On Staying Sane in a Suicidal Culture

Reposting this terribly important essay from TruthOut, drawing inspiration from Joanna Macy and The Work That Reconnects on remaining alive, sentient, intelligent, and emotionally and spiritually connected in these horrifying times…


Taking the Risk of Sharing Our Stories

Four years ago, in the midst of studies towards my Master’s degree, I birthed the precursor of this blog on the free WordPress platform. What a journey has taken place between that time and this!

At the beginning, I had no idea of where the journey would take me. I only knew that I was waking up to the reality – not just the single, catechism-shattering experience that I’d had in childhood,  but the everyday, sublime-and-mundane Reality –  that we exist in a conscious cosmos.

And along with that awakening came the calling to, somehow, integrate and share both that experience and that Reality.

Thanks be for the circles, and friends, and teachers, who shook me free of the Catholic-schoolgirl impression that such an experience was bizarre and unique, and the Reality…well, theologically incorrect at best! It’s taken a long time for me to realize that that experience is both archetypal and universal, and that it genuinely reflects REALITY, the mystical core of both shamanism and religion, and the guiding ethos of this inter-aware, interdependent creation.

It’s a challenge to stay in that awareness, and to share the journey from a place of personal authenticity, seeking, and ongoing discovery, when the risks of vulnerability and spiritual self-revelation are terrifying. And a very humbling task indeed, in the knowledge that the personal discoveries that are cracking open one cage after another in my mind are the mystical equivalents of 1+1 and a-b-c. It’s a wild ride between “wow – this must be shared!” on one hand and “who do I think I am?”on the other.

I’m deeply grateful for – and challenged by – the teachers who have encouraged me, affirming that each person’s shared story validates the experience of others, and gives others the courage to share their own experience in turn.

Looking at the mess we’re in as a species – and the devastation we have wrought on this planet – the human journey is about waking up to recognize and choose to walk in Sacred relatedness with the nonhuman awarenesses and wisdom that surround us. This awakening and re-connection to our brother and sister beings, I believe, is the key that can ultimately save life on Earth.

So to affirm, and live, and share, the truth of Sacred inter-being, at whatever bare-beginning level one understands and experiences it, is no longer an option but a necessity.

This blog traces some of my own path, and the events and people whose work speaks most deeply to me. It is one step in the evolution of a book exploring the experience of conscious connection to the Divine embodied in creation.

I invite your (courteous) sharing of your journey in response!

REBLOGGING: The Great Forgetting

This essay – this site – should be on the “must-read” list of…well, just about everyone who has ever wondered where this culture went wrong and what can be done about it. Basing his perspective on the work of Daniel Quinn  (Ishmael, et al),  blogger Tom is asking all the right questions and coming up with answers that need to be shared.

The only flaw I can find lies in his references – truly seminal thinkers such as Thomas Berry, Joanna Macy, and Brian Swimme haven’t yet come into his radar. But even without, this is important, necessary reading that Tom asks us to share.

The Great Forgetting

The Great Forgetting refers to the wealth of knowledge that our culture lost when we adopted our new civilized lifestyle. The knowledge that allowed indigenous cultures to survive, the knowledge that we had once also been tribal and the understanding that we were but one mere culture of thousands. All of this disappeared in a few short generations.

The Great Forgetting accounts for an enourmous cultural collapse as once tribal people found themselves in a new and strange mass centralized society. New beliefs, new ways of life rushed into this cultural vaccuum to fill the void. But without being tested by natural selection over thousands of years this new culture was evolutionarily unstable.

It is only recently that the Great Forgetting has been exposed. Understanding it holds the key to making sense of our destructive culture. And remembering what it is that was forgotten holds the key to our future.

How The Great Forgetting Took Place

It began around 10,000 years ago when one culture in the Near East adopted a new way of life that humans had not tried before.


They began to practice an intensive form of agriculture which enabled them to live in a settled location.

They developed large food surpluses which led to a population and geographic explosion. What began as farming communes eventually turned into villages, then into towns, and then kingdoms. Civilization began.

But it was a long time before anybody began to write down history, several thousand years later in fact. What happened in between was that the people of this culture forgot what had happened. They forgot that they once were hunter gatherers and foragers who lived a nomadic lifestyle. They assumed that mankind arrived on the planet at the same time as civilization. They assumed that civilization and settled agriculture was the natural state of mankind, as natural as living in a herd and grazing is to buffalo.

Naturally this gave rise to the belief that we were only a few thousand years old, that mankind had began when civilization began.

The primitive cultures that lived on the fringe areas of early civilization would appear to suggest that humans had lived another way. But they were easily explained away. They had fallen from the natural state of civilization; they had degraded into savagery. They had once lived as fully fledged humans but they had forgotten the way and now they were inferior, they were sub-human.

The Philosophical Roots of Our Culture

This collective cultural memory lapse; this belief that humans had arrived in the world as civilization builders was held by the foundation thinkers of our culture.

The philosophers, historians and theologians of the ancient civilizations: Sumer, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, India and China wove the Great Forgetting into their work.

Those that followed – the Hebrew authors of the Bible, Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah, the great Western thinkers, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and the great Eastern thinkers Lao Tzu, Gautama Buddha and Confucius -  all wove the Great Forgetting into their work.

