An Ancient Legacy of Peace on Earth
Whatever continent our ancestors herald from, their common spiritual foundation was reverence for the earth. A study of ancient history through a feminist lens affirms the perspectives of indigenous peoples of today. It also points to the truth that all of our ancestors share a common history of thousands of years of peaceful coexistence with the natural world. Consequently they maintained social structures that centered the archetype of the nurturer, not the conqueror. These ancestors left us an array of cultural models that provide maps with powerful common threads running through them: they encompass art, the origins of non-violent science, wildly beautiful mythologies, an ethic of generosity, honorable models of governance, inherent respect for all of creation, and hope for the future.
As human beings, these ancient cultural models of peaceful coexistence are rooted deeply in our bones and our psyches. The modern West both denies the actual chapters in our history about the prevalence of this world view, and dismisses our innate human longing for peace on earth as Utopian fantasy. It is not. People lived in peaceful cooperation with nature for far longer than we have lived in this hot mess, and we believe it to be our cellular memory of this fact, not Utopian idiocy, that drives our persistent activism and our work toward a better world. We know it can be so because it has been so, this truth is our common inheritance.
The question of how to embrace this common legacy while maintaining genuine respect for our human diversity, our cultural inheritances and life experiences, runs deep in our exploration and our ethics as a community. There is liberation and healing for the planet as we reclaim our common roots as People of the Earth, and it is essential that we learn to do so without trampling all over or appropriating other people’s cultures or traditions. It is entirely possible to do this. With clear intention and steadfast devotion this reclamation can be a very real part of what helps to heal and balm the world. All of earth's children, at least seven generations into the future, deserve to inherit a beautiful earth; responsible community, community that includes our ancestors, helps move our species in that direction.
As this is a deep and vast topic and proposed perspective we are offering some introductory resources that communicate and/or corroborate this perspective with traditional wisdom and excellent scholarship. We hope you enjoy!
Robin Wall Kimmerer is a Pottawatomie elder, author, activist, plant ecologist and story-teller extraordinaire who holds a PhD in Botany and teaches at SUNY in upstate New York. Her book Braiding Sweetgrass is a profound, instructive, deeply moving and incredibly useful roadmap for our times. As we race against the clock to bring the West into harmony with the rest of creation, to restore relations between people and the earth, Braiding Sweetgrass truly has the power to help us find our way home. Please check out Robin offering up some of her beautiful storytelling on the impact of climate change from an Indigenous perspective.
Malidoma Some' heralds from the Dagara people, of Burkina Faso, West Africa. He is a renowned author, teacher and healer who shares the powerful traditions of his people with people of the West in an effort to bring healing to the planet. The deep roots and practical wisdom of the spiritual traditions of Mama Africa are something we should heed in these times. In his book, The Healing Wisdom of Africa, Malidoma offers a really critical perspective on the need for all human beings to reclaim our legacy as People of the Earth, especially those of us raised in the dissociative violence of the modern West. He addresses the history of the European inquisition, a several decade campaign of violence by the ruling class aimed at what he calls the "nature healers" of old Europe. He goes on to say that, from his cultural perspective, this period of violent attempt to eradicate or subdue the European People of the Earth is the foundation for modern Western society and that the collective unwillingness to face that is causing real trouble. From the perspective of the Dagara elemental system the fires of "progress" are burning out of control because this historic period of the burning times remains unresolved in our past. Malidoma suggests that it is the waters of life, elemental water, and collective honest grieving that will help us redirect. Check out Malidoma speaking on Answering the Healer's Call.
Lastly, we'd love to share a bit about the outstanding work of Marija Gimbutas. Marija was a Lithuanian feminist archaeologist, now among the ancestors, whose life work it was to revolutionize, and correct, our perspective on the earth honoring cultures of Old Europe. Marija broke convention, and silence, about these truthful and critical chapters in human history, and she did so in a field that was extremely dominated by male perspective and habituated dismissal of the inherent value, and existence, of the Divine Feminine. Marija leaves a copious body of work that walks us through this ancient period of our legacy that many scholars and historians dismiss as "Prehistory". The most comprehensive text to get you started in an exploration of this legacy is The Civilization of the Goddess. And hear her speak on The World of the Goddess.
We hope that you find these resources useful and that you find as much comfort and inspiration in our collective legacy as we do. Many of our ancestors have been waiting for a very long time for us to remember, may this help to facilitate reunion.