An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
WHY THERE IS NO THANKSGIVING DAY PAGE
ON MYTH*ING LINKS
8 November 2008:
I have never done a webpage on the United States' Thanksgiving Day and will not do one this year either. A sense of gratitude should be nurtured year-round, not just on a single day. As Meister Eckhart wrote centuries ago, "If the only prayer you ever say is thank you, it will suffice."
Beyond that, I take issue with the focus on thanking the Christian God for providing food for the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving. In point of fact, it was Native Americans who fed them. Brown-skinned indigenous peoples saw the desperate plight of the pale strangers, the continent's first "illegal aliens," and graciously, generously saved their lives.
We have never returned that favor. Instead, many feel we now have a god-given right to treat them, the kindly ones, as the illegal aliens. That is why our government has recklessly stolen their land, water, and other resources, and continues to oppress and imprison peoples who were here long before us, both within and south of our current borders.
Perhaps, especially as each Thanksgiving Day nears, it is time to re-consider our priorities as well as the cramped notion of God held by too many Christians or perhaps, more accurately, we should call them -ians (pronounced "yuns," rhymes with "Huns"), since the kindly, brown-skinned Christ was long ago removed from the -ians' belief-system, along with values like tolerance, compassion, and lovingkindness.
For non -ians who might wish to explore various wonderful Thanksgiving traditions from around the world, you'll find some of them on my Autumn.page. Blessings of the season to all.
Organic Consumers Association"Seventy-five percent of the food and fiber we grow today was discovered and cultivated by the native farmers and hunter-gatherers of North, Central and South America. These indigenous varieties include corn, beans, peanuts, cotton, potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers, avocados, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, squashes, black walnuts, pecans, chocolate, tobacco, rubber, sunflowers, and medicinal herbs and plants."Today, every one of these varieties are threatened by Monsanto, Big Pharma, and industrial agriculture, among others, who are privatizing and patenting seeds and the gene pool, eroding biodiversity, degrading the soil and water, contaminating the food chain, and destabilizing the climate."[From: Organic Consumers Association-- see below]
20-21 November 2010:
This year, despite the title of this page, I have decided to add several remarkable links specifically related to America's Thanksgiving Day and focused on Native American agricultural contributions; surprisingly tolerant Pilgrims (in contrast to other Puritan groups); and current social justice issues.......
This is last year's Thanksgiving issue from the Organic Consumers Association: Organic Bytes #201: Thanksgiving and the Organic Revolution. Here is how it opens:
http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_19672.cfmThe newsletter also takes a look (with a few photos) at 4,200 years of farming on the Colorado Plateau; the Wayana's cultivated Eden in French Guyana; the Milpa System and 20,000 varieties of corn; and Andean terraced potato patches, with thousands of varieties.Today, November 26 , the Organic Consumers Association gives special thanks to the indigenous farmers and wildcrafters of the Western Hemisphere for cultivating and preserving our food, fiber, medicinal herbs, and biodiversity for thousands of years. We also bow our heads to our contemporary farmers, gardeners, ranchers, farm workers, food workers, cooks, and holistic healers who are following the ancient Via Organica, the organic way....What European colonists mistakenly described as wilderness was actually a human-created and nurtured landscape, providing food, medicinal herbs, bountiful wildlife, healthy, living soil, and clean water.Native Americans "managed" the environment "organically," producing and/or maintaining for themselves and the future generations native animals, birds, fish, berries, nuts, greens, fruits, bulbs, corn, mushrooms, roots, basketry and cordage materials, firewood, hunting and building materials, herbal medicines, and plants for ceremonial use.Many "wild" or commercial plants or varieties that exist today are in fact derived from ancient Native American seed saving and cross-breeding that produced better-tasting, climate adapted, and nutritional varieties.The popular belief that pre-Columbian America was a "pristine wilderness" is false. This destructive myth is based upon essentially racist stereotypes that reduce the highly successful plant and animal husbandry of Native American rural societies to the instinctual behavior of wildlife or "noble savages."....There are no "spontaneous Edens" on planet Earth. The New World Gardens of Eden spread across the Americas and the Caribbean, mindlessly exploited by the European conquerors, were the product of the wisdom, hard work, and perseverance of millions of Native Americans, caring for what they believed was a "sacred Earth" and an interconnected web of life that included all living things....
This is a greatly expanded Organic Consumers Association version from which the above newsletter was distilled. If you're interested in exploring much more about Native American agriculture, you'll find sources, more photos, and even some videos at this link.http://www.truth-out.org/1122093:
This is "Table in the Clearing," posted Sunday 22 November 2009 by author, Gena Corea for truthout.com. The author works as a volunteer in a prison, facilitating an annual Thanksgiving ritual in a circle of prisoners, to which the prisoners invite aspects of themselves, which they've heretofore always denied, to join in and feel welcomed. Here are excerpts from her powerful, profoundly moving article:http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2009/1125/p06s22-woam.htmlDon't miss this one. Like Rafael's light, it too shines....Eyes closed, we imagine sitting around a table in a clearing surrounded by a woods in which the parts of ourselves we have exiled live a furtive life. We sense inside for any exile who might feel safe enough with us now to step out of the woods and join us at the feast. We also sense for whoever else with which we want to reconnect.
