Old Dreams, New Ways

Six of Thirty

I’m a COI (Child of the Interpreters), goes along with the Children of the Interpreters, goes along with every bunch of rugrats who didn’t fit in to one side or the other, by bloodline, looks or pocketbooks. And we belonged to parents who, trying to pass on their wisdom and culture and love, found themselves creating some type of mixed table, admonitions flavored with exceptions, plates and forks from wherever the universe spilled out, and food like Indian tacos and government cheese. Technically, you couldn’t call fry bread traditional. I know, but who cares.

jakeI don’t believe in nations. I don’t believe in blood. I don’t believe in separations.

Throw us all in there together. We’ll survive. And the people who believe that there is some kind of purity that needs to be preserved will just have to put up with our loud music, with the comings and goings, with our new ways of doing things.

Because this is my old dream, it’s not about old ways, it’s not about before the white man came, or before the slave years, or before that time in the desert. It’s about no disparities. It’s about no lines, no laws that separate, no fences to keep the others out. And it’s about not being on this side or that side of the tracks, of town, or of the river.

It’s about not having to worry about being good enough. That’s my old dream.

The things those old gods remind us of, yeah? And new science too. That’s old. Like just figuring things out is something new, right? So here’s my new way: Fuck all the rest of that shit.

And I know this could be read by some white apologists as befitting their argument. Fuck that shit too. Because colonialism was a thing that happened. Slavery was a thing that happened. Fixing that isn’t about being good enough. It’s just about being good.

We’re all good enough. Now, let’s do that.

Making Relatives

“How can you mend a broken heart?” -The Bee Gees

The body in the front room was still there, laying peacefully in the favorite chair. The air was still and the picture frames stubbornly holding witness with no crookedness. Everything stayed the same, heavy air feeling like it’s not even there -like nothing existed anymore.

But after almost fifty years, if it hadn’t moved by now, it wouldn’t. And the six year old boy in me had stopped screaming, and left, and ran, and crawled from home to home, love to love, since I’d found my father there. The world had given me a tribe instead of a father, I don’t complain. My fiery mother, already distant, would come get us and take us away, to the reservation. But to say a truth, on that morning with the mountain sun shining through wind kissed cedars, all I wanted was for him to take me with him.

I am always empty when wondering where to start a ritual. I’m vaguely aware of what I want, sadly unaware of what the tribe, or the circle of practitioners, needs. But, I’m learning that the process of opening up is the first thing (maybe the only thing). Clearing out, sensing down, to let an intention or desire be revealed.

Sometimes, oftentimes, it’s in the past.

1969, before the hard times.

Oglala Joe’s Clydesdales stood guard over my eight year old world.

in the sixties, at number 4 on the highway from Pine Ridge, Joe lived across the potato field from us. I would wonder down the boundary road, more a trail, lined by bushes and the buzz of bees, to visit him -he and his towering horses.

My older brothers, in years past, had ridden with, on his wagon into town, to pick up his lease check and get supplies. But by the time I met Joe he had stopped doing that. He would welcome me in and offer a cup of coffee, a magical forbidden elixir to a boy seeking big medicine. Age was sitting on him, and outside the clydesdales rested easy in their retirement. They looked down on me with shoulders and wise heads like living cathedrals. But one morning they watched me in the field from a different vantage point.

Pine Ridge clay stretches past the badlands, to the Black Hills and out to the mighty rivers, but that moment had me only concerned with the inches on and under my face. Inches of dry freshly tilled soil framed my face and body.

No stronger connection would I have than that, face down in the softness, the horses hoof on my back pressing me down momentarily, clearing me from the danger of the race passing inches above my head.

Surprised at the dirt in my mouth, I looked up at the horses and ponies rushing away, no wound from the step of the horse and rider that, moments before, had been behind me; leaving me wondering what had plucked me from my pony and left me grounded while my friends laughed and rode away to finish the race.

It wouldn’t be my first run in with a ferocious girl; my sister switched from her friend’s horse, where she’d grabbed me from behind as they pulled up to me in the field. I hadn’t even seen her there. From that perch she moved over to mount my pony.

