Druidry, Colonialism and the Spirit of the Mountain


A fundamental issue in practicing nature-based spirituality has to do with not only your relationship to the land but the relationship of the land in relation to your blood ancestors.  Many druids, including those of caucasian descent in North America and Australia, live on colonized lands, and this creates a very complex web of relationships and challenges.  Common questions for those picking up a druid path in these circumstances are: how do I practice druidry or other forms of nature-based spirituality on lands that are colonized, especially if my ancestors participated in that colonization?  How can I create meaningful relationships to the land, recognizing that the land’s original inhabitants may harmed, dislocated, or no longer present?  What sacred knowledge, places, or information should I access?  These are fundamental, pressing questions if those of us in this position are to create meaningful, ethical, and rich place-based druidries.

The Challenges and Complexities of Colonialism

The Radhost mountaintop, where you can see into Czechia and Poland
The Radhost mountaintop, where you can see into Czechia and Poland

Let’s start by unpacking a bit of this complexity. In my role as Grand Archdruid in the Ancient Order of Druids in America, and being present at many druid gatherings up and down the US East Coast, I have been part of a variety of conversations about this issue.  In talking to those of white ancestry (which is my own ancestry) and multiple friends who are indigenous North American who are also druids, what I can say is that these issues are very layered and complicated.

These issues usually include:

  1.  If you live on colonized land, and you are concerned about the legacy of colonialism, there’s always an underlying concern about how to connect with the land and not perpetuate this history.
  2. This is also impacted by local contexts–some people live in regions where indigenous people still live, while others (most of us on the US East coast) live in regions where they were forcefully relocated or exterminated. Who lived there and who still does is a factor in these discussions.
  3. For some white people (myself included) our ancestors were here in colonial times in North America, which means they were likely directly involved in stealing, murder, pillaging native peoples, and eradicating native cultures.  This is a blood ancestral legacy that we have to address.
  4. I’ve heard some white druids explain that they feel more like a “tourist” in landscapes where they were born because they are so deeply concerned with this issue, that they wonder if they have a “right” to connect with the land or if they should at all.  The further they go into druidry, the more these questions may surface.
  5. For druids who are doing any serious land workings, animism, and other practices tied deeply to the land itself, these issues come up in sharing online, group rituals, or community building.  For example, after sharing land healing practices on this blog, I’ve been told many times I have no right to heal the land that I’m living on or work with it in that way.
  6. There has been a history of cultural appropriation by white people of indigenous traditions, tools, and practices. This continues to this day.
  7. The matter of sacred sites is another serious issue–traditional indigenous sacred sites, like Serpent Mound in Ohio, are obviously off limits.  But this means that those of white ancestry living in colonized lands don’t really have existing sacred sites–we have to essentially create them anew.

So, as we can see from this list, there are many basic questions about how to do the right thing, decolonize this horrible legacy, be respectful and honoring to existing and past tribes, but also deeply connect to the earth and build something new.  None of this stuff is easy.  Given this, each of us has to figure out a way forward that is both respectful of the past difficult history with also wanting to deeply connect.

The Radagast Experience

Such familiar imagery and artistry!
Such familiar imagery and artistry!

I’ll now share a brief story that helped put some of these things in perspective. I recently had the chance to visit the Czech Republic for a work trip–each morning I offered workshops and consultations and every afternoon, my host and friend would take me on excursions to see the countryside.  One of these was to the village of Pustevny (“hermit”) on Radhost mountain in the Moravian-Silesian Beskids mountain range on the edge of Czechia and Poland.

The village was quaint and done in a traditional folk style–with artwork quite similar to the same kind of folk art we have here in Pennsylvania tied to the PA Dutch folk art style.  I found myself eating Halushki (a traditional family food) in a beautiful restaurant adored by familiar folk art, and despite the fact I was 8000 miles away from home and didn’t speak the language, I found myself feeling truly at home on the land. I have ancestral heritage tied both to Germany and to the Czech Republic, and my cultural tradition here (PA Dutch) is heavily influenced by this region.

stone stairs climbing up into a mountain
Climbing to Radagast

At the bottom of the mountain, as we were getting ready to ride the ski lift up to the top, my friend told me that we would see the statue of Radagast. After some discussion, it became clear to me that Radagast was a pre-Christian deity tied to this mountain, a guardian spirit who protected the land, the hermits, and traditional mountain people. Up on the mountain was also a church dedicated to the conversion of this region to Christianity.  You can guess which one I wanted to see!  I did fret a bit as I had not brought an appropriate offering with me–I was going to visit my first old-world pagan site and I wish I had been better prepared.

