Well, prayers seem to have been answered. We had a bit more rain overnight and it’s a lovely overcast, damp day. Beautiful and restful. Now if only I can get my son out the door and off to school I can get into some meditation or something LOL.
This week I’ve been doing a fair bit more reading on runes and history. It’s really interesting the way it’s all developing and sinking in. Some time ago the perception area was all shut off because I was picking up too much of other people’s stuff and had little way of filtering it all. Returning to it, particularly in this present context of Heathenism and with what I’ve learnt in the meantime, is a lot of fun.
The spirit walking is going very well. It doesn’t take much now to sit for a while and drift into another awareness, a little like the guided meditations one does, except the guide is not a CD ;-) Different animals are also beginning to make an appearance now. Initially at least, it’s tempting to explore those as symbols as in dream interpretations. This includes some of the things they say. It seems that much of trance work has quite a bit in common with dreams, or lucid dreams if you like.
One coincidence has raised the issue of community again. This is always difficult to deal with, as people tend to look askance at those on the fringes and wonder why we’re all so bloody anti-social. The combination of realising that most of constructed culture is not all that wonderful anyway, and being hypersensitive to things like body language or emotional messages… perhaps also spiritual perception, means that all the ‘culture critics’ from poets and artists through to goths and emo kids, really don’t feel like part of things and it’s a legitimate POV.
Human society has always had outsiders on the fringes. In some cultures there’s the overlap between mental illness and holiness, the spiritual fool. There’s one infamous climbing joke that says when you go to certain countries you simply carry climbing gear, like an ice axe, in view. People then know you’re a climber and therefore mentally unstable, so you don’t get hassled. ;-)
For someone who’s spent the first 40 something years of their life as a wanderer on the face of the earth, the whole mess of human community looks like exactly that. A mess. Some time ago a friend lent me a very old book about “a place for you”, written by some 19th century French philosopher or theologian or some such. He was talking about the number of people he encountered in his counselling who had “no roots”. They wandered, it seemed, and never could settle down. These days we’d probably attribute it to some dysfunction or other, but it’s interesting to note that this had been observed and also noticed to be a permanent situation, even that long ago.
In all the reading that I’m doing regarding the whole Heathen trip, groups, ethnicity, origins and community keep coming up. It alternates between being amusing and at times painful. I guess if you grew up knowing the story of where you came from and had links to those origins then it would make sense for it to be an important part of your identity. And no doubt, something that would be very threatening to question, as any questioning of identity is. If you change then who are you? Those kind of questions can be profoundly unsettling.
For myself the whole issue is a life long experience. This lack of roots is something that I’ve had to learn to manage. And management (again) is pretty much all it is. So when people with families are looking at their origins and considering them in terms of how they fit in the life of the planet, it’s fascinating to see what they consider important. But it’s also a mark of difference. Simply looking in the mirror and seeing what’s apparently a white face doesn’t provide the feeling of connection with any particular ethnic heritage… and reading discussions about it often increases the awareness of a lack of such connection.
In my own experience, there was a formative moment a few years ago… No doubt I’ve written about it previously, but it provides some basis for where I am at present. Sitting at the top of Mt Arapiles after seven pitches, with a bloke who’d just arrived at Araps the day previous. I’d been camping there for the best part of a month and was as filthy and feral as it gets. He probably had a shower that morning. He’s 20, a chemistry student with his life planned out, I’m 40 odd with no plans at all past getting back to camp. He comes from a valley in Austria and knows his parents, grandparents etc. from around that area, and I come from the flat inland of Australia with no idea (at that stage) about any of my origins. We sat there sharing an orange after the climb and talking about his chemistry studies. As I looked out over the Wimmera in the shimmer of heat haze, it was as if the land claimed me. I felt suddenly that I was of the same substance as this land, this dirt… and not only because of being covered in it! There’s a theory I’ve read about Aboriginal understanding of the land, that you don’t own it, but in a way it owns you. You come from it, live in it and eventually return to it…
That was probably the most grounding experience I’ve felt. It put me in connection with something concrete about where I came from and who I am. Dirt, basically. (Explains a lot about my priorities for housekeeping ;-)) It seems quite a bit different to people who connect themselves with their origins via families and culture.
So I guess all this is something I’m simply going to have to journey with. Other people aren’t going to up and separate from their families, and even if they did, would be vastly different again from having been uprooted as a child… There’s a term in heraldry, ‘eradicated’. When an oak or other plant is shown uprooted or disconnected, it is referred to as eradicated. That’s me, and that’s the way I’ve been all my life… Going from one to the other would be complex and incomplete as an adult.
No doubt there have always been “wanderers” and will continue to be. With all the peculiar feelings and experiences that involves. It might also be part of the reason for such a spiritual search. Adopted people are apparently reknowned for being interested in those connections. Still, it’s family of a sort and something constructive to get you by in this nutty world. It’s probably Odinic.