I made a pilgrimage on February 1st, 2021; it was Imbolc and the day of honoring the symbolic birth of one of my most important ancestral deities, the maiden goddess Brigid. I was drawn by the dream of a flowing stream, and the recent winter storm that broke an 8 month drought gave promise to such a thing. I would find it high in the peaks of the Sky Islands dry-land archipelago. But I found much more in my journeying than anticipated.
It seems a lot has changed while I’ve been staying home, staying safe, feverishly creating art and voraciously devouring the work of spiritual psychologist Robert L. Moore. I make these journeys about once a season, though the last one had been to Mexico. This trip took me through rural, small town America. Maybe it’s because I see my surroundings too much like the sentimental impressionist I am (my anima just today told me to “just go and be the romantic poet you are!”). But the landscape has changed; both energetically and physically. There are archetypal stirrings, a powerful crisis is upon us.
Dr. Moore (1989) spoke eloquently and fatefully, from distressed cassette recordings of his lectures in the late eighties, of the fate of humankind. He said that he had found a potent archetypal emergence of an apocalyptic myth strewn across many rich and deeply embedded cultures. I can still hear his emphatic, almost exasperated voice, laying-on thick the inconvenient truth: humankind is ruled by their mythology, and will compulsively carry out ritual, whether it be consciously or an “acting-out” of an empty gesture. With regards to this culture’s fate, he offers one of two options: we will consciously evolve, lighting up as we’re transmuted by the divine spirit, or we will unconsciously act-out this ubiquitous mythological apocalyptic envisioning, burning ourselves up in a nuclear holocaust. The preoccupation with nuclear threat sounds dated to someone of the post-boomer generation, though it is surely as big a threat now as it ever was. But what I saw on my journey certainly reflected Dr. Moore’s dichotomous prophecy.
Industrial activity here in the desert southwest has escalated to a break-neck pace under this indefinite quarantine. Endless miles of cargo trucks clog the interstates, and official corporate vehicles belonging to government subcontractors as well. And there is paving, construction of all sorts, orange cones and warning signs are just another part of the landscape. A “commercial and private” drilling operation has adopted a noticeable presence in the region. As I look at the vast dry, suffering landscape I realize why we must now drill deeper and deeper to access the dregs of the ancient aquifer. And this water’s principle use seems to be for the absurdly large industrial farms that appear intermittently, and stretch out as far as the naked eye can see.
This steroidally inflated monster serviced by innumerable gas-guzzling white trucks all takes place under a banner of Trumpism, literally: billboards with conivingly quotable propaganda still tout the now out-dated “Trump 2020” call to arms. Meandering through the backroads of these rural communities, decrepit shantytowns loaded with for sale signs, I’m treated to the most virulent and vile hate speech on homemade banners, often in the shadow of crisp and clean American and military flags.
The alternate aspect; the segment of society that seems to contain the potential for spiritual ascension has also become a noticeably ubiquitous presence. Like my recently retired mother, baby boomers – many of whom were once flower children who can now legally return to marijuana smoking – have opted in droves to live on wheels. I could not be more pleased that my mother left her office job and now spends her time exploring and enjoying the recreational areas that have always been my playground. These sacred places were once my respite from their 9-5 world. Now, between the mobile retired boomers and the remote employees displaced by the virus, there is hardly a campsite to be had all across this blessed land.
On one level, this invasion is devastating, a violation, but I catch the flame of indignant rage before it consumes me entirely. How could I begrudge these serene faced former-suburbanites, reading peacefully within the forest groves once considered so sacred to the Chiricahuan Apache. This was the final resting place of the famed brave Cochise – he withdrew into these mountains that he loved so dearly, outwitting his colonialist pursuers, and was never seen again. In this current twilight of the paragon of western civilization in decline, to see a smattering of eager defectors retreating to these same mountains is an irony not lost on me.
I’m reminded of the historical myths of the Hopi people about the creation and consequent destruction of the previous three “worlds,” or incarnations, of humankind. Each world was destroyed because so many humans had forgotten the “song of creation.” Those who remembered it, who retained their spiritual path in right-relationship with the Earth, survived each cataclysm. When this Fourth World we now inhabit was created, it was “not all beautiful and easy like the other ones” (Waters, p.27). Instead it was filled with adversity so the people would have to choose to follow a spiritual path. Their choices in this world would “determine this time if [they] can carry out the plan of Creation on it or whether in time it must be destroyed too” (Waters, p.27).
Such an allegory could not be more eloquently displayed in this land today. We are overwhelmed with choices, yet we can still hold the song of creation in our hearts, with help from “proper deities [and] good spirits”(Waters, p.27). So I choose to honor my fellow pilgrims, as long as the quest they are on is authentic, courageous, and above all, spiritual.
Moore, R. L. (1989). Liberation from religious tribalism [Lecture]. Retrieved from: https://jungchicago.org/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=131
Waters, F. (1963). Book of the Hopi. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.