By Andrew Rooke


In this section, we feature information on the wisdom of indigenous peoples of many lands. Together they represent the world’s oldest continuous civilizations, and so must have much to teach us modern-day students of the Ancient Wisdom. Historically, however, people interested in esoteric philosophy have tended to focus on the sophisticated philosophies of the Eastern and Western traditions. Indigenous wisdom traditions have often been ignored or taken a distant second place. Part of the reason for this is that it is difficult to find genuine information about indigenous wisdom traditions. These are often hidden within initiatory systems that are rightfully suspicious of the outsiders who have most often inflicted so much suffering on indigenous peoples.

We are fortunate in the 21st century to have the beginnings at least of an understanding of the Ancient Wisdom traditions of the world’s indigenous peoples. For example, African traditional religions have become more widely known since the writings of John Mbiti in the 1960s and now through the work of the Ancestral Voices website in the UK - .

Something of the inner significance of Australian Aboriginal traditions is now available in such books as Robert Lawlor’s, "Voices of the First Day", and Professor Elkin’s classic, "Aboriginal Men of High Degree", which tell us of the high philosophy of the Dreamtime. Amongst the North American Indians are wonderful books giving an insight into their inner traditions such as "The Book of the Hopi" and the writings of elders such as Black Elk and Rolling Thunder. From the Polynesian peoples, we have books by Kahunas, the keepers of the secret wisdom of the Hawaiian people, such as "The Bowl of Light" by Hale Makua. Much is gradually coming to light of the wisdom traditions of indigenous peoples from around the world.

We invite you to contribute your ORIGINAL articles, poetry or artwork on this subject, as well as details of upcoming indigenous events or any other information that may spread knowledge of indigenous wisdom traditions. Let us make the wisdom of the ancestors live in our hearts today. Please send all inquiries to:  with “Indigenous Wisdom” in your subject heading.



By Bernard S. Parsons

The late Bernard S. Parsons was a long-standing member of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), a practicing Buddhist, a devoted student of the Ancient Wisdom and advocate of Australian Aboriginal culture and causes way before this became popular in the majority population. He was a dedicated teacher and the Principal of a Primary School in Melbourne, Australia where he pioneered the introduction of Buddhist principles into the educational program of his school.

Australian Aboriginal peoples have the world’s oldest continuous culture stretching back into the mists of time at least 40,000 years on the archaeological record, and, according to Theosophy, very much longer. Unlike the modern world with its many conflicting religions, the Australian Aboriginal peoples in traditional times did not have any ‘religion’ separate from everyday life. There were no ‘churches’ or ‘temples’ outside of sacred natural places. Their whole life was geared to their understanding of Nature as a living being and therefore every daily routine was ‘religious’ observance in this highest sense. Prof. A.P.Elkin, author of Aboriginal Men of High Degree, a wonderful book about Aboriginal traditional religion, put it well when he wrote of the Aboriginal people:

“The bond between a person and his (or her) country is not merely geographical or fortuitous, but living, spiritual and sacred. His country…is the symbol of, and gateway to, the great unseen world of heroes, ancestors and life-giving powers which avail for man and nature.”

However, if we speak in terms more familiar to modern Australian people who are used to separating ‘religion’ from ‘normal’ life, then when you listen traditional Aboriginal stories, you can hear evidence of highly sophisticated philosophical concepts indicating their intimate knowledge of the ancient wisdom, or what we would call Theosophy today. In Aboriginal tradition there are High and Low Gods, or what are called in some Western occult traditions, ‘Architects’ and ‘Builders’. There is repeated mention of the cyclical nature of life, even disguised references to what we would call Reincarnation.

The question that occurs to us students of esoteric philosophy is: How much do the Australian Aboriginal peoples teach of the spiritual Path that is so beautifully set out in the Bhagavad-Gita and the Middle Way (Eightfold Path) of the Buddha? If your thoughts whilst reading this have a theme or trend in a particular direction, I would suggest it is this. Most of the Aborigines were deprived of their ancient sacred trails and holy places when the last of their initiates died, and now many of them may feel that all is lost. The old Path is gone for ever. My suggestion is that the true Path remains one of many levels.