After a delicious meal, we hiked the rest of the way up the beautiful mountain, claiming stone steps and a winding path lined with trees.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day.  The clouds were filling the skies and we could see for miles and miles around us. The beech and spruce forests on the edges, the rowan berries bright on the trees. After about a 15-20 minute walk, we came upon Radagast. I could feel the ancient energies of the place–and I felt so welcomed.  Radagast was immediately friendly and gracious, speaking to me, accepting my meager offerings–a stone, an Awen chant, and a piece of my hair.  We connected deeply and I got the sense that an abundance of people who visit this place see the statue as an oddity, a tourist attraction, and an interesting piece of history, not as a religious site. My Czech companions shared what they knew about Radagast: he was from pre-Christian times, and this site was a place where he had a shrine. Although the official story is that his statue was destroyed by Christians, it is locally known that the statue was hidden by pagan priests and is still somewhere hidden.  Radagast is known for offering hospitality and protecting those who live on the mountain.

Stone statue of a pagan god, radagast
Radagastthe mountain.  My companions, all non-religious, humored me as I spent time communing with this place.

We did not walk to the church further up the path that day.  I’m quite grateful we did not, because I’m not sure what I would have done if I had to go there.  It was already too emotional. Instead, we decided to walk down the road to the bottom of the mountain.  Radagast blessed us with huge amounts of King Bolette forest mushrooms.  My companions and I were delighted, and one told me that she had never seen such a harvest.  I knew why of course–I had honored Radagast, and thus, he gave us a boon in exchange.

What this experience did for me was turn the tables. It took me from perpetually being in the role of holding having a colonial legacy–which is woven into the cultural history of where I live–to that of being colonized. It was a profound experience. This mountain, colonized by Christianity, has only had the Radagast statue back in its place since the 1930s. For many years, the only thing you could do is walk to the church that proclaims its triumph over paganism. Even the Wikipedia entry about Radagast is colonized by Christianity–rather than being about Radagast, it uses the framework of the first published source to describe the “demon” Radagast from a Christian point of view.

Healing the Cultural Legacy of Colonialism

For years, I have understood in an intellectual way that I, too, practice a religion that has been colonized and essentially eradicated by Christianity.  Christianity destroyed the ancient druids, my spiritual ancestors. Today, followers of more extreme versions of Christianity in the US, continue to threaten pagan festivals, shops, and druid rituals (with increasing frequency). Everything that I practice is the result of recreation, reconstruction, and building anew. These are facts, and I understood those facts. But standing on the mountain in the Czech Republic that day, seeing the statue of Radagast–who was, in essence, a pit stop along the way to the main attraction of the church that celebrates the eradication of one of my literal ancestral religions…it was embodied. It was visceral. And it made me very, very angry.

Handful of king bolette forest mushrooms
The forest mushrooms, a blessing from Radagast

As I continue to reflect upon this experience, one of the big takeaways for me is that my own role is even more complex than I initially thought. I, too, experience the daily effects of being in a colonized religion. I, too, understand what it is like–however many centuries removed–to lose something valuable and irreplaceable. Because I am white, my lived experiences are radically different and much further removed….but this doesn’t change the fact that these things have happened. What it has shown me is that context matters–on the land in Pennsylvania, here, I am a white person who is gaining the benefits of a centuries-old colonial legacy. But on Radhost mountain, I am the colonized, looking upon tourist attractions that celebrate the destruction of that which my blood ancestors held sacred. This has put into stark contrast that issues are not a simple either-or situation. There are layers here, important layers, layers worth exploring.

