It seems that there are many people these days who are trying to find a spirituality that they can believe in. For whatever reason, we are beginning to pay more attention to our spirit and to our direction in life. Many of us have found ourselves drawn to the First Nations beliefs, perhaps because they are seen as clean and pure, and based on the simpler times that we all seem to miss.

As we make our way along the Red Road, with luck we are led to a person who has been given the wisdom and knowledge to be a teacher. We call these people Elders, and from them we begin to learn the ways and traditions that form the heart of First Nations beliefs. While these Elders generally do not think of themselves as anything special, they are usually highly regarded and treated with great respect.

For some of us, however, these early times can be dangerous. Being human, most of us have a desire to be respected by the people around us. When we see the respect being given to our Elders, we may begin to hope that, someday, we may earn that respect for ourselves. We try to learn as much as we can as quickly as we can, hoping to impress people with our wisdom. We forget that knowledge of facts is not the same as wisdom, which only comes from a lifetime of reflecting on these facts.

The danger is greatest at the time when we realize that there are people who share our road that know even less than we do. These people may be easily impressed by the tiny amount of knowledge that we carry. Such people might even mistake that knowledge for wisdom, and we may find ourselves receiving some of that respect that we crave. We may find that we enjoy the taste of that respect, and our egos may even lead us to think of ourselves as Elders... and the trap is sprung!

It is important to understand what an Elder is. Aboriginal traditions hold the elderly in high regard, because a long life full of experience leads to wisdom. But an Elder in the spiritual sense is not just old; today an elderly person may have no knowledge whatsoever of spirituality. While such a person may have valuable wisdom in other areas of life, they obviously cannot be a spiritual Elder. A real Elder carries facts about their traditions AND the wisdom that comes from long study and practice of those traditions. However, when you are just starting out on the path, it can be hard to tell the difference. Those who are impressionable can be fooled by an older person with a small amount of knowledge, claiming to be an Elder.

Another very popular claim is to be a Healer. True Healers are those who are given the ability to Heal others using only their own energies and resources. Such people are extremely rare: perhaps a handful walk the earth today. My wife and I do not know of any, and probably neither do you. If you know someone who is claiming that they are a Healer, rest assured that they are either lying or deluded... true Healers never advertise, because they know that the people who need them will be brought to them, quietly and without fuss. They do not seek recognition, because they are only too aware of the heavy burden of responsibility they carry, and they do not wish to add to it.

Finally, there are all the self-proclaimed Visionaries. At best, these people learn from real Seers, then pass on the visions as their own. At worst, they will invent any vision that will impress their audience. Once again, if the person brags of it, then it is not so. True Seers do not advertise, because they do not need to. Again, those who need their help will be brought to them, and they know it. They never seek the spotlight.

The lure of prestige and notoriety can be hard to resist. I am saddened that there are people within our own circle of friends who have started to call themselves Elders, and pretend to carry far more knowledge than they actually have. There is one who has appointed himself a spiritual leader, and has created a following of people who have virtually no knowledge of tradition. He tells them that they are Elders as well. There is another who claims to be a Healer, and performs smudging and purification ceremonies for others. Because she has not learned the proper use and purposes of sacred medicines, she has no understanding of the danger this poses for both herself and for the people she tries to help. There are still others who ask questions of Elders, then pass on the answers to other people claiming to have received them direct from the spirits. We call this 'riding someone else's tobacco,' and it is a simple attempt to gain notoriety at the expense of others. In each case, these people have brought a great deal of trouble into their own lives by doing these things. However, despite these warnings, their egos lead them to continue to misguide others, and they cause much suffering as a result.

Each of us has a best possible path to walk, and each of us is here for some specific purpose. For most of us, our walk is all about learning. While we may not see this as significant, the Creator does not make mistakes: each life interacts with many others, so each one is as important as any other. Ignoring our path and trying to do something more spectacular simply wastes a lifetime, and possibly endangers ourselves and others. While a person's life is their own, to waste if they so choose, causing someone else to waste or misuse their life is perhaps the vilest and most disgusting thing that one human can do to another.

