Restoring Our Pre-Conquest Mind

Once upon a time we all lived in tribal societies. We all knew the value of acknowledging our interconnectedness with the ancestors, land spirits and our ancestral Gods. We understood that life on Earth is a delicate balance between all these forces and that, while humanity plays a significant role, we are not at the top of the spiritual food chain. We understood that we are more than our egos, more than mere personalities: our power comes from understanding that we are representatives of our ancestral lines inhabiting the planet with responsibilities and ties to all generations, past and future. In short, we knew what it was to be indigenous people living on the land in a respectful way.

Then came the conquest and we were conquered violently. The European tribes fought but fell one by one; Gauls, Celts, Saxons, Angles, Scots and Norse. With the Christianization of Europe these cultures and their indigenous religions were ravaged. The Inquisition created thought crimes for which individuals could be burned: many were martyred for trying to hold on to the memory of who they were. The memory was so completely eradicated that a few centuries after their collective indoctrination Europeans were ready to become colonizers and decimate other indigenous peoples. A genocidal war was begun on the American continents as new tribes were added to the list of the fallen: Taino, MicMac, Cree, Apache, Lakota, Aztec, Maya, Inca. In Africa colonial powers pillaged and more tribes fell, with millions sold into slavery: Yoruba, Ewe, Limba, Fon and Igbo. At one time or another we all met the imperial machine and were trampled. Our inability to recognize our brethren damaged the bonds of our shared humanity.

How were we vanquished? Any colonial power will tell you “divide and conquer”. Had the tribes stood together and overcome their divisions, the conquest would not have been possible. It would stand to reason then that the first step in removing the shackles of our collective indoctrination would be to recognize ourselves as the heirs to diverse tribal cultures rooted in millenia of indigenous traditions and to unite in shared purpose to restore what was taken from us. This involves nothing less than a paradigm shift and the removal of the post modern filter of consumerist malaise. This can be difficult work after centuries of Stockholm Syndrome where we have learned to identify with the frameworks of oppression and to worship the God of our conquerors. This work will not happen by isolating ourselves in our own little subgoups and communities: it will require a unified effort and the creation of a greater pan-indigenous consciousness. While each of our groups is unique, we need to recognize that there are commonalities that all of us share as heirs to indigeny. We honor our ancestors who guide the way back to the full remembrance of who we are, we live in balance and right relationship with the land spirits and elemental powers and we embrace our ancient contracts with our ancestral Gods. It sounds rather simple, but where to begin? With the first tie sundered; our memory, our ancestors. Even when we are lost and have no idea how to find our way home, they have the map and know the road.

In this time of crisis where we do not remember our obligations to the coming generations and live unsustainably, where we turn away from our fellow humans and tolerate atrocities as a matter of course, our dead cry out for the restoration of our shared humanity. They and the land spirits and the Gods cry out to restore the balance that was once broken, the balance that allowed us to live on the Earth without destroying it. Indigeny is our birthright as is the reclamation of our pre-conquest mind. We can choose not to perpetuate the divisions that disempower us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1542692508 Peter Dybing

    WOW!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1542692508 Peter Dybing

    WOW!, Well said!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1542692508 Peter Dybing

    WOW!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1542692508 Peter Dybing

    WOW!, Well said!

  • Anonymous

    The premise of this blog entry reminds me too much of 18th Century ideas about the ‘noble savage’. I don’t think there ever was such a thing as ‘pre-conquest’ mind… conquest has always been part of human nature, especially as populations expand. Laying the ‘evils’ of conquest solely at the foot of modern Europeans is far too convenient, too. Did this pre-conquest mind exist prior to the Persian Wars documented by Herodotus? Or the Peloponnesian War documented by Thucydides? War is part of civilization… idealizing human history by denying this reality doesn’t really serve the evolution of the species, but hides it behind a fanciful illusion.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lamyka-L/649965363 Lamyka L.

      I think the writer is referring to “the conquest” in the european sense not because of an idealized version of history but because much of this latest conquest has been so thorough. Yes previously documented conquests felt all encompassing to those suffering from them but the reality has always been that there was a contingent of indigenous peoples that outnumbered that area suffering.

      Whereas if you look just within the last 200 years the literal not just the “known” world has been encompassed by the Jewish, Christian, & Islamic net–particularly that of Holy Mother Church.

      I’ve read through some of Laura’s work and she doesn’t strike me as someone with her head up her butt in lala land, dreaming away. But I do believe it is ‘fanciful illusion’ as you say, to say that this particular conquest she refers to is just an obsession with the ‘noble savage’ or creative supposition.

      • http://twitter.com/chorisschema Corc Hamr

        I hope the author is referring to the conquest mindset that arose when Rome merged with Christianity, because any other interpretation of the text above would be revisionist history. When Rome conquered in its pre-Christian days, for example, it was expected that lip service would be paid to Roman Gods, but most cultural groups were free to celebrate their own religion, provided their religious leaders were not preaching violence against their conquerors, as the druids supposedly did. We already know what Julius Caesar thought of the druids. 

        The Celts, too, were conquerors, who attacked and subjugated several pre-Indo-European peoples in order to settle in the lands they had come to, even as far as Ireland. Now, granted, they were also settlers who intermarried and merged with these pre-Indo-Europeans, and while we do not know for sure, it is likely that the Celts adopted as much concerning religion as imposed. To be fair, though, after the Celts had spread through Europe, they were less concerned with conquest and more concerned with raiding and pillaging, eventually even sacking Rome; the Romans were surprised when, true to their word, the Celts up and left when they got what they’d asked for in ransom.

        The Saxons were conquering long after Christianity had taken Rome, but they still largely held to their old beliefs for several hundred years, until at last they were influenced by Rome, and then partially conquered, I think, by the Frankreich under Charlemagne. That’s a little hazier in my mind, blame my bad memory, but I am certain that many of the Saxon conquerors were still Pagan. 

        Christianity under the Roman system (and later, the Franks) may have been the worst of the conquerors, but it was by far only the last in a long series. The real difference was how those who were subjugated were treated afterwards. In this, the Christians have the worst track record, for certain. 

        • Lpatsouris

          That is the all-out obliteration I was referring to: when Roman state power melded with Christianity there was a fundamental shift. Previously subjects of Rome did have to pay lip service to Roman state Deities but were free to maintain their own unique cultural practices. This last vestige of tolerance evaporated with the merging of state and religion into Christianity. In refering to the Conquest I am specifically referring to the total eradication of indigenous religious traditions. In Europe people who held on to those practices (or even alternate Christian traditions at odds with Church power, note the Albigensian Crusades) were outright slaughtered. And once Europe was thoroughly Christianized the push for global imperialism pushed outwards with new continents of people to exploit. With Church approval. They blessed the genocide in the Americas and blessed the slave ships. They also blessed forced conversions and colonialism and expansion onto almost every continent.

          Have pagans and some indigenous groups been guilty of smaller versions of conquest? Of course. But never on such a vast scale, never to the point that the earth faced global environmental disaster. Here I am just hoping people can think about how it is the societal indoctrination of our post-industrial society that allows us to sit by while corporations exploit humanity and the Earth in a race to acquire riches and resources in completely unsustainable ways. The State and the Church still are in cahoots to defend this indefensible behavior: many Christian groups accept environmental destruction as part of their apocalyptic vision of a future where it is OK to ruin the Earth because Jesus will rescue us. The State meanwhile cares only about revenue, cash value of resources and maintaining itself.

