Plant Consciousness – October 2014

http://www.plantconsciousness.com

This event was run over the 4th/5th October weekend in London.

The speakers on the Saturday were:

  • Sir Julian Rose – The Path to True Organic Awareness
  • John Perkins – Sacred Plants, Shapeshifting and The Consciousness Revolution
  • Tigrilla Yvette Soler – The Music of Plants. Damanhur; 40 Years of Research and Communication
  • Simon G Powell – Green and Ultra-Smart: The Role of Botanical Intelligence On Board Spaceship Earth
  • Pam Montgomery – Our Symbiotic Relationship with Plants
  • Philip Carr-Gomm – Working with the Sacred Plants of the Druid Tradition
  • Stefan Ball – Everything in Nature is Simple

 

Pam-Montgomery

There were so many gems and that it is not possible to write an accessible and comprehensive blog – so here are just a very few of my personal highlights and reflections on the days’ rich content.

Julian Rose – The Path to True Organic Awareness

We need time to observe the state of the world. We need time to get away from the stresses of life and read, listen and reflect on what is happening to the world. Our Western socio-economic system means that many people are stuck with mortgages, family pressures and jobs that make it hard or impossible to reflect on what is happening and to make changes. I resonate particularly with this as, having an identical twin brother, I can see the difference that, at least in part, the stresses of the modern world make on our capacity to reflect and respond.

Julian has done a lot of work in Poland – which, soon after the collapse of the Communist state, had a lot more biodiversity than Western European countries. He worked with the Polish people to protect their biodiversity against the pressures of Supermarkets and other Corporations. Sadly, he says it was the American Embassy that was the biggest proponent of GM crops.

He suggested that we have made a lot of progress since the book “Small is Beautiful” by Schumacher in the 1970’s. The ideas are still there – we need to continue to implement them.

John Perkins

John did a presentation on the Saturday as well as a full day workshop on the Sunday. These notes are taken from both of these days.

His key point – taken from South American Shamans – is that the world turns out as you dream it. It is our mindset in the Western World that is causing the environmental devastation in the world. So, we need to change our dream – unless we do that, we are finished. This inspired him and others to setup the Pachamama Alliance (www.pachamama.org) which in turn inspired the Be the Change Initiative in the UK.

He said that we have the opportunity to move into a new paradigm to produce a new world. There are lots of possibilities. He conveyed a lot of hope and optimism – not only in his words but in his demeanour – I could really feel his passion for a better world. This came through in his work with individuals on the personal issues that they faced on the Sunday (through rituals and dialogue), as well as talking about the collective issues that we face on a global scale.

He also said that this is first time in human history that, if we want a better world for future generations, it has to be a global effort – no one country can save the world. An Earth based spirituality offers this as we see ourselves as part of one Planet.

People all over the world are waking up to the global environmental situation. I was struck how his American approach was enthusiastic with an optimistic and a ‘can-do’ attitude. He said how positive the young Chinese people are – that they feel that they can create a sustainable miracle – as China have come so far so quickly in the last 30 years or so. I contrast all of this with the attitude I sometimes feel and hear in the UK – I remember listening to a couple of high profile UK environmental speakers a couple of years ago who were suggesting that “maybe the game is lost” – as not enough change is being made quickly enough.

Each ‘story’ – whether American, Chinese or one from the UK is valid – none of them are right or wrong – they all have something to teach us. But I am struck how deeply we are informed by our cultural setting. Spirituality (when applied well) can help us to move beyond our cultural setting and to see the bigger picture.

Philip Carr-Gomm

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Philip is the leader of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. The word Druid – derives from words that mean “Oak wisdom” – or this could be interpreted as “Forest wisdom”. He said that spirituality is an integral part of us. Spirituality is not like a hierarchy – with one form being better than another form – but each form is just different. In ritual, we enter an altered state of consciousness which is healing – it taps into deep wells of understanding/knowledge/healing/inspiration.

Our shared history

Several of the speakers – particularly Pam Montgomery – spoke about our evolutionary past –  how we evolved from plants or, at least, we have a common ancestry with them. We need to remind ourselves where we came from and connect with the amazing intelligence of the plant world. One speaker – Simon G Powell – said that we need more research into the amazing intelligence of the plant world, compared to the research into Extra-Terrestrials – as there is so much for us to learn from on Planet Earth.

