Many branches of shamanistic paganism hold an idea of damage to the human psyche – they call it “soul loss” or words to that effect. I think it serves a purpose to consider what they mean; any metaphor that is adequate description of a broken human dimension might suggest a solution, don’t you think?
In traditional shamanic practice, the healer would drum and sing over the patient; and then go on an ecstatic flight/journey to that dark other-where where shorn souls and broken bits end up. The goal was to find the busted, disassociated bits and thus restore equilibrium and health to the patient. Well, I have no musical ability at all and so far as what is sometimes called “astral projection” goes? Let’s say my control is imperfect and my desire is meager!
I prefer to find more down to earth pragmatic ways of putting my own human puzzle back together! And I am in dire need of putting things back in order since the election. I also need to pick up the fallen spirits of my family members. I think the little daily or seasonal rituals we create in our life are the tool kits of re-assembly to address the damage of normal life. That is why the Yule holiday is my favorite – it is the time of re-light the blown-out candles of our hearts. Hasn’t it been darker since November 8th?!
Several years ago – a decade or more, I had a light “curtain” from IKEA – little golden stars so warm and bright. Eventually, as holiday lights do, the lights died — first one or two, then a dozen and finally dark stars like little smoky quartz shards. Even lightless, I couldn’t give up those stars, I tore them off the electric strand and saved them. For several years they went in a big glass bowl with whatever semi-defunct cheap lights would illuminate them from the bottom. This year, back in January, at an IKEA after-Christmas bin, I found a long strand of tiny cool lights for a pittance price and bought them. Imagine my surprise, this morning, putting away the debris of two days of decorating, to see that bag of darkened stars and the skinny lights in the same pile?
I sat down with a paring knife and pried apart one of those stars — “shucking” the little plastic pointy bits. To my delight, they did fit over the tiny new lights! It took a considerable time, and finally the repetition of ripping open the star and inserting a new light took on the necessary mindful, meditational quality. Each dark star was a fear I’ve grappled with, each light the self-assurance of control.
Laws can be changed to something worse; but I can use passive resistance and civil disobedience.
People can hate and name-call; I can scrub off hateful graffiti.
We may see more war, more economic destruction; but I can hold friends and family and resist.
Fascism can raise a straight right arm over America; but I can raise a strong right fist.
There will be dark nights of the soul; I can light a candle or a star!
Certain groups might be cut adrift in public life; but I can throw a life-ring of love and support.
A red-hatted mob may howl; but I can hear my inner stars singing instead.
The minstrel-priest is gone; but I can make Leonard Cohen songs the sound-tract of my mind.
May it be so for you!