Monday, September 11, 2017

Thoughts on Dreams & the Impact of Environmental Trauma

The impact of environmental trauma, such as hurricanes, flooding, fire, earthquakes, blizzards, and more is enormous and life altering. It touches the very heart of our existence ripping away our sanctuaries, families, precious items that connect us to ancestors and our identities. These events can literally wipe away one’s way of life in a moment. And if we reflect deeper into the human condition the psychological affects of hurricanes, fires, and earthquakes etc. can alter our perception of the earth and our ability to feel safe and connected. 

In September of 1967 while living on the coast of Texas a hurricane made landfall. My mother working at the local hospital had to drive home. The roads were flooding and at a certain point so was the car. At risk of drowning she left the car and began walking in the deluge searching for safety. After several attempts to ask for help from unwilling families she was offered assistance and call dad. Since then my mother has experienced an enduring fear of intense rainstorms. As a result her relationship to water has changed in ways I can’t even imagine.
How do we heal from this life altering experience and gain some faith back in our relationship to the land? How do we make sense of the losses both internally and externally? And the reality of our own vulnerability in the face of the earth’s response as she adapts to the changes occurring? How do we come to terms with it all? How do we heal and learn to adapt to these changes too? And importantly how to heal from the trauma that has so deeply altered our belief in the beauty and inspiration we encounter in the landscape around us? That for some feel betrayed by.
There is no blue print or solid answer to these questions. How could my mother heal her fear of rainstorms and water? How can these stories of trauma be healed now that they are embedded in the hearts, bodies, and minds of those affected by these disasters?
In the beginning the time is spend caring for the basic needs of safety, comfort, nourishment, medical attention, and support in rebuilding or relocating. Yet in time the psychological affects begin to be exposed affecting the day to day living and future planning. The grief, anger, and fear weave their way among the ways we interact and behave and dreams can become very active. Our dreams become the liminal place for the story to play itself out. And the story can be experienced as a constant nightmare and/or the depths that offer the needed healing.
Working with our dreams when one is ready can be a potent and a life changing experience especially around the effects of trauma. Even for those who may seem to be unaffected by the event dreams can offer a twist to the story that wasn’t seen before.
Dreams related to environmental trauma and its impact become a process of being tender with oneself, letting dreams guide and holding the dream story with a gentle understanding. Not interpreting but instead with the support of a professional exploring the dream’s landscape in discovering the internal supports to hold all the feelings of hurt and loss. And this work is not done lightly and should not be done in isolation.
We can work with the dream as a guide to remembering the wholeness forgotten. The dream teaches us about how trauma has impacted our lives and offers the remedy for the pain. It engages the immediacy of the event as well as the continued impact of the event’s experience in our lives. The dream reveals the delicate traces of wounds to the body, mind, and spirit through the story's characters, the landscape, elements and the story line. It is not about reliving the trauma but instead being with the feelings/associations of the story as expressed in the dream with internal and external support. The dream also presents such gifts as strength, resilience, hope, and love that were hidden within the dreamer that can now be sewed back into the fabric of one's life assisting in reshaping one's identity.  And it is through the wisdom unearth in the dream that a practice is created that can bring to life daily support for continued healing.
The dream also creates an opportunity to learn how to travel with the elements of fire, wind/air, water, and earth both as destroyer and creator is discovered as well as the potency of the elements within too. In the dream story, we can find our way back home both in relationship to our own vulnerability and resilience. Learning to hold all of it on a healing path

and this supports the process of rebuilding the structures of life that were taken away. As this process occurs so does the healing of the relationship with the earth. This process will take time because there is much healing to be done. 

But first the basics of life must be tended to.
I wonder what my mother is dreaming when it rains…I think next time I will ask.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The world is falling apart, dreams, grief, service

