Growing Trees to Grow People

In a world becoming increasingly engrossed in technology and consumption, it is essential to bring people out of isolation and instead back to community. The living Earth sustains its inhabitants, including humans, who can still become grounded in place and regain inherent, vital connections despite certain obstacles of the modern age.

Situated among the bush growth of the Koreelah Forest, the community at Peace Valley center their work around such goals. They envision their site as an opportunity for place-making and regenerative, healing work between people, other beings of nature, and the land.IMG_1756Peace Valley was established to address a growing need for natural spaces of solace and reflection for urban dwellers. Joy Foley, the founder, began the Australian bush retreat at Bindarrabi Community, a developing ecovillage on a piece of their common land. After several phases of building, expanding, and fortifying their structures, Peace Valley now functions as a camp and event center. It continues to host volunteers and guests who engage in practices of simple living and shared activities such as meditation, gardening, walks, and swimming.

By putting the idea of “gift economy” into practice, no one is excluded on a financial basis from enjoying the Peace Valley bush retreat area. Among the restorative permaculture onsite, Peace Valley is also working to set up an edible grove of native Australian trees, as they believe in “growing trees to grow people.” The indigenous tree and plant propagation of flora such as hoop pine, silky oak, and acacia seed is one of several efforts to maintain indigenous biodiversity in the region, in addition to removing invasive plant species.IMG_1700Foley recalls the “deep calling to reforest, revegetate, reconnect, and simply be in love with nature, with life, and with the earth” that “strengthened in me.”

It is vital to promote access to the natural world, especially for those who are the furthest removed from it. In particular, as young people grow up more and more enclosed in artificial and technological surroundings, we must find ways to overcome the distance from our shared home and its abundance of gifts and wonder. The ability to receive the gifts that nature, as well as others, in our innermost selves, all have to offer, is what sustains life and gives so much purpose.australiapeace valley logo

Emma Szymanski

Unity: The Eagle and the Condor

Message from the Kogi

by Emma Szymanski

This past March, the Global Peace Initiative of Women organized a five-day retreat in Costa Rica with 20 young ecologists and environmental activists from different regions of the United States. Mentors from various spiritual and indigenous traditions guided the program in exploring the convergence of spirituality and ecology, as well as the intersectionality that must be taken up in addressing the multifaceted, global crises beyond climate change. Participants met to discuss the shifts in consciousness and relation to the Earth through a long-eschewed spiritual lens, in the context of the environmental movement in the United States.

This was one gathering in a series of meetings (see highlights of last year’s Costa Rica gathering here) with young people around the world that GPIW has organized over the last few years. This initiative grounds its efforts and expression in the idea of Mother Earth’s essential sacredness, as well as in the cultivation of inner wisdom or self-awareness as a means of healing and restoring bonds with both the natural world.

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Participants of the “Inner Dimensions of Climate Change” retreat — opening day at the Earth Charter International headquarters in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Earth’s biodiversity, including the cultural diversity and vitality of the global human community, manifests as incomprehensibly complex systems in motion. These systems are fundamentally deserving of respect, care, and awe. Reciprocity and mutual flourishing, two elements often found among coexisting species and communities in the natural world, in a way represent the crossing of thresholds that embody any healthy living system. En route to transformation, may we first and foremost seek the paths toward harmony and shared prosperity by learning to face inward—not selfishly, but instead as liminal beings whose inner dimensions illuminate a collective source of wisdom, so often unseen and inaccessible in today’s world of distractions and artificiality.

We were honored to be joined by Pacha K’anchay, a young Kogi leader who traveled from the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Colombia to deliver his people’s message. Trained in the teachings of community elders, Pacha kindly imparted profound wisdom unto the group on the opening evening. His words, and those of Mindahi Munoz, a resident scholar at the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, are translated into both English and Spanish below. As you read, consider how you yourself might recognize the animate, dynamic essence of the natural world. Perhaps you may let that energetic force flood your individual mind, if only for a few moments, as one living, beating, breathing being among innumerable others.

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Top row, from left to right: Mindahi Bastida, Pacha K’anchay, and Geraldine Patrick.

“Eagle and Condor”

English

Pacha K’anchay:

From the lands of Central America, where the beaks of the condor and the eagle unite, we meet here, offering a tribute to the ancient and ancestral peoples who walked on this land.

