I am in the hut.
This occurred to me yesterday when I was perched on the edge of my bed in my little cottage by the river of Barrydale. I have gone into the hut.
In traditional African culture this often happens. It is the place where things are transformed, and then released.
Sangomas disappear into the hut, and emerge later as ancestors in dancing. Women who are pregnant disappear into the hut to give birth, and stay in there for three months after the baby has been born to regain their strength and allow the child a slow transition into this world. It is the belly of the mother. It is the dark cocoon of promise.
The hut is where we empty out and let go. It is the in-between place: you have left the world, but you haven’t returned yet. It’s the waiting-in-the-wings. It’s the quiet silence between breaths.
You are gathering energy. You are preparing for the next chapter of life.
I’ve been in the hut for a year and a half now, and I’ve given myself another six months to be in here. (Quite a long stint.) I can’t describe what I’m transforming into yet, but I can feel it, and there are glimpses of it. Sometimes it shakes under my skin like a rattle.
A year and a half ago I was in the hut, but not actually physically in the hut (as in just in the process), which made life pretty problematic. By coming to Barrydale I accepted the hut, I entered it willingly, I embraced its promise. I allowed the process to simply happen. Things got easier. I gathered the space to allow my transition to happen.
In traditional societies, going into the hut (or withdrawing from society for any amount of time) is a normal part of life. It is openheartedly accepted and encouraged as a part of various processes.
In my community, withdrawing from society is generally considered to be a sign of illness, or some other serious dysfunction, literally only really happening when a person has been hospitalised.
There is little space in our modern lives for withdrawal. Besides, it’s almost impossible to accomplish. How will I pay the bond whilst I’m in the hut, we ask. How will I feed the children?
Difficult and valid questions, and I don’t have the answers, but I think that the lack of space is detrimental to our health in the end. (Ironically, it could send us all to the hospital.) We need to look at the basic principles that inform our society, to see what drives it, if we are to change it.
Personally, my opinion is this:
Going into the hut is directly opposed to the most basic driver of modern society: productivity – a necessary priority in a consumerist society.
If you’re in the hut, you probably won’t be able to work as much, or as hard, as when you weren’t in the hut. Which is exactly the point. You are allowing the space for other processes to take place. Society draws us back out again saying: “But we need you here! We can’t survive without you!”
It’s essential from time to time to defrag your computer. Do you ever do the same with your life? Do you ever shut down and take time to let go, reassemble, blow apart, delete and recover? Sometimes you have to wipe the whole hard drive clean and start from the beginning.
There are many different kinds of transformation. Sometimes change happens in a moment, sometimes it takes time and focus.
If you hear your own processes asking you for some down-time in the hut, it might be wise to adhere to it.