Indigenize!

Rekindle Your Wild Joy and sense of deep Belonging through spiritual ecopsychology and the arts, incl. bioregional awareness, animistic perspectives, strategies for simple living, & low/no-tech DIY fun.

Treegirl Spotted in Avatar Grove April 6, 2013

a4-04062013-naked2-jpg

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My dear friend Julianne Skai Arbor made the news in Canada by making love with their old-growth trees!

According to the news article, the tree she’s pictured in here, known as the San Juan spruce, “is the largest spruce tree in Canada at 62 metres tall, with a crown that spreads over 23 metres. It does not have any official protection.”

I hope her action (and these journalist allies’ reporting of it) helps bring about an official policy from the government of British Columbia that will protect that magnificent grove.

We need these ancient wild places to remain unmolested for so many reasons. First, there are the physical gifts they bring: oxygenating our air for better breathing; providing habitat for countless animals, birds, bugs, and more. Then there’s the intangible side, of beauty and wonder. Seeing such giant trees close-up evokes wonder in tourists from all over the world, particularly those from heavily populated areas who might never have experienced anything like them, or even been in someplace that is silent. Finally, these forests can confer a quality that’s hard to articulate but known to nearly everyone who encounters them – the deep soul peace that comes with just being with these ancient giants. When people encounter such enormous and old trees — our primordial birthplace and heritage as a hominid species — something deep and rich inside, something rooted, wakes up. We can begin to feel healed of the terminal speed and interminable distractions of western civilization. This doesn’t easily happen everywhere. As Julianne observes, “The peaceful feeling of being surrounded by nature’s life force in an old forest is very different from feelings generated by a clearcut or tree farm.”

You can read the whole Times Colonist article here: The naked tree-hugger makes her way to Port Renfrew, by Judith LaVoie.

The photo, very similar to much of Julianne’s work, was taken by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and founder TJ Watt.

(As an aside, I must admit to feeling taken aback by the name of that British Columbia newspaper. It’s actually called the “Colonist”?! Sounds like a hard road to hoe there regarding relationship to place, esp. indigenous peoples’ views.)

To see more of Julianne’s naked photos with special trees (or to learn more about being a treegirl or treeboy yourself), go to www.treegirl.org

And if you’re interested in the idea of making love with the earth, see also Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stevens’ new work on ecosexuality. (I’ll write more on that yumminess later.)

You go, treegirl!

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Joyous Eostre! March 31, 2013

vintage-easter-celebration-chick

Happy Eostre! May the increasing return of that glorious sun bring a corresponding increase of warmth, light and energy into your own life.

Easter is based on a much older celebration (Eostre/Ostara) based on this fundamental recognition of the rebirth of the planet, as it warms from the ever-increasing sun.

Have you noticed how Easter doesn’t fall on a regular, predictable day of the month — or even in a predictable month? That’s because it’s a seasonal holiday based on the actual wheel of the year, not just the Gregorian calendar. Easter is always celebrated (take a breath here) on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal (spring) equinox. That’s when fresh green food begins to grow once more; lambs and chicks are born; the sap rises in the trees, and flowers open their lovely colors out of the dead winter ground. Crocus! Delicate purple petals rising from the snow! What isn’t possible right now?

Easter: note the similarity with the word “estrus”? All of our beloved Easter imagery — bunnies, eggs, flowers, chicks, baskets filled with green grass nests, Christ rising from the grave to live again — are based on the concept of renewed fertility and possibilities for life. It’s all about birth and rebirth.

I began the day with a sunrise ritual created by my pals at  Milk and Honey, a goddess gift shop in Sebastopol, CA. (Yes, I was up before the dawn. Me! That’s very unusual: clearly that sun was calling.) Here it is, if you’d like to do something like that too.

The Ostara Ritual  

Purpose:
To acknowledge the balance between light and dark; to revere the growing strength and energy of the Sun who is now strong enough to conquer darkness; to acknowledge the time of new beginnings; to bless new goals and projects; to thankfully reflect on the gifts of fertility.

Tools:
4 sticks of incense, blanket, 1 hard-boiled egg per person, cauldron & freshly cut flowers.

