A dear friend and exceptional artist, Anja Hovland (www.hovlandart.com) sent an important note, worthy of quoting: It is correct, as you mention, that the Native Americans, referred to in error as Indians do not refer to themselves as Indians.
Columbus assumed that he had arrived in India. The aboriginal peoples of the American continent do not call themselves by that name. It has too long been used derivatively and derogatorily.
Among the natives, they call themselves by the tribe. We know many tribal names in North America, and South America, like the Incas in Peru, and more. There is a discussion among the South American Natives as to how they would like to be referred to, but being identified as Indians is erroneous on many accounts and most object to that name.
I have a negative feeling also about the American Continent because it originates with the Amerigo Vespucci. Granted he was an explorer of some merit, but in my opinion, a soul name must evolve from the new awareness of the numerous inhabitants encountered by Columbus. What did they call themselves? Somewhere in the many historical landmarks left by the peoples of Central and South America found by Columbus, somewhere there exists a name. We just have not found it yet.
You are on target, Robert! We have to discover the soul of the Native Americans. Or maybe they
like Native American?
–Thank you, Anja. Yes, we shall speak from now on of Native Americans. Beautiful, and revealing of the tremendous importance of words. One of the great challenges faced in this writing is to speak to, to address the Soul of America, being aware as possible of imposing now habitual and unconsciously used words.
America – The Land of Golden Opportunity
America is still, surprisingly, for many people, the land of golden opportunity. That is why so many people have emigrated here. It’s about gold – or various versions of gold – opportunity, where I can make money, support my family, have a home, good school for my children, etc. Very wonderful ideals, corrupted, though, by greed, collective greed. The archetypal background of these honorable desires is gold lust.
Gold lust in relation to America – starts with the Spanish Conquistadors.
Cortez told envoys of Montezuma – “I and my companions suffer from a disease of the heart that can be cured only with gold.”
They found this gold, first, through the invasion of Central America, conquering the Aztecs and the Incas. This invasion was in 1519. Montezuma was the Aztec ruler. Then, the Conquistadors invaded this land seeking the seven (golden) cities of Cibola ( a fantasy).
For the Aztecs, gold was not an economic commodity. Its value was not economic but ritualistic, honoring the gods. How this emblem of honoring their gods became corrupted is a subject of greatest importance. (Rudolf Steiner wrote about this corruption in a lecture on the “Mexican Mysteries”.)
The sacrificial offering of gold to the gods became degraded as the Aztecs became fearful of continuing to survive. The degradation took the form of a ritual. The Aztecs had a terrible way of ritual killing. It was a ritual form of initiation in which a victim would be laid on a stone, and the heart and intestines would be cut out by the initiate and offered to the gods, with an expectation attached.
The tearing out of the heart of the victim which was then offered to the sun-gods carried the expectation of the perpetuation of humanity in a materialistic state rather than honoring the gods. Two powers were attained by the initiates, who took these powers into the community:
a) through this kind of corrupted sacrifice humans would become disinterested in the soul of others – We would be out for ourselves, even in those matters that seem to care for others, for some kind of return is involved — such as feeling good.
b) The person initiated also became connected with the victim in another way. The person initiated could, at any time he wished, ‘depart’ from this world and go into a seemingly ‘spiritual state’, totally remove from everyone and from the earth. Spirit-presence was ‘privatized’.
These two corruptions form the archetypal background for two unconscious assumptions of this country:
(a) The absence of true community (disinterest in the soul of others – though unconscious) and individual, private spirituality (institutional religion actually fosters private spirituality while seeking public results of that spirituality according to the precepts of the religion; church on Sunday, seeking gold during the week). We are caught forever searching for how to develop community, but it does not have to be developed, it is already present, beneath the now primary desire for material existence.
(b) We are caught forever searching to enter into spiritual development through various practices and then find we cannot live what has been privately developed readily in the outer world, when actually ‘spiritual development’ is right beneath our feet along with being right beneath the feet of everyone.
