The Cave

The build up to yesterday's full moon felt a lot like an alternate reality, and not the good kind. More like the horror movie kind. Like the last scene of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", when you realize the last person you thought was a human being is actually a terrifying, emotionless pod creature in the shape of Donald Sutherland who just points and screams at you. Friends, neighbors, fellow practitioners and clients have all shared recent stories about humanity being pretty terrible in the last week. More than normal. The overarching themes: there seem to be notable deficits in our collective empathy and accountability banks, and it's as though humans don't matter to other humans. At all. I know- it's a slippery slope and obviously not everyone has become terrible. And yes, terrible people always existed. But it also can't be denied that things are changing in a big way: just now, walking up the street to get a coffee, I was run into by three different people who didn't see me because they were staring to intently at their phone screens. No one apologized. No one made eye contact after we collided. Not. A. Word. There is a broader conversation being ignited about narcissism, social media, empathy, and essentially the state of the human soul. These guys used to work for Facebook and Google and are in an all out campaign to reform the use of tech. Now, it would be downright narcissistic to say I have a solution or that I don't have my own moments of raw selfishness (because I do), but from a shamanic perspective a few things sprung to mind that have been shared with me and shed some light on the topic: Legions' "The Cave". Legion, as both a TV and comic series, is inexplicable. It's awesome. Especially this clip of Jon Hamm (aka Don Draper) explaining Plato's Allegory of the Cave in the context of our modern world and specifically with regard to electronic devices and social media. The theory: our addiction to our phones and non-reality realities are narrowing our field of vision and, most importantly, impairing our ability to see, relate to, and value other human beings. Thrive: Yes, phones and social media are useful and important tools, but when was the last time you took a digital detox? Books like Ariana Huffington's Thrive highlight the measurable benefits of dedicating at least one day a week to stepping away from the phone and computer and television and getting into real life. Vice's "Chosen Ones" Series. I was blown away by this expose on narcissism and grateful for the way it dispels common myths surrounding the term (i.e. being a jerk occasionally doesn't make you a narcissist). WARNING: there is a nude painting of Donald Trump right in the beginning. If you get angry about it being burned into your mind's eye, you have only yourself to blame. Michael Harner's Cave and Cosmos: One of my favorite books, Michael Harner flips the script on the concept of The Cave. As shamans, we regularly use cave imagery to assist in Shamanic Journeying, guided meditation, visualization and energy healing work. This version of the cave is a place of literal or figurative reflection- the opposite of our enmeshed, hyper-connected externally-facing world. So, when you feel like you're spinning and the world is disorienting and draining, check out this book or download some Shamanic Journeying music to meditate to. And, of course, you can always reach out to me: Shamanism and meditation build awareness and empathy. The first step in solving our collective problem is to adjust our own energy and make sure we're in the right proverbial cave. -Rachel