What is Madre Ayahuasca’s Favourite Football Team?
Recently, I was in full swing with Madre Ayahuasca. I had gone through an increasingly familiar initial phase of seeing how my thoughts could create all kinds of realities – most of them like a bad B-movie dredged up from trashy images from my subconscious.
As I passed through this phase, everything became increasingly multi-leveled and chaotic. Suddenly, in the midst of this chaos, apparently completely unrelated to what was going on, I heard Madre Ayahuasca’s voice telling me that her favorite football team was Liverpool.
I was astounded – and not just at the timing of this communication. I had no idea Madre Ayahuasca was interested in football (that means soccer for American readers) – this kind of information tends not to appear in the literature about her – and even less idea that she supported Liverpool Football Club.
As the chaos started to subside, I started thinking about what she had told me. Why would she support Liverpool? Personally, I have never warmed to Liverpool as a football team, though I respected the extraordinary victory they had achieved in 2005 when they had won the Champions League Final in Istanbul after being annihilated by AC Milan in the first half and being 3-0 down.
Suddenly the answer came to me. Liverpool are the football team most connected with death. They have been involved in two major tragedies in their history.
First, at the final of the European Cup in the crumbling Heysel Stadium in 1985, when they were the most dominant team in Europe. 39 fans from Juventus, the opposing Italian team, were killed and over 600 injured when they fled from attacking Liverpool fans and a stadium wall collapsed.
Secondly, in 1989 when at an FA cup semi-final in Hillsborough Stadium, 96 Liverpool fans died from the crush caused when people were pressed against an iron mesh fence and agonizingly suffocated. This has now become a scandal in England due to the police’s attempts to blame the Liverpool fans for what happened and the subsequent covering up of their own ineptitude in crowd control.
Of course, Madre Ayahuasca, (translated as “ the mother of the vine of souls”), would support the club that had this history and intimate connection with death.
This led me to think about the mythic dimension of football. Manchester United have similarly been touched by tragedy. In 1958, eight of their players, who were part of team of unusually highly talented young players known as ‘Busby’s Babes’ were killed in a plane accident in Munich. The club was able to rise from the ashes of this disaster, being the first English team to win the prized European cup in 1968.
They embody the myth of the phoenix and the resurrection. The Manchester United website proudly proclaims “United Will Rise Again”. Their manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, is renowned for being able to achieve success with one team and then completely rebuild it the following season to achieve similar or greater success.
Even the football ground at Manchester United is known as “The Theater of Dreams”.
A recent report claimed they have 659 million fans, one in 10 of the world’s population. Perhaps part of their appeal is their mythic status.
Liverpool, by contrast, do not express this particular myth of rebirth. They are still wandering in the Underworld, haunted by the ghosts of the past.
In the West, despite our deep roots in Greek and Roman culture, we no longer live in a culture where the Gods and their myths are still present as a living reality. However, as the Gods and their myths will not be denied, they appear in other forms, notably in sport and/or brands like Nike. Teams, such as Manchester United, express the key cultural myth of resurrection and players become legends through their feats like Hercules.
The problem remains, though, that instead of devotion and worship being directed towards beings who are understood as existing in another but related realm, they become attached to football players and their clubs and mired in the materialism and money-making that is attached to football.
Madre Ayahuasca, of course, like Joseph Campbell, understands the mythic dimension of life and sport. She could have written the anthem of Liverpool Football Club, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”:
When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There’s a golden star (sky)
And the sweet silver song of a lark
Through the rain…
Through the rain
Walk through the wind
And your dreams be tossed and blown…
Walk on… (walk on)
Walk on… (walk on)
With hope (with hope)
In your heart…
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone.