The Crow's Dream

Philosophy, geekery, and the meaning if life, and what I read this week…

Other worlds…

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Before moving away, I used to belong to a spiritual group in California. We were an amalgamation of all the ideas that didn’t make it in to more respectable institutions, but based most of our “sacred knowledge” on what, we thought, were Native American beliefs. We performed ceremonies and burned Sage and Sweet Grass to commemorate the spiritual forces that, we thought, gathered around us. Most of our ceremonies took place is a Sweat Lodge. If you’ve ever been in one, you’ll know it is one of the most intense things you can experience, and, to be honest, every time I went inside, I came out feeling like my life had been renewed. Ceremonies are exhausting, so at the end of the day, when we ate after fasting for the whole day, food was a welcome relief. We’d talk, and we’d share our bread and our life. 

It always seemed like the “big change,” wether it was the End Times, or the beginning of a whole new life was just around the corner. Our ceremonies were celebrations of our yet untapped potentialities. For some of us, they were a part of an afterlife, or even a previous one. There was always something “out there” that, in our naiveté, was going to appear before us at the right time. The experiences in the lodge were charged with visions and insight so clear, that the rest of life paled before it. Never mind that we were pretending to be something we were not, or that what we felt was not really a part of our culture. I think we we were the kind of people Joseph Campbell thought of as children trying to find a new parent. We thought we were leaving oppressive western ideals behind, but we were merely imitating a group of people from whom we had already taken too much. The point was that what we did was all about the “spiritual world,” and life just doesn’t work that way. 

There is no hidden world behind the world–other than in some fantasy novels. For all practical purposes, this is it. I thought that I needed to seek a world other than this one in order to feel whole. Most religions argue for that idea, but I’ve come to realize that eating an orange, or talking a long walk can be as spiritual as those heightened experiences we have some times. I do not need to pretend to be something I’m not, or to hope for a “better world” someday. This is what I have, and it is horrible and beautiful, but this is it. I get enough “weird” in my dreams and books. 

I still burn sage from time to time, but I do it not as a definition of who I think I want to be. I simply enjoy the gift of scents it packs. It doesn’t belong to anyone. It just is.


Written by Hector

October 15, 2008 at 1:45 am

One Response

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  1. I remember feeling the same way when Ana and I decided to be christians again. That feeling of the great Big Thing coming any second. It was fairly exhilarating and frightening at the same time.
    Of course, our conversion came of fear. I believe that this is how Christianity gains so many converts. We came to our senses pretty quickly, but it’s interesting how quickly and thoroughly a spiritual life can take over your own.


    October 15, 2008 at 4:16 pm

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