Lately there has been a lot written about the end of the earth as we know it. Articles that speak to the 6th extinction process that we could now be in. Whether there is evidence to support this or not we are unquestionably in a time of great-change or turning as Joanne Macy speaks too. The impact of these changes is slowing altering the face of the earth’s landscape while accelerating the tipping point that will require our immediate attention if not only to address our own survival. Most of western civilization who has not been drastically impacted by these changes continues to experience a numbness associated with the denial of the long-term consequences to immediate human made environmental impacts. Impacts built from a consumer driven philosophy of striving for abundance and power. This power and abundance becoming the valued priority at the expense of all.
What psychological hypothesis guides this approach, without some sense of regret for its overall impact? What do we shut down within ourselves to mask recognition of our impact?
Could we be dissociating, experiencing a numbness formed from the addiction we foster by continuing to want and strive for more. Is it the lack of association or relationship with all that lives around and even within us that nurtures the separation? What comes first or do they both dance their weaving mechanism of desire, separation, and addiction as we see in those addicted to drugs, food, gambling etc. As we feed the addiction the separation increases leading to a focus that disregards the consequences no matter how destructive the outcome.
When we hear of the extinction of a species, is there no response because we don’t feel connected or see the inherit value in this life? Because we have no association or link to this being, don’t understand the root link between their survival and ours?
Will it take the loss of the elephant or a hummingbird? Will it take the loss of the forest down the street or the beautiful delicate rose that we give to our loved one on their birthday? Will it take the multitude of floods that wash away our farming land and their ability to grow the precious food that sustains us? Even if it directly affects us will we be caught in the cycle of addiction so deeply that we ignore our own extinction.? Maybe?
I also wonder if there is something else that keeps us from change especially now in the face of the environmental trauma that is occurring on a tremendous level. To acknowledge this trauma is to acknowledge our own grief and responsibility in its cause. Could there be a depth of grief we are not willing to tap into, because in doing so it will come with a place of regret, guilt, and powerlessness. A place of loss unlike any other that we would have to admit too and feel. And an acknowledgment that also expects a response of some kind that we are not sure we can or are willing to give.  
To feel the weight of guilt and grief tied to the consequences of our impact on the land could be overwhelming and destructive. Especially when there is discussion focusing on the end of times. What better reason to go back in denial even for the best of us, if it is too late why bother.
Even the best of us who understand climate change still fly, watch TV, buy the best clothes, and unknowingly purchase items forged from the destruction of the earth. The reality is that in mainstream culture it is difficult to live a completely environmentally ethical life. And yet still we try the best we can, live the best we can in a world that demands we go numb.
For those of us who choose to acknowledge the trauma occurring and view the destruction of the land and seas with an open heart we encounter the realization that the time for eluding or recovering lost environmental impacts maybe impossible such as the melting of the glaciers. That instead we must come to terms with an environment that will be changed forever and learn to adapt to an evolving landscape. That we can become those who continue to speak to the easing of its destruction while we prepare for its evolution.
But first we must create the space for our own grieving, for the loss of the rain forests, the clear clean seas, the extinction of animals like the Northern Darwin Frog, Western Black Rhinoceros, fresh water shrimp, several species of butterflies and more. To grieve for the elimination of farming lands in countries such as Africa and South American because of the lack of water leaving thousands of people starving and malnourished. For the wars that are being fought and will be due to decreasing resources.
For me the dream is my awakening offering the foothold to understanding not only my own trance like state in not responding but also to the enormous impact and tasks that lie ahead. My dreams offer a voice to my own process of engaging the landscape around me by opening me to the story within. They are reflected to me in the story and its feelings who I am in relationship to my inner and outer self and they give voice to the earth through the universal energies of the unconscious realm.  
Dream “I am standing on the edge of a large lake and in the distance, I see men capturing a black bear cub and placing her in a caged locked in the bed of a truck. When I look around I notice the mother bear running trying to escape but evidentially falling to the ground with exhaustion. Around me other baby animals are being capture as I stand idly watching. What do I do?
Dream: I am a government agent who has just received a call from a scientist letting me know the earth’s food supplies have been tainted with a virus.
These types of dreams have come to me over the last few years. When I follow the story of the dream and step into its associations and feelings I tap into a breath of sensations that guide me to insights regarding the numbness of witnessing and experiencing trauma on a personal and universal level. I become of aware of what has kept me from wholeness and how I lost my voice.  How my nourishment was tainted on a physical, emotional, environmental, and spiritual level. How I have been kept from the nourishment of the land. And how the land is losing its ability to be and give nourishment.
And in receiving this insight and wisdom I can have the opportunity to heal by experiencing the grief and anger of it all. It is in opening to the gesture of the grief that I can step closer to opening to the gift of who I am in relationship to my soul and the soul of the earth. It is in this healing that I can claim my place in the world and my role in relationship and service to the earth.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dreaming as an Ancient Rite of Passage Ritual

Dreaming as an Ancient Rite of Passage Ritual

The way of dreaming is mirrored in the unfolding experience of a rite of passage journey.  Each time we lay to sleep we make severance, releasing our former lives, its concerns and actions of this waking world and slip into the unconscious realm. Like any process that touches the egoic self, there may be struggle in the letting go, a desire to hold on to thoughts and feelings that keep us in old patterns of engagement. Ones that do not serve but instead keep us awake assuming we will discover the way through but never do.

