Journey Out and Back

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When I began to apprentice with my teacher, Rockman, and the last of his Latgawa-Takelma teachers, Suhgehseh, I entered into a surprising Journey of Self-Willed Transformation whose Nature would reveal itself to me over decades. Soon I met other people, from all over the Americas, and other parts of the world, on similar Journeys of Service, Learning, Unlearning and Reconnection, a “Journey Out and Back.”

Takelma Hats
Takelma Hats

Many Takelma people, early in the twentieth century, decided to no longer have children as  the brutal and ongoing genocide of Original Peoples in the Americas entered its fourth century. They saw how the invading culture that was systematically dehumanizing Native Peoples had already dehumanized the invaders themselves. They did not see a human landscape worth subjecting their children to.

At the same time they felt that they had to pass on the Wisdom of Finding Our Way and getting reoriented in this Living Reality back to the invaders who had obviously lost their connection to it from our own ancestry. Nasty things happen to all of Life when people get lost in cultural ruts without any context for our experience.

Back in 1984, at twenty years of age, I embarked on this Journey with youthful enthusiasm, tremendous naiveté and very little context for the apprenticeship I was entering, or even for my own culture. I began to learn with People who understand where we come from, where we are headed and what it means to be a True Human BEING in a context of hundreds of thousands of years of human experience, distilled to essential lessons learned.

An essential part of the task that I was given was not to disseminate the Takelma ways but rather to pick up the burden of serving de-indigenized, displaced peoples and to begin learning what has happened and is happening with us and between us from a place of service, “in the trenches with my people,” so to speak. I also committed to begin sharing some of the ways I was taught to  get oriented in the reality of a Living World Anciently-Inhabited and Intensely-Loved and Excellently-Cared-For by Those Who Came Before Us. I  then embarked in learning Critical Care Medicine and serving people of all ancestries “in the trenches” of Trauma, Neuro-Trauma and every aspect of Critical Care and on the receiving or delivering end of how the turmoil of modern “culture” shatters bodies and minds.

Whenever I share stories or teachings from the Life Ways of other People, it is not as some formula or recipe to adopt, but as a necessary contrast and context with which to begin understanding how the globalizing monoculture is impacting all of us and sending us down paths which all children necessarily adapt to and adopt, precisely in the absence of context for understanding which way we are headed, especially in relationship to the Wisdom of Aliveness that inhabits and surrounds all of us, generally in profound states of disarray which we have a hard time comprehending. My hope is to broaden our appreciation for what it means to BE human, as a natural, ancestral and consequent response-ability.

People learned to THRIVE, not survive
A People dedicated to THRIVING, not surviving.

The Takelma people are Original People of the Salmon-Filled “Rogue River Indian” Country of Northern California and Southern Oregon, from the coast all the way out to their sacred Origination Place, in the Oregon Central Desert. That is the place where they weathered and made it through the latest and fourth devastation of our planet caused by human folly.

In the traditional way of learning, the Don Goo-Yah-Oh (Takelma don: “stone” + goo-yah-oh: “doctor”-as in dedicated student and wise, learned person), would travel from Oregon all the way up to the Arctic Circle, visiting and training on sacred mountains and with other people who had completed their Journey. Then they would head South and do the same thing all the way down to the tip of South America, before coming back to Oregon, after what could easily turn into years and decades of travel, learning, working, living and loving in very different cultures, landscapes, political and economic systems and world views.

This is the traditional Journey of the apprentices of the Takelma Don Goo-Yah-Oh. Many peoples in the Americas and many other parts of the world still travel Trails of Apprenticeship, in similar fashion, even today. Few modern people appreciate the profound complexity, commerce, education, communication and international culture of the Americas prior to invasion. Charles C. Mann’s 1491 (article linked, book highly-recommended) is an excellent introduction to the Americas prior to Columbus, based on the most recent archaeological findings in the Americas.

Can you SEE and get oriented to where you ARE? Or do you only live in a world of your own imagining?
Can you SEE and get oriented to where you ARE in this Anciently-Lived and Intensely-Loved Place?

The Wisdom teachings of the Stone Doctors – and wisdom comes from the Germanic wijs: “way, path, trail” +dom: “condition of, state of” – or “knowing the conditions of the trails,” holds the keys to reading ancient paths marked on the landscape and traveling them. They show us how to get Oriented in a very Anciently-Lived and Intensely-Loved Landscape and Living Reality. We discover the bedrock wisdom of this Living World and our human responsibilities to Aliveness.

Cultural Mechanics

Another area of learning and unlearning for the Journeymen and women, in societies focused on renewing and revitalizing their Aliveness, is “cultural mechanics.” What we view as “traditional societies” were in continual recreation. The traditional Teachings transmitted Principles that were not altered at a whim, any more than a mechanic starts tossing his wrenches in the trash, or that we quit drinking water, because they compose a complete toolkit for our regulative and creative capacity to continue adapting with full vitality to changes in our world while caring for and celebrating the Vitality of all of Life around us.

