The Urgency and The Promise

Tears slide down my cheeks this morning as my body absorbs the enormity of what my eyes see. Short and tall, spindly and plump, young and old, cedars are dead. DEAD. Like a cancer patient losing his hair, bald cedars are everywhere I look in this small patch of rain foresty forest in the Pacific North West of the continental United States of America.

I walk in this small forest almost every day and it’s been less than a year since the cedars began dropping like flies, like bees, like birds, like microbes, like fungi, like panda bears, like tigers and sea turtles and slugs and butterflies and penquins and seals and ice.

Oh the loss of ice weighs heavily on my heart. I lived in Montana for thirty years and grew to know Glacier National Park fairly well. When we moved there in 1980 there may have been as many as 70 glaciers and now there are 7.  ( I can’t find the actual numbers quickly enough to be confident it was 70 and 7 but the idea is accurate. ) It is estimated that those few will all be gone in a decade.

 

Our planet is dying and I witness it daily. My heart breaks open wider and wider and the tears tumble readily for the innocence and ignorance of modern, urban humans who keep living as if we have endless tomorrows.

WE HUMANS KNOW NOT WHAT WE DO! That’s a line in my book, Ode To Gaia: Calling Forth our Imaginal Selves, as well as the title of a new, sensitive and beautiful movie which can be found on Netflix. Please check on both of them.

“Our Planet Is Just as Alive as We Are.”  Whoop whoop… At last the truth is OUT!  I’ve known it since childhood. Bet you have too! You may have forgotten as an adult but your bones remember, your organs and sinews and cells remember. Main stream media, the New York Times, has finally announced this truth a few weeks ago as the headline for an article by Ferris Jabr . “We and all living creatures are not just inhabitants of Earth, we are Earth – an outgrowth of its physical structure and an engine of its global cycles…” writes Jabr. He quotes biologist Lynn Margulis: …”Earth’s surface has been alive for at least 3,000 million years.”

Those 3,000 millions of years of life are puny numbers compared to the billions that preceded it as our globe went through endless iterations of  its rocky fiery being-ness.  We humans are babies in the big scheme of living species, only been around 200,000 thousand years or so, a proverbial eyeblink of time.

These simple truths should make us humans fall to our knees with gratitude, humility and awe. And a desire to listen, to listen and observe and learn from the land on which we live.

Only six miles – maybe seven – of atmosphere protects us from the endlessly- everexpanding ( not all scientists agree on expansion ) –atmosphereless- infinitevastness of the universe. That’s a very thin layer of protection, less than a ten minute drive on an interstate in Montana.

Think about the enormity of that fact.

Let it go deep inside you, beyond your intellect to land in the belly where wisdom resides, to find a home in the heart where compassion thrives.

Acknowledge the miracle of our planetary home and everything changes.

Here I’m paraphrasing Jabr: Earth births zillions of organisms that ceaselessly devour, transfigure and replenish its air, water and rock …those creatures and their physical environments evolve in tandem, so shouldn’t we think of our planet as alive?
Humans are the brain – the consciousness of the planet. We are Earth made aware of itself…(and) only we can choose to help keep Earth alive.

Only we can choose to help keep Earth ALIVE…powerful words for me and relate to the new year long program that Kathryn Lafond and I have just begun.

Called Choice PointFalling in Love with Belonging to Earth, we will build community as we explore personal, transformative possibilities and consider how we can contribute to our culture’s evolution. You can actually read more about it on this blog by perusing the most recent previous posts. Easy peasy…Contact me if you’d like to know more: deborahmltn@gmail.com.

 

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Choosing to Have No Choice

“All our lives depend on how we choose to live.” 

So begins a blog post from many years ago. It’s no wonder that Choice PointFalling in Love with Belonging to Earth is the title of Kathryn Lafond’s and my new course. Actually I haven’t had to make a choice about how I live for most of my adulthood. Early on, I made a decision to live by my heart’s yearning and my soul’s integrity. Not always an easy path but one of rich being-ness.  I love and trust and that’s about it. No choice. I have to say it makes life a lot easier. ( Note the paradox…easy/not always easy – both are true ) Certainly, I stumble but I also remember quickly that the heart guides me. Picking myself up and dusting off aren’t a big deal.