It is time for all the pedestals to be torn down, and for each of us to walk the paths we were intended to walk. We must push aside our egos, and listen to the spirits and to the quiet voice of our own hearts. To do any less is to break faith with ourselves, and with the spirits who agreed to help and guide us. Let the true Elders to do the teaching. Let the Healers do the Healing. Let the Seers do the Seeing. Be content that your life, lived as it supposed to be lived, is as important and necessary as that of any other person. Learn, love, and be humble.

All my relations...
Daniel Crowfeather

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Thank you so much for wonderful sharing. True words of wisdom
This is 'nutsosdvna duyugodv'...simple truth. Great way of putting things into perspective..Equa Wado for posting this (great thanks). 3 Hawks
Thank you. Well said. I agree. I meet so many people that claim to be healers and I always question them. My mother said my great grandmother was a healer. She knew which roots and barks to get in the woods for what ailed you. She helped arrange marriages. believe it or not. Or so I'm told. And it seemed the world beat a path to her door. She also delivered babies. I believe she was a true healer. I don't think she ever got a dime for her efforts, but she said people would bring by food as a gift so there was always plenty of food for the hungry traveler or friend. She also had dreams that actually saved people's lives. For instance she warned the women should not pick berries that day and did not allow her daughter to go. And a bear was there that killed one of the young women. She never claimed to be anyone but herself.
And so it is and was with those given that gift to heal others and your great grandmother was true to her gift...a great blessing to you to have this in your family!!!
Thank you. I only wish I could have known her. She died the day before I was born.
I like this one egos with false repatriation can miss lead people and elders never take a lead in to a spot light of fame or some kind of recognition, for there teachings are real with out reword just respect is all that is expected. Nice one Connie and a good point.

That is wonderful wisdom and a reminder to me, to take my time walking back along the Red Road and not try to relearn too fast. Thank you.

Aho, Thank you for these words.

Your words are true and very important. It is easy to be led astray by others and perhaps even to lead others astray without meaning to. Thank you for the reminder that we each walk our own path and must walk it in truth.

very well said........
Daniel, do you know a Dee Crowfeather, Texas Apache?
last time I heard from him was 2years ago, in Redmond Beach, Fla...
a very special Brother that I miss.

one other thing I wish to add, we all speak pretty good english, I presume.
It is also good to know others language's, but to use them where others do not understand or use them may be inappropriate...I know and understand Wado and AHO, have learned some Apache and Cherokee, but they are for ceremony or when my spirit needs to touch Creator.
I am not here to critisize anyone, not my path and not fair, for I'm not perfect.
I have received comments with BOOZHOO? I don't know what that means, and as you can see, I want everyone to understand what I say, not simply, think of what I might have said.
I see good people here looking for the spirituality that we all seek....
I have been told, and I believe it......
"Child, don't you see, you have all the answers, just as we all do. They are within you."
For your info.....when meeting an Elder or going to their home, always, and I mean always take a gift, I always found that a big freezer bag of tobbaco or sage was well received, as are other gifts of a personal nature...
sorry if I'm so long winded, I'm simply trying to share what I've learned...

And I thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. The article was a repost that I came across and I thought it was a good warning for those just starting out on the path of knowlege. I have been on many sites were majority of the members were listed as Chief or healer/shaman. Chief...really?
I think most here do know the proper way to greet an Elder but some may not so thank you for adding that information.
As far as the language...I still speak just plain english here. I am learning the Blackfeet and Lakota language but I know it is different from many of the other tribes. LOL, for the most part I don't want to look silly if I post something that is wrong. Now the other part of this is alot of the tribes are encourging people to start using their native language at home and socially and that is what the members are doing disrespect intended.
Be as long winded as you like...that's why we are here.


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