In the first part of this series, we contemplated the idea of a psycho-spiritual disease of the soul that has been wreaking havoc throughout human history that Native Americans call wetiko. In part two, we inquired into how the wetiko bug disrupts and deranges a living system, using the world financial system as our case study. The wetiko virus is like a parasite that literally feeds off, takes over and aberrates the curren(t)cy of the infected system. The wetiko pathogen originally manifests as a disturbance in the field of the collective unconscious of humanity itself, creating the psychic ley lines upon which world events are erected and energized. The origin of this virulent disease is to be discovered within the psyche (please see my article It’s All in the Psyche). Because of the psychic nature of wetiko, it serves us to understand the psychological underpinnings of the virus, which is to say, how it affects our day to day relationships and lives. We begin to ‘see’ the bug when we are able to get in focus and recognize ‘its’ psychological signature in both ourselves and others. The fact that the source of the wetiko germ is within the psyche means that the cure for this disease lies hidden within the psyche as well.
Wetiko psychosis is at the very root of humanity’s inhumanity to itself in all its various forms. As a species, we need to step into and participate with our own spiritual and psychological evolution, which means that we must focus our attention on and contemplate this ‘topic of topics’ before this virulent madness destroys us. Up until this point in our history we have been too easily distracted by the ruses of the wetiko bug itself. The disease itself is now demanding that we pay attention to it, or it will kill us. Its cure is the most pressing and fundamental issue facing us today. Author and environmental activist Derrick Jensen writes in his foreword to Jack D. Forbes book about wetiko psychosis, “Columbus and other Cannibals is, I think, the most important book ever written on one of the most important topics ever faced by human beings: why is the dominant culture so excruciatingly, relentlessly, insanely, genocidally, ecocidally, suicidally destructive?”[i] Historian Arnold Toynbee points out that a civilization doesn’t die from being invaded from the outside, but unless it creates culture which nourishes the evolution of the creative spirit, a civilization invariably commits suicide. As if possessed, our civilization is, trance-like, sleepwalking in a death-march towards our own demise. The most pressing and inevitable question of our time is not just ‘why?’ but more urgently, how can we stop this seemingly out-of-control, self-destructive, hell-bent part of ourselves?
The origin of wetiko is the human psyche. Psychologically speaking, shadow projection is at the very root of wetiko disease. Shadow projection is a process in which we split-off from and project out our own darkness onto others. It is our misguided attempt at a ‘final solution’ to the problem of the evil within ourselves which actually deprives us of the capacity to deal with evil. Projecting the shadow opens up the door and invites in the vampiric entity of wetiko to make itself at home in the most intimate spaces of our own psyche. It is through the dynamic of shadow projection that the wetiko bug digs in and entrenches itself within our psyches, where it is then able to commandeer the executive function of the psyche to its own ends. When we project the shadow, we unwittingly become a conduit for evil to possess us from behind, beneath our conscious awareness, and to act itself out through us. When there is mutual shadow projection between individuals, groups or nations, each side has an unconscious investment in the other playing out the projected evil so as to prove their own self-righteous innocence, a dynamic which becomes self-reinforcing and continually feeds the polarization in the field. Shadow projection, as it collectively plays out en masse on the world stage is an outer reflection of the initial process within ourselves of our be-night-ed effort to exterminate our own darkness (please see my article Shadow Projection: The Fuel of War). When shadow projection happens en masse, it is as if the archetype of evil emits its toxic radio-activity underground, through the shared unconscious of the collective, and manifests collectively as destructive psychic epidemics.
