By Ciel Patenaude –
Martin Prechtel, a New Mexican teacher, author, and healer, has frequently spoken on what he calls the ‘recovery of the indigenous soul,’ a process he believes paramount to healing ourselves and our planet.
Speaking not only of those persons who would be specifically classified as ‘indigenous’ – the approximate five per cent of the world’s population with specific rights, traditions, and languages tied to a particular geographic area – Prechtel believes the loss of the indigenous soul in every human on Earth is the true source of the destruction and chaos we live in today.
He suggests it is because we feel we ‘don’t belong’ on the planet that we act with such mindless abandon towards ourselves, each other, and the rest of our world. Having replaced a traditional indigenous way of existing–one rooted in awareness of and in co-operative spirit with all of existence–with the classical Western ideals of competition, isolation, and consumption, we, the collective modern ‘Western’ society, have placed ourselves at what we perceive as the apex of evolution, with everything else under us, and ours to use as we like. But it is precisely this separation, he says, that cuts us off from our family, our collective tribe: the animals, plants, rocks, and elements that both sustain and innervate us, and without which we cannot exist.
We have never been nor could we ever be separate from this world, but in thinking so we have greatly wounded ourselves and everything around us.
The Welsh word hiraeth and the Portuguese word saudadeare often used to attempt to describe the sadness and longing that exists within the minds and souls of modern humans, removed from a sense of belonging as we often are. Having no translation into English, these languages reflect on the emotional and spiritual kinship that is innate to human beings and the land they exist on, and that in separation from that land, community, and ecosystem there is an untreatable wound that develops. As a culture we are trying to buy or eat or medicate this wound away, but nothing except placing ourselves back into the system of all things – becoming ‘indigenous’– will ever soothe it fully.
And what does it mean to be indigenous to our place, our land, our community? How do we remember to belong here, after we have considered ourselves ‘cast out of the garden’ for so many generations, and superior to all that exists around us?
Awareness first, perhaps. A recognition of the interdependency that defines our existence, leading to a sense of awe for the complexity and wonder of all that we are: the bacterial symbiosis that defines our bodies, the marvel of ecosystems both small and grand. And as an antidote to fear and abuse of nature: gratitude. An actively cultivated honouring of all creatures, earthly relations, and the land, a practice that once again imbues the entire world with spirit and meaning, ourselves included.
Traditional indigenous people have been systematically wiped out around the world because they and their beliefs erode the very basis of the Western consumer mindset. These peoples ask us all to think bigger, to perceive a wider frame of time and action, and to act as integrated and responsible community members on the entire Earth—something modern culture perceives as incompatible with our individualistic and short-sighted desires.
We have made ourselves very sick by the choice to feel separate – alien – on this Earth, and the only way to heal it is to actively choose the alternative, and awaken our indigenous roots as a whole. In pursuit of such reconnection, please take time to explore and honour the beauty and wisdom of indigenous peoples and cultures as well as to actively cultivate your own indigenous soul, reconnecting with the land, animals, and ecosystems around you and placing yourself back into the system of all things. It is only by thinking so that we have made ourselves separate, but such separation has never existed.
Ciel Patenaude is an integrative health & shamanic practitioner based in Williams Lake, BC. A highly trained and naturally gifted intuitive healer, Ciel holds a BSc in Biology, an MA in Integrative Healing, and is a certified yoga teacher & wellness coach.