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Forum Home - Go Back > Pow Wow Arena > Ask PowWows.com Question about native religions Question about native religions

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Old 08-07-2015, 11:58 PM   #1
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Question about native religions

Hello. I'm MickaŽl, french, 29 years old (30 coming soon :op).

My introduction will be quite long, as I detail my spiritual path, so if you want to go straight to my question, you should go to the paragraph that precedes my closing line :op

I've always been much interested in spirituality, and, thus, in the various religions that I could know of. Firstly, of course, since my parents were christians, I got interested a bit in the Bible. As I reached adolescence, I began to point my sight elsewhere, because a few concepts of christianism began to sound untrue to me (questions such as "why would there be a hell if god is infinitely good?" - among other ones - which remains to me as a fundamental paradox of christianism). Besides, I began to interest myself in reincarnation and eventually believed in it after having discovered the book "Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation", by Ian Stevenson). Finally, I think that one can say that Bible is full of idiocies. If you are not convinced, you should look this link it's automatically translated from french to english but it's brief and comprehensible, I think.

Well, later on, I read Quran, which is of course not very helpful because islam is pretty much the same religion as christianism except that their holy books tells you every two pages that you will go to hell if you don't do things as expected by their god.

I read also most of the Bardo ThŲdol, which is sensed to tell its readers what expects them after death, but it's probably not very universal. Maybe you will have the visions described in the book if you are of tibetan culture but I doubt that you will see such things if you are, say, european like me. I think besides that experience of the afterlife is very personnal, so I can't help seeing such a detailed roadmap as a bit suspicious.

Now I read also a few books about buddhism, of course. A very interesting religion even though I don't really stick to the fact that giving up passions is the good way to escape the cycle of reincarnations. Maybe it's true but I think that passions are really an impotant part of one inner life. So I hardly define myself as buddhist. Besides, I still kill mosquitos (especially these days in summer), which is probably not the level of respect to life that one could expect from a buddhist.

I also read a very interesting book about roman religions called "The Ancient City" of Fustel de Coulanges, a french historian. It's very interesting because it's sourced upon roman authors writings and that it details the evolution of roman religions since their very first one (worship of the fire element as a god) to the last one before christianism, worship of polytheists gods (Mars, Jupiter, Venus, etc.). Spiritually speaking it does not have much value but historically speaking it does, and you will have a much clearer understanding of roman history if you happen to find some time to read it ;o)

I also read the Tao Te Ching of course, which I found, when I read it, not very accessible. I didn't understand it really I think.

I also think that I have a good general knowledge of the principles of jainism, hinduism, confucianism, and shinto. I don't know Judaism as much as I want to but well, maybe one day I will take some time for it :op

If you want to know what is my mind about what is in the afterlife, you can note that the books that have the most influence on my spiritual construction are these ones :
- books about near death experiences
- twenty cases suggestive of reincarnation, which I already mentioned above
- conservations with god, from Neale Donald Walsch.
(yes, even though I'm french, all these books have american authors :op near death experiences are primarily documented by american doctors).

SO... here is the point (and my question). I know that there are many native "religions". But you religions remain very mysterious. I know that shamanism is a common practice of your religions but it's pretty much all I know (and even though shamanism is a word that refers to diverse realities). I think that there is much to learn from you (I say you as a whole), but it's hard to find books about your religions. Even though we can find a few books about "shamanism" in general, I can't find any book that could help me have a good overview of them in their differences and in their practices. Is there any book that you could recommend me? Or any advice that could help me to have a more personnal approach of shamanism? I take it all :op

Thank you in advance :o)

Last edited by MickaŽl; 08-08-2015 at 02:14 AM..
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Old 08-08-2015, 05:24 PM   #2
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We do not have shamans. If you want the religious experience. Go to Oklahoma and visit a First Southern Baptist church in a Choctaw community and listen to them sing their Choctaw hymns.
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Old 08-08-2015, 09:25 PM   #3
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Welcome to powwows.com. We are a forum for the discussion of powwow dancing and powwow related crafts, not metaphysics.