Stalls and More

There were stalls from several other organisations as well as artists. Here is the GreenSpirit stall…

GreenSpirit-stall

Overall this day was a fantastic blend of plant wisdom, spirituality, science and activism as well as the chance to connect with others and other groups. This was a truly wonderful event I have come away deeply inspired.

Ian Mowll

 

 

GreenSpirit Wild Week in Wales – August 2014

A group of GreenSpiriters met at Cae Mabon in Snowdonia, North Wales for a week of connecting, and living in conscious connection with the natural world.

Here is the Celtic roundhouse where we had evenings of chanting, storytelling, drumming, music and more….

1 - roundhouse

We stayed in all sorts of eco-structures. Here is one we called the ‘hobbit house’.

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One day, Roger ran a willow weaving workshop:

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Here are the finished baskets:

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We had various conversations including our response to the ever changing world:

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Walks included the trip into Llanberis – here is the view along the way:

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5 of us made it to the top of Snowdon which is not far from Cae Mabon. We had this…umm…..view? from the top of the mountain:

7 - snowdon

And here is a late night music session. In the background, you can see a ‘god’s eye’ which was made in a workshop on the first full day:

8 - late-night-music

Added to this ritual, talking stick sessions, cooking vegetarian food, games, relaxing in the hot tub under the stars and swimming in the lake and we had all of the ingredients for a wonderful week of connection.

 

 

 

A week of living close to each other and capturing the meaning of GreenSpirit: living in a loving consciousness of the interconnected world. We enjoy being in and celebrating our natural surroundings together, go walking, sing and tell stories around the fire in the round house and relax in the hot tub under the oak trees and stars. This holiday is like a retreat from our busy lives and is always nurturing. People who attend are invited to bring something they can share, like a workshop, stories, songs, favourite recipes, musical instruments… – See more at: http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/html/events.shtml#sthash.oKz5zyG0.dpuf
A week of living close to each other and capturing the meaning of GreenSpirit: living in a loving consciousness of the interconnected world. We enjoy being in and celebrating our natural surroundings together, go walking, sing and tell stories around the fire in the round house and relax in the hot tub under the oak trees and stars. This holiday is like a retreat from our busy lives and is always nurturing. People who attend are invited to bring something they can share, like a workshop, stories, songs, favourite recipes, musical instruments… – See more at: http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/html/events.shtml#sthash.oKz5zyG0.dpuf
A week of living close to each other and capturing the meaning of GreenSpirit: living in a loving consciousness of the interconnected world. We enjoy being in and celebrating our natural surroundings together, go walking, sing and tell stories around the fire in the round house and relax in the hot tub under the oak trees and stars. This holiday is like a retreat from our busy lives and is always nurturing. People who attend are invited to bring something they can share, like a workshop, stories, songs, favourite recipes, musical instruments… – See more at: http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/html/events.shtml#sthash.oKz5zyG0.dpuf

Resurgence Summer Camp at Green and Away – August 2014

http://resurgence.org/take-part/resurgence-events/summer-camp-2014.html

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The Resurgence Summer Camp at Green and Away once again delivered a wonderful long weekend of talks, creative activities, meditations, music and more. Here are some of my highlights amongst the many other gems at this event:

John Letts: Ancient Grains
John is a pioneer of growing ancient grains in the UK – which has many benefits. Bio-diversity is one (producing more resilience) and less or no gluten is another (counteracting the rise in gluten allergies we are seeing). As someone who is gluten intolerant, this was music to my ears.

Corporations are influencing government to restrict or stop the spread of ancient grains. John is fighting his own battle on this front – with growing support from others, both in the UK and across Europe as more and more people see the need for, and the benefits of, ancient grains.

Matt Harvey – Poetry
Matt gave us all a good laugh with his poignant poetry. He does what poets do best, using metaphor to connect us with deep truths. You can find out more about Matt here: http://www.mattharvey.co.uk/

Tom Crompton: Finding Common Cause
Tom is a change strategist at WWF-UK. He spoke about our intrinsic and extrinsic values and how, if we understand the ways that these work, we can send out messages that are more likely to resonate with audiences. You can find out more at www.valuesandframes.org where you can find the Common Cause Handbook which explains this in depth.

