We’ve been threading through time and space amidst topics that are in some cases timeless and in others quite modern. I’d like to write to you about the roots of it all this time, and weave a concept together that can unlock the universe for you, while simultaneously giving you a place to sit in the grand tapestry. In this case we dive full long into time itself; more specifically into the patterns laid down by humanity itself across the ages.
Lineage is a bit of a hot topic today if you spend any time exploring the current conversations around culture and the progression of people, let alone things like race and identity. It seems that everyone and no-one has claim to the lineages of our blood all at once and you can find yourself scorned for being on either side of the line --any line-- no matter how good your intentions. The human world has found itself in the adolescent phase of actualization and literally any domain of discussion has at least something for someone to polarize in some way.
We’re not going to touch any of that.
We’re going to set all of that aside and focus on the nature of Lineage itself. The irony does not escape me that I just declared any topic fair game for the ones that want something to fight about but if you’re one of the sorts that wants to defend everything from everyone in every direction and have found yourself here I’ll kindly ask you to hold your breath until oxygen deprivation provides a bit of clarity. This isn’t about closed traditions, identity politics, or the dramas of a modernist people who have lost their roots in nearly every sense of the word (seemingly including mental stability). This is about the nature of the human story.
If on the other hand you have thoughts, even the sort that contradict, that you feel inclined to share in an inquisitive and respectful manner, I am in fact entirely made of ears. Or in this case, eyes. Discussing any topic under the sun is quite near and dear to my heart so by all means bring your thoughtful insights my direction. And with that invitation in both directions, let’s begin.
I’ve been studying Esoterica -which includes all manner of spirituality, religion, occult, mysticism, metaphysics, and more- for over 22 years. If you’re a veteran to my content you’ll have heard that many times. For the fresh eyes to these pages I’ll say, though you can doubt it, that it isn’t a point of egoic self pedestaling but a means of context. I want you to know that I have an obsession; that my life’s passion is the study, pursuit, and further exploration of mysticism and the evolution of the self through the many non physical states. And that I am by no means a scholarly expert, but more of a seasoned veteran field researcher with an obsession for research in a haphazard and excited sort of way.
I know many things about many things but it is likely there are only a few topics that I know more than anyone else. I am a jack of multidisciplinary curiosity. I work in the space between the weaves, drawing meta maps to connect the seemingly unrelated into a synergistic portrait of a universe that absolutely loves to dance with itself.
To that effect there’s something in the conversation that has been, to my knowledge, lacking. A sort of tunnel vision on all sides, in all archetypes, and a tradition of assumption even where tradition does not appear to be passed on at all. As Rupert Sheldrake might say, there is a remembrance in the field of these archetypes such that, be it developmental or cultural, they continue to ignore what seems painfully obvious to me. Let’s see if you noticed it as well.
Tradition is the root.
It is the deep reaching tap of the tree of any given paradigm that digs deep into the soil of existence. past the rich surface into the packed rocks to seek purified water that takes time to get so deep. It is as my good friend Dr Matt K might say, the True, Good, and Beautiful of the thing itself. The unfettered, unmolested, untwisted core of any given spirituality. It is important to understand that this is not purely a matter of “oldest part” for even a tree only nurtures the parts of itself that are healthy. The root of the tree is the core life giving aspect of a belief system that is still nestled well into that True, Good, and Beautiful. I often think of this aspect of Lineage the anchor.
It is the anchor because it holds steadfast to the terra firma of its views and retains the quality of that view despite whatever may be happening above the surface. It is the anchor like the hearthstone is the center of a house, or the lighthouse is the beacon of the shoreline. It is that which can be relied on when all else gets precarious because it does not change. Not out of stagnancy but from a place of clarity and honesty. It knows what it is and it knows what it is not.
In any given human Lineage there are members of that perspective that ‘hold down the fort’ so to say. For what is a human story but a series of people singing the melodies of the same song across time? In this case, the Tradition is held down by Traditionalists. These are the folks that want never to change the modality of the thing. They have no desire to innovate the paradigm. It is their greatest passion to perfect the Traditions as they are and through them enter a meditative altered state of connection to whatever their particular Lineage holds and speaks to. It is not that they are inherently blind to the changing world, but that they’ve found solace in the concrete safety of a spirituality that is unwavering. What’s more, it is often the case that a true Traditio is no longer held by living Traditionalists. Often it is the case that it is studied by anthropologists and theologists. Often it is held in sacred texts. But be it books, ancient pottery, or living traditionalists, they are the keepers of the core flame, and it is from their works that the Trunk of their sacred tree can grow, whether they recognize it or not.
