What does Spirituality mean to me? It means running and running, naked through the dark forest behind our pasture. It's the sinister sex in my husband's eyes right before the chase begins. It's holding my children close and stroking their hair when they need the protective, nurturing energy that only their mother can provide. It's lying down like a sacrifice on the Goddess Rock when I need to ground myself. It's saying the funeral rite for an animal that decided to leave this world too soon. It's a family reunion every Samhain. It's a dream- or a Journey- where I can glean information and insight into my, or my friends', problems. It's scratching, biting, growling- the sweet ecstasy of sex and the bloody exhilaration of the fight. It's invoking the Warrior.
In other words, it's Primal.
I am what you might call a Primal Shaman. I do very few organized rituals. I do rituals and quests in my dreams or visions. But the raw spirituality that I tap into goes much, much deeper than my human intellect can penetrate. Which is not to say that I'm not an intellectual person. I very much am. I overthink things. I know the logical fallacies, am fascinated by math and science and literature and art, and also theology, spiritual discourse, and mythology. I give a nod to Athena every once in a while- but in my heart, my core, my soul, I am Primal. My body is the heartbeat of the tribal drum. My spirit is the lilting tear of the tribal flute. In order to Journey, I need to hear the footfalls of animals, the echo and mirror of my animal self. The One who instinctively knows that death is coming. The One who fights to protect my family. The One who can intuitively tell when there's a problem. The One who understands the pulse of the Earth and the ripples of the Water. The One who calls Fire and Wind to fight for change.
I live on a small farm, close to nature. Death is a page turn away from life, here. We are not sheltered. We see animals suffer and die, and it pulls on our gut in sorrow. We see nature fight to stay alive, and it makes us want to fight for life even more wholeheartedly. We wield the knife when it is our turn to end a life in order to put food on the table. Holding the animal down, swiftly ending the life in a shower of blood, hearing the last breath, it is Life, and it feels right and natural. And at the same time my heart is full of sorrow at the need to take a life. It is full of respect for the one who sacrificed his life so that I can live. Modupe*. Thank you. We, the Hunters, honor your spirit. Sometimes I need to end a life when the life becomes too full of suffering. In that case, death feels like a sweet release, the last breath is full of relief at last. Sometimes I need to end the suffering of a young life, and my anger brims over at the unfairness of life. But even the anger is natural and right. This is my funeral rite for those who died before their time:
May your body find relief and union with the Earth, which birthed you.
May your spirit find fulfillment on its journey.
May you find rest and peace wherever you now dwell.
And, if it is your destiny, please return to this Earth in a stronger body.
In the same way, we witness a lot of births here. As a Mother, I never fail to find the event miraculous. Suddenly, Life appears where before there was only bloody tissue. Being a Mother is a very Primal thing as well. We are Warriors and Nurturers all at once. We follow instinct and intuition. Adrenaline and anxiety are part of our every day life. Our babies drink from our body and are strengthened. We experience a soul-connection with our children. Our children come from our own body, and we are forever joined. Just as with our mates, we are forever joined in a soul-bond.
To be Primal is to be intimately connected, not just with our children and mate, but with the Elements- the Earth which gives us food; there is nothing more Primal than walking barefoot in the garden and plucking a ripe tomato from the vine. The Water which nourishes and cools us, like the breath of life after a hard day of work under the hot sun. The Fire of passion which ignites the spark of life. The Wind and Air which carries the changing seasons, heralding the start of a new cycle.
In my belief system, we have only one Soul, but multiple Spirits. "Worship" to me is not about prostrating ourselves before some distant power- it is about connecting with the different Spirits that live in us, and the Spirits outside which help to teach us. I have the Spirit of the Warrior in me. I have the Spirit of the Mountain Lion. I have the spirit of the Rabbit. I have the spirit of the Spider. Animal spirits are archetypes- a way to describe a certain energy and personality. I've known animals that had human Spirits, too! Maybe your pet has the Spirit of a human child- animals raised in a human household often do. And humans, like me, who live close to Nature often have very Primal Spirits. My husband has the Spirit of the Tiger, and also the Warrior. My daughter has the Spirit of the Dragon, and another which is cat-like. My son has the Spirit of Coyote. (Yes, I have a 3 year old with a Trickster Spirit. My protective instinct has been tested over and over again!)
The hoofbeats of the running horses shake the ground. The wind blows through their manes, making them toss their heads. The hills grow thorns, wild and free, and the ocean waves crash upon the rocks. Everything that has Power is Primal. Everything that defies control is Free. Ours is the Spirit of the Rebel, the Spirit of the Hunter, the Spirit of all those who would run as fast as the Wind, who would growl with the heat of Passion. Our gods are nameless, named, and the ones who name. We are as Old as the Earth and even older. We can close our eyes and feel our roots go to the core of the earth, and feel our Soul soar past the sky to the deep Void of the Universe. We dance, we kill, we give birth, we sing with raw emotions that tug at something inside you. Some part of you that is afraid of the predator, some part of you that longs to dance with us, and truly feel Alive.
*Modupe (Moe-due-pway) is the Yoruban word for "Thank you". Ase (Ah-shay) is the Yoruban word for "So mote it be." It is an acknowledgement of the spiritual energy that is at play. I use the Yoruban language because it is a very spiritual, primal language that speaks to me.