Her horse, green broke and not ready for the herd, left behind in the pasture; I hadn’t let her ride all day. This was her way of telling me it was time. This was our way. Ride the reservation. Ride together.

I’ve been surrounded by warrior girls and women my entire life. I’ve been surrounded and cradled by a mighty tribe. The reservation welcomed me home. The joy at the air, the touch of my ponies mouth eating from my hand or when I’d lean into her, chest to chest, and let her match my beating heart was everything. There, in that field of galloping ponies and laughing children, I found healing.

Moments that sit like broken lenses in our lives are like this. My child self spread eagled in the reservation soil, watching my pony run away with my friends. The towering sky arching over Oglala Joe’s clydesdales at my back, down the road the mission where my generations had schooled, the graveyard where my ancestors lay, and the town where my great grandfather lived. This was my magical life.

Even in the solitude of riding alone into the hills, my pony carried me. There we’d found tribal members living where no roads led. And no harm could come, even to my reckless child self.

For my grandpa Joe lived in the town, and from a child, I learned to recite the lineage “I’m Thelma’s son, Jesse Richardson’s grandson and Joe Adams is my great grandfather.”

My Great Grandfather’s house was in Pine Ridge. Grandpa Joe was in his eighties when I met him, a man of the tribe. I stayed with him the summer I arrived at the reservation. It can be hard to pull up such young and tender memories, but it is needed. Grandpa Joe was hard and leathery on the outside, but he moved with the litheness of the young. He was slow and attentive. He lived by himself, drove himself, and took care of me and a developmentally handicapped adult male of our family. This was his heart. This was his example, to care for others; and in those days, we were a pair. He’d been a small boy at the time of Wounded Knee and I was a child of the sixties.

That summer, the annual Sundance was coming up and I was in his front yard pouting. My older siblings were working with beads and leather, bells and sheepskins, getting ready to dance. I, figured too young, had been left behind. He took the time to come and sit with me under the summer sun, and talk. He told me the story of a young boy who had nothing. The boy had gone to the dance, and unashamed of his near nakedness and unadorned self, had entered the circle and danced anyway. He danced so hard he lost himself in his dance and the whole tribe was amazed at the child. They decided, that year, that he was the best dancer among the entire tribe.

“Do you know why?” he asked me, while I still sat, head down, staring at the dust.

“No”, my sad voice replied.

“Because he danced with his heart.”

My grandpa Joe would have a story for each child.

My mother, the tribal judge, danced with her heart her entire life, raising nine kids, losing another, loving three men, driving and singing across the west. Her songs went on long after she’d become deaf. They still ring sweet in my ears. In the years we lived in the city she led a house not only full of her children, but other tribe and extended family, all colors, anyone that needed help, and every exile she could fit. Sometimes we partitioned the rooms with plywood to give everybody some privacy. When she wasn’t there my aunts were.

Aunt Jackie, my first second mother, taught me Lakota prayers, to stand up straight and wash my hands when I’d finally come in from play. She taught me the pride that I would search so long to find again as an adult. And as a 42 year old man, returning again from my beloved Salish sea, she taught me to pray again, to honor my mother’s passing.

Aunt Donna, my soul brother’s (and my next) mother, gave me humor and the sound of long passed relatives still arguing, even from her death bed, with my mom’s ghost, over some Lakota or Dakota inflection of a word. My cousin and I stood by her bedside and I thought my heart would burst with love.

But only grandmother Jesse’s Lakota voice trickles down the sensory stream at my back, and underneath me like a song to call me home.

Somewhere between my two Joes and the tenderness of the grandfather’s teachings, between the windows of the souls of my mother’s house -overflowing with exiles, and my Aunts voices, I found myself again. I would come back to my birthplace in Seattle and the cradling mountains to step into manhood. But somewhere, the bonds of tribe and family were woven so gently as to let a child grow, in those riches I know, are not only mine, but all our souls and hearts. It is the nest we make for each other out of the songs and stories, the gestures and smiles, we call home.

It’s hard to put your hands around culture; it’s not copyrighted equations but simple rituals of the soul, passing so gently in every moment.