Which today, as spirits, provide food and are the nature of this land. They are the songs of birds, and they still live in the sounds of our waters, and they still have a community.

And this spirit has allowed many beings to learn, to unite in knowledge, and today, there are many ways of wanting to join with nature.

We are here to make a call to the conscience and to the heart of all human beings, so that we can once again synchronize our heart with that of Mother Earth’s.

From the things that are real, from forgiving the person next to us, and from understanding the time in which we find ourselves, it is time to unify ourselves among our peoples.

It is time for nations to understand that millenary wisdom was left on Earth for humanity to uphold herself.

And we were given forms of thought so that in each territory there would be peace and balance and harmony among the beings that live there.

From the heart, we send a message to all the beings that can see this message, that from your heart you may feel the need for a transformation, to protect life, to unify with nature.

Many today have spiritual faculties, and the thought is growing; others, from the reason and with scientific faculties, can aide so that nature, our Mother Earth, continues and lives for a long time.

From our heart we have come here to give thanks for life, to unify ourselves with the essence of thought.

We are in the time of prophecies where the Sun sends his messages and the Earth manifests her changes.

We are in the time of birth pains, moving towards a time in which we reconnect with our interior.

The prophecies of our ancestors are fulfilled today. The prophecies were told so that today, we who are alive in this historic moment, may again synchronize ourselves with the Earth and with the Universe.

From the peoples of South America of the lands of the condor, from the people of the eagle.

We also lift up unity to Tibet, the Himalayas, to the great territories found all over the planet to unify ourselves in the heart of Mother Earth for life.

This is how, here today, in nature, among family and among the hearts of the people, we send to you, from our heart, all the strength to unify ourselves in this web of life.

From the heart of the lands of the eagle and the condor, Abyayala, in the center of what is now called Costa Rica, we raise this call to the unity of the peoples for life. HAYAYA

Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz:

Greetings! We greet you with our hearts from the lands of the central highlands of Mexico, here in Costa Rica.

I greet my KJUADA, Pacha K’anchay. Eagle and condor, here in these millenary lands.

The time of our voice has come, our time has come.

Nothing and no one will speak for us any more, nor will they sit to discuss what they will do with our peoples, with our territories.

The dawn is approaching, the birds are saying so. The quetzal will return to these lands and to others.

We also want to greet the distant lands: the dragon and the Phoenix, because one day we will join them, also.

We send this message because we all have something to contribute.

Human beings have created the problem, and now we are going to create the solution, together, in a process of unification where we learn ‘to be’ in this ‘collective way of being’.

In the ‘way of being’ from which we departed many times over the past seven thousand years.

The dawn is approaching, and we are in a process of transition. We are here for the new dawn.

MOXINGUINTINI KJUADA MOXINGUINTINI KJU. KJAMADI. Onward with everything, with life, for the life, and for life.

Español

Pacha K’anchay:

Desde las tierras de Centroamérica, donde se unen el pico del cóndor y del águila, nos encontramos aquí ofreciéndole un tributo a los pueblos milenarios y ancestrales que caminaron por acá.

Que hoy, como espíritus, brindan alimento y son la naturaleza de esta tierra. Que son los cantos de las aves, y que aún viven en los sonidos de nuestras aguas, y aún tienen comunidad.

Y ese espíritu ha permitido que muchos seres aprendan, que se unan en conocimiento, y hoy aparecen muchas formas de querer unirse más a la naturaleza.

Estamos aquí para hacerle un llamado a la conciencia y al corazón de todos los seres humanos, para que podamos nuevamente sincronizar nuestro corazón con el de la Madre Tierra.

Desde lo real, desde perdonar al que tenemos al lado, y desde comprender el tiempo en el que nos encontramos, es el momento de unificarnos entre pueblos.

Es el momento de que las naciones comprendan que la sabiduría milenaria se dejó en la tierra para que se sostuviera la humanidad.

Y se nos dejaron formas de pensamiento para que en cada territorio hubiera paz y equilibrio y armonía entre los seres que ahí están.

De corazón enviamos un mensaje a todos los seres que puedan observar este mensaje, de que de corazón sientan la necesidad de una transformación, de proteger la vida, de unificarnos con la naturaleza.

Muchos hoy día tienen facultades espirituales y el pensamiento va creciendo; otros desde la razón, con las facultades científicas, pueden aportar a que la naturaleza, nuestra Madre Tierra, continúe y perviva en el tiempo.

