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Seeking Native American Spirituality: Read This First!

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Judging from the email I get, there are a lot of people out there trying to learn about traditional Native American religion and spirituality these days. Many of them are trying to do this on the Internet. Now, there is a lot of garbage and misinformation on the Internet no matter what subject you're talking about, but American Indian religion and spirituality has got to have the worst signal-noise ratio of any of them. The 'information' out there about American Indian religions ranges from inaccurate school projects by seven-year-olds, to deeply biased generalizations about the 'heathens' written 300 years ago, to hucksters pretending to be Native American shamans to scam money off of people, to useful and interesting information about actual American Indian religious traditions past and present. Sorting through these sites can be a nightmare. I wish you a lot of luck with it. Before you start, let me give you a few words of experience. There are two reasons to be looking for information on Native American religions. The first, and easier to address, is educational. Either because you're a student who's been assigned to or just out of intellectual and cultural curiosity, you would like to learn more about how American Indians, or a particular tribe of American Indians, view the world. If that's you, then your main problem is going to be identifying the authentic and trustworthy sources. Indians are happy to talk about their beliefs and spiritual practices, both historically and in the modern day. Unfortunately, so are plenty of ill-informed non-Indians (or people of Indian descent) who think they know a lot more than they do. And so are those unscrupulous souls willing to pretend they're something they're not in hopes of making a buck or getting a little attention. My best recommendation is to get a Native American book out of the library as well as looking on the Internet, since any quack shaman can put up a website but it's a lot harder to publish a book. I also suggest ignoring and avoiding information about American Indian spirituality presented by anyone: 1. Offering anything religious for sale. Money is never accepted by authentic holy people in exchange for Indian religious ceremonies like sweat lodges or sun dances, nor for religious items like medicine bags or smudged items. (They might sell arts and crafts, of course. Use your common sense--a devout Catholic might sell you a hand-carved crucifix to hang on your wall, for example, but he wouldn't sell communion wafers over the Internet or charge you admission to bring you to his church! Selling dreamcatchers or fetish carvings online is one thing, but don't believe information provided by anyone who is trying to charge people for smudging or blessing anything, making medicine, or letting them take part in a sweat lodge or dance. They are not authentic sources of information.) 2. Inviting you into their religion on their webpage. Authentic Indians may seek to educate strangers online, but actually adopting an outsider as part of their culture is only

done face-to-face and after knowing the person for some time. 3. Claiming to be American Indian shamans , talking about tarot cards and Wiccan/pagan things, or talking about crystals and New Age things. I've got nothing against shamanism, paganism, or the New Age, but a cow is not a horse: none of these things are traditionally Native American. Shamanism is a Siberian mystic tradition, Wicca is a religion based in pre-Christian European traditions, Tarot readings are an Indo-European divination method, and the New Age is a syncretic belief system invented, as its name suggests, in the modern era. None of them have anything to do with authentic Indian traditions, and anyone who thinks they do is likely to be wrong about anything else he claims about Native American religions as well. Wiccans and New Agers don't have any more knowledge about actual American Indian beliefs than you do. 4. Identifying only as 'Native American' or 'American Indian' (an authentic person would list their actual tribal affiliation). Be a little wary, too, of people trying to speak with authority who identify as "mixed-blood" or "of Indian descent" or having a "Cherokee ancestor." There are certainly some mixed-blood people who were raised in their tribe's culture, but many more were not. A person who has rediscovered his Indian heritage as an adult is a seeker, not a teacher. He is not qualified to speak authoritatively about Native American religion or culture, for he wasn't raised that way and doesn't have any more knowledge about it than anyone else learning about it second-hand--including you. If you're trying to learn about American Indian religion because you want to become a part of it, though, you not only face that problem, but another, much deeper one as well: American Indian spirituality is not evangelistic. It is private and entirely cultural. You cannot convert to 'Native American' any more than you can convert to African-American or Korean or any other cultural identity you would need to be raised in to understand. (In fact, many Indians--myself included-are Christians in addition to our traditional tribal beliefs, just like many African-American and Korean people are Christian in addition to having an ethnicity of their own.) The only way to 'join' a Native American spiritual tradition is to become a member of the cultural group, and it's impossible to do that over the Internet. No one who truly believed in American Indian spirituality would ever offer to tutor total strangers in religious matters online, much less charge anyone money for such a thing. So, by definition, the people who make these offers are those who either don't really believe in Native American spirituality, or don't know very much about it. Is that really who you want to be listening to? On our site, we have generally given people the benefit of the doubt with our links, including websites unless we are sure there is a reason not to. Regarding Native American religion and spirituality, however, we have decided to err on the side of caution instead. Anyone who is looking for a new religion or seeking spiritual truth is a needy individual and I will not contribute to their being used by irresponsible people. If you are reading this page because you are a person in need of religious and spiritual guidance, I urge you strongly to seek out some religions that are evangelistic rather than cultural (one of the many Christian churches, Buddhism, Baha'i; there are many choices) and talk to spiritual leaders there until you find one that can help you. Falling under the influence of a false 'shaman' will only hurt you spiritually. Since I have put this page up, I have received many anguished emails saying "But my

