Thank you so much for signing up for the Co-becoming Plunge. I feel honoured by your trust, and will seek always to be worthy of it.
This has been slow to write. There are subtleties, delicacies and nuances to this work, only some of which can be stated. I’ve done my best here to word what I can, but this work is evolving and changing, and there’s so much more for me to learn. I hope what follows is useful for you. May it be food for thought until we meet in February.
What is it that we Explore in Co-becoming?
There is something specific that we are aiming for in this course – and that is the experience of collective state change via creative participation with the animate world. What we’re exploring can’t really ever be known, but it can be practised. The knowledge of the imaginal realm is very slippery. It’s an experience, not a fact. It’s real, but cannot be pinned down.
Therefore it feels important to state that this is not a personal development course. It is, rather, a spiritual, somatic, co-creative and community development course – in service to the alive world. It actively seeks to reimagine our cultural inheritance of the concepts of individuality and separateness by consciously experiencing our participation in life’s process.
We’re investigating life – life process from the inside – in deep participation. Our role, in co-becoming, is to actively play the passive part – getting out of the way so we can bear witness to the intelligence, complexity and holding given by life. When we do that, specific and powerful experiences of the animate world can be shared. We will be making space for them, making culture with them. This is a relatively unusual thing to do in this age, but there are many precedents for this work throughout history and around the world.
My research has explored the rich cross-cultural similarity in how this is done. There are particular and precise instructions; there are ways of being in the body, the heart, the mind. There is an etiquette required – our deportment is important. There will be a Way of Being we’ll follow when listening to and speaking to a listening world.
Our Way of Being
The qualities of love, devotion, receptivity, generosity, humility, truthfulness, beauty, compassion, patience, responsibility and reciprocity will be revealed as essential. The alive world will help us understand that these qualities are not negotiable. More than that, they are not even human qualities – they are the qualities of life’s process. The work will make this clear.
We will be creatively participating with the world. We will experience how it expresses through each of us via deep listening, writing, and bearing witness as a group. You will be invited to read aloud what comes through stream-of-consciousness writing. There will be specific instructions on how to read and listen that are important in order to create a receptive environment for the more than human world to come into presence with us.
Creating a Shared Culture
I acknowledge the wisdom, skill and experience each of you will bring to the group – your practices, lineages and learnings will be honoured and will benefit us all. I know that there will be terms that we understand differently, so there’ll be time devoted to develop common understandings.
I’ll be concentrating on the language of ecology and the body because many of the ways of speaking about this kind of ‘spiritual’ awareness have tended towards removing the body and the alive context. That’s partly because of the felt sense of it – it can feel as if we’re ‘somewhere else’ – ‘another’ world, rather than deeper into this one. Developing a shared somatic basis is, for me, absolutely essential, so that we can ground our awareness into this world.
I will also be introducing some essential philosophical terms to help us describe the realms we enter. These realms have been visited and mapped by people over thousands of years. As multi-racial post-modern people in a multicultural world, we don’t generally know one way in depth, but we can be moved by, and learn something from, the breadth and complexity of thought undertaken by humans everywhere. We live in a global culture on stolen lands – our learning will be responsive to this intense, delicate and soulful legacy.
We are so lucky there’s been many writers, thinkers, artists, activists who have shared their journeys in this kind of work. There are countless texts that have informed me and grown my understanding, but there’s a couple of stand-out book that we’ll be learning from that might be useful for you to purchase. If you have a chance to read them over summer, all the better!
Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm: Beyond the Doors of Perception Into the Dreaming of Earth by Stephen Harrod Buhner
Songspirals: Sharing Women’s Wisdom of Country Through Songlines by the Gay’wu Group of Women
There will be pages on my website with further texts, including some of my writing about co-becoming. We’re also planning a page devoted to each circle of belonging that we will visit, with further information and inspiration; texts, talks, etc.
We will be checking in with you all to see if a Facebook group might be of interest as a way to continue the conversations between sessions, and to share our inspirations. We will also record the zoom sessions for the group members to rewatch, unless there are strong objections.
This work and your involvement with it means a great deal to me because, after decades of activism, this feels to be the truest way for me to make a difference. We all know these are tricky times. The future looks to be trickier, and it’s clear we have to learn different ways of being in the world. For many, me included, it feels that the stakes are high, and the grief percolates just below the surface. This work, and its structure, aim to support us all on a profound level, by strengthening our relationships with that which gives the truest support – the alive, intelligent, compassionate world.
On the other side of the pendulum, this work can bring great joy, pleasure and sensual delight. It can also fill one with a sense of power and specialness. Sometimes, perhaps, too much! The group and process are designed to guard against some of the dangers of deep work, such as spiritual inflation, over-reach or instability. We will check in with our bodies to sense if personal or cultural trauma might be triggered by doing work that has long been culturally repressed or marginalised. We will learn to normalise and soothe, and the group will be there to support and affirm.
This is spiritual work, yet I am not a spiritual teacher. This is also psychological work, and while I have done some psychological training, I am not a psychologist. I have my years of experience, the mentors who support me, and my trust in the goodwill of the more-than-human presences. And we have the group – the collective intelligence and compassion of the concentric circles of presences, human, and more-than-human.
We have been inspired by Bayo Akomolafe’s words describing his course – “This is not a safe space, but we aspire to support one another and co-create a container where we can all take risks together.”
Spiritual work like this also isn’t safe – it is deep, wild, bigger than the comfort-seeking human often desires. That’s why it’s so important to do this in community. Thus how we behave when we are together matters.
These are the agreements we ask that you adhere to:
- Commit to embodying, as well as we are able, the qualities outlined in our Way of Being
- Be perfectly on time, or let us know if you will be late or not attending.
- Hold as utterly confidential anything of a personal or delicate matter that arises in the sessions.
- Please honour us with any feedback that you feel might improve the experience of the course for you. Please hold in mind that while not all requests or suggestions may be able to be accommodated, we will do our best to be responsive. We ask that you share feedback with us directly, to me, or to Julie if you prefer.
While we value the support of the group, ultimately we must self-caretake. Luckily there are fabulous resources available – including the appendix ‘Sensory Overload and Self-Caretaking’ in the recommended text by Stephen Buhner. But please reach out to Julie or myself if you feel overwhelmed for any reason.
In case any of this sounds too heavy, I would like to add that no one who has done this work with me so far has been overwhelmed as far as I know. We just want to spell out any possible complexities right at the beginning. Mostly this work is full of laughter, playfulness, and wonders, and sincere and deep connections. We are delighted to be taking this journey with you and look forward to growing in our capacity to feel into the animate world. Wishing you all a very beautiful summer and we will be in connection with you shortly.