We live in a world of rapid change, of changing priorities and changes in our perception. Have we as humans recorded this change, Have we measured the the passage of our perceptual change? How much has the light of knowledge dawned and to what degree have the shadows receded? We know there has been a change in the world around us, so what of the change within us? What is the spiritual significance of this change in our lives, for spiritual people?
For the spiritual seeker there is a clear distinction of what is sacred and that which is mundane. Our beliefs and our experience determine the degree and the extents of the boundary of the sacred. It is our perception of the sacred that defines the world around us, not only for the spiritual seeker, but for us all. The way we feel about things, our opinions and our perception paint the world around us. Perception is everything to us and it determines the quality of our life.
To our forefathers and mothers, the world around them was traced with certain dividing lines. There were places of great holiness according to the stories of old. There have always been those geological wonders that inspire in humankind a sense of divinity. Places, that according to the creation stories were blessed from some divine event. Likewise, in the desolate waste land there exists a not so sacred place, perhaps a place of danger that is to be avoided. Perhaps a place condemned by myth.
For untold thousands of years we have lived with this precept of that which is sacred and that which is profane. In the minds of all of our ancestors were the dividing lines of varying degrees of sacredness, of sacred space. The ancestors listened to the teachings of the elders of the sacred center, Hocoka Wakan. Like the top of the sacred mountain. Not just the mountain that is sacred, but its’ summit. That pristine untouched place, pure and undefiled by man.
The lesson of the medicine wheel is one of sacred space and in it’s center is that neutral ground, the origin of all. From every place in the wheel the center remains, the scenery changes and our awareness of the center changes yet it is still the center. This central point represents the first place, the creators’ first perception, its’ first vantage point. I am here! This is the time before time and it deals with space, the center of the universe!
In all ceremonies you will find such a space, hallowed ground upon the altar, maybe even too divine to touch, like the sacred mountains’ peak! One can locate such places easily, even to the untrained eye looking within the center of the Sweat Lodge or out to the center of the Sun Dance. The elders tell us of the wisdom of walking with sacred foot steps from this center into the rest of our lives. Every foot step taken in humility and respect in a sacred way upon our holy mother earth. Here we define the limits of sacred space, push the boundaries of divinity with our own respect and love for Mother Earth.
In the Creation stories emerge all that there is from the center and then space is measured and divided as the body of the divine mother, made out of the very primordial essence of the Creator. So here we have that level of sacredness that pervades all space, with every thing as sacred and not merely by virtue of its’ origin but also by virtue of its existence. It is sacred because it is, because it is not void. Void, then, could represent the mundane, the boring, even with the understanding that these are special too. There is this sense then, that a cursed place of wondering ghosts and wicked spirits is within the realm of this holy creation even though it is profane and cursed.
Here we venture into the realm of consecration, the act of forgiving a place. This is the idea of lifting a curse on a broken space, of filling the void of desolation with love and the acknowledgement if its divine origins. In the act of forming the altar of soil we consecrate it and by showing its center with the placement of the staff or blessed object we affirm the center of the universe and the origins of all space. Making a place a physical representation of the creation stories, redeeming a mundane place by acknowledging it as part of the goddess’s body.
With our minds we cast the divisions of sacred places even into modern day. The most non-spiritually focused person will still have that special warmth for ones place of birth. Affinity for ones childhood home and places of play are sacred within the mind of desacralized man. De-sacralized :
Within all creation myth is that sacred point of beginning which is marked by the center. From that center something very special happens, Movement! Like the center of the Aztec calendar we can see the central glyph of Ollin, motion, the Lakota God, Skanskan. This speaks of movement that came from stillness and stagnation, time that elapsed after timelessness. Just as form came from the void, motion came to the stagnant.
Here we have another thing that can be measured and perceived. Like space, it is the quality of our perception that determines the relativity of time. If you are waiting in vain for a very late friend, that time spent can be downright nasty, not sacred! Finally when the point of meeting with your friend and joy begins, time quickens and is savored as sacred in every cherished movement.
In essence, the act of ceremony is the re-enactment of the creation stories. The religious rite is now enacting the dawn of time and space. In the Sweat Lodge, Yuwipi, Sun Dance and every spiritual rite in every sane and sacred tradition one can find this division of sacred time and space. For the ancestors, the beginning of time was a holy time and the act of ceremony transformed the mundane time into sacred time, The consecration of time!
Our ancestors had a lot of sacred time. The four sacred divisions of the day and night, the dawn of light being the beginning of time and a space between time. The midday when the shadows are smallest and mark the apex of the sun, then dusk in its calmness and rest, also a space between time. Then midnight ( some say 2 or 4) when all is at rest and the Eagle is said to take a drink of water and the Mole ascends to feel the air. As it is with space, in the big picture we can see that all time could be seen as sacred by virtue of it not being non-movement.
