Saturday, December 23, 2006

We are the land dancin

This was taken from a discussion on the tribes discussion forums...
Chuchuhuasi is a Norte Americano vegetalista and chaman, both he and I had attended last years long dance ceremony in Oregon, we had since then been discussing how to intigrate the inspiration we gained from the sanpedro long dance into our own animist relationship with our bioregion and community...
The sanpedro long dance led by Miguel Kavlin has been a huge influence on the developement of my communicating my ideas on bioregional animism the process has been amazing, the land i learned in some ways to me at least taught me how to be a bioregional animist even though that wasnt the intention of the dance chief or even my intention... I later after danceing for 5 years would read a book by Beautiful Painted Arrow or Joseph Rael, the visionary that brought us the dance it self... he wrote...
We are the land dancing.
We live a life of prayer, of reverance for the land,
a life of ceremony,
so that we may stay alive
and connected to god.
God is present in the land:
the soil, the sky, the clouds,
the seasons, the climate.
And we are part of that design.
-Joseph Rael

And it is this that I found within myself, this is what brought forth the idea of bioregional animism in the first place... and I owe that to Rael and Kavlins hard work and dedication, as well as to the spirit of the bioregions in which they live and which we have done ceremony together...Our discussion...
LLB: So hear is what I have been feeling about the long dance... I feel that I have learned what I needed from Miguels south american inspired long dance ceremony... but we need a vision for the cascadian version of the long dance ceremony...
Chuchuhuasi you have mentioned the desire to host one your self.... I think that this is a great idea... to honor beautifull painted arrows vision however... I'm recomending that we spend some time dedicated souly to asking for a vision for this new ceremony itself....
what do you think?

Chuchuhuasi: It has been in my thoughts since last summer. I believe it will arise spontaneously by inspiration and that it will focus on Great Healing for the bioregion. Invocation of the wind spirits to blow clear the air of disease. Invocation of the animal clans to watch the region and invocation of the forest itself to help it clear the negative energy it is subjected to via forestry practice And a physical way to manifest these invocations using mind and body, movement and intent.
My feeling is that the details will grow from the practice and each dance leader will have their own incarnation of it they work with just as the curandero has his own mesa.
The thing is to begin having these rituals and having each person state there intent and how they wish to express it physically. My opinion is that those who can create and hold a circle should do so and let the land speak to the dancers of what form his dance should take.
The main thing is creating and holding a safe and holy space for the ritual to arise from, creating the intent of the ritual, and physically creating your intent in movement , song or both. Although the long dance was recently "created" it arose from thousands of yrs of tradition.And it did arise because it's time had come. Cascadero shamanism is young but all it takes is the work to be done for the land to bespeak it's form of exaltation. I ask each of you who can hold and keep a circle to begin to do so often with the intention of having the land express itself through the body movement of those in the circle and those in the circle to have the intention of moving to those expressions. From this the land itself creates the dance and not one man.
Remember it is will and intention which cause effect, not formalized empty action.
It is my belief that by the end of this summer if there are enough sacred circles held Cascadia will have it's own Bioregional expression arise all we need is the will, the intent, and the sacred circle to house it's infancy. The Land and it's allies will provide the details of our dance given the space for us to listen.

LLB: Brother exactly... spot on man!
Thats exactly what I have been thinking of as well...
"My opinion is that those who can create and hold a circle should do so and let the land speak to the dancers of what form his dance should take. "
"From this the land itself creates the dance and not one man. "
YES....this is how its allways been, this is how it works....
"Remember it is will and intention which cause effect, not formalized empty action. "
I have tried to get this across to many...
"It is my belief that by the end of this summer if there are enough sacred circles held Cascadia will have it's own Bioregional expression arise all we need is the will, the intent, and the sacred circle to house it's infancy. The Land and it's allies will provide the details of our dance given the space for us to listen."
I agree.... I think it will...
Some of the groups that started around the long dance I feel are still holding onto form, its a great ceremony... a really great one... but to really recieve and honor its medicine, you have to learn the path way to inspiration and vision your self...with your community and with the land and sky...
We are the land danceing!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The spirit of shamanism found in the back yard...

Essence chamanique au jardin

Bioregional animism...unknown words until recently...until I joined Little Lightening Bolt's tribe and discovered the words that fit the feelings that I have been experiencing this year...Contrary to my nature -I love words- I do not feel the need to put in words what my discovery of Shamanism and Bioregional Animism have awakened or re-awakened in me but I will try bearing in mind that the feelings are a lot more perfect than the words...For a while I had been feeling a missing link in my growth process...I finally realised that I was simply missing the link to Nature ...and I started to crave finding a way to incorporate this... I missed personal roots in the healing I was giving to people (working with Reiki energy) and I came to realise that I missed that too in myself...I first thought that it came from the fact that I am french but live in the Netherlands...then I realised that it was not country orientated, it was a feeling that belongs to this place where my home is...I love my home, I love the nature around me ...It was part of my life already -I have a house full of pieces of wood, stones, shells and a garden full of treasures- but it was not yet fully integrated first experiences with animals in trance journeys changed all of that...true to my enthusiastic nature I lauched my self entirely in the discovery of my animals...and they lead me back to here, to the Nature around me and my perception totally switched to an animistic perception ...I have finally found my place here and it feeds my Shamanistic bioregional animism approach has become the source of my shamanism path...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

An Australian Perspective – Coming to terms with Bioregional Animism

An Australian Perspective – Coming to terms with Bioregional Animism
By Velvetsiren.In my spiritual practice I have been lead to the mesa of the northern Peruvian healers, I feel a strong resonance with this practice, however being not a Peruvian nor even remotely close to this part of the world I have struggled within myself about practicing in this tradition.
Questions like: Is it right for me to work with a tradition that I have no link with? Is it disrespectful to wish to learn and work in another’s culture and tradition? Can I really know how to work with the mesa, can I do this without guidance from a teacher maestro of this tradition? I am I being what is termed a “plastic shaman”?
These and many other doubts and thoughts about authenticity have arisen in my short period if exploring the San Pedro healing table, known as the mesa.

Personally, I feel it is important to work with what we have in our lives, what is available to us, let’s look to our surroundings before looking elsewhere. I have only come to this discovery by looking not in my backyard first but by exploring other animistic cultures from around the world which eventually led me to my own countries possibilities. In most cases we will find that our backyards have all that is required and can possibly need. So why have I cone to the Northern Peruvian mesa? If everything I need is within my backyard why work in a tradition that is not also from my backyard? I hope to scrap the surface on these questions.

The San Pedro cactus, and close relatives of the Echinopsis (formally Trichocereus) genus, is a huge part of my life. This cactus is not an indigenous plant to where I live but has become a “local” after it was introduced as a garden ornamental many years ago. San Pedro really thrives in my country, the conditions are well suited and many new forms are becoming hybridised, which is very exciting for the cactus collector. The San Pedro has become an “Australian” and unlike many other introduced species of flora and fauna the cactus poses little impact upon the many bioregions of Australia.

When I look at my family background, I find that my history is derived from convicts and Settlers with Irish, Welsh, English, German ancestry. I feel I am much like the San Pedro cactus, an “introduced” species that has become acclimatised to the land which we live. Being a 4th or 5th generation Australian my ancestors were not as “impact” free upon the land in which they introduced themselves to, unlike the cactus. But that aside as it is another issue, I am a local to Australia like the cactus hybrids and clones scatter throughout suburban gardens and outback farms. For the purposes of this article we both are acclimatised locals.

