Sunday, December 11, 2011

SIPAPU THE PLACE OF EMERGENCE: Time and Place in the Sacred

While driving back to Taos from a recent trip to California across miles of desert the awesome spaciousness unfettered my mind to explore beyond its accustomed borders. We had just been in a location with strong medicine for my husband.  He holds fond and powerful memories of the Laguna Beach area. 
Experience is often powerfully tied to place.  He so wanted to introduce me to Laguna Beach and connect me with this significant place of power in his life and to the people that were his tribe there. Of course he was also attempting to connect that part of his life to his present.  These connections are so important  because where  we are gives us the coordinates to go to the next place and going back is sometimes the best way to find our way forward.

I've noticed that travelling rearranges my perceptions. I become very sensitive to the things most of the time people don't notice. In fact I usually get sick the first few days that I'm in a new environment.  This time was no exception. I might as well be an alien just landed from another planet.  There is strong medicine in being unfamiliar with a place.  It reminds me of the power of my first espresso.

Long ago I too had significant memories of the California coast.  In fact my very first memories are of the  San Francisco Bay area.  I remember as a three year old my grandmother and I had a morning ritual of visiting the beach, making sand forts, and houses, and being fascinated with the profusion of sea shells sprinkled on the beach like magical jewels free for anyone to enjoy. In my memory I still see these vibrant colored and spotted shells from the intimate height of three feet.

Mission at San Juan Capistrano
But all of that was long ago and after being abruptly torn from those experiences when our family moved to Colorado I let them go.  California represented a break in my identity but I didn’t realize it until going back,  and although I’ve been there several times as an adult the chemistry of beginning a new stage in my life made this experience quite different.

I wonder how much of our civilized human contempt for the dirt that we stand on is due to the lack of a sacred sense of home.   While the vast desert landscape surrounded and swished by us it occurred to me that most modern humans behave as if their home was merely a place to eat, sleep and change clothes.  It's as if we are characters in a play. When the play is over we simply walk away.  Recently famous physicist Stephan Hawking was quoted as saying that it was time for humans to actively search for a suitable planet and plan an exit from this planet before it becomes unlivable.  I thought this comment an outrageous example of the modern human attitude toward  Mother Earth.  The  scientific attitude is so detached from its source that a genius scientist can look at Mother Earth’s resources as a if it was a humanly managed motel from which we can check out and leave our dirty towels and sheets for the maid.

This brings up our concept of truth.  Is truth about literal stand alone facts or is it about how those facts interact in the world as we live it. Of course you probably realize by now that my perspective is that truth must fit within the greater picture.  A so called truth based on isolating scientific facts is in my mind not THE TRUTH of the universe.

The mythic creation stories of Indigenous Peoples around this earth often begins with a Sipapu  or story of how and why they came into this world and so places them within the care and service of Mother Earth rather than as an outsider looking over a real estate prospect.   To be born physically and spiritually as a literal child of  a designated place on Mother Earth  enduces an entirely different attitude toward one’s environment and the other beings we share it with.  In most Native American Tribes there is also a sense of having been alienated by misbehavior or by deception at some time and of having been reborn.  In Hopi kivas there is a  hole or Sipapu to continually remind the people of their status as the reborn who owe their existence to the grace of a higher power. My husband’s Tiwa people feel connected to the waters of their sacred Blue Lake the way the arteries move life blood from the heart reaching into the body’s organs and limbs.  It is a spiritual/physical lifeline and it’s great depth connects it to the other side of the world as well.

In California I was reminded that there is more to belonging than recycling waste or going organic.  The plants in our cities are not Indigenous and neither are we.  We are in a sense decorating our living room, giving it an exotic ambiance an artificial reality (is that not an oxymoran?).  There is a sense of guilt and disconnect that inspires people to seek a way to compensate for living the designer makeover of the real world that results in Mother Earth looking like a woman with too much makeup.
Beyond Laguna Beach 

It seems to me that rather than moving to another planet and ruining it too, it would be much better to be aware of how to be at home here.  It’s about balance.  I also believe that we are co-creators and as such walk a fine line between creation and destruction.  We are still the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and an attitude of humility and reverance would give us a better chance.  Although most of us don’t intentionally become destructive, our systems have a tendency to take control even of their creators.  While driving toward Southern California we also witnessed giant feed lots in the desert with thousands of imprisoned cattle with no life except  to grow fat for slaughter.  There were also thousands of acres of truck farms,  strangely bright green squares in the vast brown landscape. Some of their produce will probably end up in our local organic grocery.  After all,  green is not found this time of year  in our latitude.  In one sense we have mastered our world but we have also messed in our own nest and in certain ways trapped ourselves in our own nets.

Approaching Albuquerque
I wonder however, if our recent concern for the health of our planet may also have the naive overtone of missionary spirit.  After all Mother Earth is the mother and we are the child. If we don’t learn from our mother we will be tripped by our own incompetance. Nevertheless I really believe we will hit a wall before we fatally damage our planet. This wall may even been imbedded in our own DNA.  We have yet to recognize that we carry more than one nature inside our skins. Whether we feel connected or not we have an inherent relationship with our source that can be activated to defeat our own independent arrogance.  I think this topic is too big to put my head around right now but I sense I will be learning more about it. 

Our ancestors may have been na├»ve and primitive in their lack of knowledge of how the physical world works but I suspect in a few generations our scientific approach will seem just as naive concerning  the limits of its perspective.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Marti, thank you for your beautiful and insightful article. Indeed, we are all touched and inspired to re-connect with Source in itself and therefore becoming and living its energy field. There is no separation anymore between the soul and the planet, both dancing together in this new paradigm called Life. Only in surrender, devotion and gratitude will we continue to enjoy this earthly form. Much Love Angelika