So how do we, as white druids living in colonized lands, move forward?  I have some suggestions. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I think the most important suggestion I have is that we do need to deeply engage with these issues and find ways to help heal these longstanding traumas. So here are some of the things I’ve been doing; maybe you have more to add to this list.

1. Druids and those practicing other pagan and earth-centered religions can be strong allies to all indigenous peoples. We have a lot in common in terms of our love of the land, our desire to protect it, and our desire to connect with more of our own ancestral ways of knowing. I suggest that we work to support the rights of indigenous peoples to their own sovereignty, land, and traditions. I suggest we become good listeners, and learn how to be good allies rather than bringing in our own outside ideas. Support indigenous individuals in our community and ensure that their voices are heard. Being allies and supporters is one way we can begin to heal these horrible wounds. You can consider this work both at a local level and also at a national and international one.

2. I think it is likewise very important that druids have a working understanding of the indigenous tribes who live–or who used to live–on our landscape. This helps you understand the cultural and social history that is woven into your immediate landscape. For me, two primary tribes were present where I live: the Susquehannock, who were murdered and eradicated, and the Shawnee, who were forcefully removed to Oklahoma. The Shawnee are still in Oklahoma, and I’m on their mailing list–anytime there is anything I can do to support them, I do. I honor both in my rituals and ceremonies as ancestors of the land. I have also made it a point to read the scant histories and records (written by white colonizers) of the Susquehannock. They may be gone, but they are not forgotten.

3. In honoring the ancestors of the land, I believe it is critically important to be engaged in tending the wilds, land healing, and other direct work on behalf of the land. It is important because prior to colonialization, we know that most tribes lived in balance with their ecosystems–in fact, here, where I live, the Eastern Woodlands tribes were some of the most ecologically balanced and egalitarian communities to ever exist. The legacy of colonialism shifted that balance, and it is up to us to do what we can to right it. This is part of decolonizing work. Further, we know from many historical accounts, including M. Kat Anderson’s Tending the Wilds, and from modern indigenous teachers like Tyson Yunkaporta’s Sand Talk, that this is a vital role for humanity.  Perhaps it our most important role–that of being caretakers and guardians of the land.

4. Further, in order to support and respect indigenous people’s sovereignty, we should be on the lookout for cultural appropriation and seek to eliminate it from our own practices. Unless you are specifically invited into a tradition by a native person or the tradition is putting on a public event, you have no right to that traditional knowledge. This, I believe, is critical for healing to happen.

5. This means, for many druids, building anew and building our own connections with the land is really important.  I’ve been doing a lot of that work with my Sacred Trees of the Americas and TreeLore Oracle project–the goal here is to build new magical knowledge and traditions for us–that are based on our own relationships with the land and cultural histories, and not appropriating others.

6.  I think the other important thing here is to simply be with the land.  Regardless of the colonial legacy, you inhabit this land and you are present, here and now. Don’t be afraid to connect. Don’t be afraid to learn and grow with the land. The land needs people like druids, especially now in this time of such destruction and climate change. Your land may have nobody else.

I would love to hear your ideas for addressing these complex issues. I look forward to more conversations.

Dana O'Driscoll

Dana O’Driscoll has been an animist druid for almost 20 years, and currently serves as Grand Archdruid in the Ancient Order of Druids in America. She is a druid-grade member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids and is the OBOD’s 2018 Mount Haemus Scholar. She is the author of Sacred Actions: Living the Wheel of the Year through Earth-Centered Spiritual Practice (REDFeather, 2021), the Sacred Actions Journal (REDFeather, 2022), and Land Healing: Physical, Metaphysical, and Ritual Approaches for Healing the Earth (REDFeather, 2024). She is also the author/illustrator of the Tarot of Trees, Plant Spirit Oracle, and Treelore Oracle. Dana is an herbalist, certified permaculture designer, and permaculture teacher who teaches about reconnection, regeneration, and land healing through herbalism, wild food foraging, and sustainable living. Dana lives at a 5-acre homestead in rural western Pennsylvania with her partner and a host of feathered and furred friends. She writes at the Druids Garden blog and is on Instagram as @druidsgardenart. She also regularly writes for Plant Healer Quarterly and Spirituality and Health magazine.