The trunk, on the other hand, is the Lineage itself. The central pillar, if you will, of the rooted Tradition expressing into the world as it is now. The keepers of this aspect are known as Practitioners. Their way is not deviated from the old intentionally, but instead molded by the people that embody it. They are the living breathing expression of the sacred root standing firmly upon the ancient ways yet breathing the fresh air and feeling the warm sun of a dynamic world. The trunk is formed by the experiences of its practitioners over time. Be it straight and tall or twisted and scarred, it stands as both actualization and historic record.
Just as children are much alike their parents, and yet different by way of the nurturing of a socially driven world, so is the Lineage of a Tradition formed. Just as the people grow with their likes and dislikes, they influence and inform their practice of the tradition in their own lives by the new things that arise in the world. When I first heard music by A Tribe Called Red I was surprised they had been allowed by their elders to sing traditional songs into dubstep. Upon researching I found that they were in close connection to their elders and had identified songs that were traditional and cherished but not sacred. They had identified the aspects of the Lineage that could be shared with the wider world while honoring reverence for the Tradition itself. This is what it means to be a living breathing carrier of a story. Honor for the root and love for the trunk.
But where it gets interesting is beyond the trunk, for every trunk was once a tentative branch, and many branches reach for the stars, yet only a few become mighty.
The branches of this tree are what I refer to as the Spiritualist Explorers. They may practice alone or in groups. They may weave together or simply check in with others of their persuasion from time to time. They have not yet solidified the substantial durability of a trunk, or in many cases even a core branch, but this affords them a sort of flexibility. Their spiritual practice is at the edges of where Tradition can reach. It is the tip-toe into the unknown with at times no more than a tentative side-glance back to the origin.
What’s peculiar about these Spiritualist Explorers is that often they do not identify with the true roots of their lineage much at all. They might suggest that they do, but even a cursory look into their Practice will show you that they are walking a new path. In some cases they draw from many lineages, like a hedge row of branches intertwining from many root stock. They pick and choose aspects of the Old Ways that fit what they’re searching for and run with it like a bat out of hell. These are the true innovators, pushing the edges of human culture in new directions.
Some of these Explorers are genuine carriers of the true, the good, and the beautiful. Someday they may be the root of a strong Lineage. Someday they may be at the center of something instead of the far edges. They hold the flame of a universe aspiring to find itself reunited to source and it is undeniably pure at its core.
Some of these Explorers are a partial expression of the previous. They have most of it right, but have carried along some parts and pieces that are misaligned. Well intentioned but often reactionary, defensive, or fantastical in source. These pieces are not linked down through the story of humanity to the stable soil of the Tradition but instead sprout from the hardship and pain of the Explorer themselves. But they are noticing, and they are pruning, and these misaligned parts will fall off eventually.
Unfortunately there are also those Explorers that are lost. They have stumbled through hard times or convincing fictions and pruned much of the good while keeping the untrue. They have nurtured the egoic stories of their own aspiration and lost sight of the golden thread passed down from Traditions to Lineages to Explorers. They have misplaced their compass and find themselves in a wilderness that is convincing but not in their best interest.
Some of these lost Explorers can be recovered. They have not completely gone down the paths of hubris or resentment. They are not blind to genuine True-Good-Beautiful, simply holding a basket of broken substitutes. They have a chance to stumble into the right place at the right time and re-orient their path. Some are not so lucky.
They have gone far down the wrong road and their branch has fallen from the tree entirely. What’s worse, some of these false paths are determined and take root. They grow larger despite a disconnection from life itself. They feed off of the Practitioners and Explorers in them that are truly Lost. metaphorically they are the creeping vine that spreads across the ground and attempts to choke out the tall trees. They become the origins of adversity for Traditions and Lineages to grow stronger against. They feed the polarity of the world with their fictions.
And yet, as if that were not challenging enough already, the work of the Traditionalists, Practitioners, and Explorers comes with a risk: the belief that they have the realest part of the story.
In the case of the traditionalists it is a temptation to believe that everyone not following the old ways to the wrote letter has lost their way in a world of temptation and no longer has connection to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.
