By Gabriel Hartley
December 16-17, 2013
This morning as Anna and I were doing the Kyy Breath pranayama sequence that the Kyy serpent spirits taught me last year in Finland, I got to the second stage of the instructions where I normally indicate that it’s time for the “Spiral Breath.” As occasionally happens, this morning I felt inspired to add more specific details and ended up saying, “Spiral Breath, focusing on the Celtic and Hopi Spirals.” As soon as I said this, a voice that by now I immediately recognize as that of the Elf representative working with us corrected me, saying, “It’s not simply the Celtic or Hopi Spiral. The Spiral symbol is universal and has been granted to cultures of all times and places!”
As soon as Callador, the Elf representative, said this, I immediately agreed. In fact, this is in line with the message I have been receiving since my initial communication with the Kachinas during our travels through Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, and Taos in August. At that time I was struck by the coincidence of the presence of the Spiral symbol etched in stone in Ireland and the U.S. Southwest. We had been engaging with the Spiral throughout Ireland in June and now were doing so again in the region that is now called Colorado and New Mexico, and I was getting the clear sense that this was not at all accidental but a true coincidence in the root sense of incidents happening in direct relation to one another, things that were co-incident.
The larger point beyond what the Spiral symbolizes was the fact that various human groups at different times and places have been receiving the exact same symbolic images. And it was clear that Anna and I were being drawn to the image itself for very similar reasons. As the Kachinas made clear in August, the Spiral represents, among other things, the circulation of the sacred winds, including the breath. The ceremonial kivas are intended to take advantage of and even to stage the expression of these sacred winds. And this symbolic relationship between the concept-experience of the sacred winds and the Spiral image is a universal expression that goes beyond the limits of any specific cultural symbolic system.
The Kachinas before and Callador now stressed this point that certain symbolic terms and features should not be strictly associated with a specific culture. No individual person or culture can claim ownership of a particular image. This fact is important not just in terms of universal transcultural access but also in terms of an expansive notion of identity. This expansive notion of identity is related to the idea of universal symbols in that we need to stop imagining that one particular thing is what it is because it has some stable and unique core identity based on specific attributes. In fact, all things are far more mobile and plastic than we normally assume—as Buddhists have been contending for centuries. Each thing is at any moment the result of a specific constellation of frequencies and energies. So our notion of identity should be much more mobile and flexible in order to take this range of constellations into account.
I should comment at this point that although I began these notes over twenty-four hours ago (it is now 10:03 am on Tuesday, December 17), I have found it extremely difficult to get through the process of recording my meditation experience from yesterday morning regarding the flexible nature of identity. I see this in itself as a sign of inner and outer resistances to this message and therefore a sign that the message itself is far more important than I let myself think initially. Soon after starting the recording process yesterday, Anna and I found ourselves going through extremely intense emotional states individually and as a couple. We would go through a beautiful, romantic period of an hour or two of kissing, gathering firewood, listening to beautiful music, all leading us into a heightened state of ecstasy. This ecstasy would then almost immediately be followed by an equally intense period of arguing and shouting about personal boundaries and individual competencies and varying ways that we each approach and process things. And then we’d fall into each other’s arms again, madly expressing our deep love.
So it does not seem at all coincidental—in the usual sense of this term—that one of the topics Anna and I found ourselves passionately arguing about turned out to have to do with this notion of flexible identity and definition itself! Over the past few weeks I have been getting bits and pieces of suggestions that it will be important for us to do something relating to the upcoming Winter Solstice here on the Portal property. So what we found ourselves arguing about in the midafternoon was exactly what this “something” we might do might in reality be. We found ourselves getting deep down into the recognition that each of us perceives and responds to the very same energies and entities and experiences in quite different ways. This means that the same energetic experience of the Elves, for example, would lead to one kind of expression within me and to a very different kind of expression within Anna. Yet we were responding to identical impulses while addressing these impulses in our own ways. After forty years of intense academic intellectual activity, I, for example, find it quite natural to respond to things primarily through ideas and concepts; Anna, on the other hand, after a couple decades of intense graphic design activity, responds to things much more imagistically. And we both respond to these same things energetically but find ourselves resorting to differing methods of expressing our experiences of these energies.
This in itself is a perfect example of the need to be conscious of the flexible range of frequencies and energies that we call “identity.” What exactly is this experience we each have together? What are the better ways of approaching it, making sense of it, expressing our understandings of it? And what we concluded through this very important process of renegotiating our communicational styles was that each of us is right, and that together we are even more right! In fact, it appears that one crucial reason we have been called together as a couple on this spiritual path is to find the appropriate blend of our individual natures and to produce a more powerful and effective third position that serves as the constellation of each our energetic fields. Our working hypothesis at this point, then, is that we have much more to offer others through our combined efforts than either of us would have on our own. This freighted alchemy offers a mixture of potentials that takes on a flexible compound identity of its own.
Now I will return to my initial response to the message of the Elves concerning the need to loosen up my sense of identity. One reason their message is especially important to me at this point in my development is that in the past six months I have been finding myself in conversation with beings who call themselves Kachinas. And these beings lead me through various meditations on elements that they refer to as kivas, sipapus, Ant People, Emergence, Blue Star Kachinas, and other things the terms of which call us to think of the Pueblo cultures of the U.S. Southwest. After having spent over a decade intensely involved with the political struggles for indigenous rights in this hemisphere, I have been trained to be especially sensitive to anything that smacks of cultural appropriation, especially the appropriation of religious images and rituals. So in response to this sensitivity, I have very deliberately tried to avoid the typical New Age tendency to resort to a variety of tribal images and practices as a way of expressing my own spiritual growth and understanding. This means, then, that I immediately get nervous when I find myself called on to write about my experiences with beings called Kachinas and Ant People, for the last thing I want to do is trespass upon the sacred rights of any people, tribal or other.
But what the Kachinas insist on in response to my reticence is that they themselves have come to me; they themselves have identified themselves as Kachinas; they themselves have drawn my attention to the Ant People before I ever heard of such entities in any literature about, for example, Hopi belief systems. And they insist that they are not calling on me to invade Hopi or Zuni or other Puebloan territory and claim it as my own. What they are calling on me to do is to listen to their messages and respond to their energies with an open mind and an open heart.
And this again brings up the issue of identity. Whatever the provenance of the term Kachina, can it be said that one specific human grouping has exclusive access to such spirits? The Kachinas tell me time and again that they have been forever available to peoples across the planet and that they go by various other names (such as Kahuna). Whatever the power of the names we are given to refer to them by, the identity of the entities stretches far beyond any one culture’s imagination and participates in a planetary and extra-planetary exchange of frequencies and informational structures and processes. For whatever reason, they have identified themselves to me by the name of Kachina while asking me to recognize that their identity is not in any way exhausted by such a term.
So here we are on the verge of the Winter Solstice—which, by the way, is the beginning of Kachina season in the Northern Hemisphere, the day on which the Kachinas come back to the northern peoples to assist them through the hard and beautiful days of winter. And so here we are, Anna and I, nearing the darkest evening of the year and considering what this means for us, what this calls on us to do, and how this calls on us to expand our verbal, conceptual, imagistic, and energetic repertoires as we open up and make more flexible our senses of the nature of identity—our own and that of everything else in creation.