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  1. Dana, thank you for posting this. As another Pennsylvanian with colonial (and PA Dutch) ancestry, your post echoed a number of things I’ve felt about the Land over the years. The issue of appropriation of tradition is complex and worthy of deep attention, as you say, but I’ve also found that sometimes Land calls to the Spirit, regardless of history or ethnicity, And then, do you listen and follow? Or deny the connection?

    Living now in Scotland (where other personal ancestors were born and died), evidence of a Christian overlay is apparent and can be irritating, but there is so much Spirit still in the hills and the stones and the water that the overlay isn’t as pervasive as it can feel over there. There’s also a legacy of blending the old practices connected with Nature with the newer Christian ones (for example as found in collections of gathered lore like Alexander Carmichael’s Carmina Gadelica). Perhaps there are those Scottish Gaelic speakers who might say I/we have no right to this material unless we can access it in the original tongue, but I’ve not felt that. Here, it’s more the sectarian Catholic/Protestant divide that gets in the way at times, but that doesn’t have much at all to do with the Land and doesn’t come close to touching the Spirit at Callanish or even in the local hills.

    Much to reflect on. Thank you again. David

    1. Hi David,
      Thank you so much for sharing. I find it so interesting that in order to better understand one’s own heritage, one has to travel. It sounds like you have been learning some wonderful things in Scotland. I didn’t have enough time up on that mountain, but in my limited experience, I also got the sense that the sacredness of the mountain was still there. It was still magic. It was strong and vibrant, and it sung to me. Perhaps at the Church I did not visit, the spirit would be strong there too. I don’t know, but its worth thinking about and exploring.

      I also appreciate your insights about the land calling. I think that’s exactly it–regardless of what other humans say, if the land calls, I feel like it behooves us to listen. A relationship with the land is not between other humans, it is just between you and the land.

  2. This article is deeply appreciated. This has been a concern of mine and I vaguely knew a few things to do or not do but this helps clarify the direction I need to take now. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Susan. I’d love to hear how these suggestions work and any of your own insights.

  3. thank you for this deep and respectful post exploring some of the complexities of spiritual ancestry and the ethics surrounding it

    1. You are most welcome.

  4. My 4th Great Grandmother’s were of Native American descent. They married into Scots Irish and English families. Along the way there was German ancestry as well. One of the Greats came from Delaware, Albany Indiana. The other side is Cherokee, from the Hills of Tennessee. One we believe may have been Delaware Indian. She married the Scots Irish McCart. The other one married a Davis. One moved from Indiana, to Kentucky, then to Tennessee. The other one was in Tennessee.
    If you study the history of the Native American tribesmen, then you know that they also had many battles with other Tribes. They took Prisoners, killed them, burned their villages and/or destroyed their way of life. That behavior ran throughout what is now the United States. Some were more cruel than others. I say this with the utmost respect for ALL of my Ancestors. Whether they are NATIVE Americans, WHITE Americans, or whatever nationality they are. I mean you NO disrespect, but the Natives are no different than the other people.
    Most of Tennessee was used by several different groups or Tribes of Natives. It was a Hunting Ground for many people.
    I was told by an Elder that I have the Spirit of a Native with me. That as a girl, on the land of my family, I had ran across his place of Death. That he would be with me, until I passed from this life. I was told he was a Shaman, or Medicine Man. I asked if he was on my left side, and was told he was. I am glad he is with me. I was told that he was hunting for Medicine, herbs and plants. He broke his leg and died from exposure.
    My Great Grandmother was a Healer. I never knew her. I visit her grave fairly regular.
    I tell you all of this because there have always been people who come into a land or country. They learn to care for the land. They become a part of it. How they become part of it may not please everyone. It has been this way forever. It will always be this way. You never really OWN the land, you take care of it. Then someone else will follow in your place.

    1. Hi Rita, thank you so much for your wisdom and for sharing your story. I appreciate what you are saying and you are right…this is part of what it means to be and live as a human. Thank you for your words.

