that such actions, based on slavish imitation and improprieties, can cause
damage to others, and that the very people who speak so loudly of their
concern for mental health are engaging in unauthentic spiritual practices.
Psychic damage has been known to result from such experiences. The
individual may not be able to link it directly and it may show up in
unpredictable ways months and years later. Native American spiritual
leaders are fully aware of these dangers.
To belittle the knowledge of Indians, and to pretend that their practices can be taken over by non-Indians harmlessly are indications of non understanding and arrogance. To fabricate new ceremonies out of bits and pieces of various Indian rituals, out of the full ritual context in which they are embedded, is to create psychic monstrosities. This, the fake medicine people are unaware of. Rituals have a context. They are a part of an entire fabric of a given society, and one ritual is only a part of a whole. The balance is in the whole, not in the parts. And the whole is still the full practice within Indian circles, founded on ancient Indian traditions, for Indian people. Others can pretend to achieve identical results with only outward paraphernalia and a patchwork of gleaned information as to the steps of certain rites, but they do not have the key to the whole meaning, the whole context, and how the parts complement and fit each other. They are crippling other human beings by subjecting them to only bits or parts of a whole system, without having the keys to the entire mental system.
This is truly what is at stake and why Indians are concerned. They know these people do not have a clue and
arrogance, greed for money, for results, for power, for prestige, for
followers, for validation of their fantasy trips, or from simple ignorance
engage in improper behavior. As to the claim that rituals are "generic"
and not specific to any group of people, one must indeed be a trained
anthropologist to speak to that issue. Sedonia and Bird Brother are not.
Rituals have contexts, are context specific and emerge from the collective
unconscious of a particular group.
There are patterns which are embedded in an ecosystem, particular to a given culture and which function precisely and effectively for a particular group. It is Theodore Rosack who emphasizes that we are on the verge of discovering that the deep unconscious is not just sexual (Freud), or spiritual (Jung), but related to the ecosystem in which we live. And in that regard we must understand how Western people have diverged very far indeed from their unconscious in a destructive way. The destruction of the environment goes hand in hand with the destruction of our relationship to the unconscious, which is at its very depth our natural habitat and its indigenous populations. The recovery of this relatedness of all things can be accomplished as individuals, simply, genuinely and honestly without external trappings or borrowed traditions.
Rituals have to do with the careful relationship to these depths and ways have developed among certain people to balance these forces which can affect the individual and collective mental health of a given group. Playing with rituals is a dangerous game and in this regard Westerners who play at being Indians are unaware and unconscious. That is why Indians are
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