 

In 1994 when I was working with Felicitas Goodman, Ph.D.,( www.cuyamungueinstitute.com ) the anthropologist who discovered Ritual Body Postures and Ecstatic Trance, ( I call them Ecstatic Wisdom Postures ), I experienced a vision that relates to choosing and still inspires me:

I see black and white Kachinas dancing in the center of a circle. Suddenly a tiny orange and red Kachina leaps into the middle   I wonder where the women are.  I find them off to the side, standing in a circle dressed in black shrouds as they help a woman give birth.

Suddenly I see through the eyes of one of the black and white Kachinas. I feel one very large tear sliding down my left cheek. I know it is blue. As I swing my head from side to side, I see the desecrated earth and the green beautiful earth and I hear the kachina chant, “You choose, you choose, you choose.”

Then the animals come spilling through, their eyes peering out of the rainforest, watching us, wondering if we will choose with their well-being in mind as well as  our own.  A huge heart rises in the midst of the circle of dancers.  I see its wounds and also know that it is healing itself.  A river of green slashes through the heart, carrying compassion and love energy and spilling green all over the earth.  I see that the green river has opened the heart so I can see the texture of its interior.  I am shocked to see it is the same texture as that of the molten “hole-y” rocks I saw yesterday in the Jemez Mountains.  I wonder if our heart’s interior simply mirrors the earth outside our bodies, if all our bodies’ parts and functions reflect the earth outside us.

Can that be right?
Is the earth really outside us?
Maybe, instead, the earth is ourselves turned inside out.

Inside Out

 

That refrain: “You choose, you choose, you choose,” has echoed in me ever since. I’m glad to have lived long enough now to know that admonishment is heard by many all around the globe. It is in our human hands to influence the course of life’s history on the planet. And if we choose to believe that “the earth is ourselves turned inside out,” we will recognize more readily how our well-being, personally and collectively, is inextricably intertwined with the earth’s well-being.

I long for all the children of the world – and I don’t mean just human children – to experience a sensuous, complex and interconnecting world in which life thrives and beauty abounds to fill the soul.

Don’t you?

stories ODE to Gaia (598x800)

 

We all can contribute to these great and auspicious turning times: the grand awakening of humans to the fact that we are all indigenous to this planet. We are embedded in a living world, an eairth from which we are inextricable. Maybe we can help each remember a greater gladness than acquisition of limited resources – the birth of camaraderie and communal playfulness, cooperative, creative challenges and ecstatic experiences, soul-filled communion and the spirit of laughter shared, loving and relating, . .“the rapture of being alive” as Joseph Campbell said. We have an opportunity to tell new stories. Stories that are fun-damental, perma-cultural guides to living on this globe, finding the grace in suffering, the humor in pathos, the joy in grief and comfort with the paradoxical, uncontrollable nature of all of it.

Don’t you want to choose to join Kathryn and me in this year long adventure to meet your own no choice but to Fall in Love with Belonging to Earth?

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Choice Point another pov

Falling in Love with Belonging to Earth is the subtitle for the year long course Choice Point beginning on Saturday March 9th 2019. Co-facilitated by my esteemed friend,Kathryn Lafond, she and I began dreaming of teaching an in depth, year long course two years ago, but our lives then couldn’t make room for that possibility. Now the time is right and we’re GOING for IT.
Orca Love

Kathryn says:  My work in the past few years has been to re-examine my understanding of the Web of Life to be all-inclusive. Meaning – as a human I am part of the circle itself; life doesn’t exist merely to fulfill human need.

Handcestral Wisdom (590x800)

 

As “Community” is yet another name for the Web of Life, I look forward to dancing joyfully in communion and community with each one of you who joins us.

I am eager to dig deep into exploring our inter- and intra-dependence with our ancient Mother Earth and to leave separation consciousness behind. Too often the shadow side of life has been holding us in anxious criticism rather than joyful expression; in dissonance rather than harmonic resonance.

I believe its time to recalibrate head, heart, body, soul, humanity, and Nature by building bridges between our mundane activities and the vast wisdom of the cosmos. To remember the sacred in doing the laundry and dishes as well as answering heartfelt prayers.

Intrepid Companions


The sacred nature of All that Is yearns to be known.
Are we willing to take the time?
Say Yes, Ohhhh Please say YES!

Once we can articulate what we stand for we can BE the work we came here to Be – We can take action. Both linear and non-linear thinking is required to take us to new planes of existence; to understand and awaken our earth consciousness.

And once that doorway is open can you imagine
‘What a wonderful world this will be?!’