  5. Thank you for addressing and not shying away from these difficult topics. I appreciate your thoughts on this, and I too strive to be a listener, learner, and ally to indigenous peoples while seeking connection to my own ancestors and the land we occupy. I know that some folks want to “move past” or only focus on the positive aspects while practicing a nature-based spirituality, but I don’t think we can or should ignore the impact of colonialism. There needs to be work toward healing there as well as in the relationship with the land itself.

    1. Hi K Kent, thank you for sharing and also for your kind words. I’m so glad you are working to be a good ally, both of the land and of her indigenous peoples. Blessings to you!

  6. My recent pilgrimage to Ireland felt so much the same. So much grief, and anger, and longing. And such a bone-deep homecoming. I, too, strive to connect to this land of South Central Pennsylvania, and to honor those whose bones and songs still reverberate in this land. Thank you, always, for the light you hold.

    1. YES, I resonate with what you are sharing here. When I landed back in Pittsburgh, even when we were on the approach to the airport, the Alleghenies sang me home.

  7. Greetings, Dana, and thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences. I grew up in the US, but have lived in Europe for nearly half of my life and have also experienced some of what you related in your article. There are subtle differences in the way the lands and gods speak in different parts of the world. On the one hand, this is counterintuitive (the gods are the gods, the land is the land); while in the other hand, it makes sense that physical and geographic differences lend themselves to different expressions of Spirit and deity. Attunement remains an important part of our sacred relationships, regardless where in the world we may find ourselves.

    I fear the issue of colonization, displacement and appropriation runs deeper than your article suggests, and is sadly even more complicated. The cultures to which our ancient forebears belonged were not the first to arrive in Europe, and the old lore of Ireland (as well as archeological evidence) describes a number of peoples in the Isles who were there before the Druids arrived. This is not something unique to European culture, as peoples native to the North American continent also made war with each other, drove each other out of their homes (for example, the Ojibwa and Santee Dakota). This certainly does not serve as a justification for this behavior, but points to it being a brutal part of human history and experience. Although it’s important to be aware of, and sensitive to the past, it doesn’t change the past.

    Concerning ourselves with the present and future is vital. Attuning ourselves to the land, to the spirits and gods is vital; but so is attuning ourselves to the people around us, whether native, transplanted, or even just passing through. This attunement leads to the cooperation you so wisely point out, and is essentially the only viable solution we have. I’ll end my comment, already longer than originally planned, with a quote from a notable Christian named Martin Luther: “To do so no more is the truest repentance.”

    1. Hi Bran,
      Thanks for sharing and your wisdom. I think you are right–we know that people are forcefully displaced again and again through history. It does seem to be part of what humans do. Heck, it’s even what other species do–mushrooms are so medicinal because they are fighting against other mushrooms in the wild for space. I do think though that we have generally seen European colonization on a much more broad and brutal scale than anything else we have in recorded history. And right now, we are living with that legacy. I like what you’ve said about attunment–to attune to the many peoples on the land is vital.

  8. We must always try an honor and respect those who’s ancestors have lived here far longer than the white settlers. People down through the ages and even now have done, are doing cruel things to the earth and a her inhabitance even now. We can be the best Earth Keepers we can be
    The question I ask is, who are we? Are we not first and foremost human being from planet Earth? Yes our ancestors stolid this land but we are here now, some for hundreds but how can we go back to what, to were.
    I am a human Earth is my home.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Phyliss! I think that tying to our very humanness is an important goal. Even more than that, we are all animals here, just like any other animal, on the planet. Reminding ourselves of that is a very powerful thing. At the same time, we can’t use that goal of saying we are all human to eradicate these legacies that we must instead address.

  9. Recognition of nature spirits and their different functions forms the basis of the 5th.Blessing byJesus, 31st.August 1958.
    There is also a detailed account of the Devic Forces in “The Treatise On Cosmic Fire” by the Tibetan Adept through Alice Bailey (1880 -1949), a large work not an easy read.