          It is my belief that humanity needs to reconnect with the most basic knowledge that any of our indigenous ancestors (and we all have them if you look back far enough, some of us just have them more recently) would have taken as completely obvious: if humans destroy the land they live on in their shortsightedness, what will become of humanity? Whether people agree or not, I want to see the fruit of *that* conversation…

          • Rua Lupa

            I personally feel that the word indigenous is misleading. Even in studying wildlife – there is no definition that is agreed upon. So it is left to the understanding that once a species is recorded there for the first time, it is automatically indigenous, and everything else that comes after it and attempts or succeeds in pushing the prior out, is invasive. Even though the species first documented may very well have pushed something else out and have been part of a long line of species out competing the other.

            So when does any group become indigenous to an area? Is it counted in generations, activities, centuries? Every group has
            pushed out another at some point and the only real line that defines what indigenous is encircles the earth. We are all genetically linked to everything that surrounds us on
            this planet and Indigenous can only be everything that lives or has ever lived on this planet. No more, no less.

            So the word shouldn’t really ever be used to separate any group from another as it is commonly used.

          • Rua Lupa

            I would like to add that ‘native’ is a more preferred word to use in wildlife study. As it means a species that lives locally and is well interconnected with surrounding species in an ecosystem.

          • Rua Lupa

            Last thing. For a very good impact of what I mean about indigenous being anything that lives or has lived on this planet, watch
            War of the Worlds (2005 film).

          • http://twitter.com/chorisschema Corc Hamr

            Agreed. Sorry to muddy the waters.

            -C

  • sindarintech

    The premise of this blog entry reminds me too much of 18th Century ideas about the ‘noble savage’. I don’t think there ever was such a thing as ‘pre-conquest’ mind… conquest has always been part of human nature, especially as populations expand. Laying the ‘evils’ of conquest solely at the foot of modern Europeans is far too convenient, too. Did this pre-conquest mind exist prior to the Persian Wars documented by Herodotus? Or the Peloponnesian War documented by Thucydides? War is part of civilization… idealizing human history by denying this reality doesn’t really serve the evolution of the species, but hides it behind a fanciful illusion.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lamyka-L/649965363 Lamyka L.

      I think the writer is referring to “the conquest” in the european sense not because of an idealized version of history but because much of this latest conquest has been so thorough. Yes previously documented conquests felt all encompassing to those suffering from them but the reality has always been that there was a contingent of indigenous peoples that outnumbered that area suffering.

      Whereas if you look just within the last 200 years the literal not just the “known” world has been encompassed by the Jewish, Christian, & Islamic net–particularly that of Holy Mother Church.

      I’ve read through some of Laura’s work and she doesn’t strike me as someone with her head up her butt in lala land, dreaming away. But I do believe it is ‘fanciful illusion’ as you say, to say that this particular conquest she refers to is just an obsession with the ‘noble savage’ or creative supposition.

      • http://twitter.com/chorisschema Corc Hamr

        I hope the author is referring to the conquest mindset that arose when Rome merged with Christianity, because any other interpretation of the text above would be revisionist history. When Rome conquered in its pre-Christian days, for example, it was expected that lip service would be paid to Roman Gods, but most cultural groups were free to celebrate their own religion, provided their religious leaders were not preaching violence against their conquerors, as the druids supposedly did. We already know what Julius Caesar thought of the druids. 

        The Celts, too, were conquerors, who attacked and subjugated several pre-Indo-European peoples in order to settle in the lands they had come to, even as far as Ireland. Now, granted, they were also settlers who intermarried and merged with these pre-Indo-Europeans, and while we do not know for sure, it is likely that the Celts adopted as much concerning religion as imposed. To be fair, though, after the Celts had spread through Europe, they were less concerned with conquest and more concerned with raiding and pillaging, eventually even sacking Rome; the Romans were surprised when, true to their word, the Celts up and left when they got what they’d asked for in ransom.

        The Saxons were conquering long after Christianity had taken Rome, but they still largely held to their old beliefs for several hundred years, until at last they were influenced by Rome, and then partially conquered, I think, by the Frankreich under Charlemagne. That’s a little hazier in my mind, blame my bad memory, but I am certain that many of the Saxon conquerors were still Pagan. 

        Christianity under the Roman system (and later, the Franks) may have been the worst of the conquerors, but it was by far only the last in a long series. The real difference was how those who were subjugated were treated afterwards. In this, the Christians have the worst track record, for certain. 

        • Lpatsouris

          That is the all-out obliteration I was referring to: when Roman state power melded with Christianity there was a fundamental shift. Previously subjects of Rome did have to pay lip service to Roman state Deities but were free to maintain their own unique cultural practices. This last vestige of tolerance evaporated with the merging of state and religion into Christianity. In refering to the Conquest I am specifically referring to the total eradication of indigenous religious traditions. In Europe people who held on to those practices (or even alternate Christian traditions at odds with Church power, note the Albigensian Crusades) were outright slaughtered. And once Europe was thoroughly Christianized the push for global imperialism pushed outwards with new continents of people to exploit. With Church approval. They blessed the genocide in the Americas and blessed the slave ships. They also blessed forced conversions and colonialism and expansion onto almost every continent.

          Have pagans and some indigenous groups been guilty of smaller versions of conquest? Of course. But never on such a vast scale, never to the point that the earth faced global environmental disaster. Here I am just hoping people can think about how it is the societal indoctrination of our post-industrial society that allows us to sit by while corporations exploit humanity and the Earth in a race to acquire riches and resources in completely unsustainable ways. The State and the Church still are in cahoots to defend this indefensible behavior: many Christian groups accept environmental destruction as part of their apocalyptic vision of a future where it is OK to ruin the Earth because Jesus will rescue us. The State meanwhile cares only about revenue, cash value of resources and maintaining itself.

          It is my belief that humanity needs to reconnect with the most basic knowledge that any of our indigenous ancestors (and we all have them if you look back far enough, some of us just have them more recently) would have taken as completely obvious: if humans destroy the land they live on in their shortsightedness, what will become of humanity? Whether people agree or not, I want to see the fruit of *that* conversation…

          • Rua Lupa

            I personally feel that the word indigenous is misleading. Even in studying wildlife – there is no definition that is agreed upon. So it is left to the understanding that once a species is recorded there for the first time, it is automatically indigenous, and everything else that comes after it and attempts or succeeds in pushing the prior out, is invasive. Even though the species first documented may very well have pushed something else out and have been part of a long line of species out competing the other.

            So when does any group become indigenous to an area? Is it counted in generations, activities, centuries? Every group has
            pushed out another at some point and the only real line that defines what indigenous is encircles the earth. We are all genetically linked to everything that surrounds us on
            this planet and Indigenous can only be everything that lives or has ever lived on this planet. No more, no less.

            So the word shouldn’t really ever be used to separate any group from another as it is commonly used.

          • Rua Lupa

            I would like to add that ‘native’ is a more preferred word to use in wildlife study. As it means a species that lives locally and is well interconnected with surrounding species in an ecosystem.

          • Rua Lupa

            Last thing. For a very good impact of what I mean about indigenous being anything that lives or has lived on this planet, watch
            War of the Worlds (2005 film).

          • http://twitter.com/chorisschema Corc Hamr

            Agreed. Sorry to muddy the waters.

            -C

  • http://miniver.blogspot.com/ Jonathan Korman

    I agree that we Pagans have great opportunity for alliances with the indigenous peoples of Africa and the Americas. One cannot help but see alignments of perspective and concerns. But I believe myself to be   much too White to responsibly claim an indigeny that makes me somehow the same as the Lakota, Yoruba, Guaranis, and other indigenous peoples. 

