Respecting and Honoring Yourself – and Your Religious Choices

Respecting and Honoring Yourself – and Your Religious Choices

Author:   nasionnaich 

How many of you have ever used religious rituals that are not your own? I have, and now that I have learned why I should not have, I deeply regret having used them. Oh, I don’t mean rituals that are a part of the culture of a place you are visiting, so you feel “obligated” to participate out of respect towards your host. I mean rituals that you have decided to incorporate into your own “brand” of religious belief and/or spirituality. You know, taking bits and pieces of something and using them in a way that “fits your style” — without proper instruction on the meaning behind the ritual (as well as where, when and how to do it) .

For more than 20 years, I have been learning about the various aspects of various religions, and trying to find my own particular Spiritual Path. I have never deliberately intended to be disrespectful towards any religion or spirituality — I have always had good intentions as my motive for learning. Well, I may have been disrespectful anyway, no matter the reason for doing it, no matter the “good intentions”.

A little history on one part of the subject may be in order — specifically, Native American Indian religious and spiritual rituals — as a way of actually illustrating what I intend to convey. I apologize in advance if any of it seems “disjointed” or “rambling”; I am not at all used to this essay-writing thing (I always had problems writing essays when I was in school, too) , so please, bear with me. (Just so you know, I am a “Native American”, I was born in “America” – but I am not a Native American Indian. Yes, there is a difference.)

Back when the Europeans first came to the Western Hemisphere, they found a number of very distinct Cultures and Peoples with rich traditions of their own, including complex religions and a deeply ingrained spirituality, which permeated the entire social structure of each region. Of course, being the “Good Christians” they were, those Europeans felt bound by their Duty towards their Church to change or eradicate what they didn’t like or understand. And they made no real efforts to truly understand what they didn’t like.

The Christian missionaries were usually the first to “study” the Native American Indian rituals, and they promptly decided that the rituals were “Satanic” in nature — most after having “studied” those rituals for less than one year. Fast-forward more than 500 years, and most Christian churches still have no true understanding of what the rituals really mean. (I place much of the blame on the Christian missionaries and anthropologists, who tend to “interpret” things strictly according to their Christian up-bringing…never mind what they actually see or are told.)

But there are many non-Christian groups (and individual Christians) who have realized that “Satan” has nothing to do with the Native American Indian rituals and spirituality, and have been working towards a full acceptance of the “Native American Church” — a loose conglomeration of religious practices and beliefs which happen to share a common set of central beliefs, but followers of which never called themselves a “church” prior to the 20th Century.

These “hippies”, as they were once known in the 1960s and 1970s, as a means of “promoting” Native American Indian spirituality decided on their own to selectively “adopt” Native American Indian religious and spiritual rituals, rarely fully understanding the meanings and the social importance of those rituals in what are very specific settings.

They learned the rituals from reading what the Christian missionaries and anthropologists wrote. I did, too, to a large extent. Later, I found how wrong many of those descriptions really are.

The Sun Dance, for example, is done only at certain times during the Summer months, and it is to help the men of the community know what it is like to give birth — they endure a great amount of pain and privation which most “White Men” can only imagine; it has little, if anything, to do with any so-called “sun worship”.

And the Sweat Lodge Ceremonies are for the Purification of those who are about to begin – or have recently completed – specific socially and spiritually important tasks — it isn’t just another fraternally-organized steam bath where you can get stoned out of your mind.

The Vision Quest is not what most people seem to think it is, either. These and other rituals have been taken up in a willy-nilly fashion by neo-Pagan and New Age groups and individuals (the “hippies” previously mentioned) because of some perceived need to “preserve” them, or because they “like” the rituals. Or much worse, out of a misguided attempt to “honor” Native American Indians.

They do not bother to truly consider how wrong it can be to do so, not thinking about how their own ancestors’ religious beliefs and rituals were corrupted by the very same piece-meal picking and choosing of whatever happened to be “popular” (or “pleasing”) at the time, nor how those rituals were wrongly “interpreted” by others. I doubt very much that the Druids of Ancient Ireland, for example, would have been pleased with a Roman follower of Jupiter “adopting” Druidic practices with no real thought to the actual meaning of those practices.

