As I write this it is May 1st, both Beltane, the ancient pagan festival of divine union between the masculine and the feminine, acknowledgement of our total dependence upon the land and the day which the workers have chosen to mark out and celebrate their often unacknowledged contribution to the continuance of the wheel of life. The media would have us believe that the royal wedding was watched by 2 Billion folk worldwide. If anyone knows how they calculated their figures we’d like to know. That’s just under a third of the world. Is this representative of the extent of the entrancement with obscene conspicuous consumption? Does that statement involvement judgement or discernment at a time when our government is slashing education and health but sanctions the extensive resources used to police the “big day”? I’ve also got tunes playing in the background as I write. Big Bass sounds with a different kind of spelling involved. “Keep repeating WE ARE FREE! Hey, it is scary!” Anyhow, choosing THAT day represented both our giveaway of the national holiday involved and our commitment to our refusal to be distracted by the powers that be from what we see as the main task in hand at this time of the great turning. The task of acknowledging Earth Rites, whilst our mother groans under the weight of our greed!
Any of you who read the first article I wrote after the Oxford gathering may
remember the dream of the swans which followed our meeting there. I dreamt of two dead swans and was cautioned to waste nothing, even in death. This had seemed to be the ancestor’s first response to my question of how I might dream into an activism based on something other than protest. Thanks to gorilla, you know who you are.
The flat I spent the night in before the second meeting was quite literally full of swan feathers and in the morning we walked out early to make sure that Luna the four-legged had a good walk before she was left with friends for the day. We also met the owners of the feathers in one of the Royal parks. What to make of the themes developing hey? Jamie Sams Medicine work suggested that swans were bringing us surrender to the divine feminine into the pot of our activity.
Swan flies into the Dreamtime looking for the future. As it is her first visit there she is as you can understand, both nervous and confused. Dragonfly tells her she must be willing to travel through the void of the black vortex in order to find vision. Her willingness to pay the price involved in entering the unknown of great mystery bequeaths her the ultimate gift of grace. We do not yet know what the future holds. We are willing though to search for a vision which serves the mother and her children. Surrender however does not mean passivity but commitment to listen to the dream as it emerges without knowing where it will take us and to have faith in the power of the heart. Without it we seem to me to be lost in the vortex of negative enchantments. I am reminded of the bardo states which the Tibetans believe we must pass through with consciousness intact if we are not to be consumed by our demons.
And so to the business of the day. Earth Dreaming. A different constellation of the collective have gathered today, far fewer but better prepared in some ways. People help with setting sound equipment up. Two of our number have volunteered to create installations. Some of them are scattered around the whole space, each one an exquisite jewel of awareness, reminding us to BE PRESENT. They are presented with mascara and empty tubs of ice cream, divine blends of the scared and the profane, though I make no division between which was which. The big one is one of the most beautiful I have ever worked with. A dream catcher woven with paper birds and swan feathers, with a container full of salt and chestnut flowers in the middle. It will hold our prayers.
People begin to arrive. We have borrowed a tradition from the Burning Man community which my husband belongs to. In an intention to welcome people home when they arrive, we offer them a hug. So many people in the world are deprived of physical contact and sense of welcome and belonging. Even just hugging others can be an active gift of offering. As a good friend of ours who has made it his mission to spread the Hug Nation suggests, most people would rather hug you than hurt you. Love more, fear less. It feels like a good start.
We begin with the ground of this mesa. Dancing is the love and wisdom which has drawn this particular collective together and the conscious intent to employ movement as a tool for transformation. We dance to transform our fears, we dance to pray, we dance to come together as community, we plan to dance as an act of service to the dream of the earth. We ended this phase by inviting people to shape feelings into sculpture – fear, hope, the unknown, ecstasy, despair. After the Oxford gathering we received the criticism that the movement practice and rituals we organized for the day we too individually oriented and left some people without the sense of community which they had come in search of. We wanted today to respond to this input. We came together in circle to use the ancient tools of the American Indian Nations, which democracy in America was originally derived from (see Marx on the Iroquois) of the Council Circle and the talking stick. We want to generate genuine democracy which enables all voices and views to be both spoken and heard from the heart. The talking stick provides a beautiful, effective and simple tool to encourage this. We asked people to share their earth dreams. We lunched on food to share around a table which would have done justice to the Last Supper.
Although we took an intention into the Oxford gathering to be open and flexible, we had it seemed to me struggled with getting the right balance between structure and flexibility and ended up pretty much sticking to the plan we had evolved in advance. Today would be different. Two of the initial collective have departed since Oxford. The previous evening we had lamented the loss of the musician who had swung everyone into harmony after the post lunch graveyard slot at the last gathering. During lunch someone volunteered to lead us into chanting. We expanded the plan and a new facilitator stepped into the circle. Breathe in. Breathe out. Gather. Disperse. Hold on. Let go. Ah the beauty of the dolphin way where whomever is in front leads. This makes my heart sing. Pod rock.
We return to voicing. One of the collective leads us into a discussion about the word activism. Feeling, strong feeling, arises and swells. We are able to return to the talking stick, the power of its containment calls, although in the face of such big issues even it is not enough. We return to the need to embody and move unplanned into a big live process about feelings. Our sculptural work from the morning serves us well. We find ourselves embodying the polarised conflicted we have named as a fear. Judgement. Defensiveness. Conflict. The war inside. As the shadows are owned they are dissolved by the light of consciousness. Vulnerability and shame lie just below the surface and as we embrace them we come back into unity. Ecstasy.
The room is alive with passion, proposals and plans. The proposed charter to give the earth back her rights which has grown from the soil of the newly appointed indigenous government in Bolivia will be celebrated on this land come the autumn. Someone else mentions a virtual collective they are working with. We have lawyers here working for Wild Rights, people from the WWF, women making films about the witch hunts in Africa, mothers who needed to rescue 15 year olds from recent kettling experiences with the police in this country, someone whose practice is to dance where she pleases. Suggestions for sunrise dances, concerns to work with our young people and our local communities, public ceremony and ritual and dance, dances of grief and lamentation, strategic political action, comments upon banking. Having been on the runway warming the engines of flight, I feel like I am witnessing take off, although perhaps of a swan rather than a plane.
We move back to ceremony. Having focused on bringing the whole day from the ground of the yin before engaging with a more yang approach we return to the dream We are invited to imagine ourselves as the earth dreaming herself, safe in the knowledge that as we listen for the whispers of her voice on the wind, we know what needs to be done. We move the dream from the heart into the body, back into the dance before offering it all back to the earth as prayer.
Having had this vision 20 years ago, long before I or others were ready to stand in this place with me, I spend most of the ceremony being washed by the rain of gentle tears of deep gratitude as they flow down my face. The waters of chaos bringing new life. I offer up many, many gratitudes to the Great Mystery and to the Earth Mother for the gift of life at this crazy, challenging time on our home planet. I offer my heart to all my brother and sisters. May we do no harm to the children. Aho!
That night the swans come to me again in the dreamtime. There are four swans underwater. The males are holding the females underwater as they fertilize them. It is a deeply visceral dream. I am both male and female swans, both pairs. I am water and swan semen. From dead swans, strangled by the pollution of our waste the dream is reborn. The eggs are incubating!