The principles upheld are the Principles of Life-Itself. They are the Relational Principles of Response-Ability to  Continuity in a Community of Living BEINGS of which Human Beings are one among many expressions of Being.

Often, we modern people have a very hard time grasping that “traditional” Peoples are not trying to keep the Past alive, nor are they enamored, like children, with the continual pursuit of the “brand new.” They are interested in renewing what nourishes Aliveness, as we sow seeds of consequences in the Present that future generations will inescapably harvest.

Knowing the countless ways ALL humans have supported Aliveness, as well as devastated it, and the often very subtle and varied errors or misperceptions that can take us down paths to markedly different consequences, spares us, our descendants and all of Life the consequences of more devastation. So when People-With-the-Memory-of-the-Way-They-Got-To-Be-This-Way tell us about what they experienced “in the Past,” they are revealing how they came to be who and how they are in the Present, so as to orient themselves, to make a future possible for their children and further descendants.

When Journeywomen and Men come back to their homelands, after apprenticeships spanning many continents, lifeways, decades, and ecosystems, they serve as resources for the People, as we adapt to what has always been a world of constant fluctuation and change in the Natural Turbulence of a Living, Growing, Shedding, Recreating Planet.

Journeys of Initiation in Europe

A French student of mine apprenticed in an ongoing French and Pan-European guild tradition called “compagnonage.” As masons, they are also connected to the Stones. The compagnons built the churches of Europe, encoding the Ancient Wisdom in the very temples of the Romano-Semitic imperial religion that invaded our homelands. As they learn their art, they work and learn with guild masters, for extended periods of time in each place, all over Europe, learning all kinds of local, regional and personal traditions and variations of the arts which they first started learning near their home.

What today is known as the “Tour de France,” refers to this apprenticeship in the masonic guild system for stone workers, iron workers, bakers and all kinds of ancient crafts still practiced today in Europe. What remains of the actual Stone Wisdom in Europe is mostly vestigial, symbolic, ritualistic and mostly disconnected from the sacred mountains that dot the landscape of Europe just as they dot all landscapes where humans have lived. They are masons without mountains.

Nevertheless, they learn to apply themselves with excellence and care, all the way to Mastery, in demanding apprenticeships which few complete all the way to being recognized as “Master-compagnons.”  That application, excellence and care translate easily and effectively into other apprenticeships and further Journeys.

When my French apprentice went back to France, I told him to go to the French countryside and talk to peasants. They would show him where the local sacred mountains are and the local stone maps to the local mountains picked right out of their fields and proudly included into the stone walls bordering their fields. Why? Because they have time with the Ground, the One known as  Rock Old Woman, the One whose Shapes we are. They are actually in touch with their World, and thus allow themselves to be touched by their World. They know where they are, not just intellectually but with their senses. Their hands and their hearts are with the ground and what springs out of it.

Lascaux. When moderns call this "art" they reduce the fully coherent messages of the Ancients into the impoverished meaning-less-ness and impressionism of their own context.
Lascaux, France. When moderns call this “art” they reduce the fully coherent messages of the Ancients into their own context of sense-less-ness. The Ancients weren’t “trying to become us.” They were embarked on an altogether different Life Adventure. Observe carefully and you might SEE that this is not just a pretty picture.

My student went to southern France, renowned for its amazing painted caves like Lascaux and many others, and went and talked to the country folk. They laughed when a “city boy” came and asked them about the stones. Few city people typically have any felt context for human presence in a landscape in the Long Story of Our Being Here.

There are many things that are common knowledge to a peasant but sound utterly fantastic to a city person.

Since he asked, a country elder delightedly plucked gorgeous specimen after sumptuous specimen of stones out of the walls surrounding his fields and began to show him the very same images I had shown him in the Americas while pointing out the features on the landscape nearby and telling him the stories of the images on nearby cliffs. His field was a temple to Life surrounded by walls of neatly stacked Stone Offerings made by his most ancient ancestors whose love for that place he still touched and held, reverently, today.

A Global Culture Coherent with Aliveness

These are not "fanciful designs." This is an exceedingly exact language. Menhir from Safronov Village, Khakasiya Republic, Russian Federation
These are not “fanciful designs.” This is an exact  language in absolute coherence with this Place, from the Ground beneath the Rock, to the Stars in the Heavens. Menhir from Safronov Village, Khakasiya Republic, Russian Federation

We are all descendants of ancient, megalithic, wisdom cultures rooted in a coherent relationship to and with Aliveness. We once shared a Global Culture with infinite local variations where the Grand Adventure was connecting to and feeding Aliveness. This was not an “anti-technological” way of Life. It was a Way of Life rooted in Living Technology with amazing technological feats that still remain unexplainable and unmatched to the present-day.