But the Native American Indians who still practice their religion are expected to accept the corruption and bastardization of their rituals, all in the name of “preserving” and “honoring” them.

As an example, I saw a photo of a “Burning Man” attendee wearing a “Native American spirit mask”, and at first didn’t think much of it — until I noticed that he was naked from the waist up (the photo was cropped just above his waist, so I have no idea what he was wearing below the waist – but I can guess) .

For one thing — and this is extremely important — the People who happen to use that style of mask do not go naked during their public rituals, not even from the waist up, so that was a huge tip-off that if the man was “honoring” the “Native American Church”, he either never received the instruction needed, or ignored what instruction he may have received and in either case was being extremely disrespectful…no matter what “good intentions” he may have had.

If there is no instruction concerning the rituals, they should not be used; there is no “But, I’m honoring such-and-such religion and/or group”. And, as any Judge will tell you concerning another subject: Ignorance is not an excuse, because there are many ways to obtain the necessary knowledge and instruction.

Native American Indian rituals are a sacred thing to the practitioners and Teachers of the Native American Indian religion, and they should be treated with the exact same respect, as you would demand of anyone towards your own religion. I have heard from many Pagans and Wiccans — as well as read here on WitchVox — that before anyone decides to use or take part in any ritual, those people should be instructed in the proper methods, times and places to do those rituals. And there are many Pagan and Wiccan rituals that are to be conducted only by Ordained Priests and Priestesses, not by just anyone who feels like using them.

Yet, again, there are many neo-Pagans and New Agers who feel it is somehow OK for anyone who wishes to just “adopt” whatever rituals they want, from wherever they want, and without having first gone through the necessary instruction on how, where and when to properly conduct those rituals….

Some religions may be OK with that, but most are not. It took me more than 20 years to fully realize this simple truth as it concerns the “Native American Church”, but if I had actually bothered to think about it when I began my “spiritual journey” (which, I admit, is still not completed) , I would have come to the same realization after first learning how truly Sacred certain rituals are to most religious groups.

So, why was it wrong to use certain rituals in my own “brand” of spirituality? Because I did not know what those rituals truly mean, which was because I had not received any real instruction as to how, when and where to use them. I was not authorized to use those rituals because I did not receive instruction from someone who was authorized to give that instruction.

I had no true respect for myself, because I had no true respect for my religious/spiritual choices.

Now that I have spent more than 20 years learning about and teaching myself the various aspects of “religion”, Native American Indian religion and spirituality included, I can only hope to help others in their own journeys towards a true Spiritual Awareness and respect for (and towards) themselves, as well as religious beliefs and practices they may someday wish to “adopt” (if not actually live by) .

We all want others to show some measure of respect towards our religious choices, and it is my opinion that the first step towards that is to truly respect other religions by making an honest attempt, doing everything within our means, to understand the rituals before we “adopt” any part of them.

Very few out-spoken Wiccans and Pagans, after all, would simply stand by and watch a “Fluffy-bunny” neo-Pagan or New Ager improperly conduct a Purification Ritual to cleanse their laptop computer — using a plastic drinking straw as a “wand”. (Hey, we all know what is meant by “Fluffy-bunny”) I don’t really understand why the improper use of Native American Indian rituals would — or should be allowed.

We gain respect for ourselves by respecting others, and we respect others by showing respect for and towards their religions by understanding the rituals involved in those religions.

So, I ask again, in all seriousness: How many of you have ever used religious rituals that are not your own?

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – November 12

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – November 12

“I don’t think that anybody anywhere can talk about the future of their people or of an organization without talking about education. Whoever controls the education of our children controls our future, the future of the Cherokee people and of the Cherokee Nation.”

–Wilma P. Mankiller, CHEROKEE

The world has changed in the last 50 years. It will change even more in the next 50 years, and it will change even faster. We must educate ourselves to ensure our future generations will maintain the language and the culture of our people. We need to be concerned about our land because when our land goes away, so will our people. We need to be concerned about leadership, our families and about alcoholism. We need to be concerned about what’s going on around the world. We can only do this by being educated. Then we can control our future.

