WE SHALL REMAIN was created to address the effects of historical trauma in our tribal communities. Many times, these untended wounds are at the core of much of the self-inflicted pain experienced in Native America. Much like fire, this pain can either be devastatingly destructive or wisely harnessed to become fuel that helps us to rise up and move forward in life with joy, purpose and dignity.
Above is a picture of the Karl May Museum in Radebeul Germany. Karl May (1842-1912) is a famous German author who wrote several stories about the American Old West. These books became insanely famous in Germany. In Germany, Mr. May was the J.K. Rowling of his time. Everyone in Germany was familiar with the characters of his novels, especially the Native American heroes Winnetou and Old Shatterhand. The actual historical accuracy of these books is very debatable, especially considering the fact that Karl May never even ventured to the American West until after his books were already sold.
Like Americans in the early 20th century, Germans too loved tales about the Old West. Yet the key difference, is instead of rooting for the Cowboys, many Germans supposedly (according to the video above at least) admired the Native American characters in the stories.
The New York Times article I linked to further explains how many Germans today have a fascination with Native Americans. Even to the extent that German actors are putting on feathered headdresses or wearing other Native American clothing.
Yet the question is, is this offensive?
Is this behavior reminiscent of the Minstrel Shows in the American South where white actors put on black face paint and made crude, slapstick generalizations about African American people? Do Native Americans themselves find such behavior offensive?
One has to remember that there are hundreds of different Native American cultures, they can no more be lumped together and generalized than can various European or Asian cultures. Not all Native Americans historically lived in Teepees, so on and so forth.
Many of the Germans who play Native Americans in these movies do not think they are being offensive, because they say it is their intent to portray Native Americans in a heroic and positive way. Karl May himself may have had positive intentions, while creating an over-romanticized and historically inaccurate portrayal of the Old West.
The main offense here however, seems to be the fact that the Karl May Museum has a collection of Native American scalps in their possession, that Native American tribes want back. It is a complicated situation because the Karl May museum does not know which tribe has a true claim to the scalps, and the tribes that are asking for these scalps believe they should be reunited with the Earth – rather than being kept in a museum and put on display. Hopefully the situation will be sorted out soon and the scalps can be returned in a respectful manner.
Why the obsession with Native American Culture Among Non-Native Americans?
It seems interesting that so many Germans would become obsessed with a culture that they are not even geographically close to, but perhaps there may be a few clear reasons here. I should add that many Non-Native Americans, not just Germans, have become interested in Native American forms of spirituality.
Perhaps this is because much of the Indigenous European spirituality was eradicated by the Christians . While indigenous European spirituality is in the process of being revived today, there is still much wisdom that has been lost to a thousand years of history.
Many of the Native American cultures are still around today (even if colonial forces did much to oppress and slaughter their people), and the tales of their heritage and traditions are also still being told.
Many of the people who long to return to a way of life connected to nature have become fascinated with Native American history for this reason.
Appreciation Without Appropriation
One difficult question for us in the modern age is how to appreciate and take part in a culture, without being offensive or intrusive. For instance, in America there are still many sports teams with names offensive to Native American tribes, and even clothing lines that debase Native American cultures by having “Navajo Undies” or something stupid like that. The other latest offense is the trend of hipsters wearing Native American headdresses.
So, the question is, is it possible for a Non-Native American to learn from and take part in Native American culture in a way that is not offensive? This is a very difficult question because I am not a Native American. After more than a century of European settlers kicking Native Americans off their lands and making it harder for these people to practice their culture, it’s a very sensitive issue.
The U.S and Canadian governments still oppresses Native American peoples today in many ways, by not recognizing the rights of certain tribes or not giving these tribes the rights to enforce law on their own territories. For instance, the rape of Native American women by non-natives continues to be a big problem (New York Times). Many of these women have been left to deal with this problem on their own. There is also the fact that Native American children are taken away from their parents by social services at an alarming rate (Pacific Standard).
