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Offline educatedindian

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« on: June 22, 2016, 02:51:24 pm »
Series of films on sacred sites around the world. Also this helpful article.


The Crystal Clear New Age Dilemma

By Toby McLeod — June 15, 2016

How can well-meaning people reconnect to nature in an authentic way that does no harm to indigenous cultures and their sacred places? It may be one of the key questions of our time.

At the very start of a film project, community meetings are key. An outsider proposing to work with native people in sacred places presents a potentially explosive challenge. Listening to elders, teachers, youth, healers and activists is the essence of free, prior and informed consent—and I've spent a fair amount of time listening over the years. In dozens of such meetings, in all parts of the world, when I ask about the biggest concerns that indigenous communities have in terms of threats to their sacred sites, "New Agers" are right up there at the top of the list next to mining, dams and land grabs.

Certainly this is true with the Winnemem Wintu at Mt. Shasta, where the Harmonic Convergence of 1987 opened a floodgate that continues to generate a torrent of visitors. At first it was expensive sweat lodges and vision quests with crystals left all over the mountain and in an important sacred spring. Now it's cremation remains. Responding to this very serious concern led to a memorable scene we filmed for In the Light of Reverence up in Panther Meadows as drum-beating, crystal-packing college students 'loved' the place to death.

In Standing on Sacred Ground we were able to illustrate the same problem on the other side of the planet, when a self-styled European shaman brought (high) paying customers to the most sacred mountain in Russia's Altai Republic, Mt. Belukha, for a healing ceremony. These scenes of cultural appropriation often produce an uncomfortable feeling for film viewers. So, how are outsiders supposed to visit sacred places? Is there any way that is appropriate?

If I can try to sum up what I have been told over the years... Universally, indigenous people work hard to fulfill cultural instructions for the spiritual care of homelands and special places. These traditions are rooted and cannot be moved to another place—or sold or copied. Centuries of racism and violence resulted in invisibility for these cultures, traditions and sacred places on one side, and blindness and denial on the colonizer side. Then, along comes a generation that wants to reconnect with nature and explore the spiritual dimensions of land, water, sky, ancestors, plants and animals. Certainly, there are all levels of "seeking reconnection," but far too many are offensive to native people. Why? What defines appropriation that is disrespectful and dangerous? As Vine Deloria said in our film interview, "It's a serious dilemma."

Every year, California hosts PantheaCon, a gathering of a couple thousand pagans. This year I was invited by Sara Moore and Gwen Turner to show film scenes and organize a dialogue about New Age appropriation of indigenous spirituality and to discuss protocols for visiting sacred places. Ohlone elder Ann Marie Sayers courageously joined me—along with Rachael Watcher and Don Frew of Covenant of the Goddess—for what was a very productive, very respectful conversation. We hope to repeat it for a larger audience at PantheCon 2017. Here is some food for thought, offered during the dialogue by Ann Marie Sayers:

     1)  Contrasting Value Systems:  "One time I went to a sweat lodge led by a non-native, and I had to leave. It was all self-help. Our ceremonies focus on helping the community" — and community includes ancestors, future generations, animals and plants.
     2)  Defining Sacred Sites: "I've asked many indigenous people the meaning of sacred sites. The common denominator is: A place that creates balance and energy and is important to keep energy flowing and balance Mother Earth. These places call for humility and respect."
     3)  Truth in History: "It's important to learn the stories of the place you're in. What treaties are being broken? What's the active injury right now?" Ann Marie's daughter, Kanyon, asked allies to advocate for "truth in history."
     4)  Ancestral Roots: When someone suggested each person should "explore your own tribal roots and learn about your ancestors," Ann Marie commented, "It's like a language. You don't lose language. It can go dormant. But none of you has lost your heritage. Ask your ancestors to help you connect."
     5)  Offer Tobacco: As a basic practice, Ann Marie suggested people offer tobacco and speak aloud to the ancestors. Her prayer: “Ancestors on whose land I stand, please guide me so that my words and actions will honor you—in a way that helps our Mother Earth.”

With great thanks to Ann Marie, I look forward to continuing this important dialogue.

Photo at right shows Jesse Sisk of the Winnemem Wintu cleaning the sacred spring on Mt. Shasta to remove cremation ashes and bone fragments before a ceremony can begin. It's illegal, it's wrong, and it's horrible.

We have set up a YouTube Playlist page with the video clips we screened at the PantheaCon gathering, plus a bonus scene about the Harmonic Convergence at Chaco Canyon that we shot in 1997 for In the Light of Reverence but were not able to include in the film.

Beginning with the Harmonic Convergence, another sacred place—Chaco Canyon, home to ancient Puebloan villages and Great Kivas—has been overwhelmed with inappropriate offerings left by New Age practitioners. While filming In the Light of Reverence, we met archaeologist Wendy Bustard, the National Park Service curator at Chaco Canyon. Park Service staff have to clear away the offerings and catalog and store everything in the Chaco collection. Bustard spent a day with us, displaying an array of New Age offerings and reflecting on why they're considered offensive by native people. Here's the scene we weren’t able to include in the film.