  10. I appreciate this article and each reply. I have many thoughts around this but I will try to keep it brief and managable. I am an outsider to SW PA but I have come here to realize this is where my ancestors from this life came onto the continent. They traveled across the state across these very paths and trails where I live now. Some took the Ohio River at Pittsburgh on to the West and Others went south into VA. Many married or were taken into the local native cultures and appropriated their ways out of necessity to survive. Beyond what my mental process has been entrained to “know”, I have a deeper knowing that this land, these hills that are among the oldest mountain chains on the planet, have a completely different history in times long past. And so I see the issue of healing to go so much deeper than the human race that we know of today. And it grows more urgent that we go beyond our minds and the history that our captors have written to the very beginning of the manipulation and distortions to our planet. As souls, we have all worn every shoe in the shoe store and so we need to connect with that when we consider walking in the shoes of others. We have been them. We have and we should know better by now and it’s time to open up so as to catch up. I don’t speak of this often because it’s deep knowledge and not mental fact: The coal we remove from the Earth, was from a time that became a Prison colony, it’s the people, plants and animals of a very heavy time and we could do well to be more reverent with it. In closing I share a tidbit from the Internet, some lore to consider beyond our mind’s conditioning of what our history is:
    “Sayre Pennsylvania was one of the homes of the Demon Clan aka the Draco who bred with Cain’s people after the Betrayal. Hence finding Asian artifacts among their early people in North America. Cain’s people only came over slightly after the collapse of Atlantis around 10,000 years ago and ended up killing most of the remaining Nephilim hybrids still living there.” ~

    1. Thank you for sharing. The Appalachians are 480 million years old…the oldest of them all, just about. I got into a debate with someone online earlier this week who dared call these mountains “hills” and I said, you have young upstart mountains! But these are so, so old. And you wonder in those 480 million years, when the continents were still Pangaea, what kinds of our ancient ancestors walked through. It is a useful way to think. Thank you for your comment!

  11. Very grateful for this post and the ideas shared here.

    1. Thank you, Gabrielle! 🙂

  12. What a wonderful post, thank you for sharing. I am just learning about the druids, and what you wrote resonates so much with me. Lisa 🙂

    1. Thank you! 🙂

  13. for me, the oddest part has been wondering if i’m manifesting more Celtic and Germanic energy forms here due to my Fey connectivity, and if – so – what am i doing to the collective overlying energetic ‘ecosystem’?

    even though i’m not of native ancestry (and feel odd/appropriative connecting to the Native ‘fey’) i try to keep a door open for them to manifest as they *are* (if good-intended) and feed them as much energy as i do the European energy beings i’m more familiar with. as i age (and i live in the same house i was born into over 50 years ago) my inner nature becomes more and more seeking to establish balance between species – corporeal and non-corporeal – and abundance enough so that we can come to sharing. it’s difficult when a significant drive in nature (and humans are not apart from it) is to attack and take what is needed. the truly upsetting aspects to life now, for me, are *greed* and cruelty. i think being able to work *with* the energetic and natural forces here is a gift, almost a penance for ages past. so i’m just trying to do my best with ecological restoration and increasing abundance and letting the energetic overlay come to some sort of accommodation of one another.

    1. Hi Christine, thanks for your comment and sharing. I think that it is good to be open to whatever energy may be out there that wants to connect to you–and I agree with you about greed and cruelty being upsetting aspects of life. I point to narcissism being at the root of nearly all evil human actions. So creating positive space and working with the energies of the land seem like a good counter to some of that!

      1. I view patriarchy as the most evil of forces

  14. Dana, I am delighted that you addressed this issue so openly and brilliantly. I feel this colonizer pain circling around when I am walking on this spot of Gaia where I am privileged to reside. This area of West Texas was hunting land of the Jumane people, then the Comanches and Apaches. The government of Texas GAVE it to Eastern Railroad Christian capitalists in exchange for railroads. The pain is acute and edged with much anger. I so related to your feelings about Radagast.
    Thank you for your insights

    1. Hi Priscilla,
      Thank you for sharing. I’m very sorry to hear about the colonial legacy in West Texas. It has happened just like that in so many places. But, you are there now and perhaps you can help with this pain and anger in the land.

