I heard a story once about a child trapped in a basement. It was told to me by many different mouths over the course of a number of years. In the story, the child is shut away down there, screaming themself horse because they are terrified and alone. The world for them is dark and scary and they lash out at it from the fight-or-flight place that gives tremendous energy for quick action, but isn’t always know for the best judgement. After all, in this story the child has been living down there in isolation for their whole life. It is really no wonder they are angry. They have lost their ability to be in any state other than crisis through lack of access to the intricate complexity of what is needed to be healthy and whole. They have lived only as a captive, without even k owing who their captors are or anything about why they are captive.
In this story that I have received from so many who wished me well, the child is said to be in need of healing. After all, they are the incarnation of my own primal aspect and the same kind people who told me the story in pieces that all fit together into this child and their sad state also shared with me many useful and effective ways for healing that damaged child so that they could once again join my interior family. However, they also cautioned me that even after healing and rescue from the nightmare of the dark and moldy basement, the eternal 2-year-old would still be impulsive and potentially dangerous if allowed to run anything or make any important decisions. In the story I was told, they were something to be included and probably loved, but always kept under control and mastered so that part of their primal power and energy could be mine while at the same time making sure they couldn’t wreck things because of a temper tantrum gone too far. They needed to be treated this way, so they story goes, because they would never grow up.
Part of me accepted this story as the best one to tell about the energy that rises from the earth and centers in the bowl of the pelvis, the 1st Chakra, the Lower Dan Tian. After all, how could so many kind and generous tellers of this tale be anything but complete and accurate?
Then one day during a rather difficult session that involved some heavy trance work to confront and heal part of my not-very-pleasant past, I heard the healer I was working with say “interesting that you see your primal aspect as sacred.” It was a rhetorical response to something I had said earlier, and we had other things to cover, so the matter was not explored further. But I sensed a shimmer of something worth looking into held within the fact that I had inadvertently said something that appeared to contradict the story of the child that this healer and so many others had been telling me. Whatever it was suggested that this force within us could be sacred in its own right. I held that shimmer in the place where questions get stored that don’t have words yet and moved forward through my life.
Years later, in a completely different context that had no connection to that moment that I am aware of other than trance work, I began to hear another story that turned out to be an answer to the question about how the primal could be seen as sacred. At first, the story seemed too fantastical to share with anyone. Then I started to come across archeological or anthropological evidence of all of the main portions of the story. After carefully researching them and returning in trance state to verify details within the story, I found that what I was looking at was a different story about the primal center of my being. In this story the toddler was never locked away. Instead, they grew up into a powerful adult with intuitive abilities that were beyond what I thought were possible. Not only did these senses get used and integrated into life, they formed the basis of a good portion of decisions made by the complete being because they provide accurate information at a speed that no reasoning or discussion can. In this story, the primal holds the sacred power of practical knowledge that arrives at rates that are outside of time. This means that the person using it can know things before they happen in the physical plane.
Before they were locked in the basement for so many thousands of years, the primal child was also the one who could share this instinctive knowledge instantly across distance with other members of a person’s group once they were no longer a child and had grown up. They were the one in charge of “gut feelings” on a group and community level as well as an individual level. This still survives into contemporary time as kinesthetic movement, and sometimes in the most coordinated aspects of dance and organized team sports.
Even the most cynical scientist would find it hard to refute the assertion that humans are inherently social creatures. All I am suggesting is that there was a time when we had the kind of “hive mind” capabilities currently seen in other social creatures such as the mammals that live in pack and heard structures that allow them to move and act as one unit when needed. To this I am adding the suggestion that this kind of connection is to be found deep within the center of our bodies and not from any external source.
This is my story that might be an answer. It begins in a valley at the foot of a range of mountains north of the Black Sea. They spread up and away from the scene like a giant pair of rocky wings. The air is bright and clear, though the lingering scent of snow on evergreens is not far away. It is summer in this moment, but winter and its ice flows are never far away from any point in this story.
I begin my experience of this new story from a long time ago as a man dressed in a wolfskin emerging from a cave where I have been helping my people prepare an ancestral skull for veneration. I reached that moment and transitioned from looking back words it to looking at it with all of the immediacy of first-person experience.
The sky is full of ravens and there is a very palpable tension of excitement in the air. The people outside are looking up towards the ravens. Those who can are speaking with them and have just learned from them that it is time to hunt. Our feathered friends have brought us news that the furry giants with their fearsome tusks have come back to the valley where we live. They swoop, dip their wings, and call in excitement at the news. Some of our people begin to run to gather up the heavy spears we use for this kind of hunting. There is a group of small children running past where we sleep at night, laughing and shrieking in joy. They too are looking forward to several days of feasting because they know what seeing the ravens act like this means. I feel their joy, the ravens excitement and the adrenaline of the people running to get the spears within my body alongside my own sensory experience of the moment. All of these are interwoven for me and I am used to this layering of feelings. No part of me can even begin to imagine a moment like this without them. If that was the case, I would not know what to do. My ability to act would be paralyzed by my disconnection.