The thinkers of more modern times also followed suit, they didn’t take any Great Forgetting into account. Why would they? They had no reason to believe that humans had not come into this world as civilization builders. They had no reason to believe that this wasn’t our natural state. So Thomas Aquinas, Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton and Rene Descartes carried on our culture with the Great Forgetting at its root.

The Truth Is Revealed

Palaeontology exposed the Great Forgetting. Palaeontology made it clear that mankind had not arrived on Planet Earth when civilization emerged. We had lived for a very long time, millions of years in fact, in a completely different way. Mankind hadn’t fallen from the natural state into primitive living. That was how we began.

Looking back on it one could assume that the exposure of the Great Forgetting would have been a momentous discovery. It should have shook the very foundations of our way of thinking, the very foundations of our culture. One could have assumed that this would have led to some fundamental changes about who we are and how we should live.

But it didn’t. The Great Forgetting just got explained away. Instead of admitting that two very different and legitimate ways of living had been adopted by mankind in his history the thinkers of the 19th Century came up with this: man may have been born into this world as a primitive savage but he was destined to become a civilization builder.

In essence they said: “Who cares that we didn’t arrive as a civilization builder. It was our destiny to become a civilization builder. Now that we are here who cares what went before us. Those people that lived before us were just a precursor to us. They weren’t important.”

We didn’t arrive as a civilization builder. But it was our destiny to become one.

The historians came up with a convenient way to disregard those humans that walked the earth those millions of years before our culture emerged.

Instead of accepting that they were part of history the historians relegated them to pre-history. They were before history, because history began when civilization began. We are the good stuff; we are the ones who are fulfilling the destiny of mankind. We are the ones who should be studied.

The Myth of the Agricultural Revolution

Our culture’s transition from hunter gatherer to civilization builder was also explained away. The term our thinkers coined was “The Agricultural Revolution.”

This is how it was explained: Before the agricultural revolution humans didn’t know how to farm or how to practice any kind of agriculture. They lived as hunter gatherers and foragers. Once they discovered farming they were then able to settle down and build civilization. The agricultural revolution was the foundation from which all the greatness of humanity stems.

It was explained in such a way that leads us to believe that the agricultural revolution was:

  • Something that happened more or less by everybody.
  • Something that happened more or less at the same time.

The story is told so we think that one group of people figured it out and those nearby saw what they were doing and thought “aha what a better way of doing things, what a better way of living.” Once a group was enlightened with the knowledge of agriculture they immediately stopped their primitive hunting and gathering ways and settled down to practice the better way. They could see that this was man’s destiny and they eagerly took it up.

This myth has permeated our culture since the 19th century thinkers created it to support their idea that civilization is the divine destiny of mankind. However the agricultural revolution was not a revolution and it had absolutely nothing to do with agriculture.

Agriculture had been practiced in many different ways and forms by thousands of different cultures around the globe. Agriculture is not unique to civilization. What is unique to civilization is a particular form of agriculture, that Daniel Quinn terms totalitarian agriculture.

The Agricultural Revolution had absolutely nothing to do with agriculture.

Totalitarian agriculture subordinates all life forms to the relentless single minded production of human food. It is the belief that the whole world is ours by right and we should turn all of the land into human food.

This generates huge surpluses which generates rapid population growth and rapid geographical expansion.

Through sheer weight of numbers totalitarian agriculturalists overrun neighbouring regions obliterating other cultures and their way of life. The agricultural revolution wasn’t something that started and finished thousands of years ago. It is still happening today, being driven forward by our cultural doctrines which tell us that the earth is a foe that must be conquered.

The agricultural revolution wasn’t about humans finding a better way to live. It was about a single culture out of thousands beginning to live in a way that only worked through exponential growth. Civilization didn’t spread because it was a good idea. Civilization spread through force. The exponential growth of the totalitarian agriculturalists displaced anybody and everybody else. It wasn’t a revolution; it was an experiment that became a runaway train.

So when the Great Forgetting was exposed it was quickly covered up. Our culture went from believing this:

First Humans

To believing this:

First Humans
Paleolithic Humans
Mesolithic Humans
Neolithic Humans

When in fact the reality looks more like this:

First Humans
Paleolithic Humans
Mesolithic Humans
Neolithic Humans
Great Forgetting

                                               |                              |
10,000 other cultures             Us

A New Way of Thinking

The realization of the Great Forgetting gives us a fresh perspective on human history and our place in the world. It gives us the opportunity to see that another way of living legitimately existed on this planet.

The answer to this ecological crisis doesn’t lie with bumbling along the same way we have been trying to perfect for ten thousand years. It doesn’t lie with manically trying to fix a way of life that can only succeed by growing. Eventually it was going to grow so big that it would run out of room to keep going. That time has arrived now.

smileInstead of trying to tweak and change our lifestyle to somehow make it work we need to have a complete overhaul of the way we live.

Now we can study indigenous cultures and say they haven’t degraded into savagery.

They haven’t been left behind in the march to progress; they aren’t the most undeveloped peoples of civilization.

They live in a way that is completely different to us.

A way that is not inherently inferior and a way that is in no means a precursor to civilization. Now we can look on them with fresh eyes, with newfound respect and listen to what they have to say.