Offline RedRightHand

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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2016, 07:03:20 pm »
Pantheacon's showing of a film about appropriation is an ironic drop in the damage-control bucket, as their convention is wall to wall appropriators and pretendians. Many of the people we've exposed here on NAFPS have presented at Pantheacon, or people taught by them go and claim they can sell ceremony because they were "taught" by the pretendians that fill our fraud section here.

I don't think anyone associated with Pantheacon belongs in non-frauds.

Offline educatedindian

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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2016, 02:24:45 am »
Pantheacon is not under NonFrauds or being endorsed. is, and they have nothing to do with Pantheacon except several NDNs going to one of their gatherings and trying to get through to the people there, with some success. If they reduce the number of abusers, good for them.

Offline educatedindian

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« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2016, 01:28:01 pm »
Film channel.
Spiritual Vultures: Films Explore Cultural Appropriation by New Agers

Rucha Chitnis
“This is a very sacred kiva,” says the late Thomas Banyacya, Hopi Traditional Spokesman, pointing to an ancient sacred site at Casa Rinconada in northwest New Mexico. “We are looking at the spirit of our ancestors… they are here. They are watching us. We hope they will help Native people to protect their land and sacred sites,” he says in a frail voice recorded in archival footage.

Over the past three decades, the Sacred Land Film Project (SLFP) has produced films about how mainstream American culture antagonizes Native American sensibilities around spirituality and sacred sites. Casa Rinconada is one quintessential example—a cultural hub of Ancestral Puebloans, where thousands of New Age seekers gathered for the Harmonic Convergence in 1987, littering the sacred kiva with crystals, cremated human remains and one curious looking teddy bear wax candle.

“They [Native Americans] feel deeply about this issue—that it is disrespectful and a violation of a sacred space. They have asked the Park Service to close Casa Rinconada to the public,” shares Wendy Bustard, Curator of the Chaco Canyon Collection at the National Park Service in a video clip of archival footage that the Sacred Land Film Project is reviving to share stories of New Age appropriation. “Most of our staff is traditional Navajo, which means they avoid anything to do with the dead,” explains Bustard. The kiva was eventually closed to the public after ceremonies to cleanse it from cremated ashes and human remains left behind.

“While producing films on threats to indigenous sacred sites, I spend a lot of time listening to communities all over the world explain the most urgent threats. I've been really struck over the years by the fact that universally, right up there with mining, logging, dams and land grabs, there’s deep concern about New Age appropriation of sacred places, cultural rituals and spiritual traditions,” says Christopher McLeod, Director of SLFP.

In northern California, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe can empathize with the predicament of the Navajo. The Harmonic Convergence also congregated on Mt. Shasta, a mountain deeply sacred to the tribe. “The Harmonic Convergence of 1987 unleashed an overwhelming flood of seekers, hundreds of New Agers leaving crystals and medicine wheels all over the mountain. Later, there were sweat lodges for hire, and now even cremation remains poured into a sacred spring. How do we stop this and redirect this desperate search for meaning and connection?” wonders McLeod.

The Winnemem, known as the Middle Water People, trace their ancestry over millennia along the watershed south of their revered Mt. Shasta. The Winnemem believe they emerged from the spring on Panther Meadow, where New Agers often congregate—drumming and singing and leaving offerings behind, including ashes of the departed.

“We believe this spring is so sacred. We only go there once a year to sing at the doorway of our creation story,” says Chief Caleen Sisk, spiritual leader of the Winnemem Wintu, in Pilgrims and Tourists, a SLFP film that explores the impact of New Age tourism on Native communities in the Russian Altai Republic and Mt. Shasta. “People dumped cremations right into this spring,” she says. “Cremations are a pollutant… everyone downstream is drinking that water. Do you put cremations on the altar in the Vatican?” she asks incredulously.

The Winnemem only visit the spring on Panther Meadow once a year. (Courtesy Christopher McLeod)The Winnemem only visit the spring on Panther Meadow once a year. (Courtesy Christopher McLeod)
Besides cleaning the offerings in the spring, the Winnemem have to contend with thousands of climbers who attempt to summit Mt. Shasta. “On our mountain we have 30,000 visitors,” she says. “Non-indigenous people need to understand that there is a way to be there, a way of walking on that land without destroying it… people can admire the meadow from the edge.”

Ann Marie Sayers, Costanoan Ohlone, believes that contrasting value systems among Natives and non-Natives lead to cultural appropriation. “These places call for humility and respect,” she says.  In another SLFP film clip posted as part of a five-clip playlist on YouTube, a white woman naively claims that in her past life she has been black, Native American, Chinese and Egyptian and should not be denied access to Native sacred sites.

“New Agers look at traditional Native [cultures] for some answers to their spiritual bankruptcy. In an effort to find themselves, they are appropriating a lot of Native belief systems, to plug into for a weekend,” says Chris Peters (Pohlik-lah/Karuk) in a film clip from SLFP’s 2001 film, In the Light of Reverence.

The Winnemem say their ceremony is delayed every year, because the spring has to be cleaned from the offerings left behind. As the Winnemem youth remove bone fragments and cremation ashes from the spring, Chief Sisk remarks, “People can live without oil. They can live without gold, but nothing can live without water.”