Great Spirit, please guide our children; let me know how I can help.

Daily Feng Shui News for Oct. 18th – ‘World Menopause Day’

Where do I even begin on ‘World Menopause Day?’ Let’s start at the beginning. I’m talking about those days of hot flashes and irritability, mood swings and lack of sleep. Native Americans used black cohosh to effectively improve almost all menopausal symptoms, and to this day, studies show that using this flowering plant helps improves physical and psychological symptoms that include anxiety, night sweats and dryness. Of course and as always, check with a qualified professional before beginning any new medicinal protocol. But if you’re a women currently dealing with any of these symptoms, try this amazing herb — you’ll thank me later.

By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 13

Elder’s Meditation of the Day August 13

“A bit of sunshine, a drop of rain, a puff of life from the Great Spirit as He gently breathed upon that spot, created the Native Americans. They were well formed and agile, copper colored and proud.”

–Harriet Starleaf Gumbs, SHINNECOCK

We are made in the image of the Great Spirit. A long time ago He breathed life into our ancestors. He made the Indian strong. He created a Warrior. Our ancestors created more warriors. We have been tested throughout the seasons and we are still here, stronger than ever. It is good to be Indian. We are proud of ourselves and our ancestors. Mostly we are proud the Great Spirit has never forsaken us, and continues to guide us.

My Creator, let me live my life today in a way that would make my ancestors proud. Let me remember each month that I am here to serve You. Today let me conduct my life in a way that also would make You proud.

Your Native American Horoscope

Your Native American Horoscope

Many Native American  traditions teach that there are twelve Earth Personalities that make  up the Earth Medicine Wheel. These form an earth-centered horoscope that gives  us valuable information about our totem animal, our personality, and our  spirit-task in life. Find out which Earth Personality you are, as well as your  totem animal and your principle life-lesson:

March 21 – April 19: The Awakening Time. Falcon. Your principle  lessons: Discovering that happiness comes through sharing, and that  individuality need not be selfish but van be expressed more fully when it is in  harmony with others.

April 20 – May 20: The Growing Time. Beaver. Your principle  lessons: Your worst emotional traumas are likely to be in those areas of your  life in which the tendency to form attachments extends into close personal  relationships and becomes possessive. Through the grist of experience you are  cultivating flexibility, adaptability, and compassion. You need to give others  the “space” to be themselves, just as you demand the space to be “you.”

May 21 – June 20: The Flowering Time. Deer. Your principle  lessons: The rifts you have with others indicate divisions within yourself. You  are learning how to co-ordinate that which appears to be contrary but which  truly is complementary.

June 21 – July 21: The Long Days Time. Woodpecker. Your principle  lessons: To learn to treasure the moment. Not to dwell on regrets of the past or  on expectations of what may be in the future, but to recognize that the power to  make changes ins always in the Now! The challenges you face on your Earth “Walk”  are to enable you to mature through the experience of closeness. Much stress and anxiety may be  caused through tenaciously holding on to what has served its purpose, and  through mistaking attachment for love. The ability to let go is often a test of  true love.

July 22 – August 21: The Ripening Time. Salmon. Your principle  lessons: You are frequently faced with situations which challenge your stubborn  resistance to change, and with the need to become more flexible and adaptable  through developing a regard for the emotional needs of others. You are learning  to recognized that fulfillment comes not so much through the forcefulness of  making things happen, but through allowing things to be.

August 22 – September 21: The Harvesting Time. Brown Bear. Your  principle lessons: Whatever you are searching for is to be found where you are.  You are learning to know when to exert energy to effect a change, and when to  accept circumstances that cannot be changed.

September 22 – October 22: The Falling Leaves Time. Crow. Your  principle lessons: To gain the inner strength that comes from acting firmly on  your convictions, and acquiring the wisdom that results from making sound  judgments.

October 23 – November 22: The Frost Time. Snake. Your principle  lessons: Your impatience causes you pain and discomfort, but such traumas are  teaching you the need for proper timing. Being confronted with seemingly  formidable tasks and difficult tests is part of the regenerative process  inherent in your nature, which can enable you to transform what was into that  which may now be. Such challenges push you beyond your own self-limitations.

November 23 – December 21: The Long Nights Time. Owl. Your  principle lessons: Learning to manage your potentials by not dissipating your  energies in too  many directions at once. Attainment of inner sight so you can perceive beyond  the obvious, and a warm heart so you can be compassionate towards those who  stumble around in the dark.

December 22 – January 19: The Renewal Time. Goose. Your principle  lessons: These are derived from your efforts to arrange and conserve, for their  purpose is to teach you self-reliance and self-sufficiency in order to establish  your own identity.

January 20 – February 18: The Cleansing Time. Otter. Your  principle lessons: To help you to find the courage to act more on an inner  “knowing” than on other peoples expectancies. You are learning to turn visions  into practical realities through struggle and even adversity.

February 19 – March 20: The Blustery Winds Time. Wolf. Your  principle lessons: To learn to become more discriminating in facing the demands  that are constantly made upon you. The challenges of your life are for the  purpose of enabling you to break free from entanglements that are limiting and  restrictive, so your horizons can be extended.

 

The Air Witch & Smudging Ceremonies

The Air Witch & Smudging Ceremonies

 

Smudging involves burning herbs and using the herbal smoke to cleanse and bless areas or people. It is a common and sacred practice.

Native Americans make use of three primary herbs for smudging: white sage, cedar, and sweet grass. The sage removes negative influences, the cedar cleanses the area, and the sweet grass calls in positive influences. The prayers said during the ceremony are lifted to the gods upon the smoke.

To smudge, place sand or salt in the bottom of a fireproof dish. If you are using a smudging wand, you can carry this dish beneath it to catch any hot ashes. If you are using a dried, crumbled herbal mixture, light a charcoal tablet and place it in the center of the bed of sand. Sprinkle the herbs over the charcoal as you move clockwise from area to area.

As you moved around the space wafting the smoke, say aloud, “Only love and light may dwell here. All other vibrations must leave this house {person, etc.}.” You may direct the smoke into corners and crevices with a feather, a fan, your breath, or your hand. When you have smudged the whole area, sweep the negative vibrations out the door and call in the positive vibrations that you want. Try something along the lines of, “Be gone, worry, pain, misery, and strife! Welcome, healing comfort, love and light!”

 

Clean House Spiritually for the Dark Time of the Year

Clean House Spiritually for the Dark Time of the Year

 

by Freya Ray

Personally, I have had my issues with the “holiday” season. The directions in which our culture has chosen to take Christmas and other celebrations, turning them into rites of capitalist fervor (insert your favorite rant here), have not appealed to me. To me, winter is a powerful time for introspection and returning to your “self.” There is a primal urge to clear the dusty corners of your soul so that the seeds planted in springtime are well chosen and likely to grow up into what you actually want. If it happens for you, as it happens for me, that winter inspires the desire to get rid of the unnecessary rather than accumulate more of it, here are some suggestions.

What do you focus on if you’re feeling the urge to crawl into a hole but aren’t sure which direction to take in your inner odyssey?

There are four main categories of spiritual debris that can benefit from closer examination. You started life with three of them, the fourth you’ve picked up along the way. I don’t mean to sound negative — you have also collected many wonderful gifts in each of these four categories. While still honoring your blessings and achievements, it is more productive to work on the pieces that keep you from your dreams.

I’m going to describe a number of possible approaches to spiritual fine-tuning. For earth signs out there, this is not a “to do” list that should be followed from beginning to end in order to become a better person. Rather, this is a collection of inspirations, and your intuition is your best guide for which pathways to pursue. You might become excited about a suggestion, or be repelled by one. Pay attention to any strong reaction — it’s probably worth focusing on.

The person you are today is made up of what you’ve inherited from your parents and ancestors, your past lives and your experiences this lifetime. There are probably some bits of eternal soul and red blood cells too, but these four areas are the ones I’ll focus on.

Parental Inheritance

At the moment you were conceived, you inherited from your parents everything they had learned about life up to that point. Any wisdom, fears, good or bad habits, failures and triumphs. To determine if this is an area that needs some attention, ask yourself the following questions: What is unresolved or in conflict between my parents and me? What issues do they struggle with that also affect me? Where did they fail in their lives?

