From time-to-time we have received angry and threatening emails from Native Americans who have felt that we are abusing their sacred traditions. We can understand how they could feel this way - especially in a society that has a long history of abuses against Indians, Africans, Latinos, Orientals, and just about everything around them. Since we do not wish to offend Indian peoples or their most sacred and honorable traditions, we are compelled to clarify our beliefs and practices here at Maggie's Place for the sake of mutual understanding.
As a person of mixed race (Cherokee, Blackfoot, African, Scotch-Irish, English, and Semitic), I am somewhat of a Universal Man. I have grown up in a multi-cultural environment with no deep allegiances to any particular race, religion, or ethnic group. This has afforded me the opportunity to see the positives and negatives of every culture from a place of non-attachment, and to decide for myself what beliefs, ideas, and practices make sense to me - and, therefore, should be incorporated into my own spiritual life. In other words, I have been free to create who I am and what I believe, irregardless of the views of the dominant culture or other subcultures around me.
Being of both a spiritual and a scientific nature, I have studied most of the major faith systems of humanity, as well as most of the modern sciences and contemporary philosophies. I have found in EVERY culture much to be admired and embraced, as well as much that makes me ashamed to be from Planet Earth. Among the spiritual practices from which I have found wisdom and drawn nourishment are:
|African||Drum Circles, Sacred Songs & Dances, Sacred Masks|
|American Indian||Pipe Ceremonies, Powwow, Smudging, Sweat lodge, Talking Stick,
|Australian Aborigine||Didjeridoo, Walkabout, Dreamtime, Songlines|
|Chinese||Taoism, Buddhism, Contemplation|
|East Indian||Yoga, Meditation, Ahimsa (non-violence), Kirtan|
|European||The Bible, True Christianity, Communion, The Eucharist, Celtic Runes,
The Tarot, Scientific Thought
|Semitic||Torah, Old Testament, Mysticism, Seder|
|Mixed||Ancient Wisdom Philosophy|
Since I am not a member of any of these cultures by birth, I could not possibly be a cultural or spiritual representative of any of them. I do not claim to be. Nor do I claim to be a shaman or medicine man or yogi or swami or anything else, other than what I am: a facilitator.
I am merely one who assists others in creating their own personal spiritual practice for themselves.
Regarding the New Age Movement
When I see others trying to find a spiritual path for themselves, I do not condemn them - no matter how far astray they may seem to wander. At least they are looking. In the past people merely accepted the practices of their parents and grandparents without questioning anything. This lead to many erroneous beliefs that held back progress in new knowledge, human relations, and improved technologies. Now we live in a time when new knowledge is instantly available through many sources, but can we integrate this new knowledge into our existing belief systems?
Many people in America are becoming disenchanted with a culture of corporate greed, global hegemony, and cynical materialism. They are desperately trying to find a better, more spiritual way of living for themselves. Yes, some of them are still stuck in merchandising and branding mode, and are trying to capitalize on "New Age trends". And yes, they break out of their repressed society in a hedonistic outburst of sensation seeking. They go to all of the "in" workshops and seminars, and love to have some new spiritual practice to talk about at parties. Writing a book and getting on the Oprah Winfrey show seems to be a goal for some. But at least they are starting to talk about something besides dotComs, 401k's, and the War on Terrorism.
Evolution takes a long time. Mankind is a young species. We have actually come a long way in a few thousand years. It has been a painful journey, and we can still be mean-spirited, vicious predators when aroused. But we are seeking "outside the box" for the first time. We are recognizing that our group doesn't have all of the answers. That other peoples have practices, ideas, and values that can open us to new possibilities. "New Age" philosophy is a first, sloppy attempt at integrating many different cultural modes into something contemporary, nurturing and sustaining. Eventually these people will probably become better allies than the likes of "compassionate conservatives".
Patience. Help them to succeed in their quest. Make room around your fire. Show them the Path with Heart.
"None of us is perfect, and my way is not the only way." "Without forgiveness, there is no future." "I have a dream...". Powerful, soulful words are lingering on the wind. A new day is dawning. The last days of darkness are at hand.
I believe it is time for humanity to link up into a higher spiritual understanding - that we are all seeking Oneness with the Great Spirit that lies behind all things. My prayer is that we will abandon war, and instead feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and heal the sick & wounded. The way forward is not the way back.
And yet, we have left something very important back in the mists of time that we will need in the journey ahead: Faith in the Goodness of the Creator. With many believing that "God is dead", people of faith need to help each other to overcome the one true enemy: materialism. I do not care what religion a man is, only that he senses something greater than himself that he approaches with reverence, compassion, and humility. It is this awareness of the Creator that melts a man's heart and turns a warrior into a peacekeeper. The world will soon be weary of warriors...