There is a truth that every rite of passage guide shares with those in their care: once you cross the threshold, there is no going back.
The old life is gone.
Now you must travel your way through the darkness, no-longer and not-yet, as you move toward your unknown future.
In the middle of the last millenium, a series of plagues took 1/3 of the European population and utterly transformed the economic and political landscape of Western Europe. As we face our current pandemic, and feel its global reach–one not like the plagues but unlike anything in over a hundred years–I am with our collective ancestral trauma. What impact did the plagues have on my ancestors in Wales and England? For those of us European descendants who carry this events in our DNA, I believe the impact continues even today. This can be through the desire to numb or dismiss, struggles with how to respond to the suffering of others, the barely-contained panic, the urge to hoard; I feel these as trauma responses
Aristotle says that the role of the guide is to help the initiate assume the proper position. What if the coronavirus is our guide into our collective future? What if the pandemic is actually our ally from the more-than-human world, sent to lead us into our future? What lessons could we take from the coronavirus about how to be together, as families, communities, and a species, on this beautiful, wild, and finite planet?
Let us heed the lessons of this virus, as we let the truth sink in: life as we knew it is gone. We are in our unknown future. So let us live today, the future we believe in. Let us make prayers to our ancestors, and care for one another. Let us breathe, light candles and sacred herbs, drink tea, and nourish our spirits and bodies.
Whether we are able to touch and be with each other or whether we maintain our distance as our act of solidarity, let’s keep going forward, together. There is no going back.
Written by Darcy Ottey, Youth Passageways