grandmother was part Cherokee... are you telling me to just forget that part of myself? How can I honor my Native ancestors if you won't share your religion with me?" The answer is simple: honor them the way they would want to be honored. Don't pay some new-age guru $250 to perform fake "Native American" rituals that would have offended your ancestors, go physically to their tribe and re-connect with their other descendants. It will be hard work convincing the people there that you are genuine but if you go with humility and patience you will eventually be accepted, and that is the ONLY way you will ever become part of the spiritual tradition you desire. There is no shortcut to that. Native spirituality belongs only to the cultural group, and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to make some money off of you and/or to take a power trip at your expense. You've been warned. Good luck, with whatever it is you're looking for. You're probably going to need it. Orrin

Useful Links on Native American Religions:


Since each tribe has a unique cultural and religious tradition, it is difficult to generalize about native beliefs. You can look through our list of Native American tribes for some good information and links about individual cultures. Here are a few good links about Native American religion in general: Native American Religions: Essay by an Osage writer about the religious traditions of Indian communities. This is the best overview of native spirituality I've seen on the Internet. Native American Spirituality: Generic overview of American Indian religious beliefs and related issues. Very simple and it might be good for kids doing homework. Native American Legends: Online collection of American Indian myths and traditional stories. Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality: The Sioux peoples have the worst problem of all the tribes with non-natives exploiting their spiritual beliefs. Read how they feel about it. Selling American Indian Spirituality: Article by a Sioux woman about the exploitation of Native American traditions. Native American Religious Exploitation and Defense: Links about American Indian religious exploitation and persecution. Tengerism: Siberian Shamanism: Website of an indigenous Buryat shaman from Siberia. If you are interested in actual (non-American Indian) shamanism, this seems like a good place to learn.

Further reading:
Here are a few genuine and worthwhile books on Native American religions: God is Red: A Native View of Religion: Book by respected Lakota author Vine Deloria, Jr. comparing Christianity and native religions. It's a controversial book, requires critical thinking skills. I recommend it for adult readers. Encyclopedia of Native American Religions: This is really the book you want if you're trying to write an essay about Native American beliefs, or just curious about world religions. Lots of accurate information here. Native Religions and Cultures of North America: Collection of in-depth anthropological essays on a dozen different Native American religions. The Sacred: An interesting book on Native American spirituality by three Indian women from different tribal traditions. South and Meso-American Native Spirituality: An overview of Indian religions in countries other than the US and Canada. Native and Christian: A series of essays by Native American authors on their experiences blending Christianity and Indian spirituality. American Indian Myths and Legends: Well-attributed collection of many diverse traditional stories of Native America. (Like any other body of mythology, some of the stories involve adultery, rape, or sexual situations, so be sensible about which ones you share with young children.)
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American Indian Spirituality ....and....

Sacred Rites
".....the North American public remains ignorant about Native American religions. And this, despite the fact that hundreds of books and articles have been published by anthropologists, religionists and others about native beliefs...... Little of this scholarly literature has found its way into popular books about Native American religion..." Many followers of Aboriginal religions, such as the many types of Native American Spirituality, do not regard their spiritual beliefs and practices as a "religion" in the way in which many Christians do. Their beliefs and practices form a integral and seamless part of their very being.

Native culture and religion should be valued. They have made many contributions to North American society: an awareness of concern for the environment food staples such as corn, beans, squash, potatoes and sweet potatoes the design of the kayak, toboggan and snowshoe the original oral contraceptive, cotton over 200 drugs, derived from native remedies It is ironic that the wine that is the Christians' most sacred substance, used in the Mass to represent the blood of their God, has caused such a trail of devastation within Native populations. And the Natives' most sacred substance, tobacco, has caused major health problems for so many Christians.

