A PRIMORDIAL STORY OF THE MOTHER TONGUE
Rub your eyes to see if scales are falling.
Perk up your ears to a rumbling sound in the distance.
The systems of Western Civilization are failing us, sliding downhill before the incredulous eyes of all humanity. Alas, some see and hear while others do not. A crumbling of foundations sounds the alarm as the beautiful edifice of the industrialized culture implodes. The stark reality of the slide and, paradoxically, the inherent possibilities show up for us with a narrative that begins with a Christmas morning drink, 2004.
Join an imaginary scene in the narration with me.
In our story, we sit with our families on a pristine beach of Western Sri Lanka, gazing languidly at azure waters, tropical drinks in hand. A member of our family works for a multi-national corporation, and, as a reward for stellar profits, the whole lot of us receive the perk of this Christmas vacation. A rumor passes down the row of vacationers lounging on the beach. It seems, so the rumor goes, that tribal people on this storied island, as well as other near-by islands, have abandoned the beach area and moved to higher ground.
“Why on earth would they do that,” someone asks with more anxiety than curiosity.
“They sense a natural disaster through their mumbo jumbo,”
another replies haughtily, lacking political correctness.
another replies haughtily, lacking political correctness.
The rumor mill is sufficiently effective so that we hurriedly consult our latest I-phone aps to see if any data shows up to warn us of this unidentified danger. No information appears, even Internet gossip, on the subject. We are curious, of course, but since the rumor of catastrophe is not substantiated by our technological news sources, we have our doubts. After a brief and anxious conversation, we return to our texting and mystery novels, occasionally refreshing our drinks.
At breakfast the next morning someone surfaces a dream about frightened people fleeing from rising water. A sophisticated, psychological response comes, “If it were my dream, I would worry about inner disasters, perhaps an overbearing father. Water symbolizes rising consciousness. This dream is all about your issues. Maybe even about world problems.” We continue to discuss the dream, using skills we have acquired from our various therapy sessions as we stroll down the stairs of our hotel, heads down, while busily texting friends between comments.
Then, we hear a blood-curdling cry from outside.
Toward the beach where we are headed!
Looking up at last, we look aghast at a wall of water surging toward our hotel, tossing boats and autos in its wake, inundating houses, and swallowing people and other animals.
We scramble back up the stairs to the roof of the hotel some eight stories high. Our hotel sits on a hill, so the massive wall of water sweeps down a valley near the front steps where we had just been discussing the dream. The roiling water spews dirty spray in our faces, but, thankfully, our lives are spared, though, I might add through no fault of our own.
During the next few days we give thanks for our safety but tremble with a vulnerability reaching our core, a fresh cut-to-the-bone. How could such a massive sweeping of the chaotic hand happen with no warning? How could we not have received any information, although we had been glued to our laptops and cell phones with excellent Internet connections?
Now, after the fact, the Internet is alive with reports. 230,000 people in a variety of countries have died. Billions of dollars of property washed away. Coastal infrastructure decimated.
Once back home, we continue to follow the news. Strange stories of tribal people in the island chains tell of some innate capacity they had for moving to high ground. We recall the rumors we discounted at the beach and get busy on Google to inform us of their origin. Here is what we learned: Off the coast of India, the remote Andaman Islands are home to the primordial Onge(pronounced OHN-gay) people, a hunter-gatherer tribe. It seems that they intuited the danger before it happened. Their inner radar downloaded troubling information in their dreams and their shamanic journeys. Unlike members of our vacationing party, they did not interpret their dreams through a reductive lens of modern psychotherapy. They knew the spirits were searching them out with important information, and they spoke well the primal language of the ancient Nature-spirit world.
Moving from their interior world to the exterior, one of their clan thought to scurry to a near-by creek. It was, he discovered, strangely running dry. Following the dry bed to the beach, he saw the seawater pulling away from the usual shore. He reported what he saw to the elders. They took stock.
Recognizing the clear and present danger, some tribal members wanted to move to higher ground immediately. But the tribal elders insisted on another course of action. A ceremony, passed down orally for generations, warned and told them precisely what to do in this environmental situation. Surprising to our modern minds, the elders knew exactly the course of action to take. But counter to usual rationality, they did not rush to high ground immediately.
First, the elder ceremonialists scattered pig and turtle skulls around their little village in a circle to communicate with the tsunami they knew was coming soon. Though strange to our ears, we can almost hear them talking intimately with the tsunami. Like the members of our vacationing group, they had received dreams the night before. Yet, they knew what to do with the dream time information given to them by what they called The Great Mysterious.
They perceived the mighty wave as a living being, not a sterile, geologic, or meteorological event. According to their primal map, the tsunami was a living being, and the map instructed them to engage in a ceremony focused on establishing a relationship with the waves. Later, the elders of the tribe explained to curious anthropologists that they accepted the formidable tribe of waves as honored, if dangerous, visitors to their land rather than a disaster sent from an angry god.
One by one, the Onge elders walked to the beach and threw stones into the sea as their oral traditions directed, and then they quickly gathered their possessions and scurried to higher ground. Only moments later, a 100’ high tsunami slammed into the Andaman Islands. Astonishingly, all 96 Onge survived the visitation of the wave, intimate friends as they were with their wave-relatives.
