As a modern day healer, I often see a perceived divide between the ancient world and the modern world. When this conversation happens, it is usually predictable. The modern world is demonized with its technology and busy pace. We romance by-gone eras of ancient village life, which can still be experienced in parts of the world untouched by modernization. There is a push to get back to nature, back to basics. We visit these ancient societies, and experience a disconnection from cel phone towers. We untether ourselves from the invisible cord of technology, and we believe our enslavement to it is released.
But I don’t share quite share these opinions. While I do like to make comparisons between our culture and more ancient cultures, I prefer not to make my lifestyle wrong. When we made the slip into industrialization, technology and modernization, we threw the baby out with the bath water, and centuries of tradition were neglected and ignored. I am reminded of the march of progress myth - as long as we are moving forward, and inventing something, surely, it must be better right? There is wisdom in ancient cultures that has been replaced by knowledge. And we in North America are obsessed and intrigued by ancient teachings and wisdom. As a modern day spiritual healer, I spend my days studying it. How do I as a female Reiki teacher in twenty-first century Canada translate the teachings of an early twentieth century, Buddhist, Japanese man who meditated daily and taught people how to heal themselves? I start by finding the point where we threw the baby out with the bath water and abandoned the way our mothers did things, and their mothers before them, under the spell of progress.
Diving deeper into the world of Reiki, we uncover not only Buddhist teachings, but also Shinto teachings, and our gateway to our ancestors. Disconnection from our ancestors is a pivotal point in our development. As a Canadian descended from settlers, I can look to my Aboriginal neighbours for clues, because they possess something I do not. They have a connection to the land and to their ancestors. I have maybe a connection to my great-grandparents at best, and then the line is lost. My knowledge comes from the written word and media, a privelledge for which I am eternally greatful to have as a Canadian woman - the right to knowledge, education and advancement. I am continually bombarded with the idea that in our modern society everything is all messed up and we should live like our grandparents did. We should grow our own food, milk our own cows, and the jury is out on modern medicine. But I find wisdom from my grandmother. She said that they were not the good old days. They were really hard and she had no desire to work that hard ever again.
Grandmothers are wise women. We know this, we inherently know this. But we abandon our truth and we give up our own power. Aboriginal societies know this, where women make the rules and grandmothers enforce them, because who would disrespect their grandmother? In our highly progressed and modern society, we have an epidemic of sexual harassment. One hundred years after sufferage, women have more rights than ever, but less respect than ever. But this was not always the case for my ancestors. I have to trace back more than a millenia, but I can find the pivoting point where the wise woman was relegated to the dark corners and the sacred feminine was demonized in the name of progress to a more efficient society with its streamlined religion.
There were many points in our history where our grandfathers saw a fork in the road and chose to banish an aspect of self into shadow. I believe our need for technology and modernization is one such aspect, and we are faced with a choice. We can romance the past and decide that one way is completely right, and one way is completely wrong. Or we can recognize that something in our psyche desires modern comforts and communication. It is how we inegrate it that decides our fate. We are not merely slaves to social media or cel phones. There is no aspect of our society that is worth abandoning. And we are not removed from the ancient societies who still walk the earth. We are co-existing with them.
We have choices and freedom. We have modern advancements and ideas that are designed to bring ease to our lives, not chain us to them. And when we choose something new, we do not have to leave a part of ourselves behind in order to do so. We have the internet to open our minds to ideas and belief systems that the ancient people didn’t have access to. They lived in a small region, and their beliefs were decided for them. We have access to ideas and technologies that our ancestors did not. We may think we want to live the way our grandparents did, but are we really willing to give up air travel, personal freedom and refrigerators? Probably not, but we can inegrate them. Alternative practitioners, our society’s answer to the ancient Shaman can choose to integrate the creatures of comfort with the voices of our ancestors in a way that serves society and our clients, while honoring the hidden desires of our psyche.
Jennifer Whitfield, CHt, is a certified hypnotherapist and Reiki Master who has been practicing alternative therapies for ten years. She offers related therapies in her practice, and regularly teaches workshops on spirituality, healing and meditation. She sees her role as a practitioner to help guide her clients back to a state of wholeness and transformation. Connect with her at http://www.jenniferwhitfield.com and on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jenniferwhitfield111/