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All Things Are Born Of Woman ~ Climate Change & Feminine Leadership (Part 1)
By guest blogger, Joey Walters*
It’s no secret that we are living in a time of extraordinary upheaval and transition, climate change perhaps being the most significant expression of the all-pervading flux in which we find ourselves. Our compromised environment and the related breakdown of political, social and economic structures, have brought us to a doorway, inviting us to let go of isolation and conflict and rediscover the essential wisdom of our interconnectedness.
Prophets and wisdom teachers have spoken of this momentous transition as ‘The Great Turning’; a time when humanity would shift from independence to interdependence, re-turning to living in harmony with the Earth and with one another, as many of our indigenous ancestors did. Joanna Macy speaks of the Great Turning as ‘the shift from industrial growth society to a life sustaining civilisation,’ reflecting the same evolution of consciousness from ‘I’ to ‘we’.
The Great Turning was also heralded as a time when women would ‘lead’ our world into this new era, such prophecies being an affirmation of what many women have long been experiencing. Climate change, starving nations, political chaos, devastating terrorist attacks and continuing bloody wars have been opening our eyes and hearts to the harsh reality of the world we inhabit and stirring women to take action, individually and collectively – not simply re-action, but action that is grounded in feminine wisdom and values, restoring balance to our fractured, patriarchal world.
Environmental lawyer, Polly Higgins, who is leading the global legal movement to enact laws prohibiting ecocide, speaks of women rising as ‘Voices for the Earth.’ We are inspired by Polly and other environmental women leaders like the late Wangari Maathai, who established the pan African grass roots Green Belt Movement assisting women to plant millions of trees; and Vandana Shiva who is courageously committed to feeding our expanding population without harming the Earth.
Many of us are finding the courage to take a stand for our future, not just in the environmental field but in unique ways that are authentic expressions of our feminine gifts and values, working consciously towards Macy’s life sustaining civilisation. But this heart-led call to heal our destabilised world environment, is not just an altruistic impulse to affect change in the world around us. It’s accompanied by a deep, soulful yearning to express, more fully, our authentic feminine nature and power as women.
Over the years of my own journey and in my work with women leaders from all walks of life, I have sensed this ‘call to leadership’ as an invitation from the Earth to rediscover the feminine wisdom known to our ancestors that has been so suppressed and dishonoured by the patriarchy of the age. This ‘re-awakening’ of our innate feminine power brings with it a whole host of conflicting experiences from profound heart-expansion, spiritual epiphanies and creative inspiration, to intense fear, rage, grief and longing for wholeness. Women are trying to make sense, often in isolation, of this tumultuous experience – isolation, of course, being a core facet of the fragmented culture that we can no longer tolerate.
However, we are not as alone as it seems. In this Great Turning from independence to interdependence, we are part of a growing collective movement to heal the disconnection between the out of balance masculine and the feminine that has been suppressed, misrepresented and devalued for generations. Of course, this rebalancing starts from within, hence the emotional turbulence so many of us are experiencing. Beginning with re-embracing the feminine within ourselves and revaluing the natural gifts of our womanhood, I believe we are growing our capacity to re-instate a balanced feminine/masculine world.
Although many passionate men are also waking up to this non-gender based integration of feminine and masculine energy, I’m curious about the potent rise of feminine leaders taking place globally that might, as the prophecies suggest, play a crucial role in fostering a thriving, climate-responsible, life-sustaining future. Women perhaps are one of the greatest untapped resources on our planet.
The question we might ask ourselves individually and collectively as women is: ‘What is my/our role in co-creating a new ‘culture of care’ for ourselves and our world, and how can I/we resource ourselves to play it?’ (This is an essential inquiry we are bringing to The Women’s Council in October this year; see Notes, below.)
