Philosophy—The Eagle's Eye View of Ritual Literacy Practice
Coordinates| Philosophy | Introduction
The world, and our lives, are burning.
Myth instructs us that there are two types of water to apply to calm inferno—the waters of death and the waters of life. These are the spiritual Grit and Grace required in this time. They are needed medicines.
The unhealed trauma of previous generations is passed down when the waters of death are not applied through grieving. Unexpressed grief becomes hungry ghosts that devour nature and culture. The waters of life evaporate too. It calls for some Guile to retrieve those waters.
Each generation, medicine-carriers quest and retrieve all of the age old medicines of culture and dispense them during wild and embodied ritual—a practice that bring humans into conversation with cosmology and mythology for a moment.
Indigenous Cosmology provides our Map.
Mythic Imagination is our life saving Compass.
Ritual is our ongoing conversation and Practice.
The Wild is a given—you are made of that. You have a Genius—your own peculiarity. The storms of the times call for a robust container—wild ritual—nice ceremony won't do the job of the healing that needs to be done.
Medicine carriers get trained to withstand the wind—one foot in the trouble, one in the blessings, map held close, an eye on the compass. They know fortitude.
Time again for the rituals that make life jump up alive.
Coordinates | Philosophy | Principles
Conditions of modernity create systemic illnesses of the soul. They present in various ways. Feeling out of place, not in touch with life purpose, an overwhelm of grief, feeling unsupported, reacting without responding—all of these are disorienting. This section makes the case for working with the ancient methods of cosmology, myth, and ritual. These are the ingredients of a healing balm for the modern troubles of feeling out of place, lack of purpose, grief without meaning, disconnection from supportive lineages, the endless crisis of reactivity.
In this section—Key Principles of the Point of View here:
Map of the Elements: Grit, Grace and Guile
Compass of Myth and Story: Direction Finding
Practice of Ritual "Technology of Community"
Elemental, Mythic & Ritual Literacy
Wild Genius to Community
A Teaching Healing Initiation Hut
Map, Compass, and Practice in the Realm of the Sacred
The Modern Trouble:
A poisonous storm—feelings of exile, confused purpose, overwhelming grief and disintegrated lineages—forcing an endless, ineffective, crisis of reaction.
The Indigenous Remedy:
A personal and cultural revival—of discerning intimacy, initiated purpose, emotional affirmation, ancestral support and response-ability to our time.
Medicine Without an Expiry Date:
An ancient map: The Elements
An unlikely compass: Myth
A storm worthy practice: Ritual
As if we might really be "All Relations."
5 Elements Medicine (Map of Trials and Blessings): The Grit, The Grace & The Guile
Coordinates | Philosophy | Maps
Map of the Elements: Grit, Grace and Guile
A cosmology is a world view, a way of seeing that includes both the tangible and the intangible. The many human versions of cosmology are a human inheritance. Indigenous cosmologies can connect us to sources of timeless wisdom. In the West African cosmology that has been shared by the Dagara people, Elements define the mythic cosmology.
The Dagara, through ritual work, find healing instructions hidden in Earth, Stone & Bone, Water, Fire and Nature herself. Through ritual, they engage in a living conversation between "This world" and "The Other World," what we could also call archetype or the mythic.
The teachings associated with the Eldership of the Elements are traditional, yet get renewed with the experience of each generation. The people currently alive face the task of rediscovering how to relate to the cosmos. The indigenous perspective is that this relating is a life long series of initiatory transformational journeys. Ritual ties personal transformation or healing to culture and nature, to community and cosmos.
The Dagara model of cosmos, like many indigenous cosmologies, see Elements as Elders, due to their reliable consistency in identity. "Olders" in the human community only become "Elders" to the degree that they inhabit their full authenticity. To listen to the Elements is to study qualities which we ourselves long for. They can guide us.
This idea of looking at the GRIT—the gauntlets, the trouble— is a bedrock principle of this work. We are not spiritually bypassing. That is non-negotiable, and it is a tough pull. The Elements have instruction on grit.
That is the grit side. On the side of GRACE—love, humor, and furious dancing. As Martín Prechtel says, "You won't necessarily look better, but you'll feel more alive." Again, there are teachings about grace within Elements.