Over the years San Pedro and myself have developed a meaningful relationship. I grow and cultivate as many as I possibly can, I also like to make sure that we meet regularly as well where the whole day is dedicated to preparing the extract ritually imbibe. I feel I have been drawn to this cactus ever since I read about it in the book “Plants of the Gods”. I have enjoyed its use both recreationally and spiritually over the period of 8 years. In this time spent with the cactus I have discovered the way San pedro has been used by other peoples both recreationally and spiritually, this is where I discovered the mesa and when I first learnt that there was such a thing I was hooked, I looked everywhere ic ould to find information about it, which was quitre difficult at times due to there not being a great deal of information around on the details of the mesa. I began holding my own mesa and this is where the model of the mesa comes into my spiritual work.

So how does one learn.
First it came about with experience, things just started happening while under the influence. I would get the urge to do an certain action or I would witness black smokey objects move across the sky or the stars would transplant themselves into my minds eye and I would receive lessons from them, images of vibrant, beautiful patterns would morph into one another detailing petals of plants and trees or other fantastic things I cant even begin to describe. Often I was just taken back by the awe of what I was witnessing and the ecstatic emotions that would wash over you as you truly see the colour of red or blue or how your interconnectedness with ALL would leave you amazed at its beauty. I now see it as being taught by the cactus, aside from all the beautiful things to look at there is a deeper learning that can be had with the cactus it is truly a plant teacher, it is the maestro. It has taken a few years to fully understand this and to be able to perceive the teachings but now I hear them loud and clear.
After a while I became interested to researching how other people work with the sacred cactus, when I read some of the ways curanderos practice their healing I was blown away by some of the same practices that I had begun doing. I find the research has given me direction, and a model for creating my own mesa to begin healing and animistic practices. The cactus is the teacher and I can approach it and it will guide me, all it takes is for you to approach the cactus with reverence and respect honour it and yourself and listen, let go and listen.

I begun gathering my own mesa and started working with it the way the cactus shows me and guides me in combinations with what I read on the subject and other animist cultures and belifs from around the world. As mention earlier I have struggled with the notion of working in someone else’s tradition, one that is not my own. My historical spiritual tradition of welsh and Germanic practices has pretty much been left behind by my ancestors, it no longer exists in my life, it had no importance to my parents, to their parents and so on. To actively begin practicing in this tradition is removed from me as much as if I was to begin working with Siberian practices or Papua New Guinea traditions and so on. In combination to what the cactus has been teaching me and guiding me I began to look into my own backyard, so to speak. What is this bird like what does it do, what about this plant and that river, how about those pretty flowers and what about that snake. I started to look at my own land in a new way, the land and plants can also teach us, they can show us about our land and we are apart of the land we are affected by ti everyday, the birds that constantly cheap from dawn to dusk, the bat that screech into the night, the bobtails that awaken after the codl winter months to meet up with their life partner, the dance of the birds and the smell of the flower. The night sky and days blue sky, all these are great teachers and like san pedro have their own way of imparting knowledge, we just got to listen and watch and be open to the lessons its shows. We, as humans, need to get back into contact with the land and what it has to teach and heal, the land is so often not listened to and with our current state of affairs with so much pollution not only air pollution but also sound. It is important to take the time to stop and listen and watch our bioregions, it will teach us what we need to learn if we allow it to do so.
My teachers are the plants 100%; I can bring ideas and thoughts to them from these other models presented by Literature or conversations with other people. Other ways of working, other animistic ideas and concepts and see what happens from there, let the medicine guide me. I will share an example with you, the example is is shell divination. One night in ceremony a thought popped into my head which said “use the shells to find out” this was in response to a question I had posed and I had some shells on my mesa. I have learnt that when this intuition happens I should listen and not think about it too much just act upon it and follow the heart. I did, and I felt satisfied with the result at that stage it was simple binary divination where a yes and no answer can result by how the shells fell, face down or up. After the ceremony I became interested in shell divination, which lead me to research how shells have been used to divine in other cultures. With the help of a friend I was lead to the shell divination of adrican religions such as Ifa and Palo Monte divination. These African divination processes are very complex and with the suggestion to research cantrap divination i have been able to settle on system of divination that works for me and I find it is really good I use it regulary and I am confident in the way of using the shells.

So to conclude, I feel that the land and plants are our teachers in combination with the plant meatro’s like tobacco san pedro. Like the cactus has become part of my land and like myself too, we have become Australians. We are both introduced species, we can work with the land and forge new ways that are peculiar to Australia or our own bioregion and fuse aspects from healing cultures from other parts of the world to form a unique bioregional animism that in of this time right here and right now, listening to the bioregion in all its forms with the help of the plant teachers.

2006 December

Dragons of the sky, dragons of the sea...

In this excerpt from his book, The Universe Is A Green Dragon, Brian Swimme, physicist and associate director of The Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality, provides a wonderful example of the blending of fact and meaning in the context of the cosmic story.

WHAT I PRESENT in my book is the overall picture of the cosmic creation story, told in a single evening's conversation. This article gives excerpts from that conversation, particularly from the first half.

I call the two speakers THOMAS and YOUTH. By THOMAS I want to honor Thomas Berry and the cosmological tradition he celebrates, stretching back from Erich Jantsch and Teilhard de Chardin through Thomas Aquinas to Plato. The idea to present the new creation story in the form of a conversation originated at the Broadway Diner in New York City. I was working my way through a Greek salad, when Thomas Berry suddenly said: "You scientists have this stupendous story of the universe. It breaks outside all previous cosmologies. But so long as you persist in understanding it solely from a quantitative mode you fail to appreciate its significance. You fail to hear its music. That's what the spiritual traditions can provide. Tell the story, but tell it with a feel for its music."

I call the other human YOUTH to remind us that the human species is the youngest, freshest, most immature, newest species of all the advanced life forms in the planet. We have only just arrived. If we can remain resilient, if we can continue our questioning, our developing, our hoping, if we can live in awe and in the depths of wonder, we will continue moving into the only process that now matters - our authentic maturation as a species. It is in this way and only this way that we will enable the Earth to bloom once again.


YOUTH: Why do you say the universe is a green dragon?

THOMAS: I'm a storyteller. Besides, it seems an appropriate way to begin the new story of the cosmos.

YOUTH: But why say it's a green dragon when it obviously isn't?

THOMAS: I call the universe a green dragon because I want to avoid lulling you into thinking we can have the universe in our grasp, like a stray dog shut up in its kennel. I want to remind us of this proper relationship as we approach the Whole of Things.

On the other hand - and here is a second reason for the green dragon - we have learned things in our scientific explorations that completely transform our understanding of the universe. Our revolution in thinking dwarfs Copernicus's announcement that the Earth travels around the Sun. It is outrageous to compare the universe to a green dragon, I know, but I hope this will express some of my astonishment at what we now know about the universe. The inadequacy of the dragon image is that green dragons are much too commonplace to indicate the radical nature of what we have learned. That's how limited our language is.

YOUTH: Where should we start?