It’s helpful to look back to our indigenous ancestors for guidance. I have always been deeply moved by the stories of Earth based communities who honoured the feminine through their respect and care for women, the Earth and all her inhabitants. In the lineage of Earth Wisdom that I was taught by RainbowHawk and WindEagle of the Ehama Institute in New Mexico, there were ‘Two Sacred Laws’ that embedded this respect for the feminine in their culture:
1. All things are born of woman.
2. No law shall be passed that will harm the children.
These were fundamental ‘laws’ of feminine wisdom, rooted in their understanding of the interrelatedness of all life, that sustained their communities over many generations.
Kurt Kaltreider wrote in Conversations with Chasing Deer:
“Indians know that the strength of the tribe resides in the strength of its women. Did you know that among the Iroquois it was the women, the grandmothers, who decided if war was to be waged? They decided if the lives of the young men should be put at risk, and only if they could see the benefit seven generations into the future did they allow the conflict to occur. It was only right that the givers of life should be given the decision that might destroy it. The grandmothers were also given the power to ask a chief to step down.”
Many indigenous cultures throughout the world, recognised that women, through their wombs, held a ‘Sacred Container’ though which life could flourish. They expanded the presence of this life-enhancing container beyond child-bearing, to leadership within their communities, particularly as guardians of the land but also in political and spiritual roles. They were profoundly connected to and guided by nature and her cycles and received their ‘authority’ from the Earth. Quite simply, women were deeply respected and valued for their embodied feminine wisdom. Likewise, the Earth and nature as a whole were honoured as feminine ~ as the ultimate bearer of life. Throughout the world, women also nurtured their connection to one another, re-Sourcing themselves in Women’s Circles and Councils where they shared their stories and honoured their collective feminine wisdom.
Alongside the impacts of Climate Change, we are recognising the loss and trauma humanity has suffered as a result of these Two Sacred Laws being broken. The suppression of the feminine that has taken place through the dishonouring of women, the Earth and the indigenous cultures that knew how to steward her, has had a profound impact on our well-being (men alongside women) and on our capacity to sustain life.
However, though the consequences are painful to acknowledge, we must remember that this wisdom has not been lost. It was suppressed and, in this Great Turning time, it is beginning to rise again ~ through us. If we are willing to be an open vessel through which it can be re-awakened, then perhaps our primary work as women is to remember how to fully feel and receive, so that we can emanate this authentic care for life, once more, though our leadership.
We may be at a crucial and challenging turning point in our history but we are also at an exciting juncture where we have a choice to continue to feed the status quo or open ourselves to discover a new way forward.
In the words of author, Anais Nin: ‘And then the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.’
Perhaps, if we have the courage to blossom and hold a nurturing space for the profound transformation we are in, we can put our roots back down into the Earth and re-claim the wisdom and resourcing of our ancestors.
To be continued with Part 2.
* Joey Walters is the Founder of Awakening Feminine Leaders (http://awakeningfeminineleaders.com/). Her work brings nature~based wisdom teachings to contemporary leadership creating a soulful, authentic pathway that allows Feminine Leadership to emerge. She is a gifted mentor and Circle Teacher, fostering women’s Wisdom Circles that awaken personal and collective transformation. Joey is completing her first book based on her successful international series “A Call to Stand.” She will lead a circle at CCC19 to explore the leadership role of women in response to climate change.
Joey, Deborah Jay-Lewin, Margaret Elphinstone and Stephanie Mines, all of whom are involved in CCC19 will speak at a TEDx Findhorn event in the Universal Hall, Findhorn on October 5th, 2017.
Joey is also hosting The Women’s Council (http://awakeningfeminineleaders.com/council/), a retreat to be held at Newbold House, near Findhorn, on October 6th-8th, 2017, as a forum for women to draw on their collective feminine wisdom and re-Source their leadership at this challenging time of The Great Turning.
By conference convener, Stephanie Mines PhD.
My father was not available to protect me from the dangers of life, nor show me how to navigate the world. He abandoned our family, returning periodically only to disappear again. We later discovered that he had other families and that I had siblings whom I’d never met. The situation was deeply disturbing and destabilizing. It caused me to feel that the world is unreliable and dangerous; that there is little protection from its vicissitudes, that there are no safe spaces. And the concept of the healthy masculine was foreign to me.
