This essay was not approved for the DP, but I am keeping it here for my own reference.
As explained in my “about” page concerning this dedicant’s journal, I technically pull from many different hearth cultures. My patron, Athena, a Greek Goddess of war and wisdom. My Grove, CedarLight, mainly Celtic, with some dabblings in Norse. My other patron (I’m not worried about being politically correct here), I’ve been exploring Odin, also a God of War in the Nordic culture. And then there’s the lifestyle and purpose in which I choose to serve, which is strongly Native American. When it came time to write an essay about one ore two of these, it was a bit of a task choosing which one.
But the one with the most influence, is surely the Native American.
I feel the need to include a disclaimer on such a topic though. I am part Cherokee, and am even learning to speak Cherokee, but I was mostly raised a plain white farm girl. I have never lived on a reservation, I’ve never been taught by an Elder, and I don’t claim to be a teacher or expert on Native American Spirituality. I’m a student seeking knowledge in the most respectful way possible. I am fully aware that most Native Americans do not like the neo-pagan movement and it’s ability to cut and paste spiritual concepts from different cultures and make it their own. I’m aware that most people make a mockery of any type of religion or spiritual practice that is not of their own roots and culture. I’m also aware that if I’m going to learn a spiritual practice and live that way of life, I need to learn from the source.
I -have- been in semi-regular contact with a Lakota-Sioux elder from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Before that most of my study has been from books with a very cautious eye, as well as the teachings of my father. I do hope to eventually live near a reservation so that I can correctly understand the culture of the original America’s, as I would do for any culture I had interest in.
I chose this particular Hearth Culture because of my ancestry, because of my strong warrior roots, and because of my strong survival instincts, all which are (in my mind) intertwined with this way of life.
That being said, my choice of culture is probably one of the most difficult to integrate into ADF style liturgy and mindset. There are so many different tribes that worship many different ways. A lot of private experimentation and research is in order to even match the two styles of worship.
Almost all Native American tribes acknowledge some form of the Earth Mother and Sky Father. There is an embedded balance there, much like in neo-pagan worship. You could even compare some types of Native American Deity to Wicca, in the fact that they see the spirit as all encompassing of both male and female energies. In the Sioux tribe, their term for the great spirit is Wakan Tanka, yet they also hold reverence for the White Buffalo Calf Woman who came to their ancestors and gave them the 7 rituals of the Lakota people as well as the peace pipe.
This gave me a little room to work with, if I was to try and integrate Native American spirituality into ADF style liturgy.
But the reality of it is, I don’t see the need or have the desire to combine the two cultures. My spirituality is more of a way of life, how I live each day, rather than trying to cram it into another cultural style. I may go worship in a Celtic fashion 8 times a year, but everyday I live and breathe the way my ancestors have instilled it in my blood. I worship the Earth Mother and the Sky Father by teaching myself the skills and method in which my ancestors used, such as brain tanning, archery hunting, and not being wasteful in anything that I do.
That’s the purpose of all spiritual worship, to learn from the past and to live the best life that I can through a moral code.
(Word Count: 685)