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On Birds, and the Imperative of Mystic Flight

Birds in myth are messengers, deliverers of prophecy, and instigators of journeys. But birds are much more than this. Human neurobiology is deeply linked to birds, who, through the arcing patterns of their flight, their hypnotic songs, and their high, piercing calls, awakened human sense faculties, taught us to look up in wonder, and therefore gave us the ability to soar into imaginal spaces. Somatically, we ideate, journey, and soar because of our coevolution with birds. So we find the influence of birds everywhere in human culture —particularly in the core foundations of global spiritual traditions, whose visions of spirit are deeply tied to birds. The first recorded word for the spirit itself is a picture of a bird, and birds have provided the primary means of shamanic and mystic travel for centuries. All across the world, birds influence language, poetic meter, musical composition, ritual vision, and artistic expression. Most fundamentally, birds invite us to see farther, soar higher, imagine, initiate, ideate, and dream. At a time when planetary futures seem bogged down in bleak inevitability, birds remind us that the ability to soar upwards, see far, imagine, ideate, dream, and navigate spaces of heightened awareness is more vital than ever. In fact, mystic flight is a somatic necessity that provides potential solutions for the future. For if we are going to ideate our way out of the mess we’re in, we have to be able to see far and soar high. With original music from Peia, Sidibe, and Charlotte Malin, this episode recounts mythologies of eagles, falcons, macaws, roosters, ravens, hummingbirds, hoopoes, and more as it invites a whole lot of upward soaring. Note — The Emerald podcast is meant to be listened to with full attention, preferably on a rocking sound system or a good set of headphones.