Native Spirituality Development

Religious traditions of aboriginal peoples around the world tend to be heavily influenced by their methods of acquiring food, whether by hunting wild animals or by agriculture. American Indian spirituality is no exception. Their rituals and belief show a blending of interest in promoting and preserving their hunting and horticulture. The arrival of Europeans marked a major change in Native society. Tens of millions died due to sickness, and programs of slavery and extermination. Europeans and their missionaries looked upon Native Spirituality as worthless superstition inspired by the Christian devil, Satan. Many of the survivors were forcibly converted to Christianity. The US and Canadian governments instituted policies to force Natives onto reservations and to encourage them to become assimilated into the majority culture. Some suicidologists believe that the extremely high suicide rate among Natives is due to the suppression of their religion and culture by the Federal Governments. This suppression is still seen in the prison administrations; Canadian prisons have only recently allowed Native sweat lodge ceremonies; most American prisons routinely deny permission. Natives today follow many spiritual traditions: Many Native families today have been devout Christians for generations. Others, particularly in the Southwest have retained their aboriginal traditions more or less intact. Most follow a personal faith that combines traditional and Christian elements. Pan Indianism is a recent and growing movement which encourages a return to traditional beliefs, and seeks to create a common Native religion. The Native American Church is a continuation of the ancient Peyote Religion which had used a cactus with psychedelic properties called peyote for about 10,000 years. Incorporated in 1918, its original aim was to promote Christian beliefs and values, and to use the peyote sacrament. Although use of peyote is restricted to religious ritual which is protected by the US Constitution, and it is not harmful or habit forming, and has a multi-millennia tradition, there has been considerable opposition from Christian groups, from governments, and from within some tribes.

The Inuit
The traditional Inuit (Eskimo) culture is similar to those found in other circumpolar regions: Northern Russia and the Northern Scandinavian countries. Life has been precarious; there are the double challenges of the cold, and the continual threat of starvation. The popular name for the Inuit, "Eskimo", is not used by the Inuit. Their religious belief is grounded in the belief that anua (souls) exist in all people and animals. Individuals, families and the tribe must avoid a complex system of taboos to assure that animals will continue to make themselves available to the hunters. Many rituals and ceremonies are performed before and after hunting expeditions to assure hunting success. An underwater Goddess Sedna or Takanaluk is in charge of the sea mammals. She is part human and part fish. She observes how closely the tribe obeys the taboos and releases her animals to the hunters accordingly. There is an corresponding array of deities who release land mammals; these are Keepers or Masters, one for each species. The Angakut or Shaman is the spiritual leader of each tribe. He is able to interpret the causes of sickness or lack of hunting success; he can determine the individual or family responsible and isolate the broken taboo. In a manner similar to Shamans in may other cultures, he enters a trance with the aid of drum beating and chanting. This allows his soul to leave his body and traverse great distances to determine the causes of sickness and other community problems.

Eastern Subarctic, Eastern Woodlands, Plains and Southwest Cultures

Native religions in these areas share some similarities, and differ significantly from Inuit culture described above. Tribes also differ greatly from each other. Spiritual elements found in some, but not all, non-Inuit native religions are:

Deity

A common concept is that of a dual divinity: a Creator who is responsible for the creation of the world and is recognized in religious ritual and prayers a mythical individual, a hero or trickster, who teaches culture, proper behavior and provides sustenance to the tribe. There are also spirits which control the weather, spirits which interact with humans, and others who inhabit the underworld. Simultaneously the Creator and the spirits may be perceived as a single spiritual force, as in the unity called Wakan-Tanka by the Lakota and Dakota.

Creation

Individual tribes have differing stories of Creation. One set of themes found in some tribes describes that in the beginning, the world was populated by many people. Most were subsequently transformed into animals. Natives thus feel a close bond with animals because of their shared human ancestry. Dogs are excluded from this relationship. This bond is shown in the frequent rituals in which animal behavior is simulated. Each species has its master; for example, the deer have a master deer who is larger than all the others. The master of humans is the Creator.

Emergence of the Tribe

This is a concept found extensively in the Southwest. The universe is believed to consist of many dark, underground layers through which the humans had to climb. They emerged into the present world through a small hole in the ground - the world's navel. Other tribes believe that their ancestors have been present in North America as far back as there were humans.

Sacred Texts

Many tribes have complex forms of writing. Other tribes have preserved their spiritual beliefs as an oral tradition.

Afterlife

In general, Native religions have no precise belief about life after death. Some believe in reincarnation, with a person being reborn either as a human or animal after death. Others believe that humans return as ghosts, or that people go to an other world. Others believe that nothing definitely can be known about one's fate after this life. Combinations of belief are common.

Cosmology

Again, many tribes have unique concepts of the world and its place in the universe. One theme found in some tribes understands the universe as being composed of multiple layers. The natural world as a middle segment These layers are thought to be linked by the World Tree, which has its roots in the underground, has a trunk passing through the natural world, and has its top in the sky world.