These are the things that cannot be taken, only given. In grasping for them, hands close on ashes and fleeing shadows of our true desire. We’ve evilly been taught the insistence of the consuming masses, our minds paled over by the merchants of anything but ourselves. Why do we stumble over something so hurtful as cultural appropriation? Why do the warriors mumble? Painting and feigning and acting out do not welcome us in, and in the attempt to take, we crush even more the thing we want … the thing that is real. Our souls, their souls, our hearts, those hearts of the peoples of the land that loves them. Appropriation only diminishes the stories and the tribes of our being.

It isn’t just the indigenous, but every band who is grounded, that seems to call to us. Even the wandering tribes, slaves and exiles, know connection. We desire what they have, not knowing why.

Forgetting this: to her dying day, the land will always love us. On whatever inch of soil our feet touch she welcomes us to continue telling her the stories that are sweet to her ears.

These are the things that cannot be taken. Only given.

We hunger for the gift of tribe, long for home and are left empty mouthed with heart beats that seek to be brought back, seeking the words to only, just, ask.

And this is the request. The first part of the ritual. My puppy diving to ground, his front paws splayed out in welcome, trying to get so far below me that I only float from his honoring of me, as he looks up with twinkling eyes that say “let’s go!”

And in the documented rituals and passed on formal ceremonies, yes even in the ones we are making today, I hope and pray that this will always be that heart, never stolen, never able to be stolen, and in the beginning of each tome will be that puppy, bowing down, asking simply …

to play.

Turning Corners

“Still, no one guessed what the fish had mumbled…” –The Warlike Seven

 

I was told I couldn’t be an elder. That, by a darker skinned who wasn’t even part of my tribe. I reject that with prejudice. I fucking belong. Repeat after me. “I belong.” On this mountain top, in this pool of slimy water, among these peeps,… yep, wash, rinse repeat. Then get to the business of paying it forward, passing it on. Seven on seven. You mad bro? You a wiley witch? A meekish monk? Stand up, brush yourself off, you’re only as broke as the world around you. Welcome to connectedness …

People live on the curve. But it’s the area under the curve that gets ya. Take a few classes in calculus. Follow it up with some applied stuff.  You’ll see. In hydraulics, it’s all that water coming at you, in a time frame that doesn’t seem to stop. In electrical, it’s the massed voltage that doesn’t stop.  A disconnected capacitor can kill you. In crossfit, it’s the work capacity, not the strength, you’re concerned with. In finance, interest over time, baby.

Time measures us (not the other way around). That’s why we need to derive and integrate, the two corner stones of calc. That’s why, in a social or spiritual context – those corners we need to get around- we may need to back into things, slip into them sideways. But backing into something, or glimpsing it peripherally, isn’t just free form thinking. Think of integration as sensing down.

It’s why elders were supposed to look backward (and forward) seven generations. Those were the patterns we were supposed to recognize. But people live on the curve. It’s hard enough (and definitely think of this in terms of personal life, social justice, and environment)… it’s hard enough to get a sense for where we are, and where we’re going. Understanding the area around us, the area under the curve becomes about limits, constraints. It’s about huge consequences that are not in our view. We see the line, it’s what’s around the line that affects us.

When we try to appreciate, and experience, other’s spiritual truths there’s some doors, some dark corners.  In terms of cultural appropriation, we’re surrounded by a world of gods and cultural mores. Direction wise, what we want is a web of connectedness, a interfaith highway system that ties us all together and allows our personal spiritual paths the freedom they need to establish personal authority. Each of us has our own relationship with mystery. This last part is so cornerstone that it’s hard to say how many have died just to simply hold onto it. It’s part of being human. And being human brings so much.

When you’re privileged enough to read, you can step into an entire new world, worlds even, that will literally change your life. There’s a point of eye opening there. Someone had to establish that for you, you didn’t create language, or writing. If you’re privileged enough to have a state or national park near you with mountains that you can climb, you reap so much of the wonder of just simply being outside;and this, so amazing that few can provide the words (I know I can’t). Someone else established that too. We stand on the shoulders of not just giants, but everyone. Those who came before need to be honored. Being first is an honor, whether by luck or hard work; what, and who, came first need to be honored. Coming upon, and often enjoying, wonderful things is a privilege.

