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A Publication by Wild Earth Spiritual Community

Fall 2022

Editor's Note 

Dearest reader,

What you have on your screen (or in your hands, if you so choose to print) has been in the making officially since June. But it has been bubbling under the surface for so much longer. Wild Earth Spiritual Community got started in April 2018 when some folks who felt called to practice their spirituality outdoors got together and began meeting in the woods in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Since then, we’ve continued to grow, and with that growth has come opportunities for creative development along with spiritual development.

At each Wild Earth gathering, I am awed by the voices, songs, and myriad contributions each and every individual present brings to our little circle in the forest. As I’ve said before, Wild Earth is where I have some of the most important conversations with myself, and with spirit. But it is also where I find a deep sense of community and a constant source of creative inspiration. So I thought, why not take all of the talent, heart and soul from this group and create something tangible out of it?

Fall is a time for new beginnings, but it is also a time of introspection and winding down. I hope that this first issue of from the roots nourishes you as the days become shorter and we turn inward. Of course, here at Wild Earth, we will still spend time outdoors and in wild mystery, no matter how cold it gets.

With so much gratitude and love,

Alison Shapiro

Wild Earth

We seek to live in deeper relationship with Earth, Divine Presence and each other. We gather twice monthly in sacred, natural woodlands in the Metro DC area. We are a diverse, inclusive and inter-spiritual community. Our gatherings combine contemplative spiritual practices with songs and chants, drumming, silent wandering and fellowship. Our practices enhance and grow our commitment to Earth and Her Beings, informing the work we do individually and collectively in the outer world. If you would like to support this community and the continuation of our work, please consider donating here.

New Beginnings in This Life
by Alicia Henning
Five baby barn swallows born 6/29-7/1/22

Awakening and Illumination
by Sarah Anders 

A great vacation is often haunted (and easily overshadowed) by the prospect of an inevitable return to ordinary life. The closer I get to the end of my time away, the more a wary tension builds in my body, mind, and spirit. Taking August off as a mini-sabbatical - and not *just* a vacation - has been an immersive experience in meditation as awakening beyond life - which in effect simultaneously prepares me to return to everyday life with an awakening in life.

 

Perhaps like me, you’ve had experiences with meditation, when afterward you ponder, “Where did I go? What kind of experience is this if not the human one I’m used to?” I find it incredulous, still, that a 20- or 30-minute meditation can sometimes feel like two minutes. Not only that, but I’m still blown away that wherever it is that I go, it is timeless and boundless; an interexchange with the cosmos. This is what western Sufis would call “awakening beyond life.” Once you’ve experienced it, you don’t forget it.

 

So, what happens when the sabbatical or vacation or meditation is over, and I return to everyday life? That’s where my individual identity and limited human condition is very real, and very challenging. The challenge then is to “reconcile the irreconcilables” – the both/and - of non-duality and duality. I see spiritual groups where non-duality is emphasized as though that is all there is—they’re only half getting it. We must not only awaken beyond life, we must also awaken in life.

 

Think of consciousness as being on a continuum. At one end of the spectrum is a personal self, limited and finite in human condition, and at the other end, a consciousness of transcendent, cosmological, boundless existence. Reconciling these irreconcilables is the work that is illumination. Pir Viliyat Inayat Khan writes in his book Awakening,

From these dramatic shifts in vantage point of space and time, we are a continuum of consciousness ranging from the boundless, transpersonal dimension that is coextensive with all others to the “discrete entity” that makes up our unique individuality. Learning to embrace these two ends of the continuum is the spiritual task of awakening and illumination— reconciling the seemingly irreconcilable vantage points between the Divine and individual points of view.

 

Pretty fun, huh? This is the stuff of mystical teachings from untold traditions. Read Hafiz and Rumi, Jesus and Hildegard, Muhammad and Buddha. Check out Pir Viliyat’s father, Hazrat Inayat Kahn. These are illumined beings, recognizable in a heartbeat. It wasn’t even close to easy for them, but they lived a continuing reconciliation of immanence and transcendence; they’re the real deal.

We, too, can taste a life emanating that same charged existence, illumined with Divine countenance. You know the shift in perspective is happening when you see “eternal countenance behind every physical face” while attending to the unique being before you. The unique being may be anything – oak, rock, human, ivy, cardinal, diamondback. We are present to what is before us while also being present to that which transpires behind that which appears.*

There are those who have an ecstatic experience that prompts a shift in cosmic orientation, but for many, a practice of meditation is the way to go. This meditative state can be experienced in a thousand different ways, and however you do it is okay. Just begin. And then return, again and again.

_____

*That which Transpires behind that which Appears by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. (1994, Omega Publications)

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Abundance III
by Kenzie Raulin and Ruth Lozner

36 x 36 acrylic, seed pods, paper wasp paper, cicada wings, books and collage on canvas.
The painting is one in a seasonal series of six. Abundance was created collaboratively by Ruth Lozner and Kenzie Raulin in response to the awesome daily bounty and generosity of Earth.

Pray

by Margaret McBride

I waken to not-morning-yet lament

a new place, no knowns, strange bed,

no one. Half-awake disoriented:

Take me back to ferment.

 

Wishing I wanted silent green lawn

and cypress sentries, the cardinal,

ferns carved in wood, fragrant honey suckle,

and circling the hour, the minute hand.

 

Instead, the marsh I prefer melts

all over again; sheets of sleep

break. In shallow water we breathe

and surface, assuming shape—gurgling.