Shamans

Although the term "Shaman" has its origins in Siberia, it is often used by anthropologists throughout the world to refer to Aboriginal healers. Spirits may be

encouraged to occupy the Shaman's body during public lodge ceremonies. Drum beating and chanting aid this process. The spirits are then asked to depart and perform the needed acts. Other times, Shamans enter into a trance and traverse the underworld or go great distances in this world to seek lost possessions or healing.

Vision Quest

Young boys before or at puberty are encouraged to enter into a period of fasting, meditation and physical challenge. Girls are not usually eligible for a quest. He separates himself from the tribe and go to a wilderness area. The goal is to receive a vision that will guide his development for the rest of his life. They also seek to acquire a guardian spirit who will be close and supportive for their lifetime.

Renewal Celebrations

The Sun Dance amongst the Plains Natives is perceived as a replay of the original creation. Its name is a mistranslation of the Lakota sun gazing dance. Other tribes use different names. It fulfilled many religious purposes: to give thanks to the Creator, to pray for the renewal of the people and earth, to promote health, etc. It also gave an opportunity for people to socialize and renew friendships with other groups. A sweat lodge purifies the participants and readies them for lengthy fasting and dancing. It was successfully suppressed in most tribes by the Governments of the US and Canada. However, it survived elsewhere and is now being increasingly celebrated.

Sweat Lodge

This is structure which generates hot moist air, similar to a Swedish sauna. It is used for rituals of purification, for spiritual renewal and of healing, for education of the youth, etc. A sweat lodge may be a small structure made of a frame of saplings, covered with skins, canvas or blanket. A depression is dug in the center into which hot rocks are positioned. Water is thrown on the rocks to create steam.

A small flap opening is used to regulate the temperature. As many as a dozen people can be accommodated in some lodges.

Hunting Ceremonies

These involve the ritual treatment of a bear or other animal after its killing during a successful hunt. The goal is to appease its spirit and convince other animals to be willing to be killed in the future.

Prophets

The Abramic Religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) trace their development through a series of patriarchs and prophets. Native religions do not have corresponding ancient revered persons in their background. There have been a few prophets among the Natives - the most famous being Handsome Lake in the Iroquois Confederacy. However, they appeared after the European invasion.

Traditional Housing

There were many variations across North America: conical wigwams or tipis, long houses, and cliff dwellings. The shape of the structure often represents a model of the cosmos. Top Quote and information from: Native American Religions by Arlene Hirschfelder and Paulette Molin (Facts on File, New York, 1992, ISBN 0-81602017-5)

Native Spirituality
Articles & Education The Olson Interviews

Herbal Healing: Back to our Roots by Stephanie D. Harper, MH . This article will give you a brief overview of the history of herbal healing along with what separated the Science & Nature of Healing. This article is by no means complete, but it will give you an idea and hopefully peak your interests to delve into youre cultures roots of natural healing, as well as bring you closer to the earth. As a small girl with a belly ache, I thought my grandmother was silly for going outside and making me eat a mint leaf from the blanket of green that exploded in her back yard. Now, I understand, all of our cultures and ancestors had a Healing Garden. Click Here To Read Article _____________________ Summer Time and the Living is Easy Feng Shui and the Fire Element by Susan Tartaglino I realize that hot weather isnt for everybody, but for me summer is the time of year that gives me the most energy and fills me with tons of enthusiasm. All winter long I look forward to being outside where I can connect with nature, eavesdrop on conversations that the birds are having, and absorb the warmth of the sun on my skin as I maintain my garden. The aromatic fragrances that the peonies, honeysuckle and magnolias have to offer only add to my rejuvenation process. I am truly in a sensorial heaven. Click Here to Read Article ____________________ The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra

Recommended Books
Click on the book links below to read more aboutor buythe recommended book from Amazon.com (the Internet's largest bookstore):

The Wheel of Time - The Shamans of Ancient Mexico, Their Thoughts About Life, Death and the Universe by Carlos Castaneda (Paperback - January 2001), Price: $11.16 The Four Agreements - A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom a Toltec Wisdom Book (Ruiz, Miguel, Toltec Wisdom Book.) by Miguel Ruiz, Don Miguel Ruiz (Paperback - November 1997), Price: $7.77 The Toltec Way - A Guide to Personal Transformation by Dr. Susan Gregg, Don Miguel Ruiz (Hardcover) Price: $18.36 Spirit Medicine : Native American Teachings to Awaken the Spirit by Wolf Moondance, et al; (Paperback) Price: $11.16

