Sunday, December 30, 2012

This is About Mother Earth (and Indigenous Sovereignty)

Today Chief Arvol Looking Horse issued a statement in support of Chief Theresa Spence:
This is About Mother Earth!

As Keeper of our Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, I would like to send out support for the efforts of Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation, for giving of herself through fasting with prayers for the protection of Mother Earth.

Throughout history, there have been many Voices from different Nations trying to alert us of the prophecies that are now upon us. We are in a time of Great Urgency, especially since the animals have been showing their sacred color white to tell us we need to change the Path we are on.

The war in the Middle East over money, oil and power, in the name of Spirituality, has been affecting us for far too long. A Healing now needs to happen from that lesson. Those lessons now exist in those territories in the lack of animal and plant life, as well as the many orphans and childless parents.

Political decision makers throughout history have made decisions that have affected many People, lands and animal/plant life;  the recent decision made to subject Mother Earth and take away any protection she had left, is a decision that affects all humanity.

This effort has to be understood the same light of our Peace work, which is “All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer”. This effort to protect Mother Earth is all Humanity’s responsibility, not just Aboriginal People. Every human being has had Ancestors in their lineage that understood their umbilical cord to the Earth, understanding the need to always protect and thank her. Therefore, all Humanity has to re-connect to their own Indigenous Roots of their lineage - to heal their connection and responsibility with Mother Earth and become a united voice.

In a Sacred Hoop Life, where there is no ending and no beginning!

Chief Arvol Looking Horse
19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe

Chief Arvol Looking Horse

A heads-up for folks in areas that want to support Idle No More, but that may not have large NDN populations. We have seen some non-Natives, including some pretendians and shameons, trying to colonize Idle No More.

Please forgive my redundancy if you've seen me post this stuff elsewhere, but...

I want to make sure that the non-Natives who have been misinterpreting and misrepresenting the concept of "Indigenous" and "Indigeneity" don't use Arvol's words to try to justify appropriation or identity theft.  Arvol wrote:
"Every human being has had Ancestors in their lineage that understood their umbilical cord to the Earth, understanding the need to always protect and thank her. Therefore, all Humanity has to re-connect to their own Indigenous Roots of their lineage - to heal their connection and responsibility with Mother Earth and become a united voice."
I have always found this to be a beautiful and inspiring statement, ever since Paula first spoke it to me. But lately we have come across some appropriators and exploiters misinterpreting the idea of Indigenous roots, thinking that "Indigenous Roots of their lineage" means that they are also Indigenous People (NDNs), or that they can choose to become Indigenous (through stealing ceremonies, terminology, and identities from NDNs, or through buying a fake title from pay-to-pray, outcast exploiters). Some of these appropriators and ceremony-sellers have come in through the "Occupy"/"Decolonize" movement. So, just making a note here for anyone else who gets odd reactions from non-Natives when they share this, or if they see shameons posting it in places and misrepresenting what Arvol is saying.

The concept, as I understand it, is beautiful. But due to the white privilege and white supremacy of some who are latching onto it, the "Indigenous Roots" meme itself is becoming toxic. This is tragic and horrible, but we need to look it square in the face and call out the people who are attempting to poison the well.

Reconnecting to our ancestors' Indigenous roots means taking the challenge of learning the languages, ways and ceremonies of our own ancestors, not stealing ceremonies or identities or terminology from Native people, and not making stuff up and pretending it's "Indigenous European" (a term largely used by Neo-Nazis). Or "Celtic" (which some nuagers, in total ignorance that we have living Celtic cultures and lifeways, are attempting to pervert into a shorthand for "white appropropriator," thinking no one will notice they are simply doubling down on the misappropriation and misrepresentation). Doing this work of preserving and reviving the ways of our own ancestors does not make us Indigenous; it simply puts us in touch with our ancestral roots. Hopefully, it also makes us stronger and more whole, and leads to a spiritual fulfillment that erases the desire to steal from other cultures.

Here's a post from the Idle No More founders on advice for non-Native allies: Idle No More: The Indigenous Peoples' Movement - I’m Non-Indigenous, How Can I Participate in Idle No More?

