“What lies beyond our grasp remains unnamed” – Robin Wall Kimmerer
“Puhpowee” is a Potawatomi (one of the three hundred and fifty indigenous languages of the Americas) word for “rising or emergence”.
“The makers of this word understood a world of being, full of unseen energies that animate everything” – Robin Wall Kimmerer
In her book Braiding Sweetgrass Robin Wall Kimmerer says in her chapter “Learning the Grammar of Animacy”:
“To be native to a place we must learn to speak its language”
This can be applied to our unconscious that is projecting into all aspects of our waking and sleeping dreams, in our bodies, in what we might have named as inanimate objects and in every living being in our surroundings.
All aspects of ourselves are continually expressing themselves seeking differentiation and integration. Body Poem facilitates differentiation so we can recognise ourselves expanding our consciousness and through this recognition with acceptance, exiled parts in hiding underground in limbo are welcomed home and integrated.
Body Poems are like the mushroom fruiting bodies of the unconscious mycelium networks, giving form to what had been out of sight.
“I could spend a whole day listening. And a whole night. And in the morning, without my hearing it, there might be a mushroom that was not there the night before, creamy white, pushed up from the pine needle duff, out of darkness into light, still glistening with the fluid of its passage. Puhpowee.”
Language influences how we experience our lives. Western culture could be understood as being evaluation-dominant rather than being in the descriptions of our experiences. Evaluations of our experiences inherently attribute value and often rationalise our lives into nouns, sometimes before we have felt the sensations that led to that naming.
This dominance prioritises value attributions with our emergent experiences, selectively expressing these in adaption to belonging. Our emergent experiences, therefore, undergo censorship in service of belonging before we have felt ourselves.
The English language is a language of nouns defining, naming and rationalising existence with only 30% of words being verbs. In Potawatomi like many other indigenous languages in societies living close to nature, this percentage is closer to 70%. Here, verbs define experiences in emerging descriptions, living in the emergence of felt experiences, before experiences are evaluated and summed up in nouns.
In addition to this 70% evaluative aspect of our experiences being defined by our English language, everything other than human is referred to as “it” thus objectifying animals, plants, and the planet as resources to be used without regard for their sentience. We even objectify our own body and other people’s bodies, for example when we say “It” hurts. Even mothers of newborn babies sometimes need reminding that circumcision is painful to a baby despite “it” not being able to describe that pain, like an animal, cannot describe its pain.
We know from so much experiential research with scar tissue remediation work as part of Sexological Bodywork practices, that these injuries leave emotional and physical scars in implicit memory that can lead to chronic loss of receptivity through the senses shutting down from traumatic life experiences where emotional or physical painful injury occurred without compassionate witness and soothing.
Cells have implicit memory and are in soups of self-organising consciousness that although outside of our reflective conscious awareness, they are none the less conscious and responding to each other.
Sentience can be understood as our capacity to perceive or experience subjectively which we measure in emotional affect (“affect” is the expression of hormonal and nervous system responses in the internal milieu of our bodies that is felt by our internal senses activating responsive expressions in a self-organising “Puhpowee”). At a microscopic level, cells, microbes, molecules, etc. are in motion continually responding to each other. This recognition is a form of consciousness.
Somehow we humans seem to have to feel the nervous system and hormonal responses of painful terror pain of not regarding “it” to give some aspect of our personal or collective experience regard. If we can’t see it or know it viscerally, we have the capacity to double-think it out of existence. Disease from dis – ease of not taking care can bring this disregard sharply to our attention.
I would like to expand on this word sentience and include the collective pain that might not have a central nervous system with hormone responses of a human’s brain body ‘s recognition of this pain. Suffering still exists without the spoken words to express it. We can see creatures suffering from pollution, forests on fire, bees dying, rabbits with myxomatosis … the list could go on and fill pages of examples of collective pain that we disregard as “it” and “them” as not “us” if “it” or “they” don’t speak the language we recognise.
People living close to nature with their language symbiotic with the “Puhpowee” of life, experiencing an ongoing emergent description with a deep knowledge of belonging as part of nature as part of that description trust in its emergence.
If I belong as part of the collective we, I no longer need fortress gates with a big ring of hidden keys. Our saving grace as humans is that each of these keys has a label, like files in a filing cabinet and when we name that label, memory channels awaken inside of us.
Body Poem is like that ring of keys opening up named unfiled memories and reorganising them into felt recognition. The process of embodiment can be described in this way, the process of transforming implicit unrecognised knowns into explicit memory of recognised knowns.