I have just moved from Oxford, England, to Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. As you can imagine, this will cause some emotional upheaval. I feel very rooted in England, and am concerned about the issue of land stolen from Indigenous people in Canada, and the effects of colonialism on their wellbeing and way of life.
It helps a lot to do rituals to acknowledge and process these feelings. We have done a ritual for moving home, and we have spoken with the land and water spirits in the area (without appropriating any Indigenous ritual).
House moving: candle ritual
On leaving the old house, take a lit candle into each room. Visualise the flame burning away any negative memories, and the candle absorbing the good ones. You can also take round incense to banish any negativity. Blow out the candle when done and say “the memories are now sealed in the candle”. Describe the happy memories if it helps.
On arriving at the new house, take round incense (and a bell if required) to banish any negative energies left behind by previous occupants. Then cast a circle, visualise it encompassing your whole house, and ask the four elements of the four directions to protect and bless the house and its occupants. Then light the candle in which you collected the memories, carry it round to each room, and release the happy memories. Again, describe the memories if it helps.
If you are in Canada, Australia, or the USA, you are on the traditional territory of an Indigenous people. Find out the land acknowledgement for your area, and the history of which peoples live there, or have lived there. Pagan ritual in North America could start with a land acknowledgement. You can also make a land acknowledgement sign for your house. Consider ways in which you can build relationships with Indigenous people and support their work, and help to dismantle colonialism and colonialist attitudes.
However, these acknowledgements can easily be a token gesture rather than a meaningful practice. All settlers, including recent arrivants, have a responsibility to consider what it means to acknowledge the history and legacy of colonialism. What are some of the privileges settlers enjoy today because of colonialism? How can individuals develop relationships with peoples whose territory they are living on in the contemporary Canadian geopolitical landscape? What are you, or your organization, doing beyond acknowledging the territory where you live, work, or hold your events? What might you be doing that perpetuates settler colonial futurity rather than considering alternative ways forward for Canada? Do you have an understanding of the on-going violence and the trauma that is part of the structure of colonialism?
The Haldimand Tract, the area where we now live, was bought from the Mississauga people by the British government after the American War of Independence, and was then given to the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) who had fought on the British side, after they had petitioned for an area to settle in. They then sold part of the land to settlers, but the proceeds from the sale were “held in trust” by the government, and as far as I am aware, the money was never returned to them.
Connecting with the land
Find out about the species of animals and birds, trees and flowers, in your area. What are their migration patterns and flowering and fruiting seasons? What is the geology of your area? What landforms (hills, rivers, gorges, lakes, mountains) are there around you? What bioregion do you live in?
You can also draw sacred maps of your area, matching your hills, rivers, trees, flowers, animals, and birds to your sacred space (for example, water could be represented by salmon, or otters).
If you live in an area that was previously someone else’s sacred landscape, be aware of this before creating your sacred space.
- The Decolonial Atlas: North America
- Native Land.ca
- Active History.ca
- Canadian Encyclopedia: Indigenous Peoples
- Find out the land acknowledgement for your area – here’s a great example
- Know the Land – Territories Campaign
- 150 acts of reconciliation [spreadsheet for keeping track]