    First, the historical claims differ. I love the myth of a lost pagan Europe as much as the next contemporary Pagan. It has enormous value to us in trying to understand ourselves. But that myth has a much more complex relationship with history than the bloody encounters with colonialism that indigenous people experienced in the full view of the historical record and that continue to directly impact those people’s fortunes today. 

    Second, the political claims differ. Indigenous peoples took that name for themselves as a way of claiming a common identity in the face of a colonial West which robbed them of their land, their culture, and their dignity. We have no right to claim this name which we did not create. We may hope that indigenous people will see us joined to them in common cause, but we cannot tell them that we number among their people. However correct we may consider that claim, I expect that many indigenous people looking with a jaundiced eye at Pagans arrogating indigeneity to themselves, and that could cost us the alliance which you say you want to see happen. 

  • http://miniver.blogspot.com/ Jonathan Korman

    I agree that we Pagans have great opportunity for alliances with the indigenous peoples of Africa and the Americas. One cannot help but see alignments of perspective and concerns. But I believe myself to be much too White to responsibly claim an indigeny that makes me somehow the same as the Lakota, Yoruba, Guaranis, and other indigenous peoples. 

    First, the historical claims differ. I love the myth of a lost pagan Europe as much as the next contemporary Pagan. It has enormous value to us in trying to understand ourselves. But that myth has a much more complex relationship with history than the bloody encounters with colonialism that indigenous people experienced in the full view of the historical record. Indigenous people continue to experience that colonial encounter in a way that impacts their fortunes today. The contemporary Pagan experience differs too much from that.

    Second, the political claims differ. Indigenous peoples took that name for themselves as a way of claiming a common identity in the face of a colonial West which robbed them of their land, their culture, and their dignity. We have no right to claim this name which we did not create. We may hope that indigenous people will see us joined to them in common cause, but we cannot tell them that we number among their people. However correct we may consider that claim, I expect that many indigenous people will look with a jaundiced eye at Pagans arrogating indigeneity to themselves. That could cost us the alliance which we all would like to see happen.

  • Amy Hale

    I have to agree strongly with what Sindarintech and Jonathan Korman have written, but I wanted to add a couple of things here.  The first paragraph is a real concern.  First, not all indigenous peoples have the same beliefs and practices. They display incredible cultural and religious diversity. The nature and motives of ancestor veneration, for example, vary widely. Also, the idea that indigenous peoples “live in harmony with nature” is flawed, and as Sindarintech notes, reminiscent of Noble Savage idealizations. Peoples throughout time have seen “nature” as a resource, and this has sometimes led to fairly destructive environmental practices. Also, tribal societies can be and are very, very violent.

    It’s also useful to remember that many European tribes were conquered/integrated by a significant Pagan force, the Romans, before Christianity was implemented. The Huns did pretty well too. 

    And unless you belong to a very specific group or groups, it is very likely that indigeny is not our birthright. 

  • Amy Hale

    I have to agree strongly with what Sindarintech and Jonathan Korman have written, but I wanted to add a couple of things here.  The first paragraph is a real concern.  First, not all indigenous peoples have the same beliefs and practices. They display incredible cultural and religious diversity. The nature and motives of ancestor veneration, for example, vary widely. Also, the idea that indigenous peoples “live in harmony with nature” is flawed, and as Sindarintech notes, reminiscent of Noble Savage idealizations. Peoples throughout time have seen “nature” as a resource, and this has sometimes led to fairly destructive environmental practices. Also, tribal societies can be and are very, very violent.

    It’s also useful to remember that many European tribes were conquered/integrated by a significant Pagan force, the Romans, before Christianity was implemented. The Huns did pretty well too. 

    And unless you belong to a very specific group or groups, it is very likely that indigeny is not our birthright. 

  • http://terraformingearth.wordpress.com Aurora

    Well spoken. I agree with the previous commentators on one thing though – we do not have the right to call ourselves indigenous. Yes, we can refer to our ancestors as such and we can try to decolonize our minds and remember a pre-conquest mindset, but that label we cannot put on ourselves. I think we can be allies and parts of a new culture that is decolonized and may one day become indigenous, but that is the far future.

    sindarintech, you are certainly right, war is part of civilization. But civilization itself is the first conquest, the first encagement of people into cities and of animals into cages. And only by that time, there was population expansion, only by taking more than the land one is part of can offer one becomes an expansionist culture, a culture of conquest that spreads and needs wars to spread. A pre-conquest mindset sees not need to expand beyond the capabilities of the place the people following it live in. Why would it? What is the sense of growing beyond ones means when it is obvious that this results in the need for conquest and war with those who are neighbors.

  • http://terraformingearth.wordpress.com Aurora

    Well spoken. I agree with the previous commentators on one thing though – we do not have the right to call ourselves indigenous. Yes, we can refer to our ancestors as such and we can try to decolonize our minds and remember a pre-conquest mindset, but that label we cannot put on ourselves. I think we can be allies and parts of a new culture that is decolonized and may one day become indigenous, but that is the far future.

    sindarintech, you are certainly right, war is part of civilization. But civilization itself is the first conquest, the first encagement of people into cities and of animals into cages. And only by that time, there was population expansion, only by taking more than the land one is part of can offer one becomes an expansionist culture, a culture of conquest that spreads and needs wars to spread. A pre-conquest mindset sees not need to expand beyond the capabilities of the place the people following it live in. Why would it? What is the sense of growing beyond ones means when it is obvious that this results in the need for conquest and war with those who are neighbors.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sabina.magliocco Sabina Magliocco

    While I applaud the need to critique consumer capitalism, move towards greater sustainability and connection with the land, I also wonder whether the trope of European indigenousness doesn’t oversimplify a very complicated past, as well as flatten important differences between Euro-Americans and the descendants of colonized peoples.  European peoples were not conquered by some evil outsiders; they conquered one another.  And while Christianity certainly perpetrated many evils in the name of evangelism and colonialism, the first oppressor was surely the Roman empire – one European people conquering many others.  I think this is really a problem of the state vs. local polities.  This dichotomy also existed in Africa and the New World: for example, the Aztecs conquered many local indigenous peoples in Mexico, and the Yoruba Empire in West Africa exerted a great deal of power and influence over the surrounding peoples, demanding tribute and slaves.  This does not in any way justify European colonialism, which kicked conquest up to notches previously unknown.  But it forces us to look past the surface, to larger patterns in the development of state societies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sabina.magliocco Sabina Magliocco

    While I applaud the need to critique consumer capitalism, move towards greater sustainability and connection with the land, I also wonder whether the trope of European indigenousness doesn’t oversimplify a very complicated past, as well as flatten important differences between Euro-Americans and the descendants of colonized peoples.  European peoples were not conquered by some evil outsiders; they conquered one another.  And while Christianity certainly perpetrated many evils in the name of evangelism and colonialism, the first oppressor was surely the Roman empire – one European people conquering many others.  I think this is really a problem of the state vs. local polities.  This dichotomy also existed in Africa and the New World: for example, the Aztecs conquered many local indigenous peoples in Mexico, and the Yoruba Empire in West Africa exerted a great deal of power and influence over the surrounding peoples, demanding tribute and slaves.  This does not in any way justify European colonialism, which kicked conquest up to notches previously unknown.  But it forces us to look past the surface, to larger patterns in the development of state societies.

