Acknowledging Country Writing Practices

The invitation is to work more deeply with the exercises we trialed in our sessions together. Enjoy!
Active Imagination

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.

Active Imagination is like having two systems running simultaneously – waking consciousness and dreaming consciousness. In brief, the method is to focus on something, and then allow that something to show you itself. Give it its agency. Attend to it until it does something of its own will.

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.

The Voice of Place

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.

Moved by the Spirits

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. The eternal energy behind temporal manifestations. The timeless ‘feeling’ of something – let your body take the lead.

Speaking to Country

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.

When you feel the urge, take up your notebook and scribe. 

I am/We are

This exercise is best done with a small group of 2-6 friends.

Write a list of things that move you, that call to your heart. A list, beginning with ‘the’. If you like, spend time crafting the phrases. Make them delicious to say, allow them to evoke the sensorial delight of your loved world.

When you are done, read them aloud, with the words ‘I am’ in front of each phrase. Read them slowly, carefully and beautifully, attending to the richness of your voice.

And when you are done, read them again, with the worlds ‘we are’ in front of each phrase. Each person to read one, then each person in turn, till all phrases are said.

Reflect together on your experience.

Courting Country

I invite you to bring the whole of yourself to this next exercise – your sadness and your longing, your shame and your hope, your wonder and your awe for the grace of life and the wise and courageous voices you’ve encountered over these last weeks. But most of all, I invite you to bring your desire, desire for connection, transformation, kinship, co-becoming.

In Courting Country , you’re making an offer of yourself to the pattern of life – you understand your worth as a finely honed, deeply sensing organism, and you desire Country.

To desire, you must feel your aliveness and your wildness, and a simple way to do that is to, and it sounds strange, but it works, is to flare your nostrils. Explore opening wide your nose. Sniff out country. Find the scent of country’s aliveness.

When you feel the urge, take up your notebook and scribe. 

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