Afterword: Our Legacy to the Future

Kindling the Native Spirit: Sacred Practices for Everyday Life - Denise Linn 2015

Afterword: Our Legacy to the Future

Several years ago, I was taking a walk through a verdant woods in Utah. There were some other women on the trail. I didn’t know them; we just happened to be taking the same trail at the same time and were walking together. As we crossed over a small creek, we noticed a lot of litter on the ground next to the creek bed.

“Isn’t this awful!” said one woman.

“People are so unconscionable!” said another as she looked in disgust at the debris.

“I just don’t know why people act this way!” said the third woman with disdain.

I didn’t say anything, but since I had a small backpack with me, I just started picking up the empty soda cans, crumpled paper napkins, and cigarette butts and putting them all in my backpack to dispose of later.

The three women stopped, looked aghast, and then hurried on without a word. After I gathered the litter, I sat on a rock next to the creek, watching the sparkling waters flow by, and tried to understand what had occurred. Why did the women seem disturbed by my actions? It didn’t seem a big thing to me to stop and pick up the trash. Yet something in my actions seemed disquieting to them as they scurried off.

I wondered if the current notion that we are separate from the earth came into play. For example, if we feel separate from the trees, streams, and forests . . . litter is someone else’s problem. It’s certainly nothing that you would put in your backpack to remove. But if we have awakened the native spirit within ourselves, we realize that what’s done to the creek is done to us; therefore, litter feels more intimate and more personal. So, of course, we would want to clear it. Right relation means understanding that what we do to others or do to the land, we do to ourselves.

These three women weren’t unusual; they were the norm. Most people feel separate from nature—it’s something they observe, but they don’t identify with. However, most people do identify with their home, yard, and possessions. So if the entrance to their dwelling were covered with debris, they wouldn’t think anything about clearing it. When we expand our parameters of self to include the vast, wondrous natural world (as those in native cultures have done), we care for the wild places as we would care for our family, friends, and home. In many ways the ability to expand our parameters of self is the essence of this book; for in doing so, we activate the spirit of the earth, the spirit of our ancestors, and the spirit of this living, pulsating, vibrant universe inside of us.


In this book I have shared my journey—what I have learned and gained through my lifetime—in the hope that it helps rekindle the native spirit within you. I talked about how to answer the call of spirit and step through mystic gateways to claim an intimate connection to the wild places of our living, conscious planet. I recounted how to commune with nature spirits and Great Mystery, and how to call upon the wisdom of native cultures of past times. I wrote about living in right relation and about the power of drumming, finding your spirit name, making prayer sticks, listening to secret messages from spirit, spending time alone in nature, seeing the little people, and so much more that can make a difference in your life. I actually wrote five times more than this book had space for—there was so much I wanted to share with you.

In the end, I remembered the wisdom of my teacher Dancing Feather who—with his dying words—told me to keep it simple. So I followed his advice and cut most of what I wrote. However, some of the extra information I did put on my website, If you go to the section called Kindling the Native Spirit, you’ll find additional reading and instructional videos. You’ll also find a link to the Native Spirit Oracle Cards, which are a great adjunct to this book. I think that you will enjoy them!

As we are at the completion of this journey together, I’m thinking about our individual and collective legacies. Have you ever asked yourself what you’d like your personal legacy to be? It might be a project you embarked on, such as creating a public trail through a park or cleaning up a creek so kids can safely swim in it. Perhaps you’ve helped some homeless animals find loving homes. Maybe you created an object of art that gets passed down to your descendants. Perhaps you have chronicled your life so others can learn from your experiences.

There are many ways to leave a legacy for the enrichment of those who follow us. However, sometimes the most profound legacy is our view of the world, and to me one of the most powerful ways to view the world is with a native spirit perspective. Without this, our palpable connection to our roots could be an abstraction or even a distant myth, rather than something that dwells deep in our soul.

When you claim your place in the universe and know that in the deepest sense the universe dwells within you, this radiates out from you in ways that make a difference to many, perhaps in ways that you’ll never know. When the native spirit awakens within you, you indeed become like a pebble in a still pool whose ripples reach the farthest shore. You impact the world in ways beyond your conscious knowing. And this is a holy thing.