“The reaction to any word may be, in an individual, either a mob-reaction or an individual reaction.  It is up to the individual to ask himself:  Is my reaction individual, or am I merely reacting from my mob-self?  When it comes to the so-called obscene words, I should say that hardly one person in a million escapes mob-reaction.”  D.H. Lawrence

In a language there isn’t just words to communicate with, there is also a whole psychological structure specific to it. It gives us a model with which to view the world and to communicate about the world we sense, both the world within and the world without. But it also gives us our identity, since each language has its own history and also its own character. That character transmits itself into us a “national personality,” a sort of personality that deeply structures the human psyche from birth. In other words, stereotypes.

On one hand this can be useful; as we can see that languages and the qualities they carry are the accumulation of experience from history. Through language we are being transmitted the “wisdom of the ancestors”. On the other hand it can also carry the rubbish, the karma, of the past which is undeserved by future generations. Language isn’t just an encoding of ancestral wisdom, it has also acted as a waste bin to conveniently give the load of one generations responsibilities on to the next.

Time to sort the wheat from the chaff. Time to make a review of the type of language we use and how we use it. Say no to what is useless and harmful and encourage the growth of what is useful and healthy. Languages contain patterns, and we have to ask ourselves do we really want to repeat the past blindly? In a synchronicity a friend made a comment on Facebook about not letting an anger he had inherited from his ancestors carry on further. His affirmation that since it was not his it would stop with him and within him.

Like this we can all reject the “mob- reaction” within us, the stereotypes that have been transmitted to us through the generations, and so, as the Great Invocation says, “seal the door where evil dwells.”

For me it has been an important experience to move to another country and see my own country from “outside”, to see it from a different perspective and see its virtues in comparison to other cultures and also its vices . And so also see myself from an other perspective. Learning a new culture, and a new language, makes me rely less on the “safety blanket” of my native culture and seek to communicate with the world in a new way, and so I can only grow, retaining the benefits of my culture and discarding the disadvantages of it too, and adopting a broader view of the world that is not so limited.

La humanidad no sirve la nacionalidad, la nacionalidad sirve la humanidad. Hay mas que una lengua en el mundo y por eso el aprender otras lenguas, sólo es sentido común, el sentido de la humanidad (Thanks Mika for correcting this).

“People had more than they needed. We had no idea what was precious and what wasn’t. We threw away things people kill each other for now.” Denzel Washington as Eli in The Book of Eil

Why are post-apocalyptic films so resonant? Why do they speak to us as though they are relevant? Is it because they talk about something that will happen?

Or is it because they are talking about something that has happened, and in fact is happening now?

Appearances aren’t what they seem. What Denzel is describing isn’t just something that happens before a apocalypse, something that creates it, it itself is he apocalypse. Instead he is describing an apocalyptic world! The Buddha was right, the action that creates the karma is the karma itself.

Let’s face it, whilst there are lots of nasty happenings in the world can we really believe that everything is right in the wealthier countries? We’re in the midst of an apocalypse right now, but some countries can hide it better than others. But how long can we hide it?

Ok ok ok, maybe saying “apocalypse” may be a bit of an exaggeration. And by that I mean I don’t expect the Four Horsemen to materialize and cause havoc, the anti-Christ to wage war or the Kingdom of God to miraculously descend on Earth after all the bad things have happened. Or that the Earth suddenly stop existing, like it really is the “end of the world”.

But there is something not quite right. And apocalypse seems to be a frighteningly relevant word even if not particularily accurate.

I look at our “wealth” and have a feeling that something isn’t quite right, that it’s all a lot of a show and no substance, that the foundation is all a bit, well, flimsy to say the least. A look at the facts about peak oil shows just how flimsy. We have built a stone castle of cardboard foundations!

What are the essentials for living a fulfilling and healthy life that don’t include “lots of stuff”?

How can we dig down through the foundations of our society and find the bedrock that we really need?

Can we do it before this Great Edifice collapses on us?