  • Illiezeulette

    I’m not sure how far back the “pre-conquest” mind was, but it was well before the Christianization of Europe.  Don’t forget the Roman Empire also did some heavy damage (though more tolerant, of course, of different religious belief), Alexander the Great, and various empires in the Far East.  I think you have a rather romantic view of things, but I agree that returning to the land we live on, preserving what we can and do have, and a small-community focus is something badly needed.  Unfortunately our over-culture and economic (capitalist) systems are systems of conquest and occupation, so a “return” to pre-conquest ideals would require a MAJOR upheaval in the way we live.  

    • Anonymous

      The bigger question for me, too, is whether or not it’s even possible for more than 7 Billion humans to live off of the land in this way. I think it would quickly result in substantially less people, which might not be such a bad thing, from a sustainability perspective.

      • Illiezeulette

        I think, unfortunately, the answer is no, we cannot live this way, and yes, a major population decline is somewhere on the horizon.  The death of hundreds of millions or billions weighs heavy on my heart and mind, but deep inside I think that industrial civilization has become a cancer on the planet.  If you could convince the average person to make basic but radical lifestyle changes, like turning their lawns into gardens and neighborhoods into actual, real, living, immediately local communities, to stop selling our time to machines that do not serve the health and wellbeing of the planet, to even just stop the manufacture of things that are toxic to ourselves and the planet…  agh.  So much. 

        People who see the problems in modern human society are often still trapped in the flawed thinking that you can shop your way to sustainability or that by recycling and switching out lightbulbs for fluorescents and turning off the tap while we brush our teeth, that we can save the world while salvaging our luxurious way of living.  But nothing could be further from the truth. 

        Starhawk’s vision of a sustainable (and, honestly, utopic, which makes me super skeptical) post-apocalyptic San Francisco in her novel The Fifth Sacred Thing is being turned into a film.  I wonder if her ideas, or ideas of other philosophers like Derrick Jensen and John Zerzan, will take root in the over-culture, and willing transformation can take place.  But I honestly think we’re screwed, that the first world won’t want to give up their way of life, that those with power (corporations, major governments) will resist change at all cost and the fall will be violent. 

        • Anonymous

          Minor quibble: I wouldn’t categorize Starhawk as *any* kind of philosopher. As for her ‘planned’ movie, I think it will go the same way as the recently released first part of Atlas Shrugged… if it even sees the light of day. I’m happy that her success has allowed her to buy property in the California wine country, but the rest of the world (and paganism) has moved on.

  • Illiezeulette

    I’m not sure how far back the “pre-conquest” mind was, but it was well before the Christianization of Europe.  Don’t forget the Roman Empire also did some heavy damage (though more tolerant, of course, of different religious belief), Alexander the Great, and various empires in the Far East.  I think you have a rather romantic view of things, but I agree that returning to the land we live on, preserving what we can and do have, and a small-community focus is something badly needed.  Unfortunately our over-culture and economic (capitalist) systems are systems of conquest and occupation, so a “return” to pre-conquest ideals would require a MAJOR upheaval in the way we live.  

    • sindarintech

      The bigger question for me, too, is whether or not it’s even possible for more than 7 Billion humans to live off of the land in this way. I think it would quickly result in substantially less people, which might not be such a bad thing, from a sustainability perspective.

      • Illiezeulette

        I think, unfortunately, the answer is no, we cannot live this way, and yes, a major population decline is somewhere on the horizon.  The death of hundreds of millions or billions weighs heavy on my heart and mind, but deep inside I think that industrial civilization has become a cancer on the planet.  If you could convince the average person to make basic but radical lifestyle changes, like turning their lawns into gardens and neighborhoods into actual, real, living, immediately local communities, to stop selling our time to machines that do not serve the health and wellbeing of the planet, to even just stop the manufacture of things that are toxic to ourselves and the planet…  agh.  So much. 

        People who see the problems in modern human society are often still trapped in the flawed thinking that you can shop your way to sustainability or that by recycling and switching out lightbulbs for fluorescents and turning off the tap while we brush our teeth, that we can save the world while salvaging our luxurious way of living.  But nothing could be further from the truth. 

        Starhawk’s vision of a sustainable (and, honestly, utopic, which makes me super skeptical) post-apocalyptic San Francisco in her novel The Fifth Sacred Thing is being turned into a film.  I wonder if her ideas, or ideas of other philosophers like Derrick Jensen and John Zerzan, will take root in the over-culture, and willing transformation can take place.  But I honestly think we’re screwed, that the first world won’t want to give up their way of life, that those with power (corporations, major governments) will resist change at all cost and the fall will be violent. 

        • sindarintech

          Minor quibble: I wouldn’t categorize Starhawk as *any* kind of philosopher. As for her ‘planned’ movie, I think it will go the same way as the recently released first part of Atlas Shrugged… if it even sees the light of day. I’m happy that her success has allowed her to buy property in the California wine country, but the rest of the world (and paganism) has moved on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lamyka-L/649965363 Lamyka L.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a larger bunch of negative nancy commenting. The writer is talking about reclaiming identity while honestly identifying the chief (though obviously not the sole) cause for the lack of connection. All I’ve read are self-doubts and cynicism. The complaints to this article could be listed thus:

    “Well, people have always been fighting and this ‘onward Christian soldier’ thing is just another one, no big deal.”

    Really? Atilla, and even Alexander are small potatoes compared to Holy Mother Church. Those two managed to conquer what was known at the time. Christian Rome managed to conquer what was known, unknown, and thought non-existant.

    “And Pagans did bad things too.”

    Well of course, sometimes People are less than what they could be. We all could be so much better. But no single faith could ever compare to Christian Rome in it’s sheer size and scope, or decimation of diversity.

    “We can’t call ourselves ‘indigenous’ because that’ll piss off actual Native Peoples.”

    Well, duh. But then we’ll see you’re living your life with respect for this World and Humanity and we won’t care. We’ll even start to welcome you as Family because that’s exactly what you’ll be. It’s not like all families must be by blood-ties.

    “There’s no way 7 billion people can support themselves.”

    The Dervaes family (famous within homesteaders) live on a 1/10 of an acre in Pasadena, California. Their ‘urban farm’ produces an excess of 3 TONS of food a year and increasing. It’s entirely possible for Humanity to survive, depending on whether on not we’ll all be lazy or work just a little bit.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think it has so much to do with some of us being negative as it does with us recognizing the flaws in the authors premise, which are extensive.

      Regarding your comment about the Dervaes family: you’re assuming that this single example is scale-able to all of the various micro-climates across the world. Odds are it’s not. There’s a reason why bio-engineered products are being marketed in the Third World: the environments in many of these places are unable to grow much of anything, especially in the numbers required to support explosive population growth.

      How many human beings are too many? I think 7 billion is too many. There are biological models that indicate that we’re due for a major pandemic that will significantly scale back this number to ‘sustainable’ levels. The same models used to describe the growth and death of bacteria colonies are the same ones that can be used to describe the growth and death of human populations. I think that says a lot about us.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lamyka-L/649965363 Lamyka L.

        Did you completely bypass the message of Hope through Intelligence and Hard-work straight on to a parallel topic of overpopulation to further prove my point of being a negative nancy? 

        What person alive, or Pagan I should say, doesn’t know we live in a World stretched to it’s limits? I know it’s bad to assume things but there are some basic ‘understandings’ you can make about people who reply on a post here.