I say all this because I believe it’s critical to see privilege in a way that doesn’t harden our understanding. It isn’t, initially, about being over someone. Not in it’s natural state. I say it because it helps get at that area under the curve. See, the limits we’re working with are what was here when I got here (our best sense of first), and our gratitude (Do you know how privileged you are?) So, honor and privilege.

Living life to play trumps guilting to establish a predefined change every time.  The tricksters know this.

It’s what’s around the corner.

We need a way to get from here to there. We need an integration to get at the area under that curve, a way to recognize the patterns that will help us see, then move from one to the other. This to help us enjoy our own mysteries, as first and second, and to help us stay doing this together. We need a practice, we need a ritual …

Soon: Making Relatives, or How Orion ended up up there.

Feathers

I have a feather.

It’s long and black and white and gray. It has leather and beads on one end. It was given to me to honor my leadership. This was something I did not ask to do or receive, only acting out of my pain during a time of great loss. I did this to just simply hold things together for myself and others, to hold the circle.

The feather, in it’s current form, was crafted by a man of violence and misogyny, blessed by a holy man and given by a woman who’s known poverty, violence, love and pain her whole life.

And I look at it and wonder if I should have accepted it, having known the violence. Having been violent, I wonder if I should have kept it. But I know there is no other way, my violence in self defense is part of the dance that’s seemed to sunder all of us. I have my part in this, even though I’m not sure what. So I take it onto myself. We are strong like this. It should be accepted.

And I look at my feather and wonder if the Medicine man, honored to our family, knew the source and story as he blessed it. I wonder if his spiritual bells were going off as he did his work, or if that sense had worn off of him somewhere. I wonder if it had worn off of us. Maybe his Medicine was stronger, I tell myself.

If I can carry this like a Lakota, then I could finish the story, I know that; but every step I take on my grandfather’s side of the path decries every step I take on the other doubting, coldly consuming, western way of me. That is the other that, too, holds a value.

The feather brings me back to violence, heritage, love and doubt. It holds a lot for me.

The man who made it was Sioux, and so afforded some right to craft the thing, the gift of the sky, and our sibling spirit bird – his destructive violence somehow overlooked. But I can’t believe that – I think it’s carried in the eagle’s call across the land, splitting the sky.

The Medicine man was loved by me and mine, part of our family. I will never know, nor want to, what his spirit told him of this while he did the blessing. I carry that paradox as a door to my own spirituality. I gave up needing the right to call on the spiritual decades ago. Whatever I am, I am spiritual.

There is no badge or credential that opens the door. There is no feather or feathers we can cover ourselves with that will grant us entrance. No act of courage or leadership will allow us to say we’re forgiven, in order to simply keep on walking. It’s the stories that weigh us down, hold us back. They do that until, so sick of the morass, the same stories propel us forward to do, and be, something else.

There was a fence on the reservation that I needed to get across. I would ride my pony to my friends house, where we would all get together and go ride in the hills. Once you got to a certain point, it seemed like there were no more fences.

But, getting there, I had to ride along a fence to get to it’s end. And I would always wish I could just pass right through, take a straight line. But the poles were there and the wire. the barbs had already taken parts of me. I fear them.

So I would daydream that I could just float right through without being touched, me and my pony ( a mare named Mike). I could feel us just passing through, but it would never happen.

So my path became a fence, that called the pain. I know the answer, and I can sense a chap named Genesh on the other side.

But I need other feathers.

Sometimes a Pitch is just a Pitch.

The ball field from the pitchers mound is an open rolling view. Expanses of green, and directions framed by dirt running lanes invite something that is particularly human, something playful and safe. There’s nothing more I love than reading writers who can approach a sense of mindfulness and sport, an appreciation for the human experience in the center of the play, a peacefulness in the heart of the technique.