Time:
Sunrise (is best): anytime between the Full Moon or Easter morning

1. Find a special place outside.  Lay blanket on ground with intention of connecting to the earth.

2. Arrange the egg(s), cauldron and flowers on the blanket facing towards the Sun (East).

3. Plant incense into the ground in all 4 directions, beginning with East, then South, West and ending with North to represent the 4 quarters.  After incense is in the ground start with East, and moving in the same direction, light each incense stick and verbally welcome and honor each direction.

4. While standing, feel your feet on the earth and allow yourself to feel grounded and centered.  Then allow yourself to relax and sit on the blanket.

5. Verbally state the purpose of the ritual.

6. Lift one flower at a time with great intention.  For each goal or new project you want to begin working on:
– Hold a flower in your hands and focus on the positive end desire of your goal.
-Break the stem off and put the stem in a pile to your left
-Slowly, pull the petals from the flower and place them in the cauldron while reflecting on the meaning of Ostara.
-Repeat with a new flower for each intention and goal you are focusing on.

7. Stand up with your egg and throw it into the air as high as you can and let it fall to the ground.
It is said that the higher the egg goes, the better your luck will be!

Then sit back down.
8. Peel the dirt and shell fragments off of your egg and put them in the pile with the stems.

9. Eat the egg and let yourself become energized with healing and positive energy.
It is said that if the egg is eaten at sunrise, you will gain much luck, health and happiness.

10. With your hands dig a hole in the earth in the direction of south.

11. Bury the stems and eggshells.
This is an offering to the Earth!  Verbally thank her for fertility and the gifts she presents us with daily!

12. Grab the cauldron of flowers and heave the contents upward and outward as hard as you can to bless your new projects, and to return to the Earth that which is hers.
Laugh or shout with joy!
The season of wonder is now beginning!

13. To close the ritual, beginning with North, going reverse to West, South and ending with East, face in each direction and thank the direction for holding sacred space for you and then release it.  At each direction turn your incense stick upside down and extinguish it in the earth speaking, “So mote it be.”  (Translation:  So may it be).

May this ritual bring you exactly the energy you need in the days to come.
Blessed Be!

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PS – Just remembered that I posted on Easter last year too. For more: https://indigenize.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/happy-eostre/

 

Shamanism in Norway: Welcome Home! April 19, 2012

Ailo Gaup drumming with a reindeer-antler beater

News Flash: according to The Nordic Page, an online paper out of Oslo, the governor of Norway has just formally recognized and approved the Shamanic Association of Tromsø as a religion.

Why is this worthy of note? Because for many years, this most ancient of spiritual practices been forbidden.

Many shamanic practitioners are indigenous people. The Sami live there; reindeer herders whose nomadic territory ranges over four current nation-states:  Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia.

For years (1920s-1950s) across the former Soviet Union, native healers and shamanic practitioners were given the ‘cease and desist’ order. Drums were forbidden; magical garb burned; spiritual leaders arrested.  In some parts, the practice and the “religion” was officially dead – although as it has been for pagan peoples all across the planet for the last two thousand years or so, what actually happened was that its practitioners went underground for awhile, quietly practicing their earth-loving ways and waiting out the oppressive regime.

The ways of the Sami, indigenous people of these northern lands, have been systematically repressed ever since the nation-states began to encroach on their homelands and Christian missionaries encroached on their cultural ways. It’s a typical story. Inga (Rebecca Partida) tells it well on the University of Texas’ Sami Culture page:

“Since the nation-states of Norway, Sweden, and Finland first began settling Sapmi, the Sami have been removed from their land, stripped of their culture and made to believe that they were inferior. Not only were the Sami subjected to such ill treatment by the emerging governments of the area, they were also challenged by Christian missionaries who sought to erase traditional Sami practices. Over time, the tactics used to repress Sami culture became more and more sophisticated.”

One of my favorite musicians, Saami singer Mari Boine, says that as a child, she was taught to see herself as an “inferior Lappish woman” in the dominant Norwegian society. She was told that their traditional music was “of the devil.” She felt ashamed of her people and her Sami origin. As she grew up she awakened, and started to rebel against this toxic brainwashing. Her music today celebrates her indigenous heritage, combining traditional joik using the shamanic drum with jazz and rock influences. (Links to her music can be found at the end of this piece.) It just tears my soul to think of this amazing, beautiful woman being made to feel less-than. Her cultural experience makes today’s news even more poignant as Norway’s official appreciation of shamanism marks, in a small way, the beginnings of an apology.

