural and spiritual property.”
I am the author of the OP (the blog). When you said this ~ “The author did not do research at all or has taken any classes with the people photographed so it truly is not fair. Defamation of character is clearly being written.” I thought I would respond! <3
I did not write that!
LOL My apologies – so sorry! Darn FB.
as I’ve made crystal clear in my response I heartily disagree. Your choice of retaliation to that response was both disturbing and yet enlightening to be sure – but only served to further support my argument. Your scant research bolsters only your very narrow perspective on an increasingly complex issue. Your labeling me as a “New Ager” based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever demonstrates both your inability to consider another perspective and your penchant to base your conclusions on little if any actual evidence. Having said that, I appreciate your passion even though you appear completely convinced that yours is the only perspective of value. Finally, I want to thank you – you’ve provided me with the inklings of a new passion of my own on which to focus my future research and you can assured that my evidence will be both plentiful and viable.
“file” is filled with inaccuracies, which is unfortunate, as she is one of those practitioners who stands in integrity and authenticity. I have studied with Sandra for years and never has she appropriated anyone’s culture, and in fact speaks out against such practices. Your attack upon Sandra demonstrates a glaring lack of knowledge and insight and reveals a level of implausability to just about anything you would have to offer this discussion.
I hear you and many of us do, however many have been targeted and spoken ill of to the “teacher,” in many traditions!” In turn we get demoted or kicked out of the “club.”
Very true in too many cases.
So how do we get into the solution?
Very little of what I wrote is “my opinion” or “my perspective.” It is simply information I have received and am passing on from First Nations activists, authors, Elders, cultural creatives and community peoples. Shooting the messenger only highlights your own lack of knowledge about these realities, but there is always hope!! Who is the First Nation whose territory you are living on? That is a great start!
I have seen these sites and would suggest that most of the time, the writers have not bothered to meet and talk with those they are vilifying. I would be the first to speak out against appropriation, but not when it does not apply. And yes, I have lived in First Nations cultures and yes, that is part of my heritage, and I will not condemn any and all shamanic practitioners simply because someone else has. Meet and have a conversation with people before casting judgement and blame. There is a lot we can learn by doing that.
Yes, all of Her Ayers’ so called ‘proof’ is based on personal slander. No real research. She hasn’t a clue that she knows nothing about what she writes here. Not worth engaging with her; fake journalist!
I understand how hard it is to come face-to-face with the truth. Not only do First Nations object to the “Shamanic Community” on moral grounds (and their voice is the only one that counts), much of what passes for “shamanic practice” is …See More
I have found many inaccuracies and great hatred and refusal to communicate about the ‘plastic medicine person’ problem – over 3 decades.
Despite attempting to many times, I have never managed to get a dialogue going, and the amount of hate-filled disinformation can be extreme.
I know John Lockley – He’s young, I think he will grow into his role in due course, but he’s not a fake.
I also know Sandra and Betsy, and know them to have good hearts and good integrity. They also don’t use any (or at least very little) Native American based spirituality.
Villoldo and Brooke I don’t know – I’ve heard negatives and positives about both – I can not comment – but I have never had any inclination to work with either and I trust my own intuition regarding that – but I will not say more.
There certainly are really toxic people out there – for example Little Grandmother – and many others.
There are also very good people out there who are doing the best they know and working with as much integrity as they know how – and seeking to improve all the time.
This is a very thorny subject – but there are not easy answers.
I used to be – and probably still am on – lists along with SunBear and Wallace BlackElk and Bear Heart and many others (I should be so honoured, as to be in the same lists with most who were on those lists)
I have even seen attacks leveled at Frank Fools Crow sometimes and others like Archy Fire Lame Deer
Only a fool or a bigot would get all ‘black and white’ about this stuff – we need dialogue and respect shown on both sides.
I used to get death threats for what I do – publishing Sacred Hoop – and others, friends of mine – were also threatened for doing vision quests – done in a non -Native American way. I even had a major spat with the ex-president of the Lakota a couple of years back about white people using tipis…
I had AIM come to one of my pipe ceremonies once – fair made me shit myself when everyone introduced themselves.
I did my pipe like I always do a pipe and they were fine with it (I was most relieved). I applaud them for actually coming to sit in circle with me – they checked me out, and despite it freaking me out, we talked to one another and all was fine.
Native/Cultural Appropriation is a really serious thing – and so is the crisis humanity is facing at this moment… we need dialogue and all of us working together and learning from each other. Whites don’t have sacred ways, we badly need them – but we have to act in a mature, respectful and sensitive way on both sides.
This is true. I am developing an understanding of the meaning of appropriation (a core definition). For me, that is a starting place. Thanks for the many posts.
Both Sandra and Betsy started their journey with Michael Harner who is the founder/creator of the FSS. Sandra taught with Michael and supposedly developed soul retrieval! Betsy worked and studied with someone from Tibet. I was called by AIM but when I told them I was a support person for someone at Sundance and went to the tree ? several times to atone for my ancestors sins they dropped the phone!
The truth is that your research is lacking to the point of being negligent and so your article is bogus. I suggest that you stop pretending to be a journalist.
No, there is much true in that article – We have to learn not to throw out the baby with the bathwater – and so do Native Americans – this is not a black and white thing and it needs patient and compassionate dialogue
of course we all agree about the disrespect of appropriation. But, that is just a straw man being used to attack everyone who practicing shamanism in sacred reciprocity; practitioners whose educational lineage goes back to Native Teachers who purposely shared their knowledge with the intention of helping to heal and evolve humanity.
The truth about appropriation does not apply to the intent of this article. I agree that it is not a black and white issue as presented.
you might want to follow this thread since we had a discussion about the post on Shamanic Life!
What do you think Christianity is Nick? A sacred white way! ?
Christianity is a religion – shamanism and animism are spiritualties. I’ve nothing against the teachings of Jesus at all, but there is a vast difference in world view and the nature of sacred connections which the church teaches, to those which ancient shamanic/animistic cultures teach.
Actually if you go into a church with stained glass you can see how very shamanic it is! It’s a bit offensive you are claiming whites don’t have sacred ways!
Death threats? That’s very sad…My friend and teacher was lovely and dedicated the last 30 years of her life to Shamanic Practice – during that period she devoted almost all of her time to healing people and bringing them together – she did so much…See More
Im not going to argue much about the pro’s and cons of Christianity Karyn. As I said I have no problems of the teachings of Jesus (although lots of problems with most of the church’s interpretations of them – and the way the church has cleaned them up…See More
Most of the medicine people recognize that sacred teachings are for humanity – but many of the political people don’t, and that is where the bulk of the critic comes from.
There is much disport and anger – quite rightly – about the genocide of the bul…See More
The reason you are so diametrically opposed to this debate is that you probably don’t know any indigenous people. Real community folks, not the “jet-setting around the world jump on the $$New Age bandwagon” tokenized “Elders.” When you are in close proximity to genuine First Nations folks (as I have been for over 30 years now), the nuances of this debate finally make sense. And HOW IRONIC that all the leaders and followers in the “shamanic industry” have very little (if any at all) contact with genuine First Nations (you know, the ones whose knowledge the “shamanic community” so admires, acknowledges and borrows from?).
Exactly, Doug. Dialogue that produces understanding is what is needed. I have no patience for the kind of ignorant denigration and dismissal that this article in question exhibits. There is no debating with Her She. She is not willing to see the complexity of the situation.
