Image via theveiloftime.com
Some may consider it a curious thing for a person to identify with more than one ancestry. For me, it’s just par for the course. 16 April was spent remembering the battle at Culloden Moor in Scotland; the last Jacobite uprising and what led to the eventual destruction of the Highland way of life. I say ‘destruction’ but I know that through the course of time integral pieces of the Highland culture have survived. More than just survived, they have been curated, nurtured, even if only in a quiet, dark room. The whispers of our ancestors also play an important role in keeping the cultures and traditions alive and relevant.
Last Saturday morning, I spent time in the waters of Commencement Bay, as Anishiinaabekwe, speaking words to Mni. Words of giizaagiin (love), words of maamoyaawendamowin (gratitude), asking forgiveness. Asking for my ears, eyes and heart to be opened….and courage if it is to be my place to help restore the reciprocal relationship between humans and our more-than-human relatives. Affirming my relationship and responsibility to my more-than-human relative, nbi.
Nbi was very gracious. Cold, but loving. I stood knee-deep in nbi, watching the ebb and flow. Listening with the ears behind the ears. Trying to see with the eyes of my spirit. The language of mni is much different than what we are used to comprehending, but I feel like I was able to get at least a tiny glimpse of how she communicates. The ripples on the surface are a very distinct language.
I’m very careful to remember that the teachings I have, though important, are not formally passed down. I remind myself to be very careful with how I practice my beliefs, because not being well-educated in the protocols has the potential to damage instead of heal. I try to approach my healing practices from a place of humility and respect. Foremost in my approach is the knowing that there is so much “I don’t know that I don’t know”. Respect is essential, so as to not find myself cross-wise with my more-than-human relatives, or anyone else, for that matter.
These is much to heal, in our world. My thoughts on Culloden Moor…Sand Creek…Wounded Knee…the Dakota 38: not ancient history. Not when the science of epigenetics is starting to reveal that trauma is passed down through the DNA. It is as present today as when our ancestors experienced it.
I believe that we have a beautiful opportunity now to heal what damage has been done. We must work to heal, of sound spirit and mind, as much as possible. But we must find a new way to do the healing. Historically, the path has involved blaming and shaming, but that has only gotten us so far. In fact, I would say that we live with the results of centuries of blaming and shaming and, to my mind, it’s gotten us nowhere near to living as healed, real human beings. Acknowledging and forgiving are key….and in order for both to happen, a spirit of reciprocity must be nurtured.
We have work to do, now. When our ancestors looked at their environment and saw that their more-than-human relatives were not well, they knew that they needed to get to work healing the reciprocal relationship between their communities and the communities of the more-than-human relatives. Their ceremonies were integral parts of rebuilding respect and facilitating healing. But their ceremonies were outlawed and forbidden. Huge chunks of wisdom and knowledge passed away.
But all is not lost. I believe that, like the trauma that is passed down through the DNA, so is the wisdom and the knowledge of the ceremonies. Not only must we remember with those who have curated and nurtured the ceremonies and the traditions, even if only in a quiet, dark room….we must also heal ourselves so that the wisdom and the ceremonies, which live in our DNA, can come to the surface and heal our communities. The ceremonies and traditions, the language – they are the keys to having healthy reciprocal relationships with each other and our more-than-human relatives.
Acknowledging and forgiving. Fostering a spirit of reciprocity.
Agegish wii-zhawenimish Manidoo. Go mbeannaí Dia duit.