This series of posts will expand upon the “Goals & Ideas for Members” now part of the Pagan Environmental Alliance‘s Mission. Though not exhaustive, I hope they will provide inspiration. Please share further ideas, insights, and suggestions!
We wouldn’t expect to hear of any part of Trump’s Government promoting citizens and organizations #honornativeland and peoples, yet this is precisely what the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture has done here. Granted, it was an initiative that was implemented during the Obama years–a different government entirely, it would seem. However, such contrasts often exist in our American history. One just wishes they weren’t peculiar contrasts with the zeitgeist, and instead formed an accepted, routine part of our cultural life.
We’re speaking to the goals of Honoring Nature and seeking Alliance with Native People most strongly, but alliances with the natural and “spirit world” beyond.
The first step we need to take in this practice is to do accurate research about the First Nations that inhabit the lands we now occupy. A great resource for this is this interactive map freely available online. Not only does it show the historical ranges of existing and extant cultures, but it often links to outside, trusted sources of information for more research.
To some degree, this first step is somewhat complicated in Florida. The current Seminole and Miccosukee tribes are predated by the peoples of the Tequesta, Calusa, Jeaga, Tocobaga and many more. However, this pattern isn’t unique to Florida. The cultural extent of the Anasazi across Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico is overlapped by the Paiute and Dené Nations today.
Because we’re pagans, it may be worthwhile to acknowledge the lives of all the peoples that once lived where we now occupy. By saying their names out loud before meetings and public rituals, we awaken their memory and presence in the breathing world of Air.
Similarly, calling forth the local spirits of the Land is a form of honor and remembrance. Just as trees make a forest, forest make ecosystems great and small. Because pagan rituals often take place outdoors, it becomes increasingly important that we seek out the sentient presences of the Land and Nature Spirits dwelling there. This work takes patience and humility, as well as an open mind.
You may honor the spirit of a mountain and then come to realize you are interacting with the entire mountain range! These great spirits function much in the same way as the mythic gods like Gaia and Danú–they are vast, primordial, but the underpinning of all life and power in any given region. Often, they seek nothing more of humans than conversation and the simplest of offerings. One of the easiest ways to “get closer to them” is to study the natural history of the landscape (the soil, bedrock, rivers, lakes, the ecology) and allow time to simply exist in wild with a quiet mind.
I know these practices aren’t new to many pagans, but they are far from the norm in general pagan culture. I invite you to explore them with patience and humility.