I watch the comments that are graciously posted each time a blog is posted and I am also trying to get a sense of the interest in this question of the Soul of America. Interest is minimal, so I may stop the blog and continue the writing until it is ready to publish as a book. Or, I am considering dropping posting the blog on Facebook and just continuing it on my website, http://www.robertsardello.com
Thank you, those who have commented. A comment that I want to address is one in which a person quite eagerly indicated waiting to hear what would be said concerning Indian shamans. Thank you. I won’t likely say much if anything concerning shamanism. In this working into the soul of America, the best, best writing I have found that reveals something of extreme importance regarding shamanism in relation to the writings here is Eduardo Duran’s book, The Buddha in Redface, a novel of the mysterious conjunction of the American Indian and the atomic bomb. And, the other person to read is the great Taos, New Mexico writer, Frank Waters, who lived with the Hopi for three years, was told the complete Hopi myth by elders, in their language, and then translated as “The Book of the Hopi”, one of the truly greatest of all great books. He also wrote a novel that very directly speaks of this juxtaposition of radiation and the Pueblo Indians, The Woman at Otowi Crossing.
In a later section of this present writing, the very mysterious conjunction of the presence of the American Indian with places high in radioactivity will be addressed.
1/6 of all the uranium in the world is centered around Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, f Los Alamos, where all things nuclear happen is surrounded by Pueblo, Arapahoe, Apache, and Hope reservations. The Sandia Mountains, near Albuquerque, and near Sandia Pueblo, have the largest storing area of nuclear warheads in the world. (These are major reasons why I moved here.)
This juxtaposition of the presence of the American Indian and radiation, while concentrated in this region of New Mexico, is not at all the exclusive region where this mysterious relation occurs. It also occurs in Minnesota with the land of the Dakota Indians, and in Nebraska, where the Indians there are currently suing the uranium mining companies for contaminating their water. I am very sure the juxtaposition is widespread. (“Rational” reasons can be proffered, but such reasoning is always secondary – something much more mysterious precedes any reasons conjured.)
Perhaps, it would be helpful to suggest one imagination guiding these writings, to dispel the fantasy of anything exotic in the offing. If something of this nature does find its way into these contemplations, it will have to serve the purpose of the concern with the soul of America.
This imagination will seem like a diversion. I hope you are able to entertain it.
I am sure you feel the inclining of the writing – that the soul of America can be entered only through the land, and this land, revered, honored, lived within by the people of this land, the Indian people, who are not just the inhabitants of this land, they are the land. This is just fact, and it is of great, great interest that this givenness was not perceived by the first ‘visitors.’ Nor by any after.
The imagination: There is a great imagination, a picturing of the “Ages of Man”—the Golden Age, the Silver age, The Bronze Age, the Heroic Age, the Iron Age. This picturing of the Ages of Man comes from the Greek poet Hesiod. Greek. (a hint that we perhaps have to do a ‘reverse’ imagination. Remember when I said that the Greek temples were designed to disconnect the gods and the land.)
The Ages progress from an original, long-gone age in which humans enjoyed a nearly divine existence to the current age, in which humans are beset by innumerable pains and evils – the iron age. In the two accounts that survive from ancient Greece and Rome, this degradation of the human condition over time is indicated symbolically with metals of successively decreasing value.
In the book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnasser has a dream that only Daniel is able to interpret. It is a dream of these ages:
“You, the king, were gazing and, behold, a great figure, very impressive, stood before you in a frightening vision.
“Its head [was made] of fine gold; its neck, upper chest and arms [were made] of silver; its stomach and thighs [were made] of bronze.His legs [were made] of iron; his feet, some of them [were made] of iron, some of them of fired clay.
His legs [were made] of iron; his feet, some of them [were made] of iron, some of them of fired clay.
And you saw a loose stone not [made] by hands, and it struck the figure on its iron and clay toes and it pulverized them.
And all the iron, bronze, clay, silver and gold were pulverized entirely and became like the chaff that is scattered in the summer, carried off by a persistent wind* and nothing of it remains, but the stone that struck the figure became a mountain and all the earth became full of it.
This was the dream and I shall explain its meaning to the king.”
This dream of the ages of man, interestingly, includes the substance of clay and the substance of stone.
A further, most interesting version of this image, was given to Francis of Assisi in a vision:
Francis had a vision of a woman one night when he had been praying for hours and sleep had gradually overtaken him. “His holy soul was taken into the sanctuary of God and he saw in a dream” a woman with head of gold, bosom and arms of silver, abdomen of crystal, and comprised of iron from the waste down. She was tall, delicate, symmetrical, and beautifully formed, wearing a soiled mantle.
This woman of St. Francis’ vision is Lady Poverty, who he spiritually married.
