Last weekend I gave a talk on Plant Spirit Medicine at a local UU church in Oxford, MS. I was invited by the congregation and was so honored to be asked! In the process of preparing for my presentation, I made a realization about Jesus that I hadn’t before.
Of course, they are a very open-minded group of people and didn’t expect me to talk about Jesus. Nor, did I really expect Jesus to come up in my presentation on Plant Spirit Medicine, drawing from indigenous methodologies of learning from plants and the dreamtime.
And yet, there he was…
Let me explain…
As I put the slides together for my presentation, I came upon these words written by herbalist Matthew Wood:
“Happiness does not originate in the stick-in-the-mud boring material world to which we are born, but is interjected by surprise from another dimension. Humor, art, and true medicine come from this other/magical place. The contrary, clown, trickster, poet, artist, crazy person, shaman, physician, steals a fleck of light from that world and brings it to this world, where it works its liberating, healing, happy-making, regenerating ferment. The bringer is wounded in the process.”
~ Matthew Wood
Jesus’s story, I realized, is the *classical* shamanic story. A person goes to the Otherworld of darkness (symbolic death) and brings back Light/Healing (a gift to the world). He or she is wounded in the process (nailed to the cross/thorny crown in his case).
This is the *classic* shaman or medicine person story, which has happened to numerous people over thousands and thousands of years.
Jesus just happens to be a shaman whose story has gotten a great deal of attention. And yet, there are countless other light workers who have lived and are still living on this planet. Most of them are unknown by the vast majority.
To me, any story of a person illuminating the dark with light is significant. It doesn’t matter what color, ethnicity or belief system that they have or what books have or have not been written about them. They are just as worthy of celebration and remembrance. They are just as important to listen to and honor.
The cool thing about Jesus, though, is that he was a shaman. And, his story IS the great shamanic, dark-night progression. Technically, there are a lot of very common, every day, conservative people in the world who are celebrating and worshiping something quite occult and mystical.
That’s pretty fantastic, if you ask me.
And, I think, that because of these shamanic roots and the more mystical parts of Christianity (Jesus’s death and resurrection and Mother Mary’s luminescent presence) ~ that they have commonly been mixed with local, indigenous healing practices (think Central and South America, for example).
However, the tribalism… The us and them binary… The hard-nosed His way or the highway is where we lose the magic. This constriction around beliefs is what cuts off the oxygen and narrow’s ones vision. It cuts us off from both Spirit and Place and these are the very things that we need to expand our hearts, heal our wounds, open our minds, and embrace who we are and the land and elements we live in relationship with.
Today, a FB friend posted this on his feed about religion. I thought it tied in well with what I had been contemplating, regarding religion, Jesus’s narrative, the indigenous mind, and what Daniel Quinn has called ‘The Great Forgetting.”
Basically, Ian’s Mormon grandmother asked him what he thought about religion and this is part of his response:
“Jesus was probably an enlightened person and most definitely a radical.
Christianity is a monotheistic religion formed *after* Jesus’ death, from a very specific region of the middle east that grew along the death throes of the Roman Empire, joining amidst the other monotheistic religions that promoted conversion at the end of a sword.
There is no religion that applies universally. Spirituality/culture must be derived from place (this is the meaning of indigenous).
The Europeans who washed up on North America’s shores immediately set about attempting to reconstruct Europe, rather than actually learn how to be at home. Their descendants, myself included, have yet to actually arrive, in the full meaning of the word.
This is not to say that we should go “back” as there is no back to go back to – our work is to learn how to belong to a place.” ~ Ian McKenzie
Ian is part of a group of people that are interested in deconstructing their “white-ness” and taking the steps to become a part of Place again. After he wrote this, he linked to an article by Daniel Quinn called “The Great Forgetting” ~ I encourage you to read it!
Basically, Quinn outlines the way that the Europe and Asia are simply carbon copies of each other in terms of foundational beliefs and attitudes. These attitudes arose out of what he calls ‘totalitarian agriculture.’ He also says that, no matter East or West, there is this phenomena of ‘needing to be saved.’ Even the ancient Vedic texts have references to this.
Another amusing note is that Quinn criticizes scientists for coming up with primitive names such as “Stone Age” for demarcations of human pre-history. He said that although early peoples used stones, it was not a defining feature. It’s like the modern era being called “Glue Age” because we use adhesive.
Quinn draws attention to the resistance the East-West tends to have about the everything pre-10,000-years-ago. It’s as if it didn’t exist and didn’t matter. Which directly correlates with the way in which these cultures treat nomadic, hunter-gatherer, and indigenous peoples ~ as if they didn’t exist.
Considering that our human life-time on this planet has been majority pre-agricultural (about 99.7% arguably) ~ it’s as if we’ve forgotten 99.7% of ourselves.
To those of us that are interested in becoming part of place again…we’ve got a long road to walk. We’ve got a lot to deconstruct. We’ve got a lot to let go of. We’ve got a lot to remember. We’ve got a lot to transform.
“Over the last two or three centuries, a heartless culture-crushing mentality has incremented its progress on the earth, devouring all peoples, nature, imagination, and spiritual knowledge. Like a big mechanized slug, it has left behind a flat, homogenized streak of civilization wherever it passed. Every human on this earth — African, Asian, European, Islanders, or from the Americas — has ancestors who at some point in their history had their stories, rituals, ingenuity, language, and lifeways taken away, enslaved, banned, exploited, twisted, or destroyed by this force.
Now what is indigenous, natural, subtle, hard to explain, generous, gradual, and village-oriented in each of us is being banished into the ghettos of our hearts, or hidden away from view onto reservations inside the spiritual landscape of the Earth body…
Meanwhile, our natural souls, which are like Bushmen or rare waterbirds, know that our minds and our souls should be working together to maintain or replaster the crumbling hut of life. Instead, our indigenous souls are being utterly overlooked and pushed aside in the bustle of the minds’ competitive activity, until our true beings feel just like tribesman in a big, trafficky city: unwelcome, lost, and homeless.” ~ Martin Prechtel
Another long-distance friend, Arthur Haines of the Delta Institute in Maine once said something that really struck me. He knew that rewilding, reclaiming his indigenous lineage, and becoming part of place again would happen in his life-time. However, he acknowledged that he was PART of the PROCESS of REMEMBERING. And that, his life and work are dedicated to that through traditional food ways.
I, too, find great peace in that… I know I am part of a process. I work with plants and I work with the dreamtime…and these both link me to a long lineage of ancestors. I have a lot to learn, but I am open-minded. My heart is anchored in the plant path and I know the right teachers will find me (as they always have).
May you be protected on your path…
May you be nourished on your path…
May you be loved on your path…
May we all find our way home…
For further reading: