Last week I was driving home at night down our dirt road, when I had to come to a sudden stop. A huge great-horned owl was sitting right in in my path, and did not move. We just looked at each other. When I turned slightly to cast the headlights more directly on it, it flew up to a fence post about ten feet from my car and kept on looking at me. Finally it lifted off, taking my breath away with its huge wing span.
You might have many explanations for that event, but my own spiritual version is that an ancestor may have visited.
Around All Souls Day and at this time of year, the veils are thin and so we remember and honor those who have walked the planet before us. And in my prayers to the directions, I often ask the Ancient Ones to whisper their wisdom in our ears. What might they whisper now?
1. Surely they would say something about taking care of Mother Earth.
Until recent history, such honoring was part of human life, part of daily ritual, part of making every decision. Every tradition-even those based on an oppressive form of tribalism-once considered the needs of the Earth. Remembering this once again might reset our determination to be voices for reason.
2. I would guess that the Ancient Ones would look through the lens that sees the long view rather than the short term.
Native Americans counsel us to consider the seven generations to come when we make a decision.
3. I think I hear them whispering reminders about the Inka notion of "ayni:" reciprocity in all our relationships.
Ayni is about giving back when we receive so much.
4. In the Peruvian shamanic tradition (along with many other indigenous traditions) we are advised to create a new life and a new world by dreaming a new dream.
This life, the dualistic story we are living in is an illusion. If we are creating our story, we can create a new one where we are simply one with life. This is not "pie in the sky," but a new dream requiring the same combination of creativity and craft that artists use. This will take courage, imagination, heart and discipline.
Eisler urges us to stop taking sides between left and right, capitalist and socialist, and to think in terms of the dominator paradigm vs. the partnership one. You can guess which one we’ve been living with for thousands of years now, and which one is currently showing up all over the world. And Eisler would say (as would, I’d guess, the Ancient Ones and current spiritual thinkers) that this is the time we are living through a great shift. It’s not easy, is it?
As we watch all kinds of examples of the dominator culture (i.e.,domination of women and all that is considered feminine or soft; domination of other countries and cultures, domination of the earth,) showing up and disintegrating, we must hold on to the dream. Mine would honoring the kind, tender part of both men and women and reinforcing those values, attitudes and actions in private, public and global life.
What’s the key quality we need to manifest this dream? According to Eisler, it’s caring.This dream requires a change of culture and a change of heart.
5. The ancestors we honor might remind us that death and destruction don’t favor the rich or privileged or clever. We are fragile beings living on a fragile planet. And so this time when the veils are thin is time for a somber consideration of the presence of death in the midst of life. And also, life in the midst of death.
This morning in the pre-dawn hour, an owl cried right outside the bedroom window. It called me awake to write you and to give thanks to our ancestors, to the Ancient Ones, for their unseen presence.
May love, peace and beauty take over the world!