A burst of thunder! A flash of lightning! For a moment we are leveled in awe. Somewhere, out there, is an all-powerful energy far greater than the predictable flow of everyday life. For a moment we are seized by the divine, whether it be in terror or ecstasy.
The ancients took these outer manifestations in the heavens and on earth as the moods, judgments, and actions of the gods. For the modern ego the divine forces of nature have been explained and tamed by the human god of reason, though numinous encounters with nature quickly shatter its calm persona.
Mana is the term assigned to the energy of the divine. In our modern world that energy is projected onto people, places, and things. When a child is born, and for many subsequent years, mother is imbued with powerful mana. Who cannot recall either the experience or hidden craving for attention from mana mama!
A smile from mother deeply satisfies a need for validation: “I indeed belong in this world.” The glitter in her eye as she gives special attention to what the child is doing, saying, writing, drawing, singing, etc. is utter communion with the golden nectar of divine mana.
As an infant grows and becomes a separate being the mother archetype, which at first included the entire world, differentiates and the mana of mother is distributed to other people, i.e., father, as well as to objects. In fact the well known special teddy bear or towel that the child attaches to for security and comfort was termed a “transitional object” by Winnicott.
By this he meant that the powerful mana originally totally projected onto mother now rubs off on the transitional object in the child’s possession, providing an intermediary container for the power and energy of mother that the child will eventually experience within the self-sufficient self.
The projection of divine mana in adult relationships often harkens back to this hunger for special attention first experienced in childhood. Adults often experience in others the divine mana which they are drawn to and are terrified of as well. All intimacy must work through the mana projections that lead to dependency and avoidance of connection that have their roots in mana projections.
Modern mana frequently is projected into substances that loosen the spirit’s confinement in the body and offer divine communion with mana through flights of the imagination and pleasurable shifts in perception and physical sensation. Food as well can take on a divine mana, which delivers pleasurable sensation, hunger relief, and a fulfilled self-contained wholeness.
Mana is often projected onto objects we absolutely must have. Amazon.com is really a major mana warehouse. Books are often filled with mana as we commune with information and plots that give us divine tension and satisfaction.
The crux of mana is divinity. Human animals appear programmed to find the divine spark of their own spirit selves reflected in the people, places, and things of this world. This striving for contact or union with the divine is ultimately our animal self seeking to discover and join with its spirit half.
Until we discover and recover our own mana in inner union we are led to follow its trail in encounters with significant transitional objects in this world. That is the magic of this world; it serves as the playing field for finding the divine through participation in life and relationship on the road to wholeness of body and spirit within.
May the force be with you,
A blog by Chuck Ketchel, LCSW-R