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When young people make the global headlines it is not always in a positive sense. The world recently saw footage of a Native Elder being taunted by a group of teen boys. This video went viral and stirred up many emotions, such as outrage and despair.
Native American activists and allies gathered in Washington D.C. on Thursday January 18th for the Indigenous Peoples March. The boys were wearing MAGA caps. MAGA stands for "Make America Great Again". Just days earlier President Trump made jokes on Twitter about the Native American Massacre at Wounded Knee and the Battle of Little Bighorn. These events happened just over a century ago. Trump's comments were directed at Senator Elizabeth Warren. He was mocking her claim of (distant) Native American heritage and has repeatedly referred to her as Pocahontas. Warren recently visited multiple facilities in Texas where immigrant men, women and children (all separated from their families!) are being detained. She painted a profoundly disturbing picture in video footage I watched..
The group of young men harassing the marchers are students at a Catholic High School which sends a delegation of its students to Washington to attend the anti-abortion March for Life every year. This year the rally took place on the same day as the Indigenous Peoples March. The larger picture that has emerged since is complex. These young people had been harassed by a group of Black Hebrew Israelites. Apparently they were shouting abuse at both the teens and the Native group. The actions of the young people may have been coloured or influenced by trying to drown out the group harassing them.
This certainly contains a warning for all of us (in our on-line global village) about making easy judgements about situations where we cannot see the full picture. There was a party present we did not see in the video. Isn't that often the case? We miss key information and jump to conclusions!!
It has also been reported that although parents and chaperones were present, multiple witnesses on social media say they did nothing to intervene.
Only very recently we saw footage of immigrant children being tear-gassed at the US Border (showing what western adults are capable of doing to toddlers in nappies, following orders!) and now this (showing what teens are capable of doing to Elders they have not been taught to recognise as such and respect!)
In this newsletter I want to move away from the personal aspects of this situation and emphasize once again the importance of a spiritual tool (even survival) kit for all children but I also want to make some related observations, sparked by this incident:
1. The first thing that came to my mind (after my emotions cooled a little) was that this incident has placed a Native American Elder on our screens: here I am referring to both TV and computer screens as well as the "screens of our mind" (our windows of awareness). His name is Nathan Phillips. He is an Omaha Elder and Vietnam-era veteran. Philips has since released a video where he explains that he has forgiven the boys, even though he remains disappointed by their attitude.
In March 2017 I wrote a blog titled Trump's Teachings. Here is one paragraph I now wish to regurgitate:
"Trump is teaching us how NOT to be a true Elder of the Community passing on the hard-earned knowledge and wisdom of our ancestors. This is a lesson we badly need in Western society. We are youth-obsessed and old age-phobic. Maybe a few years of Trump will mean learning (urgently, for once and for all!) why indigenous peoples have Elders and why they play such a crucial role as leaders of their villages and communities?!"
Once I leave my emotions out of this, I find it very interesting that Donald Trump has now "met his match in Nathan Philips". World media are serving up a prototype of what a true Elder is and how an Elder conducts himself and acts. For that global teaching alone I actually feel some gratitude to all people involved in this event!
2. We all need a sense of belonging. A TED talk I watched recently describes this as one of the four pillars of a meaningful life (the other three are: purpose, transcendence and story telling). I am just reading Richard Dawkins' book "The God Delusion". He repeatedly makes the point that there is no such thing as "a Christian child or Muslim child", there are only children of Christian or Muslim (etc.) parents. I agree with him insofar as that young people need to have the spiritual freedom to choose their own spiritual path (and their options should include the atheism that Dawkins promotes). I observe that children who grow up without any kind of spiritual orientation or belief system miss out on essential wiring for this. It is much harder for them later in life to commit to any spiritual path (if they so choose). For that reason I believe that there is value in parents sharing their own belief system with children without imposing or demanding commitment. The connection between having a spiritual belief system and how this informs our personal code of ethics has been well-researched. (More about this in my third book: Medicine of the Imagination - Dwelling in Possibility).
Having said all this, we need to make a key distinction between children "belonging" to a Church or religious group, just because they are the children of their parents - and children or young people belonging to The Human Family no matter what as well as belonging to groups of their own choosing.
