The Return Arrow of Ceremony

How do you reciprocate? How do you give back something to the Land, that it can receive? The return arrow of reciprocity is vitally important, not a minor thing. Remember that reciprocity is the moral expression of relational accountability — the foundation of both resilience and sustainability. The reason Western culture cannot achieve sustainability or resilience, despite all its best efforts, is because it doesn’t understand that return arrow. It doesn’t understand ceremony because it has projected its own fear of nature onto Indigenous peoples. This misperception of ceremony, based on a fallacious understanding of ceremony grounded in the fear of nature, is precisely what has kept Western Culture from learning reciprocity or relational accountability from Indigenous people. This has made it impossible for the people and disciplines of Western Culture to comprehend real sustainability, or to achieve either sustainability or real resilience.

If you want a paradigm shift that can help you achieve sustainability, ceremony is the doorway. If you want to engage in work to address the root causes of the world’s problems instead of tinkering at the margins, ceremony is the doorway. If you want transformational change that modifies how humans interact with the natural environment and with each other, ceremony is the doorway. When you go through this doorway, you will find yourself in the world of the living Land. But you cannot do it alone. You must go through that doorway only when you have reliable Indigenous people as guides.

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