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SOME THOUGHTS ON SHAMANISM IN THE PAGAN COMMUNITY BY BOB GUSTAFSON (Bob is a Warrior of the Mohawk Nation who fought at the historic battle of Wounded Knee, a leader of the United American Indians of New England, and a founding member of the Thomas Merton Alliance.) An oft-told story in Indian country concerns a Plains Elder who traveled to Washington DC to express a long-standing grievance with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In an effort to butter the old man up, the BIA official took him out to dinner at an expensive restaurant and told him he could have whatever he wanted on the menu. The old man promptly ordered a steak and made quick work of it when it was served. Seeing the elder's still-hungry look, the official told him to go ahead and order another. The old man did and ordered and ate a third as well. In awe, the BIA official said, "Gee, Chief, I sure wish I had your appetite." To which the old man, shaking his head, replied, "you've stolen our land, taken nearly everything we have, and now you even want my appetite." This story reflects the feelings of many of us as we watch non-Indian Pagans take over our traditional ways--vision quests and sweat lodges, for example. The current vague, and often erroneous, articles and discussions of Shamanism in the non-Indian Pagan community are the most recent and disturbing manifestations of this takeover. Before delving into native Traditions, be they the Way of the Longhouse, the Sun Dance, or the Kiva, non-Indian Pagans should keep in mind the following points: First and foremost is the fact that our Warriors have fought and died as recently as the last decade to defend and preserve our old ways. That struggle continues. Second is the fact that all of our medicine ways are tribal and intended to serve the People. Ours is not a tradition where "you do your own thing." Third, true sharing comes only between equals--not between oppressor and oppressed. Let there be no mistake; we are still an oppressed People in our own homeland. Fourth, our traditional elders do not advertise in the pages of NEW AGE or in Pagan publications. Indeed, our traditional elders are among our most militant political leaders. Many of them urge total separation from the dominant society. Fifth, Europe was once as tribal as we continue to be. Non-Indian Pagans have their own roots to draw upon. Sixth, some of our spiritual leaders have taken under their wings a select number of non-Indians. In my experience, these have been people who have helped us in our struggle, e.g., non-Indian medics who served inside Wounded Knee. Learning our ways is a privilege that must be earned. Finally, keep in your minds that my ancestors presented Dutch invaders with a two-row band of wampun. The two rows were to symbolize that the two cultures were intended to live separately, but in peace, on this continent. The wampum band still exists. Peace with justice is still a dream. Oneh. THE THOMAS MERTON ALLIANCE 7 MARLBORO STREET/NEWBURYPORT, MA. 01950/617-465-0825 TO: the Pagan Community We, the undersigned participants in the Thomas Merton Alliance Conference, September 14, and 15, 1985, Cambridge, Mass. unequivocally condemn the practice of selling Shamanships, Vision Quests, and Sweat Lodges. It has forcefully come to our attention that this practice is currently being carried out by a number of Pagans across the country, and we believe it is past time for responsible Pagans to speak out in opposition. Because this practice is: -- Theft of Native American spiritual tradition. -- An attempt, in the instance of selling Shamanships, to accomplish in a short period of time that which it takes an authentic Shaman a lifetime to learn, -- An affront to the tradition, both among Native Americans and European Pagans, of NOT selling medicine/magical services, -- An unforgivable insult to the memory of Native Warriors who have been killed while defending their People and their traditions, We call on all persons engaged in selling Shamanships, Vision Quests and Sweat Lodges to immediately halt this practice. Earth Religion, Earthly Concerns! (signed) Linda Rutherford Denise M. Jones Branwen of Faerie Fire Bobbie Honey Henry Anasazi (Charlie Murphy) Lierre Keith Jodi Jennings Nanette Nakeeta Gae Sidhe (for Faerie Fire) Melizma Chase Meredith Hobart Bob Gustafson Chris Hayes Darkfire of Ravenscall Lisa Tennyson Leslie Love Boudica of Bean Sidhe Jeff Kelinbard Marcia Womongold


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