My wife is a psychologist. She has a ton of formal education. I don’t.
In fact, I am a three time university drop out. Couldn’t find the courses that suited, I suppose. And I still couldn’t if I tried.
I am extremely fortunate though. I ended up at the Omphalos Cafe and undertook a protracted course of self-guided study. I discovered that’s where I belong and I’ve been there off and on ever since. Twenty years or more.
When we met, my wife and I clicked right away. I understand psychology, practice it in my own Omphalos Cafe sort of way. Only, I wouldn’t call it psychology, rather, psycho-spirituology, if my auto-correct permits. When spirituality breaks down the psychologist is there to pick up the pieces. The two exist along one single continuum.
Imagine for a moment a man or woman in his or her early twenties, thirties, or even forties. In spite of the smiles and perhaps even the minor triumphs of a life lived amidst the swarming crowd, things have not gone especially well and a cloud of dark depression hangs over this person’s head much of the time. After contemplating suicide said person finds the resources to visit a psychologist.
What do they talk about?
Well, they dig into the past. Together they unearth forgotten memories and experiences, and address other experiences that cannot be forgotten and left behind—all events and relationships that carry into the present and in this case inhibit a full and rich participation in adulthood. Should the therapy prove successful the individual is freed, liberated from his or her once cloying past, the cloud disperses and the sun shines down in all its life-nurturing warmth.
The Artist-Shaman is a practicing psycho-spirituologist. And that’s the kind of thing that goes on here at the Cafe.
For instance: we are a society, a civilization, out of balance, out of accord with nature. I don’t think anyone would dispute that. But where are the roots of such a psycho-spiritual malady?
Unfortunately, education as it stands today, our entire breadth of learning, fails miserably when it comes to plumbing the depths of our unease. The reason—and reason is at the heart of it—is it skips over our truly formative years and focuses exclusively on the product of our collective maturity. That is, what came before the Renaissance or late Middle Ages is largely ignored or treated as rough sketches for the Masterpieces in the making. That something could have taken place, a collective experience so profound and indeed traumatic that it coloured every subsequent event and product of our civilization is inconceivable to the bookish crowd that are the custodians of our collective heritage.
However, without that forgotten key, the early event or events that often enough lie buried in the past, how can any of the relationships and emotional outlooks established in adulthood be truly comprehended, let alone incorporated into an integral personality? On an individual as well as collective level?
Hence the Omphalos Cafe.
Here our deeply troubled Western Civilization, now having overrun the entire globe, reclines before me on a comfortable chair sharing its deepest darkest and most guarded secrets.
“Only next to the kings stood the bards. They were the soothsayers, historians, and royal counselors, as well as the poets, of their people.”—Will Durant, The Age Of Faith, writing of life in Wales predating Christianity, circa 500 AD.
“The bards constituted a poetical clerical caste; no one was admitted to their order except after strict training in the lore of their race.”—Will Durant, The Age Of Faith
“Poets abounded, and held high state in society; usually they combined the functions of teacher, lawyer, poet, and historian. Grouped in bardic schools around some leading poet, they inherited many of the powers and prerogatives of the pre-Christian Druid priests.”—Will Durant, The Age Of Faith
“When he [Olaf, son of Tryggve] was made King of Norway (995) he destroyed pagan temples, built Christian churches, and continued to live in polygamy. The bonders [free peasants] opposed the new religion fiercely, and demanded that Olaf should make sacrifice to Thor as in the ancient ritual; he agreed, but proposed to offer Thor the most acceptable sacrifice—the leading bonders themselves; whereupon they became Christians.”—Will Durant, The Age Of Faith
I’m sorry West, our time is up. Next session we will examine together how this forcing of Christianity upon your unwilling populace might have contributed to your imbalance and unhappiness moving forward. We’ll look at what may have been lost, or merely buried, with the forcible eradication of your poets and Druids, and perhaps how they have never truly abandoned you.
Maybe everything you have become and have accomplished has been shot through with their forgotten lore, unbeknownst to you.
Maybe that is the key.