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Deep ecology, earth connection, and the miracle of life
We have been bred and raised and conditioned into seeing ourselves as separate, and the natural world as the engine and storehouse of materials to fuel civilization. As a place of things beneath the superiority of human intelligence–beneath the dominion of Man (and I use that word specifically) and Man’s will on a hierarchy of value supposedly granted to us from on high.
This separation, these hierarchies, are our beliefs manifest, but not the truth of how things are. And yet, those beliefs are embedded within our very sense of self, and from them, profound harm has been done; harm that further exacerbates as we further act from those beliefs, personally and collectively.
To quote this episode’s guest, Sky Otter:
What does that mean? It means that the rock-bottom, core sense of self that most humans carry (with differing degrees of intensity) is one that is fundamentally isolated from the rest of nature. But our perception of ourselves as separate is not based on reality…. This basic error in our perceptual lens—our operating system, if you will, from which our creations emanate—leads to a culture that is at war with the Earth that sustains it. Each of us, gripped by a gnawing fear that we are separate and alone, acts in ways that are making our living womb, the Earth, a tomb.
Over the 10,000 or so years of our civilization’s domination of the planet, we have brought demolition, destruction, and decimation to the wilds and the life that once flourished there. This is not easy to look at.
As Joanna Macy writes:
“When you look at what is happening to our world—and it is hard to look at what’s happening to our water, our air, our trees, our fellow species—it becomes clear that unless you have some roots in a spiritual practice that holds life sacred and encourages joyful communion with all your fellow beings, facing the enormous challenges ahead becomes nearly impossible.”
Deep ecology is that root. It is a way of life that aligns us with the natural world on every level of our lives, personally and collectively. It is to liberate ourselves from our anthropocentric superiority complexes and see the inherent value of all living beings; to root our sense of self in life itself; and to enter into ecstatic, beautiful relationship with the myriad forms life manifests as here on planet Earth, e.g. plants, animals, fungi, mountains, rivers, etc. It is to bring ourselves back into spiritual connection with nature–a connection within ourselves and with each other in community.
We are going to explore deep ecology in today’s interview with Sky Otter.
Together we are going to explore not only the problematic place we are in as a planet but the profound healing potential still available to us, personally and collectively, through coming back into ecstatic communion and relationship with the Earth.
Sky Otter–formerly known as Bill Pfeiffer–is the founder of Sacred Earth Network (SEN) which continues to implement leading edge visions for over 25 years. In that time, Sky has made Russia a second home having traveled there 44 times assisting the environmental and indigenous movements through SEN. This has given him a rare cross-cultural perspective. He has also led hundreds of spiritual ecology workshops, including men’s and breath work. He has 25 years of experience in Re-evaluation Counseling and Vipassana meditation, and has undergone extensive training with Siberian shamans. Sky has partnered with and designed experiential workshops with Joanna Macy, John Perkins, Llyn Roberts, Cathy Pedevillano, and John Seed. He has also spent much time in the US Southwest learning about Native medicine ways and the crucial importance of the petroglyphs and pictographs.
His book Wild Earth, Wild Soul: A Manual for an Ecstatic Culture is a beautiful read and is what inspired the interview you are about to hear. You can find more of Sky’s work on his website here.
Join Sky Otter in Siberia in July 2022
discuss this episode on our subreddit
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- Deep ecology, alienation, and spiritual activism
- The value of a spiritual connection to the earth
- The trauma of disconnection, perpetuated
- A civilization of misery and violence
- Hatred against our greatest villains
- Jeff Bezos is a hero (and a villain)
- The profound grief of collapse; the profound miracle of being alive
- What do we do about this? Deep Ecology
- Skepticism and the separate-self
- Changing our perceptual apparatus towards Connection and Mystery
- A moving quote from John Seed
- Finding balance in facing collapse 55 Feeling the pain of the earth; community holds the grief
- Doing the best we can, even though it’s nearly impossible
- The role of psychedelic plants in healing our disconnection from nature
- A ceremonial community of psychedelic practice is vital
- Ceremonial maturity in our psychedelic practice
- Befriending our parts through psychedelic mushrooms
- Are psychedelics “tools”?
- The fungi open us up to the ongoing revelation of nature.
- Links to more of Bill/Sky’s work
- Landscape Shamanism (course)
- Bill’s dream for your life
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i have not listened or read the text thoroughly, but how is it possible with a headline like “Deep ecology, earth connection, and the miracle of life” to not mention women once?? do you not know about the matrifocal times, where connection was still very much practiced and how once, the vikings came and then the christians (male centered) the connection got lost? there is sound research on that. talk about how women were erased from civilisation and how THAT is intrinsically connected to the status we’re in now and i will listen. as long as you keep repilcating a men centered views on life, keep talking mainly about men and talking about creation without taking women into account you cant be taken seriously on the subject.
I completely agree that the male-supremacist erasure of women is a huge part of the problems we are in as a society now. And I can see how just reading the title, without going into the text or the interview might give you the sense that I am not aware of that. But I don’t see this specific podcast on its own, nor when held in the larger context of my work as a whole, as some kind of affront against the reality of that erasure, or participating in it.
For example, when I said “As a place of things beneath the superiority of human intelligence–beneath the dominion of Man (and I use that word specifically) and Man’s will on a hierarchy of value supposedly granted to us from on high.” and that this belief is not true, I was explicitly speaking to how Man on top is an illusion that causes “harm that further exacerbates as we further act from those beliefs, personally and collectively.” I guess I was mistaken that people reading my site would be able to infer that.
I am curious to hear what your thoughts will be once you read the text and listen to the show.