16 April 2010

The Alternative Login

Dear Drummers,

Welcome one and all to drumming this Friday at First Universalist Church, 34th and Dupont, in delirious uptown Minneapolis. The letter for this week is below, but a note first: Please see that the dates of the spring retreat have changed to May 21-23. If you are interested, please make your reservations soon. Space is limited. At the retreat we will be drumming up what the Ancient mystics refered to as "profound wahoo," and, if you want, I'll give you the opportunity to look deeply at that one myth that guides your life that you may want to rewrite. Change the story, change your life as they say. And we will work with the magical properties of marigold which has been calling out. And of course, there's the sauna, the lake, the forest, the birds, the Spring, the away time. Yes, wa-hoo.

Now the letter for this week:

Today I tried to Login to Facebook on my phone and noticed a tiny link: "Having trouble logging in? Try alternate login here." I clicked and it took me to an error message: "You must login first." It's a funny tidbit about the frustrations of technology, but it made me think about Mircea Eliade, the great mid 20th century cultural anthropologist.

Eliade said that all religions acknowledge that that the world is profane, or un-sacred, and all religions construct a way to enter into that sacred place that is separate from the profane world. In today's words, all religions give you the web same address to the login screen to the divine. Each religion gives you a different password. So when you enter a church, you are crossing the threshold from this profane world to a separate, sacred realm - the house of God. Indigenous ceremonies where the natives drum and dance and cavort are about inviting the sacred to come crashing over that threshold from the sacred realm and into this profane realm. It's a compelling idea that makes a lot of sense.

Eliade's idea has been much criticized, in the same way that Joseph Campbell's ideas have been: white western academic (non-drumming) males trying to impose a universal world view on the thousands of cultures and tribes around the world and throughout history, as though all of us were really the same. The impulse to try to find that one thing that makes us all alike is a western, male impulse according to the criticism. For the "neck-up" western academic male, alternative logins do not really exist.

But what I see as the promise in the shamanic path is that there is not a separation between the sacred and the profane. Eliade was awesomely smart, but his cultural and intellectual foundation sprang from the idea that God lives elsewhere, or that God is merely an idea that everyone has. The shamanic view is that, even though it's often called "the other world," it is here now. The past and future are present now, all things are happening right now, or in theological language, the divine is "radically present." There is something in this idea that seems very right to me, and as Jesus said in the non-official gospel of Thomas, speaking for the Divine: "It is I who am all things. From me all things come forth, and to all things I extend. Split a piece of wood and I am there; lift up a stone and you'll find me."

The basis of so much shamanic healing is that even old spiritual wounds from years ago, even wounds from generations ago, are present now sometimes. Healing the wound now also heals wounds going back perhaps generations. Healing your wound now may heal your ancestors, and healing your ancestors may set things right for you. This is a very powerful and very beautiful notion for me, and I believe I have experienced it personallythrough shamanic work.
And that will be the theme of this Friday's drum. But not before we release ourselves as totally as each of you wants to, into the whoop-de-doo, whirling, swirling, sensuous delight of groovelicious rhythmocity.

I hope to see you soon!

Jaime

Link above: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_return_(Eliade)

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