"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." - King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NIV)
Not surprisingly, King Solomon had it right; there really is nothing new under the sun. Translated in modern-day lingo: been there done that. And while this applies to pleasure, love, marriage, death, recreation, and possessions, there is serious implication on the spiritual level as well.
Nanci Des Gerlaise grew up in a First Nations home in Cold Lake, Alberta. The daughter and granddaughter of Métis medicine men, she experienced firsthand the darkness of demonic affliction. From her book, Muddy Waters (Pleasant Word, 2008):
"The darkness clutched me like a shroud, alive with evil, poking, prodding, whispering and hissing its unmistak¬able message: Fear. Slavery. Terror. Death . . . Buried under my blanket, I held my breath, my eyes squeezed shut, my chest taut with fear like the skin of the drum the medicine men pounded. Around me the house lay quiet, while the muted sounds of the forest, its hoots and chirrups and rustling, magnified my fear."
The eighth child in a family of 18, Nanci spent much of her youth learning the ancient ways of the Métis people and the Cree language, as well as the foundations of an ancient religion she has since come to consider part of the occult.
Common elements to her everyday life were the existence of sacred pipes, dreamcatchers, sweat lodges, voodoo dolls, and fetishes. Accompanying these and other elements of Native Spirituality were abuse, alcoholism, and the continuing fear of demonic spirits.
Nanci likens this atmosphere to a people group found in the New Testament:
"Ephesus was a center for black magic and other occult practices. Superstition and sorcery were commonplace, but God clearly forbids such practices. (Deut. 18:9-13). You cannot be a believer and hold onto the occult, black magic, or sorcery. Once you begin to dabble in these areas, you may become obsessed by them, because Satan is very powerful." (KJV Commentary on Acts 19:18, 19)
Nanci warns against underestimating the power and the allure of Satan. "If you are mixed up in the occult, learn a lesson from the Ephesians and get rid of anything that could trap you in such practices."
The connection between Native American religion and the occult may not be obvious, so Nanci details several significant connections in her book, Muddy Waters. For example, Native Spirituality teaches that every native comes with a spirit keeper for guidance and protection. These keepers represent animals, birds, plants, fish, and other parts of creation.
The foundational difference between Christianity and Native Spirituality is that Native Spirituality views the Creator and the creation as one whereas Christianity believes that God created the creation and is sovereign over it. Here's where the elements of witchcraft, neopaganism, animism, and pantheism converge into an earth-based, rather than a God-centered, religion. From her book:
Animism. This doctrine teaches that the vital principle of organic development is non-material spirit and that spirits exist separately from bodies. The Native American attitude is that everything is animated by divinity.
Pantheism. This view sees God as a divine force that "pervades all of nature and that shows up in the individual as ‘the divine within'." In witchcraft, pantheism is related to the ideas of ‘en¬lightenment' and ‘occult empowerment.'
Polytheism. This is the "belief in or worship of more than one god." Traditional Native American spirituality focuses on the Great Spirit, but animism and polytheism dominate.
Nanci wasn't the first person in her family to come to belief in the life-changing power of Jesus Christ, and she doesn't believe she's the last. A couple of years ago her father-a former medicine man-lay in the hospital on the brink of death. She watched as, forced to take stock of his life, he surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It was one of the most significant moments of her life.
When asked about her book and her message for readers, a boldness seeps in. "I want them to know the truth. Jesus Christ - he's the only answer."
The New Age movement is hardly "new." Much of its practices and belief system can be dated back to ancient European civilizations. For her part, Nanci De Gerlaise has certainly been there and done that. More importantly, she wants to offer a lifeline to freedom out of the occult.
"I want [Natives] to know that they're spiritually lost. Too often they just go along with something because someone told them it's Biblical. Discernment among Natives is vital; determining true from false is imperative. They need to check it out. They need the truth."
Jenn Doucette is a lifelong Washingtonian and a freelance writer who lives in the Seattle area. For more information about Des Gerlaise and her thoughts on Native Spirituality, visit her blog at http://nancidesgerlaise.authorweblog.com/default.asp?date=new . Her book, Muddy Waters (Pleasant Word, 2008) is available online: https://www.winepressbooks.com/.