Yet there is an “emergent” potency that occurs when we consciously prepare to step into the dreaming world as a guide in the passage of healing as a dying to self and opening to the birthing awareness to the soul self. Could it be a desire to remember?

As we slip into the darkness of sleep a gateway awaits taking us into the threshold, the liminal space where the dream narrative comes to life. Where spirit in all its forms offers guidance weaved with the yarn of the universal and self-unconsciousness which reflects our ways of being within and without. Ways which have blocked and opened us to our true being and wholeness.

Upon awakening we begin the process of incorporation. In remembering and working with the dream we discover within its wisdom lies the gift we give to ourselves and our community. A gift of awareness that if embodied heals our pain and offers a glimpse of the path to wholeness.

This wisdom manifested in the waking world provides a dynamic ritual practice that synergistically changes our inner being, opening to the essence of who we are. This vision then comes alive in our daily interactions as we grow towards wholeness. A sacred gift of our passage given to all we encounter. One that deepens each time we heed the call of our dreams.

Dreams haunt reflecting the story of an exiled life. Memories torment the mind causing ripples of struggle that fight unconsciousness. Only exhaustion slips her into the darkness that finally brings sleep. Sleep opens to the soul of a dream forgotten by time and space. A reality she has yet to live. 

The Dream
“She stands facing a landscape of devastation. A mist of wet grayness thick and greasy fills the air. The land hangs before her a wasteland of collapsed buildings and empty streets filled with the remnants of an unfit guardian. Splatters of desperate and lost souls scourged for food and safety in alleys and burned out buildings.

She searches the terrain for her destination. Once discovered moves quietly and cautiously through the rubble. Her only protection these tattered clothes and battered boots.

Voices call to her in the darkness, a place she is all too familiar with.

“Stop now, you cannot make it, there is nothing to be found, and it is too late.”

Guarded yet ready she carefully steps forward avoiding the trash of this forgotten place.

She arrives at the station, a place only known in memories which held power. She waits on the edge of the platform as time pulsates like waves of emptiness and uncertainty. She waits, daring to know what has not been seen. She waits, holding her destiny, waiting to be release, yearning for freedom and begging to be awake. She waits and in the distance a speck of light shimmers as it draws closer.”

A dream reawakens a desire, a forgotten memory of hope. She becomes the dream as the dream is becoming her a rite of passage.

Friday, February 10, 2017

    The Altar of my Resistance: 
Dreams, Spiritual Resistance, & Ceremonial Activism                                     

Lately I have felt the uncertainty of my role in this current “resistance” to the political environment we are experiencing. Thoughts and feelings arise within questioning my commitment to the movement, have I done enough, should I attend every organizations meetings, and do I march every time for every issue? And if I don’t am I contributing to the oppression? Some told me yes. In the pit of my questioning shame and guilt begin to fill mixing water and dirt to mud that cakes me in cement. Here I cannot move at all. And I ask what does it mean to resist? And in this place, as an immovable object a dream is remembered and a story told offering wisdom for my release.

“Dream: I am in a cave sitting in circle with a group of women. In the center a fire roars. One woman holds a clay bowl in her hands in which something is moving. She turns and faces me offering the bowl and tells me it is time to nourish on what is within. I take the bowl and peer inside. Pieces of a live rattle snake move around. I swallow hard and look up at the woman in confusion. She nods acknowledging what I must do. I look back at the bowl and my fingers reach down towards the center.”