THOMAS: At the beginning. We need to start with the story of the universe as a whole. Our emergent cosmos is the fundamental context for all discussions of value, meaning, purpose, or ultimacy of any sort. To speak of the universe's origin is to bring to mind the great fire at the beginning of time.

Imagine that furnace out of which everything came forth. This was a fire that filled the universe - that was the universe. There was no place in the universe free from it. Every point of the cosmos was a point of this explosion of light. And all the particles of the universe churned in extremes of heat and pressure, all that we see about us, all that now exists was there at the beginning, in that great burning explosion of light.

YOUTH: How do we know about it?

THOMAS: We can see it! We can see the light from the primeval fireball. Or at least the light from its edge, for it burned for nearly a million years. We can see the dawn of the universe because the light from its edge reaches us only now, after traveling fifteen billion years to get here.

YOUTH: So we're in direct contact with the origin of the universe?

THOMAS: That's right.

YOUTH: I can't believe I didn't know this.

THOMAS: Scientists have only just learned to see the fireball. The light has always been there, but the ability to respond to it required a tremendous development of the human senses. Just as an artist learns to see a lakeshore's subtle shades and contours, the human race learns to develop its sensitivities to what is present. It took millions of years to develop, but humans can now interact with the cosmic radiation from the origin of the universe. We can now see the beginnings of time - a stupendous achievement.

YOUTH: It's amazing.

THOMAS: Most amazing is this realization that everything that exists in the universe came from a common origin. The material of your body and the material of my body are intrinsically related because they emerged from and are caught up in a single energetic event. Our ancestry stretches back through the life forms and into the stars, back to the beginnings of the primeval fireball. This universe is a single multiform energetic unfolding of matter, mind, intelligence, and life. And all of this is new. None of the great figures of human history were aware of this. Not Plato, or Aristotle, or the Hebrew Prophets, or Confucius, or Thomas Aquinas, or Leibniz, or Newton, or any other world-maker. We are the first generation to live with an empirical view of the origin of the universe. We are the first humans to look into the night sky and see the birth of stars, the birth of galaxies, the birth of the cosmos as a whole. Our future as a species will be forged within this new story of the world.

YOUTH: But what about my future? What difference will it make for me?

THOMAS: To begin with, you will have to embrace your creative potential. The universe has unfolded to this point. It has poured into you the creative powers necessary for its further development. The journey of the cosmos depends on those creatures and elements existing now, you among them. For the unfolding of the universe, your creativity is as essential as the creativity inherent in the fireball.

YOUTH: How can this be so? What do humans add that is actually new?

THOMAS: The human provides the space in which the universe feels its stupendous beauty. The universe shivers with wonder in the depths of the human. Do you see? Think of what it would be like if there were no humans on the planet: the mountains and the primeval fireball would be magnificent, but the Earth would not feel any of this. Can you see the sadness of such a state? The incompleteness?

I sometimes think the primary deed of a parent is to see the beauty and grace of children. Children are magnificent, gorgeous beyond telling. They themselves have no idea of what beauty they embody. Can you see the tragedy of a child with no one to feel and cherish its beauty? No one to fall in love with this magnificent creature? No one to celebrate its splendor?

The cosmos is the same: humans can house the tremendous beauty of Earth, of life, of the universe. We can value it, feel its grandeur.

YOUTH: But what can I do? How am I supposed to help out?

THOMAS: Don't get impatient. You have to learn first. Just moments ago the presence of the universe's origin was unknown to you. Be patient, for there is certainly specific work waiting for you. Or did you think the universe went to fifteen billion years of work to create you if there was not a particular function that you - and only you - could do? The creative powers residing in you will be evoked in time for the work they were created for.

YOUTH: What creative powers?

THOMAS: We can not say until they show themselves. Not even you could know yet.

YOUTH: But where do they come from then, if even I don't know what they are?

THOMAS: From the same place that everything comes from. From the same place out of which the primeval fireball comes: an empty realm, a mysterious order of reality, a no-thing-ness that is simultaneously the ultimate source of all things.

YOUTH: Now wait a minute -

THOMAS: I realize how strange it sounds. But there is little we can do about that. I'm speaking here of something that has recently been encountered empirically. In the language of physics, we call it quantum fluctuation. Elementary particles fluctuate in and out of existence. What a strange realization! Don't think that physicists have any easier time of it than you! Elementary particles leap into existence, then disappear. A proton emerges suddenly - where did it come from? Who made it? How did it sneak into reality all of a sudden?

We say it simply leapt out of no-thing-ness. There was no particle, then there was. I am not speaking here of the manner in which mass and energy can be transformed into one another. I am speaking of something much more mysterious. I am saying that particles boil into existence out of sheer emptiness. That is simply the way the universe works. We have to get used to it. We didn't construct it; we just find ourselves here. If elementary particles are going to come leaping out of mysterious realms, then that's the way it is.

I say no-thing-ness. Or emptiness. But this only reveals the limits of language. We are here approaching an Ultimate Mystery, something that defeats our attempts to probe and investigate. There was no fireball, then the fireball erupted. The universe erupted, all that has existence erupted out of nothing, all of being erupted into shining existence.

While this perspective is new within the traditions of science, from another point of view we are arriving at an understanding that was deeply appreciated during the classical religious period of humanity. Thomas Aquinas and Meister Eckhart in the Middle Ages of Europe grasped intuitively that emptiness is the source of everything. This realization is echoed in the life and teaching of Buddha, who understood that all put-together things arise from emptiness and exist inseparably with emptiness.

YOUTH: Do physics and Christianity and Buddhism say the same thing?

THOMAS: Nothing that simplistic can be said. The situation is this. The creation story unfurling within the scientific enterprise provides the fundamental context, the fundamental arena for meaning, for all the peoples of the Earth. For the first time in history, we can agree on the basic story of the galaxies, the stars, the planets, minerals, life forms, and human cultures. This story does not diminish the spiritual traditions of the classical or tribal periods of human history. Rather, the story provides the proper setting for the teaching of all traditions, showing the true magnitude of their central truths.

We have a vast new empirically grounded story of the universe, one that explodes beyond any previous telling of reality, one that encompasses all peoples because it is rooted in concrete experience. Within this emerging story, each tradition will flower beyond telling in fruitful interaction with the rest, and together we can continue our journey to our fullest destiny.

YOUTH: What is our fullest destiny?

THOMAS: To become love in human form.

YOUTH: Love? I thought we were talking about science and religion. And emptiness.

THOMAS: Yes, that's right. The journey out of emptiness is the creation of love.

YOUTH: I'm confused.

THOMAS: By what exactly?

YOUTH: Well, by love. What do you mean by love?


THOMAS: In order to approach love, we must start with our common context, the emerging universe in which we find ourselves. If we want to learn anything, we must start with the cosmos, the Earth, and life forms.

Love begins as allurement - as attraction. Think of the entire cosmos, all one hundred billion galaxies rushing through space: At this cosmic scale, the basic dynamism of the universe is the attraction each galaxy has for every other galaxy.

YOUTH: But isn't that gravity?

THOMAS: Gravity is the word we use to point to this primary attraction, but no matter how intelligently we theorize about the consequences of this attraction, the actual attracting activity remains a mystery.

YOUTH: Are you saying that this attraction is love?