So in America at least, it is the height of insult and irony to see a group of Non-Natives who have never really been indoctrinated into a tribal culture hosting their own Pow Wows and dancing around with feathered headdresses. Perhaps such behavior may be less offensive in Germany, since the Germans have not done anything to oppress and persecute Native Americans. However, I’m not a Native American, so I cannot answer this question with authenticity.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with taking the time to learn about a culture – and I mean REALLY learn about the culture, not just throw a bunch of stereotypes and clichés together. Learning about Native American spirituality should involve learning about many of the problems that current Native Americans are dealing with, in addition to respecting Native Americans as a modern people. You will also probably learn that most Native Americans today consider themselves Christians.
Ethnic traditions are not the same as Universal religions like Christianity and Islam. One can’t just surf the internet a little bit, learn a few stereotypes and then call themselves a practitioner of Shinto, Native American Spirituality or Asatru. It is my personal belief that if one wants to be a part of these cultures – as an outsider – than they should take the time to learn from and study with people who are an actual part of the culture. I do not have the Folkish belief that people are locked out of certain traditions by an Ethnic Wall. But if there is a certain culture that has been systematically oppressed by another, the question of inclusion becomes very difficult and complex. There are no easy answers here.
If a Non-Native American person is invited by a Native American tribe to participate in a spiritual ceremony, I see nothing wrong with that. If you, as a Non-Native American person feel called to venerate the ancient Native American Gods and Spirits of the American landscape, than there is nothing wrong with that IMO as long as you do so in a way that is respectful and understanding to the spirits of the land.
Earth Based Spirituality Good For the Soul:
While it was weird for me to see Germans in the above video wearing Native American garb…and I’m sure it was probably pretty offensive for a few Native Americans….I think the Germans in this video were doing this because they got something positive out of practicing an Earth Based spirituality.
One of the German men in the video said that it helped him get off drugs, another said that it made him realize how little he really needs – that living a simple life was good for him. While making a bunch of over romanticized generalizations about a whole race of people is not a good thing, I think that many people could learn good things from a more rigorous study of indigenous Native American spirituality, along with other spiritualities connected to living in harmony with the land and natural landscape. Putting on black wigs and wearing face paint is a little too much like a Minstrel show in my opinion. But finding one’s own authentic way to live naturally alongside the landscape is a worthy goal.
Native American Writer Taté Walker Says The Following About Relations with Native Americans:
“Many Americans have a disconnected relationship with indigenous peoples: We’re fine as romanticized historical centerpieces and entertainment props, but mocked and ridiculed when we decry the materialistic use of sacred objects like headdresses or call to remove a dictionary-defined racial slur like redskin from the NFL lexicon.
The message is clear to Natives: You can feel honored, or you can shut up.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are ways you can honor us that don’t diminish the uniqueness of 566 federally recognized tribes down to a few, pan-Indian, stereotypical images that insult, degrade, and dehumanize my people.
You don’t have to dehumanize us to appreciate our many wondrous, individual cultures.”
Also, there is this: 4 Ways to Honor Native Americans Without Appropriation
Anilah sounds to me like a mix of Wardruna, Dead Can Dance, Progressive Rock and Shamanic chanting.
Anilah is the musical project of vocalist and composer Dréa Drury, a musician who hails from the Selkirk Mountains of Western Canada. Her music is influenced by traditional shamanic sound practices, sacred chant, dark tribal and Indian Classical. She has studied the art of using the voice as a healing modality with sound healers and shamans from across North America. Even listening to her music on YouTube makes me feel more relaxed, so it must be working. Her unique sound includes elements of progressive rock and dark ambient chanting.
On the Solpurpose review of her album “Warriro”, Dréa states the following:
“The reason I use ritual and ceremony in a creative context is to help dissolve perceptual boundaries, and to enhance my ability to hear in a different way. Usually this involves actively creating a trance state through pranayama, kriyas, or mantra.”
She also says the following about nature:
“When I am walking through the forest and allow myself to open to the larger conversation that is happening, I feel myself filling up with the sheer grace of being, and literally have no other option but to express my gratitude – and this happens in the form of a song or melody. So to rephrase: I breathe nature in, I breathe melody out. My creativity takes this form.”
