January Photo Box

Wildlife, by nature, is wild. Another order.

Anthropologist Felicitas Goodman carried out ground-breaking work on ritualized trance in indigenous cultures and discovered at the deepest place in the human psyche is an animal. The particular animal appearing in the trance corresponded to the physical posture the participant adopted for the trance. These ritualized postures leading into the trance are recorded in the imagery coming to us from early humans. 

In the understanding of today’s neural science, the trance is where two brain centres are activated simultaneously, where normally one is off when the other is on. The two brain centres are the state of waking (beta waves) and the state of dreaming (theta waves). The trance then is a waking journey into the deep structures of the human mind. In the deepest place of that trance experience, as Goodman discovered, is the appearance of a wild animal. In the wisdom of indigenous peoples, it is held, the human and the wild animal are one.

Over some forty thousand years, humans have sought a symbiosis with wildlife: cave paintings; shamanic transmigration; ritual eating of animals in order to absorb into oneself a quality of the wild animal; amulets; stories where gods transform into beasts; and even beliefs in wildlife itself as gods.

So what is wildlife to us? We tend to abstract wildlife, put it in cages, maybe a few acres to roam, by which we observe it, in a zoo; a marineland. We turn polar bears into cute stuffies to console our children. We capture the wild in pretty pictures.

It seems clear, we give the wild little regard for its own order and wisdom. We regard wildlife only for what we can take from it for our comfort and pleasure, our indulgence – take from it as efficiently as possible, and as much as possible. We observe and we take, with no sense of our symbiosis with the wild world; nor with any sense of dependence on the wild world for our being, or even for our wisdom. With little respect, so it seems, do we regard the wild world. 

Traditional peoples might say we delude ourselves with our feeling superior, in control. We defy our gods – the wild animals who inhabit our deepest psychic structures. We arrogantly neglect our human sacredness, fail to hear the haunting call of the loon as our very soul. 

So what is this photo of the stork? I wonder, with this image of the stork abstracted to its form and texture…… image held in our hand ……. image of the wild stork as in a dream…….could we, – in our contemplation and meditation on that form and texture, as in a waking dream, begin to see the stork for its essence;  see ourselves in the form of the stork;  know it is our soul calling? 

This way, to begin a new day, new day dawning.