Shamanism and Native Spirituality

In many ways the Earth is like True-Hearted Woman and humanity the husband who neglects her. Still she provides for us, she feeds us, clothes us and keeps us warm, though we neither recognize nor appreciate her gifts. Our eyes are turned to the objects of our desire which we will attain no matter what the cost. In most cases this price is also paid by the Earth.

But even abandoned, even hurt in some ways beyond renewal, the Earth leaves us a child, the possibility of change and hope for the future – if we can choose to live in a different way.

When we begin to view the Earth and its animals, plants and ecosystems as sacred, we will protect and defend the land because our spirituality depends on it. By our own choice and our willingness to listen to the land, we can become native again, even in our cities whose concrete can cover but not destroy the Earth that lies beneath.

But when we cease to uphold the separation between ourselves and the land, refinding our reverence and respect for it, allowing it to become as intrinsic to our spirituality as our compassion for other human beings, we may find ourselves short of the tools necessary for what that means.

For many non-Western cultures a Vision Quest is one method of direct communication with the Earth. Specific details of the experience vary widely but the basic purpose seems to be universal.

The Vision Quest is a ritual which we have all experienced without even being aware of it, right within the context of our own lives, even in our cities. A passing conversation with a stranger, a sentence in a book, an idle musing on a bus, any of these can provide moments of vision if we have the openness to allow ourselves to understand what is really happening around us.

For Example:

The city-dwelling unconscious Vision Quester who is unhappy with his job, the state of the world and his relationships, but who can’t put his finger on why he isn’t happy or “what it’s all for,” takes off from work for an afternoon and goes for a walk in a park, alone.

He is startled when he comes upon a huge spider’s web which crosses his path. It has been raining intermittently but suddenly a ray of sunlight pierces through the trees. The tiny drops of water, which hang like diamonds from the web, turn into flames. Now within the complexity and confusion he can see order, a delicate beauty, a shadowy sense of purpose.

He goes home, more sure of his ability to move through his conflict, to make decisions of positive change and to allow greater intimacy in his relationships. Without even being aware of it, he has successfully completed an ancient ritual and received the healing inherent within it.

We have access to everything the world has known, if we can learn to listen to the stones and the stories they have to tell, if we hear the winds speak who have been everywhere and heard everything since the beginning of time. The world will always provide vision, if we allow ourselves to be alone, then open our eyes and look as if for the first time, at what has been around us all along.

From: A Voice From The Earth

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