Book Review – Pocahontas – Woman healer, spy, entrepreneur, diplomat
When I was little, my grandmother told me that we were descendants of Pocahontas. The idea sparked my fantasies. Having Indian blood was a special blessing. It endowed me with certain spiritual qualities, psychic perception and magical abilities, in my imagination. I was later disappointed to learn that it was fashionable among generations past to claim a blood bond with Pocahontas. I suspected that my grandmother’s story had this origin.
Much later I realized that the fascination with the things of the Native Americans was a symptom of a certain affinity. He valued Indian fantasy as a call from the wild from within. It had to be answered, but in my own indigenous terms, not in terms borrowed from other cultures. I recently read a book that has added great depth to this perspective.
Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat (HarperSanFrancisco), by Paula Gunn Allen, Ph.D., tells a completely different story of this American icon that we appreciate. This award-winning author, retired UCLA professor credited with originating Native American literary studies, has taken the usual sources, in addition to those that are rarely mentioned, and has reinterpreted the data within the context of the worldview. mythical of the Native Americans. The result is a fascinating account of the transformation of “Isla Tortuga” into “America la Bella.”
Dr. Gunn Allen begins by explaining the spirit-centered worldview of the Native Americans at the time. The “manito aki,” which belongs to the supernatural, paranormal, and spirit-inhabited world, was the waking reality of Native Americans, more real to them than the physical world.
We could say that they were good “Jungians” at the time, because they respected the experiences of the imagination as real and worthy of attention. The natives of that time also realized that their world was coming to an end. Their calendars and mythologies had prepared them. The arrival of the white men was part of the fulfillment of this prophecy.
The evidence points to the fact that Pocahontas was a high priestess, initiated into the mysteries of the spirit world and charged with responsibility towards these spirits. Based on her evidence, the author came to the surprising conclusion that Pocahontas, instead of falling in love with Captain John Smith, was on a pre-planned mission taking advantage of him as an unwitting pawn. Their goal: to ensure that the spirit of tobacco finds a home in the new world. The spirit of tobacco, the essential shamanic power of the Native American world, needed to find a way to be part of the coming materialistic world that was being born. This mission was crucial for the spirit of the native world to survive the destruction of its manifest existence.
Pocahontas was the channel through which the transfer of power was achieved. Pocahontas’s connection to John Smith was the means by which native spirituality was preserved, although it would have to hide for centuries within a plant that would be traded, traded, consumed, and vilified within a purely materialistic consciousness, until this time. ancient. Spirituality could one day be reborn in the consciousness of the European mentality, as it begins to happen today.
What is this emerging new mindset? Gunn Allen writes: “… the construction of Pocahontas in American thought, though often historically inaccurate, is an indication that America’s imagination is as connected to the manito aki as it is to the land. Americans harmonizing our modern American consciousness with the ancient psyche of the earth we inhabit is mastering a paradigm that assumes that material and measurable existence is all there is. “
The lesson for us is to respect the intuitive nature of the imagination of time. We need to experience and understand the imagination as a channel of intuitive realities. The mind and its ambassador, the imagination, is quite real, although it inhabits a different plane of existence than the world recognized by the senses. It is real because it makes a difference in our lives. It is in this realm of imagination where we can find our highest ideals, where we intuit our interconnectedness as spiritual beings, where we encounter non-material beings and discover the patterns in the creative forces that shape our lives. Our fascination with all things Native American is proof of our connection to this immaterial world. However, this connection is something that we unfortunately do not recognize within ourselves, but rather project onto these indigenous peoples. Gunn Allen reconnects us to our heritage. She joins us in gratitude to the people who came before us, who built a spiritual time capsule that would survive the materialistic and destructive stage of our history, preserving for the future our heritage as children of the spirit. Pocahontas is truly America’s godmother.