The Earth Medicine Alliance held its second annual conference entitled "Honoring the Spirits of Place" this past weekend in San Francisco, educating about and ritualizing the presence of the multiplicitous spiritual energies that enliven and empower the lands, waters and people of the Bay area, the lands of the Ohlone and other native peoples of Turtle Island.  It was a powerful expression of acknowledgement of the Spirits of place, of the mountains, of the oceans and rivers, of the Ancestors whose presence is palpable.  Earth Medicine Alliance does regular and powerful work around indigenous culture and spirituality, creating and maintaining ritual connection to Spirit and advocating for the safety and protection of the local and, therefore, the world's natural environment.

The workshops and ritual work organized by the conference are perfect examples of the work that must be done to deeply and necessarily reengage this society with the indigenous intimacy with nature and Spirit.  This kind of work and cultural practice is key to the ongoing and essential, fundamental work of sustaining our healthy human relationships with All That Is, with the goddesses, gods, spirits and Ancestors of our diverse, though unitary world.  It is in this unitary, harmonized world that we find the diverse expression of spiritual reality in the many ways that indigenous cultures have observed and experienced throughout all of human history.  It is the influence and energetic work of monotheistic socio-political initiatives like DC40 that threaten this spiritual diversity and pluralism that has been the standard of human experience for eons.  Jay B. McDaniel in "Earth, Sky, Gods & Mortals: Developing an Ecological Spirituality" says the following:

"In many respects the North American church - whether Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox - is still very much a conduit for the status quo rather than a home for the poor and powerless; an enemy of all that is nonhuman rather than a friend of the earth and other animals;  a haven of exclusivism and parochialism rather than a Way that excludes no ways." (pg.182)

McDaniel supports in general the notion that it is important to sustain our polytheistic and pluralistic relationships with Spirit(s) and, hence, with the peoples that hold these cosmological views.  Where he makes his mistake is to be captivated by the hegemonic force of monotheism, the relative cultural toddler in the family of world spiritual traditions.  McDaniel, even though suggesting some liberalist attachment to pluralism, claims that he is making a case for the preeminence of "God" and that the presence of any other spiritual experiences happens within that conception of spiritual reality.  He states that this ecological spirituality that he espouses must remain monotheistic, that it "recognizes the truth of that polytheistic psychology which affirms multiplicity, even in God" (pg.184).  His work never allows us to liberate ourselves fully from that christian and monotheistic hegemony, dragging us back, though quietly and 'politely' to the confusion and horror of the first initiatives of anti-indigenous conquest that gave horrid birth to the anti-nature and anti-indigenous concepts and politics of the modern age.  The DC40 initiative is destructive and apologetic of modern colonialism, exploitation and hegemony in general and in very serious form.  Sadly, even writers like McDaniel, who seem to acknowledge and "respect" the indigenous human dynamic that holds such truly grounded redemptive power and possibility, are victims of their own monotheistic hype, unable to fully protect and advocate for the pluralism that is and will continue to be the hope of our successful tenancy on the sacred body of Mother Earth.

The TI42 Initiative urges us all to involve ourselves with organizations like the Earth Medicine Alliance, East Coast Village/Ancestral Wisdom Bridge Foundation, Ancestor Bridge, Bioneers, Ancestral Events, Inc and so many other groups that exist to sustain human harmony with nature and Spirit, the spirits of the places our Ancestors have held sacred for eons.  We must continue to carry on our indigenous traditions, share them with our communities and with our children for all time and be able to clarify and reconcile the dominant and negative nature of christian political presence on Turtle Island and in the rest of the sacred world, modernized and indigenous.

Feet on the ground...step softly...walk in bravery....the Ancestors are at your side.

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