(No, not THAT primal urge, another one!)
I remember very little of my life. It’s not like other people do. I remember little bits & pieces from here & there. Frozen vignettes. Still-lifes. Partly, I’m sure that’s from the Lyme, etc. But not entirely.
One thing I do remember clearly: as a child, standing in front of the glass doors, looking out into our backyard, and the Woods beyond, filled with a deep longing, a restless urge, a melancholy that was unrelenting. Every Spring. And every Fall. For days.
As I got older, became an adult, I thought, incorrectly, that this feeling every Spring & every Fall would go away. Finally, I realized it for what it truly was: the primal urge to migrate.
Often, as an adult, living close to the Blue Ridge Mountains, I would get in the car & take to the Skyline Drive or Blue Ridge Parkway, and just drive. I’d stop at overlooks & sit on the stone walls, looking out over the mountains, while the longing welled up inside.
Knowing what it was, the primal, instinctual urge to migrate, and that the feeling would pass in a few days, helped. But as I spoke carefully to others about this, and learned no one else seemed to suffer from what I named Migration Sickness, it perplexed me.
I realized today that I’ve entered this Spring’s time of Migration Sickness, and I think I know now why it is so strong in me.
Recently, scientists successfully sequenced the genome of Neanderthals, and were surprised to find that indeed, their guess had been correct: Neanderthals did not really all die out as modern humans advanced into Europe. Some of them interbred with the newcomers. In every person of European descent, they estimated that Neanderthal genes make up between 3 and 6% of DNA.
For years before this, a researcher studying autism had proposed that those with autism, including those with Aspergers like me, had a higher percentage of Neanderthal genes than others. His work now vindicated, he estimates that those with Aspergers have from 6-10% Neanderthal genes. Enough to make a difference in social interaction.
It makes sense to me (I read his research paper). But it also makes sense from a personal point of view. Neanderthals relied more on instinct to survive. And I’ve always seemed to respond more instinctually than others, including having my twice yearly bouts of Migration Sickness.
There’s another way in which I think this affects me. Neanderthals relied on getting closer to their prey than the humans that followed. They had shorter range weapons. And legend & science tells us they seemed to practice something similiar to shamanism. Their cave drawings show it. And legend says there were those among the tribes who could interact with animals differently: sense their location, tame wild animals, even “call” animals into traps. Shamans.
Are you following my logic here? This would explain a lot about my life. My way with animals. My primal spirituality, born of instinct and in-born abilities to journey to the spirit realm, to channel healing energy into animals.
I have always said, when asked, that my spirituality is very simple, even Neolithic. The Earth is our Mother, I’ve known that since I was a small child. Carving figurines of animals special to me. Always wanting to use the simplest of materials for my jewelry creations: bone, and antler, leather, and ivory from mammoths & ancient walruses. It seems like a no-brainer to me, to use the materials from the animal world that still hold the power & essence of the animal. Ancient Ivory & bone each are absorbant – they mingle the animal’s spirit with the wearers. Some stones, special ones, but few mass produced stones. And very little metal.
That primal urge.
The Neanderthal genes that made parts of my life torture, but blessed me with many more gifts in return. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Postscript: After writing this late last night, I took the dog out. As I marveled at the starry sky, I heard the unmistakeable cries of a flock of Canada geese flying overhead. There is only one valid reason for a flock of geese to be flying through the midnight sky over our mountain: migration. Coincidence, or confirmation? I’m going with the later of those two.