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…

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/24083-on-staying-sane-in-a-suicidal-culture#.U47mXPMVtFU.facebook

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!

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”

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.

(read more)

Please sign this petition to ask the town of Baroda to give Wisdom Farm 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
office@parker.minister.nsw.gov.au

Victor Dominello
NSW Minister for Citizenship and Communities, and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs:
Phone (+612) 9228 4333
Fax (+612) 9228 4392
office@dominello.minister.nsw.gov.au

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
suzana.grau@gmail.com

Phila Hoopes
philahoopes@gmail.com

(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.

IT IS NOT RIGHT THAT HER MAJESTY’S NSW GOVERNMENT ALLOWS A COMPANY TO STOP THE DARKINOONG AND THE GURINGAI PEOPLE FROM PRACTICING ITS ANCIENT CULTURE. AND IT IS NOT RIGHT THAT A NEW ZEALAND COMPANY DESTROYS OUR SACRED SITES SO IT CAN TAKE OUR LAND’S RESOURSES FOR PROFIT.

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.

AUSTRALIA IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE COUNTRY OF THE ‘FAIR GO’. SO WE ASK ROCLA SANDMINING AND HER MAJESTY’S NSW GOVERNMENT TO GIVE US, THE DARKINOONG AND THE GURINGAI PEOPLE, THE SOVEREIGN CARETAKERS OF THIS LAND, A FAIR GO TOO!

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
office@parker.minister.nsw.gov.au

Victor Dominello

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

Phone (+612) 9228 4333
Fax (+612) 9228 4392
office@dominello.minister.nsw.gov.au

SAMPLE LETTER:

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.

PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT WE CAN’T DESTROY SUCH SIGNIFICANT ANCIENT PLACE AFTER WE HAVE TAKEN SO MUCH FROM THEM ALREADY.

Thank you.

Edgewalk

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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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

Loving Circle for the Earth II

Loving Circle for the Earth – Stony Run Park & Wherever You Are

Friends, as we’re approaching Thanksgiving, our thoughts turn toward honoring the gifts of the Earth that sustain us.

And so many of us are so devastatingly aware of the headlines of species extinguished or on the verge…the hemorrhages of radioactive water at Fukushima, of oil in the Gulf, and of bitumen at the Tar Sands; the ongoing razing of the rainforests of the South and boreal forests of the North; the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines coupled with the non-response in the Warsaw summit – I have heard so many others expressing similar feelings of overwhelm.

And we’ve heard the warnings of the Elders and Medicine people.

The words that keep coming back to me are: “We need to be loving them in their passing.” Not only fighting to save them, but also sending the beings, the oceans, the planet specifically LOVING energy in the recognition that it may be too late.

So last month, while I was on a woods-walking retreat, the guidance came: to offer a Reiki/energy sending afternoon this coming weekend in an outdoor setting, specifically focused on sending LOVE via whichever healing modality(ies) we practice, to those beings/elements of our earth, known and unknown, that are so direly on the edge…or tipped/tipping already.

Part of this may look like grieving, and I suspect that some grief-release may be involved for what has already been lost. But the deeper intent is to give the sort of love and cherishing that one gives a hospice patient – aware that all things end, that our species is responsible for too many ends, and loving fiercely those beings that remain.

Just that – LOVING. And who knows but that such love might make a difference?

So I’m inviting you to join me on the afternoon of Sunday Nov 24, at 2:00 p.m. in Stony Run Park just off Wyndhurst Ave in Baltimore – or remotely, by intention, from wherever you are.

We’ll begin and close with a brief song and simple circle-dance to unite our energies and intention…as this is in a residential neighborhood, we will not be drumming this time.

If you feel so called, you might also bring a small natural object (e.g., a stone, a crystal, a pine cone, a seashell, a handful of tobacco or cornmeal, worm tea, etc.) to charge with your loving intention and give to the Earth.

The day is going to be cold, so DRESS WARMLY! If the group is interested, we may go to a local coffee shop afterward to warm up and share our thoughts and insights.

And if you aren’t nearby, and want to take part at that time at a distance, please join us remotely.

Please share this invitation widely! For more information, email me at philahoopes at gmail.com.