As the Aboriginal people believed, and illustrated in their practical and ritual travels around various parts of Australia (called by them ‘walk-about’), there is a spiritual way, as well as the Path set out on mother earth. If you ask the question: “Were the Australian Aborigines aware of the spiritual significance of the Rainbow Serpent (the mythical creator being central to the traditions of many Aboriginal peoples) whose pathway they used to ceremoniously follow at the appointed times?”, I can only say that they taught that at death man dissolved into the constituent parts of his being both physical and spiritual. The life and atoms of his body became the life atoms of his totem animal; the life atoms of his soul go to his tribal totem; his spirit goes to its home. It meets the male and female aspects of a god and is tested. The male tries to make him laugh. If the spirit under test can maintain its equanimity it goes on home to father sun. If not, the spirit goes no further.

This story, it seems to me, suggests that hints of deep understanding are there in the Aboriginal tradition.  There would be, I suggest, tremendous value for the Aboriginal peoples today to realize that their ancient tradition is a noble one of vast antiquity. It is akin to the major religions of the world. It has, as we theosophists do, a belief in a continuum of life and spirit. The universe is a wonderful infinite living organism – a brotherhood. It shares belief in the four elements with Buddhism and the Greeks. It has a very ethical tradition. At the time of initiation, the young man was instructed in his obligations by an old member of the tribe, man or woman. Dr. Donald Thompson listed these instructions:  1. Do not be greedy, 2. Share. 3. Do not steal. 4. Respect old people. 5. Respect strangers. 6. Respect women.  7. Do not stare at them. 8.  Keep a clean mouth – Do not lie or swear. 9. Have courage.

Indicating the extent to which these basic principles of ethics were accepted, intertribal warfare was almost unknown as it was considered a type of suicide. The Aborigines were formerly patronised for a long time for what was seen as their ‘primitive’ beliefs. I suggest that far from being ‘primitive’ they are very often close to the truth as we understand it from our theosophical teachings.

An extract from, H.C Coombs, the famous Australian economist and advocate of the Aboriginal peoples, gives a good summary of the Aboriginal philosophy of life:

“In his own world the Aboriginal did not see Man as one thing and Nature as another; he was of Nature. He saw the Earth itself, plants, animals and men, the clouds and the stars, indeed all natural phenomena, as a living system of social life. It was not just a scientific or philosophical system, but one with which, and by which, Man must live consciously and reverently.

Long before Terrance said “nothing concerning Man can be alien to me,” the Aboriginal was asserting and living by the faith that nothing in all Nature can be alien to me. It is true but inadequate to say of Aboriginal life that it was in harmony with Nature. The harmony came from Man being in thought, word and deed of Nature itself. Over at least 40,000 years Aboriginal society was instinct with the understanding that its highest, most religious purpose was to help Nature be itself, to be unchanging, to replenish it. From this replenishment, Man himself was nurtured, and his kind perpetuated as successive generations inherited an environment as rich, as beautiful and as spiritually alive as that of their ancestors. To this purpose were dedicated the great ceremonies in all their richness.

Their life, it is true by our material standards may seem to have been excessively simple and in some respects, poor, but it was not unduly arduous, and there was time for the less immediate but more fundamental purposes of human existence”... “ also there was time for games, stories, song and dance, drama, and the great ceremonies, sacred and profane. Almost every day was one of journeying, sometimes only for hunting and food gathering, sometimes to visit a neighbouring group to share good things, sometimes to come together with other related groups to share the experience of ceremonial life. Indeed, it was in these shared experiences that much of the purpose, justification, and fulfilment of life itself were founded.

There was within the social groups a complex pattern of relationships which was both source of support and of mutual obligation. The outcome of the hunt and the food gathered were shared in accordance with firm tradition. No person was uncared for or unsupported when care or support was needed and no-one was without obligations to others. This pattern of complex mutual relationships with a strong sense of personal, as well as social obligations, gave to their care for children and for the aged, a warmth by comparison with which the impersonal social service benefits of our society seem poor indeed.”




by Andrew Rooke with advice from Kageni Starrett

Africa is a huge continent with a population of 1.28 billion people (estimated in 2018). It is enormously varied, culturally, racially, and in its kaleidoscope of religions both indigenous and introduced.  There are various estimates of how many people follow the various religions. A survey of sub-Saharan Africa in 2010 found that 63% identified as Christians, 30% as Muslims and 3% as followers of traditional religions. The rest followed Eastern religions or did not identify with any at all.

However, the more likely truth is that most African people have beliefs grounded in traditional religions, or, at least, have some element of their lives which are touched by traditional religious beliefs. Although it is difficult to generalize there are certain features of traditional belief in common all over Africa.

