#10: Susto… soul loss.

***This is the tenth of a series of posts based on a book I’m reading for a class called Connections in Religious and Ecological Education entitled Holy Ground: A Gathering of Voices on Caring for Creation. The chapter is “The Great Without,” by Linda Hogan. 

“Soul loss – called susto in contemporary North American Hispanic communities – is what happens when the world around us disappears.  It is a common condition in the modern world.  Susto probably began when the soul was banished from nature, when humanity withdrew from the world, when there was a division into two realms – human and nature, animate and inanimate, sentient and not. This was when the soul first began to slip away and crumble.”  

I read more about susto,  admittedly on Wikipedia yet still… and found that it’s a cultural illness experienced as a result of intense fear, sadness, or loss.  And this made me think about Hogan’s definition.  She’s right.  Most of us suffer some level of susto, having built walls around ourselves, safe little impermeable membranes preventing connection with other people, with soil, with conflicting information, with awe, with deep emotion, with beauty.  The world around us disappears, gets smaller and cleaner and easier to manage, and our souls, rather than growing and stretching into the wider reality we’re offered… simply wither.  And we know it.  We can feel it.  And so we fill it up with stuff, which only clutters our vision more, divides us further, makes the walls higher.


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