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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
The Heritage Community Foundation, Alberta Law Foundation and Albertasource.ca
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Spiritual Life

Introduction

Natural/Supernatural

Spirit Realm

Visual representation of nature's laws


Page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11

Blackfoot WomenThe Sacred is comprised of a number of traditions related to the origins of the people, to stories and myths of considerable importance, to rituals that are held to be essential for community existence and identity and to extraordinary beings, some obviously greater-than-human, and some having some human-like significance. Among some First Nations peoples, these cultural dimensions are only the most obvious evidence of a reality that is mostly hidden. It is not the purvey of ordinary people, and in any case, not even the specialists, like the medicine people, can be said to comprehend every aspect of this dimension of "nature." What we can point out is that Aboriginal spirituality does not give much priority to an existing Being like God, and such a notion, even if it is found among some peoples, does not drive the ritual structure or dominate the intellectual understandings of traditional knowledge. In that it is fundamentally different from Christianity. The culture that Christianity informed has laboured mightily to overcome these traditional views…unsuccessfully as it turns out, since practitioners are to be found among all First Nations peoples today. This is born out by Paper’s perceptive comment:

Native spiritual beings, unlike the Western deity, are not supernatural, that is, beyond nature, but rather are fully natural beings; there is no absolute distinction between creator and created. All beings are relations; hence, the spirits, including animals, plants, and minerals, are all addressed by humans as "Grandfather," "Grandmother," "Mother" and "Father." This connection is often given verbal affirmation at the conclusion of sweat lodge ceremonials and the smoking of the Sacred Pipe when the participants may individually state, "All my relations." Hallowell’s now classic "other-than-human persons" still best distinguishes this under­standing. (57)

By taking an orientation toward law as a starting point, we clearly are not going to be able to comprehend all of First Nations' conceptions of the sacred. Hence we will have to focus our discussion on those aspects of Nature’s Law that might be said to underlie legal-type phenomena. We are well aware that Aboriginal use of a term like Nature’s Law implies a system of relationships that Western thinkers have struggled to define within their own worldview. For such thinkers, the key issue is the relationship of the Eternal law expressed in scripture with the natural law that our intelligence has encountered in the development of science and reason.  For Aboriginal thinkers, however, there is no distinction between Nature’s Law and Eternal Law, for they are one and the same…it is the modes of understanding Nature’s Law that poses the greatest difficulty. In short, whatever validity a concept like Eternal Law has, it must be subsumed under Nature’s Law in the Aboriginal system, and no being can be said to exist anywhere in the universe that stands apart from Nature’s Law. By that one trajectory of thought, Aboriginal traditions have sidestepped the twists and turns of philosophical and theological effort that have marked Western attempts to square divinity with human intransigence. Lac St. Anne

In assessing how the Sacred can be said to be the foundation of Nature’s Law, we are speaking of what Indigenous communities have indicated is of supreme importance to their experience.  Some stones are powerful…more powerful than others. Some waters are healing (like Lac St. Anne) others are not. The result of thousands of years of encounters with the sacred by First Nations peoples has not developed a systematic or theologically cohesive account of why this is so…this is the sum of their experience and from that sum, societies have responded with attitudes and actions. The most pertinent have been constructed into values and norms for the social order, as the following suggest.
 

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