Implied is a relationship with GUILE, etymology sourced in the Proto Indo European concept of consecrated, holy and with its affinity for the Trickster Wisdom traditions. Guile is the old wisdom of crafty intelligence and the principles of the liminal between the grit and the grace. Our desire to experience intimacy, intuition, affirmation, the wisdom of eco-logic, and completion of initiations are all dependent upon the tension of guile—including both the grit and the grace.
Compass of Myth and Story: Direction finding
It has been said that a myth tells the truth without the use of facts. I'm thinking now of a particular Grimm Brother's myth which speaks of the trials of exile, apprenticeship and return. The trials in the myth are not specifically accurate facts—but they are staunchly honest about effects of such a tour of trouble on the soul. The same can be said for the impact of an apprenticeship—it must include both Grit and Grace. Exile gets your hands dirty, the Return should reveal your royalty.
Myth notices the raggedness that comes from hard work in exile. There are moments, we know, of unspeakable lostness. No matter how fantastic the details of this myth, or another, there is a sense we are being told the truth about the Grit, for once. And with certain "uncertain approaches" to the wisdom of the myth, we also hear about Grace, and how to find it, and what it truly is. Somehow, the myths already knew the truth of these matters, as is said "5000 years ago."
The return from initiation, apparently, has always been a challenge. Indigenous cultures spend heavily into the ritual of return. Not so in modernity, where the one returning is just likely to be ignored. Not only in extreme cases like those of war veterans or refugees, but in experiences much more common as well.
The particular myth I have in mind is surprisingly applicable even now. To avoid the death of un-recognition, (the most horrifying death in tribal cultures), the returning initiate is advised to claim BOTH the ragged dirtiness caused by the work of the exile AND the sovereign quality of the completed apprenticeship. Myth gives witnessing and confirmation. The "Elder-like" qualities of myth are a healing balm in a time when the very idea of Eldership is at risk. They are a confirmation of the necessity of Guile—a wisdom including both grit and grace—and wise to the pitfalls of "only-one-or-the-other" type of thinking.
Practice of Ritual: "Technology of Community"
West African Elder and Dagara shaman Malidoma Somé calls ritual the "Technology of Community." He notes that the modern idea of community has shrunk, excluding the participation of nature and ancestors as guiding forces. Ritual is a set of knowledges and practices to re-include the "Other-than-Human" in our affairs. Ritual can be the craft we are traveling on toward community. In the Dagara understanding, there is no community at all without ritual, which is a conversation between humans, nature, and spirit that is experiential, wild, and necessarily unpredictable.
The modern world puts human interest at the top, and singular. Worse still, the idea of "human" has dwindled to the idea of "individual." But the tribal sense of community worldwide recognizes that it "takes a village." And that is done through ritual, momentarily connecting the mundane and the sacred. Ritual is a way of healing that views the person as more than a machine, the community as more than an economic formula.
Like Jazz, ritual is improvisational, yet works with principles of composition. Just as architecture provides home for the physical, ritual provides a home for the spirit. Like architecture, it is both an art and a science, bound in time and place, always is subject to the test of practicality. Like Jazz, or architecture, there is training and practice involved in doing it well. Ritual can never be pre-scripted with perfectly guaranteed outcomes.
The combination of a wide misuse of power and the loss of initiatory rituals creates the rebellion against power structures and the idea of authority itself. Ritual literacy seeks to address this lopsided understanding by insisting upon an education in the troubles of boundaries, initiation, grief, injured lineage, and reactivity. By its nature, it also deepens gratitude for welcome, life purpose, praise, our mythic allies and strengthens capacity for response-ability to broaden our native biological ability to react. Ritual is properly an education in Guile.
Coordinates | Philosophy | Passion
I am passionate about Ritual Literacy. I love the mystery, wonder, challenges and blessings that emerge from working with the Other World and people. Calling forth voices of grit, grace, and guile is my medicine. Here is overviews of 5 levels of programming that can be reviewed "at a glance" to see if you will delve deeper.
For Quick Facts & Figures about programs continue scrolling, or for full information follow the links below. In person gatherings can be found under the tab for Gatherings in the top main menu.
ALCHEMISTS apprenticeship in ritual leadership
NAVIGATORS mentorship in poetry, myth & ritual
AMBASSADORS re-discovery of the wild genius
GATEKEEPERS ritual literacy for practitioners
Explorers — FREE independent study online
"Wouldn't take nothing for my journey now."