Linda Neale's Blog


A thanksgiving gift from the Haudenosaunee

Linda Neale - Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gratitude is the beginning of knowledge and understanding”   Ted Williams, Iroquois elder  Read More


Celebrating the Day of the Dead

Linda Neale - Wednesday, October 02, 2013

     Because they occur around the same time, the Day of the Dead is sometimes confused with Halloween in modern American culture.   Unlike Halloween which involves costumes, parties, and trick-or-treating, the Day of the Dead is a very old Indo-Hispanic ceremony that demonstrates a strong sense of love and respect for one’s ancestors and celebrates the continuance of life and family heritage.  It helps us remember who we are and provides us a structure to pass on the stories of our ancestors to our children and grandchildren.  In today's modern American culture, there are few structured opportunities to honor our ancestors in this way.
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Recovering from post-traumatic Christmas stress

Linda Neale - Thursday, December 22, 2011

The holiday season has always been difficult for me.   I know I'm not alone in decrying the commercialism of what, for Christians, is supposed to be a religious remembrance of a humble birth in a manger; or for Jews, commemorates the re-dedication of  a holy place of worship.  But my experience was so directly connected to what many religious leaders call "religion-for-profit", that I wanted to share part of my story of recovery.   Read More


Japanese Tea Ceremony and the Sweat Lodge

Linda Neale - Friday, November 04, 2011

Please remember that I welcome your comments and insights.  If you're a student of Tea, or attend sweat lodges, feel free to post a comment.  Read More


What is a Shaman?

Linda Neale - Monday, October 03, 2011

On a recent radio show, I was introduced by the well-meaning interviewers as a "shaman".   I was alarmed.  Nothing in my written bio mentioned that word, and I had a minute or so of commercial time to consider how to respond.  Many things went through my head in that minute.  I thought about ceremonial leaders who have let others define them, allowing people to call them "medicine man", "shaman" or "chief".   I thought about Casimirro Mamallacta, an 80 year old Kichwa ayowaska shaman friend who knows the medicinal uses of every plant in his Ecuadorian rain forest.  I thought about the weekend shamanic workshops you can find everywhere on the internet.  I remembered the years of intense training my Dine (Navajo) friend Patrick went through to become a hitaali, or singer.  I could let the interviewers' comments go, and begin the process of allowing others to define me --  after all, some people say that it's the community that defines who is a shaman, who is a medicine person, and who is not.  But I've met real traditional shamans, and I have too much respect for them and their training to allow that to happen.  Read More


What's the difference between customs, traditions, rituals, and ceremonies?

Linda Neale - Monday, August 15, 2011

Joe Paul emailed me the other day, asking what the difference is between customs, traditions, rituals, and ceremonies.  It's a good question. We tend to confuse these various terms and sometimes use them interchangeably.  Basically, there's a lot of similarity between traditions and customs. The difference has to do with how long they've persisted.  Customs are probably the most common and short-lived practice. One of the origins of the term "custom" has to do with "habit". So, you can think of custom as any frequent or common repetition of a social convention. For example, I have a custom of singing a certain song almost every morning as I begin my day (some of you have heard that song).  Read More


The Giveaway.

Linda Neale - Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Recently we celebrated my husband Rod's 80th birthday with a barbecue and giveaway.  I've learned to love the giveaway as a way of saying "thank you" and showing appreciation for an achievement or honor. This ceremony demonstrates values that are 180 degrees from American ideals of individual achievement and consumerism.   Instead of individualism, the giveaway honors connection.  Rather than consumerism, the giveaway is  based on what appears to be an almost Buddhist-like philosophy of non-attachment. 
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