My computer crashed yesterday. Is always seems to happen when I’m counting on it most--I need to be able to place these kittens on craigslist. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it yet. I could just order a new power supply, but that doesn’t address the underlying cause of why I keep blowing through power supplies. I could get it really fixed, but I’d have to borrow money to do that. Or I could borrow money to get an inexpensive laptop and worry about getting this computer fix when I have more money. It’s such a nuisance.
The book I couldn’t think of the other day is Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of our Ancestors, by Nicholas Wade. I may need to get my own copy of it at some point, because there’s a lot food for thought in it.
I’m reading several books at once now. One is a small book by the Chickasaw writer, Linda Hogan, called Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World. It is written very beautifully. In “All My Relations” she described her participation in a sweat lodge ceremony. The healing comes from reconnecting and becoming one again with all of creation. That’s what all healing really is, isn’t it, becoming whole in the deepest, widest way possible. She says:
We speak. We sing. We swallow water and breathe smoke. By the end of the ceremony, it is as if skin contains land and birds. The places within us have become filled. As inside the enclosure of the lodge, the animals and ancestors move into the human body, into skin and blood. The land merges with us. The stones come to dwell inside the person. Gold rolling hills take up residence, their tall grasses blowing. The red light of canyons is there. The black skies of night that wheel above our heads come to live inside the skull. We who easily grow apart from the world are returned to the great store of life all around us, and there is the deepest sense of being at home here in this intimate kinship. There is no real aloneness. There is solitude and the nurturing silence that is relationship with ourselves, but even then we are part of something larger.
In another essay, “A Different Yield” she says, “In American Indian traditions, healers are often called interpreters because they are the ones who are able to hear the world and pass its wisdom along. They are the ones who return to the heart of creation.”
Also in the same essay she writes about myth:
An essential part of myth is that it allows for our return to the creation, to a mythic time. It allows us to hear the world new again. Octavio Paz has written that in older oral traditions an object and its name were not separated. One equaled the other. To speak of corn, for instance, was to place the corn before a person’s very eyes and ears. It was in mythic time that there was no abyss between the word and the thing it named, but he adds that ‘as soon as man acquired consciousness of himself, he broke away from the natural world and made himself another world inside himself.’
I find it interesting that Paz implies that language came first, then came consciousness. My rational brain would think just the opposite: a conscious being would begin naming things, creating more separation, inserting words and symbols between itself and direct experience. But I think I can intuit it his way, especially when I think about the myths that say that the first languages were song. Fused with the natural world, singing an object would fuse you with it momentarily, you would take up its identity and comprehend it in its totality. A completely different concept than what we call “language comprehension” today. It was a way of feeling different energies, attuning to different natures. Perhaps beginning to feel discreteness through song, using language as another sense, we began for the first time to grasp our own discreteness.