In the next part of the story, I am a cave wolf running with my pack down from a hill. More ravens are flying overhead and we are following them as fast as we can into the valley below us. They dip their wings and call to us about the presence of food. I feel the different viewpoints of the other pack members and this knowledge becomes the map we share that guides us when we take our steps as we dash through the small trees at the edge of the forest.
As we begin to come out of the forest at the base of the hills, we spread out, calling to one another to form a net of sound that will sweep the prey ahead of us. Alone, each of us has no power to hunt a mammoth, but together we can use our voices to confuse and startle two of them into heading away from us. The net is made by all of us at once. Our calls don’t tell the pack members where we are, because we already know. They tell our prey where not to be.
I am the man wearing the wolfskin, who stands with his people looking ahead as the wolves begin their calling. My foot is on the base of my spear as it sits above a depression I dug hastily to prepare for this moment. All of us did this at the same time, except for the lookout who became our eyes while we looked down. As we dug, each of us had the image of what he saw in our minds. There was no need to speak and give away our location to our intended prey.
Two mammoths crash out of the trees and across the plain towards where we are waiting. The ravens have yet to give us bad advice about where food will come, and we silently thank them as they call to the wolves below them.
Suddenly the two hairy giants are upon us. One is as big as all five of us out together, and the other is at least twice that size. We only have one chance, and if we miss it, some of us will probably die. Excitement is filling my body with energy and I can feel the same thing happening to my companions. The fact that we all share in this knowing amplifies itself and makes us ready for the extremely difficult task we are about to attempt. We are going to try to stop several tons of charging animal with some pointed sticks. In order to do this and live, we must also get out of the way fast enough to avoid being crushed if our attempts succeeds.
I am ready and focused. There is no thought of the danger, and all of my senses are prepared to help me throw my weight onto the spear to lift it and brace it against the earth at the exact right moment. I have no need to wonder when that moment will come. I know I will sense it and I know those standing next to me will sense their moments. We are as connected in this knowing as the wolves across the clearing are in theirs.
Just as the larger mammoth charges towards me, with its tree-sized leg raised to crush me, I jump onto the base of the spear. It shoots up out of the earth. My companion to my right does the same thing at the same time. The inertial speed of the charging animal makes it impossible for it to change course, and I know the spears will bring my people dinner. I throw my body away to the side in order to avoid the last two legs as they pass.
Now I am the wolf once more. I veer away, calling to my pack as the men meet the mammoths with their spears. We come together and sit with our tongues hanging out as the great beasts fall to the ground. We know the smaller one is for us. This is something the men ahead also know. Their ancestors have been sharing with ours for as long as anybody knows. Neither of us could find this prey without the aid of the ravens, and neither of our groups could kill it alone. So we work together and share the meal together. Some of the ravens are already landing on the bodies of the prey and beginning to fight about who goes first. We get up and move towards the smaller mammoth. The men are all moving around the larger animal and calling out their gratitude that they are alive.
Soon some of them will be delivering her portion to their queen of skilled arts who lives higher up on the hillside in a home made from mammoth bones. Most of their people live in caves, just as we do. As we begin to eat, we feel the presence of the shared bond between our people and their people. It is a conversation between very old friends that takes place without words.
I am the man in the wolf skin. My people are full from eating our first meal of meat in a long time. We are leaning back and resting before the hard work of finishing the processing of our good fortune so that we can store as much as possible for the future times when this kind of food is hard to find, or when the wolves and ravens are hunting other prey that we do not eat. This moment of joy and relaxation is felt and amplified among us just as the excitement was at the beginning of the hunt. We do not need to speak in order for this to take place. It is always a part of us on a level that is as obvious and as important as our hands. If any of us lost either of those things, we would not have long to live.
Now to return from the story for the purpose of answering an question that lingers from the discussion that preceded the story. If our primal aspect was both sacred and necessary at one time, how did it get turned into a 2-year-old locked in a basement? To answer that, I would like to ask the question used by many before me to analyze power structures. Who stands to benefit from this change?
It certainly isn’t the people struggling to connect to the delightful parts of being physically embodied because they have suffered some kind of trauma that separated them from the energy provided by the primal. It isn’t even the individuals who are most active at decrying the vile nature of “primal urges” and asking us to suppress them. No matter which side of the rift of trauma that separates people from their own bodies a person claims to be on, all of us have bodies and therefore the potential to have a positive relationship of some sort with them. On the other side of things, all of us also have the possibility to suffer from having a negative relationship with our bodies.
