“If we look at the path, we do not see the sky. We are earth people on spiritual journey to the stars. Our quest, our earth walk, is to look within, to know who we are, to see that we are connected to all things, that there is no separation only in the mind.”
– Native American, source unknown
I’ve been presented with opportunities during the course of my life, and I’d like to think I learned from them. I have touched the earth and learned from Her, touched the people and learned from them and, having been touched, I touch those helping spirits who have guided and supported me since I’ve had memory. I have sat in synagogue with my Jewish elders, teachers of my spiritual lineage, praying in the ancient tongue of the Tribe of Israel; I have sat in the zendo with my Roshi, balanced stillness at my center, chanting phrases from sacred Buddhist texts; I have sat in countless teaching circles, wise men and women drumming guardrails for my world-walks to remembered realities; I have sat in sweat lodge with my tiospaye, offering up timeless prayer songs in the eternal language of the Lakota; I have sat at the side of beloved teachers of Mayan, Mexihka and Huna traditions, to whom I was led, whispering voiceless gratitude as times past and present merged; and I have sat in the ceremonial circle with my community as a Druid and spiritual teacher, speaking sacred words in the tradition of my Indo-European Indigenous ancestors.
Not an academic undertaking by any means or experience from afar—the “joy of the journey” often became “where the rubber meets the road”—and each experience has led me deeper into my heart, deeper into relationship with that Something Greater and deeper into the Truth.
Through the act of embracing the spiritual traditions of my genetic, historical and soul’s lineage, I have gained a deep understanding of the empowerment and healing that can come from acknowledging and connecting with one’s cellular memory, tribal ancestry and cultural history—and keeping it alive.
The profound gift given me moves far beyond personal self-discovery; scattered puzzle pieces have rejoined, time and space have solidified and I find myself rooted in knowing that from the wisdom of our ancestors, will come the wisdom of our children.
“Wherever we find ourselves, at any given moment, we are standing at the crossroads of our past and our future”
Some of you reading this are keenly aware from whence you’ve come, others are not. Regardless, what is important to realize, I believe, is the fact that—whether we know it or not—ultimately, somewhere on our familial timelines, we all have an Indigenous tradition, a tribal heritage, as its source. Embracing this premise offers new eyes to old landscapes and suddenly, the topic of “Indigenous Medicine” becomes not about “them” or “other;” it is about each of us.
For whether it is the case that your DNA holds traditions of the red road, the green road, the black, yellow or brown road, we are all standing at the crossroads. And as the past helps to guide the future, I think it’s a good thing these days to hold them both in our vision.
That statement seems particularly true in light of what I discovered while preparing this piece. What began as a simple expose on Indigenous and Traditional medicine, the intention of which was to provide deeper insight into the variety and wealth of accumulated healing wisdom available, suddenly exploded. In writing, I became aware of the complex series of events–and vast amounts of research–that have been, and continue to be, taking place in regard to the utilization and protection of Traditional medicine worldwide. It is no longer merely a search of the past-it is about a living present as well.
Perhaps you have greater familiarity with the situation than I had previously, perhaps not; regardless, I look forward to sharing this medicine journey across time. I believe it to be both meaningful and timely.