This aspect of my personal history now texturizes how I feel about the threat of climate change and how I respond to it. I imagine that others with similar or related trauma in their early histories, whose nervous systems are triggered by the threat that climate change poses, respond to it (consciously or subconsciously) as they did to threats experienced in their developmental years.
I sense a groundswell of varied fear responses to climate change all over the world. Denial is one way that fear is registered, along with despair and panic. I will explore the relationship between collective trauma and climate change in future blogs, but for this one I want to look at the vulnerability of the fatherless because that is particularly close to my heart.
As the convener of the conference, CLIMATE CHANGE & CONSCIOUSNESS: Our Legacy for the Earth (CCC19) I am being rewarded regularly by meeting remarkable people who are magnetized to my vision. After years of teaching with groups dominated by women I find I am now actively dialoguing and collaborating with more and more inspired and inspiring men. I chose to interview two of these remarkable gentlemen about how their experience of fatherhood shapes their response to climate change.
Jarvis Smith is the founder of My Green Pod, the UK’s leading network and publication about ethical, green, climate change conscious businesses. Jarvis is also a father and a grandfather. My Green Pod is a vehicle for his passionate activism on behalf of the Earth. He wants people to know that they can make conscious choices about how they spend their money and use their energy.
“I want to be a model of courageous and empowered change-making possibility for my children,” Jarvis told me. “Being a father is what really woke me up to this path. The birth of my first child made me realize that everything I do impacts the future. Having developed a vehicle for showing everyone that they can live an ethical lifestyle, I now realize that it is my job to encourage a movement of connectedness. I have to demonstrate the importance of relationship and how all of us have a responsibility for human evolution.”
Jarvis validates the sense I had when I envisioned CCC19 – that it is first and foremost about children, parents and families. “Parents are the leaders in this movement,” he states passionately. “We have to prepare all children for climate change. We can’t be lazy. We have to be inspiring examples. We need to show our children how to connect with Nature. I have conspired with the Earth to be her ambassador. And I have to join with other Earth Ambassadors to remind everyone to find their skill and give it to the Earth. This actually feels like my true calling in life. I see us all gathering at CCC19 to shine this bright light to the world.”
Robin Grille is an Australian psychologist and author of Parenting for a Peaceful World. He is also an avid and articulate environmental activist. He merges his understanding of natural parenting with his awareness of climate change and lives the two in seamless relationship. He is a father.
Robin tells me with piercing honesty that he feels “despair and outrage when contemplating the reckless continuation of fossil fuel related profiteering. I consider this a genocidal industrial pursuit. Parenthood has sharpened these feelings for me and made them acute. Inaction feels intolerable to me.”
Robin’s protest comes from deep within the well of his profound and compassionate understanding of human development. “My research enables me to see that the economic rationale that dominates today is little more than the symptom of punished, shamed, abused and emotionally neglected childhoods – en masse. Eco-holocaust reveals the widespread frontal lobe damage and high cortisol caused by toxic authoritarian parenting and education.” Like Jarvis, Robin identifies Nature as a third parent who can open the collective heart and heal the collective brain, which is a central theme of CCC19. Jarvis and Robin echo the crucial importance of having parents attend CCC19.
While I am used to women speaking up for future generations, hearing men being outspoken about their devotion to children and their willingness to protect them, soothes my nervous system and makes my heart soar. I hope the same is true for others reading this piece who have lived fatherless lives and who long for the healthy masculine. CCC19 is a place where dads like Jarvis and Robin can express their vibrant and daring fatherly love for their own children and the children of the world. These dads affirm each child’s sacred birthright – to be nurtured and protected and live in harmony with Nature.
If you are a parent or a grandparent, CCC19 offers you a space to bring your concerns for the future of humanity and your willingness to be part of a worldwide community of stewards for our children. It is from the base of our collective wisdom that the way forward will emerge. When you register for the conference, please consider sponsoring other parents so that they can attend, if this is within your scope of possibility.
