As readers will know, I have been agonizing over the issue of indigenaity, in relation to spirituality and “immanential devotions”, through all of the postings so far. As a deeply Pagan person, the two core strands informing that conflicted spiritual orientation are: the Pagan heritage of Northwest Europe – what H.R. Ellis-Davidson identified as the many and varied Baltic, Slavic, Celtic and Germanic cults, which, though many and varied, shared features in common – and an “earth centred” conviction, derived from that very Paganism, that “Holy Ground” is that which is beneath my feet, and more, that “indigenous knowledge” is the legacy concerning that “holy ground” which binds “community” to locale.
Clearly, there is a distance between these two strands (“there” and “here”) implying an almost impossible chasm to bridge, except at the vaguest and most abstract level of “earthling”. While this notion (earthling), especially since seeing Earth from Space, has indeed helped to convince us of Gaia’s integrity, at the same time, we have come to appreciate the necessity of spiritually inhabiting the local, of bringing our selves “home” in a deep, rather than a superficial way. For “Pagans” of the European diaspora, this imperative (huh-oh) presents seemingly intractable problems.
But help comes in odd forms. My daughter and I have been reading a series of mystery novels set on an Arapaho reservation and containing Arapaho lore. It turns out that the deep history of the Arapaho tells of the time when they lived far to the east, beyond the mountains, at the shores of a water that had no other side – presumably the Atlantic Ocean. If that is the case, then they came as far west into the plains, in sheer mileage, as did the Europeans who came over the ocean to settle on the Eastern seaboard, and then also traveled farther inland – and, of course, beneath the ocean, the land continued even across the eruption of underwater volcanic trenches. The “connection” is there, even if obscured by waves, languages and customs; even if mangled by the bitter legacy of conquest and displacement.
The Arapaho must have accomplished precisely this seemingly impossible task themselves – bringing “Arapaho ways” with them – but acquiring knowledge of their new terrain sufficient to become intimate with it – to renew their indigenaity as they traveled, by harmonizingthe heritage they brought with the knowledge they received. I find this a truly inspiring, awe-inspiring thought and the beginning of a different way to think about spirituality – a way which seems best described as “Fusion Spirituality“.
At present, it is an idea just emerging into consciousness – but it has already set me some concrete tasks – 1. what is the Pagan heritage I bear; 2. what does this locale (and its Peoples) have to teach me; 3. how can I harmonize what I bring and what I learn; 4. who else has come this way – or is coming down this path who might be a fellow traveler, settling in this new terrain; 5. how do I develop “Immanential Devotions” which do justice to this harmonization; and, 6. can fellow travelers and I, along this path and settling at this locale, form a viable community around Immanential Devotions which accomplish such a harmonization?
From the previous post, you will recognize that “settler”has, unexpectedly, become a key word in the development of “Fusion Spirituality” – in a dawning awareness of the profound difference in meaning it bears from “pilgrim”, “adventurer”, “prospector” – and other terms which refer to travelling though territory but eschewing belonging to it. Yet to “settle” is only the beginning: it is the subsequent rootedness down and branchingness up that secures the knowledge that confers indigenaity. What seems to be emerging is a call to move from “stranger” to “dweller”, “neighbour” and “friend”- in words I heard recently on Bioneers, “to live on earth as if we belonged here” (so different from the lingering Gnosticism heretofore infecting the Western Soul)- in this case, to live in this locale as if it is the ground of my sacred hearth – because it is.
So – as well as Immanential Devotions, those practices which ceremonialize spiritual moorings, I now also have a sense of how to harmonize heritage and indigenous knowledge in Fusion Spirituality. I am working on a Toronto Liturgy which might represent that Fusion for this place – we’ll see if it flies – or better, takes root. And, next year, I am hoping to open a little local Mission where these things could be explored in community.
May it be so.