Recently I had a chance to talk with this medicine woman of sound on Facebook. Here are her responses to my following questions:
MG: How long have you been playing music, when and how did you pick it up?
DD: I’ve been playing music ever since I could sit at a piano – started studying with my grandmother at 5, then moved on to classical training at 13, did my degree in music at college and then did private apprenticeships with my vocal teachers Ali Akbar Khan and Silvia Nakkach afterward. So yea…have been at it for a long time Always was a musical creature, couldn’t help it..
MG: I’m curious, who are your musical influences?
DD: I have many, but notable ones are: Wardruna, Tool (all of Maynard James Keenan projects), Dead Can Dance – Lisa Gerrard, Bjork, NIN, Chelsea Wolfe. Also listen to tons of avant guard choral/classical music, from composers like Hildegard Von Bingen, Bulgarian Women’s Choir, and countless artists in the Indian Classcial Genre like Raga.
If you would love to hear more Anilah, check out the videos and links below:
CALLING THE OTHERS
ROLLING THUNDER [WARRIOR]
Supaman just became MTV’s number 1 rapper of the week. Other newsflash…apparently MTV still plays music these days?
I don’t EVER post rap or hip hop music on this blog. But I thought what this artist was doing was creative enough for me to break a few rules. In the video above, the Native American Rapper Supaman combines the traditional instruments and song of his people with his own rapping and modern style dancing.
If you are interested in learning more about this artist, read his interview here.
Another interesting article “Rapping on the Reservation” (NPR), Supaman discusses how Native Americans can relate to the struggles of the inner city, in terms of issues like poverty, teenage pregnancy, crime, drugs and alcohol.
Read More at the Following Article
20 years ago, a tribe in Columbia called the Kogi made a film about the world’s end.
They call themselves the Elder Brothers, and the rest of the world The Younger Brothers.
They predicted a rise in global temperature, storms and violence.
Yet we Younger Brothers did not heed their warning.
Now they’re trying to warn us, once again.
Will we heed their warning this time around?
An interview in Colorado about living off the grid, marijuana, guns, healing and Native American Wisdom.
(My Medicine Bag and a Bear Claw)
Last week I went to Colorado to visit some family members. In the process I got the pleasure of meeting a few family friends. These friends are currently living a natural life – off the grid. One is a mountain man who was born in the mountains of Colorado and has learned the art of tracking animals and living naturally from a young age. His wife, a woman of Native American descent, has also lived off the land for most of her life. I decided to interview both of them for Metal Gaia, so they could give me some insight on what it is to live “a natural life.”
Most modern people today (including myself) have never had to grow/hunt their own food, haul their own water or worry about bears trying to break inside the house (I’ll get to that later!)
(For reasons of anonymity they’ll go by “Mountain Man” and “Healer Woman” in this interview. They requested that I not use their names or take any pictures because they enjoy their privacy).
Metal Gaia: I’m just trying to find out how to live off the land today, so let me get started and ask you, what brought you up here?
Mountain Man: I was born and raised here – up in the mountains. My house had a hole – a door in the roof – in order for you to get out in the winter time, because the snow got so deep. It could get up to 20 or 30 foot deep.
Metal Gaia: So when you were born and raised there, did you live off the grid there or is this something new that you are doing?
Mountain Man: We had power but we also had solar. The power was for when people came out and we’d put on big lights.
Metal Gaia: What about your current situation?
Mountain Man: We don’t have any electric here. The only bills we have here is our insurance and our phone bill, and it’s about $120 a month. So as long as you pay your land tax you can go tracking rabbits or anything up here. We don’t have TV channels. Our cell phones work…here or there. But we don’t have internet or nothing. A lot of kids keep telling us to get the internet, but we’re like nah. We’re here to keep away from the outside world.
Metal Gaia: Yeah, that keeps life simple.
Mountain Man: Yeah, you don’t have to worry about nothing. If a war goes on you’ll find out overhead (points to the ceiling) or from friends from the outside. It’s pretty nice.
Metal Gaia: So how do you get your food?
