“Is Nothing Sacred? – The Earth in Crisis” (Crazed World Pt. 3)

An Interview with Evan T. Pritchard  – First Excerpt (third in series of blog entries)

[Excerpted from New York Spirit magazine, April & May, 2006]

Evan T. Pritchard is of Celtic and Native
American descent, raised with the environmentally
conscientious Algonquin perspective by his
mother and his great aunt—“an outspoken Mi’kmaq
activist”—with the love and respect for the Mother
Earth that is so common to indigenous cultures. He is
the director of the Center for Algonquin Culture based
in Woodstock, New York, and is professor of Native
American Studies and Philosophy at Marist College in
Poughkeepsie, New York. A musician and storyteller,
he lectures frequently around the United States and
Canada, and is the author of a number of books,
including No Word for Time (1998) and the widely read
Native New Yorkers (2001).
Earlier this year, British environmental scientist
James Lovelock issued a chilling warning about global
warming: “We are past the point of no return.” Made
famous in the 1970s by his theory of “the biocybernetic
universal system tendency,” or “Gaia Theory,” in
which the earth (Gaia, from the Greek) regulates itself
chemically and atmospherically to promote the ideal
conditions for the evolution of life, Lovelock now
believes that our negligence and abuse, combined with
unforeseen factors, have essentially triggered a
sequence of self-destruction that is throwing the system
into reverse and will result in the extinction of
most forms of life. Lovelock prophesies a future, relatively
near at hand, in which spasms of climate change
will reduce humanity to “a broken rabble led by brutal
warlords,” competing for a dwindling area of habitable
space at the planet’s north and south poles. His new
book, The Revenge of Gaia, was released by Penguin-UK
in March.

It seemed only natural to begin this interview with
Evan Pritchard by asking him what he thought of
James Lovelock’s dire prophecy.
Are there any themes in either your book or
Native American culture itself that reinforce
Lovelock’s contention that Gaia—the life-sustaining
”Mother Earth”—is taking her revenge and
eliminating us from the planet? Is there anything in
your book that would counter it with some measure
of hope?

I take his “revenge of Gaia” idea seriously, though I
would not put it quite that way. Basically the threshold he
is talking of is the same thing as the “crossroads” that are
in the Hopi and Algonquin prophecies, and he’s saying
we’ve crossed it. I, of course, would like to know why now,
not next year or the year after. I foresee a variety of
“revenges” that can’t all be caused by global warming—for
example, earthquakes and tsunamis. We need to use technology
to subtract from, not add to the problem.
Algonquin culture has very ancient roots here in the New
York area, and one key to that longevity has been flexibility
and adaptation. But to say it’s too late could contribute
to an attitude of resignation, as in: “It’s too late to do anything
now anyway.”
One of the main reasons I wrote Native American Stories
of the Sacred was to create a deeper mythopoetic background
to the idea that Native Americans have tools, ideas,
teachings that can help us heal the earth and adapt to
changing climates. I hope that this will become the foundation of future work on this subject. The book focuses on the deep environmental teachings that are buried in all world religions by studying the culture that, perhaps more than any other, never left that teaching anywhere but right there for all to see. The multicultural connections in the book help readers to see
that teaching everywhere it occurs.
These stories were created at a time when the land and the people were one, but already the elders were seeing the signs as to what happens when people treat Mother Earth with disrespect. There were already prophecies stating that treating the earth poorly would lead to the destruction of mankind, and these stories in the book were intended to help children—as well as adults—find the right balance between what they wanted and what actions should be avoided in order to prevent this terrible destruction. If we had listened to these stories all along, we wouldn’t be in this position today, and if we continue to ignore these kinds of
teachings, we will make Lovelock’s predictions come true.
What happens next is up to us. Lovelock says we now can only buy time, but in the ancient stories, the animals and supernatural spirit beings (such as the raven, mouse, rabbit, and coyote) often come to the rescue of the foolish humans at the last minute to bail them out. Thousands of years ago, villages around the world stressed teachings, similar to Native American teachings today, that were designed to prevent the disintegration of the village. As different villages grew, they needed different value systems in order to hold themselves together, developing the shamanistic teachings, the Taoist teaching of the Way, the Buddhist concept of the Dharma, and various expressions of the right way to live, including the Red Road of the Native American. Now that the world is one village, if we forget those ancient values, we will collapse.
There are four or five ways the great cultures of the past have collapsed: through harm to the local environment (Sumeria, Sahara); bad foreign policy (Sumeria, British Empire, Germany); corruption (most of them!); apathy (which usually accompanies corruption); and the mismanagement of economics (too many to name here). The teaching tales of the folk cultures and their altruistic values were in place already to try to prevent this collapse—and they worked. However, for some reason, when cultures reach a dominant position in the world, they start expanding too fast, and they collapse, thanks to these same things.

The stories in my book are full of teachings that helped Native children grow up with good values, to avoid harming the environment, to get along with neighbors, to be honest and fair, to care about life, and to be frugal in trade and consumption. It is my hope, even as climatologists are claiming that we have ruined the entire globe and cannot fix it, that enough people will remember the ancient teachings to find a way to reverse the destruction of the biosphere before it’s too late.

(continued on next blog post: https://marecromwell.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/1778/

About Mare Cromwell

Referred to as “The Voice of Earth Mother” by a gifted Shoshone elder, Mare Cromwell is a multi-award-winning author, nature mystic, empathic intuitive healer (with shamanic influences) and international speaker. Her books include: "The Great Mother Bible"; "Messages from Mother.... Earth Mother"; and "If I gave you God’s phone number.... Searching for Spirituality in America". She has studied with Native American teachers for twenty years and is currently on hiatus from the World Council for Wisdom Gatherings. Mare leads workshops on our Sacred Planet-Earth Mother, Womb Wisdom and Sacred Silliness and more. She is the visionary behind the Great Mother Wisdom Gathering (Maryland, 2014). She loves to be involved in Ceremony. Mare is also a former worm herder. She calls Western Maryland home. www.marecromwell.com
This entry was posted in Animal Spirit Medicine, Cherokee, Earth Mother, earth spirituality, Environmental Issues, nature, Sacred Feminine, Sacred Gardening Journal, Society Ills, spirituality, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to “Is Nothing Sacred? – The Earth in Crisis” (Crazed World Pt. 3)

  1. Pingback: “Is Nothing Sacred? – The Earth in Crisis” (Crazed World Pt. 4) « For the Earth Blog

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