Nature/Religion (part 3)
Sitting in the Sydney airport, waiting to return to the land that my animal soul comprehends on a deep and resonant level, I wish to type up one more thought. After teaching a group of Tasmanians yesterday, a few of us went for a short hike amongst the tree ferns, myrtles and eucalypts. Dotted here and there in this particular preserve were signs about the local aboriginals. One of my hosts commented that this particular group was not considered aboriginal by the other local groups. “Ah”, I thought, “one cannot get away from this anywhere.” When asked why, he replied that since people from this particular grouping had intermarried at various points with white settlers (who were brutal settlers, in the beginning), they were no longer considered aboriginal. The subtext is, of course, that they were tainted and no longer pure.
In these conversations about which Pagans are “indigenous” and which are “neo-Pagans” how long is it before indigenous comes to equal authentic and authentic comes to equal pure and pure comes to equal superior?
Yes, definition is often problematic, and identity even more so. I do not need to lay claim to indigenousness. I practice Paganism and magic. I have a nature based (though not strictly earth-based) religion. I have heritage and training, it is true, but more importantly, I have practice, I have my body, I have meditation, I have the sun, the stars, the trees, the water, and you. Leave me to my practice and worship, please. I’m fine with being a 21st century person practicing a religion with ancient ancestry and contemporary innovation. As a person who lives on this land and in this time, among these cities and farms and wild places, how can I really do anything else?
For right now, I will call myself Pagan: one who connects with the non-Dual and the many Gods, with this sweet earth and with the stars far beyond my eye’s ability to reach.
- T. Thorn Coyle