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.