De corazón aquí hemos venido a agradecer por la vida, a unificarnos con la esencia del pensamiento.

Estamos en los tiempos de las profecías en donde el Sol envía sus mensajes y la Tierra se manifiesta con sus cambios.

Estamos en el tiempo de dolor de parto hacia un tiempo en donde estamos volviendo a conectarnos con nuestro interior.

Las profecías de nuestros ancestros hoy se cumplen. Se dijeron para que hoy nosotros, que vivimos este momento histórico, podamos sincronizarnos nuevamente con la Tierra y el Universo.

Desde los pueblos de Sudamérica de las tierras del cóndor, desde los pueblos del águila.

También elevamos la unidad hacia el Tíbet, el Himalaya, hacia los grandes territorios que se encuentran en todo el planeta para unificarnos en el corazón de la Madre Tierra por la vida.

Es así, como hoy aquí, en esta naturaleza, entre la familia, entre el corazón de los pueblos, les enviamos a ustedes, desde nuestro corazón, toda la fuerza para unificarnos en este tejido de vida.

Desde el corazón de las tierras del águila y el cóndor, el Abyayala, en todo el centro de que hoy llaman Costa Rica, elevamos este llamado hasta la unidad de los pueblos por la vida. HAYAYA

Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz:

Saludo! Les saludamos con el corazón desde las tierras del altiplano central de México aquí desde Tepantí, desde Costa Rica.

Saludo a mi KJUADA, Pacha K’anchay. Águila y cóndor, aquí en estas tierras milenarias.

Ha llegado el tiempo de nuestra voz, el tiempo nuestro.

Ya nada ni nadie hablará por nosotros ni se sentarán a discutir qué harán con nuestros pueblos, con los territorios.

Ya se acerca la alborada, los pájaros están mencionando. El quetzal volverá por estas tierras y por otras.

También queremos saludar a las tierras lejanas: al dragón y al Fénix, porque un día nos uniremos también con ellos.

Enviamos este mensaje porque todos tenemos algo que aportar.

Los seres humanos ahora hemos creado el problema y ahora vamos a crear la solución, juntos, en un proceso de unificación donde nosotros estamos aprendiendo a ‘ser’ en este ‘ser colectivo’.

En ese ‘ser’ que muchas veces se desvió desde hace siete mil años.

Ya se acerca la alborada, y estamos en un proceso de transición. Estamos por el nuevo amanecer.

MOXINGUINTINI KJUADA MOXINGUINTINI KJU. KJAMADI. Adelante con todo, con la vida, para la vida, y por la vida.



Wisdom from the Wild Nations

by Elizabeth Austin Asch

A Elizabeth Austin Ashe and friends

“It is only for the purity of the animals themselves that we [humans] are allowed to still live.” ~ Salvatore Gencarelle

Popular media like the New York Times contains an ever greater number of articles about animal sentience. Most recently, on January 29, 2016 Sally McGrane wrote “German Forest Ranger Finds That Trees Have Social Networks, Too.”   The evidence is everywhere: much more goes on in the minds of living things in the natural world than we have been educated to believe.

A dozen years ago I wasn’t looking for a psychic way to communicate; I was just trying to manage my daughter’s Thoroughbred mare, Ginger. I wanted to speak ‘horse’, which seemed to be a matter of learning the right body language, plus some horse psychology.  However much I learned from books and from human instructors — I realized that I was learning even more from Ginger.  Her intelligence, although different from mine, was extraordinary.  I eventually found that I didn’t need to use body language, Ginger read my mind.  Could it be that my 8 year-old daughter had picked out a very special horse?

Then my son wanted a parrot, so I started reading about this species. Combining what I had learned from Ginger with what I learned from Irene Pepperberg, author of “Alex and Me”  I found that rather than training our infant parrot, I was once again a student of the being that I set out to train.  At a very young age Ttac would learn the name of a visitor with no prompting, in a couple of days.  He is always the first to get a joke (watch out, his “heh-heh-heh” will give you away!), and he even knew when a family member passed away across the ocean, whistling the way that Grandpa had taught him, which we had not heard since the last time they saw each other two years earlier.

