This is the second part of a two part post. (Read Part One.)
Traditionally, Western psychotherapies take these loses for granted, understanding them, when considering them at all, to be the inevitable consequence of progress. More often, the unitary focus of these therapies probelmaticizes experiences of complexity, save for the many selves inherent in mind. Even Jung, who often suggested that world or nature underlies self, appeared to flinch at the possibility that the other might well be a requirement of Self.
Therapies and healers may also question the veracity of patience. Many patients who come to see therapists and healers report feeling diminished at heart. The term, “patient,” implies waiting, and imagines paying attention to the possibility of healing, even in the absence of a cure. Many of life’s most rewarding and mysterious tasks require patience: healing, waiting for a vision, raising children, and creating in the studio or kitchen to name a few.
This idea of patience and patients has been set aside by many, replaced by “client”, one who seeks instant relief and retains aid via payment. It is as though the idea that one may be attuned with, and connected to, the slow, ever-changing, play of life on this lovely plant, filled with mystery and amazement, has become subsumed in ideas of power, control and consumption. Even the Self, in its vastness, richness, and complexity, is reduced to “one who purchases and consumes”.
First Nations people in the Far North dread encounters with Windigo, spirit creatures with unquenchable appetites and hearts of ice. In their terrible hunger, Windigo threaten to consume the world, to devour every soul and living thing. Always eating, yet never filled, their hunger is never satisfied.
Windigo lack patience, self-control, and any awareness of the mystery and magnificence of others. They cannot stop searching for prey long enough to see the beauty in the small or mundane. They ceaselessly seek to devour the other, having no awareness of kinship and belonging. Nor do they realize that eventually Spring will return to melt their icy hearts and leave them bereft, all too aware of the costs of their all-consuming hunger.
Our culture has become Windigo. Those patients who come for aid, so often wish only a place of warmth and the opportunity to rediscover connection, to themselves and others. They long to remember the complexity and vastness of being, and to hold fast to that remembering. They hope to once again touch the varied souls alive in their hearts, to be filled with life and relatedness, and to be healed and whole.
Psychotherapy, at it’s best, offers the warmth of compassion and experiences of Self. Shamanism, and other forms of traditional healing, offer these, along with connection to souls, spirits, and all that is. Both provide refuge from Windigo, and the possibility of life lived with passion, mystery, and companionship. Supporting patience, they open doors to the sacred.