Recommended Documentary
Short Cut To Nirvana by Maurizio Benazzo and Nick Day

When ancient peoples considered the vastness of the universe, they felt something very surprising, they felt connected, a spiritual connection cannot be seen or touched, yet we have a way to verify invisible things by using a faculty more powerful and reliable than the five sensesconsciousness. Click Here To Read Article _______________________ A Journey through the Stones & Bones of the Andes: Sifting Through Personal Terrain by Sandra Corcoran The documentary: "Shortcut To Nirvana: Kumbh Mela" takes you on a journey that explores the largest and oldest spiritual gathering in history, the Kumbh Mela. In January 2001, 70 million pilgrims The rocks of the Andes, literally the stones along the foot paths and those that make the magnificent including many of India's great spiritual leaders, as well as the Dalai Lama, gathered at the heart of the ruins of towns and ancient structures, are seen as the bones of the Pachamama, Mother Earth. The Ganges and Yamuna rivers to celebrate the Kumbh Natives believe certain stones at these ancient sites Mela, the oldest and the biggest spiritual festival in can help us heal, by imparting light energy or the history of this planet! absorbing dense energies, from the fabric of our energetic light body. This historic pilgrimage, a spiritual assembly of titanic proportions, has taken place every 12 years Click Here To Read Article since time immemorial, yet few people in the west have ever heard of it. ____________________ Can People Really Change? by Shifra Hendrie MOST PEOPLE NEVER REALLY CHANGE Sad, but true. Two filmmakers, Maurizio Benazzo and Nick Day attended the event and combined their passion for filmmaking with their love of culture, to bring us this amazing documentary, "SHORT CUT TO NIRVANA: a pilgrimage to the Kumbh Mela", which will be opening in our region this month.

The Film is an exhilarating, insightful, uplifting and often hilarious journey thru this incredible event, Some people never even try. exploring an individual and collective consciousness where the viewer encounters a colorful array of But those of us who do and I assume that you are personalities, rituals and spiritual beliefs. From this powerful experience comes a beautifully inspiring in that group often experience great frustration message of harmony, unity and peace. and disappointment as we encounter the same limitations over and over again. "We are not preaching Hinduism" says co-director Nick Day "this movie is designed to give you an Life can start to seem downright repetitive. experience, the feeling of being present at the event, feel the energy of the place, receive the Click Here To Read Article blessings. Every time we interviewed a Guru we asked them to bless the project, the camera and the _____________________ audience that will see the movie, and many people tell us they feel it by watching it" What Is A Medicine Bag and How Do I Make The movie is opening in art houses all around the Mine? USA. "Short Cut to Nirvana" is opening in cities by Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls

A medicine bag is an ancient item that spiritually represents the person who wears it. In 1991 the body of a man who lived over 5,000 years ago was found frozen in a high mountain range and with him was a medicine bag. The medicine bag is known in all cultures and through out all of history. They contain objects such as leaves, feathers, stones, herbs such as sweetgrass, sage, cedar, lavender or pinion, and other objects which have been added by the wearer and considered spiritually significant. Click Here To Read Article _____________________ Taoism and Sexuality by Rachel Carlton Abrams, M.D. Taoism is a spiritual tradition that embraces our sexual desire and uses it within our bodies as a force for healing and spiritual growth. Desire is a rich and potent part of our human experience. The Taoists think of desire, called sexual energy or jing chi, as part of our life energy, or chi. To be passionate is to be full of chi. The English words "desire" or "passion" connote a feeling of yearning and fervor that includes sex, but they also reflect our strongest feelings about life. When we are passionate about anything--our family, our work, our spirituality, an important social cause--we are investing our chi in this experience. Our passion is what moves us to action and ultimately is what gives us joy. We are passionate about the things that matter most to us.

nationwide. Check for theatres details on www.ShortCutToNirvana.com to know more about the film and to see the movie trailer.

More Articles & Education


The View from Nebo: How Archeology is Rewriting the Bible & Reshaping the Middle East by Amy Dockser Marcus The history of the Israelites begins with the story of a family, the personal odyssey of Abraham, his wife Sarah, their son Isaac and his wife Rebecca, their grandson Jacob, and Jacob's twelve sons. Throughout the Bible, but especially in its first five books Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy we follow every detail of their increasingly complex lives, sharing their betrayals, deceptions, and multitude of sins. Only much later, after a miraculous escape from slavery in Egypt, a fortyyear sojourn in the desert, and their conquest of Canaan, is it clear that somewhere along the way this family has become a dynasty and, finally, a nation. Click Here To Read Article _____________________ What is a Spiritual Gathering? by Carol Bedrosian

