Dreaming those Dreams of the Earth

Posted December 20th, 2013 in Blog, Featured, Zine Comments Off on Dreaming those Dreams of the Earth

Fostering Ecological Hope
Reflections on Culture and Meaning

by Margaret Swedish
[Dream with us in 2014. To make it real, it must be a collective dream. If we see it together, we can create it together. If you can help us play our part in that by making an end of the year donation, please go to this page. Contributions to the Center for New Creation are tax-deductible.]

I have them. I’ll bet you have them. There are those dreams that come out of the depths of the relationship we have with the life that vibrates and resonates through Gaia at all moments in time and space, this space, this home. How can that resonance not invade our dreams? FAMILYSpirits of animal life, of forests, oceans, rivers, and deserts. Memories – of sunrises and sunsets over the Pecos Mountains of New Mexico,the volcanoes towering over Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, the moonlit nights over the Athabasca River in Brule, Alberta, or the way that Jupiter chased the moon across the sky the other night, disappearing one after the other over the horizon in the early morning.

There are other dreams – of pain and torment, the gaping wounds from the violence of our domestic abuse of our loved ones, these living beings, this living Earth that only gave birth to us, holds us, nurtures us, carries us in its embrace because there is no way to escape that embrace, no way to completely tear ourselves apart from it, no matter how much damage we try to do to this Gaia Mother.

Our lack of gratitude and reverence is appalling.

We tear and rip and shred and drill at the flesh and blood of our Mother. We do this out of what great dysfunction, what intolerable but buried pain within us? We do this out of fear and disconnection and this sense that we are always under threat – from what?TRAVEL

Friends, this is likely to be my last post before the new year simply because I’m tired and have a lot to ponder. I, like so many others I know, need some contemplative space to rethink what I’m doing, what this project is, how it and I can best contribute toward the cultural shifts that have become necessary and urgent.

If you follow this project, you know that one of the things that I and many others believe is that underneath the ecological crises of our times is a crisis of “spirit,” of soul, a crisis of meaning and purpose. The crisis is not brought about by tar sands and fracking, it’s not brought about by the military industrial complex and the endless war in Afghanistan. It’s not even brought about by the Koch brothers or the NRA. All of those things are results, not causes, manifestations of the symptoms that this culture has created, like the high fever or vomiting brought on by the flu.

What lies underneath all that are belief systems, frameworks of meaning, what people value and what they do not value. It’s one of the reasons the work of social change often seems so ineffective. You may win a battle here and there, but unless those underlying fundamentals are altered, these basic patterns of behavior will continue and the manifestations of the pathology will continue to arise.

Fear underlies them. Profound insecurity. Meaning that has been placed outside us as measure of our badly damaged, even destroyed egos, whether that meaning is in what we possess, what we think we “own,” what looks like success within a dysfunctional society whose values are most obvious by the state the world is in.

The culture beats to death any sense of our own dignity and self-worth, along with that of others. Money, power, guns, shooting the other guy before he shoots you, humiliating your opponent, claims of racial or religious superiority, the perception of competition and aggression as natural, but not love, generosity, kindness, and compassion… These things are choices we have made. Not innate, they are what we have chosen, and the results of those choices are obvious. There is a reason why the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has become so popular, especially with young men, along with “reality” shows that have no resemblance to reality at all.

We vent some pent up energy engaging these things, while absorbing more and more of the despair, the void in depth and meaning that this market economy, this consumer culture offers us. Why wouldn’t we project our loss of meaning and depth of life and wisdom by getting our thrills from watching violence or competitions in which some people are humiliated, left weeping or raging or bloodied in front of a national audience!

TRAVEL

River and boreal forest of Alberta

And this is the culture that we expect to give up consuming things for the sake of the boreal forests or the climate that creates our weather, or to save species they’ve never seen or care about from extinction!?

My trip to Alberta, to the tars sands and First Nation people, showed me some of the very worst we humans can do to the planet and to one another. White people are still handing out blankets to the tribes contaminated with small pox, this time in the form of contaminated water and air, encircling their communities and destroying their lands so that they cannot live on them anymore. We’re still killing off the buffalo, the animals they need for life, this time in the form of deformed and poisoned fish, or the moose, a major source of meat, whose population is plummeting in the ecological violence of the tar sands industry.

The real values of this culture, what it really believes underneath all that rhetoric about freedom and justice and the “goodness” of America, is obvious from the fruits that we have produced from our labor. We have done a lot of damage.

TRAVEL

Heather, one of my companions on the Alberta pilgrimage

But there are those other Dreams, those Dreams of an enchanted, ensouled Gaia, the ones that float across the sky in the graceful dance of moon and Jupiter and invade our consciousness as we sleep. They are dreams from our real Mother, the Earth that created for us the perception of magnificent blue sky, even though that is in truth only an optical illusion, the Gaia that gives food and drink, the one that visits us in the coyote that sauntered down my street one day (I think it’s the same one that appeared in my headlights in a blizzard at the Grand Canyon many years before and that visits my dreams from time to time), or in this year’s magical migration of the Snowy Owl, or in the black bear that stood up along the side of the road to see who these four humans were hiking around her part of the world there in Alberta.

…the Gaia that pierces the dark of night with the cry of the loon on a lake in the north woods.

What will humans do if we lose this soul? Where will we go to find the magic, the mystery, the meaning of ourselves?

logo at 217 x 157 jpegFriends, I have to acknowledge that to continue on with this project, I need a stronger donor base than the one I have. We’re coming on the end of the year, and we have all been flooded with requests for donations. I’m just going to say this: I want to keep doing this work, even though it is time to rethink it. The times invite us to a deeper reflection on what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. By the end of 2014, I would like to see this project become a living presence within the Great Turning that is part of our mission now – to be able to help make that turn.

This is not just a local or state project. We are connected with amazing groups and communities in many parts of the country. It may or may not make sense to stay rooted here. And yet, the Upper Midwest faces unique challenges and profound threats right now to its lands and its soul because of extractive industries. There is reason to be here, and there are reasons why it is so hard.

So I make one more appeal for this year to help put in the coffers what can make it possible for us to continue our contribution to the work of shifting this culture from an obviously destructive path to one that can help renew the Earth and the human within it – to push away the nightmares that invade our nights and allow the dreams of wonder and mystery that remind us of who we really are.TRAVEL

Blessings for the solstice, for Christmas and all that means at its heart (not what the culture has done to it), and for a New Year full of hope and transformation.

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