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Dispatches from the Drivers Seat: From Choctaw Country to Navajoland

Dispatches from the Drivers Seat

Earlier, I shared an experience of my relationship with the elements and etheric that  developed as I moved from Montana to Mississippi late spring. I was led by vision and a new Missouria-Choctaw guide to find an alikchi (medicine man) named James Johnson in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Unlike other ventures into the larger unknown, this time I knew exactly where I was going, who I was looking for, and was also aware that if he didn’t know I was coming, he’d know I was in the area when I got there.

After I’d recovered from 2000 miles of journeying, I went to the tribal offices to find Mr. Johnson’s number or address. The receptionist, who did one better by drawing me a map to his house, added the following to her artistry: “I just want you to know I do not like that man.”  To which I responded with the raised eyebrow. She continued with this: “He goes and he does stuff with those Cherokee and other people. Our medicine is for our people. Their medicine is for them. He should have nothing to do with those people.”

“This my only my opinion, of course,” was added after her vitriol moved from her like the ink from her pen. And, I? All I could do was say, “I see” and walk away shaking my head at the vehement isolationism and racism connected to an unwillingness to share ‘the medicine’.

Where that began for her, I don’t know. The reason we remember & revere great men and women of medicine, faith, justice, healing, love, mercy, freedom, and connection to spirit is not because they have said ‘the medicine’ is only mine or only ours or only for those who are like us or as we like them to be.

Each revered one has known and taught that ‘the medicine’ is of and for everyone, everywhere. It is of the Universe, is accessible and eternal, for everyone. That’s part of their legacy and why they are regarded as wise across cultures and time, the reasons why they continue to speak to us today is because they spoke to/for ‘us’ then.

For me, ‘the medicine’ is love. A tangible, palpable, powerful expression of universal love that, when experienced, changes how we see ourselves and those around us. It is experienced by those ‘of the medicine’ in a number of ways and is a key to bringing fractured communities together.

Segregation and racism are phenomena shared across cultures but as Old Ones and I continue weave this expanding fabric that bridges past and present–particularly as it relates to bringing renewed medicine to The People, the resultant isolation of individuals within and separation between related communities is  heartbreaking.

For me, it strikes to the very heart of the matter–a separation from love and a barrier to gifted individuals accessing themselves and bringing their gifts into the larger community. They hunger to learn and share what they know but feel shackled by secrets and separation. Secrets related to family& community violence, separation grounded in judgements about sexuality, age, tribe, appearance and more.  The stifling of relearning and teaching and sharing . In this time where there is a true desire to return to origins–real ones, the ones before pain and fear and loss and disconnection became the filters of being–we cannot move forward with a stranglehold our ‘our’ or ‘mine’.

The continued, conscious segregation from others maintains the separation be past and present, you and I, them and Other.  While simultaneously fueling a perception of safety, it drowns communities and feeds the despair and disconnection.  The more one ‘guards their ground’, so to speak, the more the soul of people and peoples is stifled. What you withhold, holds you down.  The same concept carries from individuals to communities.

I wrote the following after being dramatically effected at Ganado, NM, after I returned a young Navajo man to his birth mother in Tuba City. The Hubbell Trading Post is in Ganado andwhat is imprinted, not on National Park Service signs, but in the air, in the things that touch the ground, wind and spirit of the place, is loss; a collective serration from home, from Center, from the spirit of all things that connecting them to hope.

There are things so subtly striking in their absence that the results– of the ecological, sociological, spiritual and psychological —all those things bound in the collective unconscious–that we contend with now, both as First Peoples and the morass that has grown from them, seems obvious. There is a sense of loss and a lost-ness that are inextricably entwined in this relationship between man and ground, man and his men, the ground and the heavens and those that connect each of these.  To see lostness through the consciousness of others long gone is a  (I never finished this sentence but will later). A people so connected to the earth that the earth took their pain.  Absorbed it like a rare rain.  and held onto it like it was holding onto their dear lives. And while the people bleed the interest in life, the earth withholds it. There’s no need to feed & give life if life is no longer wanted. Starved of connection, they disconnect further.  Run to escape, escape to feel free yet yearn to come home.

If we say we hold the spaces between living and dead, earthly and spirit, human and earth, as sacred and holy relationships, why won’t we do the same with our neighbors, progeny, and brothers.

If we refuse to connect to each other by sharing the simplest of our bounty, ‘the medicine’, we cannot connect to Other–no matter what we call it–and no matter how we dress it up or how often we dress up for it.. That is the ultimate hypocrisy and the ultimate lostness. We can no longer escape that which is right in front of us.

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