I would like to share how enjoyable it has been for me to go to various spiritual gatherings over the Click Here To Read Article past few years because Harvest Gathering is just around the corner in September. Since organizing ____________________ the first Harvest Gathering three years ago, I have attended many other spiritual gatherings in the US and Canada and have been renewed and inspired at each and every one. Some of this inspiration has What Is A Power Song And Where Do I Get One? fueled my own personal transformation in large ways and small, while at the same time it has by Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls helped me clarify the purpose and best way to work with bringing the gathering to New England each Power Songs are oral prayers expressing your true year. self, your nature, your individuality, your power. All cultures have power songs but you can have your Click Here To Read Article own power song too. We think of the power in a ___________________ hymn or an African chant, a Shamanic ceremony song or even in the howling of wolf. And there is Talking Flute: An interview with Rick Roberts, definite power in sound. Native American Style Flute Maker and

Click Here To Read Article ____________________

Musician. by Carol Bedrosian As with most magical events in life, a series of flirtations with synchronicity brought Rick Roberts to the door of Spirit of Change. Two months ago. Just as I typed in the last word for a classified ad seeking an office manager, the phone rings. It's Linda Roberts, Rick's wife, inquiring about employment. "Does Spirit of Change, by any chance, have any office positions open?" she asks. Click Here To Read Article

Field Notes On The Compassionate Life by Marc Ian Barasch Life offers up its own daily catechism, even if it's just seeing people in a little better light. Why not just resolve to give everyone the benefit of the doubt? "If we treat people as they ought to be," said Goethe, almost nailing it, "we help them become what they are capable of becoming." Or more to the point: Treat them as they already are, if we but had the Good Eye to see it. Click Here To Read Article
____________________ African Spirits by David Angel For many people the idea of African medicine or traditional healing is shrouded in a haze of mystery and magical heathen rituals. In reality, what is involved is learning the secrets of an enormous variety of natural and medicinal plants and other natural processes that have undergone the test of time. Many generations have experienced the value of African remedies, both for medicinal and spiritual reasons. Click Here to Read Article ____________________

_____________________
The Shape of Things To Come: Shapeshifting With John Perkins An interview by Carol Bedrosian For the past two decades John Perkins has visited, lived with and learned about indigenous culture from several tribes in the rainforests of the Amazon and Andes. In his three books detailing his experiencesThe World Is As You Dream It, Psychonavigation and most recently, Shapeshifting (Destiny Books)John has shared much of the wisdom he has learned from tribal people in hopes of creating a "dreamchange" that can move us away from the industrial world's dream of dominating and harnessing nature... Click Here To Read Article ____________________ Some Might Call Me A Shaman by Trish Casimira As a shamanic practitioner and a teacher of shamanism, I am often asked how one becomes a shaman and how, indeed, I became one. I was chosen. Click Here To Read Article

Happiness by Swami Sunirmalananda What is Happiness?

_____________________

Plant Spirit Healing What is happiness? Happiness is a pleasant feeling by Sage Blue in the mind. I eat a sweet. It brings a pleasant sensation to my mind. I hear good music that I like. In our back woods there is an old cedar grove. For

This brings a pleasant sensation in mind. I call all this happiness. When, again, I eat the same sweet, and hear the same music when a tragedy has occurred in my life, I dont enjoy it. If my relative has passed away, and if someone plays the same music that I like most, I will say: Stop it! I hate this! The same music fails to bring joy and happiness. Click Here To Read Article

many years, I would sit within the grove and talk to the cedars and to pray. One day I asked the cedar trees what they would like from me. The answer was immediate and clear: Please give us pictures of all the other trees that we hear from, but have never seen. Click Here To Read Article ____________________

____________________ Animal Spirit Guides and Totems by Lisa H. Animal spirit totems can be viewed in different ways according to each of us as individual people. The basic principle of an animal totem is an animal spirit who gives us insight into ourselves, a glimpse of the divine powers at work in our world, and can transcend us to a place of healing for ourselves and other people. Click Here To Read Article ____________________ An interview with Jimi Two Feathers / Co-founder of Earth Drum Council by Carol Bedrosian CAROL: Is there such a thing as non-native people? JIMI: I don't think so. The question is native from where? Also, where do you think you are from and where do you feel connected to? I can say I am native to Cambridge, Massachusetts, because I've been here all my life. I look around and I see a lot of other people that I do not consider to be native to this area. That's a judgment on my part because I have been here for X amount of years and you have only been here for a fraction of that.