And what is it that we really need to build and develop?

One thing’s for sure, some films get you thinking and questioning… and if more people do that we are en route to a better world.

The quote above hints at something, and that is the values we hold, the values that lead us to use or misuse the world around us… and each other.

We build our world by our values. What values are we building with?

I haven’t written here for a while, but I thought I’d share this. It’s something I wrote for a message board. I’ve talked about it a bit before in at least two different blogs. Some of these quotes have made a guest appearance before.

Psychological Synergy is how I am describing my political view point. Psychology because that is my political tool. And Synergy because that is my utopian vision.

My ideas are probably left-leaning, liberal and green, or something like that. But for me that doesn’t sufficiently answer the deeper problem. Protests, policies, votes, petitions, bills, laws etc etc etc are very good at changing things, and a lot of things do need changing. However changing things doesn’t always change people, and if the people aren’t changed then the things that are changed do not have a strong foundation for any change at all.

Psychological Politics
“Neuroses are much more difficult to get rid of than beliefs. We can all change our opinions more easily than we can eliminate destructive patterns in our lives, however hard we try. It is the same with religion and, surely, the same with a culture. Our religious beliefs may have changed but our emotional compulsions have remained.” Karen Wilson. And it’s the same with politics; we may make changes to the structure of society, and who runs it and how they run it, but the people within that society don’t change and so the same problems appear again, just through different people and different social structures and different political ideologies.

Psychological reform at a political level is near impossible. And perhaps it is better that way as the power to create psychological reform at political level would get into the wrong hands, which would mean certain brain-washing of the populace. It is best to keep the two things separate, with psychological reform “infiltrating” society and politics from the bottom up rather than being imposed from the top-down and politics itself being used as a relatively stable structure within which to enact any such changes.

“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” Confucius

Psychological reform must start with the individual. Each person takes responsibility for themselves, their own life and for their part in the world. From this strong foundation they have the strength and integrity to resolves the problems of others. This cannot be something imposed by anyone or anything else but only freely chosen by the individual. But the more people that choose this path the easier it becomes to choose as the social momentum builds, making change exponential.

Utopian Synergy
The first part of my Utopia is seen in this quote;
“If we value independence, if we are disturbed by the growing conformity of knowledge, of values, of attitudes, which our present system induces, then we may wish to set up conditions of learning which make for uniqueness, for self-direction, and for self-initiated learning.” Carl Rogers
Each individual is encouraged, from birth, to be an individual, to grow to be psychologically independent. In this way the power structure of society is interdependently represented in the minds of each individual and not separated into those “who know”, those “who govern” and those “who do.” Each individual becomes a whole person in themselves, without having to be compensated for their lack by other people. People can still specialize in certain professions and fulfill specific roles, but they don’t need to be so psychologically programmed to fit those, developing a holistic intelligence of all psychological functions; spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, social etc

If each person is psychologically whole and balanced and able to maintain that independently then the need for control on society would be obsolete; “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” Plato. The “law and order” would be maintained by the individuals themselves without it having to imposed in by them, because part of being whole and balanced human beings is to be a social creature, part of a group or community, and to be able to make that group or community work; “Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Vince Lombardi. Social consensus, theoretically, would come natural to whole, balance and autonomous individuals.

This is Synergy, where each individual is psychologically independent enough not to need governing by any external entity and lives a life of personal fulfillment and freedom, and yet also willingly acts as a participant in the working of their society. I’d imagine that in this situation the need for politics and government would become minimal, serving only as a point of communication and coordination between people and populations. Organisation and conflict resolution would be inbuilt in all levels; social, national and international, all because it would psychologically developed and maintained in each individual involved with these levels. Citizens could trust their government and the government could trust their citizens.

And everyone would be free, fulfilled and harmonious, peace would reign, no one would want, and they’d all live in balance with the Earth and its resources and making developments to society in an ethical way. All because each and every individual is, and has been raised to be, psychologically autonomous, balanced and whole.