You really just don’t know what your talking about. I’m willing to engage in debate when it is real.
I do agree Her. I have noticed over the years those of us who have worked with traditional people (and I have not to any degree compared to you) get given something else besides the teachings – it’s like a special something else.
When we teach other white folks and they teach other folks the teachings go further away from the Native source – they lose that extra special something.
I like my students to work with Native people because they get a flavor of that something else I can barely pass on because I am not Native… and those who have only studied with the ‘jet-setters’ as you call them, rarely get to feel that
does not mean the dialogue for reconciliation needs to be with ME (LOL), he means we need to be dialoguing with First Nations people. That is how understanding and common causes are going to happen.
Exactly, and the further the knowledge gets from the source, the more “whitewashed” it becomes. This is what horrifies and shocks First Nations, that they become silenced, invisible and stereotyped in this morass of second-hand “lifted-out-of-context” knowledge.
Once again, Her, you write about which you know nothing about. I’ve studied with several Native indigenous teachers here in North America and in South America going back to 1980. My education is sound and my practice is sacred.
Yes, there is a new age circus going on. But, as evidenced by your incorrect assumptions about me, you might see that you are making incorrect assumptions about many other people you know nothing about except by hearsay. Your attack on the whole community is just as irresponsible as the posers who appropriate.
I was referring to the fact that there is no real dialogue with you, because of your refusal to look at both the facts and the complexity of this situation.
Who were your teachers? BTW this whole thread and my blog (the subject of this thread) are FULL of complexity. Ask me any question on the interface between Settlers/First Nations, racism, contemporary issues facing FN, reconciliation, peaceful co-existence, animism, the ancestral arts, and the recovery of our own European Indigenous Knowledge and I will be more than willing to help. I think you are uncomfortable with the fact that some “shamans” permission, “initiation” or “lineage” might be an elaborate lie.
Yes true but you may not also know that some indigenous medicine people specifically seek the help of shamanic workers! They do it in quiet and don’t want to be put on blast! Sort of HIPAA law kind of thing! Shamanic practice is not the same as a tribal medicine man or woman. It’s a specific kind of activity full of danger and grief as well as ecstasy. We all agree that cultural appropriation is an abomination, but nature spirits are everywhere for those that are compelled to listen! Fake folk are legion, you have to be careful! But anyone that “knows” is not fooled!
It all comes down to etymology. If those of us of European descent just used the non politically-loaded term ANIMISM instead of “shamanism” none of this would be happening. Fuck.
I have no problem with the fact that there are many fakers out there. I suggest you do your due diligence and actually research the people you have attacked by putting their photo on your article. I agree with you about appropriation. But, I know a couple of these people personally and know their backgrounds are solid.
It doesn’t matter. Once you have a NAFPS file that’s it. You DO NOT want to come under their scrutiny. I suggest you have a long thorough look at their forum. First Nations have investigated thoroughly, and have found inconsistencies that neither you nor I know about. Face it, your friends have fabricated elements of their identities along the way, as only white people can. This is abhorrent to the incredibly qualified and millennia-old practice of shamanism.
So you admit that you have not done your own research. My conclusion about you as a journalist is confirmed.
I guess you could! But it’s not very helpful for a client that needs shamanic help. Animism is not the same as shamanism! All shamanic workers are animists but not all animists are able to shamanize.
But I see your point! It definitely works as a philosophy??
Referencing your comments about Christianity as a religion.. There are various levels in the Jesus Path. the one I follow and teach is that one of direct revelation. As Shamanism, it is a pathway, a way of life, not a religion. Huge difference… “Christianity is very different from shamanism, it’s not even an animistic worldview,” Well, that is a whole other debate. There is a lot of theology out there indicating the sacredness of creation and the notion that everything is imbued with divinity. The belief in the Incarnation is the most prominent example of that. It is a system of direct revelation,,
I agree with you. All religions have true spiritual paths and mystical traditions within them. It is sad that for most people, modern religion has led them away from a real, personally interactive relationship with Source (however that is perceived) and Mother Earth.
” First Nations have investigated thoroughly, and have found inconsistencies that neither you nor I know about. Face it, your friends have fabricated elements of their identities along the way, as only white people can. ” Oh, you are so wrong there….
Yes Karen – I agree, I have close friends who describe themselves as Christian and yet they practice shamanism – I am talking about mainstream Churchianity, but I agree the more mystical aspects of ‘The Jesus path’ (nice turn of phrase)
“The Church”, however is a generalist term that simply does not apply to Christianity.. That”s like implying all Catholics are Roman…. And that is changing. As a shamanic practitioner as well as a priest in a Catholic “church”, I can attest that old-paradigm Christianity is on the way out…allbeit kicking and screaming (the Alt-Right in the US and elsewhere…)
I have a love for the legacy of the Church – living in Wales we have beautiful ancient Christian places, going right back to the very early times, because here in Wales – being close to Ireland – the very, very early Celtic churc…See More
What really freed my understanding of the Jesus Path was getting beyond the notion that Jesus intended to start or build a “church”.. (that scriptural reference was added long after his time on earth).
Oh yeah – I think thats for sure I don’t think he would be too happy about it all. Realising the difference between Jesus and the ‘establishment’ was a major step for me to see beyond my prejudice.
The first warning is the word “shaman”, which originates in Sanskrit and Pali. Within the community, we prefer to use the appropriate term for each function in our indigenous languages.
Unfortunately, if we do that, we don’t have a sense of the value and meaning of the word. If I tell you I am a faithí, from the Irish, will you know what I mean? Medicine people and shamanic folk all have their own terminology. When we talk together, we need a word of common parlance in order to communicate. While Sanskrit can deliver words like rig in the East and rí in the West, and both mean ‘king’, we still tend to use ‘king’ when we talk together in English.
I thought it was originally from Shah from Persia?
if you tell me you’re a faithí, I can ask you what that means, and then I’ll understand it within its proper cultural context.
But most folk would not. Not even your average druid can discern the the Irish of ovate.
I’ll make a leap and presume faithi is what I know as fháidh-bhean,
a reply would have been nice. Nothing is worse than feeling ignored.
sorry, I was replying to inquiries. To the best of my knowledge, it has no connection with the Persian word “shah”.
I’ve heard rumors that Mongolian shamans are beginning to protest our use of their word “shaman”. But I can’t help but feel the horse is out of the barn on this.
The word ‘shaman’ comes from the language of the Evenki peoples of Siberia. It was deliberately chosen a century ago by professional anthropologists and given a precise definition to accurately describe spiritual practitioners in indigenous societies who engage in certain practices on behalf of their societies, usually on a part-time basis. The word is acceptable to describe those of us who walk the shamanist path in our society as well.
Yes good to read this again!
there are those that argue the anthropologists did not have a right to use the word. That they were committing appropriation and that we Westerners perpetuate it. I don’t necessarily agree with that. But I haven’t found a direct quote of a native practitioner. All I’ve seen thus far is Westerners describing this as possible appropriation.
Saman – shaman – is a Tungus (Evenk) word, and the language is not related to Sanskrit as far as I know. Also shaman is just one word for a male practitioner – although it is the word that has become popular in the west, but there are many others, such as kam and boo – and female shamans have yet another word – urdigan.
