When travel tells you a little about science…

While the mythical and mystical is enchanting, it is not always accurate or feasible outside of coincidence. We’ve come too far to still believe in superstitions, spirituality-driven pseudoscience and dare I say, concepts like the zodiac. The risk in being too close to unproven concepts that were established hundreds or thousands of years ago, is that of disregarding reality and education through the natural progress that is evolution. We defy valid advances made by humankind in thought, and in science. There were certainly scientific advances made thousands of years ago too, that seem to have found their way into spirituality. Ideally, we should have built up on those discoveries and inventions. It likely didn’t happen because they were disqualified by other overbearing cultures, and lost to wars, hegemony, colonization etc. India was said to be very socially and scientifically advanced during the Gupta ages (3rd to 5th centuries). All history-loving Indians likely consider that period as our glory days. My 3rd and 4th standard history textbook was very convincing.

Some years ago, I spent time with the Kuna Indians on Panama’s San Blas Archipelago. This picture is from the time. While there is no parallel for the natural beauty of these islands, it’s the people and the legacy that they’re leaving behind that still enamours me. The stories they tell of Madre Tierra and the 8 realms (similar to Norse mythology) that weave a Pandora-like world, are magical. One such story relates to the high incidence of albinism in the community. Rather than ostracizing the albinos, the Kunas celebrate them and their special powers, calling them moon children, their skin intolerant of sunlight. On those rare days when the sun is swallowed by a creature (we just had one such day recently), the albinos are brought out in that time of growing darkness. They beat their magical drums to drive away the monster that’s swallowing the sun, unsurprisingly with a 100% success rate. While folklores and ancient beliefs are often times beautiful, they simply aren’t correct. Imagine if we still hadn’t figured eclipses out! One thing is for sure though, we would hold those suffering from albinism in high esteem.

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