Pick up a copy of Barry Fell’s America B.C. and discover the writings and temples of Celts, Iberians, Phoenicians, Libyans and countless other Journeymen and Women, in the Americas. Discover a world of learned, highly-skilled people traveling across oceans to learn and deepen in their Wisdom with their friends and relatives in the Americas and worldwide.

Sit down for an hour and view the stunning BBC Documentary on Unnatural Histories: Amazon and discover something of the complex civilizations of technologically savvy city-states, five times the size of Spain (!) that the Spanish explorer, Francisco de Orellana saw as the first post-Columbus European to venture down the Amazon. Orellana and his crew journeyed up the Andes, from Ecuador, and built boats at the headwaters of the Amazon to navigate all the way to the Atlantic. The priest on the expedition, Fray Gaspar de Carvajal, describes the entire length of the Amazon and its tributaries as continuous cities with well-clothed, well-fed people living in complex, highly-civilized, opulent and very diverse societies and cultures.

His account was relegated to the trash bin of “historical fantasy” by the next Portuguese travelers who ventured up the Amazon, from the Atlantic, fifty years later. They encountered an overgrown jungle landscape sparsely inhabited by “primitive tribes.” They also saw that the Amazon had no topsoil with which to support the kind of agriculture which would allow Orellana’s “fabled city-states” to exist.

Was Gaspar de Carvajal just fabricating a fantastic account? Why would a supposedly densely-inhabited and mixed urban-jungle landscape so rapidly become an overgrown, sparsely-inhabited jungle?

Orellana’s crew left a wake of disease which killed off 95% of the people of the Amazon in less than fifty years. Now that the Amazon is being deforested, immense earthworks called geoglyphs have been discovered all over the Amazon basin. Also a full twenty percent of the land is man-made and allowed the people of those complex societies to plant massive, civilization-sustaining gardens!  Let’s see IF YOU CAN BREAK THROUGH THE HYPNOTIC, SENSE-LESS WAY MODERNS “READ” ONLY WORDS AND GRASP THAT LAST SENTENCE:


These massive earthworks and human-made black earth, or terra preta, in Portuguese, are being found throughout the Amazon basin! The terra preta, made of broken ceramics mixed with charcoal, creates an environment that supports rich soil organisms which then generate more topsoil. The documentary reveals a world that few modern people can even imagine.

Most of the Americas experienced this 95% die-off. The Americas were crisscrossed by native travelers and merchants who got infected by and transmitted European diseases to other peoples centuries before they even saw their first white invader. Travel was and continues to be a very important part of indigenous life in the Americas and world-wide.

“First contact” accounts already present an unwittingly distorted reality of the pre-Columbian Americas. Imagine our society after a 95% die-off.

The interest of the past is not in the past but rather in our Present, in reawakening our appreciation of Human Brilliance and Possibility, contextualizing the depth and scale of the adventure that challenges us to truly BE Human, and to comprehend the Nature of this invitation.

Europeans’ Forgotten History

Travelers from AfroEurasia have been coming to the Americas for thousands, if not tens of thousands of years. Many of the indigenous people I have studied with in the Americas have spoken to me, with exceedingly high esteem, of the ancient Europeans as “The Elder White Brothers.” The people in the Americas didn’t die off when their old friends from Europe came visiting. Why would they die off in such numbers when the “new Europeans” showed up?

Because something happened to Europeans.

We got conquered and systematically debased. We had the basis of our biological, social, intellectual, linguistic, cultural and spiritual lives destroyed. Our ancestral, Life-Oriented cultures were degraded to the point of spending over a thousand years in ignorance and filth. For five hundred years anyone possessing our ancient writings was killed.

500 years of Inquisition: How Europeans learned to NOT be "too smart for their own good."
500 years of Inquisition and the Acculturation to Ignorance: How Europeans learned to NOT be “too smart for their own good” and to look the other way.

Our languages were forbidden along with our knowledge of how to live well and freely in our beloved homelands. Our leaders were killed and replaced with rulers, something profoundly different. Bathing was seen as “sinful.” We were gang-pressed as serfs and slaves on our own lands. We developed all kinds of diseases, many from the livestock we started to live with, as we ourselves were reduced to another form of domesticated human livestock of our conquerors. Plague after plague devastated the descendants of the tribes of Europe.

Europeans, and many other conquered peoples, developed a culture and a biology adapted, immune and unresponsive to our own biological, familial, social, cultural and human debasement.

This last sentence is not just about the past but about today. When Columbus et al showed up, Europeans had forgotten basic hygiene. They reeked of filth. When the Aztecs first met Cortés and his men: they would greet them and rapidly retreat ten paces so as to not vomit from the stench.

Our Ways of Aliveness got systematically shattered and degraded. The human adventure took a very peculiar and insistent turn, one focused on debasing and exploiting other human beings and every other form of life. The current globalizing anti-culture promotes self-debasement and self-degradation as “culture.” If that sounds extreme please turn on a television and notice what your attention is invited to. Part of this debasement has been the very intentional destruction of any memory of other possibilities of being human.

