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The Council of All Beings







 The Council of All Beings

The following are excerpts, with note, from the Introduction:
“To Hear Within Ourselves the Sound of the Earth Crying”
By John Seed
Pages 14 -17

We need the immense variety of sources of joy opened through increased sensitivity toward the richness and diversity of life, through the profound cherishing of free natural landscapes.
Arne  Naess

In the Council or All Beings workshops, we participate in a series of processes that weave together three important themes: mourning, remembering and speaking from the perspective of other life forms.

Deep ecology remains a concept without power to transform our awareness unless we allow ourselves to feel.

The workshops provide a safe place to give voice to what we know is happening to our planet and to acknowledge the pain and begin to come to terms with it, to mourn our separation and our loss. Rage may also well up and a passionate caring.
(Note from Erika: This is what I wish to see happen, the passionate caring. This is what I wish to focus on!) When we stop repressing the pain, a sense of belonging and interconnectedness emerges.

There are many exercises which assist the rememberingout rootedness in nature. At each Council, we engage in several sensitizing activities shifting us away from our usual cerebral mode. Guided visualizations make our four-and-one-half billion-year journey present and vivid. Body movements accompanying the evolutionary recapitulation tap into our knowledge of previous stages of evolution embedded in our neurological systems.

The Council culminates in shedding our human identity and speaking from the perspective of another life form.
We take time alone to be chosen by a plant, animal or landscape texture that we will then represent at the Council. The structure created for the ritual councils allows for spontaneous expression. Creative suggestions for human action may emerge. Invocation of powers and knowledge of these other life forms also empowers us.

Ritual and Action
The relationship between these rituals and the actions we take in defense of nature is complex. In spite of the conceptual dotted lines we superimpose, life is seamless and there is a continuity, flow and exchange between the inner and the outer.

These rituals are not in any way a substitute for other, more direct forms of action. Rather, the rituals prepare us and provide us with a larger context for action. When our strategies are formed and informed by a larger context than our narrow ego selves, when we realize we are acting not just from our own opinions or beliefs, but on behalf of a larger Self – the Earth – with the authority of more than four billion years of our planet’s evolution behind us, then we are filled with new determination, courage and perseverance, lees limited by self-doubt, narrow self-interest and discouragement. The apathy from which many of us suffer, the sense of paralysis, is a product of our shriveled sense of self. Working with the Council of All Beings, we have found that people experience a deepening identification with the Earth, a renewal of energy to struggle for the protection of wild Nature, and to work for peace.

Ritual also helps us be more aware of the ritualized character of virtually all nonviolent direct action, and thus helps us make these actions more powerful. While at times we may be defending a particular stand of trees or mountain ridge or stream, our defense as also symbolic in that we are making our defense in the name of all trees, all mountain ridges, all streams which need defending, and we are asking all who understand these threats wherever they may be to stand with us. When we are attempting to protect nature against those who would destroy it, we are asking those who would destroy the earth to experience the same transformation which we have undergone, to remember who they rally are, to step out of their self-liming roles as police, politicians, developers, or consumers and act in defense of their larger Self-interest. It is the ritual character on nonviolent direct action which brings us closer to the universal realization, expressed by the feminist-pacifist writer Barbara Deming:

Spirit that hears each one of us,
Hears all that is –
Listens, listens, hears us out-
Inspire us now!
Our own pulse beats in every stranger’s throat,
And also there within the flowered ground beneath our feet,
And – teach us to listen! –
We can hear it in water, wood, and even in stone,
We are earth of this earth, and we are bone of its bone.
This is a prayer I sing, for we have forgotten this and so
The earth is perishing.

Once we have, to quote the poet Robinson Jeffers, “fallen in love outwards,” once we have experienced the fierce joy of life that attends extending our identity into nature, once we realize that the nature within and the nature without are continuous, then we too may share and manifest the exquisite beauty and effortless grace associated with the natural world, as the testimony of Graham Innes makes all so clear. When we hear the earth speak to us, we are transformed and come to understand our actions from new perspective.




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