Tonight is a new moon, the second for January making it a black moon and a super moon meaning that the moon is very close to the Earth. A friend of mine decided she wanted to mark this auspiscious occasion with a spontaneous ritual.
A small group met at Abbottsford Convent this evening to do just that.
I was keen to let things go and the convent is near the Yarra River so I suggested we make little boats with leaves and sticks and release them in the river with our fears and shadows. My friend suggested we follow this with a moment of connection and gratitude for the moon. It all felt wonderfully easy and relaxed. We were delighted to be joined by the teenage son of one participant, a couple of his friends and another mother along the way.
As we wandered toward the river we collected sticks, bark, leaves and flowers to make our little offerings. We found ourselves taking a circuitous route as we were confronted with locked gates but somehow it all turned out fine.
We finally came to the river and found a flight of stairs that took us down to the water with a concrete landing that was just the right size for our little group. Then we took it in turns to make a statement (alloud or silently) and release our little boat to the river. The rushing of the water drowned out the city sounds and left me feeling soothed.
I came home relaxed and fresh and just a little lighter.
I cross the Yarra River twice a day on my way to and from work. I always try to catch a glimpse as I go past, it never fails to move me.
Last weekend I went to the second half of an Ecopsychology two day workshop. The main presenters were Tigrilla from Damanhur and Geoff Berry (formerly Cities of Light and now The Play of Light). It was a lovely gathering of passionate individuals and the experimental activities have sparked all sorts of ideas about deepening our connection with nature and each other. One of the highlights was Geoff’s urban songlines activity, which has so much potential for re-inscribing human communities into the land.
I particularly enjoyed hearing about the different things people do every day to connect with nature. Tigrilla mentioned that at Damanhur (an ecospiritual community in Northern Italy) every household has a greeting tree. There is a custom of presenting oneself to this tree by placing your forehead against it before you go into the house. Another woman shared a similar ritual where she spends time with a tree in front of her own home in order to leave behind the stress, worry or irritation of the day before greeting her housemates.
Someone else shared Min Mia‘s concept of carrying your ‘poopy pack’ around and collecting ‘shit’ from people, if you don’t give your ‘poopy pack’ to a tree then you are likely to throw it at someone you love. This sparked an interesting conversation about whether giving our cares and worries to the trees is akin to composting them, some felt that it necessary to finish with gratitude to avoid viewing trees as some kind of energetic dumping ground. Ideally we wouldn’t view our ‘negative’ emotions as waste but compost, an opportunity to learn and grow. I wonder if the act of giving those energies to a tree actually involves acknowledging and embracing the feeling paralleling mindfulness exercises like DROPS (don’t resist or push, soften). Trees, like all nonhuman nature, are wonderfully free of judgement.
It was wonderfully affirming, like when I discovered the tree project, to find that so many people share my arboreal affinities.
Big shout out to Joe and Mira and the Melbourne Evolver Network for putting the weekend together!
Judy Wick’s Good Morning Beautiful Business is an inspiring read. Judy speaks plainly about her journey of entrepreneurship from the late 70s through to the present day. She describes the values of cooperation and community that shape her and later underpin a style of business that is genuinely life enhancing.
This book has changed the way I think about business. I have always viewed entrepreneurship with a degree of skepticism, those who succeed seem to attract an almost religious following. Money for it’s own sake has never made sense to me and is certainly part of what is driving the Earth into crisis. Yet I’ve also grown disillusioned with the community and not for profit sector I have worked in for the last 15 years.
The largely thankless (by which I mean poorly paid) work of the community sector is so much at the whim of the politic of the day and rarely seems to generate the kind of radical, long term, sustainable change that I know is necessary. I’ve been looking for alternate ways to make a difference and Judy’s vision of the Local Living Economy is compelling.
In her book she describes money as just one strand in the commercial relationship. When business owners live in the communities they serve, they can see the results of their efforts, for better and worse. They become accountable to the community in a way giant corporations never can be.
I don’t have the skills to run out and start a business but, after seeing what Judy managed to create, I’m prepared to add it to my list of castles in the air.
In my last post I shared a poem about my life purpose which has been a beautiful thing for me and also challenging. I find myself anxious to escape the present by building castles in the air, grand ideas about living more closely with nature or generating widespread change.
There are practical things I’ve been doing – running deep ecology workshops, deepening my personal connection with myself as nature, and writing this blog. When I look at the list it seems like a lot, I love the things I have done so far but I want to do so much more. I want to make this way of being the heart of my life, not just something I do on the weekend. So ‘what is’ butts up against ‘what could be.’
My grand plans are often unrealistic, they are personally or professionally unsustainable, they are far beyond my current skill set or they just don’t have the kind of momentum needed to get them off the ground. The last workshop I ran barely had minimum numbers and it only went ahead because I decided I was going to do it no matter what and my parents came along (thanks guys). This all sounds like I’m clipping my own wings but what I’m trying to get at is that this journey I’m on is a cocreation.
I genuinely want to create something that is larger than myself, that is of service to the Earth. I am beginning to understand that what I need to do is hold the ideas, record them, honour them, share them with other people but stay open to what wants to emerge. I could get a grand idea, unite people under my vision and push it to fruition by sheer force of will but what I’m much more interested in is participating in a shared vision that is held by a whole community of people.
We need systems solutions to systems problems, lots of different people each carrying their own little piece of the puzzle contributing to something larger than themselves. I have come across several groups around Melbourne who are each interested in similar themes around deep ecology, spirituality, social justice and compassion. Who each want to transform the human story, to walk with the Earth not on it and are engaged in deeply personal journeys of inquiry.
I long to bring all these groups together but I’m biding my time, I don’t know whether I need to create a new vehicle or whether it already exists and I just need to jump on the bandwagon. It’s not clear what the Earth wants of me, my heart is open and ready, we will create the path as we walk it.