Big Rowan Ackison (greensh) wrote,
Big Rowan Ackison

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Matching Mirror Turmoil

My lovely mate and I had a conversation about a certain spiritual group that was aggressively monitoring appropriation of its core beliefs. The guardianship of this group has increased as more and more people not initiated into the group used the name of the group as an identifier of their personal beliefs. There is now a push to take back the group's name and practices and hold them securely away from corrupting forces. These actions have disturbing echoes in my spiritual life. My mate tried to explain the situation to me.

My mate was explaining this to me as she previously a member of this group. To paraphrase her, she said that the group had an established set of beliefs that outsiders were corrupting or subverting. The outsiders were either those with incomplete training or no training. These people did not have the full contingent of teachings, and hence could be spotted because they did not use the right words or they misused words. Because of this, the fully vested members of the group could spot the imposters and choose to call them out for their misappropriation. The greatest sin of the outsiders was to say by inference of the shared group name, "the group believes this or that". While the group may or may not believe the thing, the outsider had no right to say what the group believed. Only those fully vested in the group could say what was right, and they could not because the teachings were wrapped in layers of oath bound instruction. What I heard her say was, "the outsiders are to be condemned. They misrepresent, taint and corrupt the correct teachings." My mind went one step further and interpreted this to mean, "the outsiders should stop there meddling and find something else to believe in."

I have to say that my mate is loving and compassion personified. I am sure that I heard much more than she said, but heck, I'm human with emotional buttons. Mine got pushed HARD.

I am one of those outsiders in the shamanic world. I stand outside of officiated indigenous teachings. I can only gleam what I can from the books I've read, the brief material taught by my native shamanic teacher, and my personal experiences. At the end of the day I am one of those people who are "misrepresenting, tainting and corrupting" the correct indigenous teachings. I HATE being this person. It sickens me to think I am doing this to another group, but who else can I be? How can I honor my calling and honor those indigenous people that came before me?

Here is the catch. For the most part the indigenous shamanic people are a closed book to non-natives. We white people are locked out of the native ‘classroom’. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. The teaching traditions are experiential one-on-one affairs. The indigenous people are striving to preserve their beliefs and this means teaching it to themselves before they share it with outsiders. There is even a reluctance to share with outsiders because the outsiders do not fully respect the oaths of the tribe, and there is little means for disciplining the outsiders. Instead the willing native teachers are disciplined and discouraged. From all this, the correct teachings are held close by those who have them, increasingly wary of appropriation and dissolution.

So here I am, hearing the words of my mate and seeing myself being told, “stop meddling (in shamanic ways) and find something else to believe in.” Part of me wants to give up this fight to have a vibrant spiritual life. The guardians stand with their doors partially closed or fully closed. More and more spears are appearing above the erected walls. “Be one of us or be gone” is their rallying cry. OK… I am being dramatic, but this is where I am. The shamanic path calls to me and I wonder how to navigate the increasingly clogged avenues of group ownership and guardianship. The more I learn the more it looks like I'm guilty as hell. Sigh...

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