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Sound and Silence

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altered consciousness

Shout SA

I normally steer clear of SA covers of English bands, but this new anti-crime campaign is an exceptionally well worked out re-recording of Tears for Fears anthemic “Shout”.

Shout for a safer S.A. is dedicated to the memory of SA reggae icon Lucky Dube, the concept is put together by Danny K and Kabelo Mabalane.

The cross genre interweavings – rock, soul, hip hop, jazz, and choral, are complimented by a truly outstanding design awareness. And the song in this context has discovered a powerful uniting theme – crime.

As sad as this is, it at very least affords a view through a genuinely nonracial cultural window, and does so with stunning style.

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avatar cloud

luminescence

AllMother

universe organism

deep ecumenism

mandala congregation

post-gravitational

sky roots

Sawubona

Wise Wilderness Wild Wisdom

cosmic tribe

Toxic Apocalyptic

“ngumuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”

Grace

scintillation

Tree City

pansacred

terrestrial reef

magnificent diversity

myopia 

betrayal

trojan horse

Sky Tree

light of the world

Aho Mitakye Oyisin

“I see you”

At One

suicide machine

OneField

World Machine Dream

David Priilaid hates descriptors, but 5 things that best describe him are:

  • He is an academic working at the University of Cape Town
  • He teaches entrepreneurship with a view that people have lost their voices and with insight can rediscover their “abilities to sing”
  • He is a post-anglican evangelical charismatic christian
  • Has experienced 10 years of Jungian psychotherapy and is a great fan of James Hollis
  • Loves Steely Dan, Bill Evans and a good glass of Cape Red at his right elbow

I had this dream in the early hours of Sunday 29 November.  The vivid and technicolor character of it made me feel that this was some kind of vision.  You as reader can be the judge.

Continue reading “World Machine Dream”

“Wild man wise man” session 6

Initiation

In almost all cultures the world over, young people undergo rites of initiation. It normally marks the passage into adulthood. However in the recent west this has become less and less a feature of our culture, such that we live in what Sergio refers to as a “partly initiated society”.

We need to rediscover and reconnect with these ancient practices. These rituals are in essence an emotional and spiritual phenomenon, meant to be felt and internalised. While women encounter this naturally through the overt changes of puberty, this has become highly problematic for the modern male. What remains of these rituals – confirmation, or boy scouts, lack the visceral power of traditional initiations. It is left to gang membership and the military, which hardly transform us in the right direction.

According to Rohr, “men must be tried, limited, challenged, punished, hazed, circumcised, isolated, starved, stripped and goaded into maturity”.  This separates him forcefully from the feminine energy, and this experience wounds him ritually and “prepares the young man to deal with life in ways other than logic, managing, controlling and problem solving.” [P 31] Without this wounding, paradoxically, we shall never heal.

In small groups, a story was shared by a participant in which at 13 years old, he was told by his wise mother to get on his bicycle, and not to return home until he had a job. He was faced with the terror of the fact that he did not know when he would sleep at home again. He went from restaurant to restaurant adding his name to long waiting lists. But eventually he was offered a kitchen job and a beginner’s wage. He went home a changed person, and for 8 months, proudly made enough money to comfortably cover his weekend dream activities.

Initiation needs to be rediscovered in our society, Rohr : “Initiation always taught the young man to die before he died … a constant truth taught by Jesus, baptism, the prophets, Mohammed, the mystics… as St Francis put it , ‘if you have once faced the great death, the second death can do you no harm.'” [P 36]

Note, I have explored in some depth the topic of “The Shamanic Shadow” which inlcudes the biblical basis for a more feral spirituality including the sort of initiation proposed by Richard Rohr.

This post is part 6 in the series Richard Rohr “From wild man to wise man” with Sergio Milandri of relating.com. The session was held on the 30th November 2009 at Sans Pareil, Hout Bay, South Africa.

Dream Forest

Last night I dreamed:

  1. David Bowie, older but statuesque and charming, is in our midst. I open conversations with him and he demures, chatting briefly, but ultimately remains aloof. He turns in for bed, perched loftily atop a triple bunk, out of reach.
  2. I go into a supposedly familiar general store expecting to see a supposedly familiar Indian shopkeeper behind the counter, but the Indian has been bought out by the Chinese. In his place are 4 Beijing-Olympic-style hostesses in shiny canary yellow dresses, all smiling. Alienated, I leave the shop and see the old owner who looks like Mac Maharaj, in a coffee bar sipping a latte.
  3. I enter a decrepit, Orwellian room with about 20 light switches, only 2 of which actually work, and dimly at that. An apocalyptic news bulletin comes on the radio from an Indian politician talking about mass outbreaks of an incurable virus. I panic, and yearn for the Brubecks (my university lecturer Darius and his wife Cathy), an earlier life where I knew what was what, who was who, and what I had hoped for. The soundtrack could have been Bowies “Five Years”, although it seems like it was only 5 weeks. Shades of Cloverfields, 1984, and I am Legend.

What sayeth the soothsayers?

