It’s seeming that it might be time for me to expose one of these things I’ve just generally kept hidden. A big part of this is that I’ve doubted people would understand what I was talking about, but at this point, I’m finding it …needful to come out with it. Stories like this are part of the reason I have had hesitance around being known.
When I was very young, my parents told me that because of signs at my birth, I might grow up to be a “shaman.” So when the conversations in my head and the visions started, I was kind of expecting it. I did also have a stint sometime back with a number of Reconstructionist Pagans who let me know that “shaman” was a politically incorrect term (if one were referring to a Native American medicine person), so I let it go for a while. Then I found that “shaman” is an anthropological term which originates in Siberia…not too far for some of my spirit friends to have had contact.
There are two people I know who might be able to help me find someone to apprentice to as regards the Native American traditions (or what’s left of them), but to be frank, I know little about Native American medicine ways, and my own family ties are…well, I’m part (that is, a sliver) Cherokee. Cherokee people are kind of the butt of jokes in a lot of ways in what I know of Native community, because of the large number of people claiming to be Cherokee who have little (or no) connection with any of Cherokee culture. What I have is just what my mother has taught me, which she learned from the great-grandparents I knew — neither of whom are living at this point.
I also did take some classes in American Indian Studies in college — which happened to be a somewhat toxic environment. I can’t stand being angry and hurt all the time. Granted that there are very good reasons to be angry. This country has a history of racism, slavery, genocide, and exploitation. Once you hear the voices you were never exposed to in elementary school…it is angering, and it’s sad. If I were a less sensitive or stronger person, maybe I would have been okay in Sociology or American Indian Studies, but I was having a hard enough time just surviving, myself.
Then there is my other side, which is Japanese in ancestry. I’ve actually started looking in on Daoist ways (originating from China — it’s said the migrants to Japan who became the “Japanese” [as versus the native Ainu] came from China as well) because I’m aware that Daoism is descended from what is known as “Asian shamanism.” On top of this, I have some spirits who have influenced me in the past…and in that manner, I feel, some Asian cultures are familiar to them. As for myself, I suspect that I might have had past lives in that milieu, unless it is only my spirits’ influence (or my own aesthetic sense) which causes me to find things like hanji/kanji alluring.
Recently…I’m not sure what it is, but I seem to have been having some rather…well, I’m not sure if the term is “grandiosity” or “mysticism” happening. I’m sure that divulging this can make me sound a bit crazy, but it’s been on my mind, recently. And, well, sometimes — as I’ve heard — it’s better to be considered crazy than taken seriously and have serious yet irrational countermeasures coming at you.
Out of all the living things in the world which I could have been, why am I in this lifetime, now? There is, of course, some existential aspect to this; there’s also a sneaking feeling that it’s because it is in this life that I’m supposed to take some kind of action to help. That I can act to help, or that I’m marked in some way by being the only living thing whose mind I can know.
Like I said — there’s an Existentialist aspect. I’ve heard that a lot of what I say sounds like it’s coming from an Existentialist place, but I think in that vein all I’ve read is Nietzsche and Sartre. I don’t have a Catholic or Protestant background myself (if we don’t count indirect influence from my parents’ mindsets), so trying to read Existentialist texts and hearing them talk about their “God” and the problem of faith, and where are we without “God,” is not so applicable to my situation.
Some of the problem arises out of my own beliefs, which I don’t take to be infallible, but which I’ve learned to tolerate nonetheless. One of those beliefs is that all life in existence is an outgrowth of Divinity. There is a twin spine here…myself as a living being and myself as Spirit are two different things, that are merged in me because of my existence as life. It’s Spirit which makes this body more than a machine (unless we were to say that machines have consciousness); it’s Matter which enables that of myself which is Spirit to be able to experience anything in the world of physicality. At core there is a kind of…symbiotic nature which only exists in a being who is currently alive and has the hardware (I often call it “wetware”) to support awareness.