By conference convener, Stephanie Mines, Ph.D.
“One of the warning signs that a dangerous warming trend is under way in Antarctica will be the break-up of ice shelves on both coasts of the Antarctic Peninsula.” ~ John Mercer, Institute of Polar Studies.
Any time now, perhaps even by the time you read this article, a section (about 10%) of the West Antarctic Larsen C ice shelf will break away to become the largest iceberg ever recorded. The process, called calving, will generate a resounding rolling thunder clap in the vast silence of the Antarctic. The world’s sea levels will immediately be effected, as water that was held back is released in quantities that are impossible to accurately predict. “Ice shelves are like corks in a bottle,” says David Bromwich of the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Centre, Ohio University. “They are holding back the contents of the bottle. You take the cork away and everything flows out. We don’t know the time scale of this. But sea level rise of this magnitude is alarming.”
Ultimately, this single calving event will increase sea levels dramatically. To quote David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey, “When it calves, the Larsen C ice shelf will lose more than 10% of its area. This will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula. The ice it holds back could add about four inches to sea levels.” Or, from Nagraj Adve, author of Global Warming in the Indian Context, “Ten centimeters of average sea level rise from the collapse of Larsen C may not seem like much until we put that figure in perspective. It’s a little over half of all the sea level rise the world has already experienced since 1901. This should deeply concern us.”
This sudden cataclysmic event, likely to be seen or heard by only a few, will reverse hundreds if not thousands of years of geological trend, depending on how one dates the formation and reformation of the mother ice sheet. The question I pose here, is whether human consciousness is ready for that moment when calving occurs. Decade after decade of ignorance and denial of global warming and climate change has brought us to the threshold of disaster. We have laced ourselves into a fateful straitjacket. However, there remains a way out, although it has to happen fast and it will require collective responsibility and human solidarity. As Dr. Stefan Rahmstorf, author of Our Threatened Oceans says, “The creation of a viable future for ourselves and for future generations requires the commitment of everyone on our planet.”
Just as that moment of calving in the Antarctic is the product of a long history, so is this moment of opportunity to collectively choose to live differently. The awakening may be as sudden for you as it was for me, but it is still likely to be a result of what preceded it. I was reflecting on this recently and wrote this poem to explain the guidance that resulted in the birth of the conference, Climate Change & Consciousness: Our legacy for the Earth.
Guidance recalibrates the logical mind
And consumes excuses with fire.
It seems a speedy process but
It is built on merit you did not know
You accumulated in order to
Burn resistance into
Love in action.
Suddenly you find
You are not making a decision;
The decision makes you.
This is the work of the
Goddess of Electricity.
It is hummingbird medicine.
Before you know it
The I has become We
And nothing is impossible.
If we look around at the chaos in the world, the injustices and the suffering, it feels like we are living in a degraded age or what the yogis called the Kali Yuga, defined by excesses, mechanistic thinking, materialism, greed and a focus on the gross aspects of life. But according to Vedic calculation, as described by mystical teachers like Paramhansa Yogananda, we are actually living in the Dwapara Yuga, an age of refined thinking when we are sensitive to energetic vibrations, bioelectrical rhythms and the power of thought.
The Kali Yuga is the Old Story and the Dwapara Yuga is the New Story. There are periods between these Yugas which are called Sandhis or transitional cycles. This is where we often feel stuck between stories. But the Yogic Masters say we are truly living in a time of hope. Our capacities have finally, over thousands of years, evolved so that we can unite to live brilliantly in a climate changed world. Collectively, we have developed the capacity to understand the truth about matter. We have cultivated the resources to expand true knowledge and have refined our means of expression. In the Dwapara Yuga, inner consciousness rises above density to perceive the quantum flow of energy. It is when individuals are empowered, transcending the subjugation and passivity of the Kali Yuga and instead, choosing awareness, compassion and inclusion.
