ISBN: 0-9665234-6-6 (trade)
the uninitiated, reading Steven McFaddens Legend of the
is a bit like hearing ones native language
spoken with an entirely new accent. The words are familiar, and
the ideas and events of which he writes are certainly not news.
But the light Mr. McFadden uses to illuminate his subject is alien.
Self-sacrifice and stewardship of the land do not mix well with
the American traditions of further, faster, and damn the consequences.
Indeed, the juxtaposition of American-style progress and Native
American sensibilities is one of historys oddest coincidences.
Legend of the
owes a debt to post-60s new age thinking.
More than a directive, a life manual, or a history, it speaks to
the idealism hiding in most of us. The legend of the title is an
oral myth told in various forms by the native peoples of "Turtle
Island", or North America. It tells of a time when the waters run
foul and the air is caustic to breathe. It tells of the House of
Mica, commonly taken to mean the UN building, whose glass facade
is representative of modern technologys great accomplishmentsand
which reflects the ruined industrial complex of Queens, New York.
Native leaders were told to knock four times at the door to this
House of Mica. And they did. Far from being willing listeners, however,
the UN representatives repeatedly and coarsely disregarded the wisdom
of the worlds native cultures.
was the beginning of the "Age of Flowers" according to the ancient
Aztec calendar. The familiar myth has it that the twenty-five years
between 1987 and 2012 is an era of increased energy and action.
Leaders of traditional communities see a great crisis of mind and
heart for all of the worlds peoples. It is a time of cataclysmic
change, and of choice. Should we choose the path of good and whole
thinking, then the world will blossom into a new age of rejuvenation
and understanding. Should we continue to pollute the earth with
the trash of both industrial processes and corruption of mind, then
untold horrors will follow.
In all, this is
not an implausible. Scientists who warn of global warming, holes
in the ozone layer, and increased famine and disease, particularly
in the worlds poorer nations, find a marriage of spirit in
Legend of the Rainbow Warriors.
To anyone raised in a tradition
of such science, however, it is difficult to set aside disbelief
long enough to accept verity behind the prophesies foretold by native
leaders and fulfilled by current events. But thats not the
point. Mr. McFadden and the people of whom he writes do not request
or require faith in their belief systems. That is paradoxical to
the return to self that they consider essential to world health.
Moreover, this renaissance does not preclude a deeper engagement
with other peoples. This is precisely the "rainbow" of the myths
title. According to the story, this new age, should it arrive, is
one defined by an almost idyllic existence both within the bounds
of ones culture and body and in the larger realm of world
Mr. McFadden offers specific
guidelines for how to bring about change from within, for how to
join the ranks of the "Rainbow Warriors". No fee is collected, there
are no lengthy and boring meetings to attend, and this peaceable
army requires no outward profession of loyaltyunless the student
is so inclined. One is to engage in attitudes of respect toward
body, home, and community. Like the ancient Romans, Legend of
the Rainbow Warriors
extols us to first manage our selves, then
our homes, then our republics. Unfortunately, the book does not
offer world leaders guidance on how to bring about larger, global
changesa flaw present in many such ambitious texts.
I have often reflected
that blind adherence to one school of thought would make for a dignified
life. If I find myself ready to make such a commitment in the future,
then the guidelines laid out in Legend of the Rainbow Warriors
appear faultless. Unfortunately, just as our entrance into a new
age of peace and enlightenment seems unlikely, the ever-questing,
ever-turbulent human mind makes large-scale change a long-term improbability.
Yet aspiring to magnificence means failure, though no less unpleasant,
is likely to be a physical and mental trial worth enduring.
Though Legend of the
occasionally indulges in giddy impossibilities
that can be grating, it is well worth the investment of a few hours
of time, particularly for those with an interest in native history,
comparative religion, and spirituality.