This is Utopia, not reality. It is my Vision, my North Star. I won’t see it in my lifetime, maybe no one will, but this Vision guides my steps as I walk my chosen path. I attend to my spiritual and psychological needs first and foremost and work to express that into my life and collaborate with those who share my vision, to be able to express it in the world. At present the democratic politics I’m in allow me this, so I’m pro-democracy but I need to see beyond it too. Before I work on the world, I work on myself.

“This, in essence, is the hypothesis that Lovelock and his close collaborator Lynn Margulis were to call “Gaia.” The idea significantly modifies the central Darwinian paradigm of modern biology. Competition – natural selection at the species level – becomes much less important than the overall integration of living things within a symbiotic global network. The basic unit of evolutionary survival becomes the biomass as a whole, which may select species for their capacity to enhance the liveability of the planet.” Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth

There can be said to be three interpretations of Gaia; scientific, theistic and philosophical. The science, which I have described briefly, is basically about looking at the Earth physiologically, as a body, and the practical implications of that. But I’m not a scientist, so although I take an interest I can only explain it up to a point. Theistic Gaia is the view that the Earth is sentient, and is literally seen as a single living being. Not something I believe in, but the image is interesting and certainly useful in a poetic sense.

What really interests me is a Gaian-based philosophy. This stands somewhere between science and theism, using scientific ideas and mythological images as a model that we use to view the world and as an ethical guide.

For a while we have had a view of evolution as something competitive and the Earth as an arena in which this biological struggle is played out. Although science is not meant as a tool to give us meaning or ethics, anything that gives us a view of the world, whether myth or science, also gives us a sense of meaning and ethics. Sometimes it is obvious though mostly it is subtle.

The view of competitive evolution has become a tool to legitimise a “dog eat dog” or “every man for himself” attitude. In this view the Earth is a resource and the world is seen as a hierarchy of power where the strongest preys on the weakest. And to some extent this is true, if you see the relationship between some species, and individual organisms of the same species, you will see there is a competitive, even violent, relationship. However, in the same way the classical view of physics breaks down in quantum mechanics, the localised competition of species breaks down in the broader ecological view. Each species fulfills a role in the bigger ecological system; any competition is just one aspect of a cooperative network.

Can the body’s major organs compete with each other? Can the heart win or lose against the lungs? Of course not, they are major organs and are completely and utterly interdependent with one another. However, minor organs or biological features can compete. A species of fish whose ancestors got trapped in a cave system lost their eyes because there was no need for them. The digits and claws of whale ancestors have eventually receded to be replaced by more useful flippers. The long grasping digits on the feet of our tree climbing ancestors have been reduced to small stumps on the end of our feet. But these minor “competitive” adaptations are relative compared to what is going on in the whole body.

We can use this analogy to look at the Earth. It too has major organs, species or certain groups of species that cannot be replaced. For instance, I remember in a biology class being taken out by my teacher with the class and being asked “Can plants live without animals or can animals live without plants?” No one answered plants, and yet that was the answer. Most plants, because they get energy directly from the sun, are self-sufficient, so if the animal kingdom inexplicably disappeared many photosynthesisers would be able to survive. Not so with animals.

There is, what I consider, to be a myth about humanity as the “dominant species”. We might have become very powerful and intelligent but that’s a very superficial dominance. Let’s put it this way, prey do not depend on predators but predators depend on prey, the foundation of a building does not depend on the upper floors but the upper floors depend on the foundation. This echoes a fairly Taoist principle and gives a different spin on Jesus’ “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”

We owe our existence to the almost omnipresent microbial lifeforms, like bacteria, that were the first life-forms to exist and surely will be the last ones to exist. When Gaia was young this was, and still is, the basic components, “major organs” or major organisms, that sustain her existence. Without them nothing larger, like humans, could exist.  So it really does turn the concept of dominance on its head. We owe our existence to life-forms that are smaller, simpler and far less intelligent than us, which is humbling really.