THOMAS: I'm certainly not saying that gravity is human love, but what I am saying is that when we look at love from a cosmic perspective, we see attraction operating at every level. And everywhere, this attraction is as mysterious, as basic, as the allurement that we call gravitation.

YOUTH: So what you are saying is, a galaxy exists within attraction and so do I.

THOMAS: The great mystery is that we are interested in, attracted to, anything whatsoever. Love begins there. To become fascinated, to feel allurement, is to step into a wild love affair on any level of life.

Then we discover not only that we are interested, but that our interests are entirely our own. We awake to our own unique set of attractions. So do oxygen atoms. So do protons. The proton is attracted only to certain particles. On an infinitely more complex level, the same holds true for humans: Each person discovers a field of allurements, the totality of which bears the unique stamp of that person's personality. Destiny unfolds in the pursuit of individual fascinations and interests.

YOUTH: But it almost sounds self-centered. Where do others fit in?

THOMAS: By pursuing your allurements, you help bind the universe together. The unity of the world rests on the pursuit of passion. Surprised? Let's experiment:

Bring to mind all the allurements filling the universe, of whatever complexity or order: the allurement we call gravitation, that of electromagnetic interactions, chemical attractors, allurements in the biological and human worlds. Here's the question: If we could snap our fingers and make these allurements - which we can't see or taste or hear anyway - disappear from the universe, what would happen?

To begin with, the galaxies would break apart. The stars of the Milky Way would soar off in all directions, since they would no longer hold each other in the galactic dance. Individual stars would disperse as well, their atoms no longer attracting each other but wandering off in all directions, releasing core pressure and thereby shutting down fusion reactions. The stars would go dark.

The Earth would break apart as well, all the minerals and chemical compounds dissolving, mountains evaporating like huge dark clouds under the noon sun. And even if the physical world retained its shape, the human world would disintegrate just the same. No one would go to work in the morning. Why should they? There would be no attraction for the work, no matter what it was. Activity would cease. Did scientists once find the universe interesting, staying up nights to reflect on its mysteries? No longer. Did lovers chase each other in the night, abandoning all for the adventure of romance? Never again. All interest, enchantment, fascination, mystery, and wonder would fall away, and with their absence all human groups would lose their binding energy. Galaxies, human families, atoms, ecosystems, all disintegrating immediately as the allurement pervading the universe is shut off. Nothing left. No community of any sort. Just nothing.

YOUTH: That's an amazing experiment.


THOMAS: It underlines the primary result of all allurement, which is the evocation of being, the creation of community. All communities of being are created in response to a prior mysterious alluring activity. Now you can understand what love means: Love is a word that points to this alluring activity in the cosmos. This primal dynamism awakens the communities of atoms, galaxies, stars, families, nations, persons, ecosystems, oceans, and stellar systems. Love ignites being.

We awake to fascination and we strive to fascinate. We work to enchant others. We work to ignite life, to evoke presence, to enhance the unfolding of being. All of this is the actuality of love. We strive to fascinate so that we can bring forth what might otherwise disappear. But this is exactly what love does: Love is the activity of evoking being, of enhancing life.

YOUTH: Now, this is human love you are describing?

THOMAS: No, no, no. You must begin to see this activity as basic to the universe. Consider a star. In its core, helium, carbon, oxygen, silicon, all the elements up to iron are created in blazing heat. If a star is of sufficient size, after billions of years it explodes, creating all the rest of the elements, sending them off into the universe. Our own solar system emerged from material of an exploded supernova, creating the planets and their many elements. Minerals and life forms are created out of supernova explosions.

Think about it! When you breathe, you breathe the creations of a star. All the life you will live is possible because of the gifts of that star. Your life has been evoked through the work of the heavens, do you see? The star emerges out of its own response to allurement, then evokes the life of others. The air we breathe, the food we eat, the compounds out of which we are composed: all creations of the supernova.

Drawn into existence by allurement, giving birth, then drawing others into existence - this is the fundamental dynamism of the cosmos. In this we can see the meaning of human life and human work. The star's own adventure captures the whole story. It is created out of the creations of the fireball, enters into its own intense creativity, and sends forth its works throughout the galaxy, enabling new orders of existence to emerge. It gives utterly everything to its task - after its stupendous creativity, its life as a star is over in one vast explosion. But - through the bestowal of its gifts - elephants, rivers, eagles, ice jams, root beer floats, zebras, Elizabethan dramas, and the whole living Earth, become possible. Love's dynamism is carved into the principal being of the night sky.

YOUTH: Are you saying that the star is aware of what it is doing?

THOMAS: Well, yes and no. But let's think about it a moment. We are the self-reflexion of the universe. The universe is aware of itself through self- reflexive mind, which unfurls in the human. We allow the universe to know and feel itself. The creative work of the supernovas existed for billions of years without self-reflexive awareness. That star could not, by itself, become aware of its own beauty or sacrifice. But the star can, through us, reflect back on itself. In a sense, you are the star. Look at your hand - do you claim it as your own? Every element was forged in temperatures a million times hotter than molten rock, each atom fashioned in the blazing heat of the star. Your eyes, your brain, your bones, all of you is composed of the star's creations. You are that star, brought into a form of life that enables life to reflect on itself. So, yes: the star does know of its great work, of its surrender to allurement, of its stupendous contribution to life, but only through its further articulation - you.

When we deepen our awareness of the simple truth that we are here through the creativity of the stars, we begin to feel fresh gratitude. When we reflect on the labor required for our life, reverence naturally wells up within us. Then, in the deepest regions of our hearts, we begin to embrace our own creativity. What we bestow on the world allows others to live in joy. Such a stupendous mystery. . . !

YOUTH: Am I then to become like a star?

THOMAS: In its pursuit of allurement, yes. In its complete immersion in the work at hand, in its identification with the activities of arousing being, yes. There are so many beings you can emulate: the simplest prokaryotic organisms struggled ceaselessly and with stunning success, altering the nature of the Earth permanently. They roamed through life and hatched those seeds of power we call genes. Who could have created them if they had not? We have no talent for that kind of work. We carry their achievements in our bodies. All the hundreds of thousands of genes in our bodies that enable such lambent beauty to delight the planet were handed to us by these primitive creatures. Your gratitude includes them. Your life emerges through their creativity.

YOUTH: But they didn't know what they were doing I don't see how I can be grateful to them for their mindless behavior.

THOMAS: Do you know what you are doing?

YOUTH: More than they.

THOMAS: I would hope so, yes. Unless their labor was in vain. But do you know what you are doing when you find Shakespeare so fascinating? Do you know what's happening, in a cosmic sense? Can you explain to me quite simply why humans find mountains magnificent beyond capture in language, why they risk their lives to be up there on angular planes of granite?

YOUTH: Well, no. Not in any ultimate sense.

THOMAS: Then you share the same cosmic ignorance with the microorganisms who created the informed sequences of nucleotides we call genes. Neither you nor they understand why the cosmos should glimmer with beauty, drawing forth our deepest efforts. The simple truth is that we do pursue the fascinating beauty that surrounds us.


YOUTH: This is all so idealistic. I mean, sure there is beauty, but look at the way that everything is so fouled up now. Here we are on the verge of blowing up the Earth. Why is it so bad? Why are we so violent? Why can't we just avoid all this suffering that we see everywhere? Are people ignorant of all this stuff you're talking about? Or is it something else?

