Tikkun Winter 2019 (34.1) - Page 120

The animals roared and cawed and congratulated Sarah for calling Fish to mirror a murderer’s soul before taking jungle justice. Class had ended, but no one wanted to leave. We wanted to stay in our jungle, stay within our animals—and so we did. I asked the kids to close their eyes and call their animals to accompany them home. I told them that some South American tribes believe that when you are born, an animal is born with you. This animal protects and lives alongside you even if it’s far away in an Amazon jungle—it came into the world at the same time you did. And your animal dies with you to guide you back into the spirit world. The kids decided to go home and make animal masks, returning the next day wearing the faces of their chosen animal. When they came into class the next day it was as if we never left the Amazon. Someone dimmed the lights. There were drawings ev- erywhere of jaguars and chimps and snakes. Elaborate animal masks had replaced the super heroes who began this tribal journey. We sat behind our masks in a circle with the lights low and there was an acute, alert energy running between us, as eyes met be- hind animal faces. In that story stretching between us and the Amazon, we connected with those animals and their spirits. I realized that I, who grew up in the forest wild, who first memorized the earth with my hands, have every reason to feel this famil- iar animal resonance. But many of these teen- agers, especially minorities, have barely been in the woods; in fact, many inner city kids are afraid of nature. They would not willingly sign up for an Outward Bound program or back- packing trek; they don’t think about recycling 120 W W W .T I K K U N . O R G in a world they believe already ruined and in their imaginations abandoned for intergalactic, nomad futures. These kids are not environmentalists who wor- ry about saving nature. And yet, when imagin- ing an Amazon forest too thick for weapons to penetrate, too primitive for their superhero battles, they return instinctively to their animal WINTER 2019