The film Lion Ark is about the daring rescue of 25 lions that had been imprisoned in zoos in Bolivia. They were brought to a Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado created by a 19 year old man after he discovered that zoos hold surplus animals in their back rooms that never see the light of day. They old, unwanted animals stay there and eventually are euthanized. They are held in small cages. This man was stunned and began a life long journey working on behalf of wildlife.
Imagine, the King of Beasts locked in a cage….the anger and rage, demoralization, deprivation, loss of power….the hopelessness about one’s plight as one is held in such a small captivity space.
Witnessing the animals pain, their loss of power and purpose brought tears to my eyes. I realized that my perception of zoo’s and circuses and my enjoyment of visiting them had a dark side, an underbelly of denial by our culture, by the employees, by the visitors that was not even in my awareness. The darkest example was hidden behind the scenes.
My “story” expanded, I experienced a “truth” a felt experience that showed me an even bigger story.
This same day I watched Lion Ark, I read that the officer who killed Michael Brown, in Ferguson, MO had not been indicted. One article found greater meaning behind the unfolding events in Ferguson. The events in Ferguson represented a “loss of power” of both races and the anger and rage that ensues when our ego fears we will be annihilated.
The article expressed that it was “White Rage” that played out in Ferguson, or at the very least it has been ignored as the news covers the “Black Rage”. It is the white folks, the police and others that are scared at their perceived loss of control as they see Black skinned people gain power, like Barack Obama becoming President of the United States.
These two stories got me thinking…by maintaining separation between us and them, we maintain an illusion of control. The USA (and world) have relied on separation as a defense mechanism to keep our pain, sorrow and loss of power contained. We have perpetuated separation dogma or systems between ourselves and others, whether it is black and white, poor and rich, animals and man, doctor and patient, teacher and student, man and woman, nature and human, old and young, etc. We have created a division within out own selves also, the dark and light, pain and free of pain, masculine and feminine.
In our collective psyche, many are in the process of healing and integrating the dark and light aspects of themselves but many are not. Those that are not are acting out of a loss of power, a separation, a post-traumatic reaction that has been passed on from generation to generation, a fear of loss of control. At some unconscious level, they may feel, “If I don’t have control, I will die!”. If I don’t have control, I will have to face myself, all the ways that I am ashamed of who I am, of what I have done. At some level we fear that Mom and Dad or God will punish us for we have sinned. So if we keep control, we won’t have to feel the fear, the shame the small child feels when they have disappointed their parents. We will control with laws, restrictions, and divisions. We will keep the power over others to keep ourselves feeling safe.
Folks who are doing their healing, integrating the unconscious and conscious parts of themselvest begin to see their healing is not just the healing of their own traumas but begin to understand that they also heal the pain, trauma, sorrow that has been passed on for generations through their ancestors. In addition, they heal the collective pain of the world. Their perspective changes, their “story” becomes expanded and they see that we humans are a microcosm of our world. As we heal, we are less likely to project onto others our pain and separation. We become more whole in ourselves and see that there is not separation, that we create it to try to feel better about ourselves, to quell the fear, the feelings of not being good enough, that all of life is a reflection of the Divine.
As we heal the disowned parts of ourselves and recognize the need for control, we realize that we have imprisoned ourselves, in cages of our own making. We see that the fear and rage of this imprisonment has been acted out towards others with an abuse of power.
Like the lions that are imprisoned in zoos, whether we are black or white, Israeli or Jew, young or old, woman or man, we have been imprisoned in our own “story” and we lash out trying to feel better by any means we can to control our fear.
Due to the imprisonment from our “story” we have lost our own “inner lion”, our backbone as we have been living the “story” of our childhoods over and over again. It is often our inner kid who is in charge, who tries to make themselves feel more powerful. We as humans may feel like we have no power, just like we felt when we were little. We are controlled by Big Brother, economics, the weather, by our circumstances, etc. We look outside of ourselves for leadership and we end disappointed, no one measures up anymore. We don’t have any hero’s to look up to for hope. To numb ourselves with this disappointment, we eat more food that doesn’t nourish us, take more drugs in an attempt to feel better or to heal us from our own imprisonment, there is more pornography access and use then every before, more street drugs….more work hours… more distractions of many kinds…so many kinds of technological gadgets to keep us from facing ourselves and each other. By looking outside of ourselves to be rescued or to numb ourselves from our fears, we become prone to embrace blame and separation, which enable an abuse of power.
We project our own pain onto others through the abuse of power but we see others as separate from us, better or worse then us. But as we free ourselves from our “own story” we begin to get a glimpse of the bigger picture of humanity, of our world, and we no longer need to act out our pain on others who we perceive as the enemy. We can begin to heal and forgive others and ourselves. We can embrace our own “inner lion” which is our own inner authority, knowing that the answers lie within ourselves, in our ability to come into right relationship with our dark and light, the conscious and unconscious parts of ourselves.
It is said that we have entered a time in the history of our planet that is reflective of the relationship between humanity and the lion. We are both apex predators on the planet, if we are not in right relationship with all that exist in the natural order of the Universe, the ecological system will not sustain itself. The lion is coming more and more into our psyche as a metaphor to support change in our world at a critical time of evolutionary change on the planet.
As we free the lion from the cages it has been placed in, we free ourselves from our own imprisonment and the cages we have been placed in by our separation and need to control others. We as a human race have been imprisoning “lions” to try to capture the power of the lion within ourselves. We have only captured and imprisoned our own selves with our ”own story”. It is time to free the lion and to free ourselves to recognize that the power really lies within and our story has only been a story! It is time to free ourselves from our cages, our separation from each to other and the natural world, to see the bigger picture!
Carley Mattimore is a Shamanic Minister, Psychotherapist, Shamanic Master Breathwork Facilitator, Energy Worker and Co-founder of Aahara Spiritual Community of Venus Rising in Springfield, IL. Carley is also a passionate speaker and advocate for the White Lions of Timbavati.