The other morning, as I prepared for work, my mind was preoccupied with Jung’s “Late Thoughts,” a chapter in his autobiography that spoke of his final commentary on a world he was soon to leave. Jung lamented that the world lacked a living religious mythology that had kept pace with, and could serve as a guide to the modern world. His major concern was the question of evil for the modern world, which is still cast as the fallen angel, separate and distinct from God. How is mankind to reconcile the wholeness of its nature if God is only light, and darkness a fallen angel who failed to remain in the goodness of the light. That fallen angel resides in all mankind in the dark side of its nature?
At the exact moment of this thought, I was stunned by a loud THUD at the glass door to our deck. I ran to the door to find a large black grackle lying on its back, its wings flailing frantically, its heart beating wildly. It was clearly in shock and my heart sank at the sight of its helplessness and its dubious prognosis.
I knew better than to open the door and attempt to assist. The fatal outcome of the wounded animals I had rescued in my childhood came to mind. Better to give this bird the sanctuary of its own inner resources than to shock it further with outside intervention, however well-meaning.
I quietly walked away, grappling with my own sadness and yet hopeful that this fallen angel might resume its journey. A half hour later, I returned to discover that the grackle’s wings were completely still, its heartbeat barely discernible. The prognosis appeared fatal, though I still held out hope.
Before I left the house, I checked one more time and was excited to discover that the bird had turned over and was sitting calmly in its place. The next question was: Will it actually be able to fly, or does it have a broken wing? An hour later, Jan was able to report that the grackle had successfully regained its poise, spread its wings, and lifted off the deck into a nearby tree.
I am left with the synchronicity of Jung’s lament that religious mythology has not progressed beyond earth and humankind needing redemption and the crash of the black grackle into the glass. Perhaps this bird’s process was the answer to a new mythology, more guiding and pertinent to our modern sensibility and dire predicament.
The first picture that popped into my mind was the image on the cover of Carlos Castaneda’s first book, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, a black crow perched in the desert. My bird was a grackle, often associated with the crow but not actually of its family. Nonetheless, the association leads me to the mythology of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico.
Those shamans see human beings as magical beings. What an awesome description; human beings are inherently magical! This is a far cry from beings fallen from God, offspring of Satan and earth. This is a description that transcends good and evil, and morality itself. This designation is intrinsically, and wholeheartedly, simply magical!
Indeed, the Shamans of Ancient Mexico see the world we live in as a consensus reality, a fixation of our vast potential, an interruption in our magical flight. We are like the bird that crashed into the glass; we are all lying helpless on the deck of this world, our magical nature ground to a halt.
Like the grackle that smacked into the glass those shamans see the central grounding position of our human fixation as the collision of our magical nature with self-reflection. Self-reflection is the overriding obsession currently mirrored in our attachment to the “likes” of social media. Our species is obsessed with its goodness, badness, value, possessions, and self-preservation, which color our ability to go beyond the self and see the true needs in the world around us.
This obsession with me and mine is the modus operandi behind greed, wars, and the destruction of the planet. Nonetheless, the shamans suspend judgment and instead totally appreciate the utter magic of our ability to create this world, regardless of its instability. Like modern physicists, they understand the world of everyday reality as but one of many possible interpretations of energy. At the same time, they cannot help but marvel at how magical a species we really are, powerful enough to create the consensus reality we all live in every day of our lives. Yet those shamans know that, like my bird who had to find its way back to its wings, human beings have all they need within themselves to restore their connection to their magic.
The world is now like my flailing grackle, charged to recalibrate itself beyond its encounter with self-reflection. That bird needed no outside help, no Godly redeemer to restore it to balance. We have everything we need too. We are, after all, magical.
The world wobbles out of control because it must find its way back to the magic, beyond its destructive hold on self-importance over the greater needs of life. That particular fixation has run its full course and is no longer sustainable. A new world that explores its interdependent wholeness is in formation. And that grackle did rebalance and lift off to a new adventure, and so will we.
I distinctly recall Carlos Castaneda, at a tensegrity workshop, turning his back to us as he performed a deep shoulder roll, including his full shoulder blade, telling us to “free your wings.” Yes, in the eyes of those shamans we are magical beings whose wings have been clipped, but needn’t be if we are prepared to do a deep recapitulation and set ourselves free.
I know that Carlos would say that we have two interpretations to choose from: We are the offspring of God’s fallen angels who need redemption from our inability to transcend our evil nature or we are magical beings fully capable of recapitulating and launching into a new adventure.
From one magical being to another,