They have lived sustainably on this planet for millions of years. We have much to learn from them.

We can now see that with the ecological crisis the problem is not humankind. Humans are not parasitic. Humans can and have lived sustainably. The problem is a single culture. The culture that began 10,000 years ago with totalitarian agriculture and still practices it today. We don’t have to change humans. We don’t have to fix them. We just have to abandon a single destructive culture.

We aren’t 99% of the world’s population because we have a better way of living. We are 99% because our culture grew and displaced those who didn’t need to grow.

We can find a new way.

Help spread the word by sharing this page on your favourite social networking sites. Thanks for your help!

Related Articles From Deep Ecology Hub:

Heal the Land & the People? Racism says “Not Here!”

Three years ago, a friend returned from a conference, thrust a book at me, said “You must read this!” – and shifted my perspective on the world.

The book was Cosmosophia, by the Rev. Dr. Theodore Richards (see my Great Reads page for a review). Shortly afterward I contacted Dr. Richads directly… and that was the beginning of a rich connection. Since then I’ve studied under his direction, and helped to promote his work, and have been deeply moved by his writings on the Wisdom Education tradition, and the way he has been putting this tradition into practice in the Chicago Wisdom Project.

An important aspect of the CWP vision is to help children connect not only to their inner wisdom and their ancestral wisdom, but also to the wisdom of the land through practicing permaculture: the Project has been working for some time now toward starting a permaculture farm in Baroda, Michigan.

Having studied permaculture with the Earth Activist Training, I’ve personally experienced the magic that this integrative approach to agriculture and human culture can work…not only in healing the land, but also in healing and empowering those who work the land, as well as raising the consciousness, sustainability and resilience of the surrounding community. It’s work that affirms the message of Martin Luther King, Jr. at its deepest meaning: that we are one people and we are all related to every other being.

So it was with shock that I read the following blog post from Dr. Richards this morning…and I ask you to join me in supporting his petition:

Dr King’s Work Continues: Forty-eight Years Later, Still “Not Welcome”

Posted by on January 19, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Dr King’s Work Continues: Forty-eight Years Later, Still “Not Welcome”

“NOT Welcome!” read the email. I stared at it for a while. We were not welcome to build our farm in Baroda, Michigan, apparently. Even though, in the same email, the neighbor claims he does not know what we are doing. ["It is not clear to me what the complete objectives are for this project, who will be 'farming' this land, and why you thought it would be appropriate placement in my front yard! NOT welcome at all." - Gregory Davis]

But hey, I thought, this is just one neighbor. No big deal. But then I got the call from Mike Moran. Mike is running the farm in Michigan and had just returned from a hearing with the town board. A dozen or so neighbors had showed up, bringing pictures they’d printed from our website, bringing wild accusations about what our plans, bringing, most significantly, fear and ignorance that we’d been taught was a thing of the past. I’d seen “Eyes on the Prize.” I knew that when my wife’s family moved to a white neighborhood in Chicago in the eighties she’d faced similar prejudices. But this was 2014. Dr King’s birthday is celebrated as a big, collective “thank you” for getting rid of this kind of thing, or perhaps as a “Day of Service” where people do nice things like feed the homeless. But addressing issues of systemic racism and exclusion are not really part of the narrative.

In an article in the local newspaper, another neighbor, Leslie Arbanas, is quoted as saying “it’s not the right place.” Why? Because, according to the article, “the presence of inner city youth, including high school drop-outs… could… hurt property values.” To be clear, none of the youth on the farm have been “high school drop-outs.” Most are headed to college. But that really shouldn’t matter. Let’s get to the heart of the matter: “inner city” is code in America for black and brown. She is making the same argument that was made in Dr King’s day: We’re not racist; we’re just afraid that the presence of black people will hurt our property values.

Speaking of narratives, some in this small town, apparently, had been working pretty hard at creating one. We were introducing a “rehab center” was one such story, because, you know, there are pictures of black kids on our website and they must be drug addicts (this would include my five year old daughter, by the way). Particularly telling about the hate mail I received and about the hearing Mike had to endure was that the narratives seemed to be based entirely on the images on our website. No one had read any of the words. But they’d seen those scary pictures of kids planting corn. (To see the pictures, go to The Chicago Wisdom Project Website)

It didn’t seem to matter, in this meeting, that false accusations were made, or that no one actually knew what a non-profit was [this made our donations page particularly suspicious: "Where is all the money going?!"--I wish we had this problem]. As on Fox News, it was possible to give equal weight to lies and truth, if the lies were repeated enough.

And speaking of Fox News, since this is where I suspect many of these people surely get their information about the world in general, let me turn to the role of the image in this controversy. The images were the focus of the fear and of the efforts to get rid of us. Images, too, I suspect, were at the root of this fear. Like most white Americans, their only experience of black or brown people comes through the images–along with the race-bating and hate-mongering commentary–they had seen on their televisions. These people probably don’t even realize they are racist. Ms. Arbanas, for example, claims that race isn’t an issue–”it just isn’t the right place.”

This makes our work at The Chicago Wisdom Project all the more important. What we have been trying to do for years now is give young people the opportunity to tell their own stories, to create their own narratives. Our youth are well aware–far more aware than those who would attempt to deny them the right to work and play and learn and create at Wisdom Farm–of the negative images of them in the popular discourse, of the deficit narrative that attempts to attribute the injustices of our society to the failures of the oppressed. Our work is to help to create a counter-narrative that tells a different story.

