Wednesday, October 26, 2016

BEGINNINGS

As Mekkar grew and became further advanced for his age, both in body and mind, he was required to experience integral certain cultural rituals. One was such that occurred when Mekkar reached the age of 4. Mekkar felt he was ready for the induction ceremony, as he had seen a previous similar one beforehand. This ceremony existed for a few reasons that he couldn't figure out. Mekkar would fully understand later on in adulthood, that this ceremony began an experience and process for cultural and "self-life preservation". While at the same time, come out of a need for practical reasons.

The feeling was that in a nomadic culture, if one, no matter how small, young, or insignificant they thought a person seemed - that individual had to contribute to the tribe, in a physical manner, as part of a whole. The thinking was that if each part “pulled their weight" the whole would go with increasing smoothness. Otherwise, non-contributors would become a burden to entire group and negatively affect the collective.

Thus, the reasons behind why those who are so physically or mentally challenged, the infirm, and those too old to contribute are left behind. Usually, left to freeze to their last breath in the winter or sent to any relatives outside the region that can accommodate them. This selective Darwinism is according to the nomadic cultural thinking necessary for survival of the whole tribe. Otherwise, like a domino effect, those who cannot pull their own weight can put the whole group in grave danger and cause unnecessary suffering.

Although this application of selective Darwinism is considered cruel by modern society, the opposite affect could be total annihilation for the whole group. The reasoning behind this was that the surrounding Arctic environment is so fragile. It is quick to reattribute against such problems such as over-population through lack of food supply. Mekkar listened to, but did not comprehend, these words during the nightly sauna discussions by the leaders of the tribe.

Many methods of action, carried out by a collection of a certain society's members, are attributed through their cultural beliefs and environment. Another basic belief by the tribe was that you only take what is needed at the current time. So, that the environment could resupply the tribal members the next time they journeyed through a specific area. This is due to the slow recovery, and possible irreparable damage that could be done if over-used.

Added to the belief was the agreement that no modern technology could change this state of affairs. Possibly, because of the massive expense and potential of little profitable gain to justify the investment. Also, there is the notion that the more advanced the technology used - the more havoc would be created. This presumption is based on a degree of further distancing itself from the original provision of nature. An example referred to is the 20th century situation in Antarctica.

These were biases that would influence and shape Mekkâr's thought processes for the rest of his life. He would understand, at a later time, the purpose for this ceremony. Additionally, match it with the conversation pieces he had heard during the past few days leading up to the event.

It was seven days prior to Mekkâr's birthday. The place was in a valley near a semi-iced over river. The river, was more a large stream, was beginning to flow a bit, next to the bank. The top layer of ice, in the center, continued to thin out. This region was "caught" between the big hills and small mountains, to the north and south. No one had a map of the area, as the tribal leaders had been through this place many times, and so knew their way.

All the members of Mekkâr's family were present - his mama Sirga, father Henrik, and little brother Alf. Others on this trek were Sirga's parents, the village chief Raauno, the shaman Aslak Mekkar, and of course, other members of the group.

For this important event, Mekkar appeared in a brand new winter costume. The tunic was in a deep blue and had brightly colored stripes on the shoulders. The pants were made with still tough reindeer skin and needed to be stretched or broken in a bit. The shoes were warm, dry and full of fresh, matted straw-grass in them. They were water-proof and made with an upward curve on the toe to slip-on cross-country skis, if desired. The hat straight, and standing tall - even slightly dwarfing the inductee's head. These special clothes, as well as, all of Mekkar's clothes were made by his mama or grandmama.

A few ditties were sung by the surrounding group, at the same time one preformed by Mekkar himself. After that, the shaman proceeded over the event and carried out specific duties that were required. Rituals, such as the sprinkling of the reindeer blood on and around the altar. Another instance was the recipient wearing the "helm of horns" as he approached the altar to the rythmatic beat of the shaman's drum. The altar itself was made of stone and was a permanent structure. Various tribal symbols surrounded the outdoor shrine. In a short period of time the ceremony was completed. Mekkar now was treated differently as a result of graduating to this stage. Then, his working career had begun.