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Thread: My fellow Americans.

  1. #1
    Supporter callmeclemens's Avatar
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    My fellow Americans.

    Disclaimer: Not a political post.

    I just want to pick the brains of some fellow Americans, as well as get some outside perspective on a topic that comes up a lot amongst Non Native American Pagans:

    As Americans, do we lack any spirituality directly ancestorally tied to where we are, and is that a permanent condition?

    And to follow on that, is that very lack of connection fundamentally tied a growing spiritual movement in which we feel indefinably connected the the natural world around us? Is that going to be the foundation of American Spiritually going forward?

    My personal opinion is short is Yes to both, and I think this is a conversation worth having.
    “A lifetime may not be long enough to attune ourselves fully to the harmony of the universe. But just to become aware that we can resonate with it -- that alone can be like waking up from a dream.” - Br. David Steindl Rast

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    Bronze Member Munin-Hugin's Avatar
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    Re: My fellow Americans.

    Perhaps it is my sleepy brain talking, but I'm not entirely sure what it is that you're asking. I THINK you're wondering if Americans are less spiritual because our ancestors came from elsewhere. As for the second part, I'm unable to work out what the follow up is.

    But, if I am right in the first part, I would have to say no, and disagree with you. Spurred by my most recent watching of American Gods (and the subsequent rereading of it), Mr. Gaiman makes a very interesting point regarding this very thing. Our gods have been here for a VERY long time. Long enough that this land is just as much theirs as it is other, more initially local deities. From what is now Russia by the land bridge, from the landing of the Norse in the Minnesota area long before the rest of Europe thought the world was round, from the arrival of people from other countries and cultures through both intentional and forced immigration. The seeds of our divine had been sown in such a way that they attained a foothold here even before the Abrahamic faiths did, and they have no problems with a lack of ancestral connections.

    To follow that up even though I lack the understanding ding of the second part, as the realization that our gods have been here all along becomes known, it may in fact be the influence of the nature based movement because of that connection, rather than the proposed lack thereof.
    "The streams called Ice-waves, those which were so long come from the fountain-heads that the yeasty venom upon them had hardened like the slag that runs out of the fire, - these then became ice; and when the ice halted and ceased to run, then it froze over above. But the drizzling rain that rose from the venom congealed to rime, and the rime increased, frost over frost, each over the other, even into Ginnungagap, the Yawning Void. Ginnungagap, which faced toward the northern quarter, became filled with heaviness, and masses of ice and rime, and from within, drizzling rain and gusts; but the southern part of the Yawning Void was lighted by those sparks and glowing masses which flew out of Múspellheim. Just as cold arose out of Niflheim, and all terrible things, so also all that looked toward Múspellheim became hot and glowing; but Ginnungagap was as mild as windless air, and when the breath of heat met the rime, so that it melted and dripped, life was quickened from the yeast-drops, by the power of that which sent the heat, and became a man's form. And that man is named Ymir, but the Rime-Giants call him Aurgelimir" - The Gylfaginning

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    Supporter Torey's Avatar
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    Re: My fellow Americans.

    Quote Originally Posted by callmeclemens View Post
    As Americans, do we lack any spirituality directly ancestorally tied to where we are, and is that a permanent condition?
    I have a few thoughts on this.

    I agree with what Munin-Hugin has said in that the deities of other cultures have long ago made their way into America. But it depends on if you are defining "spirituality", in this instance, as a link one has to specific deities from specific cultures or as a link to the land itself and its associated native wights, etc.

    If "spirituality" is defined as the former statement related to cultural deities, then Munin-Hugin's observations are supported in that a great many deities are connected to a culture and a people as opposed to a location and thus can be said to "travel" within the bloodlines of their diaspora, regardless of where in the world they may wander. In this, I would say that I do not believe that Americans who are descended from the cultures of the pantheons that they honour are deprived of a spiritual "homeland". Also, a great many Americans who are not genetically descended from the cultures whose deities and spiritual practices they revere are able to maintain a genuine connection to those deities which would suggest that many deities are neither bound to bloodlines nor locations.

    I do acknowledge that there are deities whose mythologies are often innately associated with a specific geographic location; however, as I mentioned, the fact that there are individuals who have no geographic or genetic connection to these deities yet who are able to establish genuine connections to them must again indicate that the vast majority of deities interact with humanity in a dynamic and not a static manner.

    Land wights and native spirits, however, are something else IMHO. While these entities are directly associated with specific locations, in most cases they can be worked with by anyone willing to put in the effort and to pay due respect.

    Additionally, if you go far enough back, we all came from somewhere else regardless of where we reside and how long we have physically or ancestrally resided there; if you subscribe to popular scientific opinion then we should all be looking to Africa for our geographic ancestral "homes" and deities.

    Quote Originally Posted by callmeclemens View Post
    And to follow on that, is that very lack of connection fundamentally tied a growing spiritual movement in which we feel indefinably connected the the natural world around us? Is that going to be the foundation of American Spiritually going forward?
    Overall I would say that the answer to your question could be "yes" or "no", depending on the feelings of individuals and what they believe is important to their spirituality.

    Specific to myself, however, I do often feel a desire to truly "connect" with something that gives me a sense of community and belonging - something that can come from a long and unbroken connection to a place, culture or religion. In this, I can look at my truly diverse family tree in my genealogy research and feel even more confused - I have everything from African American, Native American, Jewish all the way to Norwegian ancestry and yet in none of these cultures or associated deities have I ever truly felt belonging. I have often asked myself why that may be; some would argue that I would have a ancestral right to approach and work with the deities of my kin, yet I struggle with the idea. "Deities" never interested me.