Parental issues respond well to traditional methods. Journaling — writing about their patterns and your own — can highlight repetitive patterns. For example, if your parents always struggled with money, write down everything you know about their beliefs regarding money and abundance. Write down everything you believe about the same issue. Write down how your behavior about money is the same as your parents, or the opposite. Remember that anything that you do that is exactly not how they did it is not really an evolutionary step beyond. It’s just a reaction. After thesis, step two is antithesis. Synthesis is step three and the launch point for evolution.

Awareness of when you are stuck in a self-defeating pattern is the most powerful step. Seeing the pattern’s origins gives you information on how to change it. If you’ve inherited something from your parents that you’re tired of carrying around, set it down. This can be done in a ritual where you release any burdens you’re carrying for them. Write the burdens down and burn whatever you wrote them on in circle. Craft a small boat and send them downstream.

It can also be done in a very different way: by correcting the problem at the source. See if you can find a way to help your parents get what they want. If you work toward success with them, either in real time or in meditation, everyone becomes liberated. When I helped my mother quit drinking, somehow I quit smoking. It’s all one big hologram, one metaphor. By changing one piece we change all the pieces connected to it.

Ancestral Inheritance

You also inherited your entire ancestral lineage. Everything that was experienced and learned by each of your ancestors was handed down to you, encoded in your spiritual DNA. If you feel an urge to plant a garden in the spring, that’s because your ancestors have been doing just that for millennia. Your choice of magickal path may well be related to your genetic inheritance as well.

Ancestral lineages connect to you at your shoulder blades — the “wing points” — where your wings would sprout if you could see them. The maternal lineage extends behind you on the left side, the paternal on the right. They go out at an angle, and upwards, so they make a V gradually rising behind you. Trust me on this one. I’m not the only psychic who sees them this way.

What this means for you is that you know exactly where to look for problems. I’m going to suggest two approaches. The first is to let your attention, in meditation, follow back along the line of your ancestors. Logically, each earlier generation is further away from you. Look for blockages — for places where the energy is not flowing freely. Bring energy and light to the area until you see the pathway clear. Pay particular attention to balancing the left and right sides. If your father had a really unpleasant childhood due to abusive parents, you might have shut down the energy on the right side. This protected you when you were unable to take a more active role, but now you can clear the blockages and make use of all of the gifts from your inheritance. If you shut down the masculine side you might have noticed difficulty in taking charge of your life. This is corrected by balancing the two sides.

The other method is to examine the spiritual DNA. I highly recommend Chris Griscom’s book Psychogenetics for full information on this method. The short form is: Visualize your DNA and look for blocks related to issues you’ve inherited from your ancestors. Heal those blocks by blasting them with white, laser-like light. Allow the DNA to re-form itself, whole and healthy. These methods may sound silly or difficult, but they are neither. By simply going into a meditative state and visualizing, everyone I’ve ever worked with has been capable of receiving useful information and effecting positive change.

Past Life Inheritance

Your past lives are a fertile place to look for issues that are causing you trouble this time around. Ask yourself: What habits do I have as a soul that aren’t working for me? Do I have strong, unexplained aversions or fears? Are there difficult relationships or repetitive patterns that I don’t seem to be able to get out of? Any of these things could have come from traumatic experiences in past lives.

Richard Webster wrote a wonderful book, Practical Guide to Past-Life Memories, that gives twelve different methods for remembering your past lives. I recommend getting this book, choosing a method and trying it out. When you feel like you’ve got the hang of recall, go on specific missions. Go looking for the other times you’ve known that difficult person, and information about why you struggle with him or her now. Seek the source of your fear of water. Look for patterns — a habit you have formed in many lives of being subservient to others. Ask yourself what in your current life is no longer serving you, and see if your past lives offer clues for letting it go.

Past life work is a magickally productive area to pursue. It seems that most of the time simply recalling the prior events and allowing yourself to really feel the feelings that go along with the memories will release their power. As soon as I remembered the witchy lifetime in which I was hung (and sobbed for a couple hours), I was able to do ritual again. For years before that, I had identified as a witch, but found myself unable to do Wiccan ceremony. That changed immediately, just from bringing the source of my fear to consciousness. Remember, cry/rage/laugh, and let it go.