For more about Kathryn: https://kathrynlafond.com/

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Choice Point

“The ecological crisis is calling us to a deeper kind of revolution. Its strategy involves restoring…our felt understanding of the living intelligence and interconnectedness of all things. To not feel that…is to live in poverty.” Charles Eisenstein,  Climate – a New Story

unexpected

“When it comes to things spiritual, paradox is always a good thing. It strikes at the heart of our compulsions to control. It also invites humor in and defuses temptations to excessive literalism and religious zealotry…” Matthew Fox, Naming the Unnameable

eco self

 “As I reflect on my own life’s journey, I discover my own seamlessness with the world around me. My living and my dying belong to it. I am not cut out to be society’s paper doll propped up by the pretense of self-sufficiency and boundless abundance. Instead, I am plump with paradox and lean with simple truth: love IS the life force streaming through me, trees, rivers, creatures and the cosmos. Though my time here is brief, everything I do matters to that one great thread. When I nourish the world, I strengthen the fabric that nourishes me.”  Deborah Milton , oracle deck message booklet —Awakening to your Divine Self: Wisdom and Love from your Fearless Sisters

Thread

Those three quotations touch on the reasons I can hardly wait to bring Choice Point into existence. That’s the year long course Kathryn Lafond, my colleague and friend,  and I have planned. I can hardly wait to gather in community to explore our lives in the context of our pivotal time on the planet. As a species we travel in uncharted territory where, for the first time in recorded history, memes* contribute more to our evolvement than genes. It is the stories we live by that plot our cultural values and craft our inner landscapes. As authors of our own life stories, we can imagine new storylines that open our hearts, awaken our felt sense of interconnectedness with the living world around us, nourish a deep well of true communion with the beloved within and contribute to the rebirthing of our culture.

Our year long journey will expand our sense of self far beyond what we can imagine at our starting point. By coming together with humility and courage, a sense of playfulness and a willingness to explore, we will summit mountains of being-ness, roam grasslands of expansiveness and float rivers of aliveness, all reached more easily by traveling as a group of friends. Our time spent together will be a spirit- assisted journey to a more fully embodied self, which allows us to contribute to the midwifing of a new global human culture in which love is true north and interbeing is the compass.

Then we can truly call ourselves sacred activists.

Choice Point

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*According to online Websters Dictionary memes are
an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture. Another use of the word meme is as an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) or genre of items that is spread widely online especially through social media Memes (discrete units of knowledge, gossip, jokes and so on) are to culture what genes are to life. Just as biological evolution is driven by the survival of the fittest genes in the gene pool, cultural evolution may be driven by the most successful memes.— Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins may have written that quote in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Now, more than 40 years later, we are witnessing how memes can literally change the evolution of our species once dictated only by genes. The discovery of insulin as a treatment for juvenile diabetes is an example.

 

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Hatching Peace

Way back in 1998, before the internet had captured our attention so completely, Trebbe Johnson wrote a manifesto called the Gaia Enlightenment. Hard copy style. Sold for a dollar a piece! My last copy surfaced last week when I thought to show it to a visiting friend. She was blown away by the wisdom and beauty, so I reread it myself this morning.

Powerful indeed. 20 years later the message is more important than ever because we humans still do not widely acknowledge our alienation from the ground that supports us. As we search for ways to experience our fullest selves, we forget to look to the most important source of wisdom and beauty: NATURE.

Trebbe says, “Nature is the force that literally keeps us alive…How can we manifest our true human nature when we ignore primal Nature all around us? It is as if we were trying to craft a ship by expending great care on the sails, keel, mast and frame, while forgetting to build the hull. We are overlooking the foundation that keeps us afloat in our world. And why do we go to experts for enlightenment when we could turn to the wisest and most accessible mentor of all – that same great provider – Nature?”

So I want to thank Trebbe Johnson for initiating the Global Earth Exchange, (GEX) which she began 9 years ago to help us modern, urban humans reconnect to our Mother, Nature.

Last Saturday, June 16th, 2018 , for this year’s GEX, we met at the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial on Bainbridge Island in Washington State. This particular place represents the wounding of fear caused by human separation from the “other”. It doesn’t seem to matter what the “other” is. As long as there is the notion of otherness, fear rises. Nidoto Nai Yoni – let it not happen again – became our chant as we made origami peace cranes to take with us to the beach, Pritchard Park, which is contiguous with the Memorial. This beach represents the wounding of greed, ignorance and short sightedness caused by human separation from the ground of our being, Earth.