Time for some Native 101:

First, a little background to help understand the sarcasm and hostility that tends to erupt over these types of inquiries: We are the survivors of the end of the world. For 500+ years, our ways have been attacked, suppressed, punished and damn near erased. Our ancestors lost their land, language, culture and lives. They buried 50-90% of their tribes. Now, their children are fighting to preserve the remnants. We have to battle the culture vultures who steal pieces of our religions and lifeways, twist them into grotesque shapes, then sell the battered fragments to make themselves rich. So, not surprisingly many of us are weary and sometimes less than patient.

That explanation/warning out of the way....

Quote:
Originally Posted by MickaŽl View Post
But you religions remain very mysterious.
That is by intent.

Please understand this isn't about race. Our intellectual and spiritual traditions do not have their roots in the same soil as those of Europe. The European understandings of intellectual property and cultural patrimony are very different from those of all the Native peoples I know. We have different modes of sharing and transmission of knowledge. There is some knowledge that cannot be shared with the outsider or the uninitiated without physical and metaphysical consequences. You don't trifle with the sacred or even speak too casually about these things.

Further, our elders have seen a lot of people come racing into our communities. Some have been in pursuit of research dollars, others quick fix spirituality, or a white-guilt get out of jail free card... They want instant information to take away and use without return. Our cousins in the southwest remember when the Spanish Inquisition in the form of the Spanish missionaries visited. These should be reason enough for them to be unwilling to share, without invoking indigenous ethics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MickaŽl View Post
I know that shamanism is a common practice of your religions but it's pretty much all I know (and even though shamanism is a word that refers to diverse realities).
Anthropologists may use the term for some of our religious practices. But Native people don't. You would do well cease using it in relation to our various practices.

For many of us the term is is associated with the practices of New Age hucksters who have appropriated bits and pieces of our various traditions, added a dash of misunderstood Hinduism and sold the resulting resulting brew to dominant culture seekers. These people, Native and non-Native, have done us great damage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MickaŽl View Post
...but it's hard to find books about your religions. Even though we can find a few books about "shamanism" in general, I can't find any book that could help me have a good overview of them in their differences and in their practices. Is there any book that you could recommend me?
The essence of our cultures isn't found in books.

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Originally Posted by MickaŽl View Post
Or any advice that could help me to have a more personnal approach of shamanism? I take it all
Then please take this advice:

I have never encountered a Native culture which provides a path to conversion or seeks converts. The missionary impulse is by and large absent from traditional religions.

The decision to include non-Native people in various practices is made by us and is rare. It is not made causally. It is not offered to all comers. It is the result of long and intimate associations. Visiting our communities and listening to our stories you may catch a glimpse, but what you want is not going to be readily available to you. Without deep and lasting connections to Native people and communities, any ceremony available to you is likely to have as much to do with traditional practices as McDonalds does with traditional French cooking.
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Old 08-09-2015, 12:47 AM   #4
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Hello and thank you to you two for having answered me.

Thank you in particular to OLChemist for having taken the time to write me such an extensive answer.

I must say however that there are a few elements of your post that I was expecting, being given that I had the occasion to look at the recent thread from Calista2015 about religion (qui naturally catched my eye), in which you already say such things.

I allow myself simply to draw your attention on two things.

The first one, and I take advantage of it to answer to wanjica_the_one, it's that as for myself I live in Europe. In this respect, the only convenient means for me to learn about your cultures are either to connect myself on forums dedicated to your communities, either to find a book that would help me to instruct myself.

The second thing, and now I'm answering essentialy to the last part of your message, OLChemist, it's that I'm not especially looking to convert myself. I look to instruct myself. If I took the time to detail you my spiritual path, it's for having you know that I'm before anything someone who searches truth, his own truth, what would help him to raise spiritualy and to understand better the "invisible" working of the world. I have the feeling that native americans in general have a certain wisdom, and I find damaging as well that your religions be little known than the fact for a non-initiated like me not to have at his disposal the elements to distinguish the specificities of your respective communities. I think that it goes without saying that I find regrettable as well the atrocities endured by your communities as well as the fact that you could live with the feeling that your culture is threatened enough for you not to have the possibility to share it more, for those among you for which it's the case.