Life Beyond The River: Kabbalistic Guidance for Our Times Click Here To Read Interview by Rabbi Michael Ozair _______________ While there continues to be enough violence and The Story of Harvest Gathering insanity in our post election world right now to by Carol Bedrosian, founder of Harvest Gathering warrant the urgent need for any shift in consciousness that we can gather, there are no Three years ago in August I attended the hints of this shift in consciousness in the International Primal Association's annual summer newspapers or political front. conference in Elmer, New Jersey. During a workshop with Oscar Miro-Quesada, I was Click Here To Read Article introduced to shamanic journeying, visioning and trance techniques in the Inca tradition. The experience of this direct connection with spirit was so powerful and so loving that I felt I had been altered by it permanently. The feelings lasted all day ____________________ and even into the night as I was preparing to leave. Click Here To Read Article Is it Possible? Seeking The Truth by Swami Sunirmalananda Can you ride a bicycle and lift it simultaneously? Can you see or know the source of a river while ___________________ Shamanism as a Path of Service Interview with Morwen Two Feathers

rushing along its current? You may call this silly, and say nobody does that. But we are doing this all the time. Click Here To Read Article ____________________ A Vision of Life in Atlantis by Juanita Hinds It is believed that Atlantis did not always exist beneath the ocean's waves. Many believe that, previously, it was a city like any other in that it lay situated above the sea, but unlike any other in its splendor and luxury. At the time, it was the city of cities, rich and incalculable, a feast of the arts, sciences and technology. Travelers came from all the corners of the earth to visit and left with anecdotes of wonder at all Atlantis had to offer. Click Here To Read Article ____________________ God Disguised As You by Michael Berg

by Carol Bedrosian CAROL: I understand that your primary interest is in creating a healing space for council around issues of cultural division and the propriety of sacred rites and rituals. My personal feeling is that it is very necessary for a bridge to be built at this time because our white culture is so shut off from our earth-centered roots and this is what has hastened our disregard for the planet and spirituality in general. Click Here To Read Article ___________________ Maitreya - An Extraordinary Being: An Interview with Wayne Peterson by Carol Bedrosian For about seven or eight years, Spirit of Change has received news articles about positive social and political changes happening around the globe from an organization called Share International. I always appreciated receiving this information which checked out to be well-grounded and researched, and I published several articles over the years.

The guard at the prison gate is utterly ruthless. Click Here To Read Article Brutal treatment of prisoners has proceeded for millennia, so now the prisoners are beaten, ____________________ hopeless, huddling on their cots, staring out through the bars of their cells. A good day is simply one Women Returning Home to Mother Earth endured without pain. by Florence Gaia, RN, M.Ed. Click Here To Read Article Not far from the white topped peaks of the Continental Divide we walked round the bend of a ____________________ wide grassy trail and stepped into the bright summer light of a Rocky Mountain meadow. My Running Into Magic breath caught. The beautiful sight ahead took me to by Larry Alboher another time 150 years or more ago: grass as high as your hip, four tipis with strips of colored fabric fluttering from pole tops, a large council tipi in the The day began with a routine morning jog and north corner of the meadow, a small moon lodge tipi ended with my initiation into timeless mystery and at the south end, and a big fire pit in the meadow's center. mind-bending magic.