Mountain Man: We try growing our own food. We do our shopping once a month. We go to the big town, one hour away. An hour there and an hour back. We do our big shopping stock up, we go into town to get cigarettes – that you don’t go off of. I’m looking into growing tobacco this year.
Metal Gaia: What do you grow right now?
Mountain Man: Our friends grow squash, tomatoes… One of our friends is going to grow bananas. He has an Earth House and lives off the grid.
Metal Gaia: I’ve heard of Earth Houses. It’s like a sustainable house you can make from recycled material and trash?
Mountain Man: He’s got milk jugs, beer cans, tin cans – all the cans we had when we moved here. Our friend would take to recycle and put in his house. It’s very nice, it’s got its own water source and everything. If he finishes it, he’ll be one of the very few people out here who have started and finished their own Earth house. Most people bail because they either go broke or get burned on the project. He’s built it all himself. He’s packed 800 and something tires by hand. We also have marijuana growing all over in the backyard. [laughs] It’s legal. My wife has the red card and everything.
Metal Gaia: Has the recent legalization of marijuana changed much for you guys?
Mountain Man: I do security for a guy for 20 bucks an hour. It’s kinda weird. We go from marijuana being illegal, to a point where I’m guarding it so no one will steal it, because it is legal! He’s one of the biggest growers out here. He’s one of the only white kids born and raised out here. Since we’ve been here we haven’t had to pay for any. He gives us pounds literally! He provides everything the big shops have because the shops have to buy it locally. So he’s been trying to do that. There is only one good store out here. All the other stores have gone out of business because they are after the money and not the health medicinal. A lot of people up here are hurt. To people around town I say, “Hey how are you doing, here’s a joint.” We were giving them out to everybody for Christmas – candy cane wrapped joints.
Metal Gaia: That’s a great Christmas present. You got your green and red – the green is the weed.
Mountain Man: My wife – if she wasn’t on it – her medications would run us almost 800 a month. The guy that I’m growing for, he has really bad nerve damage. When we give people weed they say “hey this is really good.” Well that’s because we’re growing it in the ground, we’re growing it right. Everyone around here is growing weed hydroponics. I don’t like the hydro.
Metal Gaia: What is the bad thing about Hydro?
Mountain Man: It can mold. You gotta add chemicals to it all the time. Marijuana plant grows better on its own.
Metal Gaia: So, I’ve heard that you’ve seen wild cats out here?
Mountain Man: Oh yeah. I’ve been putting in a drive way for a gentleman around here. I went up there hiking the first time. I was just 20 feet from the top. A big rock was on top. The rock fell down. I had my 30-30 and my pistol with me. And this big cat was watching me from the cliff. And his head was about a foot and a half wide. He weighed over 500 pounds. He got pretty close and I took my shirt off. I put the shirt in the tree. He went after the tree. So I got outta there. Next day I was up there at my friend’s, about 300 yards from there, I heard a snap of the branches and I just missed the cat with my rifle by half a foot. He jumped off into the woods. Last hunting season I went up for my shirt. It was hanging in the tree. My buddy got it out of the tree and said, “I don’t think that cat likes you very much.” (The shirt looked like Swiss cheese).
Metal Gaia: So, what advice would you have for someone like me who has never lived off the land?
Mountain Man: Keep to yourself. Get your own gardens growing, get your raise beds, get your own soil. The soil around here is not good.
Up here where we’re at, everything migrates here in the winter time. There’s mountain bucks, mule deer, bob cat, antelope, bear, lynx, minx – we get cats that come out and watch us. They don’t come after us. I’ve had bears walk up on me when I’m coming out of the woods. I’ve never been attacked by any of the critters around here.
Metal Gaia: Why do you think they don’t attack you?
Mountain Man: I don’t know. I’m from the mountain. I was born and raised up here. In my old house my buddy has nine cougars as pets. He’s got a big fenced in yard. We go and play with them all the time.
Metal Gaia: So I guess living in the mountains, you’ve learned how to deal with animals.
Mountain Man: Yeah. Do you believe in crystals? I’d like to show you something. (Pulls out a crystal). You know what the clear ones look like? This one here, when I was going through Chemo and Cancer, I kept this crystal with me all my life. It was solid white when I started. If you feel the crystal you can feel the heat coming out of there. That is the poison that was in my body. That’s what my hippy mountain friends tell me.
Metal Gaia: So it started out white before your cancer, but it’s dark blue now.
Mountain Man: A lot of people trip out on it.
Metal Gaia: I was thinking about moving out and living off the land at some point in my life.
Mountain Man: The way things are getting with the guns and everything you don’t want to be around the city.
Metal Gaia: Because all the criminals will have them and the law-abiding citizens won’t?
Mountain Man: Well if they try taking them away from people it’s gonna get stupid. My friend says, “ya’ll live in the country. You don’t have anything to worry about.” What they’re going to do is outlaw certain guns and pull you over if you have one. But they’re not going to outlaw all of them at once because they’d lose half their army trying to get them away from half the people in the city.
They’ve got gangs, mafia, they’re not going to give up their guns. They know about those people, but they don’t know about the people out here (in the country). There are people out here that have semi-trailers buried in the ground and they’re stocked! And don’t think they (the police) wanna come out here. These people own their land. They know their own area. I put guns and knives in the yard so if my wife ever has a problem… The dogs also let her know that people are out here.
Metal Gaia: So if I wanna live out on the land…
Mountain Man: You can do it, it’s not hard. Keep to yourself. Get a gun.
Metal Gaia …grow a garden.
Mountain Man: If you go to meet someone, and something’s pulling you on your tail, you’re not sure about them, go by your instincts.
Metal Gaia: Do you feel that if more people lived off the land – would that solve a lot of problems in the world?
Mountain Man: My grandmother is 100 years old and she’s still alive. She’s been teaching prison ministries for years. She is very rich. She said if the government left us alone and let us do what we were doing back them we would be better off. We grew our own food, made our own clothes, everything was made here in America. Now if you find something made in America it’s worth Bucks! Because nothing is made here anymore. If more people start growing marijuana that would help the ozone because marijuana puts out a lot of oxygen. A lot of farmers are just waiting for it to become permanently legal.
Metal Gaia: So…it’s technically legal, but they’re still working out the kinks in the legal system?
Mountain Man: If you think about it. Two states went legal at the same time: Washington and Colorado. Washington said, “we want Federal help.” Colorado said “kiss my fucking ass, I’ll grow that shit on my own.” So the state runs Colorado, but if the Feds came here – they could fuck with the people who have the red card. In Washington nobody could do anything to you. But here they can.
Metal Gaia: Was there anything else you wanted to say about living off the land?
Mountain Man: Just go by your instincts.
Metal Gaia: So, Healer Woman, How long have you been living off the grid?
Healer Woman: I was born in 1959, in a little bitty town, 14 miles outside the town I grew up in. I have hoed peanuts, picked cotton, shucked corn…I was like 4-5 years old doing that then and getting paid for it. We had running water and a wood heater for heat. When my mother married my step dad, we didn’t have running water and we didn’t have inside bathrooms. We milked cows and slopped hogs. Then my mother worked for a ranch… so I’ve been doing this my whole life. I love living this way. I haul water. I heat up my water to do dishes. I do spit baths…
Metal Gaia: What are spit baths?
Healer Woman: Spit baths are when you heat the water up on a wood stove, strip your clothes down, and you take a bath. If you are going to wash your hair you go outside. But other than that, I have all the conveniences.
Metal Gaia: Because you have TV and radio?
Healer Woman: Well, we don’t have TV. We watch movies. We watch DVDs. We have a radio. We have solar and plenty of wood – a ton of wood. I own 5.9 acres.
Metal Gaia: And the bills are probably pretty small…
Healer Woman: We have two bills: Insurance on our truck and our phone…oh and groceries.
Metal Gaia: [Laughs] Yeah, no 500 dollar heating bill.
Healer Woman: yeah, I don’t have no…trash, water, sewer, electric, internet, car payment…they got all these bills. I own everything I have. It’s all been paid for in cash. I owe nothing.