Your Energy Body

The final area that could use cleaning up is all about you. As you move through your life, every experience you have leaves its residue. In a quiet, meditative state, scan your energy body for tension, grief, or pain`or even dark spots or places where the energy doesn’t feel like it’s moving. Ask yourself what color of light is needed to rebalance this blocked place. Bathe the area in healing light — different colors for different issues — until the area is balanced again. Do a ritual to release the block or get some energy work to address it.

In working with this lifetime, shame can be a powerful marker for stored garbage. Mentally scan your past, looking for places in your life you still feel shame about. Then use the color technique, journaling or meditation to forgive yourself. You did the best you could at the time, with what you knew then. If you can’t forgive yourself through meditation, consider taking action to atone. If you still feel guilty for a deed that caused harm to another, apologize to him or her or assist others with a similar problem. No personal ritual would have had the same effect as the action I took as a young adult: I walked into the store I had shoplifted from in high school and wrote them a check. Customers standing next to me were crying with me. It was powerful beyond anything confined to my journal would have been. Just do something, since shame is a crippling emotion that signals an area in which you are experiencing paralysis of the soul.

Likewise, forgiveness of others is important. Resentments we hang onto keep us from embracing new joys, and can lead to health issues in the body. Look back over your past for anyone you’re still mad at, and do whatever you need to do to let it go. This doesn’t mean you need to believe your rapist did the right thing. This does mean you get to a place where he’s not still holding the knife at your throat. Do what you need to do to clear your field, to harmonize the energies you carry with you.

As you go, breathe and pray. Sift through all the seeds you carry. Examine each one and discard those you don’t choose to have in your life again. With a little time and attention, you can move forward into spring lighter and liberated. Once you walk off the turkey and fudge, that is.

Freya Ray is a professional psychic, shaman, writer and teacher. She teaches energy work, shamanic journeying, Tarot reading, and how to live a more blissful life in general. She recently relocated to Seattle after working at Phoenix and Dragon in Atlanta and Rainbow Moods in Tucson. Her writing has appeared in the New Times, the Awareness Journal and the Magical Journal.

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – November 28

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – November 28
“People say that crisis changes people and turns ordinary people into wiser or more responsible ones.”

–Wilma Mankiller, CHEROKEE


There is a saying, conflict precedes clarity. The Medicine Wheel teachings say, in order for something to change it must first go through a struggle. When a crisis enters our lives, other powers are there to help us. We will learn some lessons. Will I honor and respect the next crisis?


Great Spirit, if a crisis occurs today, let me learn the lessons of wisdom.

Daily Feng Shui Tip for October 1 – ‘World Day of Bullying Prevention’

I know from past feedback that today’s tip absolutely works to push bullies to the side. So let’s spice up ‘World Day of Bullying Prevention’ by embracing an ancient technique. In certain Eastern and Oriental cultures, cinnamon is considered the ‘warm brown spice of friendship’ that also packs the power to fend off bullies. It is said that this spice bestows protection and strength while also destroying ‘enemies.’ A pinch in a pocket or a bit sprinkled inside a wallet (or anywhere else) will employ powers of protection that can conquer all kinds of fear. Now, that’s sweet!

By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com

Daily Feng Shui Tip for September 25 – ‘Wisdom Secrets’

One of the first traditions that I studied when I started my energetic explorations were those of the Native Americans. So today I’d like to share some of the wisdom secrets that I was taught by my wise elder teachers. For example, I learned that there are magical ways in the Native American traditions to assist a woman who is wishing for a child. They say that the mother-to-be should prepare a sacred medicine bundle that will help bring a bundle of joy into her life. She should put a lock of her hair, a blue corn kernel, a red stone and herbs such as black walnut and red raspberry into a square of black or yellow cloth. The bundle should then be wrapped in red string and tied to a bush with a feather so it’s easily located by the Higher Powers. This bundle should only be constructed at the time of the New Moon in order to successfully birth a bright light into this world.

By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com