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b2ap3_thumbnail_fallow-deer-dama-dama-wikimedia-commons.jpg"You are taught to believe that faith can move mountains, yet many of you will find it extremely difficult to accept your own relationship with the environment." (8)

I.    Ecopsychology

Development of themes of polarized forces and separation of the physical and the spiritual laid a foundation for western civilization which developed into religions featuring absolute values, contests of good and evil, and disdain for the human body and natural world.  Thinkers and teachers from Newton to Enlightenment philosophers reinforced these ideas in the name of science and rational thought.  The Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, and the rise of capitalism and consumerism, further resolved our attenuation from wholeness.  In our time, the scientific model has taught us that if there was ever a divine being, he or she was a clockmaker who set the time and walked away.

Today the emerging field of ecopsychology is teaching us a new way of viewing the self as an inseparable part of the larger natural environment in which we live.  The first gathering of ecopsychologists at the conference, “Psychology as if the Whole Earth Mattered,” agreed that “if the self is expanded to include the natural world, behavior leading to destruction of this world will be experienced as self-destruction.”  Ecopsychology seeks to evolve a practice of psychology that will reunite the human psyche with that of the world.

II.    Seth/Jane Roberts

b2ap3_thumbnail_Daylily-May-30-2017.jpgA collection of writings by the late Jane Roberts introduce several themes which strongly support the premises of ecopsychology.  The so-called “Seth” books have now influenced more than one generation of influential thinkers and writers.  Seth has been cited as a formative influence by such luminaries of contemporary consciousness studies as Deepak Chopra, Sanaya Roman, Shakti Gawain and Marianne Williamson. 

The Seth view of the world, read thirty and more years after publication, now bears a striking resemblance to the new quantum physics.  Field theory and the behavior of particles are clearly described in Seth’s landscape of probabilities, alternate realities and consciousness units.  Because of its widespread influence and logical exploration of ideas normally coopted by religion and mysticism, the Seth body of work now stands as a valuable bridge between the old model of a mechanical universe and an ecopsychological paradigm. 

While this short paper is far from an exhaustive survey of the Seth literature (Roberts’ collection is the second-most requested and read collection at the Yale University library), it will acquaint the reader with parallels between contemporary ecopsychology and the ideas of Seth.

III.    Seth Themes Which Support Ecopsychology

    a.    An Earth Gestalt

b2ap3_thumbnail_Khasi_Hills_Mawphlang-credit-Prida-Ariani.jpgThe Gaia hypothesis first articulated in the mid-1970s by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis has become common parlance here in the beginning of the 21st century.  Not only pagans espouse a unity of all life on earth, but Earth Day services and miscellaneous homages to God revealed in nature now abound throughout mainstream Christianity. 

In The Unknown Reality, Seth expounds at length on the continuum of consciousness out of which the human psyche rises.  Human entities in the Seth cosmos are no more separate from the world than a cloud is from the sky.

"Physically speaking, earth itself has its own kind of gestalt consciousness.  If you must, then think of that earth consciousness as grading upward in great slopes of awareness, from relatively ‘inert’ particles of dust and stone, through the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms.  Even then, remember that those kingdoms are not so separate after all.  Each one is highly related to each of the others.  Nothing happens in one such kingdom that does not affect the others." (10, p. 287)

Although life forms become individuated, there is not the separation which characterizes western thinking.  In fact, consciousness prefigures the natural world, dreamed into being by the creative power of thought.  In such a universe, irruptions of physical form could be thought of as a standing wave on the stream of energy, though one with every detail and subtlety of a human personality forever remembered at some not-yet-understood subatomic level.

"You grant soulhood only to your own species, as if souls had sizes that fit your own natures only.  You preserve these ideas by thinking of animals as beneath you . . . But all things have consciousness, and in those terms possess a soul-nature.  There are no gradations as to soul.  Soul is the life within everything that is." (10, p. 287)

b2ap3_thumbnail_astronomy-5.jpgA number of contemporary scientists have proposed the hologram as a model for understanding existence, the story told in Michael Talbot’s landmark 1991 book, The Holographic Universe.  A hologram is produced through a specific process using reflected and split laser light which records a wave interference pattern on film.  Bouncing laser light off the film produces a three-dimensional image, a famous example being Princess Leia’s plea for help in the movie Star Wars.  But when one cuts up a piece of hologram film, the image is not destroyed, but rather each fragment of the film still possesses and can project the original image.  This astonishing phenomena would seem to illustrate the way that all of life, including human, are a seamless, unified whole.