      • Rua Lupa

        “There’s a reason why bio-engineered products are being marketed in the
        Third World: the environments in many of these places are unable to grow
        much of anything”

        Oh, they can grow plenty and in fact, many of the bio engineered products are worse than native plants that are starting to be used instead – i.e. the wild chickpea, because it evolved in that very climate and has natural resistances to native pests and diseases. Not to mention has more nutrients. And just because a region has been categorized as ‘Third World’ (which somehow has continued to inaccurately persist since the 50′s) doesn’t mean that they are not able to take care of themselves and I find it insulting to suggest that is the case.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lamyka-L/649965363 Lamyka L.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a larger bunch of negative nancy commenting. The writer is talking about reclaiming identity while honestly identifying the chief (though obviously not the sole) cause for the lack of connection. All I’ve read are self-doubts and cynicism. The complaints to this article could be listed thus:

    “Well, people have always been fighting and this ‘onward Christian soldier’ thing is just another one, no big deal.”

    Really? Atilla, and even Alexander are small potatoes compared to Holy Mother Church. Those two managed to conquer what was known at the time. Christian Rome managed to conquer what was known, unknown, and thought non-existant.

    “And Pagans did bad things too.”

    Well of course, sometimes People are less than what they could be. We all could be so much better. But no single faith could ever compare to Christian Rome in it’s sheer size and scope, or decimation of diversity.

    “We can’t call ourselves ‘indigenous’ because that’ll piss off actual Native Peoples.”

    Well, duh. But then we’ll see you’re living your life with respect for this World and Humanity and we won’t care. We’ll even start to welcome you as Family because that’s exactly what you’ll be. It’s not like all families must be by blood-ties.

    “There’s no way 7 billion people can support themselves.”

    The Dervaes family (famous within homesteaders) live on a 1/10 of an acre in Pasadena, California. Their ‘urban farm’ produces an excess of 3 TONS of food a year and increasing. It’s entirely possible for Humanity to survive, depending on whether on not we’ll all be lazy or work just a little bit.

    • sindarintech

      I don’t think it has so much to do with some of us being negative as it does with us recognizing the flaws in the authors premise, which are extensive.

      Regarding your comment about the Dervaes family: you’re assuming that this single example is scale-able to all of the various micro-climates across the world. Odds are it’s not. There’s a reason why bio-engineered products are being marketed in the Third World: the environments in many of these places are unable to grow much of anything, especially in the numbers required to support explosive population growth.

      How many human beings are too many? I think 7 billion is too many. There are biological models that indicate that we’re due for a major pandemic that will significantly scale back this number to ‘sustainable’ levels. The same models used to describe the growth and death of bacteria colonies are the same ones that can be used to describe the growth and death of human populations. I think that says a lot about us.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lamyka-L/649965363 Lamyka L.

        Did you completely bypass the message of Hope through Intelligence and Hard-work straight on to a parallel topic of overpopulation to further prove my point of being a negative nancy? 

        What person alive, or Pagan I should say, doesn’t know we live in a World stretched to it’s limits? I know it’s bad to assume things but there are some basic ‘understandings’ you can make about people who reply on a post here.

      • Rua Lupa

        “There’s a reason why bio-engineered products are being marketed in the
        Third World: the environments in many of these places are unable to grow
        much of anything”

        Oh, they can grow plenty and in fact, many of the bio engineered products are worse than native plants that are starting to be used instead – i.e. the wild chickpea, because it evolved in that very climate and has natural resistances to native pests and diseases. Not to mention has more nutrients. And just because a region has been categorized as ‘Third World’ (which somehow has continued to inaccurately persist since the 50′s) doesn’t mean that they are not able to take care of themselves and I find it insulting to suggest that is the case.

  • Andras Corban-Arthen

    This is, to be sure, a very complicated topic, not the least because some of its key terms of reference (particularly ‘indigenous’ and ‘pagan’) have equivocal and often-conflicting meanings. While I’d certainly agree that it’s improper and overly romantic to label modern neopaganism as ‘indigenous’ (though I didn’t get the sense that’s what the original poster was saying) I think that putting the pre-Christian pagan tribal peoples of the European continent in the context of indigenous cultures yields some very important perspectives that are often overlooked or underestimated.

    For instance, if the process of Christianization in Europe is laid over the matrix of post-Columbian colonialism, it quickly becomes evident that the two patterns are almost identical — save for the element of racism, many non-Christian Europeans suffered the same wanton massacres (including several crusades), appropriation of lands, forced repatriations, desecration and destruction of holy sites, mass occupations, the outlawing of local religious practices, prohibitions against the use of ethnic languages, etc., to which many other indigenous peoples were subsequently subjected. This is a history that has mostly been suppressed or whitewashed, and we may never get a real full picture of it, though enough evidence survives to make the case. The Christian colonization of Europe was the precursor to the Christian colonization of most of the rest of the world, and in almost all cases it amounted to genocide. And, to the degree that there still can be found random but substantial survivals of pagan ethnic practices in mostly remote, rural parts of Europe, the case can also be made that some indigenous European traditions still exist, though, in my experience, they have no direct connection (nor want one) with the neopagan movement.

    I would also add, for what it’s worth, that in the many interactions I’ve had with indigenous leaders through my work with the Parliament of the World’s Religions, I have almost always found them very interested, even excited, to discuss the existence of indigenous European traditions, a concept which many of them had never really considered before. Several have even told me that this has helped them to gain a new perspective on what Christian European colonists did to their people, and it has enabled us to develop strong bonds of understanding and solidarity with each other.  I have also found that indigenous peoples, themselves, tend to have a much more open and flexible sense of what constitutes indigeneity than a lot of ‘white people’ seem to.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lamyka-L/649965363 Lamyka L.

      I could kiss you Andras. Thanks for this comment.

      • Lpatsouris

        The thrust of this was not a meditation on the “noble savage” but a reflection on how the machine of imperialism decimated tribal cultures in Europe, then around the globe. While I do have some European ancestry, I grew up in my mother’s home steeped in Afro-Cuban and Taino practices and that is my own personal cultural lens. I see how what happened to the tribes of Europe laid the framework for what came later…a subject near and dear as my family was deeply marked by genocide and slavery.
        In advocating for indigeny I am not advocating for a simple label, but a return to a mindset not so deeply entrenched in the indoctrination of our collective conquerors. A remembrance that we all belong to the Earth and have an obligation to our planet as well as the larger human family. Here I would refer to someone far more eloquent than I and recommend looking up John Trudell (Native American activist and thinker) who has some great things to say about how the dilemmas of modern man can be summed up in that we have forgotten how to be human beings and identify as human beings before all the indoctrination and BS.
        I do believe that some of that lens of modernity and consumerism does have to go in order to have a sustainable future. We live in a world where the highest value is profit margins, not human lives. We have forgotten some very basic things. I am not saying that all cultures are the same. Or that all indigenous cultures are perfect. But those societies have never brought the planet or humanity to the brink of destruction. Just some food for thought….I don’t expect everyone to agree, just start having the conversation and start thinking about things like imperialism and conquest. Especially at a time when cultural imperialism is so endemic that few people bother to question it.

      • Lpatsouris

        Thank you Lamyka and Andras for getting where I’m coming from on this topic. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this concept of indigeny that is very near and dear to my heart. Indigenous survival is a crucial topic these days, as it is indigenous peoples on the frontlines as multinational corporations and the governments they fund strive for complete domination and control of global resources. I think if more people would ponder the idea of humanity= indigenous to Earth and reexamine what we are doing globally and locally and the impact for future generations, it could only be a good thing. Peace!

    • http://miniver.blogspot.com/ Jonathan Korman

      Andras, like any contemporary Pagan of the unabashedly “neo-” variety I feel a deep stirring in my heart from the stories you’ve worked so hard to gather and tell. I would hold out my hand of the practitioners of ethnic pagan traditions in Europe and tell them that in my eyes they are my cousins. Likewise to the practitioners of indigenous traditions around the world. The kinds of connections you have made are a perfect example of why I see great opportunities for alliances. Despite my skepticism, I cannot help but want you to be right about being able to join with those folks under a shared banner.