THOMAS: To begin with, understand that humans are not unique in having to suffer. Nor are humans unique in being violent. We live in a violent universe. Violence fills the cosmos in various forms, and human violence is only one of these. Violence is a universal fact, but not the dominant fact of the universe. The great mystery is not violence, but beauty. We note the violence, all the more amazed that such stupendous graciousness and beauty should exist anywhere at all.

YOUTH: But where does violence come from?

THOMAS: Destruction has its roots in the allurement permeating the universe. Allurement is the source of all activity, even destructive activity. The star, responding to allurement, destroys itself. No one comes from the outside to demolish the star. The star implodes, smashing itself into a trillion parts - its journey ended. Such tremendous violence, yet see the graciousness of hundreds of billions of stars swirling in the galactic dance.

The biological world knows all sorts of violence. The same urge that draws the lion to the river for water draws it on to kill the wildebeest. Insects are so intent to stretch forth and explore the world that they will devour their own parents if they can not find other food. Fascination with living, the enchantment of being alive, the beauty of the surrounding world - all these draw creatures into violent acts and into the destruction of being, but after four billion years of life on Earth, what beauty has blossomed forth! There is danger in the natural world, a constant challenge, excitement, violence, risk, and terror, but out of this emerges the wonder of the Earth.

With the human a new quality of violence enters the Earth system, one coming from the power of self-reflexion. This new awareness is a risk as well as an achievement of the life process. In a sense, the earth wounded itself when it took on self-reflexive sentience: there appeared new powers of creativity, new dangers of destruction. The question hanging in the solar system today is this: Will the Earth benefit in beauty by risking human self-reflexive awareness? Or will the Earth suffer a new and permanently crippling violence?

That we have brought a new level of violence to the Earth is clear. We have multiplied extinction rates many times over. The best estimates now show that the Earth loses a species every twenty minutes. We are soaking all life forms with poisons, changing rivers into lethal sewage, and hurling millions of tons of noxious gases into the respiratory system of the Earth. As scientific as we claim to be, we have yet to realize that babies do not come from storks. The simplest, most empirical fact is that babies of every species are created out of soil, air, rain, food, and rivers. If we change all of these into poison, we must accept the fact that we change our unborn into poison as well. What materials will be used for their arms but the minerals of the poisoned continents? Of what stuff will their eyes be fashioned but the water of our lethal rivers? What will those wet fleshy brains be made of but noxious gases and acid rain?

Can Earth sustain our violence? Can a great beauty grow from the ruins we leave? Concerning this question, it is important to understand the temporal nature of the Earth's creativity. The Earth at one time was able to create life, but that time has gone. The first life forms consumed the very conditions that enabled life to emerge. The fertility of the Earth is different now. If the higher life forms disappear, they can not be re-created. When life forms vanish, they vanish forever.

YOUTH: But why has there been such a jump in violence with us? Why couldn't we blend in the way other species blended in?

THOMAS: This is the danger of self-reflexive awareness, what I mean when I say Earth in a sense wounded itself by allowing self-reflexion to emerge. The human is dangerous precisely because the universe is sublime. Here is the real question: "Can the cosmos survive the vision of its own beauty?" Can the Earth continue to create beauty once it has created a mirror to this beauty? Can the Earth continue to organize its unfolding once its depths of eros have been tasted, their sweetness enjoyed?

YOUTH: You're saying that beauty and allurement are at the root of all evil activity?


YOUTH: Then what goes wrong?

THOMAS: Humans are easily addicted to beauty, even a clouded vision of it, and we can not break the addiction. Our agricultural processes poison our water and destroy four billion tons of topsoil on the American continent each year, and still we keep at it. We are captivated by our consumer lives, addicted, and apparently nothing can break through. Unable to see the simple sadness of our way of life, sunk into our addictions, we overstuff our homes and garages, carrying on, unmoved by the smoke rising over the burnt-out lives of fifty other nations and a million other species. The American mind resembles a glove compartment, jammed tight with useless junk that no one pays any attention to until we consider cleaning it out; and even then, even as we wonder why we so needlessly clog up our lives, unable to part with it all, we just jam it back in its place.

The way to break an addiction is to break out of a limited world view. Break out of egocentricity. Break out of ethnocentricity. Break out of anthropocentricity. Take the view point of the Earth as a whole. In every fascination, in every allurement, include the vitality of the Earth. You are the Earth, too. The Earth is not different from you. This planet bloomed through millions of years and arrived at the stupendous achievement of self-reflexion. She surpassed herself, shivering with joy at the thought of housing a creature through whom her depths, her beauty, her majesty could be cherished in a new intensity. Imagine Earth's astonishment to see us attempt to satisfy ourselves by transforming the Earth into throw-away tinsel, most of it noxious to all forms of life. Imagine the hilarity and pathology of a civilization devoted to stacking up this stuff, instead of plunging into the joy that has been prepared over billions of years.

YOUTH: Then why didn't the Earth bring forth humans who were born free of our liability? You say our minds fixate on partial visions, that we forget the whole, the Earth, that we become addicted. Why didn't the Earth avoid all the destruction we inflict?

THOMAS: Our task is to explore, to celebrate and delight in the depths of the universe. To enter this work often involves tremendous suffering. You ask, "Why can't we be excused from our destiny?" We can be excused from this task only if some other species accomplishes it for us. Does this option appeal to you? To have something else do the work of the human? To suddenly have no worth or value whatsoever for the whole? In that case, why would the universe bother with us at all? We would have nothing to contribute. We would be, at best, only troublesome stowaways on the great cosmic journey.

The history of life can be understood as the creation of ever more sensitive creatures in a universe where there is always another dimension of beauty to be felt and savored. Think of yourself that way, as a supreme power of sensitivity surrounded by magnificence.

The paradox is this: the greater your sensitivity, the more unbearable the tension. It is much easier to latch onto just one of these allurements, making it the whole. Anyone who grabs a sliver of beauty and insists that it is the whole becomes a fanatic, workaholic, cynic, fundamentalist, or drug addict.

To break the tension of living in a universe rich in allurements is to move toward the needless destruction of pursuing a partial vision. The glory of the human is also the difficulty of the human. Precisely because we are able to feel such beauty, we are simultaneously vulnerable to the addiction of fanaticism in any of a million forms.

YOUTH: Then every destructive act comes from responding to beauty?

THOMAS: Ultimately, yes. The starting point, the first link in the chain, is an act of destruction resulting from a craving that disregards the whole story and the vitality of the whole. Destructive acts are then linked through generations as one violence is transmitted and compounded into other violences. These chains of misery can stretch through millions of years, binding up whole societies in torment. In this way, needless destruction is a response to evil that has been handed down. Parents inflict the self- contempt upon their children in physical and psychic abuse, who in turn project their self-hatred onto others and their own children. The Earth suffers under the weight of accumulated misery and pathology, all of which has its ultimate source in acts of egocentric craving. Think of all this suffering, not only human feeling but the torment in so many many realms of the planet! The magnitude of the Earth's adventure staggers the human imagination!

YOUTH: Is there no end to it?

THOMAS: Each individual person has the power of participating in the transformation of the whole Earth. The evil that reaches you after so many millions of years of existence can be absorbed and transformed. You have the power to accept the suffering, to refuse to pass it on to another, to forgive, to end the needless torment, and, most of all, to transmute evil into energy for the vitality of the whole.


