Written while I was reading Sandra Ingerman’s “Medicine for the Earth” a few months ago….
i’ve started reading Sandra Ingerman’s “Medicine for the Earth,” ostensibly about healing “personal and environmental toxins.” it seemed like an interesting topic, and i rather enjoyed her “Shamanic Journeying” book. the latter was small and rather introductory, but included good ideas for journeying (activities, reasons, techniques, etc.). the drumming CD it came with also is quite good; we used it on the equinox as the background for our Warrior Women Dance.
“Medicine for the Earth,” though, is getting on my nerves. on one hand, it’s common sense: you can clear personal negativity by thinking happy thoughts. yes, folks, you can — bet you didn’t think of that before! yes, in the depths of despair, feel the connection to your gods and spirits.
can we say “no-brainer”?
granted, there are folks who don’t get that — the fact that while you do not always choose your circumstances (New Age claptrap to the contrary), you do have somewhat of a voice in how you react. (i saw “somewhat” because there are instinctual reactions: e.g., jumping from the window of a burning building without thinking. mental illness can also circumvent choice in reaction as well; if you are in the midst of a schizophrenic or manic episode, for example, your ability to choose your course of action is severely limited).
i run into the “black holes” who don’t get the above in the world every day. sadly, they are the last people on earth who would read Sandra Ingerman’s book — and even if they did, they probably wouldn’t get the premise. i have a nagging suspicion that some of those folks likely have psychological or intellectual issues, but i digress.
“Medicine for the Earth” irks me partly because one of its initial exercises is coming up with your own creation myth. understanding creation, it argues, is the crux of spiritual wholeness. and so, the author demonstrates by supplying her own: an account of the White Light creating all, with humans as a special “experiment.”
first off, i disagree with creation myths as being central to spirituality. frankly, i don’t have one (and none survived intact in Celtic myth, although the varied invasions of Ireland seem to suggest one). i don’t want one, either. i have no idea how the universe was created, outside of the Big Bang and various scientific theories — and i don’t think it’s my place to know. i am a small being in a vast universe; why should i be privy to such information? and it seems — at least to me — like hubris to write one of my own, as if i knew the mind of the Gods.
i have my own beliefs about the composition of the Otherworld and spirit(s), but they are just that: beliefs, not capital-T Truth. i am okay with not knowing anything with certainty. when asked, i will offer my beliefs, but will present them as such and not Truth. frankly, i think Truth isn’t some holy, unchanging concept; it, too, depends on the subject and the position of the observer.
Ingerman’s own myth bothers me also in that it assumes a special place/role for humans. quite frankly, i don’t think we’re any different — spiritually speaking — than any other animal. granted, we believe we are and view the Gods as anthropomorphic — but if horses have Gods, they’d view them in horse-shape and consider themselves the highest beings of creation, as Herodotus aptly noted.
interesting question i’d love to ask Ingerman: if humans have animal helpers to aid them on their spiritual journeys, do animals have human helpers in the Otherworld?
i’m hoping the book gets better and will stick it out. it seems to me, however, that its version of shamanism is the byproduct of a human-centered modernity divorced from nature. true shamanic traditions accord animals equal agency, from everything i’ve seen. part of me wants to sit in on an Ingerman workshop and say to the participants: “no, honey, it’s not all about you.”
refusing to pass on personal negativity is a valuable practice, both spiritual and otherwise. i’d consider it a form of civility, something we’ve lost in a disconnected culture. in that regard, perhaps Ingerman’s presentation is apt; culturally speaking, many of us do need a basic course in not passing on our shit.