In this current time of increased political, ecological, economic, and spiritual struggle the cry to take action in some form to push back against a tide that appears to be drowning out the concepts of love, community, earth, spirit, and healing we are experiencing the rising tone of the word RESIST. A word shouted out on social media, painted on stone walls and poster boards. A word inspiring chants that demand our action through boycotts, marches, petitions, and holding space in barricade such as Standing Rock calling out to those in power for change. These are powerful and potent means of resisting, actions that can and have created change. And in this outpouring of active civil resistance there also lives a way to resist, to be an activist and to create change that should also be considered.
What does it mean to resist? The dictionary tells us it means, to withstand, endure, work against, to exert force in opposition or counter in defiance that which does not serve us. Resistance is to refuse to accept or comply and/or the ability to not be affected by something. To resist is to make a choice and act in accordance. And of course there are many forms of resistance both towards and away from wholeness both often driven by present struggles, the uncertainty of the unknown, and what we believe, experience, and feel about ourselves and how the world engages us.
Through my early adult hood the constant discrimination and harassment I experienced and witnessed others endure including the death of a friend forced this introverted being to take to the streets. I found my anger, self-acceptance, and voice as I spoke out against the injustices of the world. I shouted in the faces of those who I felt did me and my people wrong. I march, spoke out on TV, and developed new organizations which would continue to do the same. I was a wild cat in my activism.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that self-acceptance and living my life with dignity and integrity despite cultural norms and hate, was a pure representation of resistance. In later years living in relationship to the earth in a loving, respectful way, and working with mine and others dreams also became a potent act of resistance and activism. And what I have now come to understand as spiritual resistance. Because in each case I am living and practicing ways of being that reflect aspects of society not accepted as mainstream and/or go against the tide of beliefs of who a person should be. And dreamwork has been just that tool for ripping the lid off the box and naming everything when I paid close attention.
Spiritual resistance refers to attempts by individuals to maintain their humanity, personal integrity, dignity, and sense of culture as was experience in Nazi attempts to dehumanize and degrade Jewish individuals/culture. Most generally, spiritual resistance may refer to the refusal to have one's spirit broken in the midst of the most horrible degradation. Cultural and educational activities, personal acceptance of self, maintenance of community documentation, and clandestine religious/spiritual observances are four examples of spiritual resistance. In ancient times when Christianity swept the European landscape Druids, Wiccans, and Goddess worshipers would use every day items such as ropes, staffs, stones, and branches as ceremonial tools. These were kept in plain sight but hidden to those in power. Ceremonies would also take place in private homes and stories were handed down using the language of the trees so no one would be able to translate. In all cases above everyday acts of resistance folded into the practice of not giving up on the essence of who they were and what they believe. Everyday moments of ritual that reflected the belief in their relationship to each other and the land became ceremonial activism in the face of possible imprisonment or death.
Today with ongoing struggles to honor the diversity of who we are and grow into wholeness individually and collectively we are face with choices about how we respond and it what ways. As many have shout we cannot stay invisible or silent, we must respond in some form if we desire a humane diverse eco center world. One that values and nurtures all including the landscape around us. What way we each choose to respond is as diverse as the people and the landscape we live within.
In my own process I have come to understand that to be accepting of who I am as a lesbian with a fluid gender identity, to live openly, to educate, and support others in their process even in the face of physical threats and discrimination is an act of spiritual resistance. This has always required my own personal work on a very deep level. At some point in my struggle of acceptance I had to reject the norms and beliefs of the culture I live in. I had to stop hating me and believing in the fear imposed rhetoric of the society. I had to resist the hate within and without. Not always an easy task. This is also the case for my relationship to the earth, again to resist has meant for me to take on a spiritual and vocational path not accepted by many but the only one I knew as true to the authentic story of who I am. I have resisted the main stream western way of being to live the truth of what it means to be a member of and service to the earth community and not the delusional assumption of being in control of or separate from the earth.