Modernity: Neolithic Trickery 2.0 sets some essential context for understanding exactly how we have been impacted by this strange turn in our human adventure, all the way down to our cells. It takes moral courage and emotional resilience to come face-to-face with what is happening to us biologically, neurologically, socially and on all other counts. Without the context of how we come to live in a culture that is increasingly treating its members like technologized livestock, we have no context to understand where we are headed and other options for each of us, right now, close at hand.

The Challenge of Regeneration

When we face the facts of how we come to be this way we can take on the adventure of regenerating ourselves, something that is much simpler than we imagine: we are woven of and encode, in our very biology, a wisdom, a capacity to find our way, that is billions of years old and highly-capable of amazing, transformative revitalization. It takes supporting, rather than frustrating, our actual Living Design and a solid dose of moral courage. That is how our lineages survived to the present day.

Culture is Too Close to Be Perceived

In our modern universities we have anthropology departments. Anthropos: “human” + logos: “word, thought, attention to.” Anthropology is the putting of our attention to our way of being human. One of the roles of Journeymen is anthropological, in our attention to the human, but in a very different way and focus than how university anthropology is done today.

Traditional Journeymen don’t just travel to “learn about other peoples.” We travel to learn about our own, and our relationship to Aliveness, something that is very hard to do if our only experience is inside our own culture. “Culture” is a embodied code and way of relating that exists inside of us.

When we are in the culture we grew up in, adapted to, and whose values we adopted, we have almost no way of perceiving the dynamics of our own culture because our culture “is” us. Even our rejection of our culture still occurs in predictable ways “sanctioned” by our cultural programming.

Journey Out and Back

Journey Out and Back
Journey Out and Back

The glyph for this kind of Journey is shaped like an “S” with tighter curls and shows us, precisely, the nature of such a Journey. It is called “Journey Out and Back.” If, instead of thinking about this symbol, you actually trace it out with your finger, your finger will teach you more about the nature of this Journey than just thinking about it and trying to figure it out from your mental and cultural baggage.

All the ancestral languages are coherent. They are doing what their message is. When I completed my first Journey Out and Back I realized that I had done exactly what this glyph is doing.

Journeymen and Women train by taking a very long Journey Out and Back; far and long enough out that when they come back they can appreciate their culture of origin in a much greater context than what’s possible solely spending one’s entire life inside the culture. This kind of Journey is surprising. Spend ten years, uninterruptedly, outside your culture of Origin and then go back. You will SEE it, HEAR it, FEEL it with a sensibility you couldn’t have when “your own culture was your own skin.”

Journey into Self-Willed Transformation

Understanding our own culture is a lot like looking for our sunglasses while they’re perched on our forehead: they are too close to be seen. But when we look in the mirror and finally SEE them, then we laugh at how long we searched all over the house. Our reflection in the mirror allows us to see ourselves as “other” and thus to finally be SEEN. Our cultural programming is even trickier because it’s not on our forehead: it’s in our cells and our neurology.

The purpose of initiatory, transformative journeys is to create the conditions for us to begin perceiving what’s invisible to us from within our culture. The Journey itself challenges us to grow a different neurology along with new sensibilities and capacities that eventually reveal our initial cultural programming.

This capacity to contextualize the experience of our People is one of the great treasures the Journey offers. People of the Journey are not considered “members of their culture of Origin” but “Sacred Travelers,” among People who understand that the Sacred, or Holy, is precisely what the ancient sense of these words point to: whole. Sacred Travelers travel in greater dimensions of the whole human experience. That is their function: to recontextualize us to the whole.

Most peoples, throughout human history, have at times gotten stuck in cultural ways that eventually put us at odds with our own and the Greater Well-Being. Long Journeys of apprenticeship transform those who take them into living, walking resources who remind us of and equip us for creative response-ability. The stories they bring back to their People, and carry along to the Peoples they visit, are not so much to “tell us how others live” so much as to begin to reflect “how it is that we live” and our options for modulating and revitalizing our engagement with Living.

It is one of many vital roles in a human ecology equipped to sustain itself in Living, Breathing, Growing, Adaptive Vitality. Other people have other roles that are just as important but the role of Journeymen is essential to a People’s capacity to reorient and contextualize their Adventure in the Long Story of Human Being and Consequence.

When I speak of indigenous societies with de-indigenized, displaced people the typical response I get is “Yeah, well, they killed each other, enslaved other peoples, sacrificed thousands of them and caused ecological catastrophes too, so what’s the point?”

Knowing Ourselves as Consequence and Consequent

We are conditioned to see the world from a moralistic good/bad framework that almost wholly ignores consequences at the same time as it ignores much of the actual history in very reductive ways. We paint the world with a cartoonish brush of good and bad; of victim, villain and hero. All of us are both consequence and consequent.