This story can be simplified, however, for those not ready to hear all this. One narrative is this: The Chicago Wisdom Project is bringing to the tired soils of Michigan a new way of farming. Permaculture instead of industrial agriculture. There seems to be a connection between the cultural malaise in Middle America and the agricultural malaise of Middle American Farms. They are afraid of children where they should be afraid of the fact that their farming practices are toxifying the land and depleting their soil.

To be clear about what we are doing, we’ve been working hard over the last year to create a space for our youth to come to get their hands dirty, to experience the quiet and beauty of nature, and to let their imaginations fly free. It is a context for our youth’s rites of passage ceremony, a place to create memories, ideas, art. But Wisdom Farm is, first and foremost, a farm. Somehow, our neighbors didn’t see it as a farm [notice the scare quotes around "farm" in the email from Gregory Davis above] because there was learning and art and music and storytelling and conversation happening. (You can find more about it at the Wisdom Farm Page.)

In 1966, Dr King came to Chicago to fight housing discrimination. It was considered one of the great failures of his career. In the north, he faced fewer legal barriers to his work for equality, but just as much hate. It would have been far easier to change a law than to change the hearts of people who simply told African-Americans, “NOT welcome!” I am not ignorant of history; I realize that much has changed for the better in the last forty-eight years. But I can also say that–sadly from my own experience–there is much work to be done.

We realize that we can do more to work with our neighbors, to help them understand our work and to acknowledge that their presence on this land before us should be respected. Indeed, we’d love for them, or their kids, to join us in our work. We’d love to engage them honestly in a way where we could learn from each other. And the truth is, we’ve got a lot of work to do: we don’t want to spend our time and energy at board meetings or in court houses. But sometimes the lesson plan you bring to the classroom is not what needs to be learned, especially when the world is the classroom. Standing up for themselves against prejudice can be a great lesson for our youth. No one, in any neighborhood in America, can tell our youth they are not welcome. Both our neighbors and we need to learn this lesson now, even forty-eight years after Dr King came up north.

Please sign this petition to ask the town of Baroda to give us a fair hearing.

Theodore Richards is the director and founder of The Chicago Wisdom Project. He is the author of several books, most recently Creatively Maladjusted: The Wisdom Education Movement Manifesto, finalist for the USA Book Award. His second novel, The Conversions, is to be released in October. He is the recipient of numerous literary awards, including two Independent Publisher Awards, The USA Book Award, and the Nautilus Book Award. He lives in Chicago with his wife and daughters.

Act TODAY to Stop the Rocla Sandmine from Destroying the Sacred Aboriginal Dreaming Track!

Please ACT, and repost on your blog if you have one!

Imagine your country’s national library – all the history of your nation and culture – as a living archive hand-carved by your ancestors into the stones at sacred sites around the perimeter of your nation, each site holding a precious, unique and irreplaceable piece of your people’s ancestral wisdom.

Imagine generations of your family visiting these sacred sites for family rites of passage, births, deaths, comings of age. Imagine your nation’s spiritual heritage being recorded and celebrated at these sites.

Imagine this happening for centuries – millennia – for your entire nation.

Now imagine a sand-mining company coming in to destroy one key piece of the whole – the piece that gave your women their roots, that connected them to their sacred power as carriers of the nation’s continuity.

Imagine a gash ripped in the organic integrity of your heritage, your past and future as a people.

That is what is about to happen in Australia, THIS MONDAY, 1/20.

The New South Wales government has approved the plans of a New Zealand company ‘Rocla Sandmining’ to build a mine on an Aboriginal Women’s Fertility Rites Songline and Teaching Place. This Songline is part of the Sacred Dreaming Track, and its destruction would destroy with it tens of thousands of years of Aboriginal heritage.

Her Majesty’s NSW Government has approved the company to go ahead with their stage 4 extension, which comprises a massive 30 metre deep hole gouged out of the ground that will destroy these precious, unique Sacred Sites completely.

When visiting the area of  the proposed mine, famous French Archeologist Jean Clottes said “This area of the Central Coast has the greatest diversity of Rock Art in the world that I have ever seen”. This diversity is part of what Rocla Sand Mines want to destroy. The Dreaming Track goes right around Australia through every tribal country, and is a common space which all can use to walk, hunt and gather, visit relatives, attend important meetings and participate in special Sacred Ceremonies. It has very great significance in telling Aboriginal History and living cultural and spiritual tradition.

The Dreaming Track must never be broken. Its ancient history cannot be lost.

It is a cultural treasure far more ancient than Great Britain’s Mitchell Library or the U.S. Library of Congress. This is an irreplaceable treasure of the history of the human race -lose it and it is gone forever. And that would be a shameful blight on the history of this land, and this planet.

It is essential that this Sacred dreaming track and its Songline never gets lost or destroyed.

And the Women’s Fertility Rites Songline and Teaching Place is not only a record of the past –it is a living site where children are taught the Song-lines, and ceremonies and rites of passage continue to be held…

….or they  did, until Rocla Sand Mining and the NSW Government decided last year that Aboriginal Women could no longer visit their Sacred Place for their ancient rituals.

This is cultural genocide – a repeat of a long British history of cultural genocide. And IF YOU ACT QUICKLY, you can help to stop it.

Remember – mining begins Monday 1/20!!

What can you do?

1.      Share this letter far and wide!

2.      Sign these two petitions –

3.      Write your own letter to:

Robyn Parker
NSW Minister for the Environment, and Minister for Heritage:
Phone (+612) 9228 5253
Fax (+612) 9228 5763

Victor Dominello
NSW Minister for Citizenship and Communities, and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs:
Phone (+612) 9228 4333
Fax (+612) 9228 4392

4.      Help start a Twitterstorm – using the hashtag #savethesonglines, Tweet to @RobynParkerMP and @VictorDominello

5.      For ongoing information go to https://www.facebook.com/events/224523534398021/

The New South Wales government has been pushing back against protests – they have deleted at least one blogger’s expose – so YOU are a key part of putting out the word.

Please help in any way you can!

With many thanks and blessings,

Suzana Grau

Phila Hoopes

(for Auntie Beve, spokeswoman for the Darkinoong and the Guringai People.

Please Add Your Voice to Protect Key Sacred Site in Aboriginal Songline

Friends, I’m passing this on with an urgent request that you add your voice in protest – a key element of the Australian Aboriginal historic songline – millennia-old historical archive – is targeted for imminent destruction. The following information is a reblog from the Facebook announcement.

The Destruction of the Aboriginal Women’s Fertility Site by Rocla Sandmining Company by Aunty Beve

“My Tribal name is Goolabeen. I am a fully Initiated Law and Medicine Woman of the Alleyerwere Tribe of Utopia from the Central Desert. But I am better and more widely known as Auntie Beve, particularly in the Jails of NSW, where I have just retired after 29 years working with Aboriginal prisoners – being there for them 24/7 as an Elder, an Aboriginal Art and Culture teacher, suicide Counsellor and Mental health Worker.

As I was born here in Woy Woy 78 years ago, I speak as an Elder of the Darkinoong Tribe from the Central Coast of N.S.W. And today, I speak on behalf of all Central Coast Aboriginal women with the support of the Aboriginal men and of many non-Aboriginal people who know of the importance of preserving the Sacred Aboriginal Dreaming Track. A New Zealand company ‘Rocla Sandmining’ is planning to build a mine on an Aboriginal Women’s Fertility Rites Songline and Teaching Place. This Songline is part of the Sacred Dreaming Track, and its destruction would destroy with it tens of thousands of years of Aboriginal heritage. Her Majesty’s NSW Government has approved the company to go ahead with their stage 4 extension, which comprises a massive 30 metre deep hole gouged out of the ground that will take our Sacred Sites out completely.

My mission is to make all Australians aware of how significant this loss would be – to help them fully understand the Cultural importance of this site, and why it must not be destroyed by Rocla Sandmining Company or Her Majesty’s Government of N.S.W.

I, as an Initiated woman, wish to explain the importance of this site so that all Australians can understand how important it is for this site to be preserved and not destroyed – as Rocla Sand Mining intends to do. I first ask for your respect and acknowledgement of the existence and importance of our Black History in white Australia.

Secondly, I would like it acknowledged that Black history and culture is recorded and taught in ways that are different from the White Fellas ways, but are no less important to its people. White Australia has The Mitchell Library, given funded and maintained by the government, to house all your important papers, records, books, events, stories and artefacts. At the Mitchell Library, all your White History is kept safe from vandalism, kept safe for posterity.
We, the original custodians of this land, had no paper, pens or writing equipment like yours to record our history on. Instead, back then, we used our recall, our memory to re-tell our stories and the law, and to re-sing our songs of what came before us, what needed to be passed down, carried on, down through time for posterity – just like the white man’s way.

Our people also had the dedication and patience to carve those stories and laws into hard rock platforms, to build entire sites that record our history, our culture and our stories – where we hoped they would be preserved for posterity. Every symbol or line we carved may have taken months to complete, but how else were we to permanently record – for our children, and their children – the stories, the law and the history of the original custodians of the land? And this area is full of such sites.

Famous French Archeologist Jean Clottes viewed some of these rock platforms when visiting the area, and said “This area of the Central Coast has the greatest diversity of Rock Art in the world that I have ever seen”. This diversity is part of what Rocla Sand mines want to destroy – part of our Dreaming track, an important Song-line – the Women’s Fertility Rites Teaching Place. This Dreaming Track goes right around Australia through every tribal country, and is a common space which all can use to walk, hunt and gather, visit relatives, attend important meetings and participate in special Sacred Ceremonies. It has very great significance in telling our History, how we lived here as Hunters and Gatherers, as custodians of the land, how we evolved, and what roles we played in life.

The Dreaming Track must never be broken. Its ancient history cannot be lost. It is our Mitchell Library. And like yours, it must be saved for posterity. Lose it and it is gone forever. And that would be a shameful blight on the history of this land.

Stop, Look and Listen well…

The Women’s Fertility Rites Songline and Teaching Place is complex and includes many ceremonial aspects that Her Majesty’s NSW Government and Rocla Mining Company have failed to acknowledge.

