Recovering An Indigenous View of the World: Reflections on A Cree Sundance – Post 1

* How can a person immersed in western society recover an indigenous worldview? What are the ways that indigenous and non-indigenous people can build bridges of mutual appreciation and understanding? Can building such bridges help create shifts and a transformation toward a more holistic, ecological, spiritual, resilient and life affirming approach?

Overview

In this series of posts, of which this one is the first, I share about my experience of participating in a Cree Sundance near Calgary, Canada. POST 1: Rather than going right into describing the experience I reflect on the generative and challenging tensions that are part of crossing cultural boundaries and world views and why it is important to explore them. POST 2: Here I describe what I experienced as part of allowing myself to become deeply immersed into the Cree Sundance. POST 3: Finally, I speak about my personal intentions for going and how it is deepening my inner healing journey and personal growth. It explores the theme of forgiveness without approval in the face of misuse of power and authority.

POST 1: RECOVERING AN INDIGENOUS VIEW OF THE WORLD

Inclusion: A Necessary Step toward Collaboration

A few weeks ago, […]

A Year of Leading Change with The Metropolitan Council – An Invitation

Gisela & David introduce the Grove’s facilitation model.

Recently as part of my role at The Grove Consultants International, I had the opportunity to work with the Metropolitan Council  in the twin city of Minnesota to them help them develop their internal process and change leadership capability. I partnered with David Sibbet and together we designed and co-led a one-year Leading Change Program for 20 of their emerging leaders. The program was successful all around and we feel encouraged to offer it again.

Below is a look inside the program and what we did to embed it into the organization in order to build capacity by addressing existing change challenges the organization was already facing. If this approach, learning by doing and doing by learning, resonates with you, and you would like to support such a program within your organization or are interested in participating in a public offering of this program, we invite you to write to us.

Our Client

The Metropolitan Council is a regional body, overseeing all of Minneapolis-St. Paul’s wastewater, transit system, […]

Rites of Passages and Wisdom Emerging

A couple of months ago I participated in the Wisdom Emerging retreat at IONS with Alan Briskin, Lauren Artress and Angeles Arrien. I began making the painting above during the retreat’s expressive arts process and completed it a couple of weeks later. The painting symbolizes significant aspects of the rite of passage that I am currently in. Here are my thoughts about the making of the painting and what it represents. As always I welcome your comments and questions.

Technique and Australian Symbolism

The painting is made within the art tradition of the Eastern Arrernte People of the Central Desert in Australia. I have been very inspired by the art of Kathleen Kemarre Wallace. She uses extremely bright colors and very intricate designs to tell the story of her people and her land. It is worth mentioning here that there are tight protocols about who can produce Aboriginal art. I have had to deal with this issue since I began exploring Aboriginal art making when I first moved to Australia. It is very important to state here that my art is not Aboriginal art. My art has primarily been an inquiry into Aboriginal culture. […]

Altered States or Altered Realities

When I first became introduced into indigenous spiritual healing traditions, I began to experience things that were out of the ordinary and outside of the rules of modern western conventions that I grew up with. Many of these extraordinary experiences deeply resonated with me and somehow they felt familiar. There was a part in me that recognized the wisdom, knowledge and healing powers present in these ancient practices. However when trying to articulate and research my experiences, I often wondered whether or not what I was experiencing was real or imagined. Was I actually entering different realities, worlds and places or did I simply shift into an altered state of consciousness or awareness? After some research into these questions I realized that whether something is called altered ‘state’ or alternate ‘reality’ depends on the cosmology or ontology that one uses to understand, interpret or relate to an experience.

Cosmology & Ontology

A cosmology is a set of beliefs about how the universe works and ontology seeks to define the nature of being, existence and reality. Both of these belief systems can vary dramatically from one culture to the next and profoundly shape how […]

That Old Man

In only a few minutes, this video conveys in powerful images and simple language how the Aboriginal people and their ‘country’, their art and their stories, and their songs and ceremonies are part of one another and, in fact, inseparable. Watching this film, I am reminded of Gregory Bateson’s comment that the aesthetic, the whole and the sacred evoke each other.

Having just returned from the Central Desert the second time and participating in Women’s Business at some very special sacred sites, I have begun to grasp in a new way what the notion of homeland or ‘country’ may mean to the Aboriginal people and how healing the land is healing ourselves.

Enjoy this glimpse into a completely different kind of human relationship to the natural environment, visible or not.

This post was originally published in my blog Liminal Songlines. The intention of that blog was to help capture my initial understanding of the spiritual healing traditions of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia while I lived in Australia from 2009 to 2012. Much of what I learned there is relevant to my continuing explorations of […]

Dreamtime or Time for Dreaming – Two

Dreamtime

Sometime after the painting Incubation: Lizard Dreaming was done, I looked online to find any references to animal totems in Australian Aboriginal culture. This is when I gained my first real understanding of the concept of Dreamtime. The English word ‘Dreamtime’ is a significant idea that tries to capture how aboriginal people relate to their period of creation that are expressed in their many tribal and land specific creation stories. Generally, Dreamtime refers to the time of creation, the time before time, when the world came into being. It was during the creation period when ancestral beings created landforms such as lagoons and mountain ranges as well as the first plants and animals.

Aboriginal people often interpret dreams as a memory of things that happened during this Creation Period and consider dreams as a means to transport us back to Dreamtime. The term “Dreamtime” in Aboriginal mythology is not really about a person having a dream or a vision but rather a dream is a reference to this Creation Period. Given this understanding, for example, this incubation time in my life, where I am nurturing a vision for my future and receive […]

Parliament of World Religions – Two

(This is the second part of a two-part post.)

After the introductory remarks to the session Maama—The Untouchables Ones: From Cave to Canvas, several aboriginal elders invited us to participate in a smoking ceremony. What I gleaned from these aborigines about the ritual is that whenever they leave their land and enter another, they seek protection by burning special herbs and woods. The smoking ritual also protects those with whom they share their tradition – without doing the smoking ritual the aborigines would feel responsible for any misfortune or illness would come to the others.

I was rather surprised but also pleased when I saw the elders create a rather large billowing of smoke in the corner of this small conference room. Each one of us was invited to step through the smoke and breathe it in. The smoke was thick and the smell intense. Within moments the smoke penetrated the entire room and settled on our bodies. After some time and to no one’s surprise, a fire marshal entered the room to investigate the situation. At that point […]

Parliament of World Religions – One

In November 2009 I attended the Parliament of World Religions in Melbourne. The program offered hundreds of sessions for roughly 7,000 conference participants. Each day provided numerous sessions focused on indigenous and aboriginal culture. For me, attending these sessions became a fast-track introduction to the cultural practices and issues facing Australian aborigines from their perspective.

One session was led by several Ngarinyin elders of the North-West Kimberly region and was entitled Maama—The Untouchables Ones: From Cave to Canvas. The session introduced us to a Ngarinyin art project currently underway which involved participants in one of the Ngarinyin people’s essential ceremonies. This ceremony inadvertently surfaced one of many dilemmas that can mark attempts to share practices across industrialized and earth-based cultures.

Maama refers to images in ancient cave paintings of their God Wanjina who created the immutable law of the land that governs many aspects of their traditional lives.

Until recently the cave art was ‘untouchable’ and only shown to members of the Ngarinyin communities, and sometimes not even to them. A Caucasian woman who has worked with these aborigines for some years opened the session. As a creative director, she supports the Ngarinyin’s effort to […]