Chiron Communications, 2002
ISBN: 0-9665234-6-6 (trade)
To the uninitiated, reading Steven McFadden’s Legend of the Rainbow Warriors is a bit like hearing one’s 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 history’s oddest coincidences.
         Legend of the Rainbow Warriors 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 technology’s great accomplishments—and 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 world’s native cultures.
         Nineteen-eighty-seven 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 world’s 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 world’s 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 that’s 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 myth’s title. According to the story, this new age, should it arrive, is one defined by an almost idyllic existence both within the bounds of one’s culture and body and in the larger realm of world relations.
        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 loyalty—unless 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 changes—a 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 Rainbow Warriors 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.