In my work as a healer, and within myself, I can clearly see illness is attached to our fears and unprocessed trauma. Through the work of people like Gabor Mate, we seem to be getting more aware of the connection between our unconscious behaviour and unresolved trauma. I have a related but more animistic view of illness and addiction. Not so much a map as an unfolding story where we invite illness in, and feed it, with our fear and negativity. And we do this so it will lead us to the root of our disease.
I love this old word ‘dis-ease’ because it shows me there was a time when my ancestors understood that our physical ailments and the dis-ease of our spirit were part of the same thing. And it shows of the two parts, they choose to point at the spiritual cause of the illness. Now, allopathic medicine points exclusively to the physical causes. Your spiritual/emotional dis-ease never comes into it. In our self-made story of progress we always make out like the medicine man or traditional healer’s methodology is based on some ignorant model or view of reality and that we know better now. But think about it for a second and ask, who has chosen where to look and where not to look? And who created a whole system out of that ignorance?
When we are able to honour the force behind the illness, and behind the fear, the illness is relatively easy to treat with diet and herbs, balancing the blood and organ function. When we only treat for a pathogen or the symptoms of the illness it may retreat but it will return, even in another form. And usually more virulent.
The basis of war, just like illness comes from our personal fear. In war we project our shadow onto an outer form as the ‘enemy’, much like we do with viruses. In our history we speak knowingly of war, focusing on geopolitical aspects that tipped things toward the first strike, but these are never the actual reason for war any more than external pathogens are the reason we get sick.
And I’m not saying pathogens and socially destructive forces don’t exist, and that it’s all some mystical manifestation of my inner self. Rather, that they do exist but not as something ‘other’. They exist as part of a larger ecology, a larger self, which we are personally part of. Most importantly what I am saying is if we can catch our shadow projections onto ‘the other’, then the shadow finds no place to root into our heart. When the conflict or illness isn’t rooted in our hearts it can be easily resolved. Conflict and struggling to find peace is a natural state, it’s part of being human. But when there is conflict that leads to violence or isolation, then a larger shadow is being embodied. This is when our behaviour becomes psychotic and pathogenic.
There is a Buddhist teaching that goes something like this, “the minute you raise your sword you’ve lost the battle”. This is because in our madness we are cutting down the very part of ourselves that is the most vulnerable. That has come back to us in a dark cloak for its own protection.
The way we treat warring factions and pathogens comes from a very old impulse to scapegoat ‘the other’. Charles Eisenstein has done some very insightful writing on this in relation to Corona, that you can find on line or (in his book, “The Coronation”). He speaks about this righteous impulse being in full swing with the vax vs the antivax factions.
I think there is even more wisdom to be wrung from the ‘scapegoat’ story. Think about why the ancient storytellers would pick such a stubborn and durable animal? Why not a sheep or cow or something more domestic? Here’s why. In the longer play of the story that isn’t often told, the ills that the scapegoat carries away find their way back to the village, spiritually and biologically. Like the shadow energies, goats have a mind and will of their own and push back. Imagine this poor diseased goat that has the fears and loathing of a village heaped upon it, and it’s driven away. It might satisfy an impulse within ourselves or the community but in reality it won’t achieve our ‘cleansing’ goal. Goats are incredibly stubborn, so more than likely the animal is just going to hang around right outside the village boundary, at a distance where people can’t throw stones at it anymore. Goats are close to being ‘wild’ in their own wily way, so it’s likely that he’d be around for a long time. Eventually he’d die through pathogen or predator. But here’s the rub. Through it’s lingering time and the goat’s eventual death the disease it was sent away with will spread into the very ecology from which the village derives it sustenance. And so the pathogen and accompanying fear will come back through other vectors like insects, animals and plants. We can drive our ‘darkness’ and our fear away with a scapegoat, and even kill that form, but it always comes back to us.
As I started to think about this and its antithesis, honouring the darkness in the form it’s in, I felt a flood of lost understanding…time…history come back into me. I re-membered a piece of myself and a time where we actually did just that. In a time before our history of conquest and war we honoured the darkness in the form it came. When the shadow is related to in a honourable way, in a particular form, it feels accepted by us and is likely to stay in that form. And because it is not driven by us to change its form we are able to more easily recognize it and relate to it. This enables us to feed the darkness consciously. Connecting with the fear at its core and bowing low to it. Rather than running and hiding from it, and feeding it unconsciously.
When we feed the dark fearful thing, it’s like giving water to dry hard ground. Our heart softens and the root of the conflict or illness can come loose, be pulled and composted. This ‘pulling’ and ‘composting’ or breaking down, amounts to teasing the trauma out and apart with our feelings and mind. And through that alchemic process the very bits that hurt us can be used as tools to dismantle our inner oppressor. This is how we inscend through the underworld to a greater hall of wisdom.
I’m sure the depiction of Corona in its molecular form as a crown didn’t pass unnoticed to those of us with an eye for the mythic and symbolic. In perfect synchronicity we crowned our fear King and placed Corona on the throne of ‘darkness’ in the underworld. Yes, Corona has become a dark God of sorts for us, but notice in our present story it was born from the Earth (bats), not from the heavens like an archangel. This to me is a very strong indicator that the Christian Era is ending and the myths of old are arising again in new forms. Corona, like the monster Grendal in Beowolf (a pre-christian text) is born of and lives in dark caves in the Earth. In the story of Beowulf the only way he is able to defeat Grendal is by facing the monster naked, without armour or weapons. I think the lesson here in relation to our monster Corona is clear. We made the wrong choice. Collectively we were coerced onto the path of fear. Our armour (masks and isolation) and weapons (vaccine) only worked against us, aggravating strife and disease. By trying to armour ourselves and eradicate this being we only gave it more power and forced it to shift into more virulent forms. Virulent, as in ‘virile’. By our own definition we gave Corona an erection from our fearful response. We do not want our pathogens, our dark god in this state. Rather, we want them well-fed and sleepy, so they will go away and leave us be.