      In Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta (a book that has highly influenced me this year) Yunkaporta shares how the Aboriginal Australians see the most problematic thing in humans as “I am better than you” or narcissism. They see that at the root of most problems in a culture, and they have community-wide ways of addressing it. And there is white western civilization, whose guiding motto is “I am better than you.” I see the patriarchy as one collective form of gender narcissism. It is reprehensible that it is still so dominant today.

      Blessings to you as you walk the beautiful land of Gaia where you are rooted.

  15. Dana, a wonderful insight and one I will re-read many times.
    I am a person born as Welsh, however in school I was not taught my native language.
    I am slowly addressing this error, our family took the decision to teach our children Welsh from an early age.
    I my self have always looked for the historical links to my heritage.
    One of which is a terrible thing called “The Welsh knot” where anyone speaking the native language was punished.
    Thankfully this practice is no longer, however the pain it caused still ripples through sport and cultural areas.
    My heritage is mixed, I call myself Welsh however I my mother is English.
    The profound felling I have when visiting ancient sites can sometimes make me feel utterly overwhelmed.
    So again thank-you you writings here have already helped me and I know will do in the future.
    I’m am on the path of becoming a Reiki Healer. One thing that I find myself doing at ancient sites is Reiki meditation and through this I send healing to the past, present and future. This practice links in with honouring those who inhabited the land before historical records were kept.
    The peace and knowledge I feel after performing this are profound, not to mention the history that presents itself weeks months and even years later.
    May your journey continue and may your healing light bring the ancestors comfort where ever you visit.
    Healing Regards, Gareth.

    1. Hi Gareth,
      Thank you so much for sharing. I am so sorry to hear how the Welsh language was also worked to be eradicated. I did not know this happened to the Welsh people. Are there now efforts to reclaim this heritage? So much of druidry has Welsh origins.

      The Reiki work at the ancient sites sounds amazing–both for you and the land. BLessings,

  16. Thank you so much for this. My ancestors are from Greece and Europe (England, Scotland). I have also felt that because my bones and blood do not start here that what I feel, my intent, my love even is inappropriate and somehow wrong. How could that be? Yet, I knew the history so I accepted that as my penance, perhaps (have been raised a Catholic). But I grew up in the woods and mountains and rivers and lakes of the White Mountains of NH. A feral child, daughter of a man who spent more time in the woods than with people. I know that my relationship is real and can be trusted and is totally accepted by Earth, and the places I have lived – NH, ME, VT , and now NY (though I hope to return to the White Mtns. the home of my heart, soon). I’m also aware of my lineage as a celtic, druid witch and the history of my soul and spirit and I feel it very deeply. i’m 70 and I feel I’ve always been aware but recently it has become more intense and more a part of my daily life. I’m a crone now. I know, without a doubt, that my ancestors were Earth people and that my female ancestors (and in my past lives, however you interpret that) were persecuted in horrendous ways because of what we knew, our connection with life and Earth, our wisdom. I feel a deep responsibility to speak and share and be a respectful ally, while trusting what I know. This is all coming the the fore now because of the urgency of the crises, and especially Earth and women. Thank you for sharing your understanding and path.

    1. Hi Susan, thank you so much for sharing. I think its important to connect with the land that is under our feet and the land where we were born..the land needs us so much right now with such ecological crises. I’m glad these words resonated with you. Blessings!

  17. Dear Dana, this issue is at the crux of my often uncertainty about how to approach the ‘work’ that I do, how to know what is welcome, and what is simply my wishful hoping that I’m doing things ‘right’.

    I’m a 6th generation non-indigenous Australian, which means that my ancestors, like your own in US, may well have been amongst those who brutalised First Nations Peoples, who stole Life, Culture and Country from those people, and who re-sculpted their beloved Country and are still inflicting damage upon the environment that we others now call home.

    For decades I’ve been mulling over this problem of how to channel my respectful heartfelt apology into making peace with the original inhabitants, how to support them and their Country. Early on it felt so difficult, as I wanted to offer ritual to help heal the land but also knew my limited ‘place’ in that. Only in the last decade or so have I palpably felt a very real willingness of some First Nations Elders to open their wounded hearts and invite those that they deem ‘ready’ into their lives and ways.