Tungus/Evenki is NOT related to Sanskrit, that’s correct. But the Tungus/Evenki borrowed it from the Manchurian/Mongolian Buddhists, who followed a Tibetan style of Buddhism, and that was inspired by Pali terminology. The original Sanskrit word is ?rama?a (Sanskrit: ?????, Sama?a in Pali).
By the way, “Tungus” now considered archaic, with Evenk being the preferred term. I’m sure you know that, Doug, but some of your followers may not. Some researchers consider the them to have derived from the Shi Wei (??; pinyin: X? Wèi) – my East Asian ancestors! Genealogy is full of surprises! Keep up the good work.
Yes, I know Evenk is the correct name, but many don’t, so that Is why I used both. I have heard the theory that the word is a corruption of a Sanskrit word brough to the region by Buddhism, but I’m afraid I don’t buy it. Buddhism did not reach the Even…See More
We need the proper terms – the proper meaning of shaman – understood so people use the term appropriately and not just as a catch all – apply to anything – kind of word
Alas the genie is out of the bottle and is unlikely to go back in.
I’m sure it irks Mr Dyson that people call his vacuum cleaner a ‘hoover’ because that has become a generic term by common usage.
The problem is that many are unaware of the accurate terms, so this is unlikely to change if or until that happens.
I tend to agree – but I will continue to bang the drum (in a metaphoric sense) for the right use of the word and generally be a thorn in the side of many in FB shamanic groups
well if a practitioner cannot bang his drum I don’t know who can!
This kind of article would have enraged fb Shamanic Community groups, they tend to be brittle and it seems to hit a nerve.
So are you suggesting that all of us post this at least once to each group?
Lol only if u like trouble!
sounds a delicious idea
LMAO One day I probably *will* get booted from the SC group for posting something humorous and innocent in intent – until then, I’ll lurk in the background there. The other groups, well….
Someone has already – I commented on it this morning – can’t remember which group – Im in lots
I thought of a new word that might work for these types.. “McShamans”
Will they get their own happy meal?
a Truer request was never spoken
Yes, we have unclear and loose use going on. I have potential students phoning up trying to gatecrash courses that are for more experienced folk whom l’ve trained, and when I ask their background, I learn that they have attended some psychological workshop which had shamanism in the title and no more!
You can’t really help which spirits want to work with you.Sometimes you don’t get to choose. But – in case on is taught things that deviate from common understanding of the specific traditions they come from I guess it is important to make clear to oth…See More
This is such a huge topic and with so many pitfalls and pot holes for sure. Thank you always for your thoughtful and knowledgeable responses. And others here as well. I’ve always thought that permission was important in passing and incorporating what we have learned. As an example, the indigenous teachers that I’ve worked with from the Andes, who have taught many Westerners, were very clear that they wanted us to share what we learned with our communities. Because many of us have been disconnected from the earth-honoring teachings of our own ancestors. And a return to these sacred ways is very important, now more than ever.
However, I do believe that it is imperative that the practitioner be very clear and honest about the level of knowledge they possess about said practices, and also not calling themselves a traditional title from that lineage. To me that is a respectful and humble approach to honoring what they have learned. Also taking time to return financial blessings to the source of one’s teachings is another way to show respect, as in the concept of tithing.
To me, there is a big difference in learning/sharing simple practices that are common to many traditions, such as “smudging.” I have a NA Mohegan teacher who taught us all how to smudge in his way, and also how to connect with our own medicine in the directions. He had no problem with us using these techniques in our own healing work and practices. However, he was also traditionally trained as a sweat lodge keeper. He would have had a huge problem with someone coming to one of his lodges, then turning around and trying to host their own without training or permission. It’s a delicate and fine line, but there are levels.
I also love the contemporary teachings of core shamanism and I incorporate them into my own practices and healing work. It’s unfortunate that the words “shamanism,” and “shamanic practitioner,” etc. have become so problematic.
As Western shamanic practitioners, it seems we have a lot of land mines to avoid. To me, the integrity, proper training, respect and humility are very important in this work. Thanks for the opportunity to share.
Also, I agree with avoiding calling oneself a “Shaman,” or other traditional title from a specific tradition unless you actually are that or have earned that title. Legitimately, not self-appointedly (I know it’s not a word, but I like it.). And HS about Little Grandmother…ugh…
You all might have a look at my most recent effort–a book titled The Re-Enchantment: A Shamanic Path to a Life of Wonder.
Will follow through.
May we work with our Allies to alleviate suffering. May the endless pontification about our identity and what name we should use, cease. May we be less judgmental while we strive to become hollow bones.
Yup ostrich approach..
actually I call it” shut up and do the work”
Yes, this is a massive subject but much of the argument against white westerners appropriating native cultures could be put aside instantly if we a) stop selling the spiritual (stop profiting by it, any of it, and create a culture of giving, not taking. That will get rid of most of the charlatans). b) stop the classroom style ‘workshop’ teaching and instead develop community. c) reach for the wisdom underlying and within ALL ceremony instead of copying or appropriating it (even if we have been given the right to use it by a few people from that culture, because many more in that culture will not understand or agree!). d) Learn to fundamentally recognize that even if our allies draw us towards a different culture, it is in order to respect that culture, assist it, honor it and above all to never claim kinship with it (yes, even if they claim kinship with us, we should be strong enough to remain different just as our 1st nation cousins have remained distinct from our culture because we have our own kin to honor too). ‘Shamanism’ in the western sense, is potentially a lost word, corrupted beyond redemption. Since few can agree what it actually means, perhaps it is better to leave the word and it’s baggage behind by accepting the humility of simply being who we are and doing what we and our Spirit allies do. Does the label matter more than the work?
This overly simplistic article ignores the fact that there are many Native Teachers that want to educate westerners as well as many white people that are respectfully practicing what they have learned from these Native Teachers in sacred reciprocity.
To lump these people with charlatans and fashionistas is unfair and inappropriate.
The thing I’ve noticed is that the drive for this debate seems to come disproportionately from North American traditions. I can understand this, as there is still such an ongoing political battle over there for land and power etc, and a real need to protect their culture. However, other traditions have different outlooks, and much more of an exchange and mutual support is going on between indigenous people and westerners. This doesn’t seem to generate the same interest or coverage, maybe because of our natural tendency towards bad news and guilt and self flagellation about the past. Mutual support can include such things as helping indigenous people who are facing threats to their sacred sites with legal aid, financial support etc, that will offer real, practical help in the now, but also, help massively safe guard their traditions for the future. In return they offer the sharing of their traditions, not particularly out of personal desire, but because the invisible ones have instructed them to, because the time for humanity to work together is now. Yes, there are always problems of wannabes but they generate far too much attention and coverage in relation to their actual presence, and are usually quickly found out because people are not always stupid. Respect is a two way street, until we can learn to fully respect ourselves and our ancestral traditions, we won’t respect other cultures, no matter how much we pretend to. And, personally speaking I think it’s outrageous to include pictures of people who are initiated into the traditions and dedicate a lot of their time to living amongst and helping the communities they serve like John does in South Africa. It shows that this whole argument is full of the lack of respect they accuse others of
Absolutely. It’s a toxic situation around it all over here. As a practitioner of West African Ifa? who regularly goes to Nigeria to train with elders there, I have 1)only heard enthusiasm from Yoruba elders about people of all backgrounds respectfully and reciprocally practicing their traditional ways and 2)taken heat from especially white North Americans for doing so, some of whom have even offered to speak with my African elders about why they should not share their traditions. Among other things there is an unconscious undercurrent of racial essentialism like everyone needs to go back to their respective clear-cut racial camp and do the ancient pure thing. It reminds me in that way of Wahabbism and some ancient pure ideal that no one could ever achieve. I am certain there are Euro-ancestor activists happy to explain to Native Americans how they need to do things, why they should never share their culture, etc. Toxic stuff indeed.
