I left for a Northwest Soul Quest retreat on the Gifts of Shadow last Wednesday, my mind and emotions in turmoil over the actions being taken by the new man in the White House. I carried with me the question of how I can stay centered and grounded in the midst of such chaos. Even more: How I can be an effective sacred activist without burning myself out? We held council on this topic at the retreat, and also had conversation about it with the other-than-humans. At the retreat, we went into deep immersion on shadow and polarity, in our personal lives as well as in the collective. We stayed present to the process and offline for almost all of the retreat.
When I returned on Sunday, it felt like I was returning to a world even crazier than it had been before I left.
Here’s what I am certain of: Spiritual practice and self-care are essential to getting through the next four years without living in constant anxiety, fear, and outrage. We must step away from time to time to regenerate ourselves. Stepping away at regular intervals ensures that we will not burn ourselves out, and more than that, it means we will never get used to the new consensus reality being dictated to us by the man in the White House. (I deeply appreciate this article by Mirah Curzer: “How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind.”
During the retreat, I was reminded of the teachings of our beloved elder Joanna Macy, who speaks of the Great Turning. We are in the death throes of the industrial growth society and are shifting into a life-sustaining era (yes, believe it!).
Joanna Macy teaches that there are three dimensions of the Great Turning. As I filter her message through my own experience, I see the three dimensions this way:
- Center yourself and maintain a deep, strong, connection to Spirit, in whatever way works for you. Have a spiritual practice that you do every day. This leads to the vitally important shift in consciousness spoken of by Macy.
- Create structures for the new culture, the new life-affirming paradigm. My entire life is about creating the new culture, and I suspect it is the same for most of my readers. This runs the gamut from practicing permaculture to honoring the Divine Feminine to gathering in small circles to hold hard conversations about race and privilege — and everything in between.
- Take direct action. These actions are the marches, the petitions, the phone calls, the rising up and saying NO! We must pray for the wisdom and discernment to know when, what, and how many direct actions to take.
Remember that hope is something you do, not something you have.
One of the guides at the retreat I just attended, Sheila Belanger, has been my astrologer for nearly twenty years. She gave a astrological overview talk that helps to put the current crisis in perspective by highlighting the link between these tumultuous times and the end of an astrology cycle that started 200 years ago around the birth of the Industrial Revolution. Very briefly, the transpersonal planets Jupiter (principle of expansion) and Saturn (principle of contraction) are conjunct (close together) every 20 years. They will be conjunct in the sign of Aquarius (rapid social progress, new consciousness, significant intellectual development) in the year 2020. Sheila speaks of this in great detail in a 90-minute lecture that you can download for free here. But here’s the gist of it: We are now in the death throes of the old way, the life-denying industrial growth society (as Joanna Macy puts it). It’s a hard death, with the old guard kicking and screaming every inch of the way. As we head toward 2020 and beyond, a new era of egalitarianism and progressive values will come in. The man in the White House is not likely to win a second term.
But while he is there, we must do all we can to:
Center. Create. Activate. Repeat.
Today, and every day: In between your daily tasks and the resistance actions you choose to take, make time to go talk to the trees in your neighborhood, and listen to their voices in return.
Please note: I am someone who does not like to talk on the phone. I much prefer communication by email. But we are being told from many sources that phone calls are much more effective for social change than signing online petitions or sending emails, or even sending mail. I found this article, “How to Call Your Reps When You Have Social Anxiety,” to be extremely helpful. And Five Calls helps me choose who and when to call. I hope those links are helpful for you too.