I wanted to do a year in review post, its such a no brainer for a blogger. Just copy and paste links for a half hour and you’re done with this weeks post! As I started reading through my own year in posts (something I really actually enjoy and learn from), my plan fizzled when I hit the entries about the murder of Shaman in Peru. There really was only one story this year, that was it.

The part of this story that sticks to me, that pops out when I least expect it, is how long it took for the world to hear about the murder of over a dozen indigenous shaman: 20 months. T W E N T Y    M O N T H S.
As a citizen of the web I expect news, albeit news from a non-developed area, to reach me in about twenty minutes. To measure news of this magnitude in anything more than 24 hours is baffling, my DNA rejects the idea completely.
I continue to ‘follow’ the story as paltry information dribbles out through the holes in the blanket of silence thrown over this event. I’m not really ‘following’ the story though, just echoing the whatif’s published by experts on that region of the world. Progress is being made in the investigation, given the size of the loss it feels painfully slow. This should be a careful investigation, just not slow.
As the new year dawns and I continue to gnaw on the gristle of this epic internet media failure, I’m realizing there is also an invitation in there, its about creativity, imagination and self-expression.

Geoffrey Canada from ‘Waiting for Superman’

Terry and I were watching a documentary ( Waiting for Superman )  on inner city education about the time I was trying to do my ‘my alchemical year in review’. There are many challenges confronting students the show was studying: poverty, ineffective entrenched bureaucracies, and an extraordinary level of stress. There was something else impacting these children’s futures that was omnipresent but really wasn’t pinpointed, it was a crisis of imagination.
They lived in communities that told them, in a million quiet ways, they would never know anything different than the poverty they’d grown up in. They couldn’t imagine a life better than the one they were living right now, they weren’t allowed to imagine such a thing.
The most successful educators were those who told their children every day they were going to college, they were going to make a difference, they could achieve their wildest dreams, so long as they were willing to do the work. They were able to break through the walls built within these children’s hearts and minds and create a path to a new way of seeing their own unique journey through life. Those programs not only shattered the bar for educating inner city kids, they topped the charts for all publicly educated children in the nation.
These educators restored innovation, creativity and imagination to their communities. In our own culture the figure of the shaman inspires the same ideals. We see shamanic figures as those who contribute to the creative, innovative power of their communities. They destroy barriers to accessing the numinous dimension of life, revealing new possibilities where before there was only suffering.
That shaman are being murdered, possibly by forces bent on occupying their lands and destroying their native culture, suddenly seemed an expression of the same illness these educators were addressing.  If you want to destroy a people, to enslave them, you must surely first destroy their imagination, their ability to create and innovate.
All the better if you can hide your actions away from the world, of course keeping that information out of the hands of millions of creative people strung throughout the World Wide Web. Twenty months to destroy a culture beyond the view of the world, you can do a lot of damage in twenty months.
I began to wonder what the spirits thought about a people’s imaginal power. Where does it come from, how does a community lose its imagination? Can the spirits help a people restore its imagination? I wrote a piece on rethinking imagination which touched on some of this, but not from the perspective of a whole people. I decided to journey again to get more information from the spirits.
I was shown that a community that has lost its imagination has lost its connection to life itself. Life innovates. Endlessly creative, it expresses diversity and change at every opportunity, it provides us with the creative power to transform our world. Without that connection, a dispiritedness prevails that stifles everyone. These educators had that deep connection to life, they were able to reawaken and restore it to some of the youngest members of their communities.
This year I see before me an invitation. Its the same invitation life has offered me every moment of every day of every season. It is the invitation of the New offered by the extraordinary vitality of this Earth we are all a part of. When we as a culture are able to embrace this source as fundamental to our communities, we won’t allow any of our children to be diminished, we won’t allow the shaman’s light to be extinguished anywhere in the world, no matter how distant from us. We won’t allow twenty seconds to pass without addressing the loss of a single creative, healing light from our world.

Here’s wishing you a year overflowing with the Earth’s imagination. Here’s wishing all our children the power to believe in their own dreams. Here’s wishing the Shawi people peace, justice, healing and the room to pursue their own way of life.


  • trac
    January 4, 2012 - 4:14 am · Reply

    This year I see before me an invitation. I like it, Tim. I really like thinking about life, esp my immediate life in that manner. Thank you. I’m off to RSVP to that invite.

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