If you want to do a local action, or join a local group, find out what Native people in the area are doing - in most cases they have already organized groups. For the most part, so far things are overwhelmingly Indigenous at the demos. If you live in an area where this is the case, be very grateful. Because in other areas we are also seeing a bit of a problem with non-Natives wanting to form and lead Idle No More groups, and some of these people have questionable agendas. In some cases, there are non-Natives and known pretendians who are misrepresenting themselves as Native (or as "Indigenous" to a non-Native culture) and forming a group where there is already a Native one, or attempting to colonize rounddances with their own agendas, or scheduling thoroughly non-Native events that conflict with NDN ones (and misrepresenting their non-Native event as the Native event).  NDNs in my area have already had to do some creative re-scheduling, and making networking for events private, in order to avoid being colonized or "occupied".

While I'm seeing that respectful support is very appreciated, we need to make sure this is truly solidarity and not appropriation. For instance, if people are doing a solidarity action that does not involve Native spiritual leaders, and they want to sing and pray and purify, they should do these things in the ways of  their own ancestors, their own living cultures, and not imitate the ways of NDN people. It is not solidarity for non-Natives to  try to use NDN sacred songs or ceremonies (including smudging);  it is misappropriation. If you don't know the ways of your own ancestors, please, just leave attempts at anything sacred out of this and simply be there in solidarity and fellowship.

And if you know who your ancestors are, but only know a tiny bit about their ways, show some respect to the tradition-bearers and ask them to represent, instead of stepping into the spotlight yourself to present misinformation.

Non-natives, if you go to an action and find that pretendians are misappropriating, stand up to them and say something. Part of being a real ally is stopping the appropriators. As non-Natives, we know all too well what appropriators and exploiters get up to when they think no NDNs are watching, how much worse they behave when they think everyone there is on their team. Have the courage to step up and do the right thing or you're no ally at all.

crossposted. apologies for any redundancies.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

From the Frozen North to the Sweltering South, This is NDN Land


"Neither of us will make compulsory laws or interfere in the internal affairs of the other. Neither of us will try to steer the other's vessel." ~ Two Row Wampum Treaty 

Peace, Friendship, Mutual Respect 

Honour the Treaties

Non-Native in Solidarity with #IdleNoMore

As in, the original treaty was for the colonists to deal with the First Nations as one sovereign nation to another. The First Nations have not broken this treaty.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sith co nemh, bid sír nae. Sith.

Winter Solstice sunrise at Brú na Bóinne

Sith co nem.
Nem co doman.
Doman fo ním,

Nert hi cach, án forlann,
lan do mil, mid co saith.
Sam hi ngam, gai for sciath,
sciath for durnd.

Dunad lonngarg; longait-tromfoíd
fod di uí, ross forbiur
benna abu, airbe imetha.

Mess for crannaib, craob do scis
scis do áss, saith do mac
mac for muin, muinel tairb
tarb di arccoin, odhb do crann,
crann do ten.

Tene a nn-ail. Ail a n-uír
uích a mbuaib, boinn a mbru.
Brú lafefaid
ossglas iaer errach,
foghamar forasit etha.

Iall do tir,
tir co trachd lafeabrae.
Bidruad rossaib, síraib rithmár,
'Nach scel laut?'

Sith co nemh,

Peace to the sky.
Sky to the earth.
Earth under sky,

Strength in us all, a cup so full,
full of honey, mead in plenty.
Summer in winter, spear over shield,
shield strong in hand.

Fort of fierce spears; a battle-cry
land for sheep, bountiful forests
mountains forever, magic enclosure.

Nuts on branches, branches heavy
heavy with fruit, wealth for a son
a gifted son, strong back of bull
a bull for a poem, a knot on a tree,
wood for the fire.

Fire from the stone. Stone from the Earth
wealth from cows, from the womb of Boann.
From the mist comes the cry of the doe,
a stream of deer after springtime,
corn in autumn, upheld by peace.

A warrior band for the land,
prosperous land, reaching to the shore.
From wooded headlands, waters rushing,
"What news have you?"

Peace to the sky,
life and land everlasting.

From the Prophecy of An Morrígan, in "Prayer in Gaelic Polytheism". The original Old Irish, as a solid block of text with few line breaks, is in the public domain; this arrangement and translation copyright ©2012 Kathryn Price NicDhàna for Gaol Naofa. See the article for extensive footnotes delineating how I arrived at this translation. Any errors in translation are my own.

