From the first instant I heard about the vision of the Earth Dreamers I knew that I had an appointment to keep. A description borrowed from one of my shamanic teachers I refer to one of those times when the web reverberates, shimmering truth and you just know, deep in your bones, that there is nowhere else for you to be that particular day, week or year. Resonance which draws you to precisely the spot where you need to stand at that time. Earth grid calling. You know what I mean dreamers!
And so in this first phase, nine of us felt similarly called to the midwifing task, the baby formed and checked at regular intervals in the virtual worlds of e-mail and skype, with the occasional phone call thrown in for good measure. In time a call-out was sounded to those other rhythm radicals, dancing anarchists and trance ecologists to join us for a day of dance, discussion and ceremony focused upon what we might do in service of our mother at this time in our relationship. Most of us know it’s a troubled relationship, but my goodness there is so much trans-generational baggage it can be hard for us to know how to contribute to the transformation process, never mind believe that we might succeed in making a difference. We feel how overwhelming the task is and yet somehow we need to muster the courage and the strength, the grace and the humor to allow ourselves to dream. If we don’t then we really will be in trouble.
Involved in an impossible to win struggle with Asda a few years ago we dreamt of a local nature reserve without a 300,000 foot square shopping centre on it. Having been burnt out by my own ego driven desire to make a difference before, I was careful that time to build a foundation built from the wisdom of the ancestors. This is what they said at that time. Forget the outcome. Concentrate upon your actions in the present. It was a perspective very clearly brought to our table by Stephen who spoke to the whole Earthdreamers gathering in the afternoon about the Ploughshare vision of turning swords into ploughs. We change things by being different and as Stephen so gently reminded us the means become the ends. It was a topic which had been strongly present at the dinner table the evening before we met with the whole group, when we found ourselves discussing those we might be tempted to identify as the opposition. As Stephen also reminded us life is inaccurately represented by the dualistic, digital view of on/ off, right/wrong, good/bad, dreamer/despoiler. Rather we exist upon a continuum which we dance along in constant motion. In the analogue version of reality we are both problem and solution. Really though I see the call to dream for the earth as answering a call sent out by the earth and all her non-human inhabitants, as well as from those children who will come after us. How will we be accountable to the question what did you do when you knew the dream may be dying?
And so seven of us found ourselves arriving outside The Old Book Binders in Oxford. Although the venue was only around the corner from the dreamer to whom the original vision was sent, we arrived there via a London connection as part of a festival called Conversations with the Earth. Some of us hadn’t met before other than on-line and now we were arriving an hour before those who had answered the call out, into a space which in some places still had beer on it from the festivities the night before. Two of the big pluses were that someone from the wider festival had made the most beautiful mud and straw sculpture of Mother Earth, whilst opposite it, to my great delight, was the awesome shamanic art of Stuart Turner. We set to work, setting up a second
altar, DJ desk, smudging, moving chairs. Fidget vibes channelled into furniture removal.
People began to arrive. We had a plan but also wanted to be open to emergence. The four directions were called in, confidently led by Zoe, we danced and then later took partners in order to intuit the contribution they were already making. It felt good to experience how well we see each other as a matter of course and to be seen. We made sculptures of all the feelings evoked by the current state of the world. It was feared that Japan may well be on the brink of a nuclear meltdown and people had clearly brought this concern with them this morning. We witnessed as anger, righteousness, optimism, fear, faith, hope, frustration and a few others stepped forward. It deeply concerned me that initially despair stood alone. Not only for the individual left with the task of holding this for the whole collective but also because I wondered how it was that it was being so little felt. Even here amongst the radically engaged is the pain being denied somehow? What might that mean? Maybe we were so glad to be together it was marginal that day. It was so good though to see how collective an experience feeling is, how it moves around and needs expression by someone. I’d felt pretty nervous too about owning righteousness and worried I’d be left alone holding such ugliness, but selfishly I was relieved that it was quite well represented. Maybe not that surprising amongst a group of activists. Then again important to remember the pain of being or feeling judged, as well as the dangerous head rush of blame. Most important was the sense of collective shared feelings in response, as the opportunity to witness took us beyond isolation into tribe.
We’d wanted to have acres of space for lunch but with a packed programme we didn’t quite fulfill that ambition, though as is the norm with shared lunches we all partook of a veritable banquet. Talk was of Japan at our table. After lunch we began with Mark offering a chance to give voice, which we did both in structured and more improvisational ways. He shared an infectious enthusiasm for the use of song as a medium for making heart communications heard. Next we headed into an Open Space Format, preceded by Stephen offering us the inspiration and encouragement to consider a “Beyond Protest” model. Groups which converged included Action/Action at a Bank and Beyond Protest. Listening to the discussion afterwards I suspected that many of the same issues had arisen in each of the groups. Questions about how to generate change through modeling something qualitatively different, how to incorporate a range of authentic emotion to give voice to that which may not always be heard in protest models, how to employ ritual, prayer, faith and ancestral wisdom and support, visibility and invisibility, responsibility, ethics, us/ them and so on….I’m sure there was much more…and as time and tide wait for no activists, certainly not in this Hemisphere, we moved back into dance to ground our feelings and make prayers, before a quick change over for the next phase of the day.
As people drifted off home or to cups of tea and chat, those of us holding the space needed to maintain focus for the three hour Long Dance Ritual which was up next for those either staying or newly arrived. We hurriedly set up lighting ready for ceremony. Looking around in the luminous space I was amazed to see the way in which the cold, concrete surrounds had morphed into a temporary temple holding our collective love and concerns. Indeed it felt magical, as sound wove with light and presence and we moved into the dance together as Earth Dreamers, seeking to see what there was to see and to give what we could. In the two evenings after we gathered I dreamt very deeply. One was a very personal dream of two swans, dead because they were entangled in the detritus of our neglect. My mother told me I must harvest the medicine from the body of death. Even in death waste nothing. The second relates the current census taking going on in our country at the hands of Lockheed Martin , the world’s second largest arms manufacturer. Lockheed Martin have had more misconduct suits filed against them than hot dinners, they make land mines banned in 154 countries and have been involved in both Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. I have been wrestling with my rage, fear and pain since this information came to my attention last week. What most bothers me is the children who have been murdered and maimed, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gaza. I so want to communicate my deep, deep grief. I dreamt of an altar for the dead….for the children rather than the warriors. I dreamt of a dance. Not an upright, military sort of celebration of victory, but a hair tearing, keening, ash splattering wail of deepest lamentation for all the suffering children. If this dream could be brought to ground, perhaps people wouldn’t want Lockheed Martin conducting our 2011 census.