So who does benefit from classifying such a powerful source of instinct and intuition as a potentially dangerous toddler, or from trying to eliminate it? The answer to this is very simple. It is those thought forms and ways of being that wish to control and coerce individuals into living lives that are out of sync with the wisdom of their own bodies.
This is a prerequisite to any way of living that is out of sync with the earth. First people need to doubt themselves and their instincts if they are to be called upon to regularly do things that destroy their environment and ultimately harm themselves. To put it bluntly, if all humans maintained a fully healthy primal aspect as the people in the story that might be my answer did, we would be unable to destroy our ecosystem because we would know deep within our bodies the consequences of doing so. We would also be unable to stop that knowing no matter what we did. From what I learned in my research that led to this story, it looks like our ancestors did exactly that for most of their time on this earth. There are hundreds of thousands of years of evidence that suggests they did that can be looked at in comparison to the recent centuries of history that we can look into to learn what happens when we abuse the primal across generations to the point where it never grows up and becomes separated from the rest of us to the point where we feel we must distrust even its gifts.
Ultimately, it is no wonder the eternally young part of us often no longer shows up for us as the best of their true self and instead doles out addiction, destruction and rage. This part of us has been abused across so many generations it returns PTSD symptoms instead of the gifts it once gave.
Another branch of this inquiry that continued to flow freely towards me whether or not I was looking for it was information about wolf social structure. I was taught by most of the supposedly credible sources in my early life that wolves are dangerous, violent and not to be trusted, just like the child in the basement. They are to be controlled, caged or killed as needed according to the thought forms dominant among humans at a particular time, just like the primal.
However, when I started to read the large amount of information accumulated by those who have actually lived near wolves and closely observed them, I found a completely different description of how they treat each other. Even the concept of the Alpha Male so favored by toxic masculinity fell apart when I learned the same author who originally penned the text it was based on later discovered that his observations applied only to wolves in captivity whose social structure had suffered extreme trauma at the hands of humans.
Wild wolves do not constantly fight and kill each other in an attempt to assert dominance, and females are not automatically subservient to males. A pack is a collaborative entity that shares the food they catch and it is structured around blood family ties, with the most decision-making power held by the oldest breeding pair. Wild wolves are loyal and intelligent beings who look out for their fellow pack members and help each other raise their pups. They are also very successful collaborative hunters whose presence helps to improve the overall health of the herds who are their prey. They are the moderators of their ecology, just as humans in balance with their environment can are.
This egalitarian, cooperative social structure also turns out to be what the archeological evidence from Neolithic and earlier times in the area where the story of the wolves, ravens and humans hunting together takes place suggests. The more I learn about wolves and ancient humans, the more similarities I find in our apparent social structures.
We are both cooperative, social animals who have succeeded and maintained ourselves over the long term through acting as the balance point that keeps the ecosystem in which we exist healthy. And both of us lived in caves and hunted with the aid of ravens for most of our time here. Left to their own devices, wolves still do all of those things. We don’t need to do the same things our ancestors did when they hunted mammoths because the world is different now, but if we want there to be a future for our kind, it might be a good idea to start learning from how they did things. They were facing catastrophic climate change as the ice sheets retreated. They were forced to live with an ecosystem that was so unlike what had previously been known to them that it must have been hard to even imagine. They met the challenge and survived. Perhaps we can do the same.
While the wolves continued their sustainable practices, in more recent times we separated ourselves from the parts of our being that are the best parts of our animal nature and lost our place of balance in the ecosystem we are part of. To heal that terrible rupture, we first need to heal ourselves by reclaiming our primal, animal selves and helping them to be the powerful, loyal and intuitive sources of connection they hold the capacity to be. We don’t just need to let the toddler out of the basement and love them. We need to help them grow up.
Once that happens (even for only some of us) we will be able to reconnect to the intuitive sources of wisdom and group knowing that will be needed to thrive in a future that won’t look at all like the present. A re-enactment of how we imagine our ancestors did things won’t help us a great deal because these times are different than those times and because re-enactments and reconstructions are always looking backwards to validate the decisions and actions taken within them. If we focus effort and energy on comparing whether or not our practices are accurate to the details of how people did things then, we might just run out of time. But a reconnection to the same source of wisdom that helped them to survive holds the potential to do the same for us here and now.
I have taken to calling this place in the bowl of my pelvis where the strongest intuitive connection is to be found the Circle of Knowing. This is where I connect with my Wolf Sense so that I can ride the serpentine flow of inspiration and connected wisdom that my ancestors knew and use it to retell our stories in ways that hold open a door to a future full of beauty, dreams and togetherness where there are more and more humans who quietly and firmly retake their place in life. In this future the child grows up when it is time to do so and we accept their gifts of intuition that will help is reclaim our position as the balance point in the ecosystem that gave birth to us.
A blessing to all who attempt this work. May you know your truth and feel the strength of your knowing. May you also sense with each step that you are not alone and that your ancestors are the ones whose path you continue.