Stanford University neurophysiologist Karl Pribram first published his theories of the holographic nature of the brain in 1966, three years after Jane Roberts began speaking in trance as Seth, about the intricacies of consciousness.  Ironically, Roberts and her students were exploring the same ideas about existence as scientists like Pribram, during the same time period.  This common phenomenon is itself an illustration of the holistic nature of existence.

In “the unknown reality,” one meets Paul Shepard’s “self with the permeable boundaries.”  Human thought and action reveal themselves as both cause and effect when linked inextricably with the rest of this field of life.  While each detail of life manifests its own characteristics, it cannot be understood, nor can it function, in isolation from the greater gestalt of the universe.

    b.    Cooperation and Interconnection

b2ap3_thumbnail_sk-2017_04_article_main_mobilejpeg_quality20.jpgEcopsychology teaches us a healthy relationship with the natural world can only result from recognition of our interconnection, and active mutual cooperation among all species and parts of the planet.  Seth’s assertion that even the smallest parts of creation have at least an iota of consciousness supports this need.

"A great, gracious cooperation exists between those seemingly separate systems, however.  If you will remember that even atoms and molecules have consciousness, then it will be easier for you to understand that there is indeed a certain kind of awareness that unites these kingdoms." (10, p. 287)

Complete freedom of choice is asserted throughout the Seth writings as the only way to truly learn, grow and create.  By advocating the principle of free will Seth also acknowledges an acceptance of outcomes which may at times appear destructive.  Shepard says, “An ecologically harmonious sense of self and world is not the outcome of rational choices . . . it is latent in the organism. . .”

Seth continually returns to the earth to illustrate his ideas, always referring to the inherently mutual nature of existence.

"Even the trees at the highest tip of the hillside send sturdy roots into the ground, and receive from it nourishment and vitality – and there is a great give-and-take between the smallest sapling in the foothills and the most ancient pine.  No single blade of grass dies but that it affects the entire mountain.  The energy within the grass sinks into the earth, and in your terms is again reborn.  Trees, rocks, and grass constantly exchange places as energy changes form.  Water rushes down the hillside into the valley, and there is a constant give-and-take between the village below, say, or the meadows, and the mountain.  So there is the same kind of transformation, change, and cooperation between all identities." (10, 481)

Statements like this are self-evident to many in the fields of ecology and ecopsychology, but presented by Seth could as well be perceived as science or spirituality.  This kind of transitional discussion can provide the underpinning for the effort by ecopsychologists to lead individuals  to view and treat the earth as their own body and soul.

    c.    Land As Memory

b2ap3_thumbnail_serpentmound.jpgAnthropology in the 20th century helped to create a widespread awareness by the public of indigenous peoples’ attitudes towards the land on which they live.  Native American, Amazonian and Australian aboriginal spiritualities are often cited or appropriated by environmentalists to advance their cause.

Seth’s concept of mutually-cooperative and interconnected forces could explain the indigenous attachment to and reverence for the earth.  Speaking of the atoms and cells which form an organism or ocean or mountain, then break down and disperse to form other life forms, Seth reminds the reader that, “Reminiscent within each form is the consciousness of all the other combinations, all of the other alliances, and identity continually forms new creative endeavors and gestalts of relatedness.” (10, p. 483)

Because of this constant exchange of energy in the physical world, we carry chromosomally some form of the knowledge of our ancestors, according to Seth, noting that very old cultures were aware of this trait, accepting that the ancestors were an integral part of present-day life, contributing to the experience of the living.

"The animals were also accepted in this natural philosophy of selfhood as the individual plainly saw the living quality of consciousness.  The characteristics of the animals were understood to continue ‘life,’ adding their qualities to the experience of the self in a new way . . . The human body would be used in earth’s great husbandry as, from it, dying and decaying new forms would arise.  This was a give-and-take in which, for instance, a jungle neighborhood was truly home, and all was a portion of the self psychically, spiritually, and physically." (10, p. 536)

The word for body in activist Jeannette Armstrong’s native (American) Okanagan language translates “land-dreaming capacity,” In our class reading, Armstrong says, “Okanagans teach that the body is the Earth itself.  They say that our flesh, blood, and bones are Earth-body; in all cycles in which the Earth moves, so does our body.  We are everything that surrounds us, including the vast forces we only glimpse.”