We are left with an image that humanity is an interesting but unimportant contribution to the Earth’s evolution. We are left with the principles of respect, humility and cooperation. A good starting point for how we might conceive a Gaia-based philosophy. But this philosophy isn’t just for individuals to choose, as one philosophy amongst so many to pick and choose from; it is the context of all other philosophies. In a sense all organisms are gaian by default. All organisms derive their evolution from a long history where biological traits are developed within an ecological context. To defy this context is to upset the balance and threaten your own existence. Only humans need to make a mental effort to align with gaian-based principles.

This philosophy is something that has to be built into the structure of society itself, a structure that operates with respect, humility and cooperation to the home it depends on for its existence. We cannot go on thinking and acting the way we do, seeing Earth as a resource to be used and abused in service of commercial consumerist philosophy, and other humans and other nations to be viewed as opponents to be beaten in some never-ending economical and fashion-driven race. This cannot work anymore, there needs to be a reform in human civilisation and I think we are waking up to realise it now.

“When… Arthur loses the power to give, his court disintegrates and his kingdom hangs in the balance. Only the restoration of his ability to give makes him leader of the community again.”

“The kingdom of the Grail, for example, becomes the Gaste Pays, a barren wasteland, when the Fisher-King was wounded for transgressing a geis and could no longer govern properly.” Jean Markale King of the Celts: Arthurian Legends and Celtic Tradition

I have something brewing in my head, a stew of ideas; of Celtic Sovereignty, kingship and kings’ sacred marriages to the Goddess of the Land; of healthy kings, wounded kings, fisher kings and Grail Quests; of suffering people, suffering landscapes and abused Sovereignty; of Arthurian legends, Dragons, Knights in Shining Armour, Maidens in distress, yet also of Empowered Maiden-Warriors fed up of waiting for glorified tin-cans. Awen, the Spirit of Inspiration, shines forth from the cauldron and a vision is formed. Please enjoy.

Long ago, in the land of my ancestors, there once was a King who’d achieved the Quest of the Source of All Rivers, passed the test of the Servants of the Goddess, and partaken of the Spring Waters, endowing him with the powers of Kingship and Sovereignty. He was a very powerful, ambitious and clever King, bringing great fortunes to his People and the Land but he had little wisdom to bring balance with it. Though he and his People revelled in the glory of his reign, neither he nor his People saw where all of this success was heading or the great troubles that would arise from it.

One day, a bright sunny day, the King and his band of faithful Warriors were out on an excursion, expanding the boundaries of the kingdom and its wealth. They encountered at the foot of some mountains a wild forest, and so, eager to investigate, they cut a path through it, chopping many trees down until they reached the foot of the mountain. There they found a cave, which one by one they all entered, led by the King.

Inside it was so vast they could not see the walls or ceiling, but even if it was smaller they would not have noticed the walls or ceiling for it was filled with many treasures, enchanting the eyes of the King and of the men. They went outside, drunk with excitement and greed for what they had found. They went back to their People and told them about the treasures and organised a way to take them and make the People rich!

So it was done, they went and cut down more trees to make way for the many carts and carriages that would take away the riches and inside the cave it was alive with people inspecting the glittering pieces, and people filling sacks up and lugging them away. But no one had noticed the dark presence inside, though it certainly noticed them. It was a Dragon, black as coal, that had been sleeping there for so long that the People only remembered Her in their ancient legends, and even then in vague foggy references that no one quite believed, or even understood.

The Dragon had finally awakened, and She was not happy. Her mouth began to smoke and filled the cave, suffocating all those who were inside. The smoke poured out of the cave and formed a great pillar where once there had been a mountain. The King fell out from the cave, coughing and spluttering, into the arms of his Warriors. The King died, but before he died the King warned his People to stop what they were doing for it meant great catastrophe to them and to the Land. Few heard him, for they were enchanted by the treasures or panicking over the Dragon.  And even those that did deluded themselves into thinking that maybe, just maybe, the King could be brought back to life and restore the Kingdom. But they did not know the source of his power or had forgotten it.

