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Reflections on Councils
We felt that the Council allowed us to tap into our biological roots and that the identity of Earthling became a reality and not just an idea... That "Earthling" feels like the Earth expressing itself in a new, conscious way. The old senses of separation without inherent "pressure" fell away... This powerful realization infused us with the Life-force so it became easy to step beyond our personal and cultural likes and dislikes... The word tribe kept coming up, it's as if we finally found a place to quench a particular thirst sought for so long. In so doing our bond became strong... And finally, although the understanding lasts, it's so easy to get lost in the old separate way of feeling and thinking, like anything, it needs to be practiced...
Did anyone tell you about the Deep Ecolgoy Retreat we had? There were 29 of us at Pumpkin Hollow Farm. It is amazing how that little group of us who gathered with you last summer are reaching out and drawing more and more people into the deep ecology web. It was a weekend wherein we shared and grieved and sang and hugged and "evolved thru love (rg & heart's spontaneous process). More gatherings like this are needed; the support and empowerment to continue our earthwork was amazing. I returned from the weekend and, like magic, inquiries and requests for Councils and Deep Ecology weekends began to materialize.
The June Young Green Movement organized the camp for Polish and Swedish participants, where the people from Sweden carried over the training '`Non violence", and me and Beata and Elitlea, made workshop for all beings. It was the experience very important for us. We also did one action in the Town Hall in Bielslio(?) which was concerned with the forests around our town.
We have succeeded in doing a demonstration in front of Czechoslovakian Embassy in Stockholm together with young Green Movement. We organized small workshops for all beings with Janun and with our friends who came from far towns from all Poland.
—Jacek Bozek and Beata Tarnawa
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I returned from Berlin, where Daniela and I co-led a Deep Ecology workshop. It went well, the people went deep and it was a pleasure to work with Daniela. I learned a lot from her about having faith in the process, that given a minimum of structure, participants can be trusted to make their own discoveries. I led the Council as Coyote, and this kind of trickster opening into things set a tone that I like better than most of the solemn, High Mass, Councils that I've done.
I did a Council of All Being, at my church. It is so powerful to me to feel so concretely and deeply that the transforming experience I had last summer with the Council doesn't belong to anyone person or place or Council, but is there part of all of us waiting to be evoked.
It was so different to do an indoors Council, but I have a sense that we really did create a ritual space as much of time and energy as surroundings; we did a blindwalk after the milling—touching and "photographing" things as we envisioned their "natural" histories. We also used lots of "artifacts" and layed a cloth to each direction with shells, bones, feathers, rocks, cones, and involved everyone in placing them.
Yes, the group of us doing workshops around the Minneapolis/St Paul area have been meeting for support and inspiration. We are now formally Interhelp of Minnesota, so we're connected to the Interhelp Network. Will and John and Martha and Kaia have all been using pieces of despairwork and Councils in summer camps, youth retreats and adult workshops for the Unitarians and Friends groups (Quakers). We're hoping to do a brochure, and plan some Councils or events that could nurture a more deep ecology type of activism among environmental, church, and peace and justice folks here.
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I am including some new elements in the long dance that I lead through the Nisquilly Dance Circle in Tacoma area. Traditionally we create altars in the 4 directions on the outside of our dance ground. Typically these altars are created with beauty in mind. At our next dance we will also have the intention of adding items that represent things lost or being lost from the earth. For instance, on the east altar may be the picture of an extinct bird or on the North altar a picture of a clear cut or on the west altar the 6 pack plastic ring that holds bottles and cans as a reminder of all the sea creatures strangled by this litter in our oceans. Then during the dance itself we will be able to not only focus on the beauty of the earth but also allow ourselves to feel and dance the pain as well.
After the Council of All Beings I felt sore and depressed. Beata warned me: You are going to contact a sick organism. If you truly participate in a Council, you feel exactly like the critically ill Mother Earth. I felt this way. Wailing was a great experience. Something moved in me. A wall gave in. This civilizational plug, which locks all feelings inside, was released. It was a purifying experience! (From a letter to me by Joanna Osejda.)
I have participated in several Councils all over Poland. There are two characteristics of the Council which I consider most important. Firstly, it makes the people look at themselves and at the world beyond the limitations of the anthropocentric worldview. Secondly, it creates opportunities to start groups which aim at the salvation of Mother Earth.
At the Councils I met all sorts of people. Some of them were members of well-organized groups and carried out many successful actions. Others, unable to express themselves at the outset, often found in themselves strength and will to act later on.
Reports or documents, e.g. video recordings, of direct actions seem to me essential. They show the Council as a part of greater whole inseparable from other activities for the sake of the Earth. They also enhance the credibility of the leader of the Council, who shows different types of activities which may appeal to different kinds of people. It is of importance I think, to emphasize the connection between the intentions underlying direct actions and the meaning of the Council of All Beings.
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My experience at the Council of All Beings in Boulder was a very profound one for me, and literally as I said when I first checked in "I feel like I'm coming out of the closet with my love affair with this planet" that's what happened.
I found a lot of space to express myself and my experience. I felt the image arise over the course of the weekend that I had been tunnelling alone through the EARTH for a very long time towards a certain goal and suddenly I had broken through into another tunnel and there were brothers and sisters working in their way towards that goal. I left feeling very affirmed in my work and empowered about being more of myself. That part of me is deeply grounded in my spiritual connection to this world.
I left feeling inspired and expanded in my sense of self and what I have to share... on two occasions I've gone out to regional meetings of environmental activists and given talks on deep ecology... even though the word had not been part of my vocabulary prior to this time. And I learned a very powerful lesson: to access a part of myself that I usually do alone praying.
Our first and rather hesitant attempt at a Council of All Beings was quite a success. We chose our local church in Poughkeepsie, NY, which promised to yield some interested people. It was held in the church library in January and was extremely different in feel from the one we'd attended. The people, for one thing, knew far less about environmental issues; in a sense, we were no longer "preaching to the converted." We had the good fortune to find a medicine woman in our church who performed a beautiful and enriching opening ceremony. People overcame their initial embarrassment about sharing feelings and behaving like apes remarkably quickly, and, though emotions didn't run as high as the Council we had attended, everyone came away changed. My dad and I already have two more Councils in the works—one at Yale University, and one with the Dutchess Interfaith Council in Poughkeepsie. I only hope that our relative success, despite our inexperience, inspires more Councils worldwide—it can be done!
—Kira and Dave Sherwood
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