I snapped the above photo at the central library, knowing there was a post somewhere in it yearning for the light of day. Let me retreat into my metaphorical sacred teepee and see if I can draw forth the Poetic Truth.
In order to lay claim to the power vouchsafed him in his visions by the Great Spirits and the Grandfathers Black Elk knew he had to manifest them to his people. With the aid of other medicine men, braves and maidens, he withdrew to a sacred teepee erected at the centre of the encampment and after much ceremonial cleansing and preparation, he and his other players emerged as garbed and painted figures from his dream. Accompanied by much drumming and singing the entire village would be drawn trancelike into the very substance of the vision.
Such is the awesome power of the shaman in integrating and harmonizing all the disparate elements of a nation, harnessing the energies to a shared commonality, creating coherence and identity in the group, and situating the group in the larger world and indeed cosmos.
It is the acting out and assimilation of a Living Poem. Giving meaning and import to every individual. For how many centuries did the holy tree at the hub of the nation’s hoop flower forth and bear fruit?
However long it was by the 1890’s the nation’s hoop had been smashed and the holy tree had withered and died.
Where have the shattered and dispersed elements of the Living Poem gone?
Same place the elements of our fragmented Living Poem have gone. They are all around us.
Look closely at people’s tattoos: snakes, dragons and spiders, eagles and wolves, horses and figures from myth and fantasy are everywhere. Look at the cars and motorcycles people drive, there are mustangs and airbrushed bolts of lightening. The American Eagle adorns Harley-Davidsons. It is an integral part of the mystic.
The artists who create music, books and movies play with these potent symbols, sometimes knowingly and sometimes inadvertently. We wear them as jewelry, as talisman, on T-shirts and ball caps. Corporations use them to brand, and advertisers manipulate our emotions with them so as to sell.
They still reside in our churches and inspirit our ceremonies from marriage to such publicly shared rites as a state funeral or royal visit.
They are living symbols. And one day, maybe generations hence, an Artist will reassemble the blasted and scattered glasslike shards and with them reconstitute a broken hoop for all earth’s people.
Too heavy, but given time limitations, it will have to do.
Thanks for reading.