Over the past few years, I have had my first experiences with people who sit in Sacred Circles and claim to follow the same native traditions that I do, yet turn out to be doing so simply as a way to seek acclaim and build their self-esteem at the expense of others. They present themselves as good traditional people, but all they truly want is to have the tallest pedestal in the neighbourhood. The worst part of this is that, when challenged in even the smallest way, such people go into an all-out attack, spreading lies in an attempt to discredit those who see beneath their masks. They don't seem to care who gets hurt, so long as their spotlight keeps shining.

My first reaction to this has been anger, and it always seems justified. After all, these people have hurt me, have hurt people I care about, and have even dirtied the memories of people who have passed on, all in an attempt to cover their own behinds and keep their masks in place.

However, I was attending a small Circle some time ago, and arrived to find that one such person was attending. After my initial "Oh no!" reaction, I had a sudden clear perception of this person: small, broken, and trying desperately to find a sense of self-worth in a venue that they do not truly see as sacred. They sit in a Circle that is full of love, light, and wonderful energy, and they cannot open themselves to it because being sincere would require them to just be an average person. So they huddle behind their mask, seeking approval and esteem, but knowing all the time that any approval expressed is for the mask, not for them.

In some ways, I think I know how this feels. After Muin'iskw passed, I was horribly afraid that the only reason I had been welcome in Circles and gatherings was because I was her husband. The first time I went to a gathering on my own, I was braced for rejection, almost in tears at the idea of losing something so precious to me. My relief at being accepted for who I am, and nothing more, was indescribable.

So now I put myself in the shoes of someone who wants desperately to be part of that loving, accepting group, yet who does not feel that they are accepted on their own merits. So they build a mask, and find approval and acclaim, but always with the underlying knowledge that it's the mask people like. That must create an ongoing sense of worthlessness, that seems to be reaffirmed every time they put that mask on in public. Worst of all, once the mask is out there, they can never just throw the mask away and be themselves, because then their lie is revealed.

I offer my thanks to the spirits who opened my eyes and showed me the poor, small, broken spirit that hides behind the mask. This insight has removed a source of anger and negativity from my life, by giving me a better understanding. I pray that these people will find the strength to just be who they are, so they can open themselves to all the beauty and love that surrounds them. I also pray that my new understanding stays with me, so I can walk my walk in a better way, without judgement or negative thoughts.

Msit no'kmaq.

Updated: 09 Apr 2016 Print Page