Religion is a Way of Life: Religion is really the wrong word! African traditional religious beliefs are really much more – they are a way of life. The spiritual world is not segregated from the physical world the way it is in Western society. There is no emphasis on dogma or scripture or prescribed days for worship. Religion is a lifestyle in a similar fashion to the beliefs of the Australian Aboriginal peoples. Self-realization in the African belief arises through a web-work of relationships laid down by the divine and realized through everyday life to keep a harmony and normality. Rituals, music, and prayers are not really much to do with theology but more to do with sustaining balance and normality in everyday life and between the spirit and physical worlds.  There is always a dualism of opposing forces threatening this harmony which must be kept in balance.

Spirit and Matter: The Universe is composed of two aspects or realms – the physical and spiritual realms which are in constant interchange with one another and what happens in one realm can have an impact in the other. The invisible is a constant and real presence. All things are connected and have an impact on each other. Negative experiences are here to teach us that something is out of balance and we have to set it right through ritual, consultation with religious practitioners, and changes of our behaviour.

Supreme and Lesser Gods and Goddesses: There is a universal belief in a Supreme Being and a pyramid of forces emanating from this God. There are hierarchies of lesser Gods to whom the Supreme God delegates powers over various aspects of nature, sky, water etc.

The Supreme always remains in heaven and the lesser gods are the ones who interact with humanity and to these African traditionalists pray and sacrifice. If the High God comes too close to humanity it can cause a lot of problems for people.

This hierarchy of Gods is reflected in the human hierarchy of government. Each divinity has their own priest or priestess with their own rituals and practices. The deities are honoured through libation or sacrifice. The will of God is sought through consultation with oracular deities.

Reincarnation: Everything created is never lost, it just changes its form. Living people stand between their ancestors of the past and unborn future generations. This means that there is widespread belief in reincarnation in African religions. Belief in rebirth has been reported amongst peoples scattered the length and breadth of the mighty continent: Akamba (Kenya), Akan (Ghana), Lango (Uganda), Luo (Zambia), Ndebele (Zimbabwe), Sebei (Uganda), Yoruba (Nigeria), Shona (Zimbabwe), Nupe (Nigeria), Illa (Zambia), and many others.

There is, of course, a wide variation in understanding of the processes of rebirth: beliefs range from that in a "partial" reincarnation of an ancestor in one or several individuals strictly within the same family, to that in an endless cycle of rebirths linked to a notion of cleansing and refinement of the inner nature.

As there are endless shades of understanding, reincarnation is known by many names: Amongst the Yorubas of Nigeria rebirth is referred to in various ways, including Yiya omo, translated as the "shooting forth of a branch" or "turning to be child," and A-tun-wa, "another coming." The Aboh-speaking peoples of the Ibo family of nations in Nigeria speak of Inua u'we or "returning to life," as they believe death is an end to one life only and a gateway to another; man must be reborn, for reincarnation is a spiritual necessity.

Reverence for Nature: In African tradition the entire universe is alive, every part is interconnected and this includes Humanity who must also help in maintaining the harmony of the universe and so as their ceremonies follow the seasons the Africans pray for the renewal and well-being of all life forms.

It is thus not surprising that Nature is considered to be divine and worthy of veneration across the continent and African communities spread across many parts of the world.  The Earth itself is a prominent Deity and imaged as female corresponding to the function of creating life (children) and providing for their needs (breastfeeding). Amongst the Akans (Ghana), she is revered as Asaase Yaa (Mother Earth), Ani for the Igbos (Nigeria) and Maa-ndoo (Wife of God) amongst the Mende of Sierra Leone.

Male and Female in Nature: Like the ancient European pre-Christian religion of Wicca (Witchcraft) Nature is configured as Male and Female in cooperation – ‘the ‘Lord and Lady’. Amongst the Akans it is Nyankopon (Male) and Asaase Yaa (Female). For the Fon (Benin and Nigeria) Mawu-Lisa embodies the dual nature of the Supreme Being and is still retained in Haitian Voodoo in the Caribbean as the two serpents; Damballah-Wedo and his ‘wife’ Aida-Wedo.

The idea the dual nature of the creator recognizes that it is necessary to have the male and female for reproduction to occur. The masculine principle is usually held to be the unseen aspect of creation whereas the female is the visible aspect. This is why the spirit of the child is assigned to the father whilst the body is to the mother.