Charles Eisenstein points out in The Most Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible that in order to cross over into the New Story we have to fully know the paradigm that we are leaving behind. This appears to slow us down but actually, it allows us to move forward with confidence. Then, when the old paradigm is fully spent, as I reference in my poem, change seems sudden, perhaps even instantaneous. Guidance tells me that on April 20, 2019 we will be ready to come together for a decisive shift in the collective understanding of ‘our legacy for the Earth.’ “Climate change is an intellectual challenge; but it is also a test of human solidarity,” says James Flynn, author of No Place to Hide. The representative gathering in the Universal Hall, Findhorn, will personify our readiness, as will thousands of people in hubs around the world participating through live streaming.
When the Larsen C ice shelf calves, will you hear it?
When your guidance descends in a whoosh of awakening, will you follow it?
I answer YES to both of these questions. I am reminded that guidance ‘recalibrates the logical mind and consumes excuses with fire.’ “Making people better informed is rarely enough to solve problems of great consequence, but I am convinced that the problem of climate change may be one of the rare exceptions,” says Jim Flynn.
The next blog in this series will reveal why the Findhorn Foundation is the perfect location for this decisive moment in our history.
UPDATE, July 12th, 2017.
The iceberg has broken away. See here.
LEGALLY BLIND: How the Law Interferes with Consciousness
By conference convener, Stephanie Mines, Ph.D.
“Law frustrates the process of transformation by becoming an end in itself. It inoculates us from the real thing, which is always relationship.” Richard Rohr
For most people the Law exists somewhere in an unconscious realm along with God and Queen, enshrined and untouchable. Or else we choose not to think on it at all. In almost every country however, the Law shapes its people emotionally and biologically, usually unbeknown to them. More often than not, the Law creates and maintains an unnatural separation between people. It disrespects the natural world by violating our relationship with it through objectification. The so-called ‘Law of the land’ is an oxymoron; it distorts our perception of, and connection with, the land by classifying it as a commodity.
I have lived for a long time with an environmental attorney who is a lover of, and advocate for, Mother Nature. And yet, until I had talked to Mumta Ito about her organization Nature’s Rights, I hadn’t realized how I had unconsciously allowed the Law to hijack my perception of Nature. She was quick to show me with her fiery love, how I projected onto Nature what I needed it to be, seeking to make it serve my needs, rather than deeply listening to her own true voice.
The shift that is occurring in me as a result, is taking me to another level of perception. Some might call this development ‘shamanic.’ I feel that Nature is communicating with me; I am no longer interpreting Nature. Words do not easily convey this experience, but I know it to be a profound shift in consciousness, one for which I am extremely grateful. I want to share the opportunity to cultivate intimacy with Nature with everyone who attends the Climate Change & Consciousness conference. That is why we have invited Mumta to lead a workshop there. And it’s why we are determined to find sponsorship for indigenous environmental leaders from around the world, particularly those from places already impacted by climate change. Their wisdom will bring forth the resilience and intelligence required to face what is truly an existential crisis. Nature herself can guide us if we can hear her speak.
Watch the video below about Nature’s Rights and open yourself to a refreshing, consciousness shifting relationship with Nature herself. Even if you already consider yourself an environmentalist, conservationist or outdoorsy person, open yourself to the surprise that can occur in really listening to Nature, rather than experience separation from her due to your preconceptions.
Mumta Ito is a lawyer and Founder of the young international NGO Nature’s Rights. She sees law as a vehicle for social transformation in a paradigm of restoration, reparation and healing. One of Europe’s leading advocates for rights of nature and earth jurisprudence, she is also European facilitator of the UN Harmony with Nature expert dialogues and initiator of a European Citizens Initiative to propose nature’s rights to the EU legislative agenda.
About Nature’s Rights: Nature’s Rights (previously Rights of Nature Europe) is a young international non-profit organization committed to establishing rights of nature in law and policy in Europe and around the world. Among its innovations is a Draft EU Directive to codify nature’s rights into European law.