Rafael breaks our silence. "I invite the part of me that hides its pain and smiles. It even smiled at my mother's funeral. My father liked that. 'You're strong,' he told me. But that part of me has been hurting alone for more than 40 years."
James invites his co-defendant Kevin, an armed robber, to the Table. Kevin is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer at another prison....
After a long silence, Ted speaks: "I was always told 'shut up!' when I was a kid trying to express myself. Now I invite the part of me that's afraid to speak up. "
Rafael calls out: "I invite the light that shines in my darkest moments."...
Charlie welcomes to the Table a guard ("cop"), who treats him with contempt. "I get angry at how bad he treats me," Charlie says. "But now it hits me: Why is it wrong for a cop to treat me with disrespect when I treat parts of myself even worse? It's not any more right for me to disrespect myself than it is for a cop to! I throw parts of myself in a garbage can and then walk away feeling like I've got holes in my heart where those parts used to be. I don't want to treat myself that way anymore." Along with the guard, Charlie's sudden compassion for himself joins our Table....
The words of Barry, an African-American whose hair I've watched turn from black to gray, land like bullets in my belly: "I invite the man I shot and killed 30 years ago." Barry can never forget his victim. Growing up in prison, he has wrestled all these years with the act he committed as a teenager on drugs. He has more guests to welcome: "I invite all my ancestors going back to Adam and Eve because sometimes I feel so alone. But I'm not alone. I need to remember that. All my ancestors are here with me."
As the silent minutes pass punctuated by one of us calling out an invitation to a fragment of ourselves or to an old enemy, the Table expands. I feel stronger surrounded by allies, exiles, grandmothers departed and loved and enemies now embraced....
This year I'd like to invite the bankers, traders and the CEOs of corporations bailed out by taxpayers to sit with us at the Table. These men need to know that they are not alone. They act as if they were not connected to the rest of us. They created practices, including bespoke derivatives, that while diverting huge sums of money to themselves, caused on-going suffering to just about everyone else on the planet. Financiers, no less than convicts, are married to those they have injured.
But they must feel separated from us. How else could they take compensations of more than $25 million each year while so many struggle for food, shelter and medical care?....
Around this Table, they will not only find support for their inner work, but a chance to widen their horizons. While many convicts I know are living their whole lives behind prison walls after having arguably committed less harm to the world's people than the money men who collapsed the global economy, this may be the only opportunity the financiers ever have to see the inside of a prison.
Ah! Right here. I see I'm nowhere near as welcoming as I pretend to be. I can taste the furious bitter underneath my invitation. My bitterness is filled with badly formed questions: Why do we condemn and forever punish a young person who kills one human being and not even recognize as crime the millions of half-murders committed by older men? The older, well-educated, mostly white men, in heaping resources on themselves, condemn millions to die early for lack of food, shelter and medical care. The older killers don't take the whole life of one other human being. They take part of the life of millions of other human beings. We don't name partial-murders as "crime." It's just business.
...I do know that, furious as I am at the partial- killers, they too can grow. They too can come to feel their sacred connection to all of us. So, yes, finally, let's invite them to the Table. We can seat the CEOs and traders between Barry's ancestors and the light that shines in Rafael's darkest moments.
From the Christian Science Monitor's Thanksgiving 2009 issue comes "Thanksgiving Day: Pilgrims were a surprisingly worldly, tolerant lot" by Robert Marquand. Some excerpts from this very interesting 2-page article [Update, 11/25/10: but see the next two links for data that convincingly contradicts this view of the so-called "tolerant" Pilgrims]:http://www.eatel.net/~wahya/thksgvg.html[Added Thanksgiving Night, 25 November 2010]: Unfortunately, what they "embraced" was a brutal policy of exile and extermination, as the next two links document (brought to my attention today by Facebook posts from Max Dashu -- see her excellent Suppressed Histories Archives).The first Pilgrims of the first American Thanksgiving in 1621 were unusually devout – even by Puritan standards. They crossed the ocean on a conviction that "the Lord has more truth and light yet to break forth out of his holy Word," as pastor John Robinson said before they sailed from the Netherlands.
Yet the Pilgrim band that braved the Mayflower and shared deer and turkey with native Americans were also some of the most cosmopolitan and tolerant among the Puritan groups willing to brave the wilds of a new world.
Before going to Plymouth, the Mayflower group lived 11 years in the Dutch city of Leiden. Those years of exile in Leiden, where the Pilgrims worked, worshipped, and debated – amid hefty clashes of civilizations and belief in Europe – profoundly influenced their sensibilities in ways that have not been widely recognized.
