Sunday, 5 August 2012

The Spirits of our Ancestors


Driving Alberta's prairie roads you can see how summer's sun is giving everything a lovely toasted hue.  You-pick gardens everywhere are hosting families looking for a healthy, fresh and sometimes organic harvest bounty.  And you cannot miss that some of the fields are beginning to turn color and will soon be ripe.
Just thinking how long these fields and farms have been planted is sometimes a surprise.  Many fields have been farmed for possibly up to 120 years, but this is not long compared with the many years of stewardship by Canada's aboriginal people.  Though Alberta's First Nations do not have an ancestral tradition of farming, or gardening, still their medicines, their rituals, their folk wisdom is rooted in nature.  The ancestral memory of a relationship between the land and mankind is in every cultural community.

The Iroquois wisdom rings true for me. And seven generations ago, much of what is Ukraine was stuck in serfdom.  Serfdom is like white slavery.  In a time long past, some Ukrainian ancestors were bound by duty and debt to a landlord who owned all of one's waking hours, labour, and any product produced.  That type of "human slavery" was abolished over a century and a half ago - seven generations ago! Americans of African ancestry who experienced slavery suffered a debilitating psychological damage, a sense of less worth than others.  Many Canadians of immigrant origins also know the stories, because of similar experiences in their historic ancestry. That may be one of the factors in Canadian's being so involved in advocacy for human rights!

So seven generations ago Ukraine's Great Bard - Taras Shevchenko was "purchased", rescued from a life of serfdom, and wrote the most empowering literature full of folkwisdom, dreams and possibilities!  Eventually serfdom was abolished, and people resolved to heal and thrive, in freedom. That may in part explain why the Ukrainian nation has such a scattered diaspora - it makes me think of the farmer of old times, broadcasting seeds onto the fertile soil by hand.......

So when you are driving on the prairie roads late this summer, look at the farmers fields and consider that the August sunshine will ripen the wheat, and make it ready for harvest. It is probably time to gather a sheaf of wheat! 

In the ancestral teachings, the Spirit of our Grandfathers lives in the kernels. Each seed sacrifices itself to give life to the next generation.  It is so, from time immemorial.

Remember to ask permission of some generous farmer before you harvest the wheat. Take long stalks and make a tightly bound bundle.  Bind it well, as it is said the tigher the bind, the closer the family.  The souls of the family (past, present and future) are thought to be in the sheaf, and it represents both the Christian belief in an afterlife and the bountiful fertility of the land. Display the Didukh in a place of honor and celebrate its wisdom!
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