^ the author’s pre-exile summer life

My essay ‘Modern Indian Society‘ from the book ‘Penucquem Speaks’ (published 2006) has received considerable attention over recent months; and judging by the associated search terms, this has to do with the indigenous concept of shadow or, more precisely, ‘lost shadow.’ Consequently, I decided to expand on the concept that had been only briefly mentioned in the book. This is the result.

The ancient native concept translated as ‘shadow’ is the ‘dynamic’ portal from which you are observed by the world of ‘spirit’ (nature), perhaps best represented in English with this definition…

dynamic |dīˈnamik|
1 Linguistics (of a verb) expressing a process

…in a case where self-recognition is not ego-based but environmentally substantiated within a context of nature; where all surroundings are social. How you could experience this from this side (in non-egoic sense as part of process), example given, where there is a wild plum tree in full blossom alive with honey bees; you don’t see or differentiate the bees or parts of the tree (blossoms) separately but rather first instinct understands the tree as alive with the sound of the bees, all as integrated organism. This is information delivered via the ‘portal.’

You also innately know this is a shifting phenomenon of process that is constantly in motion and your’s is in a place of moving process. In other words, your shadow is a shifting or mutating awareness attending oneself or one’s presence, constantly feeding one information. How you would know you are seen from the ‘other side’ (in same non-egoic sense or as part of process), example given, let’s say you are hunting and as a hunter you understand it is what will be offered to you is what you are allowed to take; also it is spring and you shouldn’t take the doe carrying a young one. The Mule Deer herd senses your presence and begins to move away but a large doe stands still and offers herself. You take her because you understand she has offered herself; and discover she is barren. This is knowing both; how to read and how to write. It is a form of literacy, sans pen & paper. The doe knew the herd’s best outcome was giving herself up, you read that, and taking her, you wrote the best outcome for all concerned; your people are fed and the mule deer community kept it’s future in a higher state than if you’d taken any of the other deer.

Or, as I had previously written HERE:

Let’s say because you are of the old indigenous mental construction and you know *how* to pray *through* the trees, while traveling, you come to a Y in the road. To now, you only know there is a way through the forest you are traversing, but you have no map and no detailed instruction. Because you know *how* to pray *through* the trees, the environment (which is sentient, intelligent, and social) recognizes, respects, and even *anticipates* your thought when you send it out – “which way” – and a large bird of prey drops out of a tree and flies down right fork in the road, your questions are responsibly answered along this and other lines, with 100% accuracy, throughout the trip … because this indigenous mentality can repeat this *read* of the environment with fluency and confidence, whether it is a bird calls in the precise moment, or noticing a feature resembling a face in a rock outcropping (psychosis to the Platonic mentality), even a puff of breeze moving leaves on an otherwise still day and more.

How is it this ‘portal’ of understanding translates as your shadow?

This interactive understanding is an awareness that moves with you, except in case where you’ve been knocked out of alignment with your ‘portal’, in which case it can be said you’ve ‘lost your shadow’, a serious and even life threatening circumstance; with your loss of ability to ‘read’ surrounding environment. This ‘portal’ that follows (or precedes or surrounds) oneself is a critical component of essence or being in context of survival.

If you cannot ‘read’, you cannot take what is offered, as you cannot take what you cannot see and you’ve become out-of-sync. As well, because your surrounding environment is sentient and aware, you may easily become the environment’s ‘offering’ for lack of this ability to read; this loss of yourself is recognized by the greater social awareness (your natural surroundings.) In this case, you could easily become the surprised kill. This last is akin to the wolf identifying and taking the weak of the herd. They ‘know’ because they have ‘shadow’ or portal of understanding as well. When the environment, which is sentient, aware and social, knows you are out-of-sync, it’s only a matter of time and you will be taken.

How this system of awareness came to be related to early ‘frontier’ photography and the concept of ‘shadow stealing’ is actually quite simple; this was era entire native nations had been knocked out of alignment with their natural social environment (interactive nature.) With the Whites came a severe damage to this world of perception, with severe disease related losses, ecological damage and the disappearing of wildlife, together with attending psychological impact, almost nothing worked as it had.

The static ‘capture’ of image (photography) easily fit the concept of lost shadow, as it must have looked as one would imagine nature were to perceive the self, where previous to western culture, one might only behold in reflective water. However reflection in the water did not threaten; because it did not seize and keep the image. In a world without concept of coincidence, it could not be construed as anything other than, with the Whites’ arrival, and the near simultaneous loss of the interactive ‘literacy’ of living integrated to nature, portrait photography came to represent the ultimate theft of this unique awareness.


^ The ‘shadow’ classroom

Related: Cosmos & Consciousness