In dreams, I do whatever I want; in everyday life, I obey the dictates of my mind-body and my society/culture (plus whichever society/culture I am visiting). My lessons from both dreamland and my waking life inform me and are making The New Me.
Last night I watched “Snatch” (Brad Pitt movie) two and a quarter times while Brenna and David were out playing Ultimate Frisbee. They came home and we ate moose burgers (David had been part of the hunt and butchering that moose) and watched another old movie.
I’ll leave soon for the local bus. I’ll be meeting Elliot to chat, and then I’m going to Chris’ tonight at 7 pm. They are both Couchsurfers. I’ll get to know Fairbanks a little today.
I told a bunch of young Native People sitting in the sun in the downtown park (with metal Eskimo sculpture), “The Gypsies are in town.” I kept walking and sat in the shade. I sang rather loudly to my iPod music. Some Caucasians were sitting near me, eating lunch. I had my eyes closed and didn’t watch their reactions (which, I think, were negligible).
Two older Native men were sitting a little ways away. I tried listening to them with my inner ears. This is what I heard them say to me (after I had been singing for a while): “You are a healer; you don’t have to sing out loud. Focus on healing people.”
Pretty soon, Elliot, my CS host this coming weekend showed up. We talked and then parted. I had gotten my message from the two Native men.
In Native cultures, a “singer” is a healer. From now on, I shall look at people with the serious, inner eyes of the healer. I feel protected and as though I have the assistance of other healers around me. I think someday I will recognize them as easily as they seem to recognize me.
Being a healer means taking responsibility for myself and learning to take some responsibility for others. This is the “service” part of the spiritual journey.
Healing is not outwardly centered; it is inwardly centered. It is not directed by others; it is directed by my inner Self, my guardian spirits, and Pachamama (my personal protector who chose me during my Ayahuasca journey last winter in Venezuela).
I don’t feel any sense of “loss.” I haven’t given up anything. My Self, the “I,” is intact, and, because I am whole, I am eligible to become a healer. I have finished healing my Self. Now, I have to learn how to heal others.
All these beliefs (above) are all spiritual–and “invisible”–in the style of Native American religion/culture (see Wikipedia selection below). Most Westerners don’t follow this path; it is the path of most Native People around the world.
Native American Religion
Native American religions are very closely connected to the land in which Native Americans dwell and the supernatural. While there are many different Native American religious practices, most address the following areas of supernatural concern: an omnipresent, invisible universal force, pertaining to the “three ‘life crises’ of birth, puberty, and death”, spirits, visions, the medicine people and communal ceremony.
Native American spiritualities are often characterized by animism or panentheism, with a strong emphasis on the importance of personal spirituality and its inter-connectivity with one’s own daily life, and a deep connection between the natural and spiritual ‘worlds’. Their lives were steeped in religious ceremonies often directly related to farming and hunting. Spiritual power, they believed, suffused the world, and sacred spirits could be found in all kinds of living and inanimate things-animals, plants, trees, water, and wind. Through religious ceremonies, they aimed to harness the aid of powerful supernatural forces to serve the interests of man. In some tribes, hunters performed rituals to placate the spirits of animals they had killed.
Native American religions tend not to be institutionalized but rather experiential and personal while still being communal. Individual asceticism through sweat lodge ceremonies and other events along with rituals make the understanding of Native American faiths and religions by non-Natives, problematic at best. Native American religions tend to be carried out mainly in a family or tribal location first and are better explained as more of a process or journey than a religion. It is a relationship experienced between Creator and created. For Native Americans, religion is never separated from one’s daily life unlike Western cultures where religion is experienced privately and gradually integrated into one’s public life. Conversation about theology and religion, even within their societies, is extremely limited but to live and breathe is to worship.
For Native Americans, a relationship with God is experienced as a relationship with all of creation which interestingly, is ever present and does not require an institution or building. All of creation has life. Rocks, trees, mountains, and everything that is visible lives and is part of creation and therefore has life which must be respected. Achiel Peelman suggests that, “strictly speaking, Amerindians do not believe in God but know God as an intrinsic dimension of all their relations.” God is known indirectly through an awareness of the relationships or links between various aspects of both the physical and supernatural realms. Spirituality of the Native Americans makes no distinction between these realms; the living and dead, visible and invisible, past and present, and heaven and earth.
Most adherents to traditional American Indian ways do not see their spiritual beliefs and practices as a “religion”; rather, they see their whole culture and social structure as infused with ‘spirituality’ – an integral part of their lives and culture.