Author Topic: Gwaewael  (Read 10624 times)


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« on: June 17, 2012, 12:30:40 am »
Hi, I'm a white female 59 year-old New Age eclectic neopagan.

I once purchased some copal and took it home and burned it.  It had no spiritual effect; all it did was fill my apartment with smoke, so I never bought any more.  Later, I purchased an anthropological study of some Mayan Indians in the highlands of Guatemala.  The author really did live with these Indians, learn their language, and was trained by one of them as a day-keeper (a type of indigenous religious specialist).  One of the things I remember vividly from the book is how often the people were burning copal in the communal fire.  This book brought these people to life for me, and now I feel creepy about having used copal.  It's a sacred resin from Guatemala.  I shouldn't use it.

Unfortunately, other Indians are still shadows to me, so I don't have this impression about other sacred objects.  (Wait, this could change.  I just had "The Sacred" handed to me.  It says on the cover that it "offers an uncommonly wide-ranging consideration of the ways in which Native Americans view the world, their place in it, and their responsibilities to it."  So far, it doesn't sound plastic, although "wide-ranging" seems problematic.  There's a lot of tribes out there.)

Vine Doloris Jr. devoted a lot of words in his book "Custer Died for Your Sins" (What, is it wrong to buy books?  Why does Mr. Doloris write?) to the proposition that anthropologists are either foolish or evil.  I disagree with him.  Some anthropologists are foolish or evil, but others make people real.

Offline Defend the Sacred

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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2012, 06:05:39 pm »
Welcome Gwaewael,

Recently I met a woman who proudly told me that her white "shamanism" teacher, an anthropologist, spent a whole month living with a South American tribe, and now he travels the world, presenting seminars on how white people can also be shamans. This woman paid him thousands of dollars, and all she learned was that she should feel welcome to barge in to Native People's ceremonies, and that for the right amount of money, anyone's culture was there for the pillaging. She also learned that white people with disposable income are more spiritual than NDNs. Traditional NDNs spend decades, or a lifetime, learning to lead the ceremonies properly; not everyone who is immersed and trained earns the right. But now she believes outsiders don't have to be trained and vetted, they can just buy their way in.

I'll simply say now what I said to her, "Indigenous people can and do speak for themselves. They can and do choose what is appropriate to share with outsiders. We don't need to listen to outsiders who "study" Indigenous people. We can simply listen to NDNs."

There are plenty of NDNs here, and reading the board should help clarify things.

Since this is more an intro post than a discussion of Aldred's article, I'm going to move this to Intros. :)

Re: Gwaewael
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2012, 07:11:05 pm »
Everyone has their own opinions, and mine do not reflect anyone's but my own.

I don't believe in reading books on spiritual matters. I believe people write books on spiritual
matters to make money, well, also because they may have experienced a small something and
are obsessed with it and their minds "think" and talk telling them they have to share this and
that they are now some how imbued with spiritual knowledge and *have* to share it with the
whole world. Really, that's so ego it's not funny.

I believe books are meant for either entertainment, or for knowledge of the world/cultures
and/or intellect, but not for knowledge of the spiritual. I believe the spiritual can only be
experienced, and that running around telling all the world of one's spiritual experience,
dissolves it into nothing more than a dust of incomplete memory and thus made up creativity
of the mind only.

After all, once a person has rid their self of their one small spiritual experience by yapping it out
all over the place, they certainly can't then turn around and tell all their fans that they no
longer know it.. or that it's incomplete and they had to fill in the gaps with creativity.. if they
did, the money would stop coming in.

My advice always to anyone seeking spiritual knowledge is to throw away the books. It's hard
enough dealing with the mind's constant me me me ego without tossing in ideas of things that
are at best erroneous and at worse damaging.

You don't know how many people I've met who believe they have spiritual knowledge because
they read it in a book. Not only do they think they know, they believe they've experienced it.
The mind is so full of trickery and so, that is the basis of why I hold this opinion.

I have never met anyone who has spiritual knowledge who has learned it from a book.

press the little black on silver arrow Music, 1) Bob Pietkivitch Buddha Feet

Offline wolfhawaii

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Re: Gwaewael
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2012, 09:32:37 pm »
Native people have their own independent reality and do not have to depend on anthropologists to "make" them real. Examining own's own attitudes is always worthwhile.

Offline freddier

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Re: Gwaewael
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2012, 03:59:26 am »
Hello Gwaewael. To me, spirituality is mostly personal and "lived". I doubt it can be taught or bought. It has to make personal sense to the person who has the experience.

Some people might grow their spirituality in church, or on a personal quest, but it's your own personal experience, your own way, and yours to keep. I don't think you can become a shaman or curandero just by going and living with other people like that.  That's what I think, but I'm just learning right now.

Offline earthw7

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Re: Gwaewael
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2012, 12:12:44 pm »
Welcome to the site Gwaewael, I want to say sorry if i offend you in anyway it is not my intention to do that
I am very protective of the spiritual ways of my people.
So I will start off with Our enrolled member Vine Deloria Jr. Who was born on my reservation the Standing Rock Sioux Nation
and we have always been very proud of him. He taught me our treaties when i was young; he was an amazing man. All you
would have to ask a native what we think of anthropologists they come live among for a short time make decision
about what they see which are usually wrong and then write about it so the world gets all this misinformation.
In the old days we would laugh at them as they came to our reservation and our people would tell them anything
and we would have a good laugh later only to find out that they would write it as facts. A lesson we learn,
Yes we feel that it is wrong to use our sacred objects unless you understand, i find that non-native are always looking
for a quick fix when it comes to their lives so they go every where looking for it when it was always inside of you.
a person who goes to church and really believes in the same as a buddhist who follows their and really believes,
Those who do not look with in themselves for the answer try a look for a quick fix

« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 12:15:07 pm by earthw7 »
In Spirit