Saga of Othala, ch XI: Out of Africa

There has been a season and a half since this bushman made his last homestead transmission, and uttered a story from this Tamarack and Spruce wooded cabin. Not because there has been nothing to tell, but because as some of you know, I have not been home. For the last four months my soul has been steeping in a biologically rich African culture, and my spirit has been simmering with Swahili folklore and exposure to the motherland. Life in Tanzania was random in the best of times, and defeating in the lowest. From suffering malaria, and a crazy infection from bed bugs that lasted nearly a month, to chasing after Giraffes, Zebras and Elephants in a three wheeler, to hunting bushmeat with a primitive tribe on the shores of a salt lake. Love life’s were kindled and burned out, danger and risk was a built in feature to every adventure, the mind expanded, broke, and spread its contents all over from the great plains, to the tropical mountains and blue blue ocean deeps. There were many sagas written about mama Africa and shared with the intrepid public who dared to live vicariously through the stories at fromthemotherlandwithlove.wordpress.com Now I have come back to my frostbitten homestead in the bushland of New Brunswick with a renewed sense of patience and gratitude for how far I have come through the passage of this incarnation, and I am finding it all very poignant and peculiar.

I went to Africa to try to become more human, to throw overboard any extra cargo my ego was carrying aboard, and settle into a greater depth of understanding the self in connection to what really mattered. The overarching sentiment of relationships and their functionality in guiding our moral and ethical compass was really the biggest take home from this trip, liked checked luggage stowed under the plane from Tanzania to Doha. These thoughts were tucked away and out of sight for awhile, then picked up again from a carousel of other anonymous baggages and unpacked. I identified them as my own, and knew this would be what I would carry home with me as I answered the beck and call of my former lifestyle, literally and figuratively. As I reflect on the gamut of experiences in Africa, my response to those experiences ranging from embodied engagement, to denial, or neutrality and openness, and try to flesh out the motivating force behind those experiences, it would boil down to relationships. The intimacy or aloofness with any one person that I would meet set the coordinates for how that relationship would foster favor, reciprocity, or anonymity. The felt presence of the immediate moments of existence meant I could choose to fully occupy an experience, or cast out and negate one, determining my circumstances from thence. I understand that my desire to go out on safari was to connect in a meaningful way with other non-human species in what I would not mind calling a relationship, albeit ephemeral and non-intimate. I know too that my bonds with my fellow man, and women on another continent were made in order to breach some kind of spiritual contract that agreed upon the mutuality of our existence, that nothing was done alone and even distant souls could connect. It was in order to stare in the iris of another eye, and say “You are in there, and I am in here” and together he we are. Tupo Pamoja as the phrase goes in Swahili. My overwhelming urge to hunt in ethical and masterful ways by staying five nights and days with a primitive tribe was nothing less than the need to foster a more integral relationship to the meat I eat, and the embodiment of a sacred practice and how that looks like in the real world. Acknowledging that death is an aspect of all food that is no longer living, including plants but especially animals. That it was becoming for me more important to be conscious and aware of the life I eat, and to practice killing in an ethical way the meat that I choose to consume, and being responsible for that death, to have a closer relationship with death, the great Taboo.

It comes as a great relief to have unearthed those parts of my soul complex. I did not know I would need it would take living in Afrika and putting myself in strange, dangerous and uncomfortable situations to awaken it, but that is in my opinion a beautiful feature of taking the human curriculum. Life as a homo sapien in the 21st century is at once worlds apart from the lives our ancestors lived, while in others it is almost impossible to define any real differences, only through our personal composition of what this world is, and how we relate to her do we find out with more perspicacity and definition what we are really up against. Do you depend on luxury amenities to survive, or could you live in a mud hut for the rest of your life with no electricity or running water? What about your children and their children? Are restaurants and supermarkets really an essential service, or do our supposed entitlements highlight where we rely far too heavily on the industrial complexes and consumerist models of the world while shedding light on our divorced relationship with the source of our food in general? How many soul mates could you have had if you just changed your mind? Some Gods teach us that we are the most important species to the expense and destruction of other fauna and flora, but what about the Gods that teach that plants and animals are our equals and worthy of respect, protection and even worship? And what about the people that believe in these Gods or spirits or entities? A barefoot cattle tribe in eastern Africa has very different views on the world than I do, as does a dreadlocked Rastafarian living on a tropical island. Should I discount their opinions and ontologies because they are unlike my own subjective conditioning? I would rather expand what it means of my own sense of being in the world, by becoming en-cultured with the tribal, the Rasta and the foreigner. For in their very essence, they are my teachers of humanity, unlike and yet so alike my own.