Jane Davidson: Education for Sustainability
Jane was the Minister for Environment and Sustainability in Wales and made a lot of progress in making sustainability a key part of the Welsh education curriculum. Part of the reason she was able to do so much is that Wales has its own government (through devolution) and this makes innovation easier. We, in England, have a lot to learn from her work.

 

Green and Away

resurgence-summer-2014-2One thing I learnt from Tom Crompton’s talk (details above) is the need to align values with action. Not only is this important in itself but also others are more likely to take note. And this is why Green and Away is such a good place for the Summer Camp – with recycling, aiming for local food, solar panels, compost toilets and more, Being at Green and Away, I had a real sense of ‘walking my talk’. Their website is here: http://www.greenandaway.org/.

 

Add to this Satish’s inspirational talks about spirituality and other participants who bring their own gifts and insights and you have a truly wonderful event. This gives me the fuel to carry on living and promoting eco-justice.

Look out for next year’s Resurgence Summer Camp (www.resurgence.org)

Ian Mowll

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The Resurgence Festival of Wellbeing – October 2013 by Mirella Ferraz

On 12th October the Resurgence and Ecologist magazine hosted, in London, another edition of the Festival of Wellbeing. This time, the event held the question ‘How can we move away from an obsession with economic growth towards a growth in wellbeing?’

The Network of Wellbeing – which works to support personal, community and planetary wellbeing, acting locally, nationally and internationally and where I work, was one of the sponsors and therefore we had a team of people representing the project and interacting with the public, which totalized over 400 people.

Among the great speakers, for me, the activist and writer Tamsim Omong stood out by voicing passionately how we must fight for our dreams, which is the way to keep our integrity and sense of wonder alive. The Indian physicist Vandana Shiva shared a bit of her personal story and work around preserving and sharing native seeds. Coincidently, on the day, she had to leave the Conference in order to join the march against Monsanto, the multinational chemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation. The writer Tony Juniper and the gardener and journalist Alys Fowler reminded us of the importance of being in natural environments and how it adds different qualities to our sense of wellbeing. Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, emphasized how important self knowledge and self exploration are in order to have a more balanced and harmonious life, and that meditation is a great tool to facilitate this process.

wellbeing-festival1-2Tasmin Omong (© Denise Curi)

Vandana Shiva-2Vandana Shiva (© Denise Curi)

Apart from an interesting team of speakers, the event offered live music performed by Anne Malone and Sophie Stammers, poetry by Ruth Padel and Ben Okri, and we had the joy to watch a beautiful and touching performance of a traditional Indian dance by Khalid Kaur.

wellbeing-festival2-2Khalid Kaur (© Denise Curi)

To conclude the event, the peace pilgrim Satish Kumar, also editor of Resurgence and Ecologist magazine, shared the concept of his new book ‘Soil, Soul, Society’ to illustrate how we have to nourish the natural, spiritual and collective aspects in our lives in order to contribute to a real global sense of wellbeing. Now, it is up to each one of us to reflect on what nourishes our wellbeing – and spread the goodness in doing so.

The time has come.

Satish Kumar-2Satish Kumar (© Denise Curi)

 

About the writer:

Mirella Ferraz works at the Network of Wellbeing and is co-editing the next Spring issue of GreenSpirit magazine. She is constantly exploring ways to nourish and improve her own wellbeing and the wellbeing of the community where she lives, in Devon. Her email address is
ferraz.mi@gmail.com

 

Vincent Tilsley’s funeral

Vincent TilsleyVincent Tilsley

 

On October 16th 2013, I attended the funeral of a much-loved GreenSpirit member, Vincent Tilsley (born 3rd June 1932, died 29th September 2013). The setting was the North Chapel, Woodvale Crematorium, Brighton and the service was conducted by the Rev Ann-Marie Marchant. A Multi Faith Minister. The Chapel was packed with family, friends and a number of people whom Vincent had helped as a psychotherapist to overcome addictive conditions such as alcoholism and drug dependency. Remarkably, Vincent had himself gone through a time of healing from such cravings which had built up during the first half of his life as a writer and dramatist of repute, until he hit the brick wall of ‘writers block.’ This was serious stuff, and in his long and insightful article in the GreenSpirit Journal (now called magazine) of Spring 2005, he describes how this block took effect at first gradually, then more quickly, and in the end, quite suddenly. For two years he was unable to write a word… he describes this period as ‘on my own, jobless in a bedsit – and even this by the grace of Social Security. Depression scarcely described it!’