Aboriginal history is drawn on the rock platforms, painted in the caves and told by the stone arrangements we left in this area – and all over Australia – to tell our stories. We also told and sung our stories orally. Called Song-lines, these were learnt by the boys and the girls as they grew up and were old enough to go through ceremony. Each Song-line is part of the Dreaming Track, the sacred rites of passage for Aboriginal people. That is why the whole of the story, the whole of the Song-line, and the whole of the Dreaming Track, must be preserved and re-told.

As the Elders and Women of High Degree, we taught every young girl Initiate our Sacred Oral History, word for word, brush stroke by brush stroke, just as we had been taught, so that they in turn could also pass it down to their children as it had been passed down to them by. This was important Ceremonial practice, our way of passing our History down through the ages. This was part of our Great Survival Pattern.

The special Song-line of the Women’s Fertility Rites part of the Dreaming Track was very important to the young female initiates as they ‘passed through’ from girlhood to womanhood. This was their Learning Place, the place they were sung the story of the Women’s Fertility Rites and painted up (by way of explanation) to be put through their first initiation to become a Woman – following in the tradition of their Grandmothers, and their Grandmothers before them. The Women’s Fertility Rites is a big step for a 12 year old girl. This was how we taught the women to survive through birth out in the bush, with nothing but nature and our knowledge. We didn’t have any of your hospitals and clinics and Women’s Centres, just nature, the ancient knowledge of our ancestors and our instinct for survival.

The Sacred linear stone arrangement that points the way to the learning place must also be acknowledged by the Initiate. It shows her Respect to the Woman of High Degree, the Keeper of the story of the Women’s Fertility Rites. Next stop in the Songline was at the junction of the 3 Creeks. (Marked A, B and C on the map of the site). This was where the women sat and ground and sharpened their tools on the rock beside the creeks. Here, they sung the story of the Women’s Fertility Rites Songline, while the painters of the story painted up the Initiate to show the story being told.

When the painting of the initiate was finished, she was then taken by the older women to the special rock engraving of ‘The Woman of High Degree’. She stands with her arms high and is cut with special incisions to show the many times she was initiated – and the special status that she holds. She is likened to the Male Kadartchitta Man, or Clever Fella, who also is of High degree and is held in great respect by all Tribes. The Woman of High Degree is shown with very full breasts, which denotes that the woman is the main nurturer of the Tribe. She will feed any who needs her nourishment for as long as it is needed. This, again, is a practice of Survival. The Woman of High Degree’s feet are turned outward, which represents that she is the teacher and the keeper of this special Women’s Fertility Rites story. She is saying “Stop, Look, and Listen well! And remember what you are being taught here today by your Elders”. This is what is expected of you as you go through your initiation to become a Woman.

Beside the figure of the Woman of High Degree is another symbolic creature, the Koala. Very special to our Women, we are not allowed to eat the Koala. She is the symbol of great motherhood and how a mother should care for her children. The baby koala hangs from her mother until it is far too heavy to do so any longer. The koala never lets that baby out of her sight. And so it is expected of the new Aboriginal mother to care like this for her offspring.
The last important feature of this site is a large figure of Durramulan (Sacred spirit) shown in his special head-wear, pointing to the very special Sacred Women’s site – which his wife (in Emu form) also guards.

By the end of the ceremony, initiates are taken away by the Special Women who are in charge of the initiation and “Put Through”. They then stay with the Special Women for a year, where they are taught all about marriage and what that entails in our culture. At the end of that year, when the initiate turns 13, they are then given in marriage to the man that has been chosen for them.
As you can see, the Women’s Fertility Rites is a very important time for our young women and an integral part of my people’s culture. The sacred site that has hosted these rites for thousands of years, and witnessed the passage of generations of women before me, must be protected from the threat of mining. It is essential that this Sacred dreaming track and its Songline never gets lost or destroyed. The Sacred history of my people must be preserved.
We, the Elders, still take our daughters and nieces to this Special Women’s Fertility Rites site, and even though they may not choose to go through this ceremony today, they show respect for the Women’s law, its history, and its ancient ancestry.

Well, we used to take them and visit this Sacred site… until Rocla Sand Mining and the NSW Government decided last year that Aboriginal Women could no longer visit their Sacred Place. THIS UPSET US VERY MUCH, BEING STOPPED FROM VISITING OUR ANCIENT SACRED SITE. It reminded us of the time they took our Languages from us and never let us speak it again for fear of punishment.


The Women’s Fertility Rites Songline and Teaching Place, the carving of ‘The Woman of High Degree’, the Sacred linear stone arrangement, the junction of the 3 Creeks, the figure of Durramulan … the sacred archaeology of this entire area must be preserved, and its Black History respected.


I would appreciate any assistance you can give to help me save this sacred area.

Thanks and regards,
Auntie Beve Spiers

What You Can Do

Editor’s note: Rocla is expected to commence its mining activity at this sacred site on 20th January 2014, so time is absolutely critical. To voice your opinion on the proposed mining development and help Auntie Beve protect this important ancient ceremonial women’s site, please contact the NSW Government Ministers responsible for Aboriginal and Environmental affairs in NSW:

Robyn Parker

NSW Minister for the Environment, and Minister for Heritage:

Phone (+612) 9228 5253
Fax (+612) 9228 5763

Victor Dominello

NSW Minister for Citizenship and Communities, and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs:

Phone (+612) 9228 4333
Fax (+612) 9228 4392


Dear sir or madam,
I would like to voice my opinion on the proposed mining development and help to protect this important ancient ceremonial women’s site which should be preserved and not destroyed.

