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The path of the ancients, of the First Peoples, still winds it way through the forest of humanity. Indeed these paths are nearly innumerable. But I was born on the highway, with the rush of cars and semis, where the Spirits dared not dwell, and the one god was a Man in a building on a skewed cross. And even then, that god was worshipped on one day. The other six days belonged to other gods: the dark gods that slipped their fine needles into the heart and sipped our blood, drugging us into obedience. The god of wealth, the god of security, the god of acceptance. They flourished on our creativity, on our spirit and our femininity. They drained it from us and grew fat. They are manifested in the multi-national corporations, war, and George Bush. We live in a culture that feeds these swelling parasites, a culture that perpetuates the illusion that excess is nourishment.

In her essay “Landscape, History, and the Pueblo Imagination”, Leslie Marmon Silko writes, “Hopi Pueblo elders have said that the austere and, to some eyes, barren plains and hills surrounding their mesa-top villages actually help to nurture the spirituality of the Hopi way.” The difficulty of physical existence meant that the Hopi “must live by their prayers.” In that culture, relationship with all beings, both tangible and intangible, provided the nourishment that sustained the spirit, which was of primary importance.

But I’m just writing about this. I don’t really know this. I’m not Hopi. I’m not even Celtic. I’m this weird white thing. Modern American. Rootless. Highway born. The one god of my recent ancestors split us from our relationships with the sacred Earth, placed the sacred heart under the dominion of the one-man-god. This is a story we know. We read about it in the newspapers, in the stories of our beginnings, we’ve driven on its highway, and tasted its deadly fruit. But the ancient heart beats in us. So while I’m not Hopi, I am human, and I have the same spiritual needs as a Hopi. They are simply unmet, tangled up with the weeds of American life.

I could mourn this. I could resign myself to a Matrix-like existence. Instead I consider it my choice, and the barren highway a place that begs for the prayer. I take root where I am, and undertake the work of reweaving relationship, of learning to live by my prayers. The place to start? The Creation Story.


creative mythology — 4 Comments

  1. most of us are a mix of many, but we are still children of the Mother we live on. our ancestries are complex and the last 1000+ years in our collective histories have been about disconnection from spirit, earth and ourselves but in reality that connection never left. its there. it is only our perceptions that have kept it clouded from us.
    remember that weeds also serve other purposes. some of those weeds are medicines. like the plantain, dandilion, red clover that are the banes of green perfect lawns everywhere. they are medicines that grow where it is needed.
    we must take the weeds of this collective modern culture and see the medicine that is there, changing our perspective, seeing not only that which destroys and sucks the life out of but also that which is hidden medicine. that which gives the remedies to imbalance within.

  2. I think it was May 2005 that Jay and I went to the Myrtle Beach bike fest. While driving through NC, we were awed and enchanted by the millions of Oriental red poppies blooming in the meridians of the interstate.

    Life is tenacious. Life is beauty. Life is love. Life is the moment that catches your breath, breaks your heart, gives rise to tears of immense gratitude and unquenchable sorrow.

    My son’s half-sister was born in the front seat of her parents’ car while it was parked in the Family Used Car Lot in Asheville. It’s a delightful tale.

    And from Joni Mitchell’s song Hejira:

    I know – no one’s going to show me everything
    We all come and go unknown
    Each so deep and superficial
    Between the forceps and the stone.

  3. Forgive me while I rant about those highway side flower gardens! I know they are jubilant with color, but damn! Have you ever considered it from the butterfly’s perspective? (I’m a bleeding heart. I HATE to run over butterflies!) In Asheville there is a butterfly garden right in the highway median. It even has a little sign with a happy butterfly. Very sweet, but did anyone think about how butterflies are going to get to that garden? They don’t exactly descend from the sky!

    OK, OK, I’ll stop now. I love the Joni Mitchell quote. And the Family Used Car Lot. What a birth story! I think I even know where it is! I’ve got a creation story percolating, and I might just have to intergrate the family used car lot.

    Life is precious, a mystery, a gift. I just want to dive as deep as I can into the human experience, harvest the seaweed, the abelone. Play with the otters. Avoid the sharks. And the monster waves!

    by the way, I’m not coming up to the Ville this weekend, but I will be there sometime. I have a thousand aunts and uncles, one aunt has pancreatic cancer and I’d really like to visit her soon. Maybe in September. I’ll definitely keep you posted!

  4. I gathred a nice little inner harvest from this journal entry: regardless of your birthplace, or your mother culture, we are all human, and we all have the same deep spiritual impulses. The Spirits plant a seed in each of us, and it grows according to each.

    Still, I feel I have to look honestly at American culture. I often ask myself, “How would I expect an honest and aware German to react to the beginnings of Nazi Germany? How would I expect a person to act in the face of evil?” The story of Hiawatha is an excellent guide in such matters. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. CLearly everything we know resides in the Universe, and the Universe is good. But there are things that grow twisted, askew of their true nature. Some of these things have power, and they twist and skew everything they touch. Hiawatha’s answer was song. The singing of the people dispelled the power of the sorcerer, and then they sang over him, breathed their spirit into him. They also chopped off his dick. Really. I think I might write out the story tomorrow in my journal.

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