(I wrote this before Brain Fog came.)
Many people are attracted to Native American Religions, but not because Native American Gods recruit (because They do not). Rather it’s because people are seeking spiritual fulfillment and believe that these religions will satisfy their longings. Unfortunately, this becomes a matter of people seeking the Gods of a closed culture.
From the 1980s, people have sought out those who claim to be Native Americans to teach them how to be one with nature and to follow the “Red Road.” Furthermore, many of these “Native Americans” promoted their books and workshops to attract followers and make money. In response to this “selling of Native spirituality,” many Nations issued statements telling these “Native Americans” to cease and desist. Moreover, tribal authorities stressed that their religions belong only to their particular Nation.
Given the amount of material that is written about Native American beliefs, people feel that they know enough to practice these religions. However, much was recorded by outsider anthropologists and missionaries, who translated what they saw into a Western cultural milieu. For example, these religions are presented as proto-monotheistic with the “Great Spirit” as the supreme God.
Meanwhile, the books written by those who claim to be Native American or taught by Native Americans have their own peculiar theology. From my readings of several authors, they present a monotheistic New Age theology with a sprinkling of pseudo-Native terms such as “Grandmother Moon.” Often included in these books are versions of the “Rainbow Warrior Prophecy,” (Note 1) which stipulates that White people are reincarnated Native Americans, and that they need to follow Native Ways to bring about the New Age of Harmony. Another thing in common is promoting the use of crystals, which is a New Age concept. To bolster their writing, the authors will stress their special status or lineage. (Many will cite each other’s books or credentials for added authority.) These books are appealing because they present what non-Native Peoples want to be true – that Native American Religions are open and should be practiced by everyone. Also, that they present “pure, ancient truths” that are lost to the West.
What do people do if they are called by the Spirits of the Land? Before I became a Polytheist, I was a Nature Mystic, spending as much time as I could outdoors. I studied nature, learned the flora and fauna of my region, and kept a diary of the seasons. I read poetry of the Nature Mystics and wrote short poems to convey my depth of feeling. Even now, I talk to the trees and rocks, and practice reciprocity of giving little gifts for their wisdom.
Nature Mysticism is a union of the self with nature. Going deeper into the transcendental wonder of Nature, the person merges with the living world. Some types of Paganism practice Nature Mysticism and seek spiritual sustenance in the natural world.
I would suggest that people read William James’ book, “Varieties of Religious Experience.” This philosopher wrote many books discussing people’s mystic experiences and placing them in a religious or natural context. I would also suggest that people study the Nature Mystics such as John Muir, Henry Thoreau, Walt Wittman, or William Wordsworth, and others. Their writings will give people a means of how to connect to the land and nature.
Note 1. The Rainbow Warriors Prophecy
“When the earth is ravaged and the animals are dying, a new tribe of people shall come unto the earth from many colors, classes, creeds and who by their actions and deeds shall make the earth green again. They will be known as the warriors of the rainbow.”
“The legend said [the Native Americans] would also be joined by many of their light-skinned brothers and sisters, who would in fact be the reincarnate souls of the Indians who were killed or enslaved by the first light-skinned settlers. It was said that the dead souls of these first people would return in bodies of all different colours: red, white, yellow and black. Together and unified, like the colours of the rainbow, these people would teach all of the peoples of the world how to have love and reverence for Mother Earth, of whose very stuff we human beings are also made.”
The Rainbow Warriors Prophecy is actually “fakelore,” and originated in Baptist Missionary tracts.
Other posts in this series: