I hadn’t really thought of this until recently. I had never really given any thought to whether my spiritual path had been shaped or influenced by where I lived or where I grew up. However, in recent weeks after moving from Germany to Texas I am starting to think that your immediate surroundings can and do influence your path.
I have always just considered myself a “Magpie Pagan”. Magpies are birds that are really intelligent – but take bits and pieces of anything to make their nest. This is how I saw myself. Though my early years were mostly revolved around a Hoodoo influence with a little Appalachia thrown in – I now see no clear lines. Can I easily classify how I practice? No.
While living in England my practice shifted to something that any Traditional Wiccan would be comfortable with and could participate in easily. This was not intentional – I just did what felt right at the time. While in Germany my practice changed a bit to be something that seemed a little more Druidic – but my perception of Druid. Not actual authentic Druid – but something similar.
A few weeks ago I moved to West/Central Texas. Spiritually speaking there is a very strong Native American influence here. While not completely unknown to me, and though I have always had an interest in different Native traditions, I have never taken that leap to fully immerse myself.
Could it be the environment? Could it be that the land around me resembles something of a desert that I associate certain tribes with? To be honest – I was born and raised in Southeast Missouri where there were many tribes of Natives – yet I never felt connected there. Here in Texas …. it’s different.
This is not to say that I will start calling myself a shaman and throw some random stuff in a little pouch and call it a medicine bag … because that won’t happen. But I will share a recent experience.
Four times a year a local metaphysical shop owner who follows a Native path holds drum circles, peace pipe ceremonies, and sweat lodges on her property. I had never participated in a sweat lodge or peace pipe ceremony. I decided to try it out. I attended a sweat lodge – and holy moly do you sweat. While the word ‘sweat’ is in the name — I thought it was figurative.
Something amazing happens though. I have a hard time holding concentration not just during channeling, but meditation, remote viewing — everything. I have this intent desire to analyse that I have yet to fully control. The sweat lodge is dug into the deep rust red ground of Texas with a little altar of sorts outside. Before we entered I asked if anyone would be offended if I got a deeper explanation. Everyone was happy to wait while I was enlightened.
The dugout lodge is the womb of the Mother (Earth). It is seen as a safe place to ‘retreat’ to gain the peace and environment needed to grow as a being spiritually.
At first the heat was unbearable. I thought I was going to have to leave. The smoke wasn’t comfortable. I was told by the leader that I had to separate my physical self from my spiritual self. I had to let the heat and smoke carry me to a higher plane.
I’m not going to lie. It was hard. It was hard to not cough, or wipe my face, or let out a disgruntled sigh of sweaty-ness. I bet it took 10 minutes for me to worry less about my environmental uncomforts and focus on … nothing. I literally focused on nothing. I was just going to ‘be’. Just have the experience and enjoy it for what it was. A group of people each taking a little personal journey.
Then it happened. At first I thought I was fainting. I thought the heat had gotten to me and I passed out. Then I saw colors and smelled smells. I heard speaking, but didn’t understand. It felt like I was seeing an area for what it used to be in a time gone by.
It smelled damp – which is strange for West Texas. Then I saw a river. I had no legs and wasn’t walking. I was just sort of moving as if I was standing on a skateboard and someone was pushing it. As I looked around I saw dark haired people throwing powder/sand/ash (something) into the water. A few seconds later the fish would come to the surface and the younger ones would rush in and pick up the fish.
I saw some women doing bead work and the colors of the beads was so vibrant it hurt to look at it. I saw some people skinning a beaver and heard another woman giving birth. It was a really small village not far from a river. It was beautiful. It was Missouri. It was actually really shocking.
That vision has stuck with me just as plain as when it first happened for more than 2 weeks now. I have had a vision or two involving a Native girl – but I believe that was due to a close connection of a friend of mine. This was entirely my own and I am still cherishing it.
Does all this mean that I am suddenly going to follow a Native path? No, probably not. I don’t feel it is for me. I still don’t feel a calling for that. I will, however, be incorporating some things into my practice that are Native. I will be making a smudge fan with collected feathers and doing a lot of beadwork with patterns I saw in my vision.
Basically this entire story is just a call to take a chance. Even if you have little interest! It may turn out to be awesome!