Sunday, 13 June 2010
Initiation and Society
Christina Pratt has an episode up of her podcast "Why Shamanism Now?" which, in my opinion, says some very important things about the culture we live in, and its pathologies.
Christina addresses the fact that we, on the whole, have no system of initiation to take us from childhood to adulthood, and that as a result our humanity is ailing.
Being a Shaman and having gone through my own initiatory experience, I appreciate her points.
Most indigenous cultures had the transition of a child into an adult well covered, and given the attention it really needs. According to Shamanic tradition, the child must die to itself in order to free the soul to follow its life purpose. When this is not done - for how many children are put through an initiatory experience these days? - the adults which result are incomplete, stunted in their souls' growth, and often pretty sick. These adults then form the body of a civilisation which, no surprise, is ill to its very core.
I can relate. I never let go of my child self until the age of 39, when I was forced to by undergoing my own Shamanic Dismemberment. Although I had born a child myself and had taken an occult "initiation", as well as having been married twice, I was still not separated from my parents.
The very real threat of physical, spiritual and soul-level death which my dismemberment presented me with was necessary before I could start to awaken into adulthood.
It was the trauma which has marked me the most deeply in all of my life, and which opened up the connection to the spiritual world which an adult human being must have - although, slow learner that I am, I consider myself still in the very early stages of my education.
But how many people have reached that point? And I'm agreeing here with Christina's summation that the New Age platitude that 'life initiates everyone' is way too soft for the purposes we're talking about here - which are the awakening and formation of an adult member of society, together with the child ego death which must precede it.
Even given the fact that a soul who is destined for the Shamanic path needs must undergo a more rigorous initiation than, say, a welder or a plumber - the test must be potentially more lethal to create a Shaman - I still see very, very few people around me who have really been transitioned from their childhood to their adulthood. And that's frightening, for who are our leaders, then, if not a bunch of overgrown children, still intent on blaming external factors and other people for their shortcomings, and casting a covetous eye on power and wealth for the sake of power and wealth alone? Who are our doctors, teachers and lawmakers, if not folks co-dependent on other people for their wholeness, as a child upon her parents?
The picture is grim and scary. I have to say right now that I know precious few adults in real life.
I am learning to become one: how about you?