In case you haven’t heard, I have changed the name of a group I created and facilitate on Facebook from Pacific Northwest Shamanism to Pacific Northwest Spirit Walkers, to accurately describe the practices which were meant to be described in the forum. I would rather use a made-up title, than twist and turn an ancient word used for generations by an ancient people, whose land I have never visited, nor have I met the spirits who reside there.
A Spirit Walker is a person who, using repetitive rhythm, goes into an ecstatic, altered state for the purpose of meeting their guides in the other planes of existence in order to find healing and or information. The goal of the Spirit Walker is to bring the medicine from the other side back here, to our precious Earth, the home we have all chosen to reside for the extent of our lives. We strive to make a better world using these practices.
No one can take away another person’s relationship to the land and the spirits. We are the land and the land is us. The longer we live in one part of the land, the deeper that relationship grows.
At the same time, it is an offense to take on a sacred title from another culture, because you could not have possibly earned it in the way it was meant be earned, and to have this hard-earned vocational name watered down in order to use it is an offense. And further, to MAKE MONEY by drawing people to you with the title is unbelievably offensive.
In a recent rant, I asked,
“Should we all start calling ourselves Bishops? Should I say to people that I am a Pope and that it’s not a big deal because I can use the word Pope any way I want? Heck maybe I’ll use it as a verb because it is fun. I will be doing my poping work with you when you come to my sessions. Or what if I tell everyone that I am a Nun? Would that be fun? It certainly would create a rise in people. I’d get the attention I need to make a bit of money. Next week I am going to call myself a Buddhist Monk. Heck, who needs vows?
”People in Mongolia did not CHOOSE to have their sacred name traipsed all over the world by powerful white men making money off of their interpretation of their sacred, sacred, very sacred practices. Our use of the term did not come from the slow and comprehensive merging of cultures that happens with the mingling of peoples. Imagine growing up in a poor, rural area your entire life and then discovering that the oppressors of the world, the ones who colonize and start wars everywhere, the ones who are responsible for much of the poverty of the world are now the taking practices that shaped you as a child, that brought you into being an adult and are passing them around like candy, with no life-long relationship to the land they came from, with little understanding, and MAKING MONEY off of them? If that scenario does not bother you, I don’t know where your heart is.
”Practice your faith, your path, your sacred journey but don’t call it something that isn’t yours to call it. Us white people have lost our own culture and that is very, very sad but it doesn’t mean that we should take from others. We need to make our own. It would be FAR MORE POWERFUL to create our own culture than to try to fit into someone else’s shirt.”
Thank you for listening. As you can see, I feel the time has come for this change. Even if I have been carrying the word with the most utmost of respect, energetically it does not come from my home. It does not relate with my body or speak to the land here for me.
‘Spirit-Walker’ feels dynamic, creative, accurate and safely me. I am free. The burden is gone.
Notes: I had already made this change on my personal sites but I needed to take this further. I still do work with Shamanism Without Borders which is under the Society for Shamanic Practitioners’ title, because the work we do is unique and globally important – and it is not my call to rename the organization.
So far, my studies have not found the terms spiritwalker, spirit walker or spirit-walker to have originated from any one culture but I find they have, I will find another name.