Metal Gaia: So, for someone like me who has never lived off the grid, if I was to move out here and live this kind of life, what kind of advice would you have for me?
Healer Woman: Carry a gun or a knife. On you ALL the time! Don’t go around by yourself. Kind of get used to the land, the traditionals, get used to your surroundings – where you’re at – listen. A big cat could sneak up behind you and you would not know it. The wildlife is wonderful here.
Metal Gaia: What kind of animals have you seen?
Healer Woman: I saw a … elk, a bear tried to come through my front door, my Blue Healer [her dog] was half way out the window trying to get it.
Metal Gaia: Oh my God…
Healer Woman: I’ve seen Bob Cats, Cougars, Coyotes, Wolves, Badgers, Deer, Bunnies…little white cotton tails.
Metal Gaia: So…you said you are a healer yourself?
Healer Woman: Yeah, I heal.
Metal Gaia: Have you been doing that your whole life?
Healer Woman: No.
Metal Gaia: How did you get into it?
Healer Woman: I got into it through a friend of mine. I have hepatitis C. I tried medicine. It didn’t work. So I started going to Natural Remedies. I’ve been doing Natural Remedies since…well I have been doing them all my life. Let me take that back. When I was little working on the ranch my mother would go fishing a lot in the pond. My mother would take us in the woods and show us what plants we could eat, what plants we couldn’t eat, what plants would kill you, so yeah – I’ve kinda been doing it my whole life. But I really got into it right before they told me I only had 5 years to live. Their medicine wasn’t going to work and I needed something that was going to work.
Metal Gaia: Do you use any crystals like your husband?
Healer Woman: Only if they’re given. You are not supposed to take a crystal. According to Indian lore, you are not supposed to take a crystal unless it has been given to you. It’s like the blue stone and turquoise. I am Cherokee, Chocktaw and Chickasaw. And I do a lot of Indian rituals. I do the summer solstice, I do the winter solstice, I do the giving and I do a Spring solstice because that is when Earth is brand new. I do a summer solstice to talk about things that have been bothering you through the year. Then I do a winter solstice to end the Earth.
Metal Gaia: I guess that’s the cool thing about living out here. You can be in touch with the land. Do you feel that people who live off the land are more spiritually aware?
Healer Woman: Yes. You are more in touch with yourself.
Metal Gaia: Do you feel that people who live in the city and the modern world are out of touch with spirituality?
Healer Woman: They are all into themselves and the fast life and what they are going to get at McDonalds and what kind of video game they are going to buy. Then you have the druggies who go house to house causing people headaches – thieving and raping and pillaging…it’s just…it’s nice to be out of that! I do keep up with the laws and what’s going on my phone… and then to be an inch away from your next door neighbor? How the hell can I breathe?
Metal Gaia: How do you do your healing?
Healer Woman: I use oils. To do them you…the person that you are healing…after they tell you what is wrong…you pray over that person. If you tell me what’s wrong I will get the herbs that I think will help you. I don’t heal everybody. I don’t want that. I just heal certain people. People that are close to me, people that I feel need it. I’m not just going to go out there and heal everybody because I do not proclaim to be a professional healer.
Metal Gaia: My last question is, do you think things in this country would be a lot better if people lived off the land?
Healer Woman: Hell yeah. Yeah…cuz kids today have no respect, they have no honor, no morals, they don’t know what work is. They ain’t been made to work. They ain’t been took out behind the barn and got their ass tore up like I did. I thank God that my mom tore my ass up. You did not walk up to an elderly person and say “Hello Misses Whatever.” You’d got knocked into the next room with a fist, because it was disrespectful. You walked in there and said “Hello Mother” what her first or last name was. That was respect. And if you didn’t….your butt was in trouble!
Metal Gaia: Well thank you for answering my questions.
After the interview, Healer Woman showed me the trailer she makes crafts in. One of the crafts she makes are Medicine Bags. She made one for my step-mother, myself among other members of the family. Her husband gave me one of his Bear Claws to put in my bag.
From what Healer Woman told me, a medicine bag is a representation of one’s soul. You put things inside of it that are spiritually close to you, like an Eagle’s Feather or a Bear Claw. However, these things must be found in a natural environment like the woods (they must be given by the Earth, a trusted friend, or a family member). You cannot go to the store and buy a medicine bag or items to put in your medicine bag.
You must keep the medicine bag given to you close to your heart at all times because it gives you strength, vitality and protection. If someone takes or tampers with your medicine bag, this can hurt you. This is why people must always ask you for permission to touch your medicine bag.
I also found out that quite unfortunately – many Native American people who go into Rehab or jail are not allowed to bring their medicine bags with them. (This is insanely biased since there are a fair share of Christians who can bring Rosaries or Crucifixes of the cross with them to jail or rehab). As a result, the Medicine Bags of these people are more often than not sold into pawn shops or New Age stores. People end up buying these medicine bags and bringing spiritual ruin onto themselves as well as the poor person who had to lose their medicine bag.
Everything is Given From The Earth, Nothing is Taken
Another important lesson I learned: If you use dream catchers or crystals, they should be given. You should not buy these things because you don’t know what kind of energy you will run into. Not only are items like these given, but even life is given – for a temporary amount of time anyways. When you spend time with a loved one, you are borrowing them from the planet, before they go back.
So if you lose them you shouldn’t despair too much because you never owned them – no one ever truly owns anyone or anything. That is arrogance.
Everything in life should be given to you by the planet, not taken. Even the people we enjoy being around are a gift. Part of living a natural life is appreciating what is given to you (even if you only have it for a few winters) and learning how to give back yourself.
Metal in itself has been a way to empower those on the fringes of society. A person who’s lived their life in the shadows can make themselves heard via blazing guitars, amps tuned up to 11 and screaming vocals that make your neighbors loathe the day you were born. It’s the music that says, “If you try to push me against a wall, I’ll push you off the nearest cliff. If you ignore me, I’ll give you something you can’t ignore. My fist.”
If you want to talk about a group on the fringes of society, let’s talk about Native Americans. They are a people who used to be 60 million strong in this country, but now number only 500,000. They have been pushed out and replaced in their own home land, and given some of the worst land to eek out an existence as a token for their troubles. Today many are plagued by alcoholism and some of the worst poverty/unemployment rates in the nation.
This video tracks the life of a Native American boy: getting bullied at school, dealing with parents who don’t want him to date their daughter and seeing the Earth his ancestors lived on getting sold away to the highest bidder. Yet the boy draws strength from his struggles. His voice will be heard. He will draw power from his Native Blood and heritage.
Testament made this video on behalf of the singer Chuck Billy’s own Native American heritage, tracing back to the Pomo line of Northern California. The video itself was filmed on the Hopland Indian reservation in Hopland, California.
The goal of this blog is to embrace Earth Based Culture. Natural cultures of the Earth. Earth based spirituality and wisdom. Not only must Native Americans rise up and defend their mother Earth, but all cultures can learn from their struggle. Your heritage can be a source of history, knowledge and power. In many of the Epic Legends of old, heroes not only named themselves, but they named their fathers, and their father’s father’s, and the line of their people as far back as they could remember. They didn’t do this to be boring (although it may seem pointless to the modern reader), they did it because they shared a collective ancestral memory and destiny with their kin.
Up until the modern age, a person’s culture was something that sprung up from the Earth. Festivals revolved around the rotations of the sun and the phases of the moon. “Where is now the intricate richness of traditional costume, in which every folk could express its own nature, on its own landscape? (Ludwig Klages, Man and Earth).”
Being proud of your heritage doesn’t mean avoiding all other people who don’t conform to that heritage. Rather, it means understanding where your forefathers have been in order to know where you yourself are going. Yet the trouble in this day and age is that many people are lost. We don’t know who our ancestors were. Some people have a vague idea of what country their forefathers may have come from. But when it comes to the stories, the traditions, the folk lore of our people – we are clueless. We are like a tree without its roots, and without roots such a tree will be blown around in the breeze without direction or purpose.