The “Ages of Man” as given in the Greek imagination pictures the gradual degradation of human beings, our sinking into pain and evil. The dream of Nebuchadnasser pictures a similar degradation, though it adds the most interesting element of stone, that is, earth.
The vision of St. Francis is one in which the completely earthly condition is actually what is sought. Nostalgia for ‘a golden age’, or for some exotic magic that will turn us again into ‘high’ beings, will not happen. Perhaps, spiritually, the opposite direction is indicated. The heart’s emptiness. Without the desire for gold silver, bronze, iron – each indicating different human accomplishments and strife.
St. Francis reverses the ages of man by embracing Lady Poverty. I propose that another name for Lady Poverty is Earth. Where we are inclined in this ongoing writing. Just look at where and how St. Francis lived. with and within Earth. Then, Earth reveals herself as Spirit. But only when she is embraced without any possibility of what can be done through self-will. We are at the end of self-will.
Take this last image of Lady Poverty as analogous to what is being revealed by the American Indian – the path through radiation, that is, meeting sure death (which we are doing, but without consciousness or only the literal
consciousness of trying to reverse the death of Earth), into radiance, the embrace of our being wholly EARTH-being. Not around or sidestepping or imagining a golden a new golden age, but a path through death, for radiation hastens death; it is an image for hastened death, which can also be heard as the death of the self-will. We need not take radiation literally as nuclear winter. Radiation in the earth is responsible for change. When met in the proper way, entering the soul of America ends those Ages only concerned with exerting self-will.
The meaning of “pagan” is rocky hillside. It is a word originating in the idea of being firmly set, of fixed place, implying a geographical dedication to each place, separate and distinct and belonging to the spiritus loci who inhabit it. —- James Hillman
We are now entering the Shadow of America. We will be doing so with many more examples. It is a shadow that in fact we still identify with, while at the same time we don’t see or feel it in ourselves but project it onto others and it becomes our civilization.
For example, when people arrived here, the ‘here’ was experienced as completely unknown, something utterly deeper than, for example, going to another country now and experience something “unknown”. It was, for a very long time, an unknown that would not yield to any kind of knowing. It never did yield its true Life, not to outsiders, who thought that conquering it would be the only way of asserting their very existence.
Immense trees, unknown creatures, canopies of trees for miles and miles and miles, unending rocks, huge rocks, canyons, snakes, unknown animals, and unknown human beings, unknown and thus carrying the projection of ‘innocents’ (Columbus), or ‘savages’ (also Columbus). The unknown land carried the projections of ‘filled with gold” (Cortez). “America” is a projection, or many, many projections. We still cannot experience what is here. We think that Western civilization originated with the Greeks. But the Greeks built temples of the gods and goddesses in ways that deliberately made the gods and goddesses separate from the land. (Gaia was ‘Mother of Earth’ and perhaps also ‘Earth’ but in the mythology, she gave birth to the Titans to oppose the sky gods…..and was quickly diminished.
If our civilization is attributed as originating with the Greeks, we can never feel the depth of being of this land. All attempts at ecology are thus theory and the applications of theory.
If our civilization is attributed to the many immigrations from many, many different places, European, South American, Asian, and many, many other places, the important and significant overlay from these many cultures still obscures that this land is not just a place where Indians lived – there was/is no difference between the Indians and the land:
“We have even lost the Greek’s constant awareness that nature indubitably exists. We ignore it; we confront it no longer. For the Greeks the relationship was tragic (we are oriented toward freedom from nature, according to the Greeks). To us, the relationship is trivial. Since this is so, how can we hope to penetrate even deeper to that landscape of the consciousness where we are and mountain are the same? Yet we must try to do so, because the American Indian world is a place where no conception whatever of any difference between men and nature can exist, since there is, in fact, no discrimination between nature and man as such, but only an ineradicable instinct that all living things are one. All are living: snake, mountain, cloud, eagles, and men.”(pg. 6 PUEBLO Mountain, Village, Dance, by Vincent Scully).
The unknown was never entered. It was wholly projected outward, and the heroic archetype set out to conquer it, projecting the unknown as what can be solved by exploration, conquering, clearing, projecting all sorts of fantasies on the beings who were here., and the land that is the ‘here’.