Now a superfund site due to creosote contamination, we gathered on the beach next to the old manufacturing plant and drew a giant water wheel mandala by walking it out with our bare feet. The center circle became our place of prayer as we made a large crane from whatever we found on the beach, including trash. As we began making our artful radjoy bird, an eagle chased by crows flew over, suggesting to me how many small ones gathered together can change the mind of a more powerful predator. Like GEX, each small community’s contribution is amplified and strengthened by all the heartfelt others around the globe purpose-fully loving their homes during the same time frame.

We knew the origami cranes were to be included in our beauty making. As the inner circle was outlined with golden leaves of the dying madrona trees lined up by the chain link fence, someone counted the cranes. We had eight, the same number as the annual markers of the eight seasonal shifts celebrated by many cultures. Same number as the cardinal directions. Before we knew it, eight scalloped, golden “nests” were made as homes for our cranes. Someone cried out: “Look, we’re hatching peace.”

As our final act, we took turns spiraling the golden yarn from the red heart rock of the rad joy peace crane, each of us verbally expressing our blessings and prayers as we patted the yarn into the seaweed chestbelly of our bird. As we completed our ceremony, a lone heron flew over, headed for its roost on the far side of the harbor.

“May all humans return home,” seemed an appropriate final prayer.

We didn’t want to leave the yarn as a potential threat to creatures, so when our ceremony was finished, we cut the yarn into equal lengths for each of us to take home. The next day two of us used that yarn to bind paper prayers onto prayer sticks which were released over a cliff to the winds high up in the Olympic Mountains. Global Earth Exchange reverence and love carried even farther. Such a joy!

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Imaginal Selves

Eeeegad,it’s been six years since I wrote an earlier version of this piece for a June 2012 newsletter. It also appeared in this blog during the same year. The call to show up as an imaginal self to support the evolution of humanity is more urgent now than it has ever been. That call is also an important theme in my new art book about to be published: Ode to Gaia. I’m still not sure of the sub-title, though I appreciate reader, Anahata’s, suggestion: Living Beyond Self. This is the current view of the proposed front cover with the original subtitle. I’d be happy for feedback.
Ode cover (730x800)

Here’s a new and improved version of my post calling forth the imaginal selves of our evolving species.

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Imaginal cells – have you heard of them? I attended an Earth and Spirit conference in Oregon in 1989 and heard the biologist, Elizabet Sahtouris speak. She described imaginal cells, the cells which carry the butterfly blueprint to the caterpillar.  When the butterfly’s imaginal cells begin gathering and the caterpillar first notices them, the caterpillar becomes a voracious eater, consuming everything in sight and eventually becoming so bloated she stiffens and weaves the cocoon around himself.

Metaphorically, doesn’t this sound like our current cultural need to gobble up goods?

When those first imaginal cells appear, the caterpillar’s desperation drives it to eat and eat while the caterpillar’s immune response automatically kicks in and tries to destroy the imaginal cells.  But the imaginal cells keep showing up.  Finally there are so many that the caterpillar’s immune cells can no longer fight them off – that’s when caterpillar soup begins bubbling and that little living being is neither here nor there…another fine metaphor to help us grasp why our contemporary culture in the USA seems amorphous, insensitive, chaotic and incoherent.

It IS.

And more and more of us imaginal selves need to show up to help us humans reach the evolutionary tipping point.

Thankfully, on a global level, we imaginal selves are showing up everywhere. We need millions more in our country of the USA, but I have hope. All it takes is people expressing love, faith in something greater and more miraculous than ourselves, compassion, community and tender awareness of supporting the web of life which supports us  – everywhere amazing people and projects are happening against tremendous odds. I watched a film last night which reminded me of this, reminded me of human dignity and the wisdom of love. One Peace at a Time, – A film about a messed up world…and how we could fix it, written and directed by Turk Pipkin.

I am an imaginal self. How about you?

Despite our technological savvy, faith in virtual realities and robotic solutions to every problem, we modern, urban humans suffer from a host of debilitating symptoms new to the planet. We’re disconnected to the ground we walk upon. Here are a few of the disorienting symptoms I’ve noticed: alienation, numbness, raging fear, depression, fatigue syndromes, meaninglessness, anxiety, helplessness, seasonal affective disorders, and addictions, addictions, and more addictions.

