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The Hungry Ghost is an archetype in Buddhism, also appearing in many Eastern cultures, which describes spirit beings who are hungry, starving, full of insatiable cravings, and lost, driven to consume more and more, never becoming full.  They roam the earth and spirit realms, they inhabit people, and create misery for themselves and others in their frantic attempt to find what will soothe them.

In Native American culture, another belief emerges called Wetiko, a cannibalistic spirit that overtakes people, leading them to destructive acts, greed, and selfishness.  Traits of this spirit are seen in the behavior of colonization and exploitation of our Earth.  This compulsion to consume led to war, genocide, enslavement, the occupying of stolen lands.  The sickness of Wetiko has overtaken 'Western' culture and the Indigenous peoples whose homelands are being occupied, and we are all affected by it.

There is a widely acknowledged understanding that these two forces are acting within the human subconscious, and unconscious mind.  These manifestations of imbalance are so prevalent today because of our disconnection with the earth; the poisoning and polluting of her, the relentless competition and consumption that is capitalism, the unresolved historical responsibility that is waiting to be taken by the nations upon nations who perpetrated such acts, and the resulting cycles of governmental, familial, and self abuse we have learned to accept for generations.

Quite simply, the addictions we experience as a culture are a symptom of these phenomenons, which arise from our disconnection from living in right way.  They are our misdirected efforts to soothe and bring ourselves back into balance.  We grasp for whatever tools may be closest to take us out of the pain of this vast collective trauma we have experienced. My work with addiction and disordered eating centers around a freedom from shame and secrecy, an invitation that we are not meant to do this work alone, we are not meant to white knuckle through resistance and will power to forcefully keep ourselves in line.  My personal story of healing from addiction to substances and bulimia has brought me an understanding of how to accept and integrate all parts of myself, and to offer these demons nourishment that will truly fulfill them, accept them , and transform them into wise allies that are a part of our story of identity.


All Rights Reserved Saetha Evans, The Sacred Senses 2022

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