Teenagers are still quite vulnerable. Their convictions are not yet fully formed, neither is their impulse control. That makes them easy pawns for organisations (such as schools or a church or, in a different category, terrorist organisations recruiting teenagers, a contemporary phenomenon also known as radicalisation) to be used on a larger chessboard of confliction opinions and belief systems. I think that we need to pay close attention to the line that their Roman Catholic Church sends a delegation of young people to Washington to attend the anti-abortion March. Obviously the teens remain responsible for their behaviour but their own "elders" (teachers and parents) sent them there and did not step in when this was called for.
This means that we cannot all home in on one boy (whose name I refuse to mention here) egged on by others, and project all our own shadow material onto him. We need to look at how all players in this arena were behaving, including any parties invisible in the viral video!
3. One question looming large (and it is a question I have posted many times in my first book and in interviews on global shamanism summits etc.) is: When does a boy become a man? Western culture has lost the art of offering rites of passage to our teens. We no longer have Elders initiating boys and helping them make the transition to the next stage of life. From that point of view we all collectively fail here. This is not the personal fault of one young man unexpectedly caught on camera in a volatile situation. The answer is: young people will either self-initiate (by courting danger, joining a gang, using recreational drugs etc. Some young people will opt for sports or academic achievements instead). Life will initiate them (and this time we got to watch it on camera!) OR they fail to pass the initiation altogether and they get stuck an earlier level of functioning. Roll on commitment-phobes, Mother's Boys, eternal students and 37-year old (superannuated) teenagers who love the lifestyle... We all know one!)
4. Courtesy of this incident and video we are all being presented with another question: what is the healthy (higher octave) expression of the sacred masculine? On stage we now have a US president, a Native Elder and a group of teenage boys.
Masculinity is not just as issue for men. It is equally so an issue for women and even children. It transcends the issue of gender-identification and the whole range of options within that. Every single person alive at this point really needs to ask themselves (sooner or later) what the healthy divine masculine principle or force within them is and how they manifest and embody this.
In achieving leadership from a place of integrity and spiritual maturity all men involved (this particular incident happened to involve men and boys) need to also engage with the question: what is the healthy (higher octave) expression of the sacred masculine? Where do I find and nourish that within myself? How do I manifest and embody this. How do I arrive at this cosmic balance within my own psyche, body and soul?!
These three questions constantly crop up in all courses I teach, no matter the location (or continent!)
Susan Rossi is bringing a specialist workshop based on the material from my first book: Natural Born Shamans - The Course! to the US (Philadelphia) in March 2019. She is both hosting and coordinating but I am flying in to teach the course. This video has only shown all of us all over again just how important it is that shamanic practitioners develop their skills in working with young people. (There are a few places left. Feel free to contact Susan for a course description on email@example.com).
In February I am teaching a sacred art retreat in London titled The Sacred Marriage, where the group will actively dive into a deep exploration of the cosmic dance of sacred masculine and feminine within us. It is loosely (but not exclusively) based on an art video I made in 2018: The Marriage in the Great Below:
"Our soul's craving for wholeness drives the unfoldment of all stories. A profound mystery teaching is found at the heart of a collection of myths from ancient Sumeria, such The Descent of Inanna and the sacred marriage of Ereshkigal and Nergal. The language may be archaic but the message is timeless: the sacred marriage between divine feminine and masculine principles is what animates and revitalizes. the cosmos. This phenomenon needs to occur within our own psyche (on the level of soul and archetypes) as much as in the world around us."
I invite you all to take a step back and look at world events asking yourself the following question: Could it be the case that we human beings are all teachers for one another - but often both parties are not aware of this?! - As events unfold, ask yourself: what is being mirrored and modelled here? Are people showing up in their higher octave manifestation, in service to others and the greatest good for all? - If not, what would it take to show up this way? Where can I myself model this in my life, my job, the places where I belong?!
If we adults are not doing this - how will our young people stand a chance of mastering this art?!
Note to self: Link to Transmutation News and perhaps quote??? Or put at the top?? Figure out on the 29th!!
One final note: recently both The Shift Network and Sounds True have given permission for me to post videos I made for The Shamanism Global Summit and Year of Ceremony on my own YouTube Channel. In a box lower down you will the links! I just wish to balance the content of this newsletter by demonstrating that young people do incredibly inspirational things as well... and just look at Greta Thunberg, a 15-year old Swedish climate activist with Asperger's who on 7 December 2018, at the United Nations Climate Change conference, denounced world leaders for their inaction and told them that since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.
Response-ability is a key word in this context!
Blessings on all you do and are in this world!