When the complete and utter unknown is experienced through the ego, what would otherwise be a mystical experience, is instead experienced in literal form – gold, for instance, rather than illumination of the Sun within. The Sun as simultaneously the illumination of the land and the quickening of life; encountering this reality, enacting it as drama, was central to the Anasazi — they enacted rituals and ceremonies not for themselves, but for the whole of humanity – to bring this reality into all of humanity. Chaco Canyon, the great place of the Anasazi (the pre-Pueblo people), was the center of this sacrifice. The spiral – thus Sun as center and periphery; the fully human being as center and periphery. Community as essential to being oneself, as non-existent without everyone, without being the whole of Earth, who we are.
To begin to be oriented to the deep inner listening for the presence of the beckoning Soul of America requires that we fully notice the heroic archetype that has governed this country since its founding. The heroic archetype is not the realm of soul, but of the ego. I do not disparage this archetypal way of the ego, that is, of the unconscious way of usual consciousness. But we must be aware of its limitations. We usually think of the realm of the unconscious as being all that is not ego. Ego-consciousness, though, lacks self-awareness and therefore takes itself literally, and is unaware of 96% of the fullness of consciousness. The taking for granted of “I” in its smallest sense is unconscious. We are simply within it without an awareness that ‘sees through’ what we are within. It functions automatically, and takes itself for the totality of consciousness, when in fact it is only 4% of consciousness. And ego consciousness remains very, very unconscious that when it attempts to speak more universally and as-if objective, it is only veiled ego-consciousness.
To find the way through ego and its accompanying egotism, we have to first go down before we go ‘up’. That is, if we stay within ego consciousness and from there try to understand who we are and where we are going, what is our destiny as a country, what is the destiny of this country — which it is aware of but we are not, we slide into semi spirit-consciousness without having gone through the necessary soul work. And since that kind of spirit-consciousness is highly truncated while ego-consciousness is so very partial, we are simply not here, for we cannot take the tiny island of a multiplicity of “I’ as a here, as a place, as soulful and soul-filled.
Unconscious ego-consciousness that on the surface seems to be what this country is about can be characterized as:
The drive to activity
Responses to challenge
Feelings of independence, strength, and achievement
Ideas of decisive action, conquest
Literalness of consciousness
Mind based conscious
“me-me” consciousness when ego becomes ‘egotism’when the only thing that reflects ego is ego.
“Get on with it”
The “American Dream”
An aside: the current ‘version’ of ‘here’ is family. It was not long ago – not more than twenty years ago, that a sudden and strong emphasis on ‘family’ became a kind of small, collective version of the ego. It is a construction, mainly political and economic, not having to do with the nature of who we are or where we are. It is a version of the listed qualities of unconscious ego-consciousness. A very small version, which tries to be everything, as when something happens in the country, an emergency or a disaster or a challenge and we hear “We are all a family”.
These kinds of qualities form a civilization, but not a culture. We imported culture from where we came from, and summarily destroyed the culture of this land. Culture, though, while it can be ‘borrowed’ for a while, ultimately must be created — not out of nothing, but from listening to the spirits of the land, the spirits who are the land (something ego-consciousness cannot comprehend).
We can question whether America has ever been a culture; the land of America, before it was America was indeed a culture – the culture of the Indians. America is a civilization. A civilization always concentrates on –marching forward, solving problems, building. Or at least, we have to look through the ‘problems’ to try and see if there is a culture that is a Soul of America.
The “New World” that is, the forcible entry into this land – was not about place – since the beginning, it is about gold (money) justified through materialist religion, and more than anything, it is about land, land development, land ownership, having, possession, real estate. And America, since its beginning concerns fear of geography. Unknown geography that is here to be conquered rather than entered, felt, taking humanity into the totally new and unknown. The unknown is faced only to be ‘taken over’ into the imagination of use and possession. This now extends to outer space, which makes sense as we are so ‘spaced out’ as to consider space a ‘land’ to be conquered.
America, since its beginning, has also been about the fear of the ‘pagan’. The word ‘pagan’ means “Rocky Hillside”. A word meaning being firmly set, of fixed pace, a dedication to place, and the place belonging to the spirits who inhabit it – spiritus loci.
Within the heroic archetype, America – the “new” means what’s next?; keep going progress; and most of all development – seizing the land and making it into a commodity of progress. The expectation of the
‘new’ makes the awakening of true surprise – awakening to what is here, impossible.
Civilization honors and maintains human achievements; Culture gives them back to the Gods.