    Every time I am part of a Welcome to Country where it feels truly authentic, rather than a step in a process, I feel so profoundly grateful that we are being granted some degree of forgiveness or acceptance. I have only a
    minuscule understanding of just how difficult that must be for these people who are still mourning the loss of family, culture, country, and, who are, to this day, still trying to learn who they actually are, who their people were, where their ancestral Country actually is. The hole that I feel in my life from not knowing where my ancestors hailed from is nothing compared to all that was stolen from our First Nations Peoples.

    When I work on this land that I call home, then, I’m very conscious of my actions, and consider whether the original inhabitants would approve or disapprove of me including plants from other regions here, as that is not the natural order of things. Learning that local tribes did plant Kauri Pine here, even though it is endemic to further North by some hours, did in part give me more confidence to plant other multi-purpose species here.

    As part of being respectful to First Nations Peoples I listen before speaking when hoping to discuss things with local elders and others. I never presume to know anything about their history or way of being and am grateful for the tiniest sharing about their lives if/when they open up to me. I readily let their words inform my practice after checking that that would be appropriate. Many of my happiest moments have been when local Elders have shared something of their thoughts/feelings/hopes/backgrounds with me, when they speak of their sacred sites, trees, tribal totem and their Medicine animal. It not only informs me, but also gives me a feeling of hope that one day this country will become a more unified and trusting one. Oh, I pray that that time will come. And it is nearing, I can feel it shifting. Increasing numbers of indigenous authors are sharing their history and insights, including Tyson Yunkaporta who you mentioned. I believe that First Nations Peoples here and elsewhere are beginning to take our hands in their’s, understanding that so many of us despair over the injustices done, and recognising our abiding love for the countries that we call home, and our heartfelt desire to De-colonise this land, and for ourselves to become more responsible caretakers and guardians of the land we live on.

    We do all have much in common, and most of it does revolve around our shared desire to protect Country, and do together whatever we are able to ensure the continuation of the many First Nations cultures and to improve the rights and entitlements of all. In this I include all First Nations Peoples, everywhere on this Earth, and I will listen deeply, sign petitions, march in support of, attend blockades, and donate modest offerings to any indigenous Peoples that I hear need help.

    That help is reciprocal, which also gives me great hope. Indigenous and non-indigenous people became brother and sister standing side by side to protect Country from the gas industry. Following an unannounced-until-too-late’ blasting and collapsing of a culturally significant chamber cave beyond recognition, which appalled untold people and broke the hearts and hopes of First Nations Australians yet again, people all over this country are watching mining companies like hawks to stop them getting away with anything like that ever again. Additionally, “Cultural burning” is a hot (pun not intended) topic here right now. In the wake of vast areas of our Eastern seaboard burning 4 years ago, our First Nations Peoples have offered their help in firstly training up more of their own community members in Cultural Burning practises, and then making those trainee graduates available to teach interested others how to do these historically and culturally important burns. We truly are becoming allies, and are even forging friendships that, with the due recognition and respect on the newcomers part, could have been enjoyed centuries ago.

    Truly, being an ally to our First Nations Peoples in whatever way I can is the only way I’ve found to numb, just a little, the lifelong despair and guilt that I’ve felt since I realised just how deeply (and often intentionally) destructive my own ancestry has been to First Nations Peoples in this land I call Home. Oh, and being an ally to the land itself. I love this land so much, all of the Earth, but especially THIS land, and I love, respect and communicate with the plants and creatures of this land.. This is my work and my sanity.

    1. Hello Shewhoflutesincaves,
      This is a beautiful and powerful story–thank you so much for sharing. It sounds like you are finding a beautiful way to engage in healing–acknowledging the challenges of your own ancestry and working hand-in-hand with indigenous people on your landscape. This work is a model to others who are struggling with how to negotiate their own ancestral colonial legacy with the work that needs to be done in the here and now. I especially love the description of ally ship–taking each other hand in hand for the good of the land and of all future peoples. Blessings to you and please continue the good work!

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