The view of the Okanaga and that of Seth may go far beyond Shepard’s “permeable self” because not only are the physical elements recombined, establishing interconnection, but the cumulative experience of each life form also becomes an integral part of each new form.  This dynamic intermingling suggests that creation has never stopped, but that the world recreates itself anew in every moment.

    e.    Creation As Manifestation of Consciousness

b2ap3_thumbnail_astronomy-7.jpgSir Isaac Newton’s famous clockmaker analogy embedded in the western psyche an attitude that the earth is no more than a complex object, a vessel for the passion play between deity and humanity.  DiZerega discusses how the concept of a transcendent god, removed and separate from creation, desacralizes the world, devaluing it and setting the stage for environmental abuse.

Conversely, Seth constantly iterates the world, indeed the universe, as the ever-evolving creation of divine thought, a creation which is indivisible from its creator, and therefore panentheistically divine, itself. 

"The rhythms of your body and of your consciousness follow the patterns of your planet.  The planet itself is composed of atoms and molecules, each with their own kind of consciousness, however; and in the gestalt and cumulative cooperative organization of their nature the physical structure is formed – out of consciousness." (10, p. 348)

Stephen Aizenstat also asserts that, “ . . . all the phenomena in the world possess intrinsic unconscious characteristics – subjective inner natures,” and notes that the rhythms of nature lie beneath civilization’s religion, economies, culture and politics.  He posits that the work of depth psychology should extend Jung’s collective unconscious to the more inclusive “world unconscious.”

Ecopsychologists strive for recognition and embrace of our oneness with and impact on the environment.  Seth does not stop with recognition, but goes on to describe a fluid and dynamic relationship.

"There is little difference between the currents of blood that flow through your veins, and the wind current, except that the one seems to be within you and the other without.  Both are manifestations of the same interrelationship and motion, however.  Your planet has a body as much as you have.  Your blood follows certain prescribed patterns and so does the wind. . . As cells within your body influence it, so does your body affect the larger body of the earth.  The weather faithfully reflects the feelings of the individuals in any given local territory.  Overall weather patterns follow deeper inner rhythms of emotions." (10, p. 349)

IV.    Summary

b2ap3_thumbnail_wikicover.jpgFor many, the Seth writings have provided a rationale for intelligent and logical discussion of subjects most often viewed as irrational mysticism.  Seth’s splendid panorama of the universe as sentient and whole rejects the mechanistic thinking of our dominant culture in favor of a joyously alive and interactive existence.

"God knows itself through the flesh.  God may know itself through a million or a thousand million other worlds, as so may I – but because this world is, and because I am alive in it, it is more than appearance, more than a shackle to be thrown aside.  It is a privilege to be here, to look out with this unique focus, with these individual eyes . . . to see this corner of reality which I form through the miraculous connections of soul and flesh." (10, p. 696)

Those miraculous connections of soul and flesh are the stuff of which our collective healing will  come, as ecopsychology continues its vital work, saving Gaia by leading us to a loving reunion with our source.

by Holli S. Emore, 2005

Bibliography

1. Aizenstate, Stephen, “Jungian Psychology and the World Unconscious,” Ecopsychology, Sierra Club Books, 1995.
2. Armstrong, Jeannette, “Keepers of the Earth,” Ecopsychology, Sierra Club Books, 1995.
3. DiZerega, Gus, Pagans & Christians: The Personal Spiritual Experience, Llewellyn Publications, 2005.
4. Lazslo, Ervin, Science and the Akashic Field, Inner Traditions, 2004.
5. Popescu, Petru, Amazon Beaming, Viking, 1991.
6. Pribram, K.H. (1966). Some dimensions of remembering: Steps toward a neuropsychological model of memory. In Gaito, J. (Ed.), Macromolecules and Behaviour. Academic Press. [Excerpt in Pribram, K.H. (Ed.) (1969), Brain and Behaviour 2 - Perception and Action. Harmondsworth: Penguin.]
7. Roberts, Jane, Seth Speaks, Amber-Allen Publishing, 1972, 1994.
8. Roberts, Jane, The Nature of Personal Reality, Amber-Allen Publishing, 1974, 1994.
9. Roberts, Jane, The Unknown Reality, Volume One, Amber-Allen Publishing, 1977, 1996.
10. Roberts, Jane, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, Amber-Allen Publishing, 1979, 1996.
11. Roszak, Theodore, “Where Psyche Meets Gaia,” Ecopsychology, eds., Roszak, Gomes, and Kanner.  Sierra Club Books: 1995.
12. Shepard, Paul, “Nature and Madness,”  Ecopsychology, Sierra Club Books, 1995.
13. Talbot, Michael, The Holographic Universe, Harper Perennial, 1991.

