Answer the Call

carters trees
In awe of the Kahikatea Carters reserve

Be still. Listen. Can you hear it? The cry of the earth? My journey to date has been to arrive at the point where I fully believe that the only way we can have a hope in turning the environmental collapse around, is to reclaim the sacred. Now, if I have to write an easy to back that statement up, then you and I are probably not the right audience for each other.

The book to read, Spiritual Ecology – The Cry of the Earth – a selection of writers and their essay’s edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, is a book I find myself returning to time and again, especially on these long summer delayed commuter train trips to and from Wellington.

One of the writers is Chief Oren Lyons – a native American and  Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan he has said,  “In the absence of the sacred, nothing is sacred. Everything is for sale.” Susan Murphy writes about the price of “indefinite expansion turns out to be the forfeiture of climate conditions hospitable to our Species.” That the earth is “mere collateral damage in the pursuit of a single-minded, self-entitled idea.”

There are twenty-three writers, including Thich Nhat Hanh, Bill Plotkin, Joanna Macey, Vandana Shiva, Thomas Berry, who says amongst many pearls of wisdom, “We have broken the great conversation… We are not talking to the rivers, we are not listening to the wind and stars.”

While the writers point out how bad we have made things, it is still a book full of hope. Read it and see how you might answer the call.

Upcoming retreat – Into your own Unfolding – March  22nd – 24th

Reclaiming the sacred in Aotearoa

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you live in New Zealand, are Pakeha or from the northern hemisphere this is a must read book. Juliet covers everything from colonisation of this land and the colonisation as Pakeha of our sacred and spiritual connection with nature. Through our realignment with the southern seasons of celebration for Maori and our Celtic past we can reclaim our sacred and spiritual connections. We can find hope and be on the right side of what Joanna Macey calls the great turning.

If you read nothing more than the chapter – The Meeting Point, then you will have made a great investment in buying the book.

Into our own unfolding

me into the unfolding photo by gaye

Photo by Gaye Sutton. Poem by Michael Woodcock

Even if the path ahead is not clear,

I create it with each step forward.

Knowing that behind me,

are ten thousand steps that have taught me to walk upright

into the unfolding.

I’ve finally updated my resource page with a few introductions to some of the writers and thinkers that influence my journey into the unfolding. Perhaps they will send you on a journey to learn more about their wisdom.

And if you are interested in my March 2019 retreat Into your own unfolding you can consider taking your next step forward.

Michael

We are our river, our mountain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe are all descendants of nature based peoples, where it was innately understood that we are connected with the living rivers and streams, the mountains, the rocks, the trees.

As a Pakeha living here in New Zealand, connection with the sacred, of my ancestors, of Britain and Ireland has been buried under centuries of imported religion, later industrialisation and its child, rampant capitalism, combined with migration – forces that have almost severed us all from the sacredness of life.

But in this land, where Maori – tangata whenua identify with and are one spiritually with their maunga (mountain) and their Awa (river), we whose roots are yet to be deep within the whenua, are offered a gift, a way to connect to our sacred.

I grew up in Upper Hutt, under Remutaka te maunga, in the valley of te awa kairangi, te awa. (The Hutt river), but isn’t is true name, translated  as -the river food of Rangi (the Sky father), far more meaningful and sacred?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I now live in the Wairarapa under Tararua, in the Valley of the awa, Ruamahanga. The mountain I can see from home, the river I learnt to trout fish in as a child and now walk as a fly fisher.

But I also know that  one stream of my ancestors came from the Wigan region in England. The more recent of them coalminers and that’s how my father’s mother came to live as a child on the West Coast of  New Zealand – her father chasing work in the coal mines.

I know too that my ancestors of early Britain lived for thousands of years within a broad location. The early Celts where some of my family come from where called Brigantes.  Their mountain (by no means the height of those here in Aotearoa), was called Gwyn Tyr Hield – blessed god hill – The mother of the River (now called Winter Hill). From this sacred hill the Asland river flowed (the Douglas river) into the Ribble – the place of the river goddess Belisama – the brightest one.

This land, Aotearoa New Zealand, is home, it is the place I stand. I have ancestors who have lived and died here, the sons and daughters of immigrants. I stand stronger here because of them, because my ancestors who stood in another land for millennia intertwined with the sacred, knew my mountain and my river, now with me here in this land. Tangata whenua offer us a fresh window to our sacred. A place to know our newest mountains and rivers too. A chance to reclaim our sacred nature.

The Great Turning

earthBill Plotkin in his book, Nature and the Human Soul, asks “will the twenty-first century turn out to be the great ending or the great turning?” The term, the Great Turning, was coined by eco-philosopher, Joanna Macy. Simply put, we will either continue down the path of the industrial growth globalised society consuming the planet beyond anything sustainable for our lives and many of the species we share it with, or we will be on the side of the Great Turning and transition to a life sustaining world.

For me the hope of the great turning gives me solace, it overcomes the anxiety and stress of an economic system benefiting the few at the expense of the future of human societies, the plants, animals, rivers and ocean’s we share this wondrous place with. Its what I mean when I refer to reclaiming our sacred nature – our internal sacred nature, and the enteral sacred nature, that we are so dependant on and above all where we find our hope, truth and grace, at the intersection of the internal and external scape’s.

Live like the river flows is my small offering as part of the Great Turning.