This is the first time in human history when we have actually been aware that we can destroy the future of our own lives. We humans have no idea how to deal with this awareness, nor with that power.

No wonder we go shopping and bury our heads in piles of money.

But we can transform ourselves. The stakes are higher than they’ve ever been, because quite literally our species may not survive if we don’t change. To arrive at the potential we now have, humanity has changed many times over the history of our existence as two leggeds to be here now with fully functioning rational minds and scientific technologies up the whazoo. But along the evolutionary way we have had to diminish our imaginative, intuitive, wildly creative and deeply spiritual capacities. We must reclaim all of them to be whole. That’s the bottom line. Who will we be with fully functioning brain hemispheres working in harmony, a wholesome relationship between the bodymind and the headbrain, and a fully functioning heart awareness guiding our choices?

I think magnificent!

stories ODE to Gaia (598x800)

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Ode to Gaia

There are so many ways to string words together and so many words from which to choose to make meaning. I can’t winnow them and that makes hard work of editing my first self-published art book . An expanded version of the handcrafted Ode to Gaia I made a year ago, this one has 64 pages instead of 40. includes 12 additional paintings and a new drawing for coloring in. This time, Ode has a subtitle.  I thought it was: Calling Forth our Imaginal Selves.

Two months have passed since I chose that subtitle. I never once considered changing it, until last Friday. My writers’ group met then. They’ve worked on the book with me before, but this time suddenly the subtitle was being bandied about. New strings of words popped in that living room like a bouquet of helium balloons. One enthused: “ I like, ‘A Love Song for Life on the Planet.’” Others glommed onto that one. I did too. It’s inviting, warm & fuzzy and reminds me of the fraternity boys singing under my dorm window a long time ago.

But later…That new subtitle title seemed redundant. An ode suggests the potential for love song. Gaia already implies a living planet with life on it. That subtitle doesn’t hint at the deeper purpose I have in mind. Yes, I want readers to fall in love with the miracle of being alive on Earth. But the greater significance is what that love demands of us.

Love asks us to commit to the beloved and that changes us. We don’t know what will be asked of us or how our lives will be changed by loving.  Loving someone or something often calls for sacrifice, curbing our own enthusiasm, at least for a moment, for the good of the other. We’re asked to be generous with our time and resources, to do whatever it takes to support mutual thriving, to nourish the relationship. Loving calls forth empathy and compassion and those feelings sometimes hurt. To love deeply means also we will be deeply affected by the loss of what we love. We may grieve. In my North American dominant culture, we are not taught that grievng is a blessing that cracks the heart open to deeper loving, greater wisdom.

Many hold love at bay because they don’t want to deal with the hard stuff, but I see no reason to fear it.  Systems theory and contemporary science reveal what the ancients knew all along: everything is connected. Thus, I know that my commitment to nourish and protect the beloved, also nourishes and protects me.

 

So if we love life on Earth and we know Earth is hurting, we need to do something to heal the wounds. And that means changing our consumptive life style. Ode to Gaia poses a series of “What if…” questions to inspire new possibilities for how to live that nourish our human relationship to life. Frankly, I’m asking humanity to grow-up. It’s time to move beyond our adolescent, self-centered behaviors, and choose instead to live within the living limits of this glorious globe. We have no way of knowing whether we have already tipped beyond the carrying capacity for human life on Earth, but without changing our ways NOW, human catastrophe is inevitable. The planet will thrive without us. Species now on the verge of extinction will flourish again and plant life will take back urban sprawl.

Remember, Gaia doesn’t need us. We need her!

Homo-sapiens is not the final form of human evolution. Imagine us humans with our heart intelligence aligned with our belly wisdom which collaborates with our brain knowledge and sensory awareness. WOW. We can become a wiser and more fully functioning version of who we have been. So I want that sub title of the Ode book to state clearly that I’m calling for a commitment from modern humans to do whatever loving life requires. Maybe that’s it:  Making a Commitment to Change our Lives for the Love of Life.

OR

Ode to Gaia: Changing our Lives for the Love of Living

Ode to Gaia: Calling Forth our Commitment to Change Because We Love Life.

Ode to Gaia: A Call to Humanity to Commit Ourselves to Life.

Ode to Gaia – A Call to Midwife the NEW Human

Ode to Gaia – Calling Forth the Eco-Centric Human

Ode to Gaia – Choosing a New Story for Humanity

Do you see what I mean about all those words…

What think ye?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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