The Holy Trickster

Featuring The Jester-Fool, Coyote-Jackal, Br’er Rabbit, Homo Ludens, Hermes-Mercury, Prometheus, and the Serpent.

horse thief cayote from www.carpenoctem.tvI first became aware of the Trickster when at some point in my 30’s, when in order to survive, I was forced to wear a Grey Suit. See, I had been a free spirited musician until that point, and “Suits” represented the Recording Industry and Accountants, who were everything we (the chosen ones) despised. So in the aftermath of the collapse of my artistic career, and with it my notions of God – so earnestly had I taken my vocation – I was joining THE ENEMY. I was succumbing to necessity, I was abandoning the “Keeping of the Faith” (To quote the Wayne’s World rendition of Jim Morrison, who was spared all this by his in/glorious early demise).

So I headed off tie and all, into the City of London, to sell my time to the world’s largest bank. And I thought to myself, “This is kind of cool”, because in my heart I knew I was not in fact becoming one of the enemy, but rather to quote Bruce Cockburn “Dancing in the Dragons Jaws”, more like a spy. I might have appeared to be another hi finance techno-drone, but I realise now, I was in fact an incarnation of the trickster.

To quote mythographer Joseph Campbell, in “The Masks of God Vol 1”:

“This ambiguous, curiously fascinating figure of the trickster appears to have been the chief mythological character of the paleolithic world of story. A fool, and a cruel, lecherous cheat, and epitome of the principle of disorder, he is nevertheless the culture-bringer also. And he appeared under many guises : Coyote, Great Hare, Br’er Rabbit, Raven, Jay, Reynard the Fox, but also, on a more serious plane, he appears as the devil.”

At that time I started having dreams. In one I was (to quote my notes directly) “being sucked down with all manner of dogs”, into a vortex of mud or sand, heading for the funnel and ultimately, the darkness of the earth. Towards the bottom, I saw a figure standing watch over the pit, with a Jackals head and a human body. I awoke just as I took in what I thought was my last breath.

In another dream, a crazed knife wielding gypsy near a pool with an incomplete flyover in its midst, threw a knife at my wife, and missed; I reacted with rage at this wild, act of irresponsibility.

With the help of some Jungian “divination”, I found out that the Jackal Headed figure was Anubis, Egyptian guardian of the dead. And via the gypsy, I came to appreciate the presence in my mythical life of Hermes, a primary source of this ethos in Greek mythology.

Now Hermes is pretty multi-faceted. He is at once guardian of boundary stones (herms), communication, sport, music and ultimately a pretty shifty figure. From him we get hermeneutics (translation of ideas across cultural boundaries) and in his Roman guise Mercury, the postal insignia with the winged helmet.

The interesting thing for me was, having grown into adulthood characterised by charismatic evangelical piety and its worldview, how this trickster found a place alongside some very powerful “medicine”: the Evil Snake, and the overconfident, unambiguous “clarion call of truth”.

To be less obscure, I am referring to these 2 characteristics of my early belief system:

  • Monotheism’s dualism: christian theological orthodoxy sees Satan as the serpent in the garden having caused mans original sin via Eve’s temptation. The Jewish view of Satan is slightly less polarised, seeing him as an advocate / adversary to the law, rather than a semi-omnipotent being of dread and the father of all evil. And the third member of monotheism – Islam, doesn’t seem that different to the christian view regarding dualising good and evil.
  • Naive Sincerity:  The importance of being earnest – values such as “truth” and “integrity” were deemed absolutely crucial. In this Newtonian world – a predictable machine presided over by a God of Order –  ambiguity was eschewed and all sorts of logical hoops were jumped though to maintain “consistency”. This is not so much a problem with christianity per se as with Greek reductionist thinking. Is our Greek inheritance a good thing? – thoroughly dualistic, yet richly imbued in myth; and a tricky question.

So I rejoice at the presence of the Trickster in a barren land of closed thought, for quite apart from being the bringer of death and destruction, he in fact is a catalyst for life and salvation. I now look at Jesus as embodying (amongst all things divine) this trickster, as well.

  • “Be as wise/sly as serpents and as harmless a doves”. In this metaphor, the serpent is not an outlaw, but something to be actively embraced.
  • “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”: Conjurers of the world, unite in Christ!
  • “Become as little children”: engage in play, awe, and the space opened up by ambiguity.
  • “I will make myself more foolish in their eyes” – David, shamanic worshipper and “apple of G-d’s eye”.
  • “I become a fool for Christ” – here Paul elevates the Jester role, acknowledging that it is not the highly evolved adult, but those without guile, who will experience G-d.

You may be saying, this is madness; this is exactly what we have come away from – deception and falsehood. I can sympathise with your confusion, because I share it. I too have looked askance at anyone delving into such shadowy arts.

But I am coming to see the Trickster no so much as a threat, but a gift. In fact, I see him as quite central to the core christian truth of incarnation, as well as central to all creativity.

