Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Want of Ages

Gladys Reichard wrote the seminal work on Navaho belief system in Navaho Religion. I bought this book 10 years ago when I was experiencing mysticism for the first time. I was reading everything I could about any belief system other than my own. This time, though, I am convinced that this magical mystery stuff is embedded in my own religion, Christianity. I can read every line of the Holy Bible and connect it to the simple structure of the Alchemical process. But I know it would not have meaning for me if I had not lived this alchemical life which I have--a live rich with nature and beauty, passion and disaster--then read The Alchemist by Paul Coelho, the book that gave a name to what I've been doing forever. To what many of us have been doing forever, I gather.

How could we not--for the alchemical process is ingrained in us, literally, emerging as we do from the earth, itself an ongoing alchemy. But it has been hidden from us in the West and from our counterparts in the Near East, these crazed monotheisms so much to blame. But not the texts of the religions, merely the interpreters of them, the confabulists of vertical cosmogonies, the makers of a faraway Maker. Once we undo that simple architecture, that heaven-up-there-hell-down-there and compress it to within the mind, the shifting symbols of the Holy Bible, drawn directly from alchemical symbology, are perfectly comparable to the Navaho symbologies in Reichard's text: "Considering a whole, all, or any one of its parts as the "same" affects classification. For example, , djic means "medicine bundle as a container," medicine bundle with all its contents, " "contents of medicine bundle," or a "separate item of a medicine bundle." The chanter knows perfectly well that the hide or muslin wrapper is not the same as a the bull-roater, that the "wide board" differs greatly from the talking prayer sticks or from the otterskin collar, yet in certain circumstances each is djic. He is acutely aware of the context and, therefore, of "sameness" and "difference," whereas his questioner is unable to determine the meaning because his is ignorant o the cultural context. (8) Cultural context is, of course, everything. And it makes our, meaning Western Judeo Christianity post-317 A.D., loss of the alchemical metaphor more heartbreaking. This is our culture. This is our context. And we have been forced to live without it and still expected to understand our own sacred texts.

What infuriates me: how may of my loved ones deal with depression and have actually succumbed to suicide when all along we have had this Book to guide us through our sorrows and our psychoses and no one was allowed to know. The way I see it: if a religion isn't healing its followers, somebody's being jacked.

And this is our story. 2700 years of jacking. And all along we have had what the Taoists, Buddhists, and Native Americans have had, a religious context for belonging in our own lives.

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