It was at this stage that two events – one worldly and one other-worldly – came together to set in train the healing process. The first was meeting with others going through the Ten Step programme of Alcoholics Anonymous. Vincent describes these people ‘as authentic as they were friendly but they told me that central to their programme was a belief in a Higher Power.’ This was not good news to Vincent who had a kind of negative article of faith that there wasn’t one, and he was determined ‘not to start telling myself lies again.’ However, what he could not deny was an increasing awareness of the unity of all life, as exemplified by the poet Rumi’s dictum that ‘God is closer to you than you are to yourself’. It would still be another fifteen years before this ‘seamless entanglement’ reached something like clarity. This came when he first saw Brian Swimme’s ‘Canticle to the Cosmos’ but by then Vincent had gone well beyond believing in a God to believing there is nothing but God! ‘Looking back,’ he says, ‘I’d begun to discover the rudiments of Creation Spirituality before I’d even heard of it.’ And, almost without blinking, his physical cravings had gone!

All was now in place for Vincent to take up his pen again and make a start on his Magnum Opus, Holy Night. The elements of this he had conceived many years previously whilst lying on the shingle of Brighton beach, looking up at the stars. Musing on the Nativity, he saw it as nothing less than an allegory about the new birth of our relationship with the Universe. Mixing up the worldly with the other-worldly was now no problem. As well as continuing with his writing he trained as a psychotherapist giving freely of his time to helping those, burdened as he had once been, by fear, loneliness and depression and the consequent recourse to addictive substances. Vincent’s life and work shows there is always hope – that ‘little band of brightness’ of which John O’Donahue spoke in Anam Cara and which opened the funeral service:

‘Death is not the end; it is a rebirth. Our presence in the world is so poignant. The little band of brightness that we call our life is poised between the darkness of two unknowns. There is the darkness of the unknown at our origin. We suddenly emerged from this unknown, and the band of brightness called life began. Then there is the darkness at the end when we disappear again back into the unknown.’

 

Don Hills.

GreenSpirit Annual Gathering 2013

Friday 11th October – Sunday 13th October at Trigonos, North Wales.

We were able to relax with beautiful surroundings and we had time to connect with each other and the land.

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A walk on Saturday afternoon took us around a lake and by a disused quarry.

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Eric Maddern of Cae Mabon gave a talk about myth, magic and the local area including. We were asked,  what makes magic happen? We came up with this list:

* belief – faith – trust
* something needed – a crisis
* surrender – openness – letting go of control
* mindfulness – stillness
* extra-ordinary
* space for dreams/imagination/mystery
* happenstance – eye of the beholder
* asking – unconscious desire
* taking a risk, improvise, spontaneity
* in tune with the place – blessing of wildlife
* magical things can happen when we have feelings of authenticity, excitement, expansiveness

and a magical experience can happen without any of these.

eric-maddernEric Maddern

 

On the Saturday afternoon, we had creative workshops. This Celtic letter was created during the art workshop by Alan:

celtic-symbol1

We also created our own evening entertainment, had home groups, our AGM and more.

Finally, here is a Celtic Blessing that was written during the writing workshop and was included in the closing ritual. It draws from our experiences during the weekend.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

May the spirit of Nantlle be with you,
This Autumn day.

May the flow of stream be with you,
Passing obstacles on its way,
And falling into the ever present lake.

May the decay of quarry be with you,
Crumbling its old, worn structures,
Into the holding Earth.

May the magic of myth be with you,
Transforming all that is within,
Into an alchemy of gold.

May the strength of the hills hold you,
Through sun and rain, wind and storm,
Until you are ready to tread your path again.

And may you feel the presence of all of the Earth around you.
Brightness of sun.
Silence of moon,
Breath of trees,
This day,
Until your journeys end.