The Warriors rode away to the castle to see if they could bring the King back to life. Behind them, as they rode away, the smoke formed a wall that spread across the land, poisoning it. There were too few trees to hold the black wall back for they had all been cut down. The Land became poisoned, the crops failed and the Dragon’s hot breath melted away the ice-caps upon the mountain tops melted into water flooding the Land and destroying many people’s homes. The riches from the Dragon’s cave began turning to dust, leaving many People poor and at war with one another (though they had really been at war for quite some time). The Source of All Rivers dried up and the Servants of the Goddess withered in strength, and wailed and weeped for this great misfortune. The People suffered, the Land suffered. They needed healing.

Back at the castle the Warriors brought the King’s body and took it to the Queen’s sanctuary, where she stood guard over the Healing Chalice that the King recieved on his coronation. But upon entering the room a great horror met the eyes of the Warriors, for the Queen lay on the floor, dead, and the Healing Chalice had disapeared from its place. Court was held to decide what to do, but a further blow was struck for it was there that the People realised that the Princess, one and only daughter to the King and Queen, had disappeared, and with her the Royal Lineage. Some remembered the last words of the dead King and, taking it to heart, they set out to stop the catastrophe, though some people dispaired and could not bring themselves to do anything and others scoffed, still enchanted by the Dragon’s treasures, deluded by an ephemeral wealth.

Here is where I should tell you about a Great Quest, undertaken by only the best of the Warriors, to seek and slay the Dragon, to free the Princess, restore the Healing Chalice to its rightful place and for a new King to take the old one’s place, marry the Princess who becomes the new Queen and brings a new era of wealth and health, though this time a bit more wiser and a little less greedy. And so Happily Ever After and all that jazz.

I would that I could, but I can’t so I won’t.

This story has not really finished yet. In fact right now, the land is only just feeling the effects of the People’s greed and the King has only just left the cave, warning his People. But he will die, he has to. The old Patriarchal order has to go and make way for a new order if the land is to be restored to something like its previous state and the People freed from their suffering. But the scar will linger for some while, carried by many future generations.

Will the Dragon ever be slayed? I think not, the Dragon can never be killed for She is the raw power of the Land itself provoked into a destructive mode against the People that disturbed it and abused its generosity. There is no hope to slay this Dragon, because if we did we’d just be provoking more of the same. We can but hope that we don’t provoke Her any more than we have, so that She might once again go down to the Land and rest deep within it again. Perhaps by not cutting down any more of the Wild Forest and planting and growing more trees we could entice the Dragon back to the Land because She likes that luscious greenery and when she knows there are enough trees (and Ents?) standing guard over the Land She can rest at ease, supporting life’s energies in the continuous breaths of her peaceful dreaming sleep; the unconscious evolution of the living Earth that has been going on long before humanity appeared.

And we cannot expect a single champion to put all things right by his own efforts alone. Even the Princess, though she is trapped in the Dragon’s lair, cannot rely on a Knight in Shining Armour to save her. She is not a passive or weak victim and must prepare herself to be free, with or without the help of a hero. And her Queenship is innate, not determined by her social status or something to be supplanted by a King’s reign whilst she stands by, supporting him as a passive symbol of Sovereignty. She is empowered, she is power and has a little of the Dragon in her too. A lesson for all women.

The King is dead, long live the King; so the saying goes. But there is no new King to replace the old one. The old King was Patriarchy that supplanted the power of the Queen and led the People into imbalance within themselves and with the Land. This is what killed the Queen, the passive female supporter of the Patriarchy. The old King can no longer lead us when he has gone past his use-by-date. Replacing him with another King would  be repeating more of the same, just with new packaging.

