When the Europeans arrived in North America, the Algonquin tribes believed the newcomers were infected by a psychic virus that turned them into Wetikos. A Wetiko is an icy-hearted predatory monster consumed with a spirit of greed that cannibalizes life. Wetikos are deluded in thinking they are separate from the Great Web of Life. Consequently, Wetikos feel desperately alone and unsupported. Because they can’t tap directly into the common power within our living nature, they resort to domination and force. A Wetiko’s greed is insatiable, making humanity its own worst enemy.
Coronavirus doesn’t keep me up at night like the Wetiko virus. This psychic pandemic threatens every living being on our planet. When infected by this virus, we, in the words of Mother Teresa, we “draw our family circles too small”. We see ourselves as separate from the terrified children at the border and the grizzly bear nursing babes at her breast. When a creature is not part of our family circle its easier to violate, hurt, and commodify them. When we do this for long enough the virus turns our hearts icy. Nature is always communicating with us, but when we feel separate, we lose the signal. We settle for refrigerators that talk to us instead of eagles. This doesn’t fill the void.
When I was nineteen, I spent six months on the Diné (Navajo) reservation. Weathered grandmothers were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands so Peabody coal could mine the tribe’s sacred mountain. To the Dine, the Mountain is the seat of power, source of creation, home of the Spirits. To Peabody Coal Company, the power came purely from fossil fuel. Ultimately the whole struggle came down to how we source power. The Indigenous way sources power from within the web of life. Wetikos steal power from nature, women’s bodies, and basically anyone they can.
The Coronavirus is the physical result of the psychic Wetiko virus. Coronavirus is a natural part of a living ecosystem. Viruses are everywhere and are a major component of life: the mass of all viruses on earth is equivalent to 75 million Blue Whales. When humans cut down healthy tropical jungles, kill and capture animals, and sell them in markets for food, the viruses, jump ship into human bodies. The physical and psychic are connected.
My teacher, Medicine Grizzly Bear loved the old Indian legends. One of his favorites is The Origin of Sickness and Health. It’s a long story and you can find the whole text here. In short, humans used to live in peace with our relations in nature. Then, humans began to disrespect nature, killing without respect. The animals got together and sent sickness to humans as punishment. The deer sent rheumatism, the snakes sent mental illness and bad dreams, etc. The plants met in council to decide how to manage the humans. After much consideration, they decreed that for every human illness, they would be medicine.
While modern science offers little against the viruses of our days, Mother Earth has the medicine we need in viral times. “Invasive” plants like Japanese knotweed, Kudzu, and Dyers Woad have been inserting themselves into our ecosystems for years, now we find they can help combat COVID-19. We waged chemical and physical warfare on these plants, and now we are scrambling to buy them on Etsy. For thousands of years, the Elder Tree has been used to treat viruses. It was so important in old Europe that King Charlemagne decreed every newly married couple must plant an elder tree as a form of Obama Care. Modern science has validated the anti-viral use of Elderberry, but many of us still roll our eyes at the folklore that uses this plant to combat psychic viruses. Maybe it’s time to examine why Elder’s rich mythology is associated with Christ’s cross and the most powerful wand ever known to Hogwarts. Maybe our Earth is more intelligent than we can imagine and perhaps, as Bobby always said, it’s the powerful stories that point us towards this intelligence.
After unprecedented floods and fires, the coronavirus has accomplished what our best scientists and activists could not: Halting Business as Usual. Despite the false narrative that viruses are “nonliving”, they are highly intelligent creatures. Viruses are critical to evolution as they can insert their DNA into our genome. A whopping eight percent of the human genome originated from viruses. Viruses are what made us human allowing a fetus to mature inside a mother’s uterus. There is no doubt that the Coronavirus is changing humanity. We see ourselves as more connected than ever. What else can change now?
Is it the long-dreaded unraveling of our life support systems? Or, is this the Great Turning of the tide, when we remember our rightful place in the web of life? How do we tip the scales?? It all hinges on where we source our power. When we choose to source within the great web of life, we will find guidance and direction that we could never imagine with our tiny separate human minds. If we can tap into the massive intelligence of our sentient planet, we will find our power, because we part of that power. Here are some offerings to help you tap into our natural intelligence for the benefit of every living being on this planet.