Denial: The Perpetrator of Abuses
The animalistic survival mechanism behind this perpetration is “The Repetition Compulsion”. Yes, animals repeat the behavior that leads to problems as a way of learning how to avoid them. We, as animals do the same only less skillfully than, say, a rat, as we have all kinds of intellectual and societal explanations of traumatic events that keep us from addressing the shocks or traumas head on. Animals will “lick their wounds” and then step around the phenomena that lead to injury, rather than skirt around the problem with one set of denial or another. Humans will set out one false explanation or another that comes about as “shaming” and “blaming” rather than assuming personal responsibility where it may lie.
One solution that some indigenous healers (a sterling for instance is Malidome Somé) have offered to us are Grieving Rituals. A colleague, Francis Weller has used Somé’s ritual as a springboard for institutionalizing rituals of his own with great benefit for many. (Francis Weller: check out Francis’ FB pages for listings of his events). Such rituals are not just about feeling bad they are orchestrated such that individuals can express (via words, movement, song, poetry, etc.) their component feelings of – – – grief, shock, denial, anger, confusion, depression – – – all within the context of a caring and sharing circle of others. The default in our culture is to immerse ourselves in secondary or substitutional repetitions via news and entertainment sources. Unfortunately this further wounds us. Without doubt I believe such horrific acts from World Wars to local insane massacres (Las Vegas killings is in the news) are fed by our insatiable desire to steep ourselves in the woundedness of others. This “indulgence” is addictive and feeds other addictions, such as consumerism, drugs, alcohol, violence, etc.)
Having participated in Somé’s Ritual and led several for my own friendship/spiritual circle I now offer such to others. Briefly these Rituals last over a week-end and have a number of parts to them. We begin by describing what participants can expect to happen, how we facilitate the expression of the feelings and the safeguards that allow us to go through deeper levels of grieving. It is by doing so that we short circuit the “compulsion and repetition”!
From there we move into talking circles using a talking stick to allow for the deepening and unmasking of what it is that is “stuck in our craw”, what are our losses. We move beyond our personal to our collective losses and move into than collective grieving.
Creating ritual is then the task of this group. Co-creating a shrine (‘It is the place of beauty and mystery, and also the place of memory because shrines have the power to remind us that in human life we are at the threshold of another world.’ – Malidome Somé) with symbols, words, photos, etc. and then visiting the shrine over a prolonged period of time where participants become organically divided into three groups. Grievers, Stewards and Villagers. The villagers drum and chant and set the mood and tone for the grieving (cursing, crying, wailing, sobbing, singing, praying, etc.) to occur while Stewards are supervising and watching to see that no one becomes hurt in the process of grieving (by, for instance, throwing themselves on the shrine as a thwarted self-sacrifice). The participants rotate, often by the facilitation of the Ritual Leader, such as Malidoma, Francis and/or someone like myself.
This aspect of the ritual goes on for hours, often late into the night.
After retiring and sleeping or staying up the night for further processing participants meet the next day to experience “re-entry” into everyday reality. This happens via sharing of the experience and sharing how they will take this new sense of release into their morrow. A number of people who have experienced such rituals have experienced profound changes in their lives as aftermath. These changes can and are unsettling and preparation for the cascading events once “the veils of denial” have been removed need guidance.
This morning sharing has the twofold purpose of grounding individuals so they can safely get home and as guidance for how to carry on with the grief work for greater health and healing. Those who have experienced these life changing rituals target them as turning points in their lives.
For those who may be interested in experiencing these life changing events please let me know as am intending to facilitate these rituals again, here, there and elsewhere and/or I can connect you with others who are prepared to and are offering these rituals.
There is a profound need for these events to become numerous and I am happy to be one of those prepared to lead.