According to Partida, Lutheran and Russian Orthodox missionaries first arrived in Sapmi in the 17th century.

“The Christian missionaries saw Sami culture as inferior and heathenistic, something that needed to be cleansed and altered for the good of the Sami people. Shamanism was viewed as a sin…”

But such action began in the area as far back as ~1000 C.E., when locals began to wear their Thors’ Hammers upside down to masquerade as crosses, in an effort to placate Church activists hellbent on their conversion.

In Norway, children were forbidden to speak their own language in school until 1959. Here’s Partida again:

“The schools also promoted the idea that Sami culture was inferior to that of the nation-states and that the Sami were citizens of their country before anything else. The ultimate goal of educating Sami children in this manner was to obliterate traditional Sami culture, which was seen as heathenistic and inferior to the Christian cultures of the nation-states. It was only a small part of the larger attempt at assimilation, which included prejudice on a governmental, scientific, and personal scale. The leaders of the nation-states believed that only through the assimilation of the Sami could they guarantee complete control over their land and thus become more powerful.”

But now, as of this week, shamanism is welcomed by this same nation-state as an officially recognized religion.

So this is HUGE.

After so many years, the indigenous shamanic practitioners of Lapland in northern Norway & Finland, the Sami Noaidje, can come out of the closet. They can practice their traditional ways in the open, and once more enjoy proper widespread appreciation for it.

I feel so happy and grateful to hear this news. I hope it marks a movement to value indigenous peoples’ ways worldwide, as they are desperately needed now in this time of enormous environmental and socioeconomic challenges.

These far northern shamanic practitioners’ worldview and practices heal in many ways, not least of which is the connection with their local migratory species, reindeer. The noiadje’s work maintains good ecopsychological relations, working with the physical and spiritual connection between the people and the land in a deep and vital way. As Mari Boine says, according to one of the folks who made a YouTube video of her song: “Nature is my God, my guide and correction. Nature is the mirror of what is inside all of us. Without the connection to nature I would be lost.”

I am thinking now of my friend, Sami author and noaidi Ailo Gaup, pictured above. I’m so happy for him, and for all of occupied Norway.

Let a joyful joik be heard across the land!

Here’s the full scoop from the Nordic Page,  3/15/12  (author unattributed, although I notice that they nabbed their second section from Wikipedia):

“This is the first time that Shamanism has been officially recognized as a religion in Norway. According to TV2, director Lone Ebeltoft in the newly founded Shamanic Federation welcomed the governor’s decision and expressed her ambition to preserve and continue the shamanistic traditions and practices in the country.

– It is about understanding and respecting nature. It is in no way mysterious. Shamanism is a world religion where we are up here in the North is committed to preserve the Sami and Norse (Arctic) tradition, she says to Nordlys.

Shamanism in Norway

The Sámi followed a shamanistic religion based on nature worship. The Sámi pantheon consisted of four general gods the Mother, the Father, the Son and the Daughter (Radienacca, Radienacce, Radienkiedde and Radienneida). There was also a god of fertility, fire and thunder Horagalles, the sun goddess Beive and the moon goddess Manno as well as the goddess of death Jabemeahkka.

Like many pagan religions, the Sámi saw life as a circular process of life, death and rebirth. The shaman was called a Noaide and the traditions were passed on between families with an ageing Noaide training a relative to take his or her place after he or she dies. While training went on as long as the Noaide lived but the pupil had to prove his or her skills before a group of Noaidi before being eligible to become a fully fledged shaman at the death of his or her mentor.

The Norwegian church undertook a campaign to Christianise the Sámi in the 16th and 17th century with most of the sources being missionaries. While the vast majority of the Sámi in Norway have been Christianised, some of them still follow their traditional faith and some Noaidi are still practising their ancient religion. Sami people are often more religious than Norwegians.”

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For more info:

Ailo Gaup’s website, Sjaman    /   (version in English, courtesy of Google Translate)

Breathtaking music from Saami singer Mari Boine: Gula Gula (my favorite song; it means “Hear the Voices of the Foremothers.”

… more: Vuoi Vuoi Mu & Idjagiedas

here she speaks of the ban on joik

… and another with Mari Boine – a mashup video of Gula Gula that also shows images of traditional life in Sapmi

Sacred Lands Film Project: Lands of the Sami

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Thanks to Hillary Webb for bringing my attention to this good news.