Hi, thanks for visiting the reference list for the course Acknowledging Country: Listening to and Speaking your Place.
We have here references mentioned in sessions 1 and 2 plus the work of a few special teachers. Feel free to explore these materials and bring your questions to the classes.
I have some background material here that are foundational to the conception of this course. These are presentations given to the Jung Society in 2020 and earlier in 2021 that have birthed the current format. Here is the paper Shadow Projection, Heart Wisdom and Aboriginal Culture, also available as a zoom video.
And here is the paper Bunjil, which gives the context for my conversation on Tyson Yunkaporta’s podcast The Other Others.
Here’s the episode where he interviews me: What Can I Do?
And what he says about our chat: Outsourcing our biggest FAQ here. Maya Ward, author of “The Comfort of Water” is now receiving queries from settlers who are calling themselves “white” and asking how to come back into the spirit of place in rigorous and respectful ways that are not in extractive relation, not overstepping or appropriating. It is a space of nuance and intense discomfort and danger there, but it is generative, so Maya and I talk up Kingfisher ceremony on Wurundjeri land, in a feedback loop of crazy. It may be crazy, but both of us agree that if settlers cannot come back under the Law of the land soon, everything and everyone will die. No pressure.
You’re also welcome to read my blog – this post is of particular relevance.
There’s some videos of past events, including talks given to the Jung Society, on my Events page
The teacher who has taught me most is a Native North American fellow, Martin Prechtel, who lived as a shaman in a traditional Mayan village in Guatemala. The best way to absorb his wisdom is hearing his words; his audiobooks, or for a taste, listen here.
Here’s a brilliant, beautiful and artfully created podcast, The Emerald
Josh Schrei dives into many of the themes that we will explore during the course – I’ve got to know him through his patreon study group; we’re sharing many of our favourite references and supporting each other to make these ideas more widely known. His podcast is a truly exceptional listening experience and comes highly recommended. Some particularly relevant episodes include the ones with Tyson Yunkaporta, plus these:
And his latest where he speaks of Jung’s Active Imagination: Mapping The Mystic: Geographies of Ecstasy in Consciousness and Culture
Homework – Active Imagination Exercises
The invitation is to work more deeply with the exercises we trialed in class, plus an extra one. This is, of course, entirely up to you to find your own way, your own joy with this work, this mode of communication, of meaning-making. Maybe you’ll do them once, maybe you’ll find a daily practice. Enjoy!
Jung thought one of his most important discoveries was Active Imagination – a way to access internal wisdom.
This is a technique to help us access the unconscious – the body is the unconscious mind, and the body is continuous with the whole – so where does this end – the earth is the unconscious mind, the universe is the unconscious mind? Spending some time contemplating our ecological embeddedness is a powerful way to re-orientate to other perspectives.
In brief, the method is to focus on something, and then allow that something to have a life of its own. Give it its agency. Attend to it until it does something of its own will.
It’s like having two systems running simultaneously – waking consciousness and dreaming consciousness
Jung was inspired by research on mediums in trance states doing automatic writing. I’ve also been very inspired by contemporary research in this area, where brain scans of trance mediums have been taken showing how they enter a very deep state, equivalent to that achieved after an hour of meditation, but within the first minute.
There’s two different stages to this writing process – the first is Active Imagination, which aims to patiently and lovingly disarm the ego mind, the second is automatic writing, which is a nifty manoeuvre to slip past our internal censor.
Writing exercise 1
Recall a wild, a natural place you loved as a child. Recall how your child self felt there in that place, bring into yourself now the smells, the sounds, the sights. And now I want you to turn it around. The invitation is to imagine being that place. Write from the perspective of the place – what is it like to be a place, loved by a human child?
Write, without stopping or editing, for at least 5 minutes, but if you’re keen it’s worth trying for at least 15 minutes. It may help to think of yourself merely as a one taking dictation – you are writing what you hear, not what you think. Read aloud what you’ve written.