Life Unfolds in the Long Story

When we begin to know what we ourselves are the consequences of, and creating consequences to, we gain the capacity to come to a coherent appreciation of who we are and to more creatively choose our destiny. The point is not whether other peoples defended their homelands or invaded other peoples’ homelands, took prisoners and did all kinds of nasty things to them, nor is it to pretend that all of us haven’t done similar things. Conveniently, for the status quo, we also ignore how many people created and enjoyed peace with former enemies, abundant and fulfilling lifestyles in their homelands, and for exceedingly long periods of time. Conquered peoples get caught in what I call “the short story.”

Apache Storytelling. Photo: Edward Curtis
Apache Storytelling. Photo: Edward Curtis

The question is whether or not we still retain the awareness of a range of the human experience, or just a micro-sliver, be that of our predecessors, or others. There are countless options of doing what we often do only one way now. We discover why people did what they did, how they did it, the errors they made, the remedies they discovered for those errors and the sort of peace or conflict that were generated for the next thousand years of descendants because some minor misunderstanding was not resolved, or some minor abuse was tolerated and became “acceptable” in that culture, with the resulting, present-day consequences.

Stories of responsibility and consequence orient us to our responsibilities and consequences in our times. Creating revitalizing Possibilities is a vast and profoundly human Art and Science.

Hernán Cortez fresh off the boat in Veracruz, Mexico and already torturing, enslaving, proselytizing and corrupting. Mural by Diego Rivera.
Hernán Cortez fresh off the boat in Veracruz, Mexico and already torturing, enslaving, proselytizing and corrupting. Mural by Diego Rivera.

Columbus, and those who followed him, including most descendants of immigrants in the Americas today, never discovered the Americas. We covered the Americas. To dis-cover means “to remove the cover.” That’s not what happened. The Inquisition gave psychopaths a license to torture in the Americas, just as it had been in Europe. Had Europeans truly discovered the Americas we might have also rediscovered something of the Arts and Sciences of Aliveness of our own European ancestry.

That did happen for some Europeans in the Americas, and it is glaringly absent from the “official histories.” Many of the British people on the Eastern seaboard of North America, driven off their tribal homelands in Great Britain, began to intermarry and adopt the ways of the Native Peoples. This was a major reason for the American Revolution. Many just wanted to get as far away from the European reality, in North America, as possible. Much of that history has been covered over.

William Penn’s colony of Quakers lived peacefully with and bought their land with the agreement of the Native people of what was eventually annexed, by force, by a new territorial crime syndicate that called itself “the U.S. government” with plans of their own for the lands and the destinies of the Native Peoples, the Quakers and the new immigrants, mostly displaced serfs pushed out of their homelands in the poorest parts of Europe.

The Ways of Natural Intelligence, of Thinking in the Keys of Aliveness, have been forgotten by most modern people in the very process of becoming modern, a word from the Latin modo: “just right now.” A global monoculture of the mind advances in the erasure of our history and its reduction into a cartoon version of “the good guys and the bad guys,” the “primitives” and the “sophisticated.” Every day we speak a language whose sense we almost wholly ignore. We think we know what we mean yet struggle to find a sense to our lives.

I call modern humans, of all races, “the children of forgetting.” We are in a very curious state.

Nevertheless, even among people of European descent amazing ways of connecting to Aliveness are sprouting and thriving. Permaculture is a movement growing in the “modern” world that is revitalizing Attention to and Cooperation with Living Intelligence. Sociocracy proposes different ways of organizing human communities than being “ruled” by either despots or majorities, who are even as or more despotic than an outright dictator. These are all admirable efforts profoundly inspired by Original Peoples. Many are questioning the notion that we are born to be subjected to contracts and schemes we never agreed to. So, whenever you read something here, just know that there’s a whole context to pay attention to. This is the invitation: to adventure broadly.

The Takelma People used to spend six months, “from the time the snakes go into the ground until they come out,” telling their Whole Story. That’s how important getting oriented was to them. They had such a profound sense of how much devastation human imbalance could create, from their own experience, that being aware of the whole story was a priority in their lives as in the lives in so many others. So this article is far from the whole story, any more than a finger pointing is the whole horizon.

A Cheyenne friend once related to me, after talking with one of our Rasta friends from Jamaica, ten different ways the Cheyenne had of wearing their hair, including dreadlocks, and the whole context of when and why they wore their hair a certain way, the places they lived in, the kinds of life they were leading and how those life ways changed.

“Keeping the past alive” is a red herring. People want to keep the option of human Aliveness alive and have done so dynamically and adaptively for the entire course of our entire human adventure.

Modern People Are Stuck in the Past

The past, however, doesn’t just go away. If unacknowledged, it remains unconsciously alive in each one of us TODAY! The challenge is in comprehending how and why it is alive in us and whether or not we are well-served by perpetuating the past unconsciously or if it’s our turn to actually renew our Way of Living! Much suffering of modern people is that we live without context for our experience and without a toolkit for response-ably reorienting ourselves to Aliveness.

