Enchantment: coming back to our Selves

… I looked at her
And felt her watching;
I became a strange being …
D.H. Lawrence, upon seeing a doe

Last week I discussed my need for more enchantment, which led to a conversation about  disenchantment, and its alienating influence on society.   This week I conclude by talking about  the internal impact of objectification, and how I (re)enchanted my life.

There is a Void at our core.  So threatening is this hollowness that it presses us to a-Voidance.  We search out “secondary satisfactions” to fill the emptiness inside.  We seek to re-create a state of undivided consciousness–the “primary satisfaction” of unity with our environment.  We long to re-connect. It may be drugs, alcohol, or sex that we use as our substitute, but other likely candidates are food, romantic love, rearing of children, religious ecstasy, pursuit of career, sports, technology, and even the pursuit of artistic expression.  All these outlets can serve to produce the same effect: to temporarily relieve the “no-body-ness”–and their effect is dramatic!  Yet, the a-Voidance returns, often in short order, and we again desperately seek the experience of “primary satisfaction.”

Our bodies, our somatic experience of the world–of our Selves as part of that world– is our primary satisfaction of wholeness.  It’s what we are built for.  But if we are out of our bodies we need a substitute  for the feeling of being grounded.  Much of what passes for “culture” and “personality” in our society tends to fall into this substitute category, and is in fact the result of running from silence, and from genuine somatic experience. However,

…if you are embodied – if you are in-corporated – if you are in your body most of the time, the Void is not so threatening.  

This search is not simply a private one, or even a collective private one.  The scope of this is much larger than personal anguish or individual dilemmas.  Our social and political life is a charade, asking us to take substitute activity seriously.  This is particularly true in the case of the worlds dominate ideologies.  In capitalist societies  for instance, the search for love and primary satisfaction often takes the form of the drive for success.  The ideology of achievement and productivity extends to virtually every activity, even the writing of poetry.  Ambition is, for us, unquestionably “good.”  The poet who is “not producing” is invariably inferior, in our eyes, to the one who has a “prodigious literary output.”

Ideologies arise when people feel they have no real somatic anchoring.  The person who is truly grounded in him- or herself as a biological organism may espouse a cause, but they do not need it in order to feel that their existence is validated.

Careful now, this is a slippery slope!

We have inherited a civilization in which the things that really matter in human life exist at the margin of culture.

And it is at this margin, at the hedge, so to speak, that we begin our (re)enchantment.  For here, we are at a crossroad, and any choice we make will altar us.

For now, we must ask ourselves: “What matters?”

  • How birthing takes place matters.
  • How infants are raised matters.
  • Having a rich and varied dream life matters.
  • All living persons (human or Other) matter.
  • Ontological security matters.
  • The magic of personal interaction and healthy and passionate sexual expression matter.

Enchantment means sorting this out once and for all.  It also means becoming embodied. And the two ultimately amount to the same thing.

But what of cultural change?  What of social change? What of the structures that alienate us?

Our cultural history is encoded in our bodies, and as you begin to sort one out, you will sort the other out as well.   As Wilhelm Reich rightly expressed, characterology and culture go hand in hand.  What appears in the infant body is created by the surrounding culture and in turn created (reproduced) that culture.

The walking wounded are everywhere, and they create our modern culture. Our loss of kinesthetic awareness, and unhappy experiences of Other, make it easy to numb ourselves and continue to a-Void the “no-body-ness.”

We suffer from an addictive weakness for large illusions…Power in our civilization is repeatedly tied to the pursuit of all-inclusive truths and utopias…The unshakeable belief that we are on the trail to truth–and therefore to the solution to our problems–prevent us from identifying this obsession as an ideology.

-John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization

And that is the paradox.  In seeking one solution, one final answer to our pain, we create another ideology.  The very thing that arises when we are out of our bodies.

How did I (re)Enchant my life?

I re-membered.

I asked myself what matters and re-affirmed those core values; then I set the textbooks aside, closed my iPad, put on my coat and…

went outside to sit in silence.

Through smelltastetouch we apprehend each otherignite each other’s mindsinformation conveyed by the body’s odours after orgasmbreathtongue-taste - through these one “knows in quite primeval fashion.
Lawrence Durrell

For me, it was a matter of Deciding to change my thinking.  I had gotten caught up in macro-issues, which have their place, but they take me out of my body–out of the micro.  The ability to change my thinking at Will hasn’t always been easy.  It isn’t always easy even now.  All those years ago when I began the quest to Know Myself it took time and effort.  I had to identify my own masks, learn to be comfortable in my own skin, let go of painful childhood memories, and heal old wounds–and that was just the beginning.

There is a paradox in the dance between macro and micro; between modernity and holism; between the pain of division and the joy of dissolution.  As human-persons we move between Wild and Tame; between Self and Other.

So, it is in holding the tension of Paradox, in allowing our Selves to be still and listen–understanding what matters, that we experience Enchantment.

Se hace camino al andar.
(We make the road by walking it.)
Antonio Machado

 

About Traci

Traci Laird is an animist living in Ireland and hails from the great state of Texas (a mythic heritage she is quite proud of!).  Her current academic pursuits are in Sociology and Psychology, and she engages a “sensuous scholarship” when seeking to understand Place.  She can also be found at Confessions of a Hedge Witch


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