Writing exercise 2
I’ve adapted this exercise from the wonderful work of Thomas E S Kelly – a Minjungbal-Yugambeh, Wiradjuri and Ni-Vanuatu man. He is profoundly informed by his culture and learning from his elders. He teaches dance, and is happy for his methods to be passed on with acknowledgement of him and his elders.
This exercise is all about letting yourself be moved – to be moved is best understood when it is not just a metaphor. The invitation is to stand in a space where you are free to move, and invite the spirits in. The ‘spirits’ can also be understood as Archetypes, or Platonic ‘forms’ – the ancient and repeating patterns that lie behind this evolved world. This can be understood
Writing exercise 3
Find a place where you feel connected – ideally outside, among your kin in the more-than-human world. Speak aloud to Country. Speak your gratitude, your links, your network. Visualise where your water and food come from, send your mind out to those places, speak aloud to those places and thank them. Thread with words your sustaining relationships, your kinship and friendship networks. Explore going back in time, visualise your parents, grandparents, great grandparents in their places, perhaps those places were this land, perhaps other parts of the world, but eventually come back into the place you now reside, and go deeper back, before colonial times, and visualise what you can of the land, peoples and all the many beings of this place. Imagine in to the deep history of place. Imagine in to Country. After some time, take up your notebook and scribe.
Best homework ever!
If you haven’t yet watched My Octopus Teacher, please do so. A truly exquisite depiction of the rewards and perspective changes of nature immersion. Quite literally!
Active Imagination Resources
A youtube conversation between Peter Kingsley and Murray Stein on Jung, Active Imagination, the incantatory tradition and much more. Utterly fascinating.
An excellent essay on Active Imagination and altered states by Jungian scholar Punita Miranda
The book Johnny mentioned – Jung on Active Imagination
Abram, David. (1997) The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World. New York: Vintage Books.
Bortoft, Henri. (1996) The Wholeness of Nature: Goethe’s Way of Science. Edinburgh: Lindisfarne Press.
Bringhurst, Robert. (2009) The Tree of Meaning: Language, Mind and Ecology. Berkeley: Counterpoint.
Buhner, Stephen Harrod. (2014) Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm: Beyond the Doors of Perception Into the Dreaming of the Earth. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.
Hadot, Pierre. (2002) What is Ancient Philosophy? Translated from the French by M. Chase. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Neidjie, Bill. (1989) Story About Feeling. Broome: Magabala Books.
Yunkaporta, Tyson. (2019) Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking can Save the World. Text,
Some quotes from Robert Bringhurst’s beautiful The Tree of Meaning
Poetry is a quality or aspect of existence. It is the thinking of things. p139
Sun, moon, mountain and rivers are the writing of being, the literature of what-is. Long before our species was born, the books had been written. The library was here before we were. We live in it. We can add to it. Or we can try; we can also subtract from it. We can chop it down, incinerate it, strip mine it, poison it, bury it under our trash. But we didn’t create it, and if we destroy it, we cannot replace it. Literature, culture, pattern aren’t man-made. The culture of the Tao is not man-made, and the culture of humans is not man-made; it is just the human part of the culture of the whole.
When you think intensely and beautifully, something happens. That something is called poetry. If you think that way and speak at the same time, poetry gets in your mouth. If people hear you, poetry gets in their ears. If you think that way and write at the same time, then poetry gets written. But poetry exists in any case. The question is only: are you going to take part, and if so, how? P143
Poetry, like science, is a way of finding out – by trying to state perceptively and clearly – what exists and what is going on. That is too much for the self to handle. That is why, when you go to work for the poem, you give yourself away. Composing a poem is a way of leaving the self behind and getting involved in something larger. P145
A language is a means of seeing and understanding the world, a means of talking with the world. Never mind talking about the world; that’s for dilettantes. A language is a means of talking with the world. P163