Talking about this decline about which you talk, I don't really know to which extent the american, canadian or other countries policies hinder your respective communities, but I think that in Europe we would really rejoice to see signs in the medias that your communities perk up again. Even if that doesn't ruin our daily life, I think that many people feel the native american decline as a real consternation. And in France, even if it represents only a small fraction of the population, there are more and more people who turn towards buddhism because today it's the religion which suits bests their thirst for true wisdom.

Anyway... since you tell me, OLChemist, that this forum is before everything dedicated to powwow and not metaphysics, do you know of any forum that you could indicate me and that who be more appropriate for me?

Thank you in advance for your answer and to all the others who will answer me as well.
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Old 08-09-2015, 02:59 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MickaŽl View Post
Hello and thank you to you two for having answered me.

Thank you in particular to OLChemist for having taken the time to write me such an extensive answer.

I must say however that there are a few elements of your post that I was expecting, being given that I had the occasion to look at the recent thread from Calista2015 about religion (qui naturally catched my eye), in which you already say such things.

I allow myself simply to draw your attention on two things.

The first one, and I take advantage of it to answer to wanjica_the_one, it's that as for myself I live in Europe. In this respect, the only convenient means for me to learn about your cultures are either to connect myself on forums dedicated to your communities, either to find a book that would help me to instruct myself.

The second thing, and now I'm answering essentialy to the last part of your message, OLChemist, it's that I'm not especially looking to convert myself. I look to instruct myself. If I took the time to detail you my spiritual path, it's for having you know that I'm before anything someone who searches truth, his own truth, what would help him to raise spiritualy and to understand better the "invisible" working of the world. I have the feeling that native americans in general have a certain wisdom, and I find damaging as well that your religions be little known than the fact for a non-initiated like me not to have at his disposal the elements to distinguish the specificities of your respective communities. I think that it goes without saying that I find regrettable as well the atrocities endured by your communities as well as the fact that you could live with the feeling that your culture is threatened enough for you not to have the possibility to share it more, for those among you for which it's the case.

Talking about this decline about which you talk, I don't really know to which extent the american, canadian or other countries policies hinder your respective communities, but I think that in Europe we would really rejoice to see signs in the medias that your communities perk up again. Even if that doesn't ruin our daily life, I think that many people feel the native american decline as a real consternation. And in France, even if it represents only a small fraction of the population, there are more and more people who turn towards buddhism because today it's the religion which suits bests their thirst for true wisdom.

Anyway... since you tell me, OLChemist, that this forum is before everything dedicated to powwow and not metaphysics, do you know of any forum that you could indicate me and that who be more appropriate for me?

Thank you in advance for your answer and to all the others who will answer me as well.

Even of you found a book, you could only interpret through your cultural eyes. You could only feel it through your mind, never in your heart...and it wouldn't be the true feeling because...you read it in a book.

Have you ever heard the drum sing for the Sundancer who will dance throughout the night? Do you have any idea why he will dance all night? So many ceremonies. So many tribes.

What you seek isn't elusive. It's non-existant.
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Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


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Old 08-09-2015, 05:40 AM   #6
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Caught out on the cut and paste job, LOL.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MickaŽl View Post
...I'm not especially looking to convert myself. I look to instruct myself. If I took the time to detail you my spiritual path, it's for having you know that I'm before anything someone who searches truth, his own truth, what would help him to raise spiritualy and to understand better the "invisible" working of the world.
...

And in France, even if it represents only a small fraction of the population, there are more and more people who turn towards buddhism because today it's the religion which suits bests their thirst for true wisdom.
Can you understand why this hunger frightens us? We've seen people arrive from Europe hungry for freedom and land. When they got done, they had land and freedom and we had lots of epidemic disease, war, graves and little land and freedom. Now you are hungry for our "truths."

Quote:
Originally Posted by MickaŽl View Post
...it's that as for myself I live in Europe. In this respect, the only convenient means for me to learn about your cultures are either to connect myself on forums dedicated to your communities, either to find a book that would help me to instruct myself.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe's Dad View Post
Even of you found a book, you could only interpret through your cultural eyes. You could only feel it through your mind, never in your heart...and it wouldn't be the true feeling because...you read it in a book.
Native peoples' "truths" are born of the spiritual experience of a specific geography. The come from the powers of specific places. They are framed within language, kinship, history and blood. They do not translate; they do not transplant.

