First, a warm thanks to Kim Gossling who nominated my blog for the Premio Dardos Award, a blogging award that “recognizes cultural, personal, ethical, and literary values in creative and original writing.” I am honored by her nomination. Thank you, Kim!
I am always pleased to receive acknowledgement for my writing. I also have long had a policy of not accepting awards as I do not have time in my day to do justice to the important tasks that go along with awards.
The other afternoon we visited a friend, who is a fine shaman in her own right. We are all elders now, passing along what we know to others. That said, we also share our knowledge with one another. We’ve always done that, yet it seems to me we do so more easily, and with more grace.
As we watch the sun slide towards the snow banked horizon and a fabulous sunset, our conversation ranged playfully across many topics before settling on spirits that prove troublesome, and PTSD. The first discussion was largely a recollection of past experiences with unhappy spirits, out of which some sense of understanding and compassion grew. Looking back on some of those moments draws chuckles from me still.
The second part of our discussion was about PTSD and working with trauma. Given that most of the Native people we see are living with some form of PTSD this is a large conversation. After forty years of working with trauma I am still stunned by the persistence of trauma in the lives of individuals, families, and communities. The explanation I learned as a young adult was that traumatic events lodge themselves in the dream body and can be passed to others. Traumatized Ancestors who speak to us in our dreams, and perhaps our waking hours, can also pass along PTSD. Last week I chanced upon the abstract for an article about researchers apparently passing trauma as genetic information through several generations of mice. Trauma is indeed a strong force in the lives of many people.
Trauma is also a force in the lives of many of those spirit beings who find themselves being called “ghosts” by us, the living. Addressing the trauma is often a prerequisite for aiding those distressed spirits. I guess the lives of some spirits aren’t that different from the lives of the embodied. Maybe we can remember that.