I received an interesting question a few weeks ago from someone who’s been walking a Shamanic path but is not Aboriginal. The man’s question was: “Why have I been chosen to do this work when I have no knowledge whatsoever of the Aboriginal way?” After some digging into the man’s story, I uncovered that he started doing healing work almost two decades ago when his life wasn’t moving anywhere. He lived in the city, had no love relationships, worked with the elderly and was hoping for a change. He said that a trip to Costa Rica and a meeting with a therapist who did ritualistic, adventure trips got him questioning some of his beliefs. It seems that from that point on one synchronic event over another brought him to people and to experiences which helped him learn about healing and introduced him to his present shamanic path.
CS explained that he often feels guilty that he’s working on Aboriginal people but he’s not Aboriginal. He’s found some guidance towards answering this question but doesn’t feel yet whole when it comes to the work he does. What I found interesting with his e-mail and his story was that it resembled many other e-mails that I’ve received in the last 2 decades. Lots of people who walk a shamanic path are not Aboriginal and they often wonder why they were called to this spiritual life especially those who have come to connect to Aboriginal elders and who have come to work with Aboriginal communities.
I find that behind this question there is often a lot of programmed cultural judgments and expectations. I remember my Aboriginal grand-mother telling me as a child that “I should never tell anyone of my cultural roots because they would eventually call me a savage and hurt my feelings.” I didn’t live on any reserve and went to private school (catholic convent). After learning history from catholic nuns and hearing their bias perspectives on Indians, I too after a while developed this self-preserving attitude that inevitably meant the loss of my cultural identify. My perception of my ancestors was tainted by the perspective of others. In the last two decades I’ve noticed the complete opposite happening amongst many white people. They have painted a perfect picture of ancient Aboriginal living which they quickly associate to the Aboriginal people of today. Often they expect today’s First Nation People to behave according to the beliefs that they’ve adopted of their ancestors. The fact remains – not all Aboriginal people live on reserves; not all Aboriginal people follow the old religion; not all Aboriginal people know about totems, drums or even care about pow-wows. Like any other cultural group out there First Nation people are as diversified in thought, emotion and belief.
How do we begin to stop judging each other according to stereotypes? How do we begin to accept people according to their story and their personal or communal experiences rather than search to meet our expectations? These are definitely challenges and objectives for the society of today and tomorrow. We are no longer people who are separated all over the globes into distinct linguistic, cultural and religious groups. We are a melting pot of people who are struggling more and more with identity.
It doesn’t matter if you are Aboriginal or not; or if you have knowledge of Aboriginal culture. If you can make a difference by just being who you are then shouldn’t you become more and more aware and confident of you as a person. If you are accepted, valued, respected and appreciated then why ask yourself questions. If you’re feeling guilty and unfulfilled it’s not about what people are thinking or expecting – it’s about how you are processing the interaction. Don’t every stop working on your issues and growing. Be the very best that you can be no matter who or what you are. In the end, we’re not different people we are meant to be ONE.
So next time you ask yourself the question: WHY ME?
Give yourself the answer: WHY NOT?
My 5 cents on the matter.
P.S. I made the beaded rosette at the top of my blog entry. I chose this picture for this topic because my grand-mother once said "beaded rosettes were made when individuals were sick. They represented the dream so to speak of the illness (the whole process). Rosettes were later given as gifts to the healers -- so that they wouldn't be sick with the ailments they cured or healed." I made this particular rosette when I was ill with a kidney infection. I gave it to my doctor when I recovered. Old ways don't have to disappear they can be used in new ways and for new awareness.