 

© Ian Mowll

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

 

GreenSpirit Wild Week in Wales – August 2013

14 GreenSpiriters met at Cae Mabon in Snowdonia for GreenSpirit’s annual Wild Week in Wales.

During the week we had time to share, have meditations, explore the suroundings, swim in the lake and then warm up in the hot tub and just ‘be’ in this peaceful setting. We also had  sessions with a Joanna Macy Truth Mandala, singing in rounds and circle dance.

Here is the view of the nearby lake Llyn Padarn.

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A few of us went for a tea and coffee at the nearby cafe…

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We met this lady on the way…

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Ciaran and Hélène joined us. They have both completed a 10 week course at ‘An Tairseach’ a Dominican Farm and Ecology Centre in Ireland. The course was entitled ‘Exploring Spirituality in the context of an evolving universe, an endangered earth and the Christian tradition’. With content drawn from Thomas Berry and others, the course has a good deal in common with GreenSpirit.

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All of the meals which we prepared ourselves were delicious…We wondered whether we should rename the week ‘The Gourmet Week in Wales’…

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We spent some evenings inside the Celtic Roundhouse around a fire, drumming, chanting, singing and storytelling.

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We stayed in a variety of structures. This is the Cob Cottage.

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For our closing ritual an evolving planet Earth was suspended in mid-air, supported by 7 threads representing different stages of the evolving Universe. Below there was a candle with galactic arms reaching out. At the end of the ritual we each lit one of the candles and offered a sentence of thanks and gratitude.

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For the last meal, we created this centre-piece. We wondered whether it was the tallest table centre-piece ever created…

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On the last evening, we all donned hats that had been made during the week. We then went down to the lake on a path lit-up by candles that we had put in jars. We then threw our hats out onto the lake, each with an invocation.

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This was a wonderful week of community, sharing and creativity and more. A truly stimulating and refreshing time.

 

Resurgence Summer Camp at Green and Away – July 2013

http://www.resurgence.org/take-part/resurgence-events/summer-gathering-2013.html

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Once again, the Resurgence Summer Camp had an abundance of riches. The Summer Camp was at ‘Green and Away’ – a campsite near Worcester run along sustainable lines with (for instance) renewable energy and mostly local and organic food.

Here are some of my highlights – there were lots of other things happening too…

Natalie Bennett – Leader of the Green Party

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Natalie listed some uncomfortable statistics showing how far adrift we are from an inclusive and compassionate society. For instance, 500,000 people currently use food banks in the UK whilst the UK is the 6th richest country in the world. The rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. She also said that we need to have a minimum wage which is a living wage.

Donnachadh McCarthy: How to Save the Planet from the Prostitute State
For me, this was the highlight of the weekend. Donnachadh does some serious recycling producing only a little landfill waste each year. And runs a carbon negative house in terms of energy usage.

The main point of his talk was his experience as the Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats. He wanted to make political lobbying fair for all rather than being biased in favour of large corporations who have the money to pay people. I came away feeling I was naive not to have known how entrenched political lobbying is in our political system and how strongly the lobbying process is biased to benefit large corporations. This has to change. There will be a book out soon by Donnachadh on this subject, I’ll be watching out for it.

Shantena Augusto Sabbadini: The Valley Spirit, Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching
He talked about Taoism and its relationship to Quantum Physics. Fortunately, he was a very good scientist so he could talk in grounded ways about this often cited connection. This was in contrast to the rather vague and unhelpful ways Quantum Physics is sometimes banded about in spiritual/New Age circles.

 

Plus there were plenty of other activities during the weekend. Miriam Darlington (who wrote ‘Otter Country’) did a talk/creative writing workshop, there was a Joanna Macy Truth Mandala – particularly for those who heard Donnachadh’s talk and wanted to express their anger and grief. There were meditations, other speakers, music, creative activities, poetry performances, open space sessions as well as the many, many impromptu conversations with like minded people over a meal or between sessions.

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The GreenSpirit Books in a Suitcase was there. Plus 3 GreenSpiriters shared a song adapted from a Bob Dylan song which we called ‘The Climate – it is a Changing’ during the open mic evening.

Stars out of 5 for the weekend? At least a million!

Next year (2014), the Resurgence Summer Camp is booked from Thursday 31st July – Sunday 3rd August. Check out the Resurgence website (www.resurgence.org) in due course for further information.

Ian Mowll