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BECOMING AN APPRENTICE TO AN ELDER
(Learning the traditional way)
Relationship built on Trust
With all the years that Michael Bastine (Algonquin) spent with elder Mad Bear (Tuscarora/Iroquois) as his apprentice, he never once heard him say what anyone should or shouldn’t do. Mad Bear would give caution at times, but he respected free will. Mad Bear never tried to portray himself as an authority figure.
Due to this mutually respectful relationship, Michael and Mad Bear’s other apprentices had the opportunity to learn traditional medicine ways in an environment that was sacred and built on trust.
“I have consistently found that it is very important to listen, observe quietly and refrain from questions. Native people are very keen observers. They do not barrage their teachers and elders with questions. Instead, they watch and listen. It is a cultural learning modality born of experience and one worth noting.” -Tim Ballingham (Mad Bear’s apprentice)
As Mad Bear allowed his apprentice Michael Bastine to observe his life and see with his own eyes what he was doing, Mad Bear really didn’t give a lot of answers. Michael learned by making the connections on his own. This is how he received the answers to his many questions. This is the only real way of learning the traditional way.
“Direct encounter is a basic aspect of American Indian medicine. You have to experience truth. Understanding is a mutual relationship.” -Mad Bear
When you make the connections on your own, you discover things by yourself, it is a lasting achievement. This is how Michael Bastine, then an apprentice and now an elder himself, began to understand the inner workings and all the elements that were a part of Mad Bear’s medicine work. Mad Bear blended these elements and they all began working in unison. His medicine work was like an orchestra; so diverse and on so many levels.
Michael defines “medicine” as being the life force that exists in creation and the life force that exists in the person. The interwoven relationship between these two life forces develops over time. This is why the title of a “medicine man” is usually not given until the practitioner reaches the age of 70 years old. Even then, the practitioner will usually not refer to himself as being a “medicine man”.
Traditionally a student of native medicine does not make verbal requests to learn specific things; instead the teacher intuitively picks up on the requests, and when the time is right, and if deserving, the student is shown and his learning advances. This requires patience on the part of the student, genuine humbleness and reverence for all things sacred.
Learning takes Time
“Tools and teachers are all around us. All we need to do is continue to show up in places that deeply nourish our spirit and keep genuinely asking for our assignment.” -Tim Ballingham (Mad Bear’s apprentice)
It took a number of years for Michael Bastine to gain the trust of Mad Bear. He had to demonstrate to Mad Bear that he was trust worthy and his ego was in check. It was very important to Mad Bear that Michael would make use of his medicine teaching in the highest and most respectful way.
It also took years for Michael to absorb & process the information he picked up from Mad Bear along the way. Mad Bear was always on the run. Michael would often leave town with Mad Bear at a moment’s notice.
Michael learned from his apprenticeship with Mad Bear that taking in too much information too soon can overwhelm and impede our progress. He said that learning is a gradual process; we have to grow with it.
Native Teachings run parallel
“Mad Bear and other elders I’ve worked with have said that people from around the world share the same fundamental teachings ‘given by Creator’. We come, they tell us, from the same root so ‘go and find the traditions & practices of your people that have been forgotten.’ We are alive today because our ancestors maintained the original teachings. Sadly, these traditions are slowly being overshadowed by a global culture of rampant consumerism, but they are not lost to us. They can be revived!” -Tim Ballingham (Mad Bear’s apprentice)
Michael Bastine is Algonquin. He was raised a Christian. His conversion towards Native American Spirituality was primarily influenced by Mad Bear and the Haudenosaunee people. Michael had a chance in 1990 to speak with William Commanda, a respected Algonquin Elder, spiritual leader and Band Chief of the Kitigan-zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec (near Maniwaki) about this possible contradiction.
Note: Support the continued legacy of elder William Commanda: https://www.circleofallnations.ca/
William Commanda assured Michael, “You are learning things which are very similar to the teachings and the traditions of the Algonquin. There are a few differences, but that’s what they are ‘differences’. They still have the same understanding and the same premise of approach that parallels with all the Native American teachings.”
[This article was sourced from DJ MACKBOOGALOO (Asatru) & MICHAEL BASTINE’s (Algonquin) FREE E-BOOK written for humanity, called “WE MUST GATHER OUR NATIONS TOGETHER” (Mad Bear and the Red Road of Spiritual Activism), which documents the lost history & present state of Inter-Tribal Unity Consciousness. The indigenous Traditional Elders (medicine people) have messages & prophecies that are disclosed in this E-Book. We are being called to act on their direction to spread the word. Let’s take higher action… Now! Let’s gather our nations together! Let’s unite the tribes!]
Free E-Books available here: https://archive.org/details/@rootscultureconsciousness