It is the Healing Chalice we need. Where is the Healing Chalice? Where can we find it to heal all that is ill and poisoned? Can we restore the King back to life? Or the Queen? The Healing Chalice, like the Holy Grail, is spiritual. As Jesus said “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, and people will not say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Each of us has the Healing Chalice within us. It has not disappeared; it has simply become entrusted to each of us so that we can all help heal the People and the Land. It is up to each of us to engage with our own spiritual journey within, to access our own inner resources of healing and wisdom and to use that in the service of Land and People.

It is in the power of every man to be a King. It is in the power of every woman to be a Queen. The Sovereign is one who keeps the balance within their People and between People and Land, making sure that justice is maintained and that true and noble Sovereignty is kept constant. Though one person cannot lead the People without the help of the People. The People themselves must commit themselves to the restoration of Sovereignty within and without and the healing of Land and People, with or without a leader.

If the kingdom lies within then we should strive to learn to be good Kings and Queens individually and maintain the balance within ourselves, within our own psyches. And that this inner balance be balanced with the surrounding environment. With the inner balance of each individual established and that in balance with the environment, then the balance of Land and People, of Earth and Humanity, naturally follows on from there.

Each of us is a King, each of us is a Queen, each of us is a Princess, each of us is a Warrior, each of us is the People, each of us is the Land, each of us is a Dragon and each of us is a Healing Chalice. Blessings on your Quest and upon mine also.  Let us seek out and restore the balance in the ways that we can, remembering this vow wherever the journey takes us.

“Society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals.” Oscar Wilde

God bless message boards, the bloggers inspiration, it’s all grist for the mill.

Typically, though not always, tribes are seen as localised in geographical regions (yes, even nomads), have common ethnic roots, share a common culture, have a structured organisation and are tied together by strong familial and social bonds, in essence, group identity. The society I belong to is definitely not a tribe in this sense, it is, as Oscar Wilde says, a mental concept. If everyone got amnesia, just imagine how many boundaries and distinct groups would disappear.

Long ago, the British Ilses were overrun with Goidelic, Brythonic, Pictish and, later, Anglo-Saxon tribes, but now they have all merged and the borders of their territories exist as countries and counties, if that. And the idea of “peoples” means little to people who regard the difference between such geographical regions as the difference between work (Sussex), home (Kent) and social life (Greater London).

Most concretely I have a birth certificate that tells me I was born in Britain and so I’m a British Citizen, as does my passport, with all the rights and responsibilities that that holds. That could be my tribe. But it says little of my ethnic or cultural background, I could be a Muslim with family from Bangladesh, like a few of my friends from school. It also says little about my familial or social ties. In such a large, anonymous and impersonal system, friends are lost and gained like so many leaves on a tree and families just drift apart in the vast anonymity of it all.

So now gangs of youths roam around unchecked in whatever haphazard way they can get away with and our “elders” are sent to nursing homes or their opinion so out of touch with the times it’s not worth listening to them (but they weren’t expecting so much change). One generation to the next can be as different culturally as two nations. My mum came from a Roman Catholic family and rejected that for a more Protestant faith. Her mum grew up in a Protestant denomination but married and became Roman Catholic. My dad grew up with Protestantism and later embraced Spiritualism. I had a Protestant childhood, a sort of Spiritualist adolescence and later went through an experimental NeoPagan phase that has become something that doesn’t even have a label for it. I call it my life journey, which has many influences on  it. Though if you look through the rest of my blog (hint hint) you might get a feel for what I’m about.

I grew up in Brighton (Hove actually) which is fairly cosmopolitan (compared to another place I’ve lived in England). I don’t know what to call my culture, except Multiple Exposure in South East England.  I know more about some American TV programs than my own Royal Family and its history. That is the effect of living in a multicultural and Western society I think. It’s a make-it-up-as-you-go-along culture, which has its advantages and disadvantages, as do all cultures.

To be honest, in this cultural atmosphere its easy to see how extremist groups emerge from this, they’re scared because what they thought was a very stable and well-defined world becomes a melting pot that gives way under their feet. Socially dependent individuals become very insecure  and may react violently and retreat into a smaller box than they were in before. It’s also understandable that people without a clue about who they are or what they are doing get lost amidst it all.

I’ve never identified myself as very English, partly because my grandad came from Scotland and also, as I was growing up, being English didn’t seem to be anything in particular, it seemed quite bland to be honest and overrun by international influence, particularly the US (did I mention TV programmes? And let’s not forget McDonald’s). My break from Christianity also broke me out of cultural identity, and I only embraced Spiritualism nominally. Later, upon finding Paganism, I jumped at it and started an active spirituality. In a way this was my chance to forge my own individual identity without the Christian identity of my mum and the Spiritualist identity of my dad.

Modern Paganism itself is not a single belief system or tradition, but an eclectic melting pot that, whilst including traditions like Wicca, Asatru, Druidry amongst others, it also includes bits from the New Age, Indigneous traditions, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Individuals with no-fixed-tradition are aplenty. It was a good atmosphere to look at myself without adopting fixed cultural trappings that might obscure my view of myself. I could have lost myself in this philosophical chaos, but I didn’t and the continuous focus of “nature-based spirituality” was what sustained me a lot of the time. It was always about nature and my connection with it, no matter what beliefs I was looking into and experimenting with.

That’s my group spiritual identity broken and my national identity is well on its way. Well, no, nothing is actually broken, it’s just expanded to include other things. My British nationality has expanded to become a part of the European Union, my geographical position is in Spain (or Catalonia, which might be a separate nation, or not) and I live with a Swiss family, one of which is my girlfriend. Would you like Tea and Toblerone with that Tapas?

So, where was I?

Oh yes, tribes!  What is my tribe? For me my tribe is not bound by cultural or ethnic roots, it has nothing to do with any social organisation I belong to, nor my supposed class, my geographical position, my family, my social circles, beliefs, spiritual traditions or any group affiliation.

To rephrase a well known saying, “Your tribe is where you heart is.” In the global melting pot of a mental concept that I call “my society” that’s the best I can do for a tribe. Well, actually that’s pretty good, and it works well for me.

“Most religious stories and mythologies have some sort of similar root, some sort of global archetypes.” Maynard James Keenan

 “Americans want to believe that the average Brit wears a bowler and a school tie and maintains a stiff upper lip and has a certain dry sense of humour; they do not want to be told that a good percentage of the British population are vulgar dimwits who care about nothing but shopping, alcohol, football and Posh Spice’s navel.” Joe Queenan

In Jungian psychology there is the well-known concept of the Collective Unconscious; a “reservoir” of ancestral experience inherited through genes or very ancient memes. In science it’s known that babies’ brains are “hardwired” to recognise faces shapes and voices. There has also been research that suggests they can recognise spider shapes at an early age, presumably because the quicker you can recognise a danger, like a poisonous spider, the better your chances of survival. These examples show that experience of the world is, to some extent, built into our genes from ancestral experience and show a very basic idea of Archetypes; models of human perception, roles and functions that are often represented by symbols and personalities.

But not only can the Collective Unconscious be ancestral experience but unconscious material that we exchange every day, things in society that we don’t question and take for granted as “reality.” This too contains “models of human perception, roles and functions that are often represented by symbols and personalities” that are called stereotypes.

There is a subtle but important difference between the two; Archetypes, for the most part, come from within and are natural to the human psyche and its development and are the fulfilment of certain human experiences. Stereotypes are things to conform to, that are imposed on the human psyche from the outside by cultural standards. With Archetypes the human psyche is simply going through different processes of human development that most humans go through despite culture. With stereotypes the human psyche is being programmed by cultural forces and made to fit into a preset image.

But it’s difficult to tell the difference between the two when you get to look at stereotypes and Archetypes. Some stereotypes have archetypal aspects to them, the interpretation of some Archetypes can be twisted so that they are conformed to and some Archetypes might be very ancient stereotypes that are so consistent with human existence they become universal in quality.