This power of transformation is just one aspect of the creative fire that was there in the primeval fireball, in the extravagant generosity of the supernovas, in the persistent creativity of biological systems. That which created all of this now desires our creativity, commitment, and labor, our delight in entering with full awareness the cosmic story. The mountains and oceans, stars and life forms - all recipients of the same generosity, contributors to the unknown future culminations of our work - all tremble with the same power. Given a finite number of days in which to live, a particular store of primordial fire with which to work, who could deny that all that matters is contributing to the awesome work of fashioning the universe?

And that's why I condense our contemporary cosmological scientific story of reality by saying that the universe is a green dragon. Green, because the whole universe is alive, an embryogenesis beginning with the cosmic egg of the primeval fireball and culminating in the present emergent reality. And a dragon, too, nothing less. Dragons are mystical, powerful, emerging out of mystery, disappearing in mystery, fierce, benign, known to teach humans the deepest reaches of wisdom. And dragons are filled with fire. Though there are no dragons, we are dragon fire. We are the creative, scintillating, searing, healing flame of the awesome and enchanting universe.

Living Systems Theory by Molly Young Brown...

Living Systems Theory by Molly Young Brown....

The following description is excerpted from Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, by Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown.
Living Systems Theory
Modern science and the Industrial Growth Society grew up together. With the help of Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon, classical science veered away from a holistic, organic view of the world to an analytical and mechanical one. The machines we made, to extend our senses and capacities, became our model for the universe. Separating mechanism from operator, object from observer, this view of reality assumed that everything could be described objectively and controlled externally. It has permitted extraordinary technological gains and fueled the engines of industrial progress. But, as twentieth century biologists realized with increasing frustration, it cannot explain the self-renewing processes of life.
Instead of looking for basic building blocks, these life scientists took a new tack: they began to look at wholes instead of parts, at processes instead of substances. They discovered that these wholes--be they cells, bodies, ecosystems, and even the planet itself--are not just a heap of disjunct parts, but dynamically organized and intricately balanced "systems," interdependent in every movement, every function, every exchange of energy and information. They saw that each element is part of a vaster pattern, a pattern that connects and evolves by discernible principles. The discernment of these principles gave rise to general living systems theory.
Austrian biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy, known as the father of general systems theory, called it a "way of seeing." And while its insights have spread throughout the physical and social sciences, spawning groundbreaking derivative theories, the systems perspective has remained just that – a way of seeing. Anthropologist Gregory Bateson called it "the biggest bite out of the Tree of Knowledge in two thousand years."
How Life Self-organizes
By shifting their optic to relationships instead of separate entities, scientists made an amazing discovery– amazing at least to the mainstream western mind. They discovered that nature is self-organizing. Or rather, assuming that to be the case, they set about discerning the principles by which this self-organizing occurs. They found these principles or system properties to be awesomely elegant in their simplicity and constancy throughout the observable universe, from suborganic to biological and ecological systems, and mental and social systems as well. The properties of open systems which permit the variety and intelligence of life-forms to arise from interactive currents of matter and energy, are four in number.
1. Each system, from atom to galaxy, is a whole. That means that it is not reducible to its components. Its distinctive nature and capacities derive from the interactive relationships between its parts. This interplay is synergistic, generating "emergent properties" and new possibilities, which are not predictable from the character of the separate parts– just as the wetness of water could not be predicted from oxygen and hydrogen before they combined, or just as the tensile strength of steel far exceeds the combined strengths of iron and nickel. This property of open systems challenges the universal applicability of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, that corner stone of classical science on which rest notions of entropy, the running down of all life.
2. Despite continual flow-through of matter-energy and information, and indeed thanks to that flow-through, open systems are able to maintain their balance; they self-stabilize. By virtue of this capacity, which von Bertalanffy called fliessgliechgewicht (flux-equilibrium), systems can self-regulate to compensate for changing conditions in their environment. This homeostatic function is performed by registering/monitoring the effects of their own behavior and matching it with their norms, like a thermostat. It is understood as a function of feedback– negative or deviation-reducing feedback, to be precise (also called "cybernetics one"). This is how we maintain our body temperature, heal from a cut, or ride a bicycle.
3. Open systems not only maintain their balance amidst the flux, but also evolve in complexity. When challenges from their environment persist, they can fall apart or adapt by reorganizing themselves around new, more responsive norms. This too is a function of feedback– positive or deviation-amplifying feedback (also called "cybernetics two"). It is how we learn and how we evolved from the amoeba. But if our changing behaviors are not compatible with the challenges we face, and do not achieve a new balance with them, the positive feedback loop gets out of control and goes into "runaway," leading eventually to systems breakdown.
4. Every system is a "holon"– that is, it is both a whole in its own right, comprised of subsystems, and simultaneously an integral part of a larger system. Thus holons form "nested hierarchies," systems within systems, circuits within circuits, fields within fields. Each new holonic level– say from atom to molecule, cell to organ, person to family– generates emergent properties that are nonreducible to the capacities of the separate components. Far different than the hierarchies of control familiar to societies where rule is imposed from above, in nested hierarchies (sometimes called holonarchies) order tends to arises from the bottom up; the system self-generates from spontaneously adaptive cooperation between the parts, in mutual benefit. Order and differentiation go hand and hand, components diversifying as they coordinate roles and invent new responses.
Fire, Water, and Web
The mechanistic view of reality separated substance from process, self from other, thought from feeling. In the systems perspective, these dichotomies no longer hold. What appeared to be separate and self-existent entities are now seen to be interdependent. What had appeared to be "other" can be equally construed as a concomitant of "self", like a fellow-cell in a larger body. What we had been taught to dismiss as mere feelings are responses to our world no less valid than rational constructs. Sensations, emotions, intuitions, concepts: all condition each other, each a way of apprehending the relationships which weave our world.
As systems we participate in the evolving web of life, giving and receiving the feedback necessary for its sustenance, and maintaining integrity and balance by virtue of constant flow-through. To convey this dynamic process, theorists have used a variety of images. Fire and water are prominent among them. "We are not stuff that abides," says Norbert Wiener, "we are patterns that perpetuate themselves; we are whirlpools in a river of everflowing water." Or we are like a flame, says Leon Brillouin; as a flame keeps its shape by transforming the stuff that flows through it, so do we in the constant metabolisis. To convey the nature of the relationship between open systems, a frequent image is that of nerve cells in a neural net. Systems political scientist Karl Deutsch took it as a model for social as well as biological systems, arguing that free circulation of information is essential to health and survival. By their synergistic interactions neurons differentiate and enhance each other in their diversity. Weaving an ever more responsive and intricate net, they give rise to intelligence.
Click here for a longer article on this subject, describing these invariants in more detail, and exploring their implications for the global crises we face today.
Click here for a paper on the relationships between psychosynthesis and systems theory presented at the AAP Conference, 2003.

