Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

domingo, noviembre 09, 2008

A Mythic Hummingbird Flight

[Hummingbird photo removed. Sorry.]

In the Q'ero shamanic tradition, and doubtless others, there's the archetype of the hummingbird, the animal of the winds of the north.

Hummingbirds have impossibly small wings in comparison to the size of their bodies. But every year they take the mythic journey, all the way from South America to the northeastern United States and Canada, and later the round trip. They have enormous courage. They fly alone. They follow only their inner guidance. They eat heavily before the time comes. And when the time comes to fly, they realize that it's time, and they respond without hesitation and with enormous faith and begin the long journey.

During the flight, they lose up to 40% of their body weight. Some cautious ones seem to fly around the Gulf of Mexico so they will fly over land. But many, many fly directly, non stop across the open waters of the Gulf. They fly close to the waves, so that the headwinds will not impede them, but there are predators in the water and the air. They always fly alone. They always follow their guidance. Their unbelievable, heroic flight takes several days.

There are reports from oil rigs in the Gulf of seeing hummingbirds fly past them flying close to the water.

Eventually, the hummingbird arrives at its destination, the distant, perhaps unseen place, for which it first set out. It may be weak, exhausted, a shadow of its former self, but it nevertheless arrives at a destination it may not have seen before, a destination it could only dream existed, a destination that somehow called aloud to it, a destination known to all of its ancestors, and it responded without question.

This gigantic journey links it directly to all of its ancestors, and it connects each of us directly to ours.

Where, after all, does the hummingbird receive the knowledge about where to go and how to go there? How does it know so perfectly how to do the seemingly impossible?

And where did we get the ideas we have about justice, quality, compassion, honesty, courage, and perseverance? How do we know so well what these are?

Since the election, I've been seeing Barack Obama's journey as a fulfillment of the mythic hummingbird journey. Starting in near insignificance, he set out on a long, heroic, testing journey, keeping his eyes and heart on the destination, flying bravely and alone, finding help where he could, and at last arriving. A magical hummingbird journey.

It's an unbelievably old archetype. The Nazca lines in Peru, made more than 2500 years ago, have a hummingbird. It's there, I like to think, to remind us of our ability to achieve the seemingly impossible, that with our impossibly small wings, we are capable of the most epic flights.

I am astounded and humbled. My gratitude for being alive to witness this overwhelms me.

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Anonymous Annie said...

The where questions are being answered using functional MRI and other direct visualization techniques. In the hummingbirds' case, a recent discovery is that birds have very small magnetic particles in their ears which may provide for magnetic guidance along migratory flight paths. In the case of the virtues, the places where the brain processes these traits - generosity, humility, kindness, prudence, etc. is being much more accurately identified, and the stimuli that encourage virtuous responses are also being studied.

What is getting closer is the notion that humans create gods and religions to provide comfort in the face of ambiguity - as in addictive behaviors for people who self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

Our morality comes from within ourselves and of our own creation and mandates (via societal norms, cultural mores and laws).

Isn't it all fascinating?

6:16 p.m.  

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