So when I’ve read articles about pitching, about the ball, the grip, the looseness required on the mound -when I’ve read those- my mind and heart feel appreciative. A good sports or meditative writer can take a pitch and, with words, bring you to a peaceful mental plateau where the world seems to lay out around you like a field, where everything is as it should be.

But sometimes a pitch is just a pitch. No words could give it any more meaning than is needed. No amount of mindfulness will elevate it. Trying would ruin it.

Most of life is like this. Still we cherish the story, the poem, the shared experience.

Sometimes a spirit plate is just a spirit plate.

When my aunt taught me to pray the Lakota prayer to the four directions, she also taught me to put out a spirit plate to invite the ones who’ve passed, the ancestors, to share our meal. There are so many things to learn from this simple spiritual practice, so much about respect and history. It’s a shared tradition in many cultures. One could go on and on.

But most often this simple nod to our past and our loved ones is just as it should be, a respectful moment.

We talk about cultural appropriation a lot in terms of the unwanted thing that it is. I want to learn and teach the moment of respect that should be there instead.

Sometimes respect is just respect. And no amount of angst filled entreaties will bring it forth.  It has to be practiced.

Martial artists spend a lot of time presenting lineage, who taught who. Scientists and musicians spend a lot of time documenting whose shoulders they stand on. We know how to do this.

When a population is displaced and sharing ground with incumbents in a new land, both parties learn to give space and respect to their mixed communities. As children emerge who are mixed, they carry that respect (or lack of) in their souls. This is a part of community.

I use the word “displaced” because I want to get away from the identity of the colonial in this look in. I’m thinking more in terms of the Irish, forced off their land by famine and land “Lords”, or Somalian refugees are now beginning anew in a US Little Mogadishu (Minneapolis). We can go after the genocidal disrespectful bunch later. People need to not approach this with guilt, or anger.

South Africa learned to do this under Mandela. Tacoma, Washington’s Chinese population learned to do this after being driven out of that city. Japanese Americans, too, have shown us a way here.

Reconciliation, I think next time I want to look at reconciliation; maybe ponder it in terms of Reclaiming.

The Tao of Heaven

“If the mat was not straight, the Master would not sit.” -K’ung Fu-tse, Confucius

The main principles of Taoism were recognized long before they were coalesced into a religion mainly in response to the growing popularity of Buddhism and Confucianism. It was a case of ‘Hey! We have gods and goddesses too!’” -SifuPhil (http://www.faithology.com/community/topic/154-philosophical-vs-religious-taoism/ )

 

Yoga and meditation came to me in high school. So did Zen and motorcycles. All through a tough short philosophy teacher named Miss Yoshida. As a teacher, I claim her as legacy. Equal to my mother’s Catholicism or my Aunt’s native Lakota.  She affected me.  I cried at graduation, knowing I had to leave the nest.

It’s been said that to use a cultural tradition we should have a real live link, or invitation. This would be something like a friend from that culture who is teaching us, a formal teacher, someone who makes that available. Miss Yoshida was that to me, and as a teacher, a holder of much respect.

I’m going to step from that lotus flower to the next one over, or the next. Because things aren’t right in the world. This colonial takeover that spread out in the past 500 years appears like an outbreak. We want to put something back, bring something back, and reclaim those beautiful cultures and gods that were around before.

Confucius believed something very witchy. He beleived that we were out of harmony with heaven. He pointed to the ancestors, ancient rituals and ceremonies, in order to maintain a balance. But he also believed in a rigid hierarchy, that things should be enforced. I look to him when I try to understand the justice of decolonizing. There needs to be a good order of how cultures are reverenced and allowed to continue, yes. But this is a put upon balance. I accept the sanctity of culture like I accept the sanctity of religions, they were built in awe. I will leave them that way.

At the same time, I am not interested in rules. No I’m interested in happiness, and love. I think that the world, with us in it, is a reflection of what one would call heaven, that is “as above so below”, so I don’t see a need for rules from people, but only from this heaven we already exist in. Animals, plants, the elements point me to their own ways. When I don’t force, but flow with the universe around me, that’s when I find my way.

