My summer programme has well and truly kicked in! My diary is packed with yoga retreats, festivals, classes, workshops and writing. I’m in the process of writing an e-course which I will start filming in a couple of week’s time. It’s a really exciting development and I can’t wait to get this course up online.
In my busy schedule I am a making sure that I take time to get out to enjoy the summer. This includes regular walks at the beach, yoga practice, meeting up with friends at local cafes and taking time to catch up on some reading.
“Spiritual Ecology – The Cry of the Earth”, a book of essays edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, has just arrived. I’m enjoying dipping into the various essays written by elders from around the globe such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Vandana Shiva, Satish Kumar, Chief Oren Lyons and many others.
“This book is important to the survival of humanity. We must reconnect with Mother Earth and treat her as a source of life instead of a resource to be plundered. Everyone must read this book, understand it and live it if we are to leave anything to our children and grandchildren.” ~ Hanne Strong, founder The Manitou Foundation and Earth Restoration Corps
The first essay I have read is “In the Time of the Sacred Places” by Winona LaDuke. Winona is an activist and voice for Indigenous consciousness devoting her life to protecting the lands and lifeways of Native communities. In this essay she talks about the importance of sacred sites and how place belongs to our deeper understanding of spiritual ecology.
For many years I have been interested in Indigenous cultures and their connection to Mother Earth and sacred places.
“Since the beginning of times, the Creator and Mother Earth have given our peoples places to learn the teachings that will allow us to continue and reaffirm our responsibilities and ways on the land from which we have come. Indigenous peoples are placed-based societies, and at the centre of those places are the most sacred of our sites, where we reaffirm our relationship” ~ Winona LaDuke, “In the Time of Sacred Places”
The essay highlights a selection of cases where the land has been named and claimed for the empire and desecrated for mineral rights and financial gain. Some cases go back to the 1850s and others are in most recent years for example Eagle Rock, known as “the home of the White Wolf and the High Place”, a sacred site to the Anishinaabe and other peoples for centuries. Rio Tinto Zinc, a UK based mining company through their subsidiary Kennecott submitted plans to mine the copper deposits adjacent to this sacred site. It has been a seven-year battle and the Michigan regulatory authorities ruled against the tribes, the water and the sacred site, stating that “the site could not be sacred or did not have spiritual significance because a place of worship must be a BUILDING”.
The state, on these grounds approved the mining permit. In response, the leadership of the HoChunk Tribal Court noted, “consultation should include learned tribal members who are the leaders of our ancient societies. Their knowledge spans the time prior to Christianity and Christopher Columbus. It is this understanding that makes who we are. There is no other place where tribal people can gain this understanding….”
This is the difference between world views – where one society, an industrial society, views a rich ore body, and another society views this as a source of great spiritual and cultural wealth.
It has been a seven year battle for the sacred site and now a petition to the United Nations for intervention under the declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to not only protect their sacred sites but to be protected from minerals exploitation which will destroy their life ways. A separate petition to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, by the National Congress of American Indians requests, “that requirements be imposed on Kennecott Eagle Minerals to mitigate the negative aesthetic impact of the proximity of the mining operation to Eagle Rock and that members of the various Native American communities be provided unfettered access for traditional use of the sacred ceremonial place”.
The Anishinaabe and their supporters who care for this land and do not wish to see the threshold of the world’s fresh water poisoned, have continued to gather and pray at and near Eagle Rock – amidst its strength and in the face of greed and destruction.
We can learn much from these Indigenous peoples and these cases illustrate how far we need to go in order to restore the health and wellbeing of Mother Earth.
I’d highly recommend Spiritual Ecology and I’m looking forward to diving into the other essays within the book.
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