Veneration of the Ancestors: Traditional societies such as the Australian aborigines and African communities across both continents have a strong sense of the importance of ancestors in their lives. This is because an ancestor is seen to be important not just because they lived a long time ago, are part of our family or community and then they died, but rather they are revered for their level of attainment as good human beings and subsequent example of behaviour they have left to their communities. To be an ancestor and be remembered for it, is to be someone who lived a good life and who exhibited personality traits that warrant emulation. People would look at such a person and say that they lived an inspiring life, that they helped their communities and were caring people in every way that we should copy today.

So, what were the meritorious ancestral characteristics that should be followed even now centuries later? Australian Aboriginal and African culture alike stress that we should live life in the best manner we can. We should attempt to master and develop ourselves till we get to the point where we could be emulated by others as an example to be lived by.  In African traditional religion, ancestors are venerated as such exemplars rather than objects of prayer in themselves. This is often misunderstood by Westerners. Some examples from African traditional societies:

• Nigeria: amongst the Yoruba people the concept of Iwa-pale, meaning a balance of good character in alignment with one’s own, Ori, or Divine Self. Be a better person and consider the best interests of others.

• Ghana: the Akan people speak of Obra Pa, meaning, living a life of beneficence and developing a good character.

• South Africa: the concept of Ubuntu, or ‘I am because we are’, that we are all part of humanity and we have a universal bond of sharing because of our shared consciousness. An authentic individual human being is part of a larger and more significant relational, communal, societal, environmental and spiritual world This puts the burden of responsibility on us to live up to the best of ourselves and to overlook differences between people to achieve the common goal of peaceful co-existence. This concept is found in most African societies called by different names.

The Composite Nature of Mankind: Many African peoples have beliefs in the composite nature of man remarkably similar to the more familiar religious teachings of the East and Near East. The ancient Egyptians held man to be a composite of nine parts ranging from the physical body khat to the habitation of the spiritual nature, the sahu. The ancient Jewish teachings of the Qabbalah speak of man as a tenfold entity, and the esoteric traditions of India, which provide much of the terminology of modern theosophy, teach variously of four, five, or seven aspects or parts.

All of these traditions agree that it is only the deathless essence of man's nature which continues eternally, while the more material "bodies" fall apart at death, when the life force is withdrawn. All envisage a spiritual body (a life essence or "vital breath") at one extreme, with gradations through heart-soul, mental body, or will, and life principle, to the "shadow" and physical body as the lower vehicles. The reincarnating entity is held to be the spiritual essence which abides in its own spheres of existence after death, and animates the more material "bodies" during earth life.

Kageni Starrett is from Kenya now living in Australia. She is a qualified electrical engineer, now a transformational life-coach, the founder of the School of Magnificence and author of the book, "Magnificent Woman" (2024). Her website is at:


Bringing a little African sunlight into our lives is an article by Dalian Adofo, Co-Director of the Ancestral Voices website. Dalian and his wife Verona, chose this article for the Triune website, no doubt, because it reflects the journey many African people have back to the wisdom of their ancestors through a maze of indoctrination that many African people have to navigate on their way to appreciating their own traditions. To read the entire article, go to:




by Allix StClair

(Excerpted from a power point presentation by Allix on Native American traditions)

Native Americans or Indians in North America were very intelligent, lived and worked in tribal harmony, had remarkable building skills considering lack of tools and with only basic architectural knowledge.

There were tribal conflicts and wars, but within the tribes, there was order.

They made use of everything in their environment, including trees, herbs, rivers and streams, mountains and plains. They managed to grow a variety of foods, many of which were unknown to Europeans, in often hostile environments.

Their religions revolved around The Great Spirit, and animism (recognition of spirit in all things).  They performed many religious ceremonies to honor the ancestors, and Nature, which they greatly respected.

They transmitted their culture from one generation to another through systems of initiation, both for men and women, and through legends, and Creation Stories. The Indian cultures varied greatly by geographical region, and among Canada, US, Mexico and Hawaii. But common to all was the recognition of Spirit within all things.


The Great Spirit

“All things are the work of the Great Spirit. He is within all things: the trees, the grasses, the rivers, the mountains and all four-legged animals, and the winged peoples; He is also above all these things and peoples. When we fear and love and know the Gret Spirit, we will be and act and live as He intends…..Any man who is attached to the senses and to the things of this world is one who lives in ignorance and is being consumed by the snakes which represent his own passions”  [Black Elk]