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Peace Pagoda Tales

The Steps As Sila by Kevin Griffith

by Ken Pratt

Many years ago in the mid-80's, it was my good fortune to help create the first peace pagoda in the In Buddhism the initial, purifying stage of spiritual Western Hemisphere, located in North Leverett, development is called sila, usually translated as morality or virtue -- what one teacher calls "cleaning Massachusetts. Following are just a few of the stories from those days. But first, I should explain a up your act." This involves living an ethical life; little bit about peace pagodas and the monks and treating others and ourselves with kindness; and nuns who build and maintain them. letting go of destructive behaviors. In Buddhist teachings, sila is formalized in the Five Lay Precepts -- and number five is "I take the training to There Once Was A World: A 900-Year Chronicle of the Shtetl of Eishyshok abstain from alcohol and drugs which make me heedless." So, guess what? The Buddha didn't think The Quest For Eishyshok: Restoring A Vanished Past getting loaded was that good an idea either -- the by Yaffa Eliach Twelve Steps are, in fact, sila. In August 1979 I was on my way to Russia, in the midst of a fact-finding mission to Eastern Europe. As a member of President Carter's Holocaust Shamanic smudgingor just smudgingis an age- Commission, which was charged with making a old tribal tradition which has been used for centuries recommendation for an appropriate United States memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, I had to create harmony and peace. There are many spent several days traveling to the various capitals different shamanic smudging ceremonies, and different tribes use a variety of herbs for smudging. of the Holocaust KingdomWarsaw, Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Plaszow among them. Now, flying south of Vilna (Vilnius), on a plane from Click Here To Read Article Warsaw to Kiev, I became aware that somewhere beneath the clouds lay the town of Eishyshok, home __________________ to the early years of my brief, interrupted childhood. Shamanic Smudging by Stephanie Yeh Yoga And World Peace by Megan McDonough Last week my husband and I went to war with each other. It was nothing as dramatic as a divorce or separation; just a commonplace marital spat with intense emotion behind it. It all started with what should have been a joyous occasion: a trip to the maternity ward to visit a nephew and his wife who had just given birth to their new son. Click Here To Read Article ____________________ Ancient Answers for Modern Problems: The Toltec TraditionAnswers For Today From an Ancient Way by Dr. Susan Gregg If any ancient wisdom held the answer we would already have the solution to our problems. As Basho so eloquently said, Don't seek to follow the footsteps of the men of old, seek what they sought Click Here To Read Article __________________ Seeing The Light Through The Heart Of An Indian: An Interview With Frank DeContie by Carol Bedrosian I first met Frank DeContie and his wife Sandra at our very first Harvest Gathering in 1997. Frank is an Algonquin ceremonial medicine keeper from Kitigan Zibi Reserve in Maniwaki, Quebec who received his teachings from elders and speaks his native language. He is also a substance abuse counselor and works in healing circles for people of all races. Frank is the first native person I have come to know who lives in a native community on a reserve, a life experience which has long disappeared from the landscape of many places in America, and from which we have much to learn with regards to the spiritual evolution of humanity and the healing of our planet. Click Here To Read Article

instead. The Toltec tradition is incredibly rich in tools that encourage you to develop a profound connection to your inherent wisdom, power, goodness, and divinity. As you transform your life they assist you in finding your answers within yourself. These tools do require effort as well as discipline and dedication but I can guarantee you that if you use them magic will occur, your life will be transformed, and nothing will ever be the same. Click Here To Read Article ___________________ Halloween, It's More Than You Know by Lynn Kent There is a great history surrounding the American Halloween custom as we know it today. It is one of the worlds oldest holidays and is celebrated in many countries around the globe. Click Here To Read Article ___________________ Real Spirituality by Eric Shapiro My fiance and I frequent a restaurant in L.A. called Real Food Daily. The concept behind the name is that their food which is unprocessed, abundantly nutritious, and lovingly prepared is more authentic, more "real," than most other food. This claim is at once silly and wise. Silly because philosophers have argued about the true nature of "reality" for centuries. Wise because it's an admissible philosophy that the closer something is to its source, the more "real" it is. Click Here To Read Article ___________________ Conquering Epilepsy With Maharishi Vedic Approach To Health by Alex Kachan Epilepsy is a tough health disorder. These of you who have it know. I was diagnosed in 1990, during my military service in the Israeli army when I began having sudden seizures, which would make my body shack violently, lose control over my bladder

____________________ An Argument For Religious Pluralism by Audrey Pearson When I was a child growing up within the Roman Catholic Church I believed, like those indoctrinating me, that we were utterly, unequivocally, superior human beings. The idea that this land of separatist thinking went against the very platform of Christianity didn't seem to occur to us. I was taught -that in order to be "saved," the non-Catholics would first have to convert to Catholicism! Yet I was taught in Sunday school that I was to "do unto others as I would have them do unto me." The contradictions, although not consciously noted by me, were taking an unconscious toll on my faith in God/myself. Click Here To Read Article ____________________

and leave me unconscious for hours. As a result I was dismissed from service but although the fatigue and tension associated with military life have ended, the disease kept on. My EEG, though, was normal. The CT scan revealed nothing unusual and so my doctors could not identify the cause. Seizures have come from time to time with no warning and occurred in many embarrassing locations and circumstances... Click Here To Read Article ____________________ Gaia In Our Hearts by Susan Meeker-Lowry As far back as Paleolithic times ancient peoples fashioned clay and stone images of the Great Mother, images with voluptuous breasts and thighs and the protruding belly of a woman who has given birth many times. Her face is often featureless and her head tiny, but her body is full and soft, the essence of fertility and nurturance. Over the course of time the Great Mother was honored and worshipped by virtually every culture. Click Here To Read Article __________________ On The Way: Health, Healing And Symptoms On The Shamanic Path by Alexander Alich We are all looking for our way. This is universal. For some, our search will take us into the field of Shamanism to find something for ourselves. Unfortunately many will come away with more questions than answers. In this article I will share a little about the Shamanic perspective of healing. I hope you will find some answers, understand more about what Shamanism is and what is possible for your health and growth. Click Here To Read Article

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