On Rotten Wannabeism, Sage Wands, Bought Blessings, and Bad Medicine
NO ONE OWNS PLANTS
OMG, the white guilt we're expected to feel is unbelievable. Here's the reality: most people, white or not, are just trying to survive. We are all just trying to survive and pay the bills and feel good about ourselves and evolve and grow. And yeah, when things aren't going well we'll try things that we have access to and most people have access to grocery stores. Not everyone has the luxury of going on a deep dive in other cultures, looking up and investigating the roots of everything we see on the shelves of Whole Foods.
Why the angry approach? Why not take the approach of, 'cool! sage etc sold at whole foods exposes more people to different cultures and their traditions and maybe someone will be helped. MAYBE someone will get curious. MAYBE they won't do it the right way and then there's a huge opportunity for teaching.
Why the attachment to gatekeeping? Why DEMAND a discount at a place where you weren't born, or a community you weren't a part of from birth? Because you were born into it? How is that any different than demanding something because, "I was born white", therefore, I'm entitled to X. SMH
And the pride you take in the abuse you're about to impart on this "poor unsuspecting" individual, who was probably some high school kid but definitely someone that was also just trying to survive, because...why? Cause you're mad at Corporate America. And you've justified poor behavior towards another individual, and justified your own greed because it came in the form of a "discount" instead of you making money. How is the author any different from all he opposes when he travels to an area he's not a part of, and demands something because of color of his skin/heritage? The answer is not to behave in the same way as Corporate/colonialism. And it's certainly nothing to be proud of.
This whole read was just gross and shocking that people in the psychedelic/healing community would endorse this take on things as "good".
This is a racist rant. Not in keeping with the newsletter I signed up for.
Expected better from this newsletter. Bye.
I'm disappointed. I expected the microdose to have more tact & taste than this. Even though I get this guy's rage and support his indigenous interests 100%, this approach is worse than unpersuasive to a lot of people, it can send them in the opposite direction. His aggressive tone and obnoxious vibe is a rather guaranteed way to lose allies, not gain them. I can't share this article w/ many family and friends, because it'll trigger them and close them off. From my perspective, this writer shot himself in the foot. This same post could have been done more skillfully and less annoyingly, to honor today. If the microdose continues to put pieces like this forward, I'll need to get my psychedelic content elsewhere (which would be sad because I want to support my alma mater)
As funny and as sad as this rant feels - and obviously it is your reality - I have had other experiences. Our village in NH is blessed with a Native American culture of Abenakis who offer us day long blessing ceremonies in which there is education, questions and a mixture of cultures and languages. We eat together and laugh together and they talk about how they are no longer staying away from the whites but wish to reach out and share some of their ceremonies with us. As someone who knows a few of my other lifetimes- one being with a small tribe of Native Americans in the Northwest - growing up I spent much time traveling, riding horseback through canyons with Native guides, and taking part in what was allowed to be shared in a few tribes who are sharing their culture and history. Being born white does not mean it has always been so; same with being born a Native American. We have all had many lives, many masters, many cultures. Yes, I grow my own sage and do use it often. As a singer/songwriter I also chant and sing songs of many cultures with people from all backgrounds. You may laugh at those who seem unknowing but how will they learn if you do not take time to educate and to share? Easy to laugh and poke fun, harder to take time. We are not all ignorant or wish to remain so. As we reach across cultures to form bridges you might want to reflect on how this article sounds to those who respect and bear witness to your culture and history. Respect is a two way bridge. Namaste, Elizabeth
I somewhat understand your frustration and rant. And, I'm not justifying our poor attempt at replicating the spirituality of other cultures. I am noting that our Western/white society/culture is so spiritually impoverished that we long for the connection to the earth that indigenous peoples had and have managed to hold onto through centuries of oppression and cruelty. Yes, it's stupid to buy a sage wand at Target, but it is also a sign of a longing for something we don't see elsewhere. If I thought a feather headdress and a sweat lodge would cure my isolation, I'd definitely fork out a chunk of cash. Since I know it won't, I have to blunder along on my own path. Rant away.