Let me illustrate:

I'm a mixed blood. I'm a quarter Scot and a quarter Welsh. I know quite a lot about those parts of my family history. I know clan and sept, villages, family stories.... I've also got a nice dominant culture liberal arts, university education. I've studied European art, music, religion, philosophies and cultures since childhood.

Being a curious sort, I spent several summers living in the lands of Taliesin, Chaucer, Hume, Shakespeare, Burns, Adam Smith and Terry Nation (*wink*). I visited distant cousins, went the Gymanfa Ganu in my great-great grandmother's home church in Lllanelii, and walked the streets of Oban. I went on the land, I travelled and I listened. But ultimately, I did not end up thinking like a Scot or Cymro. And, I know my understanding of their cultures was distorted by my culture.

A book or even a quick trip will not reveal the essence of Native cultures and worldviews. It will be lost in translation. And we have lost enough.

Last edited by OLChemist; 08-09-2015 at 10:50 AM.. Reason: Fixing the apparent non-sequitor
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Old 08-19-2015, 01:22 PM   #7
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I want to say this is probably one of the most common questions that is posted on these forums from Non-Native peoples, especially those that still reside in Europe.
I suppose I will attempt another go at answering something that can't be answered.
We are over 500 Nations with a belief system that is as varied as the Stars in the sky!
One of the first to come to mind is: James Mooney who wrote several books on my own tribe back in the 1800's and is the definitive set of research that has been quoted over and over. LoL and its Bullsh*t
Well lets just say Ndns are wiseguys lol
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Old 08-21-2015, 02:22 AM   #8
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here we go again........
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Old 08-23-2015, 07:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MickaŽl View Post

........Christianity/Bible....Islam/Koran....Bardo Thodol....Buddism....Roman.....Tao Te Ching.....Jainism...Hinduism....Confucianism....Sh into....Judaism....reincarnation...near death experiences...conversations with God....Shamanism....

Quite an impressive list. I think you have left a few out of your list....Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Yazdanism.........how about: alien abductions? Timothy Leary? Magic, black or white? New Age Revelations? Atlantis?


Quote:
Originally Posted by MickaŽl View Post

a few concepts of christianism began to sound untrue to me

I read Quran, which is of course not very helpful

Now I read also a few books about buddhism, of course. A very interesting religion even though I don't really stick to the fact that giving up passions is the good way to escape the cycle of reincarnations.

I also read a very interesting book about roman religions. Spiritually speaking it does not have much value

I also read the Tao Te Ching of course, which I found, when I read it, not very accessible. I didn't understand it really I think



Hmmm, and you think maybe Native American "religions" would be any different, for you?


Quote:
Originally Posted by MickaŽl View Post

I know that there are many native "religions". But you religions remain very mysterious. I know that shamanism is a common practice of your religions but it's pretty much all I know (and even though shamanism is a word that refers to diverse realities). I think that there is much to learn from you


Maybe you will have the visions described in the book if you are of tibetan culture but I doubt that you will see such things if you are, say, european like me.

Maybe you have answered your own questions.


If "visions" is what you're after, it might help if you ingest a quantity of peyote.....some claim to see God...who knows, you may too.
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Old 08-28-2015, 05:07 AM   #10
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Religion is only a term created so the euro mind can comprehend what is. Natural energy, life, truth, and the Creator just are. Being apart of it should only be who we are. What is so hard to get????
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:40 PM   #11
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Quite an impressive list. I think you have left a few out of your list....Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Yazdanism.........how about: alien abductions? Timothy Leary? Magic, black or white? New Age Revelations? Atlantis?
Firstly, I'm not interested in these things :o)
Secondly, I think that you are trying to make fun of my approach and trying to say that I'm, I don't know, lost, incoherent or not knowing what he is looking for. You are wrong and I find this very disrespectful. As I said, I'm someone curious and deeply interested in mystic questions, not the kind of gullible idiot that you are trying to depict.





Quote:
Originally Posted by jack2011 View Post
Hmmm, and you think maybe Native American "religions" would be any different, for you?
I don't see how I could put a judgement on something I don't know...