My husband wanted chickens, who are supposedly on the opposite end of the avian intelligence spectrum from parrots — and then our six hens taught me about their rich lives. The crows who would sometimes get stuck in the hen enclosure taught me how wild birds think and repaid my assistance to them with extraordinary favors.

Willing wild crows and pigeons have stepped into my bare hands. Feral mallards have shown me their hatchlings. Dogs, fish, cats, dolphins, trees, sharks and elephants have been among my teachers.  When you show others your willingness to listen they seek to befriend you, and to cause you to hear.

Each time I read books from top researchers of a particular species, I notice one common feature: They all believe that the species that they are studying is the species closest to humans in terms of intelligence, empathy, loyalty and other measures of what we tend to call ‘human’ traits.  I noticed something else: No matter the species, when I get to know an animal well I find individual character and reasoning intelligence, free will, morality — attributes my schooling taught me to believe were limited to human beings.

In 2014 I began studying Interspecies Communication with Anna Breytenbach, Jon Young and Wynter Worsthorne. None of us really considers that we are “learning” to communicate this way, rather we are simply remembering how to do so.  Every human, every being that exists, is equipped to communicate with or without the use of verbal, written language and sound.  Our educational system teaches us humans that we can’t do it, but we can.  And we must now re-member how, for listening to our brothers and sisters is crucial to the survival of all.

This past summer, a friend Ann-Sofi Carlborn wrote me an email telling me of the Global Peace Initiative of Women [from which the Contemplative Alliance emerged] and their intention to attend the climate conference in Paris. At the time I was visiting with two elephant friends in Tanzania, so I spent part of my evening reading about GPIW’s mission of peace and learning about their members.  The following morning and continuing for the next ten days, various species of wild animals told me some of their own notions of peace and harmony, in order that I share them with GPIW.  As they ‘spoke’ to me, I wrote in my journal; this understanding is what I shared with the faith leaders that joined GPIW during COP21.

Elephant: Notice the hierarchy. It serves a purpose in peacekeeping.  Notice how accepting everyone is.  How respectful.

Baboon: Notice how calmly we all accept our place. You [humans] have forgotten how to position yourselves and what your status means. No one owns the waterhole.

A Baboon track
Baboon track

January 29th, 2015

Zebra: Learn about herd unity. Learn about the power and value of Approach and Retreat.  Let time be timeless.  The urgency is in the transformation, not in your sense of time.  If the birds and insects and frogs are singing, that is the time to accomplish what is needed.  Push gently into your comfort until you are reaching outside of it to others.

A Zebra

Wildebeest: Why are our energies separated? It is right and good this way.  For balance.  Look at the shape of our energies now.  Always ask for permission when your energies are different/varied.  To blend must be consensual.  The more singular dominant energy must declare loudly his intention, as a way of asking.  He shall then accept if the answer is no, even if he intends to return and ask again.  Withdraw.  Approach and ask.  Withdraw.  Approach.  Thus, through the blending of energies does creation occur.  It has been so for ages.  Now is the time for returning closer to Oneness.  Your kind is ready.  Now is the time to approach.  And blend.  Be not afraid.

A Wildebeest

July 31, Day of Thanks

 Elizabeth:  Do you have advice for us?

Eland, Zebra and Wildebeest:  (Wildebeest singing) Listen.  Listen all you can and trust.  Then and only then will you find the way home for us all.  Fear not.  You will be surprised by the ease with which change comes, and the simplicity with which it may be implemented.  Listen and heed.

 Voice of the Waterhole:  You!  You are welcome.  You people cannot spoil my calm, my depth.

Warthog: With regard to the question of private property and ownership. It is not so much a question of never owning or making claim of territory.  It is more a question of understanding that that claim is temporary.  That eventually you must, you will, give it back. The humility in this equation is what you often lack.  Search for it and keep searching, for it is there in you.

Vervets: Hear this. Because you are not usually present/consistent, there is great power of intention when you DO focus your love and thanksgiving.  And when many more of you do, the results will be astounding to you.  We, your brethren in the other nations, have been waiting for you.

August 1, 2015

Eland, Zebra and Wildebeest: See how we all come together. (Wildebeest singing)  We welcome your desire to rekindle the peace between our nations.  Know that there are those of your kind here (in Africa and elsewhere on Earth) who never lost it.

Elizabeth Austin Asch

e.austin.asch@gmail.com

 

A Elephants