The sky is still clear and the moon is about to rise. Up here in the North the moon is always special. Even two days after it’s been full. The events around the full moon in Norway smell good to me. And this has to do with my heightened awareness of how the material world is enriched by the spiritual world in such a way that it doesn’t allow me to think anything, but rather just practice being in the world – whatever world. Today someone wanted to know how I reconcile being a Marxist with being a shamanic diviner. As if we can claim any of these labels to ourselves. I will reproduce my answer here, and then give a concrete example.
To keep it simple, perhaps I could say this: there is no reconciliation in the sense we normally think of the word, where we think of making an effort to let two different worlds meet. What enables me to walk between the worlds – let us call these worlds the worlds of logos and mythos – is the fact that I keep the narratives that inform each world apart. I make a strict distinction between them. I do not reconcile the metaphysical with the physical. I practice being in each world as I please. I don’t THINK about being in either world. I just am. I follow the rules of what works for me in each world. If anything in my PRACTICE of living approaches the idea of a reconciliation, then it is to be found in bringing things and ideas from one world into the other. This obviously presupposes that I don’t THINK that what I bring from the woo-woo world into the rational world is woo. Nor vice versa.
As a Marxist I can still accept the idea that what life is all about is how to maintain being connected to all things, which is the very core of shamanism. It is of no good to me to be disconnected from my material possessions – it is still a truth that money makes the world go round, not love – any more than it is good for me to be disconnected from my sense of being in the world as a spiritual being – here, with a wink to all the atheists I know, and who are very spiritual. I don’t know if this answers the question that pertains to asking why I don’t offer a critique of the transcendental as I do of ideology.
But the truth of the matter is that if you stand your ground, whichever ground, you do so because you are familiar with the house rules. So, in effect, it is never the thinking that informs my living but living. Sometimes this living involves an appreciation of having a luxury cabin on top of a mountain in Norway, only so that I can get to talk to the spirits of the land. So, indeed, I never speak metaphorically when I speak about the spirit world, but in fact quite literally and without any (Marxist) remorse.
Two days ago my partner and I were roaming the mountain plateau in the Trysil area in Norway. The plateaus are the thing for me. We were going for the top. Not long into our walk, he pointed to a hawk. As it happens, I’m convinced that one of his power spirits is embodied in a hawk. This conviction is simply the result of observation. There is hardly any walk in the woods that we do together – anywhere – when the hawk doesn’t appear. And I know it doesn’t come for me, as I’m never the one who spots it first. So the hawk is his thing. We marvelled at its hovering and then we moved on. At about half the way, I caught myself smiling at the green moss, only, I also realized that it wasn’t my face I was seeing, but rather that of my dead mother. It occurred to me instantly that the full moon in August is not only associated with harvest. It is also associated with death. In traditional folklore we often encounter the idea of honoring the dead by the third full moon in summer.
As we reached the top I suggested to my partner that we place 4 stones on the highest point in honor of our dead parents. This felt good. On our descent a spectacular dance awaited us. 4 hawks were dancing in the air in a fantastic formation, where there was only one spotted earlier. One of them got very low, flying in our direction. But 4 hawks! I told my partner: ‘well, your favorite number is 4, so there you have it.’
But as it happens when one finds oneself walking between worlds almost unawares, a different awareness can set in. He said, ‘well, we did place 4 stones for our parents on the top, so don’t you think that that was enough to call on all of them here so that they can acknowledge our act?’ Indeed, it’s a good thing I live with a Marxist who is also very spiritual and not in the slightest interested in the so-called rational world.
So, in addition to what I said earlier, I think that all we need in our practice of living is to be aware of our environment; pay attention to it. That, and the fact that if we expect to see the spirits of dead people around us in the material world, then we can be sure to see them. It’s as simple as that.
Walking between worlds is not a question of what we believe, but rather a question of what we practice. If we practice awareness of our expectations, and of how each world behaves, be it physical or metaphysical, according to our expectations – then we get a lot more out of it than if we merely speculated on the conditions for the existence of each of these worlds. We live what we practice, not what we preach.
Just to get a visual in place, on the question of walking between the worlds as it was prompted by the question of reconciling between the two, I grabbed one of the numerous decks of cards I always travel with, an old fortuneteller’s Dondorf Lenormand, and asked the question.
To what extent can we think of the world of logos and the world of mythos in terms of their encounter?
The Stars, The Tree, and The Bear suggest the following: The link between the metaphysical (The Stars) and the physical (The Bear) is found in the World Tree. The shamanic tree that has allowed for many a travel between the worlds in the past. There is a long tradition for such a practice. Let us honor it.
Note on the cards: Dondorf Lenormand, 1890