We have been talking about the shadow side of the 7th chakra whereby humans make decisions not to build community but to unravel it, to replace basic order with unbridled chaos, killing rather than supporting one another, hating rather than loving.
And this is what so often makes headlines—the bad news and not the good news. Hatred often born of self-hatred giving birth to violence and killing of innocents.
Coming up for air, therefore, it is good to meditate on the good news of the sacred, the healthy chakras, so that we do not drown in the evil news. Walt Whitman helps us to do that.
In many ways he is a poet of the Seventh Chakra for he had a vision of expanded community and deep ecumenism and interfaith a century ago. Today is his 203rd birthday.
In his excellent study on Walt Whitman: Shamanism, Spiritual Democracy, and the World Soul, Jungian analyst Steven B. Herrmann tells us that shamanism, the first religion, played an especially important role in Whitman’s religious consciousness. Says Whitman:
Enclosing worship ancient and modern and all between ancient and modern,…
Dancing yet through the streets in a phallic procession, rapt
…beating the serpent-skin drum,
Accepting the Gospels, accepting him that was crucified, knowing
assuredly that he is divine.
Herrmann comments that Whitman provides
…a major rather than a minor miracle in the history of religious ideas; one that simply cannot be celebrated enough. It illuminates spiritual realities that are only now beginning to take hold in the World Soul. Before Christian ministers began preaching about racial equality, religious equality, the equality of women, and the equality of homosexuals, Whitman was beating his drum in the New Churches of God.
A “cosmic consciousness” comes alive in Section 44 of “Song of Myself”:
My feet strike the apex of the apices of the stairs,
On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches between the steps,
All below duly travel’d, and still I mount and mount.
Whitman achieves a kind of “cross-cultural objectivity through his perpetual soul-flights” which is based on shamanism.
Whitman never sought to replace Judeo-Christianity with a religious vision of his own. He sought to infuse the churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples of the world with his own athletic spirit, to electrify them with living energy of the Bi-erotic soul and body.
The talk today about religion vs. spirituality seems parallel to Whitman’s vision. In Herrmann’s words,
…post-modern people need what poet-shamans have: direct access to the collective psyche without mediation from any external religious symbols. The reason this may be so is that religious symbols have had their meaning, the numinosity depleted, so that they have for many peoples lost their original soul-force.*
See Steven Hermann, Walt Whitman: Shamanism, Spiritual Democracy, and the World Soul, pp. 250-253.
See also Matthew Fox, “Misdirected Love in the Seventh Chakra,” in Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 359-368.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: “I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars. – Walt Whitman.” Image by Andrea Koerner on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you agree that Walt Whitman qualifies as a “poet of the 7th chakra”? And that post-modern peoples need what poet-shamans have because for many the religious symbols have had their numinosity depleted, “having lost their original soul-force”?