Jesse Wolf Hardin's Earth Magic
Seekers & Teachers
Again and again Gaia shows us the ways in which we are all teachers, responsible for our affects on the larger living world. But at the same time, she doesn’t mean for us to downplay the importance of human mentors and animal inspiriteurs. There are no true “solitaries,” only those unaware of their teachers, or who have yet to meet and align with their allies on this path. If the fact of ecology and the dynamics of magic tells us anything, it is that we are inextricably interconnected and fully interdependent, and that none of us can “get it on our own.”
Every insight, every correct conclusion or healthy choice benefited from the wisdom or example of others. Even our instincts are handed down, paw to hand, from our distant primal ancestors. They’re the result of thousands of years of challenge and mistake, opportunity and fear, elation and pain, persistence and reward. And when we hear truth from our heart, it is speaking from and for the needs and will of the entire sacred planet.
Any problem lies not with the fact and necessity of teachers, but with the epidemic insecurities that often lead even the most gifted among us to covet rather than engender and disseminate power. Those who insist they have privileged access to truth, seek to distinguish themselves in contrast to and at the expense of their students. They fear they will lose their following, and thus their self image, if they teach that everyone has the capacity for magic... that everyone has the responsibility to interact directly with Spirit, and then dance to its tune. They can bleed away our energy and focus, or we can learn not only from the truths they tell but also from that which is tweaked or withheld. If we are worthy it is not only because we try.... grow, live, love and die. It is because we have learned, if nothing else, to give thanks. Indeed, we should be grateful to every teacher flawed or not, to every mistake we learn from, and to every poignant test. And to the inspirited, instructive Earth more, not less. From the time I ran away from military school as a young pup, I searched high and low for those individuals who might be able to teach me, or inspire me by example, in the ways of being real and purposeful in a culture of artifice and distraction. Some, like the revered philosopher Alan Watts, did indeed offer words that were like brilliant stars to navigate my life by. I was encouraged by the audacious authenticity of Ken Kesey and the ability of Rolling Thunder to gather a tribe. The primary author of The Great Cosmic Mother, Barbara Mor, provoked me to go beyond the simplicity of black and white and into the world of layers and twists. Experience with others, revisionist shamans and control-freak gurus alike, taught me about the human failings of even the most brilliant of our kind. And between every notable meeting, I was learning from the faultless natural world, and learning to listen.
The Canyon Testaments seen in this Earth & Spirit column from time to time are a result of that great listening. They are essentially Gaian Sutras, passed from the all knowing whole to this humble wordsmith in moments of confusion or need. They’re insights and aphorisms that cut to the chase scene, Earthen tools for clarification and choice that beg to be embodied, implemented and lived. As they were given to me, I give them to you. They are not mine, and you do not need me to tell you how to put them to use. I am here to help awaken and embolden the teacher within you. Every session I hold, every line I write, is meant to be a full class from which you the seeker or reader graduate. The work of this ministry is to aid others in the honest realization of their individual medicine ways... and help lead them to the lessons, the perfection and balance of Nature- to the altar of Gaia, where truth and purpose reign.
_The Canyon Testaments: Teachers & Seekers_
Spirit is the first directive. And this inspirited Earth— Gaia— our original Teacher. Thus the first step in becoming a Teacher, is to become a lifelong student of the Earth.
Every exchange of information is an alliance of purpose, between that which expresses, and that which hears. That purpose is not only the education of the individual, but also the informing of the Earthen whole.... to our mutual and collective benefit.
All things have something to teach us. All things capable of learning, are students. All students of life, have learned lessons they can then offer to the world.
Seek what is true, and then honor what is sought. It is always as close and connected as our hand, as expansive and complete as this godly universe.
A Seeker becomes a Teacher whenever she or he shares the truths they’ve found with others. At the same time, no viable Teacher ever quits being a Seeker.
The purpose of the contemporary Teacher is to point to phenomena, reveal connection, heighten awareness, and encourage engagement and depth. To nurture the Seeker’s compassion, and affirm their intrinsic beauty, practiced skills and developing love. To instigate response, and foster fulfillment.
Even the most conscious of human teachers are vehicles for practical and spiritual truths... and never their source.
One doesn’t explain mysteries, so much as acknowledge and honor them.
Anything we learn from, is a Teacher. Thus to resist the idea of Teachers, is to deny we have anything to learn.
The problem is not so much that we have a hard time trusting the sources of truth, but that we are unwilling to give up those things we wish were true.
Teaching is a joint accomplishment— in the same way that art must have a viewer, and music is incomplete without the partnership of audience.
A Teacher who gives up on a student, has herself surrendered. If a Seeker feels that they have failed, the teacher has failed them.
For a Seeker to fully “own” his abilities, accomplishments and purpose, he must personally pay the price. And learn to take credit for doing so.
Once we know that everything we are and do affects those around us, we become partly responsible for what affects we have.
For ideas to effect the world, they must first be translated into action. For these reasons, a good Teacher makes sure the Seeker is in touch with her feelings— and that she feels empowered to act on them.
Likewise, a Teacher will strive to be a catalyst— and never a surrogate for the Seeker’s direct experience or personal revelations. It is a Teacher’s duty to direct focus away from themselves, and in the direction of that which they’ve been fortunate to see. Rather than imposing definition or interpretation, a Teacher leads us in the direction of meaning.
The Teacher’s purpose is not to criticize or judge, but to awaken, inform, inspire, correct and applaud. At the same time, it’s as important for a Teacher to point out illusions and lies, as it is for them to point to the truth.
Not all lessons or gifts are accepted, fewer are understood, and fewer still are really put to use. Thus a Seeker must open to new lessons without any expectations. And a Teacher must share her vital lessons, without expecting anything in return.
The Teacher plants the seeds of awareness and empowerment that he was himself given. With no certainty of results, he waters them with his tears. Feeds them with his hopes. Christens them with his heartfelt prayers. And emboldens them with his cheer.
*Jesse Wolf Hardin* is a teacher of Earth-centered spirituality and nature magick, living seven river crossings from a road in an ancient place of power. His latest effort is _Gaia Eros: Reconnecting With The Magic & Spirit Of Nature_ (New Page 2004), a book acclaimed by Starhawk as "a must-read for those who want to worship nature not as an abstraction but in ways sensual, practical, and transformative.” When not presenting at conferences and festivals he can be found hosting seekers for retreats, quests, events, workshops and resident internships at their enchanted wilderness sanctuary: Animá Center PO Box 688, Reserve, NM 87830 email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Jesse's website by going here http://www.animacenter.org/
©Jesse Wolf Hardin 2005 Reproduction in any form is prohibited without express written permission from the author.