Over the years I’ve begun to see that, in many ways, I’m a hunter at heart. I never saw myself as much of a ‘hunter’ though . . . after all, I never hunt. The problem is that I probably look at hunters as being older ‘hard looking’ guys dressed in camouflage and driving around in big trucks. That certainly isn’t me. You don’t see deer heads mounted on my wall or even a set of horns anywhere. The ‘hunting stance’, in me, was of a different sort, of a whole other quality.
I can remember when a lot of it started . . .
It was in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I recall with great fondness and joy how me, my brother, and cousins used to go out in the woods and shoot birds and squirrels. Whenever we went to my relatives cabins we’d take off into the woods, sometimes almost immediately. I often hated coming back to the cabin, to everyone else, to society, to humanity. I can even recall thoughts of sleeping out there in the woods. There was a joy in being ‘out there’, walking along untrodden paths, weaving our way through bramble and sticks and occasionally finding our foot sunk in a mud hole. As I reflect on that now I can see the influence and power this had on my life. In many ways, it was here that I became aware of ‘life’.
Normally, people would say it was because I was just “out in the woods” but its more than that: I was hunting. It was the attitude of hunting that mattered – the ‘hunting stance’. To just be “out in the woods” just means that you’re there, but I was there with a purpose. Now, after all this time, I can see that the attitude coming from these hunting trips determined a lot of my life. It set the tone of how I looked at life. I’m also finding out that this attitude is a good and healthy one. It’s worth developing.
At first, we used ‘wrist rockets’ or ‘flippers’. I was never much good at those. The only thing I ever hit was the back of my thumb! Then we upgraded to BB guns. The first ones we used had a spring to propel the BB. It’s no wonder we hit anything . . . they had absolutely no power. Then we got our air rifles. That was when the fun began. With these we began to actually hit things . . . squirrels, chipmunks, birds, branches, tree trunks, etc. Only a few times did we use .22 rifles. I never liked to use those in the forest for fear of ricocheted bullets . . . too dangerous. Besides our air rifles were good enough for what I liked: hunting small animals in the forest.
It’s interesting that I have never hunted large game. I have never even gone deer hunting (though I often have been with my dad when he went deer hunting). The largest animal I shot at was a cotton tail rabbit . . . and that was only a few times I think. I found that, as I got older, killing animals bothered me. When I reached about 20 or so I found that I couldn’t shoot animals anymore. I don’t feel a person should kill an animal unless you’re going to eat it or use it in some way. That is the point of view I still take today. Because of this, my interest in guns turned to target shooting and shooting black powder guns. These are things I still love to do today.
But, unknown to me, the ‘hunter stance’ continued to live within me, but in a modified form, one that would change my life . . . and I’m glad for this. It is a wonderful stance, a wonderful position to take in life.
As an ‘act’ hunting consists of a guy who ‘needs’ food, generally (but it could be something else), and sets out into the ‘mystery of the world’ to find it. He knows not where he will find it or what it will consist of exactly. In so doing, he is walking as if ‘blind’ into the world. But he is not all blind. He has faith in himself and his abilities. Wandering through the maze of the forest he peers into the thick leaves. His ears are propped up to listen. His senses are opened. His intuition is alive. Here a simple sound, that one would normally overlook, can tell everything. Here a simple shade of color, that we normally wouldn’t notice, can reveal an animal. Once the animal is found a desire is felt: the desire to kill. This is not cold-blooded killing, though. It is killing with a purpose. This killing somehow makes a ‘communion’ with the world, with life, with god. It’s a transfer, so to speak, of natures “life” to our “life” through the killing, through the eating of the animal, through the wearing of the animals hides. In so doing, we have succeeded. We have given ourself food, warmth perhaps, and possibly other things from the animal. But, even more, we have participated amongst ‘life’ and nature and have given ourselves some of its ‘life’ as well. Truly, through it we become a part of natures ‘life’.
This does not describe all hunting though, particularly nowadays in modern society, but it is the essence of the original act of hunting in the original primitive societies of humanity, which is what we’re concerned about. It is here that the innate impulse was demonstrated in its purist form. And in these primitive societies, hunting is often ‘religious’ involving great religious feeling and belief. There is no mistake for this. True hunting is a religious act. The more innate it is, the more religious it becomes.