What is toxic is how spiritual seekers in the Americas refuse to listen to the objections of First Nations people who do not agree with the theft and whitewashing of their traditions, and even to call these First Nations objectors and their allies “toxic” is a racial slur. For shame. What “shaman” and ancestral arts practitioners refuse to acknowledge is that just because they have found a “token” or two from an exotic cultural group to “train” or “initiate” them, it doesn’t mean the rest of that community agrees. And the fact that the majority of that exotic cultural group DO NOT want to give the colonial powers the last vestige of their traditions (aka White Sangomas) is probably not a good narrative to sell services to spiritually-starved white people, is it?
I’ve walked away in recent years from even participation in Native North America ways, including with Native elders, in part due to these dynamics. If you find me claiming to be a big shaman (or any kind of shaman) or to represent any Native tradition, not sure where you’re finding that as it’s not me. And I also respect the good and mindful work or many but not all self-identified shamanic practitioners. As for your presumption as a largely Euro-ancestored North American person to speak to what my elders in Yorubaland or John Lockley’s Xhosa elders should or should not do, I do perceive that as hubris. Have those elders spoken with you? Why would they not be able to speak for themselves? Not all traditional Earth loving peoples on this planet feel the same way about the topic of cultural appropriation or sharing of traditional ways. I view speaking for them as it’s own kind of erasure of their voices or overstep. In any case, we’re not likely to agree. You could add me to the New Age Fraud site but I’m already there along with various Africans, Native folks, and others doing good work. And also some that do seem to be culturally out of bounds and acting in harmful ways. As if you feel you need to take me down for not agreeing 100% with you (as you did with my friend John and several other good people) in your next blog post, then my bio pic is on my site, please include a link. Personally I find the earth-hating, corporate, racist ugliness that is global capitalism and militarism to be a generally larger threat to the worlds inhabitants to be a more imperative focus these days. And yes, I help people to come into relationship with their ancestors. And I only work with folks who wish to work with me. And like most traditional cultures on Earth, there is an exchange for those services. People who don’t wish to charge don’t have to and certainly no one has to work with me.
I want to thank you for speaking up. I have trained with you and find you grounded and authentic in a way that is very refreshing and comforting, especially in a world fraught with the opposite.
You know Daniel, I’m not trying to “take you down” I think your work is great and have reserved a copy of your book online already. What I am trying to do is have is a discussion of what appears (to me anyway) elements of hypocrisy. And when you say that “you have walked away from North American Elders” I find the “exceptionalism” of that statement so incredibly problematic on so many levels I don’t even know where to start. It’s like you are giving up on social justice, anti-racism work, intercultural competency, reconciliation, restitution and the learning from First Nations indigenous knowledge that occupies progressive white people here on Turtle Island. Just, wow.
please keep in mind that I do not write the NAFPS profiles, nor do I contribute to them. The NAFPS profiles are written by First Nations, and as I have done my due diligence, are available to anyone who has the wherewithal to look them up.
Despite agreement on maybe 80% or more of the content of what you’re bringing forward Her, I experience some of your methods as cyber-bullying (posting call-out pictures of people you don’t personally know based on the entries on the New Age Fraud site which itself enables anonymous call-outs). I feel this methodology actually hurts the larger cause and contributes to taking our eye off the larger destructive forces and in that way is a symptom of dis-empowerment in general. It’s the specific dynamic of cyber-bulling that I experience as toxic. What I said above was that I have walked away from (invitations) to (continue to) participate in Native North American (ritual) ways, in ceremony, specifically because of the ambivalence about whether or not European-ancestor people are welcome. It’s a heart thing about not being called to spaces where I’m not welcome. If people are like, ‘Hey, why don’t you kind of fuck off’ and I’m in their house, I’m going to excuse myself. I get that it’s more nuanced than that and sometimes it’s not also. My comment was on the irony of people who are not African, not in relationship with African traditionalists, and most of whom have never been to Africa presuming to tell traditional Africans who they can and can’t share their traditions with. It projects a complex cultural dynamic present in Native North America onto areas with different historical situations and in doing so becomes the problem it aims to address.
Yes but we are not in charge of indigenous people’s resistance or recovery, they are. The pace of it is slow, or fast, that is their business. I feel my role is to support that recovery and healing in any way I can. Gosh golly, it may even be more important than those of us who are not native, and who have SO much more in the way of advantages! Anyway, thanks for your perspective Daniel Foor, it’s always informative and welcome.
“I view speaking for them as it’s own kind of erasure of their voices or overstep. ” So well stated…
The NAFPS profiles are written by First Nations,” These profiles are wriiten by “some” FN folks, not all of them. These generalizations are
I would add that the generalization that anything a First Nations person says is inherently wise and kind is its own dehumanizing distortion.
you might want to do some allyship and solidarity work with First Nations at the same time that you are ripping off their culture? Now that would be “sacred” !! Just a thought.
Now see? there you go making assumptions about someone you do not know nor have ever met.. Her, this is why folks have reacted to your comments. Get to know folks.. Have a conversation (outside of FB’s veil of anonymity).. I’m not sure it would change your mind on things, but at least you would have had the chance to actually interact with those you judge and assess…
Again, not clear how I’m ripping off Native culture and also you don’t know me personally and what I do or don’t do with my time and life. The exchange doesn’t feel constructive, so stepping off the ride. Be well.
it is crystal clear that from your constant derailments, questioning of NAFPS, centering of white perspective, defense of fraudulent practices, and implicit bias you DO NOT have First Nations’ interests at heart, that’s all I can say. For shame.
Yes I agree Jes – this type of thing is mostly coming from Native North American communities and individuals – and that is understandable, given the plight of Native people in North America.
I’ve never had hassle from Tibetans or Mongolians (although some Mongolians do hold the view you can’t be a shamans unless you are blood and bone Mongolian) (that’s not to say I consider myself a shaman )
I think the main thing is the mix of Disneyfication of their culture, bastardization of sacred traditions into new-age fluffy baby food (yeah I know – a mixed metaphor ) and the commercialization of the sacred, with people charging huge amounts to do sweat lodges and other ‘native’ ceremonies
Add that to the destruction of a culture and the biggest genocide the world has ever seen (far larger than anything the Nazis did) and you have a potent brew
I’ve spent a good deal of my life helping cultures and peoples whose own traditions have been over written by dictatorship: Estonia, Portugal and Czech Republic, are just a few. How generations of persecution and dismissal of custom and belief plays out in the wake of these is that people lose contact with their own ancestral and spiritual traditions. I am privileged to be doing this work. But, if we are going to be purist, what are we to say to those who arise from within their own traditions to raise them up again? We cannot live without our vision and wisdom. The wonder is that so many return again and again to these sources. I’ve seen how New Age nonsense is overwriting the original traditions in Portugal, which had one of the richest body of lore. We have to support and raise up the vision.
yes, lots of new-age nonsense in Mongolian too now – lots jumping on the band wagon and more ‘shamans’ than you can shake a stick at
It is a great sorrow to me to see how people are responding to secondary and tertiary sources and not to the ones immediately at hand. Like people without fire, they have to borrow a fire stick but forget that to keep a fire going, you need to do your wooding locally.