I’ve thought a lot about this. I want to reach through happiness and love (The Tao) to the rules of heaven (Confucius) in order to help govern the decolonization we are establishing. I want to do this, but the first principle, the one without words -balance- comes before the second -order.

So, for me, finding links, connections and invitations to other cultures are important. Doing it freely, and happily, without a hard tie to privileged accessibility more so. I’ll give respect to keep balance, I’ll have respect when the balance flows with a recognizable harmony.

So that people can blossom in their own cultural and spiritual containers, I’ll help preserve them. That natural order of being ones own authority, of owning ones self, goes both ways.

 

Creds

I’m going to reclaim fucking everything.
Going to bring up everything that meant anything.
Digging in the dirt.

Lakota, Celt, Saxon, Christian, Jew, oh, the books, zen, Buddhism,… My spirit, my gods, my eyes.

Football, hunting, weeding and planting, martial arts, D&D,  playing mindless computer games, books,

The first dance, the first kiss, the first song.

Nothing gets glossed over by the current, the powerful.

I’m going to reclaim the earth – First water, then more- by taking science and passion and building a wall between destruction and the web of grounded life.

That’s reclaiming to me: getting, and keeping, what was lost;

Honoring those parts that lift us up; checking the hurtful.

Where the anger comes up. Yeah, it does.

From somewhere near those “before” gods. From any gods that gave me this lonesome life,

Even if they’re only in me.

The demand has to be “what? Why?” and not just me, but all those hurt and abandoned.

If I can’t be that honest with the gods, I’ve only given in.

A medicine man asked me if I knew my mom was a tribal judge.

Yeah, I knew. And I knew I belonged. No matter the voices that tried to push me out.

And I knew my other grandmother was a red headed Irish women, a Kelly. And others, Scott, English, they go. My blood’s code. Yet, cast out, I go where I want.

This is what I call reclaiming. There’s a lot of legacy and history out there to the reclaiming movement, but I’m not going to refer here. I’m just going to say it, then reconcile later. I believe we need to reclaim the old spiritual paths in order to find the gods, or goddesses. I believe the latest religions, especially the religions of the book, are just viral memes, that, while while holding all kinds of truth, are just the latest. I believe the job is to learn enough of them to help us with the here and now, with our gods. And I believe we are always with our gods. Not someone else’s.

If I broke my ancestral creds down like people, I could say some are family, some are friends, some are lovers. I would say this from the standpoint of how they affect me, not with any judgment of comparative value.

For the work I have to do, these are the badges that will allow me to talk with tradition.

I recently read a rant by someone who didn’t like their history, ritual, or symbols used inaccurately by others. And, make no mistake, it was a rant. Hit me like that. Kind of “it’s mine!” reaction.

If I was the culprit, I could see myself apologizing. Maybe apologizing if my acts were portrayed in any way as being that person’s ways, that authentic thing. But if not, if I was just painting my face (and I think that’s what it was) because I thought it looked cool. Even if I wanted to use it in my own ritual. If that was my intent, I would never apologize.

When I was young I had horses. They taught me so much. I don’t believe there is much comparison to the type of bond that can be experienced between horse and human. I appreciate the care that needs to be established for their welfare, the offering of their bodies. I was with them, and I was human. In so much of my Lakota heritage, horses rule. We are there together.

But horses are not indigenous in the Americas. I’m not saying this out of some oversized gratitude towards white or western culture. I’m saying this out of a gratitude towards my indigenous ancestors. You see. Here’s an important part of our Lakota heritage. We take what we need.

There was no honoring of Europe for the horse. In fact, stealing horses was a skill very much appreciated. Steal a horse, take coup, steal a wife. Ownership is such a construct. Maybe why I like trickster gods. These aren’t things uncommon in my heritage from that side. But neither are caring for children and elders, or love, responsibility, or spirit.

It’s human.

I wonder if an unquestioned guarding against appropriation is a colonial reaction, a side of guilt. And I am saying, just the unquestioned part, the policing against walking down those paths, needs to be done carefully. All our gods are only ours. Call them what you want. Those bonds are for no human to judge.