With appreciation,
Phila

“Someday someone will isolate the frequency of love and build a machine to transmit it. Calling it Smith’s Healing Rays, they will charge to beam it at our injured parts. And we may forget it was ours all the time. But for now, we will call it TREE.

The fabricated TREE will not be as effective as what we can develop within ourselves. For TREE is individual, each person sending that love particular to her/his being and no computer can simulate the variety, tenderness and efficaciousness of the heart. TREE is particular, but it is also collective, not the act of one person, but of several, not exclusively an act of intimacy, but also of community. And TREE is not what we have associated with healing, the sucking into our own healthy bodies of a disease occupying another, but rather the loving saturation of the other body with the healing light originating in the heart.”

– Deena Metzger, TREE: Essays & Pieces
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We will be meeting well into the park – follow the trail on the Charles Street side of the bridge and look for the red felt flag tied on a tree.

Here is a map of the area: http://www.mapquest.com/places/stoney-run-park-baltimore-md-265737256

If you have any questions, please email me at philahoopes@gmail.com …thank you!

The Challenge of Bearing Loving Witness

This past Sunday, a sparkling and bone-chilling day, I went out to the woods with a good friend – a wise man in precarious health, who walks with Death pacing his footsteps. We were going in hopes of meeting with others, to join in a loving circle for the Earth. We waited; no one came. Eventually we went to the spot we’d chosen for the ritual, and after some heart-to-heart conversation on the way things were going in the world, offered our own energy-gifts and prayers to the Mother, and left.

I am still processing the non-event. Was it my (admittedly fuzzy) directions? The short notice? The distance to drive? The chilly temperature? Or was it a simpler, deeper reason: fear of the event itself? Fear of stepping out of LOA lockstep and admitting the truth of what is happening, much less taking any steps in response?

I’d begun my invitation by doing the unthinkable: pointing out the dire situations we’re facing on all too many fronts, and the likelihood that some “negative” feelings (i.e., grief) could quite possibly be involved, and the need for prayers and love to be gifted to the Divine embodied in this precious planet in such devastating pain.

(I’m intentionally not addressing the scientific reasons for the event, which are abundantly documented in brilliant sites such as the Science and Environmental Health Network, Helen Caldicott, M.D.,  Words for a Better World, RAN.org, Commondreams.org, and many others, all of whose articles I share on Facebook.)

But why come out for such a sad purpose? Crowds have come out in positive action against Keystone XL, Monsanto, and fracking. CEOs, local and national legislators, SCOTUS and POTUS, and world leaders are barraged by incessant petitions. The planned removal of the fuel rods from Fukushima’s damaged Unit 4 requires trained nuclear engineers and operators willing to sacrifice their lives (or health at the very least), not ordinary citizens.

What can the ordinary person do beyond what is being done?

LOVE THE EARTH. Over and over again, this is the guidance I am receiving: LOVE THE EARTH.

In the past seven years I have stood by the deathbeds of my husband and my mother, dying of congestive heart failure, and beside the coffins of two aunts, who passed after battles with cancer. In this same period, I have held six of my cats while they died or were put to sleep (due to old age and cancer). I have received a hard education in bearing witness to the passage of a beloved.

While I do not believe that the planet herself will die, it is widely recognized that we are in the midst of mass extinctions in the sea and on land…and that these may quite possibly include the human race. Whatever life forms will survive or evolve out of these devastating earth changes will be very different from those we know now.

Like it or not, to be in any real sense human, we must recognize all that is in the process of passing.  Today’s blame-games and denial seem tantamount to squabbling over our Mother’s impending change, projecting the blame for all that is failing in her body…all the physical abuse and depletion she has suffered over the centuries of sustaining her greedy, willful children.

To clarify: not standing with her as we did at my mother’s bedside, engaging in the painful yet comforting interactions of apology, forgiveness, deep listening and loving and blessing, but rather retreating to another room to stage cathartic psycho-performances focused on her worsening condition and our own self-blame or self-justification, or the imperative of gouging one last demand from her.

What a horrible, futile way to spend the precious time as it ticks remorselessly past.

What if, instead, we humans chose to spend these days in intentional appreciation – yes, sending petitions, protesting, taking all the outward “warrior” actions, but also setting aside time to be spent as gently and sensitively as humanly possible, loving and nurturing  the Earth and her beings in the face of death.