I see this anger as based in unresolved epigenetic trauma as well as the responses of non indigenous peoples
In looking at the photos above, I can understand why indigenous peoples are upset. Allow me observe that the Western shamanic tradition is not about playing dress up. Most of us got over that as kids, but obviously some of us didn’t. The Western tradi…See More
I agree it’s not about dressing up, but if worn correctly – and not for ego – ritual clothes are important. I work in Mongolian ways and I work a lot with their ritual objects. When I do big work I wear ‘shamans armor’, ritual clothes covered with metalwork, including boots. This looks quite like Mongolian shamans clothes, but not exactly, as my spirits instructed me In their design. I also have a Mongolian trained neighbor in my village who has a full set of ritual clothes, which he was instructed to make by his teachers there. I don’t agree it’s about using mysticism, if that’s your way, good, but it’s not my way, I work like an old time shaman in many ways – boots and all . We don’t wear them every time, but when we need them we need them. When i do a pipe ceremony I wear jeans and t-shirt, but if I have to do a major healing with a pernicious and dangerous spirit, I wear full kit if my spirits tell me to
I wear the clothing specified by my spirits when I do public work or embodiment; this is from the spirit realm, not from this world.
The challenge for the western Shaman is to became authentic without copying. The only way i know to achieve that is through direct revelation from Spirit.
When Spirit comes trough me, it does not matter if I am wearing Armani jeans and a t-shirt…….See More
I do wear full Mongolian – esq kit when I need too and I know many others who do, instructed by their human teachers and the spirits. Read my reply to Hank’s comment directly above yours.
Well, as a practitioner of core shamanic practices for around 20 years… give or take, I act upon direct revelation from Spirit. If I need a ceremony, I journey. If I am supposed to create garb for said ceremony, I create it in the image presented in the journey. If I am supposed to have a spiritual tool, it will be shown in a journey and made manifest in ordinary reality. I will make it, it will be gifted to me, or I will find it in a random shop or yard sale.
No, we should not be copying the sacred practices, garb, tools, etc. from the cultures of others. But, no one has a right to tell me I am “stealing” their spiritual practice, when I am following direct revelation from my own Guides who have appeared to me in my own journey work.
That is akin to saying that the water on our Planet is reserved for those who had it on their land first.
So, activities involving recognition of Spirit, which originated with the first beings who cognate that there was a guiding force outside of themselves, belong to us all.
I wholly concur from my very short time practicing. And thank you have reminded me I need to do something!
I do have full shamanic kit, which I wear when I do big work. There is nothing wrong with ritual clothes, but there is something wrong with dressing for ego. Most times I wear my kit – which is very Mongolian in style because I was instructed thus by my spirits, and work with a lot of Mongolian/Buryat spirits, ritual objects and also human teachers and friends – no one else sees it but me. I don’t need to wear it every time I work, for minor work I don’t wear any kit, and this varies up to full kit – boots and all – if I do major work. But I, like traditional Mongolian shamans, rarely take my kit out of my shrine room. I also have many Mongolian and Tuvan trained European shaman friends who wear full kit, like me, which their teachers in Mongolia and Tuva, and their spirits, have told them to get, and they also wear it when they need to
I am not a core shamanic person – I’m pretty ‘old school’ – but sometimes the spirits dress me in special clothes in the other worlds too. And they give me one off instruction as well. For example, I have to do a big healing on Friday, and I have been instructed to have a red khadag (Mongolian ritual offering scarf) tied to each of my arms (on top of my full kit – boots and all)
l Hello Doug ? Do you have a post on how to connect with spirits? I have recently been blessed with the aid of earth spirits, but seem to have problems communicating with them. I cannot hear them or see them, but I can feel them (I’m a clairsentient)…See More
It’s a good question
I work shamanic ally – I interact with spirits in tangible way, see them, feel them and hear them (when in shamanic trance)….See More
“And you don’t sound delusional.” – this means a lot to me, thank you…
And yes I think my approach is more animistic than shamanistic. I’ll take your advise whole-heartedly and be more patient I guess ? I’ve had patience working with stones and dreams. What is another challenge!
spirit instructions to wear regalia is no justification for us westerns to wear regalia that is bestowed upon and earned by indigenous shamans, healers and medicine persons through initiation by their elders. That is in fact cultural appropriation. The reasoning that we are working with certain spirits from a certain culturally bound tradition is no justification either. That too is cultural appropriation. If we are initiated into that tradition and have thus earned the right and honor to wear it, that is another topic.
I think one has to be very careful Merle, but like so many things in this thread, there are no black and whites. i have been instructed by Mongolian/southern Siberian shamans to get various ritual objects and bits of kit, and instructed and initiated into their practice. I am seen as a shaman by quite a few traditional shamans from Mongolia and other places – although I don’t grab that title to myself and don’t use it to describe myself – and they recognize I work with spirits they know and therefore say “you need these things”. It took me approaching 30 years before I obtained my full set of clothes and other things, although it was a gradual thing because many objects came to gradually. I struggled with it a lot, and have had many arguments with the spirits, much soul searching. I would be 100% against anyone rushing to get a glitzy costume after they had done their first weekend workshop
i also have had many conversations with Mongolian shamans, saying its easier for them because they have a tradition – but they say it’s harder for them in other ways, for example they can often have other shamans trying to kill them with dark magic, which is thankfully missing in the western shamanic scene. Life – and especially shamanic life – is complicated
I wish that were missing in the western scene.
As I said Nick, if we are initiated into a tradition that is something different. Apprenticing and getting told to create regalia by a human teacher is part of that journey too. So I don’t understand why you are throwing your credentials at me? The last entry’s here were regarding wearing regalia in a thread of cultural appropriation. And I am afraid it is very much so black and white. Just ask yourselves how a member of an indigenous society gets be looked upon it’s peers, if he or she would dress up in their native regalia not being an apprentice and not getting instructed to do so or not being initiated into that tradition. There usually is a lout outcry. So why should we than have that right? We take that right because we decide that we are entitled to it. That is the very definition of cultural appropriation.
Cultural theft and aiding genocide… instead, they should have the courage to look and heal their own inhealed experiences and life… instead of slipping on a fake imitation/mask from another culture. I have shared amongst over 80 First Nations…. what the disapprove the most is to “playmedivineman/woman/shaman”. The worst: urban shaman! Please!
Well said! Too many saying just ignore it, it’s fine..
Well, I thought you might be addressing your comment to me Merle. I have not received a traditional chanar/shanar initiation in Mongolia, the shamans I know say I am either spirit trained or naga trained (according to their own differing traditions) and I always feel unsure of myself and tread careful with the spirits
It is such a challenge and seem to be impossible to talk about this topic without gettig into each others spaces or have misunderstanding. sAs it is so very dear to our heart, full of emotion and very much about our identity at fir…See More
This causes me to be caringly reflective about what I’m doing, and how.
