The weekend was not just record warm. In much of New England temperatures were six or seven degrees above the old records for the date. This, probably inevitably, was both a welcome intermission in an already warm winter, and fuel for discussions of climate change.
Some very accomplished meteorologists spoke about the warmth and, noting this is an El Nino year, encouraged viewers not to ascribe the heat to climate change. Climatologists seemed to have a different take. Certainly record warm occurs during some strong El Ninos, but record highs have historically been mostly a degree or two above those of the previous record. In the last decade, this has changed, with the differential steeply climbing. Was our weekend warmth driven by climate change? Probably. Was El Nino the means of delivery? Probably.
I’ve been thinking about Ipu, my friend and teacher. He was a guardian of the Amazon and her people who passed away more than a decade ago. I am sad he is gone, yet happy he does not have to witness the destruction of so much, and so many, he loved.
I have been remembering Ipu and his beloved Fire Ceremonies. I remember being with him at his compound on the Amazon’s River Negro. Each day for several days we prepared for a fire ceremony, and each day just as we were about to light the sacred Fire the skies opened up and there was a deluge. After four days we stopped trying.
Now the Fire Ceremony is conducted with the intention of bringing the participants and the world into balance with Fire. Paradoxically, that year drought had come to the Amazon so it was peculiar that the rains only came as we were about to do ceremony, and lasted only long enough to make fire starting impossible. I wonder, was it coincidence (I doubt it) or spirit’s commentary on the already intensifying use of fire to destroy the Amazon? We shall never know for sure.
Ipu used to say that in his many decades of “doctoring” he had never encountered a patient who was truly “possessed”. He often wondered about the West’s obsession with possession, and noted that many shamans had died at the stake over the centuries of European oppression. Such deaths were often clergy’s attempt to address their fear of the devil’s possession of individuals and cultures. Fear and projection are powerful forces!
Clearly, Fire can be, and often is weaponized. In this year in which much of the world has experienced unprecedented wildfires, we can safely say that fire is being used as a weapon against the dreams and aspirations of Pachamama, the poor, and Indigenous people everywhere. Fire has become a means of possessing the land at the expense of all beings, as are the lies and misinformation that are used to justify its use. Even in the myriad instances when the fires are not set, governments” refusal to acknowledge their implications becomes a form of weaponization.
I wonder, were Ipu with us now would he see our leaders’ firm denial of climate change as possession? If so, I imagine he would not try to force out the devils. Rather, he would bargain with the devils in an attempt to free the politician’s souls. But he would only have done so at the politicians’ request and with their permission. I like the image of the politician”s approaching an aging shaman for help!
Certainly Ipu would have approached aiding them with gentleness and concern. He would not tolerate a scorched Earth policy, even for a “good cause”.