As I now see it, the very call to incarnation involves the trickster. Incarnation can be described as “being in the world but not of it”. All people having undertaken a spiritual path, especially one involving reorienting oneself in the world, will know the difficulty of staying grounded and yet striving for transcendence. All manner of things get in the way, rationalism, craving, habit, apathy, materialism, fear. To live “in the spirit” can be a very difficult task.

The tendency in the search for “holiness” or “purity” is usually to separate our world into the secular/worldly/carnal and the sacred/heavenly/spiritual. We have immense difficulty being “in the world” when we refocus our inner life on the transcendent beyond.

//www.emblibrary.comI suggest that this is where the trickster comes to assist us. His realm includes ambiguity, irony, and play, incompleteness and chaos, holding in tension and suspending belief, generosity and cruelty, imagination, flexibility and cunning shifting of shape, the boundaries between life and death, and making connections where they are not supposed to be.

Clearly the trickster has the potential to destroy. Engaging him is to take a risk. It is the liminal area between right and wrong that is his playground. We should never say as an excuse “The trickster made me do it.” It is up to us to learn what we can from him but never to naively give him our heart.

There are totemic trickster figures in many of the more animistic cultures; additionally clowns and jesters, comedians and conjurers, and most if not all practitioners of art play this subversive role in society. Not to forget negotiators and peacemakers; even politicians, theirs being the “art of the possible”, despite their common failings.

Joseph Campbell notes

“They represent, from the point of view of the masters of decorum, the chaos principle, the principle of disorder, the force careless of taboos and shattering bounds. But from the point of view of the deeper realms of being from which the energies of life ultimately spring, this principle is not to be despised.”

And maverick Bruce Cockburn, again, in his rambunctious “Maybe The Poet” observes

Male female slave or free
Peaceful or disorderly
Maybe you and he will not agree
But you need him to show you new ways to see

Don’t let the system fool you
All it wants to do is rule you
Pay attention to the poet
You need him and you know it

What I am concerned with here is the potential of the poet, the prophet, and the shaman, to usher in holiness. To “shatter bounds” and bring us new ways to see.

As we focus on the task of apprehending or worshiping the Divine, wrestle with the complexities or truth, or simply seek to live life more fully, we should imaginatively and openly engage the services of this mythical “holy trickster”.

Shamanism, interview 3: Tim Victor

Tim VictorTim Victor has worked as a youth pastor and spiritual consultant in urban missions. His aim has been to teach people how to hear from Godde and exercise spiritual gifts like prophecy and healing, announcing and demonstrating Godde outside of Christian environments and also mentoring Christians to work missionally.

Tim Victor is “a follower of Jesus intentionally growing as an envoy to postmodern spiritual seekers”. He is also trying to figure out how to grow as a husband, a father and a small-business owner. Note: Tim has committed to rendering all references to “God” as “Godde”,  in blithe disregard for patriarchal norms, as an amalgam of the Male and Female aspects of the Divine.

Do you as a Christian find the shamanic metaphor irrelevant, threatening or promising?
Promising, without a doubt. The concept of shamanism lends expression to much Christian practice while offering a framework for understanding and enabling people to enter into the practice of spiritual encounter, including revelation, healing and guidance.

Continue reading “Shamanism, interview 3: Tim Victor”

The shamanic shadow in the new testament.

In “The shamanic shadow in the old testament“, I did a lightweight survey of shamanic myths and practices throughout the Pentateuch, poetry and prophets, moving in a more or less linear way through time.

I now want to continue to examine the rest of the canonical bible. This time however, I’d like to start at the “end” and move towards the “centre”, ending up at the crux of the matter – Jesus Christ.

John of the Revelation
Lakota trinity from mattstone.blogs.com
The Revelation was written by John (not necessarily the same John as author of the Gospel or disciple of Jesus) while in a state of exile on the isle of Patmos. It is possibly the most controversial book of the 66 and its inclusion in the canon was not unanimous.

Revelation has been open to misinterpretations by readers (with an underdeveloped sense of the metaphorical) confused by the relationship between the literal and metaphor. This includes looking for inappropriate meanings in its rich set of symbols and reading chronological events into its structure.

Aside from fitting Revelations into one or another agenda, one of the reasons for this wildly varied speculation is no doubt as a result of ignorance of its literary genre, known as Apocalyptic. (Daniel is another example of this). One feature of Apocalyptic literature is an abundance of highly symbolic imagery.

Continue reading “The shamanic shadow in the new testament.”

Shamanism, interview 2: Gavin Marshall

Gavin MarshallGavin Marshall looks a bit like ‘The Dude’ in the Big Lebowsky. He is a musician, a magician and a bit of an explorer when it comes to the mind and spirituality. A former evangelical pastor, he recently attended a guided retreat under the auspices of a Peruvian Shaman.

Tell us about how you moved from being an evangelical pastor to becoming interested in shamanism?
It was a long journey. I grew disillusioned with the church and decided to take a break. The break then became a bit more permanent and I found that I now had the freedom to explore what I really believed. The exploration involved studying different religions, magic, guys like Jung and Joseph Campbell and so-on.

Continue reading “Shamanism, interview 2: Gavin Marshall”

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