We always have to be on our watch Wiz
Maybe we should start a new thread about how we positively work with the traditions we work within? Anything more here is going to sound like justification in the face of the post we are responding to.
I like that idea!
Typically I find it as a mockery of deeply spiritual cultural foundations. Most often the stolen interpretations are grossly inaccurate and in some cases spiritually and physically dangerous let alone disrespectful.
What is it the Sacred Hoop says Nick about all the Nations coming together ? We had our Spirituality stamped out historically. We are humans with Souls and we tend – particularly these days when we know we have a choice now – to seek that which gives us comfort. The parallels within the many different practices for me boils down to the tree metaphor. The branches and the roots are spread and go far but still they come from the same seed – the same trunk holds it all together. Semantics can be argued till doomsday but at the core of it – isn’t it all about respect and responsibility – taking action to be reconnected to not just this planet but the whole – the space of space from which we came? We recognise we are mind, body and Spirit do we not? We are teachers, healers, seekers of knowledge. We humans are all from one place originally so the DNA scientists tell us – so we all have in our genetic memory some marker of cultures – cultures we perhaps don’t even know about. We are also natural explorers, how else would we have become the tribes we are now, so diverse we span this globe? We have appropriated the God of the Israelites have we not? This was a desert culture God – how is it we don’t question that ? What about all the ‘New Christian Gospel Churches’ springing up – all the evangelical expressions of Christianity – is that seen as Cultural acquisition? Belief is a drive that goes beyond conscious thought – which is why people blindly follow people they see as leaders – is that not the real crux of the situation. there are people who abuse the beliefs of others – there are all ways such people but don’t narrow it down to just New Age hippies – we’ve been doing it since Adam and Eve. The First Nations Chief Avrol I get his point – particularly the Sweat lodge thing – it’s dangerous to do that but if it is not to be done then why are others allowed to learn them – there is a culture in the First Nations of ‘adopting’ from other tribes. Each one brought their culture and was inducted into the adopting culture. If some sociologist is going to get their dander up about appropriation of culture to the extent of calling it theft – then what do we do about the carnage of our own Spiritual heritage when our feudal lords adopted this desert culture’s God?
This is an important conversation and definitely one to journey about. It’s good to see this awareness and this passion for the work.
I have changed the way I work due to being led by the spirits and I don’t align myself anymore with anyone because I am white and from Scottish decent. I have learned and studied with many a teacher until I realized I was giving them my power and not stepping into mine! I bridge tantra practices with shamanic practices and developed my own curriculum and way of elevating and altering my consciousness. Have a very successful and thriving practice with couples and singles calling to work with me all over the globe. This took years to develop and I share only to inform, many teachers on this thread started with the FSS and went on to do there own body of work with indigenous elders from other places. This comes up all the time, perhaps we should go direct to the person who wrote the article and ask them if they studied with anyone that they are writing about? We must all be kind to those that do healing work!
We find ourselves walking in strange skins. But the spirit remains intact and strong. That spirit carries what you truly are and gives you those memories and knowledge. It remains consistent there even when the flesh perishes.
Culture is a game, work outside of it.
As I read this article which was quite in depth I understand the expression of hypocrisy of ancient held beliefs, practices and traditions that are being proselytized partly because of the need to find spiritual identification and partly for money gain. I agree this hypocrisy is found in almost every ” religion” or spiritual practice. Where there is an authentic there will always be a copy. Just as the word Shaman came from outside the tribes so did the word Indian … Actually they or ( we) called themselves the True Human Beings and still do … We cannot cross over borders of ethnicity but people will introduce words that will appear to give permission. In every society there have been healers called by many names working with the same energies, spirits and even tools. This not owned by men it is a gift of the Spirit and therefore cannot be regulated or dictated. Of course, each culture has their own ways. As the True Human Beings walk the earth they have known and seen the destruction of the man coming and how he would destroy not only the earth but himself. There are many that are waking up out of this destruction looking for a spiritual path to help bring balance and find peace. It is when people search for power that they are misled. Being protective over ceremonial spiritual traditions us good but, because they are sacred. Hatefulness has no place in this sacred energy. To express disdain or grudges against another to protect what one does not truly own is not spiritually minded. It is uneasy to realize that there are many who use sacred items or ceremony for gain, power or recognition. But this is not new and will never go away. We know this is wrong. But I think we must also realize that there are others who are awakening and as feeble and weak as infants maybe they are searching for Spirit. This is a good thing in this world full of hate and destruction. The Medicine man or woman is aware and awakened but, not hateful. We must keep constant balance like Mother Earth and not get caught up in entitlement spirituality. The Spirit knows all truth and we are instruments it is our privilege to be open like hollow bones and be used. We are not judges getting caught up in opinions, rhetoric and rules only displace us. Seek Spirit, walk in Truth and bring Peace. In our struggle to separate ourselves we can find ourselves becoming what we disapprove of …. Racist. Aho ….
I think it strange that the target of the anger of the “culturally appropriated” people be directed against many sad cases.
I think, the reality is that the majority of what could be considered cultural appropriators are often in need of help or compassion rather than a kick in the ass.
The next class of people is various types of scam artists at different conscious levels of scam artistry. These need to be tackled through legal means and when they are caught, making sure everyone knows about it so they can’t keep doing that.
Pretty much everyone else isn’t much of an issue.
that’s my €0.02
Ossie Davis, whose eulogy is in “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”. He and Ruby Dee (the old couple in “Do The Right Thing”) were touring with a show about old African animal stories and how they became Uncle Remus et al. in the Southern US. I told him that Neil Diamond went the opposite route, fell in love with African American churches and followed their roots back to Mother Africa, with “Soolaimon” and “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show”. He got excited, and said he’d check it out. I hope he enjoyed White Boy’s loving tribute and “cultural appropriation”.
Star Trek guilty of cultural appropriation. We’ve come a long way in fifty years. http://bit.ly/2pPn1bG
the paradise syndrome –
Its not about skin color… Or cultural origin…. Its a calling of the Heart!?
Well said Michelle
Giving away your power is blaming everyone else for your behavior
We have to be very careful with our judgments. …. discernment is one thing, judging is another. A Native saying is don’t judge until you’ve walked a mile in someone’s moccasins. I know Chief Arvol Looking Horse, brought him to Maui several years ago. He gave a sacred prayer pipe to a 4 year old white child who was dying of cancer because, he said, she was an angel in human form, come to pray for the people.
If one receives teachings from an indigenous Medicine Person or Shaman, and is given permission to share the teachings and ceremonies, it doesn’t matter what color your skin is. What matters is that you know what you’re doing, and you’re doing it to help The People….ALL the people, not just one tribe.
The Hopi say this is a time when some white people will be born with ‘red hearts’…meaning with deep connection to Great Mystery, the Ancestors, the Animal/Plant Nations, etc. If one has those connections and receives wisdom through them, it’s enough.
One of my Native Medicine Teachers said of a friend who was all decked out in feathers and beads, ‘Someday he’ll learn to BE the Medicine, rather than wear the Medicine!’ Accoutrements are only necessary to help the ones who are receiving Medicine to believe they’re really ‘getting’ something. Not that our Medicine tools don’t have Power and Life, of course they do. And they lend it to us as we are growing and learning. Until the day we don’t need them anymore, because we know what to do and how to access the connections needed in any given situation. Then we can do our work with or without tools. Some would call that mastery. I just call it experience.
