First Creation: Traditional Healing Wisdom for Modern Times


The Ju’/hoan Bushmen of southern Africa are custodians of the oldest living healing tradition on Earth, and they most likely created the oldest story of creation. Inside it is found what may be the most essential practical know-how for healing and spiritual transformation.


First Creation

Their story begins with First Creation, or G≠ain-g≠aing≠ani,  the original realm of mystery where life began. As the Bushman storytellers explain, First Creation was a mythical time and place of inexhaustible vitality where everything was constantly changing from one form to another, whether it was a lion into a giraffe or an eagle into a snake. In this morphing Garden of Eden there was no sickness or death because the constant changing brought continuous rebirth and renewed health to all of life. The pulse of this changing is the source of the sacred vibration, the heartbeat of creation that is most strongly felt in the fire of ecstatic experience.

First Creation is perhaps the first name used by human beings to indicate the whole spiritual cosmos, the original Bushman village in the sky, and heaven itself. In other words, First Creation is the home of the original creator, the primary mover and shaker behind all creation. It is similar to Hinduism’s Brahman, the ALL-permeating-all that includes both being and becoming. It is also akin to the providence of divinity that George Fox, founder of the Quakers, refers to when he describes “the greatness and infiniteness of the love of God, which cannot be expressed by words.” We often simply call First Creation “the big room” because it is the vastest space in which to house your life.

According to Bushman wisdom, any important spiritual experience requires re-entering the heart and hearth of First Creation. This is not accomplished through calmly sitting still and being filled with contemplative insight; the whole of you must act to kick-start the emotion and motion of a First Creation homecoming. Getting spiritually cooked refers to your being immersed in the changing or N!o’an-ka|’ae of First Creation, the strongest mystical force of the universe that is always experienced as a remarkable sacred vibration. Once you receive it, the changing of First Creation forever lives within you.

As the Bushman story continues, at some point Second Creation arrived to cast names upon the changing forms of First Creation. Assigning names had an unexpected consequence—it made the changing stop. Bushman storytellers like to say that some animals were still in the process of morphing from one form to another at the moment their name was given. This is why the horse today still has the eland’s hoofs. Second Creation, or Manisi n!a’an-n!a’an, did more than freeze-frame whatever change was taking place; it stopped the dynamic that had before prevented sickness and death.



The agent behind all naming and framing is called “trickster” by the Bushmen, or what we sometimes refer to as “trickster mind,” the means of handling language and thought. Trickster mind can put a name, frame, and persuasive spin on anything, whether good or bad, and this makes it an unreliable guide for the most important matters in your life, including finding your way back to First Creation. As the Bushmen warn, you must be careful with trickster because you never know whether it’s helping or hindering, healing or hurting, clarifying or confounding, leading or misleading you. And whatever it’s up to, without notice it can turn at any moment. Be careful whenever your trickster mind provides assistance because soon it may offer troubling resistance.

Trickster naming becomes addictive when it feeds the insatiable appetite of a hungry-to-know mind whose ongoing assignment and sorting of names tempts you to regard this as the only way of being in relationship to the world. Rather than enter into the nameless changing of First Creation mystery, you perpetually stand outside it as an observer, narrator, storyteller, interpreter, and “spin doctor” who ascribes a name and frame to your experience. This creates the “known world” of Second Creation that is construed by mind.

On the one hand, trickster is a blessing when it helps you find the comprehension that inspires invention, a scheme that serves a dream, the right words to comfort a friend, or a strategy that helps you function more efficiently inside the required routines of daily life. On the other hand, trickster can be a curse when it pretends to be totally in charge of your reality, boxes you inside limiting assumptions, and filters away unknowable mystery. You are best served by continuously alternating between the partial perspectives of a stopped and boxed experiential world and the vaster whole mystery view where all is in creative flux. Reside in the seemingly stable “world of naming” while frequently taking a plunge back into the “changing world” of First Creation where both your life and knowing can be shaken free, expanded, reimagined, and recreated.

When you linger too long outside the spiritual fire and changing of First Creation, a kind of amnesia sets in and you forget that the big room of mystery is your true home. As James Thurber humorously wrote, “Sixty minutes of thinking of any kind is bound to lead to confusion and unhappiness.” If trickster knowing solely occupies the throne of your being, then vitality, creativity, and mystery will be missing from your experiential landscape. Sacred Ecstatics brings you this special delivery message from First Creation: You have become too accustomed to living inside the walls of Second Creation. Your mission is to break out and find the mysterious source of life and get hooked up to its incredible dynamic force. It’s time for you to truly “go outside the box.” Loosen and release the names to discover you are always inside the nameless Tao.


The Spiritual Crossroads

The spiritual crossroads is found where the boundary of Second Creation—mind’s naming, knowing, and understanding—meets the vaster mystery that is not distilled or stilled by any trickster talk, trick, or treat. At this sacred intersection you may cross over into First Creation where healing and transformation take place through contact with the changing of creation. Here any stuck situation is instantly subject to change and there is no end to new beginnings.

Whether you know it or not, you live inside the eternal dance between First and Second Creation. To get back to the source of ultimate spiritual transformation, always return to the crossroads and choose the road that takes you to First Creation, the mystery place of God’s down home cooking. At some point, you inevitably will cool down and return to Second Creation where trickster’s knowing becomes prominent again. In these continued back and forth crossings is found the whole range of human experience.

A healer, shaman, or any other anointed spiritual helper brings those with suffering and longing to First Creation to receive a direct contact experience with the mysterious pulse of whole creation. To heal or spiritually help others you must place at least one foot inside the big room of First Creation where change and transformation reside. To find your way there you need a mainline connection or divine rope. All authentic spiritual pursuit requires this passage. Follow the tracks of St. John of the Cross and find yourself able to say later, as he did, “I entered, but I knew not where, and there I stood not knowing . . . I stood enraptured in ecstasy.”

– The Keeneys, (excerpted and adapted from the book, Sacred Ecstatics: The Recipe for Setting Your Soul on Fire)

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