The tribes are putting themselves together  They’re beginning to resurface in the world’s mix of culture. They need all the support and respect we can bring to do that, to honor their sovereignty. Culturally, that’s important. We need to help draw those lines. But I won’t throw my lot in with selfish gods.

See, there’s another part of Sioux heritage. It goes like this: We are all related.

Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ole Days

Should one have a spiritual study? That’s one thing.
Should one have a spiritual practice? That’s another.

Something basic, though, There’s a saying among pagans, “As above, so below.” It means there’s no separation between this world and another higher plane. No line of separation.

If there is a line of demarcation, it’s right here in these words, saying “no” to the idea of being apart. So, having a spiritual study, or practice, at it’s root sense, maybe shouldn’t be a separate thing, maybe it should be a life thing.

Should I meditate? Should I pray? Who to, if. What does “holy” or “sacred” mean?

A life thing.

That out there, then. What study? What practice?

There is an organization called The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. One of the things they teach is to look to your own ancestors ways of spirituality. If you are looking for a spiritual path, do that. I believe in the wisdom of the ancestors. For one reason, because it seems to be accumulative, so passing on wisdom is needed. Another is respect.

There’s a cold power out there that wants to rip apart everything we hold sacred, every story of our ancestors, every picture or statue of our gods, every fairy gate. This is where everything comes down to a mirror, a breath, the world spinning round. It’s reality. It’s the gods. If you believe that spirit, or the gods, are here now, then you have to believe that we are in “that” place, that we just need to open our eyes. It’s not them being separate from this place, it’s us being in, and part of, a spiritual realm. It’s here now.

Stories are wisdom, but here now is something more. Maybe sometimes it is the blade that parts our illusions, maybe simply a reminder to not go away.

When I was younger I walked away, not from God, but my idea of god. Because it was hurting me and others. Now, and decades later, I’m still committed to that spiritual side of life, but more trying to allow a framework.

The Grandmothers say to follow the path of your ancestors, that’s yours. That will be your spiritual path. Learn that. I say learn that first.  Remember, they’re primarily talking to people who feel lost. They’re talking to colonials who feel a guilt in their blood, and may believe in a cool “otherness” of the indigens around them.

And they’re talking from a position of oppressed. They’re saying “stop”. And, in that, they are right. Stop taking. Stop seeing it as something outside yourself. But more importantly stop taking. There is a respect of culture that has to happen. It hasn’t.  In turning that around, we can right ourselves. I can see all that.

But in my vision I also see the gods, and spirits of place in the here and now.  What gods will follow us into space?  There is no room for tribes on the International Space Station.  We need to grow up.

I see a world where all spiritual paths exist and grow freely, not favored or mandated by a state, or popularity, or the latest correct thought. This would be a place where the paths who see themselves destroying all others are held in check. They have to be. That’s the only way to stop the bloodshed. Rightness needs to die. There is a pathology of spirit that drives “righteousness” and the destruction of the other. It’s the opposite of tolerance. It’s the opposite of love.

I can smell that world. It would be a place where people are free to be who they are. Where they can believe what they want.

And what that means to me, is that, you can choose. Yep, I don’t believe that your spiritual path is determined by birth. I don’t believe that anyone, or any one people, own the “right” gods, or path. And spiritual teachers, when they are called to explore, should be able to go where they are called. We as adherents, need to confidently be ourselves enough to follow, or not.

These are hard things, tough decisions to make, and questions to answer. More than anything why we need a study, a practice, in order to do these without hurting ourselves, or others.

We have the right to be who we are, separate from our ancestors, to move on. No, I believe we have the responsibility to do so. This battle we are moving into, it’s with ourselves.

We need to figure out how we can stop consuming the earth we are on to the point of destruction. We’re doing it. It’s not an outside kind of analysis. It’s us. Just like the spiritual realm isn’t “above”, with us “below”. It’s here now.

Where to start? Ask your grandmother. But you know what? If your grandmother isn’t around, or if you don’t have access to what your birth records say you belong to? That’s okay.

No one gets left behind.

Ask Grandmother, then follow your heart.