Life feels different here, besides the obvious climatic changes and cultural dynamics, there is just something subtly different about the energy and presence of being in this cabin again. Like I am here to stay, and that it may be a very long time in gestation as I confide and abide by myself in this wooden hall with what I have garnered from the world after so many years. There is still a quest ongoing, but that quest is never ending and will be made through different essentially different territory. It will be the walk into and embodiment of new archetypes that I have been carefully preparing my life to receive, built in with the sacred masculine initiations and roles that have been impressed and informed with me. As my homestead improves and the energy systems become more efficient at conducting the life force that in return fuels my growth, I feel rich with self-trust in my ability to live according to a means. One that elevates the narrative of my life to levels of personal sovereignty, responsibility, and skillful adaption. While I fine tune my moral compass and seek the balance between the ever present fullness of voices, ideas and dreams that flood my awareness. I drop into a more lucid state of being that allows for the pranic current to flow within and without me and gently dictate how to move, more organically and harmoniously around the banks of my own natural limitations. I feel proud and at ease amidst these walls and long-hall timbers raised two years ago in a symbolic mark of finding land and settling therein.

Meanwhile some great fun has been had after an initial spell of sacred solitude and silence after the long trip. Together with a kindred brother Jeremy at Birch Bark Adventures and his twenty-four huskies, we laid claim to four of the most epic days this winter has seen. Ice fishing with home-made rods on Chaleur Bay, as once Leif Eriksson and his seamen might have done a millennia ago. This time we were fishing for smelts. Snowshoeing in the forest fringing on the Tetagouche river, and harnessing the Alaskan dogs to a wooden sled for some glorious sled mushing on fast trails. Once even roped to my own Agouti Husky for a snow pull with a Siberian purebred named Kimmick and four other top dogs. We were joined by his woman in the cabin for flame cooked suppers, and cold winter night slumbers. For the first time since living in the Maritimes, I can now say I have traveled all five scenic routes of New Brunswick. The former being the River Valley route and Fundy coast, and after this foray in the north, the Miramichi route, Acadian highway, and the Appalachians. We were not far from the Gaspesie, and it is somewhere I would be greatly interested in returning to.

Now I don a pair a snowshoes and hike the ridges of Skedaddles backbone to finish the last of the maple tapping for the season before the imminent sap flow and sweet syrup boil marks the beginning of spring. Joined by a brother for the meaningful work at hand, I come full circle from the underbelly and deep culture of the motherland to the oldest traditions of our Canadiana countryside. My blue eyed K-9 follows the path of the snowshoe, and the trail of the bobcat through deep snow. I drill a hole into the nearest Acer saccharum and hammer in a new tap, then pan my eyes over Garvie mountain to the west, and feel the cold wind bite into my hands. Riding polaris sleds through the Appalachian ridges the other day with an ally, I watched the landscape change before my eyes in a way I have never experienced. We crossed one of the province’s heritage wooden covered bridges and stopped at a warming hut after cruising the sleds from Knowlesville to Howard Brook, stoked the fire and ate some deer jerky. My eyes looked over the still frozen stream, the snowy boughs of fir on Skedaddle ridge, and the forested trail from which we came, I sighed in contentment, and felt home and alive.

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