I think that’s the good thing about Archetypes, their universal qualities allow us to see another culture and understand the basic human experience that is going on underneath the bowler hat, feather headdress, baseball cap, horned helmet or sombrero. It’s only the mind that is so immersed in its cultural or societal stereotypes that cannot understand another human being from another culture because the other doesn’t fit into their idea of human “reality.” In this day and age where humanity is reaching a global phase of its development, it’s important to relinquish stereotypes and embrace an archetypal understanding of others, to form a common basis of understanding and communication. We can still be members of our own culture, but instead of conforming to it we can creatively play with it to complement the basic experience that is the human being.

 “You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.” Irish Proverb

 When adults ask kids “What do you want to be when you grow older?” kids will often respond with “I want to fit in to society providing a function for it and conforming to a stereotype.”

Ok, not exactly! It’s usually put into simpler words than that, but if you look between the lines, this is the answer that usually pervades what a child will say about their future. The point is you won’t get a kid saying “I want to be happy,” “I want to be myself”, or “I want to experience lots of things, and express myself in lots of different ways without limiting myself to one thing because you only live once.”

The problem is that society has been built with the principle of conforming to it or fitting in with it somehow. A child, when asked about their future is being asked about how they want to fit a role and provide a function in society. In short, be a stereotype.

From birth many people are conditioned to be something because of the stereotypical expectations of their parents and other peers. It usually starts with gender; boys wear blue and girls wear pink, girls have long hair and boys have short hair, boys are supposed to be rough and adventurous and girls are supposed to be calm and sweet. Toys and television are also a factor in how kids are programmed as they are symbolic of the reality they have to prepare for. One form of gender “branding” that alway suprises me is that of newborn girls having ear piercings. In some cases it’s so expected that people make the mistake of calling a girl a boy because they don’t have earings!

This is later reinforced by schools. The children move in social circles that reflect and reinforce their conditioning. One of my schools used to have a partial gender segregation on the playground, where boys would get the larger area because, typically, boys would play football and other rough games, whereas the girls would spend their time in a smaller area playing hop scotch and skipping ropes.

Further steps in this programming or conditioning are what class they belong to, how much money they have, how popular they are, what nationality they are etc.  Once adulthood is reached the identity of an individual is supposed to be dedicated to solely one career (it was once upon a time, less now though). Literally you are a nurse or you are a gardener. You don’t do nursing or gardening. There’s a sense of becoming specialised and losing the full range of potential that a single human being can be. School lessons in self-discovery and self-development are strongly lacking because society has a “self” designed for you already so there’s no need to be an individual.

What if society had been built a different way? What if it was designed, not to conform to, but to be a platform to creatively discover and develop yourself within? This is the creative potential of society that many people don’t realise. Society can be far more malleable than many people take for granted. It is not a structure to fit into, it is more like a mine to extract raw material from, something that can help you realise your individual potential. Although reinventing society’s old structures to replace it with new ones is itself quite a work, and many give up trying.

When adulthood is reached people have either conformed to society or become disillusioned and rebelled. But many of these “rebels” are just reinforcing this rigid system by fulfilling a stereotype, or more appropriately anti-stereotype. They see only two choices, to define themselves for society or define themselves against, not knowing that they can reclaim an individual identity independent from either conformity or rebellion. Either way, conditioned or “anti-conditioned” individuals are faced with the task of re-educating themselves. The real problem is not society itself, but the individuals within society that don’t realise they have other choices other than rebellion or conformity; they can choose to be themselves.

There is a difference between natural human development and conditioning. Development comes from within and grows outwards, whereas conditioning comes from without and works inwards. An individual’s development will always be informed, to some extent, by their interaction with the world and there will always be rules and laws to conform to, but there is always the seed of their natural development within them, which does not need to be imposed but encouraged and left to naturally blossom. In this way society is outgrown, the individual is not constrained by it but nurtured by it. But instead of leaving society behind, they turn their energies back to society and in this way society grows with each generation, outgrowing itself and being reinvented for the changing needs of people.

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