    I suppose that I would say that I do not believe that "lacking" ancestral ties to land is the only reason why many Americans are drawn to loosely-defined "nature-based" religions and spiritualities - but it could be that the lack of a firm identity that springs from a continued cultural and spiritual ancestry that is not Abrahamic in origin could be. I think that a great many people want to connect with nature without being required to worship a deity.

    I have practiced everything from atheism to Wicca to Theistic Satanism and yet something always feels like it's "missing" - and that void is nearly always filled with a visit to the forest or to the sea. As an ex-American living in Australia, it's not the spirits of the land nor my connection to them that enrich me, but the land itself.

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    Supporter callmeclemens's Avatar
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    Re: My fellow Americans.

    To clarify, the second question had less to do with having specific God's, and more to do with spiritual heritage. So the question is, the the lack of historical heritage, and how we each individually compensate for it going to become part of the foundation of American Spiritual heritage years from now.

    To be directly specific I'll provide this example. Years from now when we look back of American Pagan spirituality will it be the norm to find that many people began their path first feeling connected to the natural world around them, then exploring other Ancient deities to better define that connection, ultimately borrowing a bit from everywhere based off personal gnosis.
    “A lifetime may not be long enough to attune ourselves fully to the harmony of the universe. But just to become aware that we can resonate with it -- that alone can be like waking up from a dream.” - Br. David Steindl Rast

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    Silver Member monsno_leedra's Avatar
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    Re: My fellow Americans.

    Truthfully I think your ignoring the influence of the industrial rev on the American way of life. But even putting that aside your ignoring WWII and the massive movement of people from rural areas to suburbs and cities that occurred with that. All resulting in a move away from what might be seen as nature. A lot of this return to nature is not originating in the so called back woods areas or very rural areas. It's mostly occurring from the suburbs and cities.

    Many in the rural areas are still tied to the land and the seasons. The 24 hour clock of the land and rotation of the sun and moon, light and dark as it were. Which in turn, even on an unconscious level, ties them to the land spirits and their workings. Yet the suburbs and cities are the ones who are greatly detached from the land and seasons. The larger the city or suburb the more likely the response the lights never go dim and the sounds never go silent.

    I believe that is one reason it's not really tied to a divinity or even spirituality but the idea of nature itself. Then not nature as nature the killer and inhumane place but nature as almost a rose colored place. They see the beauty and serenity of nature as a place to recharge and relax but never in truth see nature. when confronted with the true face of nature then its a shock and fearful place. Often resulting in an immediate attempt to change it to what they want. Walking parks where the predators are removed so they are safe, homes with their flowers and such but the animals are gone or controlled. A sanitized form of nature, that they can call nature that fits their conceived ideas.

    But our ancestors who came here from else where not only carried their dreams but also carried their fears and haunts. So they saw nature as both plentiful but also deadly at the same time. So they walked with nature, the spirits of nature, the citizens and beings of nature and the very divinities.

    I think years from now when people look back they'll find many had a very false sense of the world and nature in general. Sort of a "The Grass is Greener on the Other Side" that makes them look upon the world through rose colored glasses. Basically the same way people tend to look at history and think older times were so much better.
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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: My fellow Americans.

    Quote Originally Posted by callmeclemens View Post
    As Americans, do we lack any spirituality directly ancestorally tied to where we are, and is that a permanent condition?
    No. No matter where you go, there you are. If the shoe doesn't fit, you don't wear it for very long.

    And to follow on that, is that very lack of connection fundamentally tied a growing spiritual movement in which we feel indefinably connected the the natural world around us? Is that going to be the foundation of American Spiritually going forward?
    A. Since the first question was answered with no, this second question, which presupposes a yes response to the first qyestion, becomes meaningless.

    B. Since this question presupposes a yes response to question A, and question A is meaningless, this question is also meaningless.
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

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    Supporter callmeclemens's Avatar
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    Re: My fellow Americans.

    I don't feel like I'm ignoring any specific event, but rather pointing to the idea that Non Native Americans don't have any specific school off Pagan Spirituality to point to as specifically theirs.

    And B. De to directly respond to your thoughts, while I don't disagree I'm trying to relate this to what I've noticed as a trend for individuals brought up in the Christian Churches separating Religion, and spiritually, and discovering what that means for them.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Sorry the to double post here, but I feel like I wasn't as clear as I would have like to have been in my initial post. Sometimes my drain don't work so good....

    The essence of what I was trying to ask was: As Non Native Americans, are we unable to point to a particular and defined Spiritual Path shared collectively by our Ancestors?

    And

    Is this going to be a permanent condition that leads us to take a more personal route in our spiritual relationship with the world around us, and in the future will our ancestors point to that as the foundation of the American spiritual path.
    “A lifetime may not be long enough to attune ourselves fully to the harmony of the universe. But just to become aware that we can resonate with it -- that alone can be like waking up from a dream.” - Br. David Steindl Rast

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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: My fellow Americans.

    Quote Originally Posted by callmeclemens View Post
    ?..And B. De to directly respond to your thoughts, while I don't disagree I'm trying to relate this to what I've noticed as a trend for individuals brought up in the Christian Churches separating Religion, and spiritually, and discovering what that means for them.
    Prolly has less to do with being American, and more to do with people learning how to seperate the meaning from the fairy story meaning is enclosed in. This already happened in much of Europe, the US is still spritual hicksville.
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

    I can't do everything, but I can do something.

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    Re: My fellow Americans.

    America is a country of migrants, each with its own spiritual path, how to make an artificial common way, only time will help when the grandchildren and great-grandsons of those emigrants are born.

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