Some people came to America out of desperation. Others were kidnapped or coerced. Yet the commonality that most Americans have with one another is that the rich bank of lore that connected them with their ancestors was a slate wiped clean. That deep knowledge was replaced with Pepsi jingles and the latest story on Snooki’s baby. We are a country with shallow roots and shallow values. Through the imperialistic American agenda, we have succeeded in spreading these values to most quarters of the globe. And what do we have now to show for it? The idiotic idea that we have an endless supply of resources to consume. We need this endless train of gizmos to fill the void within ourselves, because our lives have no real meaning.
Yet nature is persistent. Like weeds beginning to grow in a well manicured garden, something is happening in the subconscious mind of people around the world. Our ancestors are knocking – no pounding on the door. They are telling us to wake up from this mindless destruction before it’s too late.
People are becoming interested once again in ancient cultures. You can see this every where. From music, to movies, to the interest in Eastern and Native American spirituality, to the popularity of a show like Spartacus on television. It’s all pointing to a re-emergence of Earth based spirituality.
Eastern spirituality is popular because many of their ancestral traditions are still alive and thriving. Compare this to the West where Ancestral Traditions were burned, destroyed and oppressed in every way the Christian Church could possibly think of for hundreds of years. In terms of ethnic heritage, I am mostly a Celt. I am a mix of Irish, Scottish, French blood with a few other things thrown in like Croation and the possibility of Native American blood. Yet do I know anything about my own ancestors? Their traditions? Their fights? Their rituals? Aside from what I can read in a textbook or website about the matter, No. Yes, the information is out there, but there is a thousand year gap of distortion in the way. Compare that to India where you can go to a Hindu Guru who’s learned directly from a master, who learned from another master, who learned from a chain of masters that could date back for a thousand years.
Some people say that White People don’t have a culture and I blame Christianity and Capitalism for that fact. Much was also done to African American slaves to annihilate all traces of their ancestral memories, and replace their traditions with Christianity – a religion of subversion. Is it no small wonder that slavery worked better in religious, puritanical America than it did in other places around the world?
So what do we do now? Our roots have been cut, how do we grow them back? I think so much has happened that it is nigh impossible to revert back to whoever our ancestors may have been. And many Americans will never truly know who they were. At this point our ancestors are a silhouette in the dark.
As trees without roots, we line the canopy of the forest floor and have become rotting logs. Our only purpose being to take up space until some forest fire burns us away. It may take some large wave of destruction/global warming/man made disaster to clear away the debris of this toxic culture so a new and better society can grow out of the ashes of the wake.
But there is another option. That option is that we can rediscover our roots. Much like the Native American boy of this video who was clutching his necklace as an emblem of power. I don’t mean that we should rediscover our roots in a racist way – excluding others who don’t match our ancestral path.
Let me put it this way. All successful ecosystems are diverse. The rainforest itself is a testament to that fact, with the largest number of plant and animal species surviving together. So let us become like the rainforest and find a common ancestry in the Earth. I have a Celtic ancestry and as you can see, I post a lot of Celtic Pagan material on this blog. Yet I also learn lessons from Norse, Roman, Hindu, Buddhist and Native American cultures. If a healer has medicine to offer me, I’m not going to decline based on the color of his hand.
So what is my Native Blood? It is dirt. It is clay. It is twig. It is vine. It is an endless message sewn within the seams of time. It is the wind, the fire, the air and water of the Earth. It is the cosmic heritage that spawned my birth. I am particles, stardust, universal DNA – intertwined. I am a messenger of ancient truths communicated online. I am the seeds of Yggdrasil. The rings of a redwood tree. I am the echoes of decimation that proceeds eternity. I am the thunderbolt that bleeds electric from the darkening sky. I am the prophet that breathes great happenings are nigh. I am the voice that calls to you from the void in your sleep. I am everything because I can be nothing. I am Metalgaia, harbinger of destiny.
We humans are a disease, even we do not find a cure, Earth will provide the antibiotic. If we continue to pollute, the ozone will open up and kill off the polluters if necessary. We should find ways to work with the Earth rather than focusing on the political abstractions that got us into this mess. We should consider all possibilities instead of working in the narrow framework of Democracy.
“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.”