Modern” culture is very much stuck in the past. We are on a one-track road to vacating the Intelligence of Aliveness and have been for thousands of years. As we debase ourselves Bio-Logically (in the Logic/Intelligence of Aliveness) we are compensating with a technology that displaces and degrades Life, starting with our own. Instead of restoring our health and intelligence, we have taken a course of creating more and more technological crutches for our debased humanity.

What Consequences Are You Sowing?

It’s not about whether we are “good people” or “bad people” or whether we are “right” or “wrong.” Every single one of us on Planet Earth descends from people we would be very proud of and others whose deeds we’d be embarrassed to uncover. That’s not the issue. The issue is that every one of us is an inheritor and sower of consequences in the fabric of Aliveness sown by our predecessors. Do we have the courage to ask such simple questions as:

  • What is my relationship to my Aliveness?

  • Is Aliveness a guiding principle in my Life or not?

  • How does Aliveness orient me?

  • How am I generating the same relational dynamics and consequences I adapted to in my life today?

  • What consequences are my children, neighbors and future generations going to inherit from my way of living?

  • What price will they have to pay?

  • What will they pay it with?

As we face these questions today, having a vocabulary of human experience and consequences helps us contextualize our experiences, our challenges and our options. Deep Freedom Now is dedicated to expanding our appreciation of the Brilliance and Challenges of our Human Adventure.

The Spirituality of the Conquered is Self-War

The conquest of our ancestors came hand in hand with the systematic murder of any person capable of recontextualizing us, understandably. Empires don’t want to be waging permanent military war on every people they conquer. The advancement of the process of Romano-Semitic conquest is the advancement of warfare from a military process to a cultural and spiritual process of self-war. This pits each one of us against our own Natural, Alive Intelligence. We adopt what I call “the slave’s spirituality of self-war.”

To Forget is to Ignore: The Slave’s Path to Bliss – and Further Enslavement

The process starts with the systematic elimination of Wisdom-keepers, as “People Who Know the Way We Came to This Place and Way of Being.” Eventually it leads to a culture that rewards self-debasement and self-dehumanization.

Let’s set aside the moralizing and outrage and just get curious: what exactly are we in, as culture? That’s the sort of question that Journeymen explore for a lifetime. What is the image of “human” this culture spreads?

In Europe they called those who knew “witches” which has the same Germanic root as wit, from the Germanic wissen: “to know.” It is time to revitalize our capacity to know and re-member (to put the members of our humanity back together, i.e. arms, legs, torso and head, instead of living like an amputated human) what it means to be human as an expression of Knowledge-able and Fully Embodied Intelligence for Aliveness.

Simplistic moralizing and avoidance of anything we deem “negative” is part of the deep cultural programming tyranny advances on. Instead of evaluating things as “negative” or “positive,” I invite you to evaluate them as “curious.” It’s a lot easier on our nervous system and awakens the genius of our frontal lobes instead of activating the trauma loops in our limbic system. Sure, it was horrible, for some, especially if you were knowledgeable. But it’s also very curious how humans adapt very rapidly, even to our own debasement. This isn’t just ancient history.

Knowledgeable people also got slaughtered under Stalin, Mao-tse-tung and in the U.S. and Europe today. Putting it only in a moral framework destroys the complex tapestry of human experience.

Forgetting was also advantageous in a lot of ways and for a lot of people. Some poor underdogs suddenly got a sword and could “lord it over others.” People with psychopathic or sociopathic tendencies were “put in charge” and given free rein to ride herd on the “commoners.” I am not talking about “the past.” I’m actually suggesting perhaps we should exit the past by first realizing that we’re stuck in it.

Dark Age Modernity

Today police in the U.S. have a license to rape, lie, steal and murder with impunity and do so every day. The past we’re stuck in is the Dark Ages, hand in hand with its culture of ignoring: “if I just ignore what’s happening maybe it will go away or, at least, won’t affect me.” That’s ignorance, disguised as “wishful thinking.” “Hope” and “Change You Can Believe In” are the catchwords that slaves love to hear while they dodge responsibility, including simply and lucidly acknowledging what’s actually happening.

Let’s not imagine we all descend only from “keepers of knowledge.” We also descend from people who kissed up to psychopaths, were psychopaths, joined the invaders, built nice houses funded by plundering and riding herd on their neighbors, etc.

Becoming Whole Again.

The “sacred” story is the whole story, not just the part I’d like to believe I and all my ancestors descend from. With the whole story we come into a fuller appreciation of the rich tapestry of human experience. We get context and consequences and creative possibilities. There is yet fun to be had in a world gone mad, but there is also a load of unacknowledged, unfelt grief.

Right now, in the United States and in Europe, about 70% of the population gets a paycheck from government or from a corporation whose primary customer is government. Curiously, the primary shareholders in these corporations are governments! Most self-styled “anti-imperialists” also want to get a paycheck from government. So they, too, want “their fair share” of imperial plunder and are as integral a part of the imperial system as “the military-industrial complex” they love to point their finger at. Rome has long encouraged the “disenfranchised” to protest themselves all the way to a “buy-in” into the system. They want them to beg for their bread and for their circuses.

