Enriching Yourself Through Giving
I am lucky to have participated in a few Native American Church gatherings. We “stay awake” all night in a tipi consulting peyote and singing songs. The Roadman (a conductor of the ceremony) would often say, “Don’t save it. It will save you.” I thought he was referring to the peyote itself. Like, don’t hoard the peyote: do it, or share it, or gift it. But now I know he meant everything — everything in life. Don’t wait or save things too long. Use them, share them, gift them, and move on.
The Potlatch, meaning “gift”, could be the single greatest social invention ever outlawed by government from 1885–1951. Not only is it an epic gift-giving event complete with feasts, dancing, marriages, and baby naming, it is also the perfect time for its host to bestow most of their worldly possessions to others, not uncommonly to the point of bankruptcy.
In accordance with some native cultures, hosting a potlatch can earn a person the greatest respect amongst their tribe and even their enemies. A time-honored way to increase social status, the person with the least has the most or, as I once read, “a great chief dies poor.”
In 1885 The Indian Act legislation in Canada specified that: Any Indians who take part in “any Indian festival, dance, or other ceremony of which the giving away or paying or giving back of money, goods or articles of any sort forms a part, or is a feature” are guilty of an indictable offence.
Indigenous Coastal Peoples found themselves forbidden by law to practice such an ingenious socio/political ceremony thanks to colonization. Imagine the fiscal disdain of European settlers witnessing such a well-oiled, anti-capitalist system of economics and power. Anathema to their philosophy, they would have no choice but to outlaw such “wasteful” and non-taxable business dealings, disguised as an extravagant weeklong party.
I like to imagine the host simply attends another Potlatch the next “weekend” and gets a few essential items back. This cycle goes on until he’s hoarding again and must throw another party.
The Potlatch seems so elegant to me in 2020 when over-consumption is the fashion amongst my peers. Here is an ancient solution to the modern problem of hoarding and poverty.
“When one's heart is glad; he gives away gifts. Our Creator gave it to us, to be our way of doing things, to be our way of rejoicing, we who are (Kwakwaka'wakw). Everyone on earth is given something. The potlatch was given to us to be our way of expressing joy." — Elder Agnes Axu Alfred.
Free is such a foreign philosophy to the modern world. Free is a gimmick. Bait! The concept lures you in, but its intentions are unlikely pure, and its costs are usually hidden.
I love to recall hosting Free Watermelon Day on Wreck Beach. It was the most exhilarating and satisfying event I have ever produced. I bought 440 pounds of watermelon and humped it down 500 stairs, thankfully accompanied by volunteers and that is just the start.
It would then take me at least six hours to cut and give away that much watermelon. My hands would be blistered, and I would be exhausted at the end of the day. Here’s the catch… it was totally free. Half the time I spent convincing folks that it was actually “free” in the real sense — no hidden costs. “Yes, you can take one for your friend. Yes, you can have two. Yes, it’s really free, take as much as you want.”
I too was a having socio/political event that day disguised as an awesome party because I was up on “pot cookie” trafficking charges at the time. I wanted to say thanks to my beach community who stood up for me so valiantly. Much like the Native Potlatch, Free Watermelon Day lightened my coffers, but it increased the esteem in which I am held amongst my peers. What you receive in return, when you give, is gratitude.
The very next day, the vendor working directly beside me the day before, decided to have his own “Free Hamburger Day.” No joke. He caught the fever watching me the day before. So, there I was cash-broke but popular, eating a free hamburger. Viva La Potlatch!
This year, borrow from the Potlatch. Look around your home and see what needs to be used, shared, or gifted and then repeat after me,
“Don’t Save It! It Will Save You!” — Peyote Roadman
International Coco Loco Recipe
Take a trip around the globe right in the comfort and safety of your own home by serving up this delightfully warm and cozy drink. When you are unable to leave your house, it is nice to leave your mind.
- Dutch cocoa
- French absinthe
- Mexican Cubensis mushrooms
- Canadian cannabis
- In the bottom of a teacup, pour 0.3 grams of finely ground magic mushrooms
- Pour in 2/3 cup of hot cocoa sweetened to taste
- Add in 1/2 ounce of absinth and stir well
- Garnish with whipped cream and toasted cannabis sprinkles
- Top with cinnamon stick (optional)
Watch Watermelon prepare this recipe!
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