It appears to me that the ‘hunter stance’ is an innate male phenomena. In all my years, I have never seen this ‘attitude’ in the female, even in those that ‘pretend’ to hunt: the seem to lack it. It’s for this reason they guys who hunt often are like little ‘fraternities’. Often, it’s a time for ‘male bonding’. A female presence can destroy the ‘fraternity’ and the hunt.
Because the ‘hunting stance’ is innate it comes up in many of us, regardless of the situation. In our original state, in primitive-like societies, this stance was a necessary part of life. To not have it, in some cases, could mean death or a harsh life. But as humanity grew and developed an agrarian society and high civilization, the ‘hunter stance’ became more obsolete and worthless. It put a ‘damper’ on this naturally appearing tendency but it didn’t get rid of it, by no means.
We must remember that the ‘hunter stance’ is an attitude. Generally, when we think of a ‘hunter’ we think of an act, an occupation, something that someone does. But, in actuality, it is the impulse that makes someone do something. It is not the ‘thing done’ but the ‘impulse’, the ‘drive’. This gave the ‘hunter stance’ the ability to “change” to new forms of hunting . . . and this is what happened. It also means it is distinguished not by an act a person does but by qualities in his behaviour. These include:
- There is a need that we have to have fulfilled.
- We ‘peer into’ the mystery of the world looking to have this need fulfilled.
- We have a naturally appearing confidence that we have the ability to achieve this.
- There is a sense of life and death. Remember hunting requires a death to take place. This gives it a seriousness and sobering quality.
This condition created a number of other qualities:
- There is a perception of ‘me’ and ‘the world’.
- There is a sense that ‘I must do something’.
- We look out into ‘the world’ with an element of mystery, as we don’t know what we will find or where we will find it. This means we don’t ‘plan’ for it or manipulate things around to find it.
The ‘hunter stance’ can create some problems, though. This is particularly true, nowadays, in the era of the ‘docile civilized male’ which does not allow this tendency to manifest itself or flourish. Some of the problems include:
- Feeling unsatisfied – this is because the ‘need’ is never satisfied.
- A continual sense that there is something more they cannot ‘grasp’ – this is because there always is something more. Hunting goes on continuously through life because need is satisfied only temporarily.
- A feeling of having no direction in life – This is because this ‘stance’ requires the ‘peering into’ of life. People who do not practice this often end up feeling lost.
- A feeling that one never achieves or does anything – this is because one never satisfies, so to speak, the hunting need.
- A lack of confidence and self-esteem – this is because this hunter stance is not displayed and developed and so one does not find ones confidence.
- A sense of ‘weariness’ about life – This is because an exhaustion can take place if the person has the stance but never achieves anything.
In short, then, a frustrated ‘hunter stance’ can lead to great unhappiness for the male. It’s a particular type of male unhappiness too. It often involves unhappiness about how one is in the world. This shows that, for some of us, the ‘hunter stance’ is a major influence in our growth and development and how we perceive ourselves in the world.
It seems to me that there are two types of attitudes in this stance:
- An ‘outward hunter stance’. This is primarily looking for ‘material things’, such as animals.
- An ‘inner hunter stance’. This is looking for ‘non-material things’, like awareness, growth, god, and such.
These seems to of been true even in the old hunting societies. In hunting societies there were the actual hunters, the people who hunted, who displayed the ‘outward hunter stance’. But another person appeared, of another type of a hunter reflecting the ‘inner hunter stance’: the shaman, who is often described as a medicine man. This person is very prevalent in hunter societies. It’s really no wonder as they, too, performed a ‘hunt’, but of another sort.
I began to see this quality even in me. It’s interesting that shortly after I ceased ‘hunting’ a new tendency appeared in me. I continued to go out into the woods, spending hours there (and still do). Here I did things that only later I would understand. I would get into something like a ‘trance’ and have ‘waking dreams’ which I called ‘journeying’. These entailed the belief that I separated from myself and became transformed into something else in a ‘dream’ (this, as I found out, was shamanistic journeying). At one point I thought I was going mad but a friend told me these were similar to what he had heard shamans do. As I researched what shamans did I was stunned . . . much of what I was doing was similar to what they did . . . and I knew nothing about them. It was innate!