Rome has a thousand disguises, all adapted to local culture and appealing to us with its promises of “constant reform” and “endless improvement.” Whether we are in New York, Mumbai, Beijing, Paris, London, or Kinshasa, the Romano-Semitic cultural operating system runs the show and it wants us convinced that it’s “ours.” It’s a brilliant system and a deadening scam, fully weaponized against the Natural Aliveness and Natural Intelligence of its subjects. When we see the brilliance of this system and our own personal buy-in we begin to see the cultural magic by which we convince ourselves that the empire’s illusions are real and that our hands are clean.

Suddenly we discover that the sunglasses we’ve been looking for have been perched on our own foreheads the whole time. Nobody took them or hid them except us. The Whole Story gives us the mirror to see our reflection in.

Mapping the Way We Got Here and Where We’re At

Most of us don’t have those Stories any more. They can be reconnected. Instead of perpetually debating each other from predictable positions and rote arguments, we start mapping out the realities and connections of what we’re in and experiencing right now. We expand our capacities to live more broadly, skillfully and playfully. We broaden our appreciation for our Human Adventure and the tools we have to live it better.

The value of knowing what has happened to our and other people – the good, bad and the ugly –  is that we come to the Adventure of Being Human equipped with more than one single cultural screwdriver in our toolkit. We broaden our Vocabulary for Living Vitally and Intelligently, and we give SEEDS a place in our toolkit.

There are other avenues to True Intelligence than turning everything into a siliconized micro-chip feeding information to bureaucratic overlords and compensating for our ongoing degradation with more and more technologized crutches until there’s hardly any human left. As we reconnect to the Long Story of Our Being Human, we discover how to repair the damage in our way of Being that comes from decisions we and our ancestors from countless generations ago made and that we are still living in.

With a broader context, we navigate moments of personal, familial and societal transition and decision-making in a way that mitigates the cost that future generations are going to have to pay because somebody just did what they thought best by “going along to get along.” We cultivate engagement, competence and excellence for thriving with all of Life.

Such ways regularly become lost or forgotten in the eternal turbulence of the human experience. That’s why enduring Peoples all welcomed the transmigratory, cross-cultural pollinators who travel in the Long Journeys of the Long Stories.

Traditionally, Journeymen and Women are not seen as representatives of their culture of Origin. They are Other. They are seen as belonging to the Mountains and the Stones, to the Natural World and Natural Intelligence, coming to visit us in our culture so that we can rediscover our reflection and discover that what we’ve been looking for has been so close, the whole time, that we couldn’t see it – and often wouldn’t see it, preferring to pursue some “spiritual” fantasy to seeing the reality of our relationship to Aliveness. The People of the Journey see the cultural frame and its impact on our Living Nature in ways that come naturally to those who live long periods of time in different cultures and in deep connection with Nature.

In Life Ways that are focused on enhancing our capacity to THRIVE, the function of people who have lived, loved, succeeded, failed, traveled, stayed put for extended periods of time, achieved, wept, laughed, fought, made peace, learned and unlearned in a variety of landscapes, economies, cultures, and ecosystems is to help local people contextualize their experience in an Ecology of Human Possibilities. The Wisdom of Journeymen, which is to say, their knowledge of different Ways of Being Human is very different than the very real, necessary and rich Wisdom of someone who has stayed in place and cared for and discovered very intimately the Wisdom of the Community of Living Beings in One Place.

The Challenge of Our Times

Today the Wisdom of Context and the Wisdom of Place are both being devastated. They are also being powerfully renewed, revitalized and recreated as more people see through the programming of a globalizing Anti-Culture that is fully weaponized. This is the challenge of our times. My deep sense is that a few will reawaken our Natural Intelligence and we will also be witness to profound human degradation: we already are, yet most people have already normalized the debasement.

Many are rediscovering Natural Brilliance and Capacity. The Anti-Culture also serves a Natural Function. It is easy to forget that. It will bury those who do not love Aliveness enough to care for it fully.

Life is a Love Affair. To BE a Lover means you treat your Beloved with a Love that is attentive and skilled. Life is for Her Lovers. Look around. Pay attention. This is not a theory. Life regenerates Life by devouring degenerate life that’s not quite fully alive.

Some of us feel the call to make our own Journeys Out and Back. We dare to find the edges of our cultural programming and to rediscover our Natural Intelligence, keeping the Seeds of our Humanity Alive and Thriving. Deep Freedom Now is for these dedicated, passionate Lovers and Adventurers eager to experience the Fullness of our Humanity.

Consider for a moment the Nature of the Journey Out and Back we have been talking about. There’s a key in the very name “Journey Out and Back” that points to a skill we can develop.

Out of What?

Back to What?

Live the questions with your attention.