      But this article and many of the comments responding to it demonstrate of a big reason why I am wary of the language of “indigenous tradition” for Pagans. 

      Ms Patsouris offers a very romantic idea of wise, peace-loving people of the pre-colonial world living in perfect harmony with nature, claiming the same for pre-Christian European pagan societies, then claiming continuity of these things to contemporary Paganism. Those are some sweeping claims about culture and history, badly incorrect as I understand things. It’s much more than I’m prepared to accept without better support than she provides. And the rhetorical lever she’s using to do it is “indigeny.”

      I believe, as Ms Patsouris does, that a Pagan sensibility can help us heal a wounded world. But unlike her I do not believe that this can come from “reclaiming” a “pre-Conquest mind.” The culture as she imagines it never existed, could not be reclaimed if it did, and would not do what she wants if we could access it. And again, the rhetorical lever she is using to support this is “indigeny.” 

      Now I recognize that your references to European indigenous traditions do not make the same sweeping claims. But I notice that she and others read your conception of indigeneity and your comments here as support for what she’s claiming. Part of why I find the rhetoric of Pagan indigeneity worrisome is that it seems to lend itself to this kind of confusion.

  • Andras Corban-Arthen

    This is, to be sure, a very complicated topic, not the least because some of its key terms of reference (particularly ‘indigenous’ and ‘pagan’) have equivocal and often-conflicting meanings. While I’d certainly agree that it’s improper and overly romantic to label modern neopaganism as ‘indigenous’ (though I didn’t get the sense that’s what the original poster was saying) I think that putting the pre-Christian pagan tribal peoples of the European continent in the context of indigenous cultures yields some very important perspectives that are often overlooked or underestimated.

    For instance, if the process of Christianization in Europe is laid over the matrix of post-Columbian colonialism, it quickly becomes evident that the two patterns are almost identical — save for the element of racism, many non-Christian Europeans suffered the same wanton massacres (including several crusades), appropriation of lands, forced repatriations, desecration and destruction of holy sites, mass occupations, the outlawing of local religious practices, prohibitions against the use of ethnic languages, etc., to which many other indigenous peoples were subsequently subjected. This is a history that has mostly been suppressed or whitewashed, and we may never get a real full picture of it, though enough evidence survives to make the case. The Christian colonization of Europe was the precursor to the Christian colonization of most of the rest of the world, and in almost all cases it amounted to genocide. And, to the degree that there still can be found random but substantial survivals of pagan ethnic practices in mostly remote, rural parts of Europe, the case can also be made that some indigenous European traditions still exist, though, in my experience, they have no direct connection (nor want one) with the neopagan movement.

    I would also add, for what it’s worth, that in the many interactions I’ve had with indigenous leaders through my work with the Parliament of the World’s Religions, I have almost always found them very interested, even excited, to discuss the existence of indigenous European traditions, a concept which many of them had never really considered before. Several have even told me that this has helped them to gain a new perspective on what Christian European colonists did to their people, and it has enabled us to develop strong bonds of understanding and solidarity with each other.  I have also found that indigenous peoples, themselves, tend to have a much more open and flexible sense of what constitutes indigeneity than a lot of ‘white people’ seem to.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lamyka-L/649965363 Lamyka L.

      I could kiss you Andras. Thanks for this comment.

      • Lpatsouris

        The thrust of this was not a meditation on the “noble savage” but a reflection on how the machine of imperialism decimated tribal cultures in Europe, then around the globe. While I do have some European ancestry, I grew up in my mother’s home steeped in Afro-Cuban and Taino practices and that is my own personal cultural lens. I see how what happened to the tribes of Europe laid the framework for what came later…a subject near and dear as my family was deeply marked by genocide and slavery.
        In advocating for indigeny I am not advocating for a simple label, but a return to a mindset not so deeply entrenched in the indoctrination of our collective conquerors. A remembrance that we all belong to the Earth and have an obligation to our planet as well as the larger human family. Here I would refer to someone far more eloquent than I and recommend looking up John Trudell (Native American activist and thinker) who has some great things to say about how the dilemmas of modern man can be summed up in that we have forgotten how to be human beings and identify as human beings before all the indoctrination and BS.
        I do believe that some of that lens of modernity and consumerism does have to go in order to have a sustainable future. We live in a world where the highest value is profit margins, not human lives. We have forgotten some very basic things. I am not saying that all cultures are the same. Or that all indigenous cultures are perfect. But those societies have never brought the planet or humanity to the brink of destruction. Just some food for thought….I don’t expect everyone to agree, just start having the conversation and start thinking about things like imperialism and conquest. Especially at a time when cultural imperialism is so endemic that few people bother to question it.

      • Lpatsouris

        Thank you Lamyka and Andras for getting where I’m coming from on this topic. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this concept of indigeny that is very near and dear to my heart. Indigenous survival is a crucial topic these days, as it is indigenous peoples on the frontlines as multinational corporations and the governments they fund strive for complete domination and control of global resources. I think if more people would ponder the idea of humanity= indigenous to Earth and reexamine what we are doing globally and locally and the impact for future generations, it could only be a good thing. Peace!

    • http://miniver.blogspot.com/ Jonathan Korman

      Andras, like any contemporary Pagan of the unabashedly “neo-” variety I feel a deep stirring in my heart from the stories you’ve worked so hard to gather and tell. I would hold out my hand of the practitioners of ethnic pagan traditions in Europe and tell them that in my eyes they are my cousins. Likewise to the practitioners of indigenous traditions around the world. The kinds of connections you have made are a perfect example of why I see great opportunities for alliances. Despite my skepticism, I cannot help but want you to be right about being able to join with those folks under a shared banner.

      But this article and many of the comments responding to it demonstrate of a big reason why I am wary of the language of “indigenous tradition” for Pagans. 

      Ms Patsouris offers a very romantic idea of wise, peace-loving people of the pre-colonial world living in perfect harmony with nature, claiming the same for pre-Christian European pagan societies, then claiming continuity of these things to contemporary Paganism. Those are some sweeping claims about culture and history, badly incorrect as I understand things. It’s much more than I’m prepared to accept without better support than she provides. And the rhetorical lever she’s using to do it is “indigeny.”

      I believe, as Ms Patsouris does, that a Pagan sensibility can help us heal a wounded world. But unlike her I do not believe that this can come from “reclaiming” a “pre-Conquest mind.” The culture as she imagines it never existed, could not be reclaimed if it did, and would not do what she wants if we could access it. And again, the rhetorical lever she is using to support this is “indigeny.” 

      Now I recognize that your references to European indigenous traditions do not make the same sweeping claims. But I notice that she and others read your conception of indigeneity and your comments here as support for what she’s claiming. Part of why I find the rhetoric of Pagan indigeneity worrisome is that it seems to lend itself to this kind of confusion.

  • http://johnfranc.blogspot.com/ John Beckett

    This essay does a good job of explaining the problem but not so good a job of proposing a solution.  It seems to call for a return to a golden age of tribal societies, but however desirable that may be, it’s simply not possible.  Returning to a golden age is never possible… in part because golden ages were never as golden as those who come afterward like to think.

    The solution, however, can be found in indigenity – our own indigenity.  Paganism is the indigenous religion of the Western industrial world.  From the smokestacks of the 19th century to the high-tech isolation of the 21st, the modern world has separated us from Nature – from our Source.  Paganism is in large part a response to that separation – an attempt to reconnect with Nature and the Spirits of Nature.