I can still recall my first ‘journeying’. This took place in a very awkward place. I sat on a steep mountainside that was about an 80 degree angle. There I leaned against a small tree that was there. I had to climb about 20 feet up to get to it. Why I went to such an out-of-the-way place I do not know. The basic premise of the ‘journey’ was this:
— I was somewhere in a forest and saw this animal. When I saw this animal a horrible hatred welled up within me toward this animal. I began to chase it, in order to kill it. I chased it through the forest, through the winter, through the desert, through all time, to the ends of eternity. Finally, I spotted it in clearing. It was resting under a tree. I went up to kill it. As I walked up he said something to this effect: “Do you not see where you are? You are beneath the great tree.” I stopped and looked up and saw this great tree that loomed above me. It seemed to reach the stars. I stood dumbfounded. Somehow, I seemed to understand what it meant. This tree was some sort of a ‘pillar’ or ‘center’ of the world. He seemed to say that he made me chase him through all the world and through all time so that I would discover this place. I began to feel this love for this animal, as I realized my hatred was really an intense love that I could not understand before. I bent down and looked into its eye. As I did I seemed to see into its soul. When this happened it seemed as if my soul somehow ‘moved into’ his body and I began to become the animal. This was painful and hurt as I seemed to transform into his shape. I think it startled me so much it woke me up. After this I seemed to say that, in reality, I have been chasing this animal, always and continuously, throughout my whole life and will continue til I die. I sometimes referred to this story as the ‘great hunt’ or the ‘great chase’. —
Even in my first ‘journeying’ the theme of hunting was prevalent, a dominant theme. I can see some of the traits of the ‘hunter stance’ in this ‘journeying’:
- The peering into life by way of the ‘trance’ or ‘journeying’.
- The hunting for something.
- A death to cause a transformation.
- The gaining of a ‘life’ from nature.
This is the basic principle, really, of the ‘shamanistic journeying’ (at least, as I experienced it). In this form, the ‘hunter’ is transformed inward, to the interior self. There the ‘interior hunter’ is manifested.
But, if you look at the story behind the ‘journeying’ you will notice that this form of hunting brought in new things: insight and knowledge of the world and life. In other words, the ‘interior hunter stance’ seems to ‘hunt’ for something like a philosophy, an interpretation and insight of the world.
The shamans performed this very function in their society. As the society grew the shaman disappeared, almost with the hunters themselves. But this ‘stance’ remained and manifested itself in some guys. In a sense, shamanism transformed into something like a philosopher, a guy who ‘peered into life’, searching just like the hunter, for ‘truth’ and ‘insight’.
As this developed the new ‘interior hunters’ began to describe specific things originating from the ‘hunter stance’, such as:
- A sense of god.
- A sense of self.
- A sense of ‘questing for something’.
- A sense of life and death and the need for a person to ‘suffer a death’ in order to gain.
- A sense of awareness.
- An intuition.
- Beliefs and understandings of how the world works.
This would turn into philosophy, religion, science, and other forms of knowledges of the world.
Originally, though, the ‘interior hunt’ was primarily internal and mystical. As time went on the ‘interior hunt’ became more of an ‘abstract hunt’, reflecting less ‘gut feeling’ and intuition and more mechanical-like thinking. By so doing it really removed itself from the qualities of the original ‘interior hunting stance’ and becoming something else altogether. As a result, nowadays much of knowledge, religion, philosophy, etc. hardly contain any hunting at all. Many people have become ‘divorced’ from the ‘hunting stance’. This, I believe, is killing many of the males. It turns males into static placid docile frustrated people with no confidence or self-esteem.
Most certainly, civilization is silencing many necessary qualities in life, qualities needed for growth and development of a person. Like a big foot it seems to squash these impulses. I have learned that, nowadays, a big part of the hunt is to get away from civilization with its big foot.
The hunting does a number of things:
- It places a person in the world.
- It gives a person a direction.
- It gives a person humility.
- It allows a person to discover ability.
- It gives a person confidence.
- It makes a person feel alive.
- It gives a sense of humility toward the world and a respect for it.
These are all things lacking nowadays, but which seem to be found in the ‘hunter stance. Its also interesting that I’ve found that people who seem to have this quality seem more ‘youthful’, alive, and energetic compared to people who don’t.