SOMETIMES it amazes me how us Westerners find it so easy to forget our own culture. In today’s ‘get it quick’ society, we seem to want everything NOW, often in exchange for the swipe of a credit card, rather than real effort. We spend all our time either worrying about what we did last week, or fretting about what’s to come.
Rarely do we live in the moment which, to some extent, might explain why so many of have lost our connection to what’s real and, in doing so, we’ve lost our connection to who we really are.
When we think about our history, how often do we attempt to scratch the surface and go back further than the Roman invasions? At school, I remember learning about how wonderful the Romans were, how they saved us from savagery, gave us central heating and straight roads. I don’t remember learning about them trampling over our way of life, about them effectively stripping us of our native spirituality, about the mass genocide in order to ‘persuade’ us to adopt their ways. I don’t remember ever being taught where we came from BEFORE the roots of our heritage were torn from the soils we stood upon.
I remember once interviewing Manda Scott, when she was part way through authoring her Boudica series; she recounted a story of being asked “What did the Romans do for us?”… her answer rings in my ears to this day: “What did the Romans do for us? Christianity and genocide.” Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Harsh, but fair?
I digress. The point is, it’s rare that I find fellow westerners reaching back that far, back into our early culture, back to the times when we had a real connection to spirit, to the energies of the land, to the trees, to the plants, to the elements (and elementals), to the directions, to the animals, the birds, the creepers, the crawlers.
Lest we forget…
As much as I sympathise with other tribes who’ve been through similar trials, it really saddens me to think that we’ve forgotten what WE went through. To clarify, I’m not suggesting for a second that we should dwell in the past and adopt a victim mindset, merely that we should perhaps try to remember who we were originally and, perhaps, attempt to reconnect with some of those lost threads of spirituality. Yes, most of the traces of our native spirituality have been erased, yet the ancestors’ bones still lie deep beneath our feet, and the threads of our past are still held within the earth, the stones, the roots of the trees…
For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt a deep, deep connection to the energies around me. I’ve been aware of spirit from a very early age and have always been fascinated by the connections with animals around us, and the teachings they’ll impart if only we’re humble enough to seek them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen myself as being higher in the foodchain… the animals were here first, and they have much wisdom to share. Looking back, I’ve always spent time in nature, listening to the voices on the breeze, talking with the trees, visiting some of those ancient sites we know about, giving thanks, seeking, giving thanks.
In order to learn, I’ve read books, I’ve traveled our lands and I’ve sought teachings from those who knew far more than I ever could. It was this thirst for knowledge (as well as a few firm kicks from spirit and lots of what I now know weren’t ‘coincidences’) that led me to start learning – no, LIVING – shamanism. Trouble is, shamanism itself carries lots of mixed messages and contradictions. Or, at least, the PEOPLE talking about it do!