The phrase “be the medicine instead of wear the medicine” is cool. Thank you! Your words brought tears to my eyes! Many blessings on you
Sorry Michelle, that’s grossly over simplification.
Most of the medicine people recognize that sacred teachings are for humanity – but many of the political people don’t, and that is where the bulk of the critic comes from.
There is much despair and anger – quite rightly – about the genocide of the bulk of the people, the destruction of their culture, the thrift of their land, the breaking of the treaties, the lies, the whole way Whites have treated the Native People. With so much hurt it’s perfectly excusable for them to have a lot of ‘stuff’ and we have to be sensitive about that. But we need good dialogue so healing has any chance to happen
Perhaps the culture chooses the ethnic group, rather than vice versa, and then moves on when it chooses, regardless of how territorial the ethnic group gets.
Absolutely – your last comment was spot on
“The Pipe is for all people, all races, as long as a person believes in it. Anyone can have a pipe and keep it within their family.”
–Arvol Looking Horse “The Sacred Pipe in Modern Life” in “Sioux Indian Religion: Tradition and Innovation”, 1987.
“Anyone who is willing to lead the life I have led can do the things I do. I am here on this remote reservation and am only here on earth for just a little while. Why would Wakan-Tanka limit these things to me? People all over the world have the same needs, and those who want to serve Him can be as big to Him as they want to be… These ways are for all the people.”
– Frank Fools Crow, “Wisdom and Power”
That quote has inspired me for decades
Have to say.. this has been a very good discussion.
He is paying me a small commission for starting trouble-making threads.. ?
I thought you were my apprentice and taking lessons from me
It sure has and I learned a lot about several people in this thread.
With the commodification of shamanism we are seeing trainings of poor quality proliferate.
No real regard for the self work that is needed, poor or non existent supervision and just a mere outline of technique and in many cases false or no connection to the true spirit teachers. Trainings that do not teach proper protection and in my experience are designed to provide a feeding ground and infectious carriers of malevolent entities.
It is heart breaking to see such degradation and damage being done to these sacred arts.
There are few offerings of apprenticeship or high quality mentoring and the majority is questionable at this time, in my opinion in, my neck of the woods. This is a major problem for genuine practitioners.
“Infectious carriers of malevolent entities.” Yikes Alex! But you have said very important words that remains unspoken among many of us! Thank you and many blessings
I first received my gifts from spirit in my late teens- all naturally acquired from my connection to spirit and awakenings. I never even thought about ‘trainings’ or qualifications as I simply just ‘remembered.’ 2012 was when I first began to full remember who I am, my lineage and souls journey, and my fully developed abilities (psychic awareness, telepathy, reading auras, feeling energy, clairvoyance, clairaudience, to name a few). Every aspect of my natural shaman self (as I have come from a very beautiful lineage) became fully remembered as I integrated my true self, as I am sure many others are doing today. Yet I guess one could look at me and conclude ‘young girl hippy,’ and that is literally all they will see. Those who choose to see only from a physical perspective could (literally) describe me as a ‘young girl,’ ‘hippy,’ or anything else from a completely misaligned perspective. The Shamans today have chosen to incarnate to carry out the great work- the soul, the essence- is real for those with eyes to see x
Interesting post… and problematic. She justifies (reasonably) her own use of the term “Turtle Island,” but other people using the words “shamanic” or “shamanism” are frauds and appropriators.
She seems to presume that any white person referring to “shamanism” is speaking of non-white spiritual traditions – really? In fact, MANY of us are tapping our own Old World roots.
She’s included photos of a range of teachers with a caption implying that they’re all fraudulent appropriators – apparently because they’re white and the word “shaman” appears.
She’s deleting some critical comments from writers who clearly say “I’m NOT white and I don’t agree with you.” (I’m following the discussion and signed up for updates, so I’ve gotten notices containing comments that She later deleted.)
There has been no response to those of us who have spoken about the power of the land itself to communicate with us even if we’re relative new-comers to a place, other than to snap at someone that “you’re not indigenous!”
The discussion of cultural appropriation is a worthy and serious topic, but it seems to be getting a “my way or the highway” treatment here. Shamanism (by any name) is an on-going and evolving path for each of us. May we all work in ways that become ever more fair and more healing to the Earth and all Her children, and ever more clear and true to our own best selves. <3
But druidism is a dead tradition – the modern druid movement is a C18th recreation which has little in common with real ‘old school’ druids – modern druids don’t even put severed human heads by their front doors any more or practice human sacrifice. What is the world coming to
Fortunately we can now separate C18+ fantasy from truth. There’s still lessons to be found in the existent mythology, archaeological discovery and real history (rather than so-called ‘spiritual’) books if one is willing to go to the trouble of research…See More
Wicca is a creation of Gerald Gardiner, who had Aleister Crowley consulting.
“We are all indigenous to the planet.” Karen, I’ve met a few people who identity as indigenous Pleiadians. The details always seem a little vague.
But its not a living tradition – I’m sorry but no one is ever going to convince me a reconstructed tradition is worth much – well not unless it’s been given a 1000 years or so and there is nothing else to rely on except it – tribal traditions had to work because that was all there was – recreated urban ones don’t have to work
I agree there are things to learn from ancient sources and mythology – when applied with a big dollop of grounded ancient practices
If “traditions” are only based on reconstructions of what’s believed to have been, I don’t see the point either. That sounds too much like a Civil War reenactment.
But for the many who are taking old bits and seeds of earlier ancestral practices, sprou…See More
That’s exactly what I endeavor to do, Renna . A lot of what we know the ancient Celtic peoples did is outright illegal, now, and for excellent reason – I’m not inclined to go pillaging my way across the world, sack the spiritual centers of my enemies, steal my neighbors sheep (or shopping) or sacrifice people (even volunteers). But I can take the evidence presented by serious scholars – which is why I prefer history books to ‘spiritual’ books – and the mythology we still have, to construct a Path that is as close to the ancient one as possible. Once you start reading that mythology in the right way, there is a wealth of knowledge right there.
Several tribes in the western hemisphere have had to “reconstruct” their cultures. When you look at “traditional”, it may go back only a few generations…
I understand what you are saying Doug, but for me it is a combination of going to the history and archaeology of my land – often neglected in the area once known as the ‘Old North’ of Britain – and sitting with the land. Yes, much has been lost in terms of the old stories. We have fragments but that is all. But learning about these fragments is empowering and strengthening. I was taught that nothing of value occurred in Britain until the coming of the Romans but this was a lie. But it is also about sitting and listening to the whispers of the land and the ancestors who walked upon it. After all, where did the ancestors originally get their traditions from? We can return to the same source and create something that honors the old but is for today.
Yes Karen, but they have not had to build a bridge over a gap of almost 2,000 years
Don’t get me wrong – i live in an ancient place with 5,000 year old sacred sites all around me – too many to wave a stick at And I work with the spirits and ancestors here – as I had to say to one person once “what, you think i commute to Mongolia every morning ”
The ancestors got their teachings through hundreds or even thousands or even tens of thousands of generations of practitioners, who had to do things that worked because it was all they had.
We don’t need things to work and we don’t have a culture that is very skilled at determining between fantasy and spiritual reality – especially as people nowadays don’t have any real contact with the natural world – which is where the teachings came from.
