Sunday, August 16, 2009
Keep on Truckin'
I was sixteen years old, living in Kansas City, Missouri in 1969. For many reasons I was not in any position to go to Woodstock, which was fine by me. Frankly, the idea of being among all those people, in the mud, with no privacy, everyone high on something or another, gives me the willies. It would have creeped me out even then, though at age sixteen I was a lot more interested in trying to appear cool than I am now.
As a shaman, though, I wonder what it felt like, I wonder about an energy field so powerful that it could bring all those people together under such trying circumstances, in perfect peace. Wow. I'm sure it's not possible to name a single factor that made Woodstock possible, no, it was a very elaborate confluence, no doubt, that included the position of the planets, the welcoming nature of the land spirits of Bethel, NY, and of course the mood of the folks who attended. Oh yeah, and the MUSIC. Yes, I'm sure the music had something to do with it, too!
There was a piercing energy that attended the late 60's, early 70's in America. It was almost possible to hear the cracking sound of old paradigms and thought forms as they shattered and were rendered obsolete overnight. If you listen to the music of Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin (just two examples in a field of many), the piercing, slicing quality of the energy of that moment in history is easily identifiable. The two of them were so central to that energy, they could not survive it - at least according to the cosmology of Reya. Jimi and Janis (and others) stood at the very heart of the vortex of that big societal shift. It was too much for them. In addition to being great shamans, they were flesh and blood. For heaven's sake.
Hallucinogens were a big part of the sudden change in the way we thought about the world, too. Are you experienced? If you've ever dropped, you never really see the world in the same way ever again. There are so many factors I can name - the beat poets, the social movements, etc. - and certainly many more I have no clue about, that changed America at that moment in history.
My personal experience of the sixties was one of bewilderment. I grew up with images of Doris Day on the big screen, Leave It to Beaver on the small screen. My idea of happiness, up until I was sixteen, revolved around the picket fence domesticity of the nuclear family. But then suddenly in 1969, everything changed. Suddenly I was supposed to embrace liberated, strident, independent images of womanhood and free love, as we called it. Forget marriage! I was supposed to trade in the iconic image of Doris Day for Betty Friedan, Mrs. Cleaver for Gloria Steinem. I was supposed to throw my bra on a bonfire and stop shaving my legs, I was supposed to tune in, turn on, and drop out. And I wonder why I spent so many years in therapy! Yikes!
If I could travel back in time, though, I would love to go stand on that field in Bethel just before the throngs arrived forty years ago this weekend, and just feel the energy for awhile. I wonder what it felt like. Don't you?