For the Spiritual, time is a sacred movement of Great Mystery from beginning to end, from the time of the creators first awareness until the very fulfillment of that awareness all the way into omnipotence! From the first motion until that point that every thing that could have been done, moved and realized has been done. So the ancestors listened to the wisdom of the storyteller account that each passing moment in this life is to be lived in respect and honor and that each transition from one moment into the next is a sacred dance of the divine.
To modern man time is limited and not as vast as it was for his ancestors. It is measured by its limit and not by its infinity. For him time is running out and he is waiting, waiting for that place in time that, to him , is sacred. We live in a time where special time exists in leisure, after work. For our ancestors work was sacred, ritual drama and thought were seen as sacred acts and not as mundane things. To the original ancestors, leisure was more mundane than the hunt and the work.
Rather than speculating through the lens of our myopic spiritual opinions, let us look at what can be measured and counted with scientific processes. The elders speak of vast expanses of space and time as being sacred, The Sacred Mountains. Now they are seen more as national resources and places of leisure rather than the breasts of Mother Earth. Time can be counted for the domestic human in terms of seconds, minutes and hours rather than by experiences.
For industrialized humans, all time is mundane until those special moments finally arrive. Now the sacred has become the weekend, the party and for him the only true rituals are weddings and funerals. Most of the time is in passing now and in wait for something not boring. Such sacred events such as giving birth have been reduced to a medical procedure. The holiest of holy, in women’s time, the menses or moon-time is seen with shame and embarrassment, especially the first Moon-Time. Time is slipping away for the domestic human, and yet it is a dance for the aboriginal. Time always seems to be running out for those attempting to not be late and for Industrial man, death awaits him to mark the end.
Lets look at the modern spiritual seeker and domestic man on the timely path of salvation and redemption. Here we can easy measure that sacred time has been scheduled as a day of the week and sacred space has been confined to the inside of a church building! Even for the religious, the sacred has receded, it has been extracted from within the home. The personal shrine within the home and hearth and has been placed behind lock and key under the charge of a “spiritual middle man” who will intercede with God on you behalf. The spiritual path has devolved into an academic pursuit rather than being measured in terms of experience alone.
At the center of spirituality as well as life it’s self is our perception and our perception determines what we are aware of. Like all domesticated animals, we are focusing on our thought rather then our emotions. domestication is where neurosis are born and the mind prods and judges the feelings (which is the reverse for the untamed). The intellect is over shadowing bodily awareness and it can be proven scientifically. At the expense of our direct instinct we seem to be trading our knowing-ness for reflection, thinking about things.
Our modern cultures’ pursuit of intelligence may cost us our symbolical mind altogether. The symbolical mind has receded into our subconscious with the increase of language, meaning that we think more and more with words and less and less with symbols. This allows humans to be more intellectual at the expense of our ability to directly perceive things. This is scientific fact. What people are not measuring scientifically (anthropologically), are the changes in spiritual experience among domestic culture.
We now live in a world where the earth itself is seen as profane and something to be harnessed and dominated. With our perception we paint the world around us and as we open our minds to rationalization we can also be seen as closing our our minds to the Spiritual. The spirit is outside of math, measurement and logic. The spiritual defies the mind just as the void defies form. The Sacred is becoming superstition and collectively the human race is shutting itself off from non-rational possibilities. “Miracles” are quickly becoming “impossibilities”.
It is up to us to keep the dream alive and who knows what fate awaits our kind? Do not rely too heavily upon the mind. Many wonderful things are coming from the organization of human affairs, let’s not cast ourselves into the mundane in the process. Hold on to the magic unbridled, release everything you think you know and deify the unnatural ways though which you have been conditioned. Arrive alive in sacred space and time. Here and now, everywhere and forever! Shine as brightly as you can.
Show Father sky and Mother Earth your urgency, live life aloud and rise above your petty comfort zones. Resist being comforted into a state of complacency, refuse being lulled away into the suckling comforts of domesticated inertia. Fight and overcome what is rightfully yours as humans, for the wildness and unpredictable spirit untamed. Reclaim what you really want of your selves, feel the power of Nature and the timeless connection to the very center of all that is. You are an Immortal being, fearless and impervious to everything on this earth.
Claw through your thin domestic veneer and be who you were always meant to be. Come alive and face the storm with abandon. Show some backbone in your life and roar aloud! Be bold and real, stop cradling your precious internal dialog and false self image. Go beyond all that and break through to your savage, real and animal connection to your Mother Earth.
Aho Mitaku Oyasin!