So part of this causes me some pause, and that is the idea that though that of me which is Spirit will go on to have many, many more lives; that of me which is mortal will at one time end. That is, even though what gives me life may be eternal, standing apart from the world of time and space; this existence as “me” will also one day end. Given that the end is inevitable, what do I want to do with my time between now and then?
It’s hard to get out of the mindset that one’s body is equivalent to who one is…after all, everything I’ve ever experienced in this life has come to me through this body. In my case, though, to avoid being fatalistic, it’s been necessary to expand my self-definition beyond this form. The problem with this is that then identity can be shifted to the Spirit half, and when this happens, how do we know we aren’t Divine?
Then my philosophy would say, “of course we are Divine, all of us; even myself,” but from there it’s a quick jump to solipsism — or the idea that the self is all that is real in the world. I cannot see through anyone else’s eyes, even if I do acknowledge that they are holy as I am also; so how would I know that this life were not a trial for me? Some kind of staging or proving ground? Why is it that I am here?
I’ve done enough reading to know that people who believe themselves to be “God” usually end up squashed fairly quickly…or so it is said. It would seem that the Universe doesn’t like bigheadedness. 😉
I’ve just had some thoughts running in the back of my mind about how, if the same thing that gives me awareness does too to all of life, and if this means that my (and everyone’s) ultimate identity is a singular Divinity, does that then mean that if we as humans kill ourselves off, that it is Divinity’s failure? Does it mean that it is my failure, if what I (and we) ultimately am (and are) is the Divine?
Perhaps it would only be humanity‘s failure? Even though I did see a clip from “Democracy Now” which did indicate that some people are taking what we’re doing to the planet seriously; they just aren’t the people in power. While we’re busy trying to figure out how to conserve our potable water, others are poisoning the groundwater reserves for fossil fuels.
I do suppose this planet has been through mass extinctions before, and the possible failure of humans (who have caused, and are causing, this current mass extinction) to survive is not, on the whole, that big of a deal. On some level, if we die out, it may be for the best as regards the rest of the life on this planet. The problem is the pain that will be caused in the meantime, and the lasting damage to the planet’s ecosystems. But life adapts, evolves; it finds a way. After all, its two prime drives are to create more of itself and to survive. Even Easter Island has grass.
And at least we’re developed enough to see what could come should we continue down our current path. That may be something the Mesopotamians didn’t have before their agricultural system collapsed. We have a chance to change things before this becomes more of a catastrophe — the problem is that we don’t know what to change or how to change, and many of us don’t want to change. But if we all worked on the problem of human global impact together — instead of waiting for the people in power to do something — we might have a chance.
And yes, that is scary. That means that it’s up to each of us to have an impact. That means we have to be brave enough to take action. I can’t do it alone. I don’t think any of us can. But together we can accomplish great things. If there were so many of us that losing one or three of us could not stop the tide and could not instill fear and effect control…we would have a chance to salvage our planet instead of destroying it — or, more likely, ourselves.
I think the issue with me is that if it were just me that died, I would still be OK. But to take so much biodiversity with us…to permanently change the ecology of the planet…is really a sad thing for me. If it were just me that died, everything else might have a fighting chance. Mass death, and mass extinction, is something else.
I’m not saying that martyrdom is right. Martyrdom is easy. Surviving to continue to visualize and work towards a better future is much harder. It’s easy to visualize the world dying. It’s harder to visualize what a surviving world would look like. Or a prosperous and sustainable world.
I’m a believer in synchronicities. I learned the term on my own time, studying in my University’s library on my breaks between classes. A synchronicity is a subjectively meaningful coincidence. Like my finally finding my way into this Art program. Since beginning, I’ve had a lot of random coincidences which would point to my being on my own right path. Maybe taking classes with an environmentalist professor was one of them.
Maybe this is what my group of spirits is guiding me towards. I knew there was a group of us. I knew I was working for them. I chose to believe that what we all were working towards was good, because otherwise I was paralyzed.
Maybe this is what we’re working towards: humanity having a future. Maybe something like this can unite my work. Maybe it will be enough to push me through my fear, and to someplace far beyond it.