"Who shall be saved and who damned?" I think, a Judgment Day scenario right out of the Bible. Of course, I don't take Renzo literally (recall another doomsday prophecy, the Mayan Apocalypse, recently has come and gone without a stir). But as an avid reader of Jungian psychology, I'm intrigued by the archetypal juice of his story.
I conclude that Renzo's mind has found an imaginative way to express our collective anxiety over the world's constant flux and uncertainty. As I stroll back to my tsunami evacuation zone in Kepoho, I pass luxuriant rainforest spliced with aprons of empty earth, scorched and blackened by lava fields. Talk about flux—the island is floating pumice on which opportunistic plants take root only to be mowed down again by a lava flow, only to return. While Renzo has chosen one of the most gorgeous spots on earth to live, it's also one of the most unstable and ever-morphing.
© Phyllis Haddox
Here then lies the irony of his vision as I see it. The Polynesians who settled the fire pit of an island absorbed the unpredictable architecture of nature very differently into their creation (and destruction) myths. They had what archetypal psychologist Howard Teich, author of Solar Light, Lunar Light, calls "twinning" logic. Twinning, Dr. Teich says is expressed as "god-pairs," and shows a detached (if unconscious) acceptance of the bi-polar swings of nature.
For example, Kanaloa, the Polynesian god of death and water collaborates with Kane, the ruler of natural phenomenon, to reveal hidden springs so Kane can tap and bring them forth. The spitfire Pele blows her top, destroying all in her path. When the spewed lava hardens, Pele's sea goddess sister, Namaka, allows the lagoons and tide pools to blossom with magnificent coral and fishes (just the day before I snorkeled in those magical ponds along the Big Island's reconfigured coastline). Twin heroes exist in most ancient and native cultures, says Dr. Teich, including for the Hopi, Navajo, Aztec, Egyptians, Mayan, Iroquois, Zuni, and numerous others.
As archetypal imagery planted in his brain long ago by a Western culture, Renzo's visions, or hallucinations, lack this collaborative wisdom.
"When you have an either/or (evil or good) culture, as has been created by single-hero monotheism [as in Western cultures] you increase the possibility of being possessed by the dark evil force of the other." It's understandable then, that the random and chaotic forces of nature are imaged as punishing the "other," whoever is deemed the decadent society, in Renzo's case those who live solely through five senses.
"The concept of twinning," says Dr. Teich, "is simply the logic of nature."
Whether one attributes the forces of destruction and creation to deities or nature, this logic seems stunningly visible—and achingly beautiful—in the landscape all around me. Out of the lava-void springs new life—mosses that turn rock to a rich, moist, and organic matrix so that hibiscus, wild ginger, and bromeliads may live, and ohia and monkey trees may follow. A botany of desire, this: lava fields greening over with time-lapse swiftness, climaxing toward rainforest. Only to be swept away one day like dust in the trade winds.
Later, I research photon belt and learn that it refers to a "spiritual belief linked to the New Age movement." A belt of photons sometime this year is going to envelop the Earth and cause a cataclysm that will initiate a spiritual transition. If true, I hope the "shift in consciousness" carries some old-fashioned native logic.
Camille Cusumano is the author of several cookbooks, one novel, and has written for many publications, including Islands, Country Living, VIA Magazine, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post. She has edited anthologies on France, Italy, Mexico, and Greece. Her most recent book is Tango, an Argentine Love Story. She lives between San Francisco and Buenos Aires.
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