I’ve been writing blogs since 2010 and suddenly about 3 years ago, I lost interest. Part of it was because I started noticing my concept and insights popping up in the works of others in the field. I’ve always told my students that the beauty of Shamanism is that it doesn’t belong to anyone. There’s no cultural or spiritual appropriation to Shamanism. In fact Shamanism can be traced back to early humans and it basically translates an intrinsic connection between humans, nature and the stars.
Many years ago I had the opportunity to observe and study Ravens. I’ve referred to this story often in previous blog entries since it brought me a wealth of inspiration and life lessons. I noticed that like humans Ravens care for the sick, the elderly and fiercely protect their young. They follow the shifts in nature and cosmology, so much so that our ancestors kept a vigilant eye on these birds as messengers of what they called “natural doom”.You could say — most animals are incredibly alert and aware of climate change.In countless ways I recognized through experience and repetition that animals like humans follow Shamanic practices making it a reality that is applied to life rather than humanity.
I had to ask myself the question whether my reaction to the appropriation of my concepts was due to a sense of possessiveness or was I simply indoctrinated like most in North American culture to believe that my identity and self worth was wrapped up in what I had discovered and created outside the norm? Did I perceive these concepts as material and like Westerners felt entitled to them? Or was there something more behind it all….
As most of you know I’m a traditionalist. On the paternal side of my family I share blood with Mi’kmaq, Wabanaki and Onondagas, Iroquois ancestors. It has been an important part of my journey to identify “traditional” teachings through mundane and unconscious daily exchanges and chores with kin. Culture is not something anyone formerly learns. It’s interwoven in the fabric of our lives. For many of us who didn’t grow up on reserves for countless reasons, it’s often difficult to feel included in our Native culture. It’s an adverse reaction due to a history of Genocide.
My mother was part English and Italian. Whenever we would meet English or Italian tourists she would quickly and proudly share that she was also English and Italian. Each time people would react with enthusiasm asking for the names of her ancestors and curiously asking where they were born. Often Italians would utter the words “benvenuto in famiglia” (welcome to the family) as if our blood was naturally kin to their blood, no questions asked. Numerous times we were welcomed into families (neighbours or friends) simply because we shared ancestral Italian or English connections. It meant the World to my mother to be received as Italian because her father although Italian had been an orphan. He harboured resentment towards his Italian heritage and family. Since he carried his Italian heritage in name only, my mother didn’t receive any cultural Italian upbringing. Ironically, she was able to receive her upbringing later in life and not from blood relations.
Amazingly, 5 out of 6 people I interviewed during the course of 30+ years admitted feeling deprived of a cultural upbringing and expressed feeling a deep sense of emptiness because of it.In Shamanism the tribal or collective aspect of our specie is an important part of who we are in essence. It’s crucial to our journey towards a physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual wholeness and wellness.
These days children learn there are many different kinds of families. Some created by married, monogamous parents, single moms or dads, grandparents, same sex parents, foster homes and adoptions. Families come in different packages. The same applies to cultural communities. We can no longer depend on traditional means when it comes to culture…
I realized that part of the reason why I stopped writing a few years ago was attributed to my cultural story. It took a lot of time and effort to get to a point in my life where I feel proud, confident and truly connected to my ancestry. What I share and teach through my writings, lectures, classes or workshops isn’t only about concepts, it’s about why they apply, and how deeply they influence our personal and collective matrix. At some level I do feel “I own” these notions through my personal experiences and I can’t understand how others can feel justified in taking them on, and teaching them simply after reading my blog?
I also discovered through exploring this writer’s block that I have idealistic illusions; which a part of me doesn’t want to let go. I believe in a World where people respect each other, honour each other’s unique skills, and work together towards a common ground.I guess it’s not a surprise that I’ve devoted my life to the idea of “collectivity”. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt through the last 50 years is that we can’t control the will of others. I certainly can’t stop people from making the choices they make or adopt the attitudes, attributes or behaviours they adopt. All I can do is share my story and my intentions as clearly as I can hence my return to writing blog entries.
I welcome everyone to read our blog and to put to use many of our teachings of the Wheel and Dreaming. I’d appreciate if ever you decide to quote us or bring some of our teachings to your own circles to simply refer to us and our story. In my World it means “thanking Spirit and the ancestors for clearing the way or illuminating our path.” This simple gesture of honouring those who came before us and will come after us anchors us, and our role in a greater Wheel. It’s a humble ritual; which will touch our deepest personal essence. Try it out and you may be surprised with the results!
Please don’t hesitate to ask questions and even suggest topics for future blog entries. I take everyone’s feedback seriously and it warms my heart to connect to you all at some level.
~ Lisa F. Tardiff