The Pilgrims – unlike British Puritans who wanted to turn Massachusetts into a theocracy – sharply advocated church-state separation. They heretically believed that women should be allowed to speak in church. They were far more tolerant of other faiths and open to the idea that their theology, like all human dogma, might contain errors....
In Leiden, the Pilgrims lived packed in a warren of houses near the university, amid Gypsies and Jews, refugee French and Poles, exiled Swiss, and other castouts from the turmoil of the Reformation. They were given sanctuary as one of some 19 groups. Eager to explain why they left England, the Pilgrims ran a free press around the corner from where the painter Rembrandt was living....
Thanksgiving may offer an annual moment to reflect on Pilgrims and Puritans, who migrated to America on the grounds that the Church of England was beyond reform. On the eve of their departure from Leiden, Mr. Robinson, the pastor, says in a sermon remembered by pilgrim Edward Winslow that it is time to move past the Reformation. Lutherans will only go so far as Luther, and the Calvinists only so far as Calvin. In the present hour, Robinson says, it is possible to "embrace further light."...
[Added Thanksgiving Night, 25 November 2010]: This is The Story of "Thanksgiving" from chapter 17 of the book Where White Men Fear to Tread by Russell Means. Here is how it opens:http://www.nativevillage.org/Inspiration-/Thanksgiving%20The%20National%20Day%20of%20Mourning.htmIt gets still more grim, as you'll see if you go to the webpage."When we met with the Wampanoag people, they told us that in researching the history of Thanksgiving, they had confirmed the oral history passed down through their generations. Most Americans know that Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag had welcomed the so-called Pilgrim Fathers - and the seldom mentioned Pilgrim Mothers - to the shores where his people had lived for millennia. The Wampanoag taught the European colonists how to live in our hemisphere by showing them what wild foods they could gather, how, where, and what crops to plant, and how to harvest, dry, and preserve them.
The Wampanoag now wanted to remind white America of what had happened after Massasoit's death. He was succeeded by his son, Metacomet, whom the colonist called "King" Philip. In 1675-1676, to show "gratitude" for what Massasoit's people had done for their fathers and grandfathers, the Pilgrims manufactured an incident as a pretext to justify disarming the Wampanoags. The whites went after the Wampanoag with guns, swords, cannons, and torches. Most, including Metacomet, were butchered. His wife and son were sold into slavery in the West Indies. His body was hideously drawn and quartered. For twenty-five years afterward Matacomet's skull was displayed on a pike above the whites' village. The real legacy of the Pilgrim Fathers is treachery....
[Added Thanksgiving Night, 25 November 2010]: Next, this page has the text of 1970 speech by Wampsutta, an Aquinnah Wampanoag Elder. Here are some excerpts:Reading such histories, passed down through the generations, and augmented by similar reports of atrocities from many other indigenous peoples on this continent, makes it easy to understand why there is a growing movement among Native Americans to make Thanksgiving Day a "National Day of Mourning."... "Even before the Pilgrims landed it was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them as slaves for 220 shillings apiece. The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans. Mourt's Relation describes a searching party of sixteen men. Mourt goes on to say that this party took as much of the Indians' winter provisions as they were able to carry.
"Massasoit, the great Sachem of the Wampanoag, knew these facts, yet he and his People welcomed and befriended the settlers of the Plymouth Plantation. Perhaps he did this because his Tribe had been depleted by an epidemic. Or his knowledge of the harsh oncoming winter was the reason for his peaceful acceptance of these acts. This action by Massasoit was perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end; that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people....
..."Only ten years later, when the Puritans came, they treated the Wampanoag with even less kindness in converting the souls of the so-called "savages." Although the Puritans were harsh to members of their own society, the Indian was pressed between stone slabs and hanged as quickly as any other "witch."...
Wednesday, 7:45pm, 23 November 2011: no time to add new links but tweeked a few things. All links seem fine, except for Truthout.org, whose links no longer go to appropriate archives.
Note: my complete Site Map & e-mail address are on my Home page.
For more on the role of Native Americans in the early American Colonies,
see Myth*ing Links' Fourth of July page.
(Scroll down to mid-page.)
Text and layout © 2008-2011 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
All rights reserved unless otherwise noted.
Text written for my Home page on 8 November 2008.
This new page created 6 December 2008 to give it a permanent home --
it's also now linked under my seasonal section on the Home page.
20-21 November 2010: added 4 external links, introduced by a drawing of Native American foods.
Thanksgiving Day, 25 November 2010, 8-9pm-ish: added two links contradicting the "tolerant Pilgrims" link; for better continuity, I shifted "Table in the Clearing" upwards to follow the two organic consumers' links.
Thanksgiving Noon, 24 November 2011: added new opening image & moved old one down the page. Added link to my July 4th page.