In the middle of all of this the work of my dreams has offered the guidance and support in understanding and resisting all the voices of my own trauma as well as the voices that demanded I comply with the rules and norms of a society gone mad by consumerism, personal and environmental trauma, racism, sexism, homophobia, and on and on. They do this for me because I view dreams as the story of who I am in relationship to my past, present, and future and who I am in relationship to all beings as of the earth and universe. It is an animist view of the world that guides me. A dance that weaves all aspects of how I engage the world and the world engages me. In this perspective my dreamwork has opened me up to soul and an awareness of spirit. A glimpse of how to be relationship and in balance with all that surrounds me in these difficult times. I have experienced a profound kinship with all beings that roam the earth and have cultivated a practice that honors the sacredness of my role within the earth community through work with my dreams. Although definitely not perfect in this I have  discovered a way to live in the world through authenticity, reliance, and hope. My dreams teach me to resist.
So I march for what I believe and I do something more, I keep the dream alive and I work with others dreams, I do ceremony and ritual with the dream’s wisdom individually and collectively. I weave the work of dreams and earth based practices together. As a practitioner I explore how the dream reflects the dreamer through its associations, felt experiences, archetypal engagements, and memories invoke. How it shows us ways we open to or experience barriers to that wholeness. To work with an individual and their dream is a sacred encounter, one that requires my belief that the wisdom I seek from the dream is driven by my ability to listen to the spirit of the dream and the dreamer. When I ready myself for this work I prepare to step into ceremony with the sacred by asking for guidance and inspiration, to listening with an open mind and heart to both the dreamer and the dream. And the wisdom of the dream comes to life through a gesture, prayer, mantra, altar and more. This is spiritual resistance within a ceremonial context?
Ceremonial activism which has been practiced for centuries by many cultures and spiritual communities holds its intention in co-creating a sacred experience of opening to spirit/divine/God/energy etc. It is a way for communities to honor, ask for guidance, healing, call in energies, and celebrate all matters of life. It is a way to divine spirit with the intention of opening to energetic shifts, the true nature of who we are in relationship to everything. When we step into ceremony in times of need for the community, in times of resistance this is sacred activism.
By choosing to work with our dreams we affect change within ourselves, our communities and the earth. As we change from the wisdom of the dream, so do our dream’s change, so do we draw closer to dreaming as one with each other and the earth. And we live this change in the world.
I see our dreams as a personal, cultural, and universal story and enlisting sacred ceremony to work with our dreams is a tool for affecting change. We are creating new stories, healing old wounds and forging paths to inspiration that impact many energetically.  Our ancestors taught us that the dream is a potent Guide in remembering the essence of who we are and offering the wisdom to navigate the journey to.
When the marches are over, the posters put up on the walls and the revolution has torn the old structures down, the dream still resides within offering the guidance needed to seed a new way of being and continue to confront and transform the old not useful ways. And those of us who walk the way of the dream will offer ritual and ceremony bringing the dream’s wisdom to our communities. In the meantime may we dream the way through and perform ceremonies everywhere?
Dream “A mist of wet grayness thick and greasy fills the air. The land hangs before a wasteland of collapsed buildings and empty streets filled with the remnants of an unfit guardian. Splatters of desperate and tattered souls scourged for food and safety in alleys and burned out buildings. She searches the land for her destination. And then moves quietly and cautiously through the rubble. Her only protection tattered clothes and battered boots. Whispers call to her in the darkness, a place she is too familiar with. “Stop now, you cannot make it, there is nothing to be found, and it is too late. “Yet she tenderly steps forward avoiding the trash of this forgotten place.
She arrives at the train station, a place only known in memories which held power. She waits on the edge of the platform as time pulsates like waves of emptiness and uncertainty. She waits daring to know what has not been seen. She waits holding her destiny, waiting to be release, yearning for freedom and begging to be awake. In the distance a speck of light breaks through the darkness.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Thoughts on dreams and dreaming.................

God sleeps in stone, breathes in plants, dreams in animals, and awakens in man” — Hindu Proverb

In this time of ecological and psychological struggle we can hear the whispers of an unfamiliar language calling out to be remember in all of us. Will we heed the call, listen, and take the necessary action to come home to our original self in the landscape of our earthy experience? And if we say yes are we willing to attend to and learn this language within. Our dreams expose us to this ancient interspecies language that hold's the key to our wholeness and place among all beings. By working with our dreams we begin the process of unlocking what has kept us from this beautiful ancient language of our primal self.
Dreams uncover our primal energies
When we step into the initial darkness of sleeping we cross over the borders into the landscape of the supra-consciousness. Here we are free from waking life chatter, submerging into the chemical & alchemical shifts that open us to encounters with tidal waves, wild animals, and passionate love. It is here that primal energies are liberated from the confines of ego, trauma, and cultural bindings. In this dissolution the dream evokes the feelings and knowing of this core universal force of life in all its forms such as instinctual, aggressive, creative, and sexual. The dream offers a glimpse of the original self as it is bound and unbound. And guides to your first born spirit as you were and can be in wholeness.