In shadow projection, we attempt to master and experience power over the internal condition that originally proclaimed our powerlessness to ourselves not by becoming conscious, but by unconsciously identifying with, becoming, and then acting out the power to externally destroy. Unconsciously acting out unbound power without restraint is our perverse way of defending against the internal breakthrough of feelings of helplessness. Evacuating and relocating our inner darkness outside of ourselves by demonizing the ‘other’ seemingly protects us from feeling our vulnerability and pain. Our inner anxiety about our existential ‘power to be’ attempts to resolve itself in the power to act free from restraint. In an unmediated expression of our disempowered inner condition, our unconscious acting out does not surmount the need for compulsive repetition, however, but rather, assures it. Wetikos’ modus operandi, their ‘M.O.,’ becomes to root out and kill everything that feels tender, vulnerable and alive within themselves, thus systematically murdering anything and everything within them that could possibly melt or produce a crack in the ice that encases their heart.
Because full-blown wetikos are soul murderers who continually recreate the on-going process of killing their own soul, they are reflexively compelled to do this to others; for what the soul does to itself, it can’t help but to do to others. In a perverse inversion of the golden rule, instead of treating others how they would like to be treated, wetikos do unto others what was done unto them. The wetiko is simply a living link in a timeless, vampiric lineage of abuse. Full-blown wetikos induce and dream up others to experience what it is like to be the part of themselves which they have split off from and denied, and are thus not able to consciously experience – the part of themselves that has been abused and vampirized. In playing this out, wetikos are transmitting and transferring their own depraved state of inner deadness to others in a perverse form of trying to deal with their own suffering. Paradoxically, wetikos both try to destroy others’ light, as it reminds them of what they’ve killed in themselves, while simultaneously trying to appropriate the light for themselves.
Wetiko disease is an expression of the convincing illusion of the separate self gone wild. Bewitched by the intrinsic projective tendencies of their own mind, full-blown wetikos are unconsciously doing the very thing they are reacting to and accusing other people of doing. Projecting the shadow onto others, they will accuse others of projecting the shadow onto them. To use an extreme, but prototypical example, it is like someone screaming that you’re killing them as they kill you. If their insanity is reflected back to them, they think it is the mirror that is insane. Suffering from a form of psychic blindness that believes itself to be sightedness, full-blown wetikos project out their own unconscious blindness and imagine that others, instead of themselves, are the ones who are not seeing. Governed by the insane, self-perpetuating logic of fear and paranoia, those taken over by the disease fear that if they don’t attack and rule over others, they are in danger of being attacked and ruled over themselves. In their convoluted, upside-down, flawless illogic, wetikos re-act to their own projections in the world as if they objectively exist and are other than themselves, thinking that they themselves have nothing to do with creating that to which they are reacting (please see Aparticipatory Delusional Syndrome (ADS)). Someone fully taken over by the wetiko bug is like a kitten endlessly reacting to her reflection in a mirror as if it is another kitten separate from and other than herself. The evil we see in the full-blown wetikos is a reflection of our own evil; if we don’t recognize this, we will just be projecting our shadow onto them. We are then guilty of the very same thing (shadow projecting) we are essentially reacting to and of which we are accusing them.
The term wetiko is a Cree term (windigo in Ojibway, wintiko in Powhatan) which, to quote Forbes, refers to “an evil person or spirit who terrorizes other creatures by means of terrible evil acts.”[ii] Wetikos are the human instruments for the transpersonal ‘spirit of evil’ to terrorize the world. In wetiko disease, we unwittingly become drafted into being foot-soldiers in the war not ‘on,’ but ‘of’ and ‘for’ terror. The wetiko parasite feeds on and harvests the emotions of fear and terror. Terror is the essence of its insidious ‘ill-usory ill-logic.’ In wetiko disease, the psyche takes the ‘terror’ that haunts it from within, and in its attempt to master it, unwittingly becomes taken over by it, thus becoming an instrument of terror in the world. We have then become the thing we most feared, ‘creatures of the European nightmare world,’ as we psychologically terrorize ourselves, as well as terrorizing the world at large. Wetiko is the bug which feeds the experience of terror within our mind and out in the world, fueling one of its more prominent manifestations in our world today: the ‘Global War on Terror.’