Quote:
Originally Posted by jack2011 View Post
If "visions" is what you're after, it might help if you ingest a quantity of peyote.....some claim to see God...who knows, you may too.
Dear friend, the "visions" which I told about in the bordo thŲdol are, if you prefer, what you see when you are dead. You are not talking about the same things. I think you haven't read this book, did you?
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:44 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Josiah View Post
I want to say this is probably one of the most common questions that is posted on these forums from Non-Native peoples, especially those that still reside in Europe.
I suppose I will attempt another go at answering something that can't be answered.
We are over 500 Nations with a belief system that is as varied as the Stars in the sky!
One of the first to come to mind is: James Mooney who wrote several books on my own tribe back in the 1800's and is the definitive set of research that has been quoted over and over. LoL and its Bullsh*t
Well lets just say Ndns are wiseguys lol
Thank you, I will look for his books :o)
Is it indiscreet to ask what tribe you are related to?
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:47 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Josiah View Post
I want to say this is probably one of the most common questions that is posted on these forums from Non-Native peoples, especially those that still reside in Europe.
I suppose I will attempt another go at answering something that can't be answered.
We are over 500 Nations with a belief system that is as varied as the Stars in the sky!
One of the first to come to mind is: James Mooney who wrote several books on my own tribe back in the 1800's and is the definitive set of research that has been quoted over and over. LoL and its Bullsh*t
Well lets just say Ndns are wiseguys lol
Lol sorry I misread you at first. I didn't see that you claimed that his books were "bullsh*t" for you. I hope that my previous comment won't be validated :o) (message to the moderator: please, if you don't validate my previous post, please don't validate this one either, it would make no sense.)
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Old 09-03-2015, 12:58 AM   #14
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Lol sorry I misread you at first. I didn't see that you claimed that his books were "bullsh*t" for you. I hope that my previous comment won't be validated :o) (message to the moderator: please, if you don't validate my previous post, please don't validate this one either, it would make no sense.)

Not just bullchit for him... bullchit period.
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Old 09-05-2015, 10:30 AM   #15
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Lol sorry I misread you at first. I didn't see that you claimed that his books were "bullsh*t" for you. I hope that my previous comment won't be validated :o) (message to the moderator: please, if you don't validate my previous post, please don't validate this one either, it would make no sense.)
Funny how the English language just does not precisely convey a person's thoughts. You type it down but American English is full of slang and we tend to shorten and abbreviate.

I didn't claim that his books were bullsh*t for me, for you misread the next part of the sentence. "I said that Ndn's were wiseguys"
Which means that the research that this man wrote down and has been quoted for over a 100 years is Suspect. For he did not speak the native language so he hired a "local" to take him into the countryside with an aim to find and write down these "stories". I suppose the closest example would be an English Speaker that spoke no German writing down the Grimm Fairy Tales as Creation Stories...
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Old 12-05-2015, 12:41 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Josiah View Post
Funny how the English language just does not precisely convey a person's thoughts. You type it down but American English is full of slang and we tend to shorten and abbreviate.

I didn't claim that his books were bullsh*t for me, for you misread the next part of the sentence. "I said that Ndn's were wiseguys"
Which means that the research that this man wrote down and has been quoted for over a 100 years is Suspect. For he did not speak the native language so he hired a "local" to take him into the countryside with an aim to find and write down these "stories". I suppose the closest example would be an English Speaker that spoke no German writing down the Grimm Fairy Tales as Creation Stories...
Josiah brother I agree with you.I totally agree.you can't just asume things with out knowing.some times you need to hear the drums pounding and the singers singing to feel the culture .witch I have. And when I do I cry.not only is the drum the hartbeat of the dances or the tribes. But some times the songs are for encurigment honer and healing. Depending on the ceremony. Some times the songs come thrugh dreams visions. To the French men come visit America come learn our culture. But don't and I repeat do not come on to native land trying to get anything about native religions.because some times you will never get what you ask for.expecting to get reworded for it. You have to have respect for the land and people first.second the people have to know you. To 99th m you are an outsider not one of them. America was native land be for the Europeans and French and Spanish tried to take it over. Yes I'll admit I'm part Irish scotish Welch german.so yes I do have European blood in me.but I have no respect for eurip for invading and taking over native land.
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