    The seeds of a better world were planted by our predecessors.  The harvest will be reaped by those who come after us.  Our job is to tend the crops, to help them grow and spread. 

  • http://johnfranc.blogspot.com/ John Beckett

    This essay does a good job of explaining the problem but not so good a job of proposing a solution.  It seems to call for a return to a golden age of tribal societies, but however desirable that may be, it’s simply not possible.  Returning to a golden age is never possible… in part because golden ages were never as golden as those who come afterward like to think.

    The solution, however, can be found in indigenity – our own indigenity.  Paganism is the indigenous religion of the Western industrial world.  From the smokestacks of the 19th century to the high-tech isolation of the 21st, the modern world has separated us from Nature – from our Source.  Paganism is in large part a response to that separation – an attempt to reconnect with Nature and the Spirits of Nature.

    The seeds of a better world were planted by our predecessors.  The harvest will be reaped by those who come after us.  Our job is to tend the crops, to help them grow and spread. 

  • Rua Lupa

    The first portion of this post honestly urks me because it suggests that indigenous cultures were not conquest minded. In North America, the Iroquois were an “imperialist, expansionist culture” with many legends of conquest. The Aztec were known and well documented for their cities, pyramids, and blood sacrifices through their conquest of neighboring nations. The Inuit have a bloody history as well. In terms of Europe, the Celts most certainly had pushed out cultures that pre-existed them as their territory was expansive prior to Roman conquest. The Anglo Saxons had invaded the (now) British Isles in conquest, need I mention Vikings? This list can easily go on and I note the mentions of Alexander the Great and the Huns from previous posts. Genocide all around in the pre-christian days, not everywhere but all around.

    The Celts (Scots are Celts too) had revolved around an agriculture society and cleared land fairly regularly. Not to mention having cities. Sure their view of the world was more respectful toward Nature compared to most modern peoples, but as any species would, they looked out for themselves and nature took a back seat more often than currently romanticized.

    “Then came the conquest and we were conquered violently.”

    I would not go so far as to say ‘we’ as I was not living at the time and my heritage is fairly well mixed and would prefer to consider myself a citizen of the world. Going the route suggested here draws lines that suggest ethnic purity and would be something I would rather stand apart from.

    “Our inability to recognize our brethren damaged the bonds of our shared humanity.”

    Read 1st paragraph.

    “Had the tribes stood together and overcome their divisions, the conquest would not have been possible.”

    yes and no. numbers is one thing, ballistas/canons/catapults and strategy is a whole other ball game – especially if they’re throwing bigger ones that can go farther, faster, more frequently, and more accurately than yours. The Celts had numbers, ever heard of the line, “Vae Victis!”? Yeah, they conquered the Romans at one time. Then look at what happened.

    “It would stand to reason then that the first step in removing the
    shackles of our collective indoctrination would be to recognize
    ourselves as the heirs to diverse tribal cultures rooted in millenia of
    indigenous traditions and to unite in shared purpose to restore what was
    taken from us.”

    Restore what we took from ourselves? I just wanted to make sure I got that right? I still don’t like that ‘we’ it is terribly misleading in my view. The indigenous cultures you mention have many broken lines and are not continued in many traditions. I don’t object to relearning what we can though, there can very well be many things of value buried in the past.

    “This involves nothing less than a paradigm shift and the removal of the post modern filter of consumerist malaise”

    Now that I can completely agree with.

    “This can be difficult work after centuries of Stockholm Syndrome where
    we have learned to identify with the frameworks of oppression and to
    worship the God of our conquerors. This work will not happen by isolating ourselves in our own little
    subgoups and communities: it will require a unified effort and the
    creation of a greater pan-indigenous consciousness.”

    We are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. I like that analogy. It makes sense on many levels.

    I agree with not isolating ourselves and having a unified effort. Pan-indigenous consciousness? I get your meaning but word choice could be debated.

    “we live in balance and right relationship with the land spirits and
    elemental powers and we embrace our ancient contracts with our ancestral
    Gods.”

    Now now, the ‘we’ has gone viral here. You acknowledge the many traditions and practices yet lump up that diversity into a far too neat package. There are many different ways of looking at the world than how you mention.

    Your insistence of indigenous beliefs and practices being in balance and right relationship sound a might bit too much like an ultimate truth statement. That leads to a very conflicting role. Try to be more unifying and less divisive as your intention is to celebrate and respect diversity (and hopefully maintain human rights as many cultures, past and current, violate human rights, even though they are indigenous).

    “It sounds rather simple, but where to begin? With the first tie
    sundered; our memory, our ancestors. Even when we are lost and have no
    idea how to find our way home, they have the map and know the road.”

    I agree that looking to our roots helps us find our way (its certainly helped me), but some ancestors could of been real bigots, I know some of mine were and wouldn’t want to follow their map.

    “In this time of crisis where we do not remember our obligations to the
    coming generations and live unsustainably, where we turn away from our
    fellow humans and tolerate atrocities as a matter of course,”

    Yes, a thousand times yes.

    “… our dead
    cry out for the restoration of our shared humanity. They and the land
    spirits and the Gods cry out to restore the balance that was once
    broken, the balance that allowed us to live on the Earth without
    destroying it.”

    The mention of the dead is very poetic, but I feel required to put a little realism on there. If the dead were to be raised today with their same memory, there would plenty of unresolved feuds between races and tribes in their minds.

    The main factor to remember here is that regardless of how our ancestors lived, none of them could of lived in modern times. Due to there being so many people. This is something that is continually forgotten, the biggest problem we have in creating a balance within Nature is that we overwhelm it.

    I hope that you are not suggesting reverting to living exactly the way they did either, far too many children died before their first birthday among many other things. I love modern medicine and our technological infrastructure too much to leave it behind (just look at what we are doing now).

    That said, I do think that (like mentioned before) there can remain many valuable things in the customs and cultures of our indigenous ancestors. Likewise, there can be many things that should remain buried in the past.

    “Indigeny is our birthright as is the reclamation of our
    pre-conquest mind. We can choose not to perpetuate the divisions that
    disempower us.”

    Again, refer to paragraph 1. That very last sentence I completely support.

    I get your motivation, but dislike any romanticism and the ‘this ways is better than that’. I personally feel that we should learn all we can about the past, the good, the bad and the ugly; take what good we find and bring it back to light, learn from and leave the bad behind us, and don’t be afraid to admit that what we are doing is new. Face it, if we walked into a village of our ancestors of 1000 years ago, they wouldn’t recognize your way of thinking and beliefs. It would be a complete culture shock by both parties.

    We are far too influenced by our history and current society to claim to be as they were. Yes, we are a biological result of our ancestors, but not much more than that. Without them, I wouldn’t be here, and that is as far as I thank them for; as I know that I would not agree with most of them were they to speak with me now. Like that of my current relatives.

    Cultures have been influencing each other since the beginning of time and everyone of them have some good and bad, but everyone changes over time. None were the same from their beginning to their end, and nor should any culture we strive to create. Change with the times as to what the people need and if better information and ways of doing things come up. Create something new when nothing can be found to be a solution from the past. This is good and it is real. Accept the few truths your know, and acknowledge that you can never know the whole truth of how things should be.

    • Rua Lupa

      A well balanced view of Roman and Celtic cultures both having good and bad is a recently released moved called ‘The Eagle’. Highly recommended.