It is a sacred place to our original people and parts of the history would be destroyed. Old wisdom and carvings about the Women’s Fertility Rites that has been passed on through generations and respected by so many would be destroyed with the land.

The sand mine would be built on part of the Aboriginal Dreaming track, an important Song-line – the Women’s Fertility Rites Teaching Place.

This Dreaming Track goes right around Australia through every tribal country, and is a common space which all can use to walk, hunt and gather, visit relatives, attend important meetings and participate in special Sacred Ceremonies.

It has very great significance in telling the original History, how they lived here as Hunters and Gatherers, as custodians of the land, how they evolved, and what roles they played in life.


Thank you.


These images are part of an evolving series honoring the Standing People (trees) as their fallen forms return to the soil.

I’d gone to the woods seeking peace and guidance, with too many personal paths beckoning, too much spinning in my mind. Almost immediately I found myself drawn off the pathway by the forms of felled trees and boughs in a massive brush pile. As I clambered about, witnessing the wood meshing with fallen leaves and returning to mulch, totemic shapes, faces, portals began to emerge in the dance of light and dark, pattern and texture….


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REBLOG: Owning Your Destroy

Every so often there is a post that rattles the ground under my shoes… that reminds me inescapably of the power to be found in the dance of dark and light in our society and in our souls. This is one of those posts, in a blog/site that I can only describe as luminous: Toko-pa.com, by Toko-pa Turner, poet, artist, mystic, and teacher of Dreaming.

Dreamspeak: Owning Your Destroy

May 192010

 For as long as I can remember, New Age gurus have been telling us to “stay in the light.” They tell us to meditate, generate and emanate positivity, warning us that we create our own reality and negative thinking begets negative results.

But if you’ve ever found yourself cringing before all that Spiritual Correctness and wondered what was wrong with you, I am here to tell you that you aren’t broken and you don’t need fixing.

As an Ambassadress of the Darkness, it is my duty to sing the praises of wrath, rebellion, grief and destruction. I am here to champion the wild, unapologetic  power of nature. I am here to urge us all to drop our composure like sandbags and get stirred up into the real storm of living.

While the New Age movement has awakened many to the power of creative intention, it has simultaneously pathologised the negative emotions, striking them from our social palette of acceptability and is driving us all into repression.

First of all, what if those negative emotions aren’t wrong, but totally right? What if the real problem is the misguided attitude that we need fixing in the first place?

When we try to live up to impossible images of spiritually enlightened, all-knowledgable, selfless superhumans, the dark side of our nature just gains in power. Like shoving a beach ball under water, you may succeed in disavowing your unsavoury bits for a while, but it’s so destabilizing that, when you least expect it, that ball always bursts out from under you.

Negative emotions don’t cease to exist because we’re ignoring them. They just find other ways to express themselves. Sometimes we lash out inappropriately, have confusing crying fits or feel protractedly numb. Most commonly, we slip into depression and, if left to fester, become prone to accidents, physical disease and crisis.

True creative responsibility for one’s life involves more than positive visualisation and action towards our dreams.  It also means destroying that which is no longer relevant.  Destruction is the counterpoint to Creation and, like the day setting into night, summer falling into winter, life circling towards death, for one thing to be created, another thing must be destroyed.

In the Hindu tradition, the Goddess Kali is worshiped as both the creative and destructive, womb and tomb aspects of the Great Mother. In one of her four hands she holds the head she’s just severed, which fills a goblet with blood. She is often wielding a scythe, surrounded by a snarling fire,  adorned with bones, and dancing on a bewildered corpse.

Far from the flaccid suggestion that when something isn’t working we must “let it go,” Kali is the ruthless power behind ‘negative’ emotions which clears the way for new life.

She is the boundaries Anger wants. She is the pounding of Grief’s river, rushing us to new lands. She is the freedom Anxiety shakes for. She is the siren of change that Boredom signals. She is the bliss that Fear promises.

Owning Your Destroy means not only taking a metaphoric machete to the outdated stylings of your stuckness in present time, it also means rewriting your stories of loss. Those things you feel have been taken away too soon, done to you and never been your privilege, are places of untapped power.

As we clear even excellent things from our lives which no longer serve us, we are preparing our possibility space for the unimaginable blessings waiting to be born there.

Just as fire can transform food from its raw form into something digestible, our darknesses are radical transformers. Instead of airbrushing our personalities, they coax us to exaggerate our blemishes, lean into our stagnancy, wounding and limitation.

If we really want to evolve, all we have to do is be exactly where we are. It’s only once you can own your sad, stifled, regretful, pissed off self, that you can blaze up your loving ferocity and have at ‘er.


Considered an authority on dreams, Toko-pa Turner has been interviewed by CNN News and BBC Radio, and her Dreamspeak column appears in a collection of publications across Canada and the United States. See more of her breathtaking work at her Facebook page and Twitter feed

As the New Year Approaches, Many Changes

The past year has been a time of completion for so many aspects of my life…most recently, finishing the last independent studies and project of excellence toward my Master’s degree in Applied Healing Arts (now the School of Philosophy and Healing in Action) at the Maryland University for Integrative Health.