And Check out Treasa's excellent writeup on some of the Gaelic sacred sites and spirits associated with this time of year: Celebrating Grianstad an Gheimhridh (The Winter Solstice)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gaol Naofa Site Relaunch: New FAQ and Articles

Gaol Naofa - Gaelic Polytheist Lifeway
Over the past few years I have been increasingly collaborating with my dear friends and colleagues in Gaol Naofa, our Gaelic Polytheist organisation.  While it may seem we've been quiet for a while, we have actually been very busy over the past few years, and are now ready to release some of the work we've been doing.  The material now uploaded to the site is well over a book's-worth of new material. Even just combining the new FAQ with the associated articles, it's the largest amount of GP or CR text I've been involved in publishing since the release of the CR FAQ. All told, it's also more substantial than that earlier work and, since this is a statement from one organisation, more unified and better footnoted.

The Gaol Naofa FAQ
The link above will take you to the intro page; click on the link for the pdf file (we had to put it in a pdf because it clocks in at a good 90 pages long, and it's really the only way to make the index workable without breaking up every section the way we did with the CR FAQ website). The GN FAQ has been substantially expanded from the earlier version and outlines the nitty gritty of our organisation and our vision for it. It also goes into some of our beliefs and outlooks on certain areas. In that sense it might be of interest to Gaelic Polytheists in general, but we hope it's clear that the contents of the GN FAQ (as with everything else we've done) speaks to our own points of view as an organisation and no one else's. Even though some other groups might overlap with us in places, that doesn't mean one size fits all.

Then there's:

Rowan and Red Thread: Magic and Witchcraft in Gaelic Cultures
Again a pdf, weighing in at a more modest, but still substantial, 57 pages. We cover the general gist of the article in some of the questions in the FAQ, so this offers a bit more of our thoughts on this, with plenty of references and historical goodness. It's a huge area, though, and this is really only scratching the surface. One of the things we tackle in this is the use of terminology in both historical and contemporary communities, and why we in Gaol Naofa do not call ourselves "witches." Anyone interested in joining our discussion groups should at least look over the FAQ and (if they want lots of supporting data) this article, so as to understand what we mean by all of these terms, how these terms are and aren't used in our organisation, and what we will think you mean if you use them.

And then we have:

Prayer in Gaelic Polytheism
Another pdf but a bit shorter than the two above. The title is fairly self-explanatory; we go into how we approach prayer and how we make our prayers, the kinds of sources we look to and how we deal with both the gifts and the problems those sources can present. Some examples of prayer are given, along with new translations of part of The Prophecy of the Morrígan and some prayers from the Carmina Gadelica. A suggested reading list is included as well.

As you'll see on the articles page, we have slightly updated and added to the Offerings article, and Treasa and I have another substantial article ready to go once we stare at it for a bit longer with our Editor's Hats on. Elsewhere on the site you'll find that the reading list has been expanded, and the "About" pages have been overhauled too.  To celebrate five years of the organisation, Treasa has given the website a bit of a makeover with new headers and icon thingies.

A big thanks, once again, to everyone who helped us out and supported us during the first, second and however many final drafts we went through on these pieces, as well as for your support and feedback in general.

On a personal note, I would like to particularly thank the members of the council, the advisory network, and all the members and allies who have been so supportive and collaborative in the past five years. In particular, Tomás for founding Gaol Naofa, and for not giving up when I kept being vague and noncommittal about joining. And of course Treasa and Annie for making these writing projects a joy instead of a struggle. You guys came along at a time in my life when I was at a crossroads and not sure where I was going. Thank you for your determination, dedication and perseverance. Slàinte Mhath!

P.S. Members will note that there is a new, members-only, Gealach Ur Rite, which has been completely rewritten to include traditional liturgy, ritual, and an accompanying article on the moon in Gaelic cultures. This will be available to renewing members in the new year.  We plan on opening up our membership process for new members after the activity of the Winter Holidays subsides a bit. In the meantime, you can get to know members of our community on our public discussion group, where all who are interested in Gaelic Polytheism are welcome to come and chat with us, whether or not they are members of Gaol Naofa. You can also stay abreast of updates and links via our new Facebook Page.

Read the full announcement here: Gaol Naofa Relaunches and Celebrates Five Years
I also cribbed some of the text for this from Annie's post: New Stuff