A Walk on the Wild Side retreat participants sit with Bluebell the buffalo
— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. —
When you choose to work for the common good, one of the rewards is the network you enter; the people you meet who work from the deepest place in their hearts, inspiring others to be their best selves; to reach to the depths of their own gifts and creativity. The beautiful concept of “lightworkers” refers to people who do the work of love and healing, balancing out the dark energies of hate and fear; showing us another way. It is the delight and passion of Earthfire to share these beings with you (some of whom may be nonhuman.)
Deena Metzger is one of the human ones, the physical expression of the Wise Woman archetype. She is a powerful example of starting from spirit and moving to action, the way of life that is urgently called for in these times. It is a pleasure to be able to present a conversation with her in this newsletter. For a long and courageous lifetime Deena has been working for peace and for living in harmony with all life; a tireless changemaker. A prolific and award-winning writer, I share here some of her words:
“This is a response to the darkest times. We know all life is threatened, and increasingly so under the current administration, yet we inevitably respond from our human perspectives and fears. However, we will not understand what we must without recognizing non-human wisdom. In 2010, several of us had dreams indicating that there are hidden passageways, different for each of us, to saving the earth and restoring the natural world. For me, making alliances with animals and other non-human beings became an essential path. In 1997, as co-editor of the anthology, Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals, which testified to animal intelligence and agency, I was introduced to one of the great mysteries: the true nature of the beings with whom we cohabit the planet which I could only begin to understand by stepping out of my own mind into the consciousness of others.”
She developed a guide for how to change our minds enough so that we act in ways that will preserve the future and protect the Earth and all the beings that live upon her. It is called 19 Ways to the 5th World. “When we incorporate these ways of thinking, we will no longer be people who do harm. But again, we have to change our minds as we won’t fully know what to do or how to do it until we respond instinctively with different minds, values and reflexes. These 19 Ways indicate the areas where transformation can occur.”
She started Daré, a monthly gathering on behalf of personal transformation, individual, community and environmental healing and social change. (Daré means Council, in the Shona language of Zimbabwe). She writes,
“The strength and essence of Daré is in the circle and its intelligence. Council is its heart. In Council one always speaks from the heart, listens from the heart and allows the spirits and ancestors to speak through one. Wisdom comes from the combined voices and presence of everyone who is participating. The purpose of council is to seek answers from the community that we can’t find ourselves. Asking and addressing a single question coheres the community.”
This is the essence of Earthfire’s Council of All Beings.
“Daré begins by calling in the spirits without words so that all traditions and ways are honored. Everything depends on this. The invocation allows spirit to inform the participants. It creates a field of knowing and remembering. Daré also centers on telling dreams and receiving dreams as gifts from the ancestors to the circle. Council and dreams are channels between the world of the living and the world of the invisibles.”
When Mowgli Dreams | Painting by Blaze Warrender
In conversation with Deena I mentioned that I simply couldn’t think in any way other than that all life is participating in one large community. When I first heard of Joanna Macy’s work with the Council of All Beings it immediately resonated. That, I felt, makes intuitive sense. When I asked Deena about the origin of her Daré that presumes the presence of all beings and the Elementals, she replied, “I think it came from them. I think it came from the animals and the spirits. And that several of us perhaps picked it up like we were antenna.”
Some years ago Penelope Smith was holding an animal communication retreat here. She and her students were sitting quietly with the animals, listening. Penelope came running out to find me saying, “The animals are so excited that we are listening to them! The birds have already taken it twice around the world!”
What if all this is true? We can’t know it without “stepping out of (our) own mind into the consciousness of others” as Deena says, and thus “being introduced to one of the great mysteries: the true nature of the beings with whom we cohabit the planet.” Physics and biology are all pointing to these types of awareness as being real. Just opening ourselves to allow this possibility and exploring it will lead to a radically different way of living together – an infinitely richer, nurturing and joyous one.
There is much more to be found on her website and her Ruin and Beauty Blog at Deenametzger.net
Dr. Susan Eirich is the Founder and Executive Director of Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center. A licensed psychologist, biologist and educator, her goal is to widen the circle of conversation about conservation to include the voices of all living beings.