Learning about modern day problems and our past from indigenous peoples.
The Sami people of Finland, the Australian Aborigines, the South and North American Indians are all indigenous peoples who, whilst we in modern civilisation rush head long into an abstract meaningless void, struggle to retain their connections with their ancestors, nature and culture under constant attack from modern society.
Learning from indigenous peoples
The indigenous peoples interest me because their life, their mythology, their culture is so close to that of ancient peoples running back to the first cave paintings. The study of indigenous peoples puts flesh upon the bones of the archaeology and myths of the past, for they are the living descendents of those peoples, their worldviews near the same. I mentioned yesterday initiation rites from the point of view of the Ice Age archaeology and cave paintings, but to put flesh upon bones it is useful to look at modern-day indigenous peoples; this is what a site on the Australian Aborigines says:
Initiation ceremonies are performed to introduce and celebrate adolescent boys and girls as adult members of the community.
The ages of the person being initiated varies between language groups, but usually occur between the ages of 10 and 16 years of age. Only those boys and girls who had proven themselves worthy of the responsibility of adulthood mentally and physically are initiated.
The time is decided on by specific members in the language group. This is often called one’s right to passage. That is they have the right to pass from childhood to adulthood.Those being initiated are instructed and prepared for their roles within the ceremony and later in life as an adult. These teachings are taught over a period of many years by significant people within the language group.
During the ceremony everyone has a different role. The initiates are decorated with body paint and ornaments and are often given a permanent symbol on their bodies to show that they had been initiated into adult life. Initiated members would sometimes have a tooth removed, their ears or nose pierced or flesh cut with a particular sacred markings. Other members in the family would also carry special markings to commemorate the event. Special knowledge and skills are passed on through initiation ceremonies. These enable the new adult to function accordingly and in a new way within the language group.
Members of the language group would mourn the death of a child in the ceremony and later celebrate the birth of a new adult.
Depression, suicide, alcoholism
A common pattern amongst all indigenous people is a high degree of social and mental problems. These peoples belong to an era that never followed the rest of the world into the abstract, meaningless mess we call modern society. The indigenous people have been under attack on multiple fronts from Christian evangelists to forcing them to conform to political correctness; this creates a separation between the indigenous individual and the source that gives them meaning, dignity and strength; thus a wasteland of despair emerges, with its major symptoms of depression, suicide and alcoholism.
The World Health Organisation has issued a report on the mental health of indigenous peoples; which is backed by countless scientific journals. I have yet to read this report in full, but a scan of it excites interest in me, for it goes into the worldview of the indigenous peoples, and the link between modern society and mental health problems. Within that report potentially lies some golden nuggets of wisdom of how to address problems of modern society.