 Embodiment
by Alison Shapiro

I know why the ivy hugs the tree

How the flowers bloom in spring

I know why life thrives amidst the beeps and sirens

How trees stand tall surrounded by concrete

 

I have been a black-eyed susan

A golden retriever running in circles in the biggest field I know

I have been a shriveled stalk, a green leaf, a towering oak

I have been a bird, painstakingly moving branches to build my nest

I have been a bee, drunk on nectar

I have been a neon orange flower, a moth emerging at night

 

I have been a sunflower, reaching toward my namesake

I have nourished myself with the blood of humans

I have been picked, prodded, used, abused,

but I have also been tended, watered, and found an abundance of nourishment all around me,

free of charge.

 

I have been the body of the earth.

 

*Inspired by an exercise in Sophie Strand’s course, Myth and Mycelium

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Brother Jay Remembering Autumn
by Lori Anne Boocks

Interview with Victoria Loorz
9/29/22

Big Springs Hollow, Utah, 2014 

by Ellen White

A Land Ethic
by Al Larsen 

From the King James Bible, asserting that "man" shall subdue and have dominion over the Earth, to the European "settlers" referring to the "frontier" which by its very definition asserts that a relatively untrammeled terrain that had not yet been overrun, gouged, hewn and plundered was waiting to be conquered and subdued, to the references in US law to anything natural as "resources" for most of human history, and in most contemplation and writings about our world, there has been an "us versus it" consideration of the human place in the world around us (although "consideration" may be too grandiose a term).  In 1949, Aldo Leopold put forth a stunning concept which he called a "Land Ethic." His writing remains not only relevant today, but can be seen as the beginning of a movement to consider that humans do not live apart from their ecosystem, but are part of it—influenced by it, and, ever more, having great impact upon it.  Here then, is an excerpt from the writing that many consider to be the birth of the concept. 

 

Excerpts from “The Land Ethic” in A Sand County Almanac (1949) by Aldo Leopold

 

Th[e] extension of ethics, so far studied only by philosophers, is actually a process in ecological evolution.  Its sequences may be described in ecological as well as in philosophical terms.  An ethic, ecologically, is a limitation on freedom of action in the struggle for existence. An ethic, philosophically, is a differentiation of social from anti-social conduct.  These are two definitions of one thing.  

 

…The first ethics dealt with the relation between individuals…Later accretions deal with the relation between the individual and society.  The Golden Rule tries to integrate the individual to society, democracy to integrate social organizations to the individual.  There is as yet no ethic dealing with man’s relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it. Land…is still property.  The land-relation is still strictly economic, entailing privileges but not obligations. 

 

…Individuals since the days of Ezekiel and Isaiah have asserted that the despoliation of land is not only inexpedient but wrong.  Society however has not yet affirmed their belief.  I regard the present conservation movement as the embryo of such an affirmation. …Ethics are possibly a kind of community instinct in-the-making.

 

The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively, the land….In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member, and citizen of it.  It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such. 

 The Unknown

by Laurie Wevers

The desire to know what’s next

        joins with the fear of

Wondering if I’ll make it

 

The longing in my muscles for

       meaning,

       for union

       for belonging

 

The contractions and throws of the body

       birthing emptiness

Wondering

       when the labor pains

       will produce

       that which has been longed for

 

What has been longed for

This mysterious longing

       Wailing

For a piercing touch in the dark

Envelopment

Transformation

       from the unknown

       in the unknown

       out of the unknown

Thrust

       into a new unknown

Message to Wild Earth
by Robin Hawley Gorsline

One of the good things about being alive is that life continues to happen—in us, to us, through us. Sometimes, we are prepared for it, at other times we are surprised, and sometimes we are not happy about it. And of course, when one thing happens it often leads to something else.

 

Thus, I am letting you know that Jonathan and I will have moved to West Orange, NJ at the end of August. After I went through a recent health challenge and hospitalization, we realized we wanted to live closer to our youngest daughter (also named Robin!). The presenting problem

was hyponatremia (low sodium) which arose very suddenly and it remains unclear to us why it happened. At any rate, at my age (75) we decided being close to family is important.

 

Please understand this is not goodbye—but it does mean that it is unlikely I will be physically present at gatherings (except I hope on occasion). I will remain on the email list and look forward to receiving messages and the new magazine (thank you, Alison!). You may be interested in knowing that I will be starting a year-long online course in eco-ministry in October

through the Center for Wild Spirituality under the guidance of Victoria Loorz and others, and I may have thoughts to share with you as that develops.

 

I acknowledge and celebrate the central importance of community, beloved community, in living whole lives wildly, experiencing and sharing love and care with all. I value, indeed I treasure, learning from Sarah, Amy and all our singers, and so many others in our sharing at gatherings and online.

 

So, here is my commitment: no matter where I am in the physical universe, God’s universe, I am also with you, my human and more than human kin in Wild Earth. I look forward to continuing our sacred journey together.

from the roots

published when birthed.

Editor-in-Chief

Alison Shapiro

Cover Image

The masthead image behind the words “from the roots” is a photograph of the roots of a fallen Sequoia tree in the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park. The fallen tree was over 1,000 years old. Photo by Kenzie Raulin.

Wild Earth Spiritual Community

We strive for participant-centered leadership.

WILD GUIDES

Kenzie Raulin, Alison Shapiro, Amy Moffitt, Laurie Wevers, Jim Hall, Hank Langknecht

Gather via zoom or in person every three months to plan next three months.

ADVISORS

Wild Guides plus Ginge Sivigny, Jon Nowick, Pauline Siple, Ray Martin, Jane Pittman

Once/year gathering for review of WE including finances

 

VISION KEEPERS

Hank Langknecht, Jim Hall, Sarah Anders

Monthly review and thoughts on gatherings and themes

 

APPRENTICE

Alison Shapiro

 

NATURE GUIDE

Marney Bruce

 

Review all after one year.