Let’s say you feel stuck in a certain situation. To take the key of “Journey Out and Back” is to ask myself “How can I see this from outside my situation instead of just being inside and how can I journey back inside in a new, more alive way? What am I doing? How am I doing it? Can I SEE that and then create other alternatives to come back to my situation with?”

The purpose of these posts is not to stimulate new “thoughts” so much as to stimulate new, adventuresome, creative and curious  approaches to what we often do out of habit. We become students, bringing application, attention and care to aliveness. We take the apprenticeship to becoming Life’s Skilled, Passionate, Committed, Loving and Fierce Lovers.

If you enjoy these articles, please share with like-intentioned People of Excellence with the social media links below. These offerings are part of a free, online course which you can receive, with my compliments, and are designed to be read in order. Just enter your name and e-mail in the blue boxes to the right and below.

Gather Seeds,

Sisters, Brothers,

Of Wisdom, which is Way-Making

That We May Make Our Way

With Those Whom We Truly Love

To Living the Life We Love

And Loving the Life We Are.

Make It Be So!

Photo Credits:

  • 500 Years of Inquisition from
  • Diego Rivera Mural of Hernán Cortez, photo by Kgv88
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3 Responses

  1. Michael Ivan

    I had made the connection about walking through these new countries with what you had shared with me a long time ago about the difference between walking into a wilderness area with a loaded gun and walking without one. The difference in how one would walk and be aware, and how the animals would feel the difference as well. With the gun you’d more likely be felt as a predator, a threat, and might be more likely to be treated this way and actually be in more danger. It’s one of the things I noticed in Brazil, traveling a number of times with little to no money. It made me more aware to connecting with people in a generous, appreciative and humble way–they owed me nothing, and money wasn’t going to buy me kindness. Traveling this way has altered my ability to connect deeply with people and to be deeply welcomed. Its like a new currency–the currency of gift, the currency of connection.

  2. Michael Ivan

    One of the first things I noticed about you in 2007 was how differently you moved–particularly in relation to me and in relation to women. You spoke English with no accent but it was clear your experience of the world was quite different than mine, with possibilities existing in your world that I couldn’t see and didn’t know how to explore. Now I have a good taste of the gifts of traveling in and moving in the ways of other cultures, and I have such a desire to share with people from my culture of origin the new openings for joy and connection I’ve experienced… especially because I see how they could liberate themselves to find more joy, well-being and freedom, yet few seem to have the time or space to open and taste what I’m offering. It’s as if they assume they know what I’m talking about, so they never realize that there’s a big invitation here that they know nothing about, and thus remain closed to having an experience of it. I gather its fairly common for the journeyer to be in this kind of in-between space–often not fully seen anywhere that he/she goes… Nevertheless, I generally feel far more alive journeying and discovering more of myself in every place I travel and live, especially when meeting people in a place where we share no verbal language and must connect beyond the structures of language.
    In Thailand I noticed that many of the men, at least in urban areas don’t connect so much with the white men, the tourists and the expats. I made the connection one day between that and the fact that they tolerate men from other countries coming to their country to pay their women for sex, or to date and marry them in great numbers. And I noticed how I can walk through their country with the way of a predator who has money (and thus can exploit whatever or whoever I like, and doesn’t need to be ‘welcome’ because they’ll do the deal for the money), or like a guest in someone’s home/land. Upon re-entering Thailand after a quick border crossing into Cambodia one night, the head immigration officer–a young man–denied me entry. He told me I’d crossed the border too many times without ever getting an official visa, and I’d need to first purchase a flight out of Thailand before reentering. At first I felt he was treating me unfairly, simply a bureaucrat whimsically abusing his power. Then I noticed that he’d asked where I’d been staying, and I’d told him truthfully, Pattaya where I had a small investment with a friend, which has a reputation as a retirement place for Western men who come to drink and whore around until they die. The officer had said something about respecting the Kingdom by getting a visa, and I bet he saw me as abusing/disrespecting his people.
    I noticed that I’d had a sense of entitlement about having my rights to travel as a “free man”, and began practicing walking completely as a guest after that, not expecting any ‘fair’ treatment by the locals in restaurants and everywhere just because I was a paying customer. In my country, the “customer is king.” Then when I took the slow boat up the Mekong into Laos where I eventually plan to get an official Thai visa before reentering, I noticed the sense of entitlement of most of the travelers on our boat as it began sinking. We had to stop at night short of our destination and local ‘profiteers’ offered to help us get to our destination. I was embarrassed how the “paying customers” from many places around the world treated the locals–and each other. In the chaos it was like a seen from the sinking of the Titanic–people were thinking about their own survival and after some people angrily and reluctantly paid for a ride in the back of a truck refused to let other stranded passengers in because “they’d paid for their spot.” I helped the stranded passengers into the truck regardless.
    In Laos I generally notice so far that I feel a lot more welcome by both men and women. Turns out there’s a death penalty for foreigners who sleep with Lao women–and less tourism in general. I’ve no doubt the greater sense of welcome is related.

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