John Trudell was a Native American activist, author, poet and musician. His spirit departed this earthly realm in December, 2015. I recently learned about him after reading his hauntingly beautiful poem and discourse “I Flew with the Eagles.” The following is an excerpt:
“From my place in line, I fell out of order
I’ve been here, I’ve been there
I’ve been anywhere
And, I haven’t been anywhere
And, I’ll be back again
I am Iktomi
Imagine running out of imagine
Mistaking authority for power
Weaving life’s free spirit
Into patterns of control
In the reality
Of many realities
How we see what we see
Affects the quality of our reality”
Iktomi is a Lakota, Spider Trickster Spirit. The stories of Iktomi are found in other tribes as well. These stories are often told to children and teens to discourage them from getting into trouble or being tricked into doing something they shouldn’t. Iktomi is not like todays comic book hero, Spiderman. Iktomi is a spirit of mischief, troublemaker, shape shifter, deceiver, controlling others through deception, a puppeteer. Humor is often involved, as with Coyote, who chases his own tail and learns to laugh at his own mistakes. Iktomi misleads and influences by confusion. Iktomi weaves a web of illusion that shapes or changes reality. The emphasis of Iktomi is not so much the character of this Spider Trickster Spirit, but the web of deception that the spirit weaves. The web alters our perceptional reality, how we see ourselves in the mirror and how we become confused at whom we really are. It causes us to un-know or forget that we are more than a body having a human experience. We are Spirit. We struggle on our path between the physical and spiritual. We get “caught up” in this web of deception and make someone else’s concepts of reality our own. We often deny our true selves.
John Trudell’s poem refers to modern technology, politics, money, business and communication devices (cell phones, internet, TV) as having a vast influence as to how we perceive reality and the concepts that we take for granted as we live in society. He urges us to not settle for the lesser of evils, but hold out for the best. He shows how we have fallen under the spell of mind control and have turned to fantasy instead of living our dreams. We have forgotten where we come from. Many of these concepts actually separate us from our Mother Earth and from humanity as our brothers and sisters and even our true nature, and our true self. We might even lose our path. Greater than society’s web of deception is what Trudell refers to as “prostitution of the soul.” Otherwise known as self-deception, denying our unique self by believing we fall short and by thinking negatively about our self. We often find ourselves trying to fit in, or be successful by taking on a belief system not really our own. Negative self- concepts, our denying our true inner being, our true nature, our true self can lead to confusion and folly. Continually chasing the lasted trend and trying to compare or form yourself into someone you are not erodes your true spirit. Untangling the web of self- deception leads to wisdom.
Trudell’s poem encourages us to use “spirit and intelligence with clarity.” To be reminded of what it means to be “Human Beings.” To not settle for less than whom we really are, by getting tricked and caught up in society’s web of deception, or one we created by being disillusioned. It is a Native American custom to sit (meditate) with lessons. While I am no activist, I have sat with John Trudell’s “I flew with Eagles.” I have read it over and over. It is as if Trudell’s words were inspired by the spiritual ancestors, and are even more poignant today. His words have left a great legacy for us. I am becoming stronger in living my own truth. I am disentangling the web of deception, so that I can follow my path and not the path of another. May the quality of our life’s reality become one of clarity.
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