Mocko Jumbies in St. Croix, U.S.V.I

My introduction to the rich cultural heritage of St. Croix and the Caribbean was from attending a tribute to educator and storyteller Delta M. Jackson Dorsch. I was proud of my two kids who sat for an hour through the dry messages for the elderly Cruzan author of The Role of the Storyteller in Virgin Islands Culture from government officials and others, waiting for the performances to begin. In the background, the loud thud of rap music was heard in the street, a testament to the continual destructive slide of culture Dorsch worked to prevent on this small island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

But when Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights began to play their magical blend of Caribbean music, the destruction of society was drowned out and defeated as the enchantment of culture captured our hearts and souls. Mocko Jumbies - fantastic characters towering on stilts, folk dancers in pastel costumes, Jumbie spirits, drums and storytellers all linked us to a deeper connection to ourselves, our community and life – folk life. Folk means people, and when we return to the basic fabric of what makes up people and its culture – art, music, dance and storytelling – society is revived. These arts provide a link to the depths of our psyches that are crying to be nurtured, as most popular music does very little to link anyone to anything except the dollar bill, self-indulgence and violence. Arts provide people mindful, participatory consciousness, rather than passive, mindless consumption. One must actively listen, see, make a costume, dance, play an instrument, respond to the storyteller, repeat a story, eat traditional food. The arts also act as a common thread to connect a society, providing standards and rules to live by, making one feel secure and part of something, rather than alienated and alone. All of this assists people in understanding their role in the larger cosmos, as well as their individual lives, problems and aspirations.

Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights perform at the Evening of Storytelling in honor of Delta M. Jackson Dorsch January 23, 2011

Without the arts, without stories, society disintegrates. No one can access their depths of being. It becomes a wasteland of inauthenticity served up by the company store that is not interested in humanity but in profit. No wonder the Zombie is such a popular costume these days at Halloween. Without connection to soul and greater meaning in life, we are the walking dead. TV and the Internet have displaced the storyteller as the spiritual leader. Connected only to consumer culture, youth roam around with nothing to do, bored and alienated from the soul. Youth are kept infantized, stunted and dependent, having little responsibility or opportunity to develop their talents and self-reliance. It’s small wonder they turn to drugs, gangs, alcohol and violence. But they can reconnect and find meaning through culture - story, art, agriculture, music.

Jumbie spirits were traditionally used for teaching children to behave. Here a Jumbie spirit performs the traditional water-pouring ceremony before the beginning of the event.

You can revitalize yourself, your family, youth and civilization by telling a story. Storytellers activate the latent seeds of imagination within everyone, connecting them to the archetypes and mythic dimension of being. It wakes them up on the inside through the power of the image and the spoken word. One must actively create an image of “moon” when the word is heard. We have a relationship to the image. It guides us to our source and points us to ourselves Tat Vam Asi. Thou Art That.

Tell stories to children. Tell stories as part of your family meal, class, yoga class, profession or leisure group. Get kids and adults alike to make masks, make a costume, play folk instruments, get moving and dancing to a rhythm. Pay attention to the stars, the moon and sun and the seasons. Connect to them with ritual and celebration, food and frolic. Tell a story to re-enchant and connect us all. Civilization is depending on it.

See my you tube video of this wonderful event! My son edited it! So proud!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLP5WdusjPY

The Masquerade tradition in St. Croix - wonderful costumes, music and dance where people participate in folk life.

Namaste and have a Magical Day!

Sydney Solis