Seemingly strange happenings, yes, but the Onge were not the only people who tuned into the information available to those who had primal eyes to see and ears to hear. Other humans picked up the messages from the eco-fields as well, a point we will explore in Chapter Ten. A ten-year-old British girl, Tilly Short, heard the messages. She looked at the sea as it suddenly boiled, pulling away from the resort she visited.
Tilly Short's attunement to the primordial voices had not yet been covered over by post-modern rationalism, the so-called apex of human civilization. Tilly's body vibrated, and she suddenly recalled words from one of her teachers about the behavior of tsunamis. Quickly, with the intention to warn others, the young girl ran up and down the beach, and, later, authorities estimated she saved over 100 people. (www.montereyinstitute.org/noaa/lessn09) It seems, shamanic intuition is not limited to ancient hunter gatherers but can be awakened in post-modern people deeply attuned to Nature’s cycles.
Interestingly, at Sri Lanka’s national wildlife park at Yala—home to elephants, buffalo, monkeys, and wild cats—no animal corpses were found in the aftermath of the tsunami. Soon, the internet was filled with photos people snapped of elephants moving to high ground and other animals following them---a Noah’s ark with no Noah. (www.slate.come/id/2111608)
What had happened? How were these animals receiving this information? The underwater rupture of the 9.3 earthquake likely generated sound waves known as infrasound or infrasonic sound. These low tones can be created by hugely energetic events, like meteor strikes, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. A current hypothesis is that the animals downloaded infrasound wave information, using primal and sensorial abilities.
Another channel of information available to the tuning devices of animals may have been ground vibration itself. In addition to spawning the tsunamis the Christmas quake generated massive vibrational waves that spread out from the epicenter on the floor of the Indian Ocean through the Bay of Bengal and traveled through the surface of Earth.
Known as Rayleigh waves,so named after a scientist, Lord Rayleigh, who predicted their existence in 1885, these vibrations move through the ground much like the tsunami on the ocean surface. Yet, they move much faster; namely, at 10 times the speed of sound. These ground waves would have reached Sri Lanka hours before the water hit. (www.slate.com/id2111608) Mammals, birds, insects, and spiders can detect Rayleigh waves. Most can feel the movement in their bodies, although some, like snakes and salamanders, actually put their ears to the ground in order to perceive the waves. And, pressing their ears to Earth, they may well pick up electro-magnetic signals, an ability humans had before dominant culture paved over such sensibilities.
On March 11, 2011, as we all now know, another powerful earthquake (9.1) near Japan sent energy across the face of the Earth. The force of the quake, including Rayleigh waves, took about fifteen minutes to travel from Japan to the Texas Hill Country where I live atop its famous Edwards Aquifer. When the wave of energy passed through the aquifer, it slightly compressed and dilated the giant water system so that the water splashed up and down; it was much like water in a bathtub if you rocked the tub. The water sloshed up and down by 15 to 17 inches within the aquifer.
How, you might ask, do scientists measure such an event? A float rests on the water surface hundreds of feet underground and is connected to a wire and a wheel that records the level on pen and paper. This technology, though interesting, is not nearly as sophisticated as that found in the innate capacity to listen and speak in a primal tongue, as demonstrated in the salamander, snake, elephant, the Onge, and Tilly Short.
Scientists, who analyzed the data about the animals in Sri Lanka, concluded that humans lacked attunement capabilities. Of course, the scientists did not, at that moment, know about the Onge or about Tilly Short. When they learned about the Onge's feat, they immediately assumed that the tribal people had just watched the animals and had followed them. Such an assumption postulates an in-depth resonance of humans with the animals, a skill which the vacationers did not possess. But we now know the Onge had tuning devices beyond this symbiotic relationship with the animals. Their primary information was transferred through dreams from an underlying source we shall see is a field of information.
The scientists could not yet fathom the shamanic dream world and the ceremonial capability of the Onge. The tribe received its information on the same infrasound network as did the animals, and the tribal people coupled this attunement with their oral stories to expand the information into a communal wisdom, an Earth Wisdom based on direct access to the Primal Presence. Were they speaking a language of the landscape long forgotten by modern humans?
When questioned about such an intimate relationship with the more-than-human community, a Potawatomi medicine person I know said simply, “They know me.” And he knew them. Recovering such intimacy of the eco-fields is the aim of this exploration.
The first part of this chapter calls on us to use our imaginations as to what it might have been like in Sri Lanka for the 2004 earthquake, but the information about the Onge, about Tilly Short, and about the animals of Yala, though startling, is factual. Put together, the narratives raise profound questions.
Are we moving into an auspicious moment in Earth’s story, when primal forces are being unleashed and when humans become expendable?
Where can we locate a wisdom sufficient to guide us in these wild times?
How do we navigate this untamed white water, history's river, with its powerful currents?
What kind of vessel is needed to carry us on this journey?
What navigational and tuning devices are essential ?
Is it possible for humans to survive, much less thrive?
Can we re-learn the Mother Tongue so we experience an intimacy with all of Nature so necessary for our current journey.
With these questions spurring us on, let us move to a beginning statement of this book's hypothesis.