Friday, January 18, 2013

Breath of Life: The Triple Flame of Brigid - New Article from Gaol Naofa

As noted when we announced our website relaunch, we at Gaol Naofa have a number of writing projects in the works, which were not quite ready when we relaunched the site, but that we will be releasing over the next few months and years. Here is one of them:

Breath of Life: The Triple Flame of Brigid

In Gaol Naofa, our Gaelic Polytheist community, we recognize and honour multiple manifestations of the Flame of Brigid. Based in the Old Irish lore, in the wisdom found in the living Gaelic traditions, (i.e., the folkloric customs, songs, tales and beliefs found in the areas where Gaelic, Irish and Manx are still spoken, and where these traditions have been handed down most faithfully) and what we have found in our own experiences, we see her sacred flame as threefold, and illustrated as either three flames rising from a cauldron, or as three concentric circles:

1. The sacred, cloistered flame which is tended by women only.

2. The hearth flame, which is tended by the bean a tighe ('mistress of the house') or fear an tighe ('man of the house') who kindles the household flame and repeats prayers and blessings over it for the protection and well-being of their family, as well as petitioning Brigid on behalf of the family.

3. The community, festival flame which is lit by whichever individual or group is appropriate for that particular ceremony or gathering.

Each flame of Brigid is also a center in and of itself: The festival flame is the center of a ceremony, the hearth flame the center of a household and family, and the cloistered flame the center of a shrine and community. Fire's ability to create, destroy, transform and inspire has always fascinated the Gaels and we perceive it to be something divine and otherworldly. In reconstructed, Gaelic Polytheistic cosmology, fire is perceived to be the center of land, sea and sky: a source of inspiration (imbas), a place where we commune with one another, and where we speak, and listen, to the deities, ancestors, and spirits of nature.

Three circles cauldron copyright ©Kathryn Price NicDhàna for Gaol Naofa

Brigit búadach, Lethan breo. Brigit búadach, Bethad beo.

Friday, January 11, 2013

CAORANN Stands in Solidarity with Idle No More

Statement from the CAORANN Council:
9 January, 2013

CAORANN Stands in Solidarity with Idle No More

CAORANN - Celts Against Oppression, Racism, and Neo-Nazism - stands in solidarity with Idle No More.

Idle No More began with four women (three First Nations women and one non-Native ally) who felt it was urgent to act on current and upcoming legislation that not only affects First Nations people but the rest of Canada's citizens, lands and waters. The focus is on grassroots voices, nonviolent resistance, and First Nations sovereignty. The many treaties between the First Nations and the English Crown have been violated by non-Native Canadians, such as the right of the First Nations to control their landbase, and their right to deal with the English Crown on a nation to nation basis - not as subjects, but as equals.

Idle No More began in the early part of October 2012 when discussing Omnibus Bill C 45. The women knew that this was a time to act, as this bill and other proposed legislation would affect not only Indigenous people but also the lands, water and the rest of Canada. Already protections are being removed from rivers, wetlands, and other sensitive ecological systems. This movement is about making sure we all have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. There have been teach-ins, flash mobs, roadblocks, and hunger strikes.

The struggle for sovereignty in the First Nations has many parallels to the struggle for sovereignty in the Six Celtic Nations. Both of our peoples have struggled against colonization, cultural and physical genocide, and our relatives have also sacrificed their lives in the struggle for independence from foreign rule.

Those of us living in the diaspora face different challenges than do our members in the Celtic Nations. Some of us live on First Nations or Native American land that is unceded territory, or where the treaties to co-exist in harmony were violated by our non-Native relatives. It is important to us to respect the traditional laws, treaties, and Elders of the lands where we now live, to find a way to live in harmony and mutual respect. We stand in solidarity with Idle No More.

This is an exciting time in history, and we are honored and humbled to be involved to the small extent that we are - supporting our Native friends and relatives and doing what we can to spread the word and assist in organizational efforts.

As a group with white members who also see what non-Natives get up to when no Natives are around, we must also issue this plea and caution: Indigenous Knowledge (IK) stealers, cultural appropriators and pretendians are trying to colonize Idle No More. This is mostly (only?) happening in areas with a low percentage of Natives in the general population. As requested by the founders, we urge our members and supporters of CAORANN to support Idle No More if their conscience leads them to do so. But we ask that non-Natives attend Idle No More events to support the Indigenous people, and to follow their guidance - to be there in solidarity, not to try to lead, and to listen more than they speak. We stress that this is a movement led by Indigenous women, and we are committed to making sure that remains the case. We further ask that if Native organizers let you know that there are appropriators, exploiters or ceremony-sellers trying to colonize events, steal IK, or steal Indigenous identity, that you, with the guidance of traditional people, assist them in keeping non-Natives from colonizing this movement or displacing Native voices with non-Native ones. We celebrate the unity and solidarity of our Peoples, but affirm that this must come from a place of mutual respect.

Please see our resource page for background information on working in solidarity, as well as our Facebook page, where we are posting updates.