In the case of the Practitioners it is a slip into laziness, showing up to the practice mindlessly and without presence, following the steps but losing the golden thread that made it alive.
In the case of the Explorers it is a rejection of Lineage and Tradition with the assumption that it is old, stagnant, and dead; the dust encrusted vestiges of a once was that stopped keeping up with the times.
But this is where it gets tricky.
For the Traditionalist to nurture the Tradition they must devote their attention to communities that do the same. For the Practitioner to bring life to the Lineage they must show up to their community with commitment. For the Explorer to truly reach for the stars they must in a sense let go of the safe mooring of a familiar dock and drift into the unknown.
If all are doing their part, the tree will flourish and the Lineage will continue to reach through time into the future, yet they may not have much contact with each other. Granted, Explorers are often the children of Practitioners and Traditionalists. but beyond that their worlds are often as different as night and day: the topography is the same but the light is drastically different.
On the other hand, if any given part begins to fail at its dharmic task, it proves the skepticism of the others’ truth. It only takes a single close minded Traditionalist to justify the skepticism of a rebellious Explorer. It only takes one mindless Practitioner to validate the fears of the stubborn Traditionalist. And so in this way do the parts feed the stories of the others, for better or worse. The healthiest trees grow where each Archetype does its part with acceptance of the others and devotion to their purpose. But there is yet a fourth archetype that completes the picture for the greatest Lineages to grow.
I call them the Synergists.
They are hybrids and alchemists of Lineage. They work at the edges alongside the explorers, digging further and reaching wider into the unknown to test and model new ways of practicing; new ways of connecting to the world and traveling back to source. Yet, at the same time, they are also aware of the traditions. In some cases they know the anchoring roots better than the traditionalists themselves. They study the old books and the old ways but for a different motivation: to connect to the root while expanding the branch.
Synergists are dynamic and evolved Explorers. At any given turn, if they catch hold that a tentative branch is not aligned, they reach back through the form to check the Lineage and the Tradition for clarity. As the Tradition is holding the True, Good, and Beautiful, and the Lineage is embodying that in modern practice, they become a reference point for the Synergist. They are masters of understanding the nature of momentum and velocity in the story’s of humanity. They recognize that Tradition is not law but instead it is Origin and with its guidance continue to guide and prune their Practice. If a part becomes completely off track it can be pruned and regrown or replaced entirely by a sample from the Tradition and Lineage themselves. A backtracking to the Trunk and Roots for clarity that can be carried forward and tested in the modern world as a new bud on a fresh branch.
The work of the Synergists is important because it allows all parts to do their work without need to over-stretch, and at the same time creates connection across the entire tree. You can think of the Synergists as akin to the cambium of the tree: the soft inner bark that gently transports nutrients from the deepest roots to the furthest branches. The lifeblood of Lineage evolution.
So you see it is not the work of the Explorer to discard and destroy tradition, but to embrace it as heritage and forge a new path. It is the work of the Practitioner to continue as beacons of their story expressed into real life. It is the work of the Traditionalist to hold true to whatever original Truth of Goodness was found. And it is the synergy between all of these parts that creates a genuinely timeless Lineage.
We are living in an age where the Traditions are fading and Culture is being lost while the Explorers have fallen to fallacy and fiction; a world where the Practitioners have grown tired and feel stuck between the old and the new. We live in a time where the Lineages of humanity are being lost and dismantled but not reforged into something new. I feel it is time we rekindle the flow of lifeblood through these stories, but unlike others who have said the same I am not suggesting anyone need be anything they are not, only that we each witness, respect, and honor the truth in others.
I often see new age mystics suggesting that all tradition is dead and traditional practices are outdated and powerless. At the same time I see the traditionalists hissing and spitting at the new age crowd, having entirely forgotten the golden truths they claim to hold dear. And what’s the truth? What’s the story revealed in this stalemate?
It is that they are looking at each other and have mistaken the individual and their failings for the aspect and the archetype itself. The true story is that they see in each other a reflection of their imperfection and their dharmic misalignment. They see a ball dropped and do not realize that they dropped it together. For if the Traditionalist stood firm to their golden roots, they would not judge, and if the Explorer’s recognized the origins of their story they would not scorn. They may not at that point hold the same perspectives, but at least they would recognize the whole for what it is: timelessness and evolution of human spirituality through the ages. Process and foundation in synergy.
On it goes, and so it is.
-Kedrik Winter Wolf
Kedrik Winter Wolf