Should the Magpie be the totem animal for Integral Spirituality?


In Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality, Bruce Alderman writes:

With the rise in our time of (integral) interspirituality, trans-lineage spiritual practice, “dual citizenship” religious allegiance, polydoxy, and so on — and with Sloterdijk’s call in “God’s Zeal” for a mature (not merely relativist) polyvalent understanding of transcendence, beyond monotheism — I am wondering what totemic identity Integralists might embrace. Can we describe ourselves as spiritual magpies? This would seem to invite postmodern or post-colonialist criticism, and rightly so:

the magpie is a notorious thief, a pilferer of whatever shiny objects it finds lying about in others’ homes and yards, and from here it is no stretch to think of colonialists’ raiding of other cultures for whatever baubles they can lift and hoard — what Faber and Keller call the “piracy of an appropriative pluralism.” And yet there is something charming and even venerable about the magpie as well: while a willful transgressor of boundaries, it is also a lover of beauty, wherever it is found, with a knack for gathering the most unlikely treasures and weaving them together into new, habitable spaces. Faber and Keller contrast interreligious piracy with polyphilia, a multiplicitous love and love of multiplicity, as that which “may better resist competition and colonization than mere ethical ecuminism.” An integral approach, in this polydox register, is not a mere subsumptive inclusivism, but a perichoretic love which recognizes that “difference is … inherently connective.” It is a polyphilic sensibility, which both insists upon the sacredness of, and which amorously transgresses, the boundaries of identity and culture, in the interest of a “convivial polydoxy of living together mindfully and nourishingly.” In this polydox We space, we are free to be dual or multiple religious citizens, or we may maintain primary allegiance with a single tradition — but even in the latter case, we cannot help but be fecundated by one another. Our nests will be increasingly lined with treasures that Others’ have wrought, which we have taken up into the dark and glittering spaces of our own generative (en)closures.

Bruce, just discovering this thread now & think it’s wonderful. I’ve already quoted you on my blog. Do you know who is the artist whose work adorns your IPS post?

Speaking of totem animals, there are 54 special animals in the Bear/Yak Zodiac (for the art, see The Kalendar Series). The Bear/Yak Zodiac symbols adorn each of 54 weeks in The Kalendar. The magpie is not one of them because the M station was very hotly contested at the Council of Ngoya in 920 CE where the New Zodiac was decided. Magpie vied for the station, but the victor went to Makakou (a.k.a. Monkey in Portuguese).

There are specific animals that one could say are linked to “Integral consciousness” in the New Zodiac. It depends on where you want to draw the lines around “Integral”. Is it the entire Second Tier? That’s a lot of animals (18 of them). Is it Teal + Turquoise, but not Green or Indigo? Then that adds up to 8 totem animals beginning with the Eastern Heart Clam who inaugurates Teal as the Month of the Golden Egg begins to wind its way towards the center. The clam’s nature is one of enfolding nature within itself, much as Teal (late vision-logic) seeks to do as the spirit of evolution begins to become more fully self-aware.

In The Kalendar, Turquoise ends with the Squirrel, another animal like the magpie that “appropriates” things it finds and brings them to its hideaway. Whereas the magpie is legendary, as you note, for taking shiny and beautiful objects, the Squirrel is very practical. They love nuts, so integralists should feel warmly embraced by them.

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