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The Hidden Light Tarot

My first exposure to Oli StarFrosting’s work was through his self-titled zine. I knew I’d found a gem of a writer and artist when I found myself swept up in passages like these:

bone deep in my blood is magic, I am a Witch too and breathe in mana with each breath, know the knots and tides of magic as my birthright, feel the presence of G-D Herself pouring out through the moon the trees the cold pulsing ground, know with an immediacy and intimacy the Divine gathered in all things, know the array of water and fire and earth on my altar as crucial to my taking my rightful role in creation which is nothing other than G-D Herself becoming cosmos…

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Teaching Folk Dance at the Moot part 3

In the last great Ice Age, when cave bears roamed the snowy earth, peoples across Europe, Asia, and North America all honored the Bear. Because bears hibernate, they return in the spring, along with the sun, the warmth, and the fertility of the land. It would make sense to do a dance with loud drumming in the spring to wake them up, thus bringing the blessings of springtime, but Tot Ursi is still performed to this day in Romania, and it is part of the winter solstice celebrations. Like winter solstice traditions of burning a Yule Log to keep the light alive while the sun is god, Tot Ursi is danced to keep the Bear spirit alive while the bears are gone. (For further reading on Bear spirituality, see Alan Leddon’s book Religion Laid Bear.)

In Tot Ursi, meaning "All Bears," the dancers can growl and make bear-like sounds, but they also make “brrrrr” sounds, which don’t sound like a bear at all. I think the “brrr” sound may be a form of lalling. Lalling is making nonsense sounds such as “lalala” in a song, or for ritual purposes. Lalling is named after the Germanic god Lollus. I found Tot Ursi while doing genealogical research on my last name (for more info on that topic, see my blog post  Lollus, Löhl, and Ursul din Lăloaia )

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    I remember that song!
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I suddenly remembered the childhood song: "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" when I got to the last line of this article.
Asking and Other Things I Hate

 

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Teaching Folk Dance at the Moot part 2

I’m preparing to teach Basic Folk Dance at Southwest Frith Moot. My time slot between the other things on the schedule is a half hour, so I’ve selected two dances, Hora and Tot Ursi. Tot Ursi is a procession dance and the Hora is a round dance. Tot Ursi is so simple that I can teach it before I teach any actual dance basics, so I can teach Tot Ursi, do a short lecture teaching dance basics, and then teach the Hora. The dance basics I need to teach for the second dance include what “line of direction” means (move to the right, starting on the right foot), how to hold hands (dancing in a circle round, left hand up and the right one down,) and how to cut in.

My mom and I dance with the Ethnic Express Folk Dancers. We dance to bring people together—ourselves, most of all—and to preserve the world heritage of dance. I’m the only heathen in the dance group. Mom and I originally got into folk dance as an activity we could do together when I was in high school. Even when she can’t dance, our folk dance friends are a big part of our life.

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  • Babatunde
    Babatunde says #
    can you teach me and where are you thanks??
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Babatunde, the moot is in Arizona, but the event is full. I'm in the Las Vegas, Nevada, area. I do plan to teach this dance at the

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Teaching Folk Dance at the Moot part 1

Folk dance is ritual. Dances are performed for holidays, weddings, the agricultural cycle, and to bring people together. I’m going to teach folk dance at an upcoming heathen gathering.

At the dawn of agricultural, newly settled villagers who needed to work together on farm tasks danced together to learn how to move as a unit and co-ordinate with each other, and to build team spirit. Those are also some reasons for military marching. There are folk dances that actually are forms of military drill, such as the vari hasapikos, a Greek men’s dance for a four man team, that teaches how to read a leader’s hand signals and follow them in unison.

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Dancing Goddesses is a fantastic book. I recommend it.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    My local library has a copy of Dancing Goddesses: folklore, archaeology, and the origins of European dance by Barber. It's a fasc
Witchcraft is a constitutionally protected religion in South Africa
Solstice-tide blessings to everyone.
 
Recently published articles concerning the revision of Canada’s Criminal Code on the prohibition of Witchcraft in that country has elicited numerous calls by South African Witches to legalise Witchcraft in South Africa.
 

Many Pagans and Witches remain under the impression that the practice of Witchcraft as a religion or religious belief system is illegal in South Africa. It is not!

With the passage of South Africa’s first democratic Constitution in 2006, including a Bill of Rights (Chapter Two of the Constitution – see below) and its constitutional guarantee of the right to equality and freedom of religion and belief for all citizens, any and all existing legislation inconsistent with the Constitution *automatically* became invalid (unconstitutional) subject to Legislative review. Effectively, this means that the 1957 Witchcraft Suppression Act, which prohibited, a) professing knowledge of witchcraft, b) the practice of witchcraft and c) the use of divination, effectively became invalid and unconstitutional as of 2006.

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