Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community, by Pegi Eyers
Nature Spirituality has always been essential to my life journey, and the teachings of First Nations elders and community peoples continue to be an important part of my ongoing learning and personal transformation. At an Elders Gathering hosted by Trent University in 2010, I heard revered Wisdom Keeper and Professor James Dumont (Anishnaabe) say that “Everyone needs to get back to their own indigenous knowledge.” Like a lightning bolt from the blue (!) this simple statement activated a monumental set of questions about my own life, and issues in the wider society. Why were my kindred spirits in the spiritual community assuming First Nations identities or taking cultural and spiritual property that did not belong to them, and where were our own indigenous expressions as people with European heritage? Over the past three years I have been driven to examine these issues, and Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community is the result of exhaustive research on eco-identity, along with my own nature-based observations, conclu-sions, evocations, poetry and illustrations. For those of us with European ancestry, core questions continue to arise on locating our authentic wisdom traditions and reclaiming our roots in Earth Community, and the themes in Ancient Spirit Rising are an attempt to add to this critical conversation. For the first time in human history with travel, the internet and other resources, we have full access to the indigenous knowledge (IK) of any culture, including our own. Then why must we take bits and pieces from the First Nations of Turtle Island when we have our own ancestral belief systems, sacred objects and ceremonies that are bursting with earth-connected wisdom, beauty and power? In these times of massive change, the reclaiming of our own ancestral traditions can provide us with spiritual and material tools for re-landing ourselves in our local ecosystems, challenging the toxic effects of capitalism, and creating a sustainable future. In the course of writing Ancient Spirit Rising I began to realize that having a spiritual focus in life includes social and environmental justice, and by not engaging in activism on behalf of oppressed peoples and the other-than-human world we are not reaching our full potential. In the rich environment of cultural pluralism that is Canada today, taking responsibility for our privilege and the history of Settler-Colonialism will go far in establishing mutual respect and peaceful co-existence between all peoples. By increasing our solidarity and allyship with Turtle Island First Nations (our “co-existence in co-resistance”) Ancient Spirit Rising offers diverse strategies for healing the colonizer/colonized divide. Discover-ing alternatives to common misconceptions, reversing the racism of cultural appropriation, and developing skills for intercultural competency are all positive and empowering practices. Working for peace and justice is essential to personal and planetary healing, as is the directive to re-enchant and rebalance the world with a massive injection of holistic principles promoting biophilia and spiritual ecology. Essential to re-rooting ourselves as ecocentric peoples is to fall in love with the Earth again, and to revere the elements, manifestations and creatures in the natural world as sacred. “You cannot destroy that which you love.” The “Great Turning” to ecological civilization is happening everywhere, in all sectors of society, and the various knowledge systems and their disseminators are doing a wonderful job at bending the curve! Many of us are finding the value in embracing ethics and lifestyles that reflect our connectivity to the new “Earth Story.” But what is often missing in these practices are the spiritual expressions that would arise from a strong, grounded connection to the land itself, from the recovery of our own ancestral traditions, and from “getting back to our own IK.” As we take our cultural recovery project, there are a wide range of earth-connected spiritual traditions already in place that center on our European Old Ways. Although I advocate for specific ethnocultural paths such as Gaelic Traditionalism, Old Norse Traditions, Hellenic Polytheism, Religio Romana (ancient Rome) or Baltic/ Romuva Spirituality (for example), the renaissance of reconstructionist paths such as Druidry, the Avalon Tradition, Neo-Paganism, Wicca and Matriarchal Studies is good news indeed, and contemporary nature-based spiritu-alities such as Animism and Ecomysticism hold elements of both ancient and modern practice. Becoming part of a specific ancestral group can give us a firm foundation, and a place to turn for spiritual guidance, cultural values and familial connection. If we are the lucky ones who know the details of our heritage, how beautiful and how honoring of ourselves and our Ancestors to re-create our specific traditional roots to the best of our ability! Wild nature is calling us all back home, and Ancient Spirit Rising offers various ways and means to recover our essential bio-lineage through earthing, rewilding, ecopsychology and visiting Sacred Sites (which we are so fortunate to have access to in Southern Ontario). Our reclaiming process involves the re-inhabitation of place, or getting to know the unique features of our home landscape, and we also have a responsibility to embrace green sanctuary work, remediation, geo-justice and eco-activism, and to do the hard work of caring for and protecting the land. We all have a part to play in the paradigm shift, and Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community offers exciting guideposts and modalities for our revitalization journey. As diverse indigenous societies and spiritual traditions teach us, true knowledge is gained by thinking with both the head and the heart - a journey of emotion as informed by the mind - and my Ancient Spirit Rising reflections have been tempered by my true heart’s knowing, and the personal agency of that expression. We are all People of the Earth, and I invite you to join me on a path of personal and collective transformation!
Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community is available in both paperback and PDF format from Stone Circle Press at www.stonecirclepress.com and at www.amazon.com.