Recovering an Indigenous View of the World: The Sundance – Post 2

The Sundance Ceremony of the North American Great Plains People (which includes territories of the Cree people in Canada) is a prayer for life, the renewal of the world and thanksgiving. Dancers make spiritual and physical offerings to ensure the well-being of others.

Overview

In Post 1, I wrote about the possibility of recovering an indigenous view of the world and how building bridges of understanding between indigenous and non-indigenous people can help create shifts toward a more holistic, ecological, spiritual, resilient and life affirming approach.

In this post, The Sundance, I share my personal experiences participating in the ceremony. I describe shifts in my awareness, my felt sense, and the energetic movements I experienced. Several times, I apply what I have come to understand from my long-time exploration of ceremonial practices to my experience of the Sundance. I also share a few comments about the traditional meaning and purpose of the Sundance while trying to avoid details that I feel are not mine to share, especially as as a non-Cree and non-Native

I offer this post to give a sense of what it is like to encounter an indigenous view of the world by participating […]

Rites of Passages: Pivoting at the Edge with Spirit

Please feel free to download Understanding Rites of Passages. for a more conceptual overview, its traditional use and application to our contemporary experiences of change. It also provides a few essential references.

 

Change is central to the human experience. Its patterns and rhythms follow ancient archetypal processes that can be observed wherever a death and birth cycle takes place—in nature or the human community. Indigenous traditions have a rich repertoire of knowledge about these archetypal processes and have developed practices that support individuals and communities to more fully and consciously engage, guide and work with the momentum that is present in change. Rites of passage is one of those archetypal processes. Compared to many contemporary models of change this model acknowledges the centrality of the spiritual nature that is at the core of transformative change.

Recently I led a session on Rites of Passage for the Sydney’s Facilitators Network that was entitled Change Agents at the Gates of Transformation: Using an Ancient Approach to Harness the Vital Forces in Contemporary Experiences of Change. I designed the session so that the participants could explore an experience of change […]

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 […]

Direct Knowing

Several days ago I was reading Yorro Yorro: Everything Standing Up Alive. Mowaljarlai, an Aboriginal Elder from Australia and co-author of the book, shares through describing his personal experiences and the many stories he tells how he directly interacts with nature and how the natural world  teaches him and can teach us and feel fully alive.

Mowaljarlai’s description landed for me inside a perspective I’d cultivated studying with Juan Nunez del Prado, a Peruvian Mestizo and p’aqo (shaman/priest) several years back. I am struck by how Mowaljarlai and Juan help us see how we can know the world through our senses, and what phenomenologists call direct encounter with nature, a way of knowing that is unmitigated by the intellect.

In the Western world, a direct way of knowing has largely been undervalued and our capacity for relying on and working with our subjective experience has been greatly diminished. For centuries, with the rise of industrialization, we have put emphasis on knowledge processes that rely mostly on objective and scientific observation, and conceptual representation rather than subjective, embodied experience. My own work managing the tensions in our knowledge processes between subjective to objective now […]