Im not saying we can’t work with old ways – but I think a good dose of ancient – tried and tested – traditions serves us well.
it’s like cooking – it’s really hard to tell what good food tastes like if you have never eaten it and were brought up on a diet of big Macs… you might see a photo of a fine dish, but unless you know what the ingredients are and how to prepare them is very difficult to get the taste – even if you make up something that looks somewhat like the photo.
Our culture has major problems telling the difference between junk food and fine dining – it does not have anything to compare the two with.
One of my native teachers – as I’ve said before in posts – said he saw his role as giving people a taste of the authentic – so they would know what it tastes like, so next time they eat something and can tell the difference and have something to measure against
And how do you decide ”to read in the right way” the literary sources Helen Graham? It is up to you to decide that and with that it is about personal interpretation and not facts. You can’t compare a spiritual tradition that has been transmitted oraly from generation to generation which one where there has not been an oral transference for so many years. That is why modern Druidery snd Sejd gor that matter too are called Neodrudery and Neosejd. Through that we make a clear distinction between a praxis that has been transferred orally and one that is based upon guessing and interpretation
But we do need things to work. I have had work done for me by someone who has posted to this thread and it transformed my life. If it hadn’t worked I might not be here now.
That from someone who is quite intrigued by Neosejd?
Yes, sometimes it works, of course, but we don’t need our shamans and medicine people to keep us alive through illness, or to find food for our tribe, or to control our weather, or to find people lost in the wilderness, or to know when a hostile army i…See More
I am not saying it shouldn’t be practiced. I am just saying that you need to call the attempts of resurrections where there is no oral transmission of spiritual medicine knowledge for what it is. You can’t pretend that it is an ancient practice when you are interpreting archeological findings and mythology. It is an attempt. I think it is quite worthy to do the research. And if you are drawn to it, by all means go practice it. But the depth and knowledge is not comparable to traditions with unbroken oral transmission.
But I don’t think that they are totally ‘lost’. Extremely, hugely fragmented yes, and with 99% of those fragments blown to the four winds. But the spirits are still there, reawakening and reconnecting with those willing to hear them.
excellent food for thought.
Yes the spirits are here, but people need th skill to hear them accurately and our culture does not equip people, so that is why I consider it useful to have a good grounding in traditional practices so as to practice and develop ones taste so as to hone the sills needed to cook powerfully and well
This reminds me of growing up, I listened to the Scottish musician, Robin Williamson. He sang a song, can’t recall the name, in which he talked of the Welsh mountain, Cadair Idris, that if you spent the night beneath it, you would wake the next morning dead, mad, or a poet. Sounds tempting, but what does that mean for modern folks? How many people doing that would end up fey-struck instead of with the desired knowledge from the spirits and who would be able to confirm which was which? Who would be the translator for the ceremony? How many would take a selfie and call it good enough? Maybe someone with good background and traditional training might bring something back someday?
Another of his songs, Five Denials on Merlin’s Grave, is about his mourning the loss of the old traditions and going in search of them.
Not sure if what I am saying is making sense, mostly I am agreeing that bringing back old spiritual ways is hard, like being left with a map and a destination but no guide :).
It makes complete sense Ian. I am lucky enough to have seen Robin play his harp and tell stories in the roundhouse at Wildways in Shropshire and in an ancient Anglo Saxon church at Escomb. He is a living example that the old Bardic ways are not dead and is as powerful a Bard as there ever was. Yes much is lost and I am certainly making no claim for any kind of unbroken tradition. But the land remembers and it calls out to those who would listen.
But to extend a metaphor Doug, say I want to cook and am offered lessons in French cuisine. French cuisine is amazing and an art that takes superb skill. But what if I am not French and do not want to cook like a French person as I find the ingredients and the process, amazingly skilled as they are and incredible cuisine, is not to my taste. What if I want to use locally sourced ingredients that my body and soul longs for and is suited to? If I take a course in French cookery I will always cook like a French person and find my own ingredients lacking and second best. The food may not be quite as rich and sophisticated but it suits my constitution far better.
I assure you that I have done far more study than a weekend workshop! In fact, this is something on which I have NEVER done a weekend workshop because I’m aware of just how challenging the project is so I have been relying on my knowledge and skill, acquired academically, not solely through my own interpretation. There are a lot of things I want to do with my life, but when I get persistent, consistent prodding towards the mythology and the whole project flung at me, I answered the call – like I’m supposed to.
Or perhaps the feeling is that a Western tradition isn’t worth the investigating or investment? Maybe what I’m attempting isn’t meant for now, but a thousand years in the future. Perhaps to those future generations, it won’t seem so worthless.
You are putting the finger right on the spot where our problem is. How do we learn spiritually about our lost European medicine traditions? How do we access trance states and learn to navigate the spirit world when there is no one to teach us? So that we can be taught directly from spirit about a certain European tradition as you Liz Pearce put it? Or to learn to listen to the land? There is a void. You talk about practicing traditional aboriginal practice. I guess that Neoshamanism comes in here as well in order to learn how to access trance states. How otherwise are we suppose to learn to make a shift in consciousness? This is where cultural appropriation comes in. I guess we simply can’t avoid it. Oh…. I am certainly not happy with my reasoning…?
A master chief can cook any cuisine If we don’t have a regional cuisine left it’s better to learn the basics of cooking from a French chief and then study here to find things from he past – with the skills and knowledge gained from cooking abroad
First of all we have to learn to cook
I think you can do both Helen – I applaud your wish to gestate things for the future – but make sure the foundations of your house are solid by looking at the living traditions from else where.
There are two parts to any magical/spiritual system : the bones and the flesh
the bones are the same all over the world – that is the alchemy beneath the surface.. the flesh. Once you learn the bones you can add flesh to it because you understand the structure.
There is a great danger – I think – in seeing the flesh of our ancient past with no real understanding of the bones – and trying to re-animate it. With no bones inside it will never be strong>
I have learned bones from Native American Plains traditions, Tibetan traditions and Mongolian traditions – they all have the same bones but the flesh is different. Now I know the bones I can apply other things from here because I can see past the surface (on a good day )
I grew up with no native teachings in pre new-age and pre internet days – and didn’t even know the word ‘shamanism’ until I was in my mid 20s.
Back around the year 1974, when I was 15, I had spirits teaching me ceremony, and I was going through a ‘shaman sickness’ which left me fairly dysfunctional for years. I was so in the spirit world, I barely coped with this one.
It was only by meeting both white and Native American teachers in my late 20s that my earlier experiences were put into perspective and I started out ‘officially’ on the medicine/shamanic path.
But Spirit was always right in my face, even as a tiny child, I didn’t start learning things because it seemed a good idea, or because I fancied the idea, I learned things first and foremost because the spirits were shouting at me.
one of the key markers of a shaman for me is the teachings begn just before or after puberty…….the spirits don’t wait until later in life
True! They seem Ever present! Of course I still do depend on nature a lot daily! As a farmer calling weather is important. Holding back weather important! Finding lost people still needed! As for medicine, I do love modern medicine, but a lot of us here in US don’t have access.? Shamanism just an adjunct of course. But it helps. Standing here calling out to spirit in a razory wind of ill intent still needed??
I also got sick when I was 14 – the moon told me about this life etc..
They get pretty annoying at times, three near death experiences and I was listening!
I stopt counting after six …