Coessence by Bonnie Glass-Coffin

I first used this term in my 1998 book called “The Gift of Life: Female Spirituality and Healing in Northern Peru,” as a way of describing shamanic connections between known and unknown worlds that contrasts with the more commonly “hailed” terms of transcendence and immanence. I first became aware of the term in a conversation with David Friedel and his colleague Linda Schele, that beautiful soul who was largely responsible for cracking the “code” of Mayan epigraphy. It was 1992 and I was trying to explain what to them what I had found as symbolically “different” when working with female curanderos in Peru. Unlike their male counterparts, their healing philosophies and understandings of spirit didn’t seem to emphasize “otherworld” adventures. Not that my friend Ysabel didn’t engage in soul travel with the aid of her San Pedro or appear to be infused with the Spirit of the Divine in her pronouncements at her mesa. But, her work (just like the work of two of the other women with whom I’d studied) was somehow different. Spiritual transformation (as a requisite to healing) was not about leaving this world in order to experience Enlightenment. Neither was it about completely surrendering the consciousness of everyday life when one is overcome with the presence of Spirit in one’s life. Instead, it required an awakening to and acceptance of all that IS, in ordinary as well as extraordinary reality.

It was David Friedel who told me that what I was describing sounded a lot like the concept of coessence (coined by Steven Houston and David Stuart to explain the Divine/Human relationships expressed by the Mayan Way glyph that they had studied). Coessence referred to a kind of sharing of Divinity and Life-Essence between worlds. The best human analogy for coessence was that of the umbilical cord, he explained. And, in that moment, over canapés and cocktails, I understood why coessence was such a perfect term for the spiritual system I was trying to describe. Not only did it resonate completely with my teacher’s explanation of spirit travels during all night mesadas along a kind of cosmic umbilical cord, but it also fit the paradoxes I was trying to express of how spirituality was embodied by these women as part of the everyday, rather than as being kept apart from it.

My understanding of the term has deepened considerably since that first discussion with David Friedel. It became a touchstone for the feminine (and feminist) philosophies of spirituality that I presented in my book. But it has also become an analogy for all the bridging between worlds in which I have since been engaged: as anthropologist and emerging practitioner, as patient and emerging healer, as seeker and mother. Coessence is not about abandoning either ordinary or extraordinary realms but about forming new selves that are defined by an understanding of a Sacred presence that nurtures and sustains us throughout our lives. It is about recognizing perfection in all we do, and all we are…even while surrounded by dirty dishes and dirty clothes. It is about co-creation and about taking responsibility for actions we do that impact our Mother Gaia. It is about a Divine presence that we share in and nurture, even while being nurtured. Much more to say, but my 13 year old just walked in and I have to go collect the 5 year old at preschool. But, that, after all is what coessent spirituality is all about….

[more on the subject of coessence will follow. Coessence is, I think one of the most revolutionary concepts to come out of the study of animist people and shamanism itself. I would like to follow up on this topic with a few of my own insights.] -little lightening bolt

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Why bioregional animism?

Bioregional Animism came to me after years of working with shaman"ism" as a spiritual practice and way of healing and growing.
many peak experiences and attempts to find my way, I was shown that the earth and the physical world can provide a way of learning and growing that is focused on integration, centeredness and grounding your lessons. Shaman"ism" was something I had always been interested in but it never made a lot of sense until I had started working with a South American healer, who was very focused on plant teacher medicine as well as the eagle and the condor prophecy. I started to see how to work with the earth and sky, but I was frustrated by learning from a tradition that was out side of my daily experience as being an expression of the ecosystem I lived within, the condor the harpy eagle, the jaguar, the speaking vine and leaves of the Amazon, these were not a part of my daily life. I wanted to learn from the land I lived as one with right here and now. The Amazonian ways were a good introduction on how to do this, as were the North American long dance ceremonies that my teacher brought from his teacher in New Mexico.
I eventually started to focus just on the land under my feet and the sky directly above me. I began to develop relationships with my bioregion and during ceremonies with the plant teachers many lessons started to emerge the term bioregional animism came to me.

I had never read any books on bioregionalism but I had begun a very intuitive discourse with the bioregion I lived within and started developing what I called finding shamanism in your back yard, a sort of DYI tradition, a new animist cosmology based on direct relationships with the land you live within and the sky you swim in.

When I did read Kirkpatrick sales book dwellers within the earth I was shocked as to how much alike the messages I was receiving were to his work and the basic
ideals of bioregionalism. Though I was a bit saddened to find that there was little spiritual basis for the work, the animism was absent.

The definition of bioregionalism is this...
The belief that social organization and environmental policies should be based on the bioregion rather than on a region determined by political or economic boundaries.
The basic definition of animism is this... 1. The belief in the existence of individual spirits that inhabit natural objects and phenomena.
2. The belief in the existence of spiritual beings that are separable o
r separate from bodies. 3. The hypothesis holding that an immaterial force animates the universe.
The new animism however is slightly different.... as seen here in wi

"The new animism:

In an article entitled "Revisiting Animism"; Nurit Bird-David builds on the work of Irving Hallowell by discussing the animist world view and life way of the Nayaka of India. Hallowell had learnt from the Ojibwa of southern central Canada that the humans are only one kind of 'person' among many. There are also 'rock persons', 'eagle persons' and so on. Hallowell and Bird-David discuss the ways in which particular indigenous cultures know how to relate to particular persons (individuals or groups). There is no need to talk of metaphysics or impute non-empirical 'beliefs' in discussing animism. What is required is an openness to consider that humans are neither separate from the world nor distinct from other k
inds of being in most significant ways. The new animism also makes considerably more sense of attempts to understand 'totemism' as an understanding that humans are not only closely related to other humans but also to particular animals, plants, etc. It also helps by providing a term for the communities among whom shamans work: they are animists not 'shamanists'. Shamans are employed among animist communities to engage or mediate with other-than-human persons in situations that would be fraught or dangerous for un-initiated, untrained or non-skillful people. The -ism of 'animism' should not suggest an overly systematic approach (but this is true of the lived reality of most religious people), but it is preferable to the term shamanism which has led many commentators to construct an elaborate system out of the everyday practices of animists and those they employ to engage with other-than-human persons. The new animism is most fully discussed in a recent book by Graham Harvey, Animism: Respecting the Living World. But it is also significant in the 'animist realist' novels now being written among many indigenous communities worldwide. The term 'animist realism' was coined by Harry Garuba, a Nigerian scholar of literature, in comparison with 'magical realism' that describes works such as Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude." -

Though it is said that " There is no need to talk of metaphysics or impute non-empirical 'beliefs' in discussing animism." it is still important to acknowledge the transpersonal dimensions of animist thought, the transrational relationships animist people have with all that is, and the polyphasic world view of animist people. The belief is spirit as it is interpreted by modern scholars is erroneous, animist do not have belief systems so much as methods for having direct relationships with what has been described as spirits. The new animism has done a wonderful job in helping modern man to see that we are one with our environment and that we are not the top of the totem pole, all beings are persons, but in so
me ways it has ignored the spirit of animism. It is my opinion that through the mere act of relating to an other than human person we discover spirit.
And so the old definition of animism still applies yet I am thankful for the grounded perspective on the new animism.
So why have I combined bioregionalism with animism? Why bioregional animism? Instead of just animism....Or the new animism. Just as a reminder really. To put it just real simply, it’s just a reminder. So many of us that seek out shaman"ism" are really trying to find that direct relationship with spirit and with the earth. Many of us just really want to become animists not shamans. But we have been transplanted out of our ancestoral lands or colonised by people of other bioregions and we are no longer know what it means to be native to a place as Freya Mathews points out. We no longer have traditions and ways of knowing and being that reflect this feeling and act of being native. We go and find other natives that can help us often times just really missing the point, following the messages of the spirit of another land, a land that we are not native to. By this I do not mean that if we are Europeans or our ancestors are Europeans we can only be native to that place, by native I mean we live as one with the land we call home, be saying native I mean belonging to the land that feeds you and houses you, the land your body is composed of.
So I placed bioregional in front of animism as a reminder to those that are seeking and trying to find a way to become native again that the lessons in life they are seeking are in their home, in their bioregion, in their backyard, not some far off exotic place nor is the wisdom they seek to come from another culture. The knowledge and wisdom of animist people, the cosmologies of animist people, and the healing and spiritual lore of shamans comes from a deep intimate relationship with the land or bioregion that these people live within.

