(A Personal Encounter with Shel Trapp, Joe Fagan & Hugh Espey*)
After a late night meeting about the fight against Boss Hog, I drove home and fell right into bed. During the night I must have gotten up, sleep walking or in a daze, tried to type up my notes from the meeting, and then gone back to bed. In the morning when I awoke, I found the following story.
The Spirit of Organum
This is the story of a dream. In the dream I belong to a tribe of villagers and farmers. I am a “Novice” a new seeker enlightenment. For some time I have been learning the Knowledge of “Organum.” The Master of the Geni initiates us into the Secret Knowledge. In the beginning, I came in search of “instant nirvana,” immediate enlightenment. Now that some years have passed, however, I have come to realize that mastering Organum requires years of ritual discipline and personal study.
Organum is a Secret Knowledge. It is not indulgently poured out to just any Novice. Instead, novices are given tasks and must prove their readiness to receive the Secret Knowledge through heroic deeds. These tasks are meant to secure a commitment from novices and to determine whether they carry the proper spirit for using the Secret Power of Organum, the “geni,” without abusing or debasing it.
I am walking out through the night carrying a torch. My path leads me up the side of a mountain to a small shack. Inside the shack is a Guru. With him is a Master of the Geni who has come from a place very distant from my land.
Upon my arrival the Master begins to speak. He prophetizes:
A turbulent time of troubles will soon come to this land. The troubles will come from the Empire which worships the donkey-headed cat. The Empire is known as the of the Burro-Cats, a strange people whose Priests direct them to make everything into the shape of a square. The Burro-Cats have instituted the Square-Box system, which they call a Burro-Cat-ocracy, throughout the land. The Square-Box system is their trophy. Be forewarned: the Square-Box system vigorously denies the spirit of the geni. But the geni will not be denied. The geni cannot be contained within the Square-Box, for when the lid comes down tightly, the geni becomes diabolical and erupts into a demonic Cat-Ass-trophy.
After the prophesy we meditate. We seek the geni to help us to create an effective response to the Square-Box of the Burro-Cats. The Master begins his ritual.
The Master begins to conjure up the “geni,” the Secret Power of Organum. The geni is a spirit which inhabits the soul of each person. The Master summons the geni to help us develop a new ritual for the tribe, a ritual which will unleash the geni of all our people. The geni will help us cope with the prophesied time of troubles.
Some fear the “geni,” They fear it could tear them asunder. The Master quells their fears. The Master tenderly, lovingly invites the geni in each of us to come forth to creatively enliven our lives. For the geni, he teaches us, is the genius of the people (geni-us). Living creatively with one’s geni is the key to unlocking the Secret of Organum.
We must integrate our lives with the geni, the Master insists. We must neither over-tame the geni nor an untamed it. We must harmonize the melody of the geni with the rhythms of our lives. Then, through beauty, the creative spirit of the geni will expose the Square-Box world of the Burro-Cats and it will collapse like a falling house of cards.
Through meditation I begin to to enter into a trance. I begin to leave the mundane world of my daily existence and dance about the shack. I find that I am being taken a step further toward my enlightenment. The Master focuses directly on me. He sits and gazes intently into my eyes. He presents me with riddles to be solved. He speaks directly to my geni. First he speaks to it as if it were a prissy nerd. He summons up “the fight” in me and inviting me to be boldly creative. In this way the Master draws forth my geni and I gain access to my genius. I gain access to the Secret Power of Organum. I dance on in a creative ecstasy.
As the night progresses, the Master focuses on integration. The creative power of the genii in the group are gradually directed toward developing a new sacred chant which could orient our tribe for the challenges ahead. At first various wild chants burst forth spontaneously, as if our geni are howling at the moon. These chants are presented to the Master. He now lays his head down upon a mat as if sleeping. He is not asleep, however. He is performing his function as Chant-Master.
From time to time the Guru raises his head and calls out a chant. Upon hearing these chants, the rest of us absorb them and then spew them forth again, sometimes in an altered form. Gradually, the Master tames these outpourings of the geni, and channels them into an appropriate ritual, a ritual which our tribal leaders will be able to use, to call forth in a renewed form, the genius of our people.
References for “The Genius of Spirituality
Mircea Eliade, Rites and Symbols of Initiation: Mysteries of Birth and Rebirth, New York, Harper and Row, Publishers, 1958.
Sidney Jourard, “On Recognizing a Consciousness Larger than One’s Own: An Hypothesis,” in Healthy Personality: An Approach from the Viewpoint of Humanistic Psychology, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1958, 1963.
Rollo May, “Love and the Daimonic” and “The Daimonic in Dialogue,” in Love and Will, New York: W.W. Norton & company, Inc., 1969. This is the source for the theme of the story, including my use of the word “genius,” from the Latin “genii,” from the Greek “daimonic.”
Ira Progoff, “Modern Culture and the Psychology of Initiation,” in Dynamics of Hope, New York: Dialogue House Library, 1985.
See online booklets by Trapp in my content box on “Real organizing” on my zspace homepage here: http://www.zcomm.org/zspace/bradwilson
See my photos on organizing here: http://www.zcomm.org/albums/212. Number 11 is straight out of Trapp’s booklet.
*From Hog Farming and the Human Spirit, vol. 3, 1999.