I personally went through the process of fearful projection and then acceptance with both Lyme disease and Corona. After I’d had Lyme for several months, thinking I could just get rid of it like any other illness I’d had, I realized I’d likely had a dormant form of it for years. Under these conditions I was told by doctors and herbalists I trusted that I would never completely rid myself of this pathogen. That the most I could hope for was to be symptom free. This was when I truly started to work with Lyme as though it was ‘part of myself’ physically and spiritually.
It may very well be that we are all going through the same underworld initiatory process with Corona. In the sense that we will all likely have some form of it and will never really get rid of it or the treat of it. And through our projections of fear it will be firmly attached to some dark anchor within ourselves. Then we die or take a hero’s journey into the underworld, to finally face our shadow in order to get better.
I believe this same mythic journey is also being undertaken by those who have HIV, and even more clearly by those with other immune system disorders like Chronic Fatigue, Crohn’s, fibromyalgia and MS, where there is no known pathogen to target.
In North America it seems the boomers are the most caught by and driving ‘our’ fearful industrial response to Covid. Interestingly these are some of the very same folks that in their fearless youth helped break down many social barriers around racism, sexism and destructive land use. But the cultural revolution fuelled by drugs and the zeal of uninitiated youth lacked the fortitude and grounding to follow through and actually break down the systemic structures. The same boomer population bulge in their middle-age led us into deeper waters of debt with their greed and hedonism in the 80’s. And now in their old age were being ushered into a ‘safe’ controlled, constantly distracted, entertained, sedated and monitored existence.
I too admit in the arch of my life I acted fearlessly for a time and didn’t seem to ever get sick. But as I get older and closer to my fears I can see that when we act fearlessly we can still be hiding our fear behind the brashness and recklessness of our outward behaviour. You can see this in everything from addiction to extreme sports. In a sense this can be good, because we are not running from our fear. But we are still feeding it unconsciously by chasing it and by challenging it. We are still not moving close to it, listening to it and accepting it. Like being in the glory of battle we feel good when we attack and conquer our fear in outward form, but there are many unseen consequences and seeds of suffering sown through such action.
Only now, after many years of playing these games with fear have I come to recognize, know and honour it, in whatever form it comes to me in. Because I know in my heart there is truly nothing to fear, sometimes I can sit with these shadows in full acceptance and feed them consciously with my love. And then, like when we feed a wild animal they starts to let their guard down and reveal their vulnerable sweet nature. When we come this far I cry at the loss, like a reunited sibling.
So you might ask, do I have to get sick or be in conflict to connect with and accept the root of my fear?
I would hope that isn’t always the case, even though it was for me. Sickness is a last resort, where your body sacrifices itself so you’ll be given a chance to look at and let go of the inner conflict at the root of your disease.
How do we then begin to honour these dark gods of ours?
It seems to me a good place to start might be to recognize them in their full potential. Which is as a Destroyer/Creator of everything we love and cherish. In the mythology of Kali or other Destroyer/Creator Gods, it’s understood that it is through their slaughter that the darkness is fed and able to regenerate life.
In the case of Viruses, our present dark god, it is a scientific fact that they are hugely responsible for genetically shaping both us and the outer reality of Nature that we live in. Which is to say, this dark god is responsible for manifesting life’s utter perfection and beauty. So really, who are we to righteously stand in its way and say what’s happening is bad. It may very well be that Covid is here to save us from some other worse disease to come.
This understanding is reflected from both the indigenous perspective and recent scientific studies of Deer and Wolves. We are beginning to understand that the wolves are the keepers, and in a sense creators of the Deer. Like a caring gardener pruning a tree, by constantly culling the weak, the wolves make the herd strong. And when the Deer people are strong this doesn’t mean the eradication of the Wolves. It makes them strong too. And when the wolves are strong it doesn’t make them more aggressive, quite the opposite. It makes them more peaceful. When everyone in an ecology is strong and healthy a balance is struck. This balanced peaceful reality existed nearly everywhere on the uncolonized Earth, before our numbers started to grow a few thousand years ago. We don’t know this because mostly all we see is a shattered degraded ecology. We drag it behind us and make more of it as we perpetually colonize the wild.
We don’t see this deep synergy between the predator and prey because that’s not what we’re looking for. We want an enemy, it simplifies things. Our whole lives we’ve been bombarded with scientific theory and nature shows based on ‘survival of the fittest’, that highlight the rare moments of physical ‘violence’. We seem to love this because then we can project our shadows into the perpetrator and victim story. In reality, where the ecology is intact, like in my 100,000 acre backyard of Algonquin park, the Deer and Wolves actually live in very close quarters with one another in harmony 99.99% of the time. And when somebody is taken for food it’s not out of the blue or violent. It happens through negotiation and agreement, and as part of a covenant. It’s not the spirit of violence but the spirit of creation and indebtedness that’s being enacted by the Deer and Wolves, the violence is ours.
Once we’ve accept our fears in their terrible and dynamic forms we need to bow low and cautiously feed them with thankfulness and with beauty, with songs and dance and handmade gifts from our ‘middle world’. And remember the trickster comes from the shadow land, so we must greatly consider and make our offerings to this dark altar carefully. Then, don’t turn in arrogance and stride away thinking “job done”, this negotiation with our keepers never ends. Instead, back away humbly so you are not taken as part of the offering.