If you take a look at what the new animism is saying, which is really just a clearer look at old animism from a western perspective, you see that wee are surrounded by other than human persons, that we can establish relationships with, that wee can learn from, persons that in all actuality NEED US to establish relationships with them, to commune with them, to ally ourselves with them and co-create with them.
If you want to learn about healing and divination ask the teachers that animist peoples have asked for
millions of years the spirit of the land and sky and all of the other than human persons that share the land and sky with you, if you want to learn how to live in harmony with the land and sky and all of the other than human persons you live with, ask them. Don't ask those that live some where else ask the locals! Find your own way create your own relationships do it with a community of friends and family. Bring all of the other than human persons in your bioregion into your concept of family and friends, through developing a relationship with them you find out rather quickly that your already related, interconnected or one.

A lot of people want to relate to their world in the way that other animi
st peoples do. This has caused a lot of resentment from other native people, native people that feel we are missing the point. It’s not about how another relates to spirit, to life, to wellness, to the bioregion that you live within, to other than human persons; it’s the way that YOU RELATE. YOU need to develop your own relationships and through those relationships new cultures will natural emerge, new ways, even new languages, arts customs, all though the cultivation of co-creative relationships with what's in our back yard.
So bior
egional animism is nothing new it’s just a new way of saying something that's been around for a real long time. But I think it’s important to say it. To be reminded that animism and shamanism doesn't come from some place that is other, it comes from a direct relationship between you and your back yard, you and your bioregion....
Very few people are saying this right now, with the exception of na
tive elders who are trying to remind us that we are missing the point when we adopt another's traditions. Most teachers of shamanism aren't teaching this point of view, they skip the entire process of becoming an animist or a native and go straight to the power, the healing, and the mystery. They forget that shamans are healers and diviners employed by animist people with preexisting cosmologies developed by first hand experiences with their land and sky, or bioregion as I simply put it.
bioregional animism addresses this and attempts to inspire us to develop
a bioregional animist cosmology from first hand personal relationships with the land and its people through the act of communing with the land and sky and the other than human people that are expressions of the land and sky, just like you.
* A note on how I’ve spelled shaman"ism" here in this article...
There is an arguement that there is no real shamanism to speak, a shaman is a role that is generated within an animist culture, like a priest is a role in a christian religion, and psychotherapist is a role in western secular culture. There is no psychotherapistism, or Priestism. There is on the other hand Animism which shamans emerge from. There is no real shaman with out an animist community and c
osmology to give birth to this role. So in the article the “ism” is hyphenated to show that the “ism” behind shaman”ism” has changed to the point that it directs us to understand where shamans come from how they are formed and that they are not independent of a regional ecology, and a regional social system. References-
Harvey, Graham. 2005. Animism: Respecting the Living World (London: Hurst and co.; New York: Columbia University Press; Adelaide: Wakefield Press). Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Vision, Kirkpatrick Sale, Random House, 1985. ISBN 0-8203-2205-9 (University of Georgia Press, 2000).

Offerings to the bioregion

On we have been having discussion on the subject of Andean despacho or burnt offerings...
I have participated in this tradition practice over the years, and its pretty amazing. The topic took an interesting turn when some one mentioned that they wondered what a bioregional burnt offering would look like. I mentioned that in my bioregion a burnt offering looked like eastern Washington sage mixed with cedar from the tree out side my house, apples from the yard sliced thin all rolled up in fresh home grown tobacco leaves. It was very powerful, and was an offering that left every one feeling blessed and nurtured. The spirits of the land that we were giving an offering to we felt had accepted the offering gratefully.

after talking about this a bit more, I reflected on it and decided to write a bit about what offerings mean from a bioregional animist context... What's below was a response to the comment on what a bioregional despacho would look like...
Andean Despacho kit

If you look at who your giving the offering to it makes the experience very powerful and meaningful and helps you decide what to offer and why to offer. If you look at burnt offerings as a way of relating to powerful natural ( or SUPER natural) forces in your area then what your doing is creating a reciprocal relationship with say the mountain gods or spirits or rivers or water falls or trees or directions or what ever is calling you to work with them in your bioregion then your I guess you could say creating ahem trade relations with these beings who you depend upon to live a healthy life in your bioregion. The act of burning has always been a way of releasing the life force or spirit of something, which is seen in the smoke and felt in the heat and light. A water falls "body" may be unable to move but its spirit can come and ingest the offering that is given through the burnt offering. Same as with a Apu ( Andean mountain spirit) or ancestor ect....
just some insights....
I think that burnt offerings and offerings and prayer animisticly at least help to facilitate communion and reciprocal relationships with the other then human persons that compose a bioregion. By giving offerings you can facilitate or open door ways of communication, that may have other wise been closed before.
many cultures give offerings to plants before they harvest them, or to the animal spirits or keeper of the spirits before a hunt. The act of offering is so common it nearly crosses the board between animist cultures.
ritual offerring by bioregional animist in australia

From a bioregional animist perspective a practitioner of the path might start by feeling drawn to perhaps by appreciation to say a local grove of trees, a forest. Prayers of gratitude and an (intuition based, what would this forest need for an offering? Ask in contemplation and await a reply, it might be bundle of tobacco or some corn meal ect...) offering may be burnt or simply left at a tree maybe the largest tree of the forest could act as the elder of the forest and its representative, or a large stone perhaps whatever you feel is right. Give some thing back to the forest in appreciation for its assistance in your life, for with out what would your quality of life be? By making offerings to the other then human persons of your bioregion, you are opening up lines of communication and showing a sense of humility and respect, as well as beginning a reciprocal relationship with these beings. By giving an offering of thanks and appreciation and gratitude you are thanking them for all that they have done for you in the past, and creating a deeper relationship with them so that you can work together to mutually aid each other in fulfilling your mutual needs.

I have been some what neglecting the blog lately and I have instead been publishing my material on i have been more effective been able to get the word out and connect with people there...
It has been extremely rewarding and our bioregional animism tribe has over 200 members. Please feel free to come and join our tribe and add some of your own wisdom to our discussions. I have also been posting on my blog alot more often... keep in mind that not all of whats on the blog is focused on bioregional animism but I invite you to take a look see and add your comments there as well...
the links to these sites are here...
tactics for evolution

and the bioregional animism discussion tribe... sort of like a forum really...

I will try to compile and post here, at some later date important posts from the tribes blog... tactics for evolution as well as the bioregional animism tribe forum...

A great thanks to those who have seen this tribe and wanted more.
Bless and be blessed!