  • Rua Lupa

    The first portion of this post honestly urks me because it suggests that indigenous cultures were not conquest minded. In North America, the Iroquois were an “imperialist, expansionist culture” with many legends of conquest. The Aztec were known and well documented for their cities, pyramids, and blood sacrifices through their conquest of neighboring nations. The Inuit have a bloody history as well. In terms of Europe, the Celts most certainly had pushed out cultures that pre-existed them as their territory was expansive prior to Roman conquest. The Anglo Saxons had invaded the (now) British Isles in conquest, need I mention Vikings? This list can easily go on and I note the mentions of Alexander the Great and the Huns from previous posts. Genocide all around in the pre-christian days, not everywhere but all around.

    The Celts (Scots are Celts too) had revolved around an agriculture society and cleared land fairly regularly. Not to mention having cities. Sure their view of the world was more respectful toward Nature compared to most modern peoples, but as any species would, they looked out for themselves and nature took a back seat more often than currently romanticized.

    “Then came the conquest and we were conquered violently.”

    I would not go so far as to say ‘we’ as I was not living at the time and my heritage is fairly well mixed and would prefer to consider myself a citizen of the world. Going the route suggested here draws lines that suggest ethnic purity and would be something I would rather stand apart from.

    “Our inability to recognize our brethren damaged the bonds of our shared humanity.”

    Read 1st paragraph.

    “Had the tribes stood together and overcome their divisions, the conquest would not have been possible.”

    yes and no. numbers is one thing, ballistas/canons/catapults and strategy is a whole other ball game – especially if they’re throwing bigger ones that can go farther, faster, more frequently, and more accurately than yours. The Celts had numbers, ever heard of the line, “Vae Victis!”? Yeah, they conquered the Romans at one time. Then look at what happened.

    “It would stand to reason then that the first step in removing the
    shackles of our collective indoctrination would be to recognize
    ourselves as the heirs to diverse tribal cultures rooted in millenia of
    indigenous traditions and to unite in shared purpose to restore what was
    taken from us.”

    Restore what we took from ourselves? I just wanted to make sure I got that right? I still don’t like that ‘we’ it is terribly misleading in my view. The indigenous cultures you mention have many broken lines and are not continued in many traditions. I don’t object to relearning what we can though, there can very well be many things of value buried in the past.

    “This involves nothing less than a paradigm shift and the removal of the post modern filter of consumerist malaise”

    Now that I can completely agree with.

    “This can be difficult work after centuries of Stockholm Syndrome where
    we have learned to identify with the frameworks of oppression and to
    worship the God of our conquerors. This work will not happen by isolating ourselves in our own little
    subgoups and communities: it will require a unified effort and the
    creation of a greater pan-indigenous consciousness.”

    We are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. I like that analogy. It makes sense on many levels.

    I agree with not isolating ourselves and having a unified effort. Pan-indigenous consciousness? I get your meaning but word choice could be debated.

    “we live in balance and right relationship with the land spirits and
    elemental powers and we embrace our ancient contracts with our ancestral
    Gods.”

    Now now, the ‘we’ has gone viral here. You acknowledge the many traditions and practices yet lump up that diversity into a far too neat package. There are many different ways of looking at the world than how you mention.

    Your insistence of indigenous beliefs and practices being in balance and right relationship sound a might bit too much like an ultimate truth statement. That leads to a very conflicting role. Try to be more unifying and less divisive as your intention is to celebrate and respect diversity (and hopefully maintain human rights as many cultures, past and current, violate human rights, even though they are indigenous).

    “It sounds rather simple, but where to begin? With the first tie
    sundered; our memory, our ancestors. Even when we are lost and have no
    idea how to find our way home, they have the map and know the road.”

    I agree that looking to our roots helps us find our way (its certainly helped me), but some ancestors could of been real bigots, I know some of mine were and wouldn’t want to follow their map.

    “In this time of crisis where we do not remember our obligations to the
    coming generations and live unsustainably, where we turn away from our
    fellow humans and tolerate atrocities as a matter of course,”

    Yes, a thousand times yes.

    “… our dead
    cry out for the restoration of our shared humanity. They and the land
    spirits and the Gods cry out to restore the balance that was once
    broken, the balance that allowed us to live on the Earth without
    destroying it.”

    The mention of the dead is very poetic, but I feel required to put a little realism on there. If the dead were to be raised today with their same memory, there would plenty of unresolved feuds between races and tribes in their minds.

    The main factor to remember here is that regardless of how our ancestors lived, none of them could of lived in modern times. Due to there being so many people. This is something that is continually forgotten, the biggest problem we have in creating a balance within Nature is that we overwhelm it.

    I hope that you are not suggesting reverting to living exactly the way they did either, far too many children died before their first birthday among many other things. I love modern medicine and our technological infrastructure too much to leave it behind (just look at what we are doing now).

    That said, I do think that (like mentioned before) there can remain many valuable things in the customs and cultures of our indigenous ancestors. Likewise, there can be many things that should remain buried in the past.

    “Indigeny is our birthright as is the reclamation of our
    pre-conquest mind. We can choose not to perpetuate the divisions that
    disempower us.”

    Again, refer to paragraph 1. That very last sentence I completely support.

    I get your motivation, but dislike any romanticism and the ‘this ways is better than that’. I personally feel that we should learn all we can about the past, the good, the bad and the ugly; take what good we find and bring it back to light, learn from and leave the bad behind us, and don’t be afraid to admit that what we are doing is new. Face it, if we walked into a village of our ancestors of 1000 years ago, they wouldn’t recognize your way of thinking and beliefs. It would be a complete culture shock by both parties.

    We are far too influenced by our history and current society to claim to be as they were. Yes, we are a biological result of our ancestors, but not much more than that. Without them, I wouldn’t be here, and that is as far as I thank them for; as I know that I would not agree with most of them were they to speak with me now. Like that of my current relatives.

    Cultures have been influencing each other since the beginning of time and everyone of them have some good and bad, but everyone changes over time. None were the same from their beginning to their end, and nor should any culture we strive to create. Change with the times as to what the people need and if better information and ways of doing things come up. Create something new when nothing can be found to be a solution from the past. This is good and it is real. Accept the few truths your know, and acknowledge that you can never know the whole truth of how things should be.

    • Rua Lupa

      A well balanced view of Roman and Celtic cultures both having good and bad is a recently released moved called ‘The Eagle’. Highly recommended.

  • Rua Lupa

    The Following is a summary of what I agreed with in your post:

    “This involves nothing less than a paradigm shift and the removal of the post modern filter of consumerist malaise.”

    “This can be difficult work after centuries of Stockholm Syndrome where
    we have learned to identify with the frameworks of oppression…”

    “This work will not happen by isolating ourselves in our own little subgoups and communities…”

    “It sounds rather simple, but where to begin? With the first tie sundered; our memory, our ancestors.”

    “In this time of crisis where we do not remember our obligations to the
    coming generations and live unsustainably, where we turn away from our
    fellow humans and tolerate atrocities as a matter of course,”

    “We can choose not to perpetuate the divisions that disempower us.”

  • Rua Lupa

    The Following is a summary of what I agreed with in your post:

    “This involves nothing less than a paradigm shift and the removal of the post modern filter of consumerist malaise.”

    “This can be difficult work after centuries of Stockholm Syndrome where
    we have learned to identify with the frameworks of oppression…”

    “This work will not happen by isolating ourselves in our own little subgoups and communities…”

    “It sounds rather simple, but where to begin? With the first tie sundered; our memory, our ancestors.”

    “In this time of crisis where we do not remember our obligations to the
    coming generations and live unsustainably, where we turn away from our
    fellow humans and tolerate atrocities as a matter of course,”

    “We can choose not to perpetuate the divisions that disempower us.”


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