As many folks know – I am reading a lot on First Nations history. As an immediate side note, I am using the Canadian designation of First Nations instead of the typical reference of American Indian or Native American. Why? Mostly because I think its far more elegant and a much better description of the peoples and tribes that made up the early moments of this continent. So, now back onto the topic I’m coming to….
As I said, I have been reading a lot of First Nations history. And to be honest, there’s a lot of it. A. LOT. OF. IT. The most interesting – and most disturbing – piece of information I realize from all of my reading — much of this history was not taught in the schools I attended. Granted, an all-boys Catholic High School would most likely be more focused on History in relation to Catholicism (and it was), but even the History classes I took in college in Louisiana were far more Euro-centric in nature. And when the History of the First Nations was encountered in the historical texts…it was glossed over in favor of relaying the battles. And then, even those were confined to the perspective of the whites rather than that of the First Nations. In reading through the various texts that I have managed to acquire from a variety of used books outlet stores…I’m finding that my own understanding and education is comprised of a small subset of material.
And while I am on the path of Druidry, I have come to find that the First Nations gods are a better fit for my own practice than that of the Euro-centric Celtic path. That doesn’t make the Celtic path a bad one, and it doesn’t mean that I am eschewing that particular path for a First Nations one. Instead, I have found that the First Nations gods are far more accessible (and this is actually a badly worded sentence and doesn’t quite relate what I am saying – but I can’t think of anything that would adequately describe what I am trying to bring across).
Oddly enough, I’ve been adopted by what most people describe as two of the trickster gods – Crow and Coyote. Its also not the easiest relationship to describe either. But I am learning that there is an art to listening. Just sitting and listening. When I went to Montana’s Glacier National Park, I was afforded the chance to sit and just listen at several locations. One of these was at a ledge overlooking a waterfall on the opposite side of a HUGE valley. There was a slight wind in the air, and if you kept silent, you could hear the birds in the distance. And if you stayed silent long enough, you could hear the birds that were NEARBY. Eventually, a few cars would show up, and a herd of people would get out to look at the sight and take their pictures. And they would talk, and “oh and ah” over the majestic beauty of the land as it was laid out before them. Some of them would puzzle a little over why this guy was sitting there and just looking out into the valley…but that was only for a few seconds. Eventually, they would pile back into their cars and move on to the next photo-op on their bucket list. They would never know what they had missed by not sitting still and listening…
I’m not of a First Nations race. There’s a single First Nations individual in my family history…going back three generations…so there’s nothing super significant there. Most of my heritage is German and Dutch. Blonde hair, blue eyes. But there’s that pull to some of the practices and beliefs of the First Nations for me. Its not that romantic pull either. I’m not seeking wisdom through the practices – nor am I trying to divine what is or isn’t the “The Great Spirit.” I see that some of the animal totem practice works for these folks — and have adopted parts of it for myself. I understand where that can be offensive to some of the First Nations folk. After all, whites tend to really fuck things up when they show up…look at what white government has done to the land that these people once walked freely.
But I’m not the white government. I’m not here to take anything away from the folks of First Nations. I’m here to hold the Land in reverence as they do. I’m here to learn to walk through Life on my own. If adopting a few practices from elsewhere manages to bring me closer to the Land I call Mother Earth, that’s all I wish to add to my Life. I’m not here to take from this Land…I’m here to hold it in reverence, and I’m here to protect it in anyway that I can.
What an ironic twist that is for me though. I eschew politics. And yet, to help protect the Land from what is being done to it – my best tool to utilize in that fight is politics. Holding my local politicians accountable for their actions and decisions in relation to the Land. Stopping projects such as the Keystone Pipeline, so that there is less harm done to the Land, and less of a chance that even greater harm can be done. Taking on the fight to stop gas fracking, not just here in DFW, or Texas, or the United States – but ANYWHERE. Its a dangerous practice that poisons the Land.
I’m not here to steal spiritual practices and beliefs from the peoples of the First Nations. I’m here to adopt some of their practices and beliefs – because I believe the same way as well. I choose their words, their practices, and their beliefs – because I have no words that properly describe my feelings and belief that are better. I’m here for Mother Earth…I’m here to be a part of my environment, not conquer it.