Picture this scene: a small group of people wearing decorative masks are seated on the ground in a circle in silence. A closer look reveals some masks that resemble animals such as possums and bears, some birds, insects, some that look like trees which are adorned with twigs and leaves, and still others that appear to be landscapes, mountains, rivers and clouds.
The "bear" begins to speak. "Welcome, Beings, to our Council. We are here to discuss the gravest of challenges facing us. We are here to listen to one another. Each of us will have the opportunity to speak and be heard. I ask you not to interrupt one another with advice or suggestions, but if so moved, to utter "I hear you" or other words of support. When all have spoken we will open ourselves to receiving and sharing any wisdom that may come to us about how to deal with our challenges...."
Wind back the clock...
A day before, these people had come to a Council of All Beings workshop. They were people with one thing in common: they were concerned about the changes that human beings are making to the Earth's ecosystems and climate. They had come together from all over Sydney. Some were already friends, others were strangers.
As the first day proceeded, they had engaged in playful experiential processes to get to know one another, settle into their breathing and their bodily sensing. They had used their imaginations to connect with the movements of their ancestors, the primates, mammals, even lizards and fish. This was called "Evolutionary Remembering".
They had shared with one another the feelings that they had brought with them, now safe to emerge, of sadness, anger, fear or emptiness. They had been gently guided into experiencing the gift which may be found under such feelings. Gifts that empower.
Then they had spent some time in the bush, finding a natural "ally" there, a Being that might have something to say...And they came back to the group with ideas and decorations with which to create their ally's mask. The mask that they would ritually put on the next day...
Climate Change Facts - Climate Change Feelings
How does a Deep Ecology workshop such as a Council of All Beings contribute to our engagement with climate change?
The more facts we learn about climate change and its potential consequences, the more likely we are to go into defensive, self-protective responses such as denial, or paralysing responses of despair and giving up. If we avoid these extremes we might find ourselves getting REALLY ACTIVE to the extent that we eventually burn ourselves out!
Deep Ecology goes behind, underneath, the facts, into the psychological and spiritual dimensions of our relationship with other life on this planet-home of ours. It helps us to refind, and really experience, our ecological self: how we are actually part of an evolutionary process, how we are embedded in our ecosystems. We get a glimpse of what it could be like for our fellow Beings on the planet.
Such a workshop also facilitates our coming together to share the 'inconvenient' feelings that are not safe or appropriate to express in everyday conversations with family or friends. And through that shared bravery, we find colleagues with which we can 'go forth' as a movement.
Beyond the scientific facts of climate change are our human choices on how to respond. Participating in a Deep Ecology community gives us the resources to turn our deep caring into sustainable action.