Sláinte Mhaith,

The CAORANN Council,
Celts Against Oppression, Racism and Neo-Nazism

For more on Idle No More, please visit their Official Sites. Idle No more has only three official pages: the website, their Official Facebook page, and the Twitter Account run by the four founders. Any other sites are only run by supporters and may not represent the official views of the founders.  For clarifications on some of the terminology around "Indigenous," please see this page on our site: On Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Identity

Link to the original post on the CAORANN website: CAORANN Stands in Solidarity with Idle No More

The four founders of Idle No More: Jessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdam, Sheelah Mclean and Nina Wilson

From CAORANN - On Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Identity

Statement from the CAORANN Council:
9 January, 2013

On Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Identity

For decades now, Indigenous people have responded to non-Natives who want to practice Native religion by telling non-Natives to look to our own ancestors, our own earth-based traditions. Those of us who have taken this challenge to heart, and implemented it in our lives, have learned that the surviving lifeways of our Celtic ancestors are also endangered by appropriation and misrepresentation.

The living Celtic cultures are not as well known to Americans, but they do exist and we are committed to protecting what survives. When outsiders to both of our communities misrepresent their racist appropriations as "Celtic," it does harm to the cultural survival of the Celtic nations as well as to the cultures Indigenous to the "American" continent. It also damages our anti-racist and decolonization activism, as it sows mistrust and confusion between our communities. Sadly, it has become very common for exploiters of Native traditions to try to disguise their thefts as "Celtic," so we must also examine the claims of anyone who claims to teach Celtic ways.

Like our Indigenous (Native American and First Nations) members and advisers, with whom we stand in solidarity, we also oppose "pay-to-pray", even when it is offered at a lower fee than that of newagers like James Ray (who killed people in his attempts to appropriate the Sweat Lodge). Like those of our Indigenous allies, traditional Celtic lifeways are communal. They are based in our extended families (of origin and affinity), have checks and balances on who can lead ceremony, and must be learned in an appropriate cultural context, not offered for sale to strangers or acquaintances.

Recently there is a movement on the part of some non-Natives - Americans, Canadians and Europeans - to identify as "Indigenous European." The first people to use this phrase were white supremacist groups, who are appropriating the term "Indigenous" to make it seem like white people are somehow an oppressed minority. Others are appropriating it because they have racist stereotypes of Native people as all "mystical" and therefore white folks who call themselves "Indigenous" are somehow more mystical too. We have seen non-Natives using this cloak of "Indigenous European" in an attempt to colonize councils of actual Indigenous people, and to even lead and pretend to speak for real Indigenous People. This is an act of racism and attempted cultural genocide.

Some of the Americans and Canadians who are calling themselves "Indigenous European" are actually claiming to be allies of First Nations Peoples, but our non-Native members have found that these non-Natives act very differently when they think no Native people are listening. Some of them have confided in our white members that they are supporting ceremony-sellers and are themselves involved in appropriating from Native Peoples. What we have seen so far with the Americans and Canadians who are claiming to be pursuing "Indigenous European Knowledge," is that they have never lived in Europe and, in every case we are aware of, they are not rooted in any European or Celtic Earth-honoring tradition; rather, all the ones we have met are Wiccans, newagers, pretendians, or racists who are not following a spiritual path of any kind.

We are shocked and appalled at these attempts by non-Natives to displace and disappear Native Peoples, and we strongly advise non-Native people to shun the use of "Indigenous" or "Indigenous European" for ourselves or our spiritual traditions. We already have terminology, in our own languages, for our ancestral, earth-honoring ways; we don't need to steal terms and identities from brown people. From this point forward, if you are an American or Canadian non-Native who insists on calling yourself "Indigenous" or "Indigenous European" we will assume you are an appropriator and a racist.

Just like pan-Indianism can lead to the erasure and forgetting of the unique, diverse Native cultures, so can attempts at pan-European or pan-Celtic inventions erase the unique European and Celtic cultures. Just like the tribes on the "American" continent each have their own languages, ceremonies and customs, so did all the "European" tribes and those of the Celtic Nations. Many of those diverse ways of old Europe and the Celtic Nations still survive. We are committed to preserving and protecting the Celtic ways that survive and respecting the sovereignty of the Celtic Nations. Just as CAORANN strongly opposes any appropriation or dilution of the ways of our Indigenous allies, we are just as strongly opposed to the misrepresentation, merging, and dilution of our ancestral Celtic traditions.

The CAORANN Council is a multi-ethnic, multi-generational collective of Celtic spiritual people, Gaelic Polytheists and Native American allies. We have members and advisers from the Celtic Nations, the First Nations and the Celtic diaspora. We stand in solidarity with our Indigenous friends, relatives, council members and allies. Those of us who are non-Native, who are Modern Celts in the diaspora, affirm that we are not Indigenous People, and we will not pretend to be so. We stand opposed to any efforts to damage or misrepresent our cultures.

The CAORANN Council,
Celts Against Oppression, Racism and Neo-Nazism

  For more links and discussions among Indigenous and non-Indigenous people about Indigenous identity, and the difference between Indigenous roots - which all of our ancestors have, just as we all have ancestors and ancestral ways - and how having roots is different from being an Indigenous person, see also these blog posts: Americans and "Indigenous" Identity and This is About Mother Earth (and Indigenous Sovereignty). Go raibh maith agaibh!
Link to the original post on the CAORANN website: On Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Identity