Nearly two years before, I had taken another approach with my husband as he lay drugged and unconscious, fighting massive sepsis two months after heroic, experimental heart surgery. I engaged full-scale in LOA strategy, refusing point-blank to believe at any time that death was a possibility. I gathered teams of Reiki and other energy practitioners, and called on our worldwide community for prayers at each “bump in the road.” When the drugs could do no more, hearing the doctors’ urging to turn off life support was like reaching a sheer drop-off at the end of an elevated expressway …I was still racing ahead, but with nothing beneath me…falling, instead, through open air. There could be no conversation, no exchange of forgiveness and blessing – only my repeated “I’m sorry” between sobs as I watched his heart monitor slow, then flatline. It took months to come to terms with the reality of his passing. I still struggle to connect at a deep level, inwardly bracing myself for loss yet again.

But these were the deaths of single human beings…not the death of massive numbers of individual humans, plants and animals, entire species, ecosystems, even potentially life as we know it on Earth.

How do the two connect? As I see it, faced with death, we have four basic options:

  • To despair, blaming self and others, wallowing in the expectation of loss
  • To relentlessly and remorselessly deny the inevitability of any ending
  • To value life more highly and live more purposefully, resisting death as long as possible while seeing it as the wise advisor who gives meaning to life
  • To connect with a larger picture in which nothing happens in isolation and everything is connected, in which death may be the gateway through which an individual’s – or a species’ – influence and impact transcend the body…as I came to see it was for my mother and husband.

It is easiest, least risky, least painful, to choose the first two, focusing on the patient as object or victim, focusing on the external body, disease process, and overwhelming physical needs, imagining and projecting the patient’s experience (or distancing oneself with the platitude “I can’t imagine what you must be going through”), or worse, speaking of the patient as if s/he were an empty, unaware thing in the bed, rather interacting directly with the whole person as a total mind/body/spirit entity.

It is terrifying to engage with another human being as they stand with their toes curled at the brink of the unknown…hanging ten at the drop edge of yonder …how much more terrifying to engage directly with a planet whose compromised ecosystems are in similar condition…  especially when this whole culture is based on the belief that the Earth is an unaware, unconscious object? Couldn’t this be done by indoor workshops or energy circles, safely in centrally-heated rooms?

My experience: reading a hospice handbook on the dying process – even doing a guided visualization on death — is very different from standing at a loved one’s deathbed with eyes and heart open. Reading of a rainforest being slashed and burned is very different from sitting in a secluded glade and feeling the screams of a single tree being dismembered by loggers, or struggling through deep muddy tire tracks and crushed underbrush to touch the stumps and shreds of trees hauled away. Reading even the most heart-wrenchingly written petition on the death of our watersheds is very different from standing on the cracked earth of a dried-up streambed and bearing witness to the dying trees and silence of wildlife dead or fled.

The wisdom of the imagination is very different from the wisdom of the heart and spirit connecting to the wisdom of the Earth – in the moment, on the spot, having the courage and vulnerability to bear witness to devastating realities and listen without theory or preconception or interpretation to the guidance of the Earth regarding appropriate and necessary action in response.

What results from this distancing, I ask? Consciousness can be righteously raised in theory with no resulting actual action, personal cost or long-term outward effect.  There are those who say that the brain does not know the difference between reality and ritual (or process)…while this may be true for some, I have not experienced this beyond a very limited degree. A guided visualization or process, like divination – I say – is necessarily limited by the inward filters of the person visualizing…unless support is given to weaken those filters and facilitate an opening to new insights.

I say – for Pity’s sake – it’s time to go out to the woods and the water, to love, to grieve and to bear witness, to invite the wisdom of the Earth to speak in sacred space, and to listen!

At the very least, this wisdom can speak of meeting extinction with dignity, “not go(ing) gently into that good night.” At best – witnessing the Spirit-based actions of Idle No More, who is to say that Earth wisdom, if humbly and sincerely sought, may not guide us to answers? And who has not heard of the “exceptional patients” who were given weeks or months to live, and who, supported by love and prayers, made a miraculous turn-around?

The next Loving Circle will be offered on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, again at 2:00 p.m. The place in Maryland will be announced within a day or two. Watch for the Facebook event and Calendar event here.