Jim Mullin-Norgaard and Non-Traditional Thinking
Beaver Island residents and visitors who went to either of the Friday afternoon presentations during Museum Week were treated to an unusual experience: Professor Jim Norgaard's belief in the timeliness of an ancient world view he calls "the Celtic Spirit," which has been in retreat since the days of the Greco-Roman Empire. Professor Norgaard has researched the tribes that lived beyond the advancing circle of rational civilization --the Celts-- and described some of the beliefs they had in common: a respect for the earth's natural endowment; an understanding of the vital role women should play in guiding a community; an acceptance of the body as being of equal value to (and not to be disconnected from) the mind; and a willingness to trust the apparently irrational and non-linear urgings of the heart.
Professor Norgaard's work has led him to visit sacred Celtic sites in Ireland, England, and Europe. He has found the same approach to life in Native American culture, and has delved into its roots and current practices. He works closely with a number of non-traditional healers, and over the past decade the diverse threads he has become attuned to have begun to coalesce into a unified "body of supposition." Almost by coincidence, almost unexpectedly, these postulations have both deepened (by pulling more and more seemingly unrelated material into their wake) and developed a relevance for helping us cope with "the modern problem," the jam we are in because we have bottom-lined our priorities, ignored aspects of our world that should have made us proceed with caution, and rushed heedlessly forward to claim the obvious goal.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this unfolding, according to Professor Norgaard, is that Beaver Island is at one of its focal points. He is one of several investigators who have recently decided that, for one reason or another (perhaps because of our Celtic origins; perhaps because of our apposition to the mainland, and consequently to the mainstream), this is a place that helps induce an alternative way of thinking about man's place in the world. Some people in his Friday audience were surprised to hear this, but for others it rang true, and they signed up for the "Beaver Island Pilgrimage" he will again be conducting this Labor Day Weekend.