I entered the program one year after my husband’s passing, with the intent to reinvent myself and recreate my life…and it has succeeded. During my time in that program, I tapped into my deepest values and purpose for living, and connected with teachers who have changed my life forever: the Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox, Deena Metzger, and Theodore Richards (none of whom are on the faculty of MUIH, but all of whom, amazingly and generously, agreed to work with me remotely as adjuncts).

I am graduating with a book in the works, and a deeper work evolving, feeling profound gratitude for the journey of the past few years, and all the many people who have supported…

So what now? For the moment, a time of retreat and regrouping, while I work out the balancing of this deeper work with my existing copywriting service for sustainable businesses, healing practices, and eco-spiritual nonprofits, Your Words’ Worth. The long-range goal: to build a life in service to the Planet and the People, fostering conscious connection to the Divine embodied in creation through my own work and support of others of like mind.

So SoulPaths will be changing in this direction, offering new conversation circles, talks, book reviews, and promotions of outside events through the Shift Network and others….stay tuned, friends.

REBLOGGING: Highly Recommended: National Grieving Day

The following is reblogged from the website of the Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox:

We don’t deal well with grief in our culture. We are expected to move on quickly after our losses. But when we don’t take the time to acknowledge and deal with our grief, that grief builds up, anger builds up, joy and love are lost, creativity is stifled, and despair enters in.

And who cannot be grieving today about what’s happening to the earth and to the beings of the earth?

So I think grief work – practices and rituals for grieving within a supportive community – is a critically necessary for these days. Mystics in all traditions bear witness: the depth of nothingness is directly related to the experience of everythingness. We learn we are cosmic beings not only in our joy and ecstasy, but also in our pain and sorrow.

And I believe that Grieving Day, which was initiated in Ireland and is now a global event taking place tomorrow, December 3, is a key step toward healing individually and in community: while grief is most often suffered alone, in isolation, this event offers the possibility of grieving together, in compassionate community.

I invite you to connect with the leadership of International Grieving Day at nationalgrievingday@gmail.com, to explore events that may be taking place in your area, and to consider offering an event of your own.

At our recent Cosmic Mass in Oakland on Dec. 1, we did, as we always do, a grief practice.

Grief practices invite the participants to enter the third chakra and go where we hold our anger and our sorrow and let the sounds out. This can be done privately by wailing with a drum or collectively by getting on “all fours” (actually all sixes) and putting one’s forehead to the ground (all “sevens”) and letting the sounds out of the third chakra; first listening to one’s own sounds; then, while still emitting the sounds, listening to one’s own sounds.


From the National Grieving Day announcement on Facebook:

National Grieving Day initiated in Ireland and happening around the world on Tuesday, 3rd of December is a day set aside to honour and acknowledge grief in all its forms. Recent times have brought many losses – personal debt, communities losing jobs, businesses closing, young people feeling disempowered, losing a loved one, environmental disasters, personal dreams being dashed or national expectations and identity having to radically change course.

The day will include a series of events giving people an opportunity to reflect,dignify their loss and offer the release of what is felt at an individual and social level, awakening hope for the future. The events are gentle, non-intrusive and open to all.

Contemporary culture often does not allow time or space in our lives, in our world, for celebrating what’s been lost and the grief around it. This day is an invitation to meet that need, to offer events and places for those who want to take time to reflect and grieve their losses, small or big, old or more recent.

The National Grieving Day events will allow us to navigate discomfort and uncertainty and restore hope. The day itself is one of the darkest days of the year, on a night without even moonlight, which encourages us to embrace the dark in the knowledge that there that the light of new beginnings are born.

The spirit of people has arisen time and time again and it will do so once more. Let’s comfort ourselves, recognise what power we hold within and renew our strength and resilience through our individual and collective release.

If you don’t feel like joining a group setting, perhaps you’d like to light a candle on your own on the day to honour the grief you feel and say a prayer or meditate.

How people are getting involved…

  •   Join the group on FB (national and international pages)
  •   Celebrate individually with a candle, prayer, meditation
  •   Organizations can mark it with something aligned with their culture
  •   Come along to one of the grieving events
  •   Share details of the Day with your community and networks
  •   Suggest introductions for us to connect or talk with
  •   Host an event yourself

EVENTS: This is a decentralized, co-created day. There will be events all around Ireland, the UK, France, Netherlands and Australia with the list growing every day as people tune in and arrange programmes: see the global map for events. These include Remembrance Walks, Musical Mourning, Speeches, Ceremonial Fires, Sean Nós, Labyrinth Walks, Grief Circles, Keening, Ecstatic Grief, Poetry. The list is growing steadily!

CREATE AN EVENT: if you would like to run something in your community on Tuesday 3rd of December, please drop us a line at nationalgrievingday@gmail.com and we can provide you with resources, suggestions and outlines for events if you wish.

YOUR SUGGESTIONS: if you have suggestions or connections for us to make, please drop us a line.

EMAIL: keep in touch with us through this page or drop us a line at nationalgrievingday@gmail.com