Wow. Thank you from one old white person stumbling along and hoping to help create the decolonial world, on this Indigenous People's Day, when even NPR(!) broadcast about churches repudiating the "doctrine of discovery" (only took 500+ years), and more people are speaking clearly about indigenous and colonial history. Thank you Simon Moya-Smith. Like your friend who gets relaxed when seeing you fired up, I get fired up in a good way by great writing.
Apparently you're mad, I get it. You feel the pain of your ancestors, well, so do I. I suggest you 'get over it'. Lots of pain an suffering to go around the globe. Plenty of cultures are being annihilated abused, misused, and exploited. I say this not to deny your anger, but to let you know it will not help you find your own peace or influence tolerance. Lay that shit down, stop carrying the load of previous injustices. It only festers into unhealthy attitudes and cuts off our interconnections which is the most important spiritual value and the only way to lift us out of despair. Calling out those who seek sacred connection is not really helpful. Sage is not just a First People discovery, there are a number of cultures around the world who use Sage or Juniper as rituals tools. Now we live in a multi-cultural society, so welcome to America, its Capitalism, its pusuit of freedom. Focus on what we have to share, what we have in common, maybe we can get past the hurt perpetrated in the past. Otherwise we can just wallow in injustice and self-righteous indignation without ever healing. Focus on education rather than isolation, maybe we can make the world a better place.
This whole 'rant' was in poor taste.
I'm basically the little white kid with the bow and arrow. For my 5th birthday I chose the bow and arrow set with suction cups instead of the cowboy get-up I thought I wanted the previous year. I quickly grew frustrated with the wonky flight path of the suction cup tipped arrows and talked my dad into helping me cut them off and sharpen the shafts.
One day I was having so much fun shooting beer cans on a fence post with a couple friends that I couldnt wait to start picking up the arrows in anticipation of my turn to shoot again. My friend Kurt had one last arrow to shoot as I ducked down in front of the fence post to gather the arrows. The rest is history.
It's hard to imagine who I would be today if my life trajectory hadn't been so radically altered by the loss of my left eye. My 'healing journey' has included trying to self medicate with psychedelics. I have also attended some sweat lodge ceremonies, two hamblecha ceremonies, and two peyote meetings. One reason I thought I had any business delving into Native American practices was finding a a delicate white smallgame arrowhead while hiking in Joshua Tree.
I interpreted that find as a sign that maybe the Native ancestors were acknowledging a karmic debt I payed with the loss of my eye. At least it was a story that helped me find some meaning and direction when I was feeling really lost. Whether or not it was 'true' didn't seem to matter.
Anyway, on the topic of sage, I can remember the first few times I smelled it back in the early 90s, probably at a Dead show or reggae festival. The fragrance was grounding and eased my anxiety and confusion about whether I was doing the 'right' thing hanging out with hippies and smoking pot. It made feel at home in my own body and helped me be more accepting of all the colorful, fragrant people I was surrounded by. There was a period of time when I burned it at home and in my car.
I've gathered it in the hills of North San Diego county and I'm sure I've bought a bundle or two from some new age book store. I'd like to share a memory of an experience I had with tobacco at a sweat lodge ceremony. I had been seated right in front of the stone pit singing with all my heart. At some point I panicked and had an overwhelming urge to get out of the lodge.
Not only did I try to exit in the wrong direction, I nearly fell into the pit as I tried to crouch-walk, instead of crawling on all fours past the people in the dark. Anyway, I made it maybe a quarter way around toward the door flap when I felt a strong urge to get out NOW.
So I forced my way out under the side of the lodge. It took pretty much all my strength to push through the blankets held down by rocks. There was a moment that reminded me of coming through the birth canal, then I found myself outside in the cold air, naked and glazed with sweat. The first thought I had was that I needed to finally accept myself once and for all before the people could come out of the lodge.
It felt urgent that I face my Shadow right then and there, although I didn't know my insecurities had a name at the time, or else the people might die in the heat of the sweat lodge. I had a moment of doubt about whether I was willing or able to do that. I was crouching at the door flap trying to decide what to do, then I stood up.
Once I was upright I had a headrush and the thought came to me that I was about to have the experience I thought I wanted a year earlier when I attended two peyote meetings, each a week apart. I hadn't felt like I received the healing-into-community experience I had read about in Shaman's Drum magazine. Well, now as I stood naked, cold, and more alone than I'd ever felt in my life I had an overwhelming certainty that I was about to go on the psychedelic journey that I felt I had failed experience with peyote.
I thought that somehow I was having a one year delayed reaction to the medicine and was more terrified than I could ever remember being. I knew with absolute certainty that I didn't want to take that trip but it was coming on strong inspite of what I wanted. I had a realization that the years of reading about and messing with psychedelics, basically that my whole identity as an intrepid psychonaut was completely ignorant of the true power of these substances.
The next hour or two of mental chaos I went through were equally as intense as a bad mushroom trip I had had a decade earlier, and I hadn't taken anything. A wave of shame rolled in on me with the thoughts "NOW you've done it!! You've been playing the part of Mister Psychedelic know-it-all, now you're about to experience permanent insanity!!" The shame I felt lead to the thoughr that I was the worst person in the world, who is? None other than the Devil himself.
I couldn't live with the knowledge that I was the Devil and the only solution seemed to be to jump into the bonfire that was nearby. Luckily the guy that lead the ceremony got me laying on my back and was sitting on me. I was cycling through a rapid succession of delusional thoughts. One second I was the worst person in the world, the next second I was the savior of the world.
At one point I re-lived the events that lead up to my getting shot in the eye. I was alternating between mindstates of absolute terror and mischievous trickster energy. It was during a moment of feeling mischievous that I noticed a guy crouching down next to me smoking a cigarette. I decided to teach him a 'lesson' by taking his cigarette with the intention inhaling the whole thing in one drag.
I guess I thought I would blow his mind, which would make him think hard about his tobacco abuse, or...something. It's amazing how twisted a person's logic can get in extreme mindstates. So I started inhaling the tobacco and within a few seconds it felt like my whole psyche went from being turned inside out to a complete baseline state. I was suddenly back to ordinary reality I feeling the distinct sensations of laying on my back, naked on the earth with a 190 pound guy pinning me to the ground. I told him I was fine now and that he could get off me.
I was helped to my feet and walked to the house on the property near Palomar Mountain, and into the shower. During the sharing and debriefing session in the living room afterwards I felt embarrased for disrupting the ceremony for the people, most of who were virtual strangers to me. Other than feeling more like my usual, isolated self, I didn't feel too much worse for wear. I also felt a deep sense of relief, exhaustion, and most of all gratitude, for having just survived that hellish experience.
I had no idea I would just spend the last few hours composing all that but I'm glad for the opportunity to share a little of my exerience, as a caucasian guy of Welsh and Scottish ancestry, on this, of all 'official' days, National Indigenous Day. Many blessings to you all.
Rant on!!! Great missive. Thank you
A group of people disagreeing on something yet still talk to each other!
Keep the ideas flowing!
I feel your pain. I’m a Native Hawaiian, born and raised on Maui. That same thing is happening here too. It’s sad and frustrating as well.
Boy did this need to get said. I’m an older white guy and I have never been comfortable with my people’s failure to create our own connections with the infinite. My own transcendent experience, long ago, was with LSD, an appropriately manufactured substance, and it was sublime, with no borrowed rituals or ornamentation. Thank you
This is so great. Spicy. Hilarious. Pointed. Love it. More of these posts, please!
As an occasional reader because this pertains to my field in a certain capacity, I find it interesting that, upon saying to the example of a white person, you choose Scotland, which historically is a Catholic country, and refer that person to pagan practices to drive out spirits rather than speaking to a Roman Catholic priest or the person's local diocese, or any form of Christan pastor. I would suggest a bias on your part here.
None of this rant about spirits is in any way close to a good, deep intellectual dive on the spiritual practices or theology that drives said practices and why there needs to be more care and research done into why certain rituals are performed in such-and-such an order, their effectiveness psychologically and spiritually, and properly respecting a faith tradition and the culture it derives from rather than cafeteria-picking what you want without understanding deeper philosophical reasons, eg why you shouldn't perform a Roman Catholic exorcism if you aren't a Catholic priest.
This rambled and didn't really do the topic the justice that you were trying to give it. Please outline your piece before you write it down.