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Working with
Subtle Energies

by David Spangler
His insights and experiences with the non-physical dimensions of Earth.

The Call
by David Spangler
Who am I? Why am I here? The Call presents insights on what inspires, transforms, and sustains us.

Journey Into Fire
by David Spangler
An introductions to the core message of Incarnational Spirituality.
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Community Views

Incarnational Spirituality in Daily Life

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Four Faces of Gaia

By David Spangler*

In 1979, the British scientist James Lovelock published a book Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. In it, he presented evidence that through the auto-regulatory systems of the biosphere, the Earth acted as a living organism. On the suggestion of this friend, the author William Golding, he proposed to call this organism by the Greek name for the goddess of the earth and the mother of all life, Gaia. This was the beginning of what was called the “Gaia Hypothesis,” co-formulated by Lovelock and the American microbiologist, Dr. Lyn Margulis. Although initially met with skepticism by their scientific colleagues, further research generated enough evidence in support of this hypothesis that it became accepted and graduated to becoming the “Gaia Theory.”

Since then, the term “Gaia” has come to mean not only the interactive systems of the living biosphere but also the spirit of the planet, its soul, if you wish. This is fully in line with the experience and thinking of our forebears who knew the planet as a living being and treated it as such. Gaia has become shorthand for total web of life on earth and its collective spirit.

The word Gaianeering was coined by Jeremy Berg, author of The Gathering Light and co-designer and illustrator of the Sidhe Card Deck. It means the art of thinking and acting as if we ourselves are an embodiment of this spirit of the Earth—the spirit of Gaia—and not only just our separate, human selves. As our power to affect the planet has grown exponentially over the past century, so has grown our need to become skilled and wise practitioners of this art in loving collaboration with the life of the world.

However, we are not entirely clueless. After many years of expanding ecological awareness, we do know what some of the art of Gaianeering looks like. Add to this the insights of Incarnational Spirituality and research into the subtle realms, and a preliminary overview of suggested activity and practice is possible.

THE FOUR FACES OF GAIA

Gaianeering is the art of working with Gaia in our lives. Just what this means depends on how we define “Gaia.” To clarify this ma”er, I offer four definitions, the Four Faces of Gaia, each of which can be represented by a key word. These are:

  • Gaia as self-regulating biosphere; the keyword is PARTICIPATION.
  • Gaia as a way of seeing and understanding the world; the keyword is PERCEPTION.
  • Gaia as a subtle being, the World Soul, plus the collective spirit and energy of all the lives that participate with it to form the Earth; the keyword is PARTNERSHIP.
  • Gaia as a new consciousness within individuals; the keyword is PRESENCE.

Gaianeering is the art of bringing these four perceptions or aspects of Gaia into expression as a living wholeness within us and within our world. Let’s look at these four more closely.

First, there is Gaia as proposed and explained in the Gaia Theory, initially proposed as a hypothesis by James Lovelock and later elaborated in collaboration with microbiologist Dr. Lyn Margulis. Here, Gaia is a codeword for the synergistic relationships and interconnections between the organic and inorganic parts of the planet. These relationships, developed over millennia, create systems that regulate weather, temperature, and other environmental factors to create conditions favorable to life. Taken as a whole, these self-regulating systems and their interconnections suggest the biosphere is acting as a single organism, a living planetary being: Gaia, in Lovelock’s term.

I knew both Lovelock and Margulis. In conversations with them, it was apparent that Dr. Margulis doubted Gaia was a true organism; she saw it more as an emergent “system of systems” acting in complex ways to maintain an environment that would sustain life. In a way, Gaia was a homeostatic loop of life sustaining life. If “Gaia” possessed any consciousness at all, she said to me once, it would be something equivalent to that of a single-celled organism.

Lovelock, however, championed the idea that Gaia was indeed a planetary being, a true organism, though he agreed with Margulis that if it did possess consciousness of some nature—and my impression was that he felt that it did—it would be at a rudimentary level.

What both scientists agreed on was the sensitivity of Gaia’s internal systems—the interrelationships between organisms, weather, temperature, and so on. Both agreed that human activity was coming dangerously close to disrupting some of these systems or causing them to fluctuate towards extreme and unstable behavior. Climate change and global warming were indications of this, though there were others. In their view, it was possible to “kill” Gaia by so altering environmental conditions that the homeostatic stability—the capacity of Gaia to self- regulate in favor of life—could be lost with catastrophic results.

For Lovelock and Margulis, the importance of the Gaia Theory was not that earth was itself a living organism but that whatever it was, its balanced systems could be upset by human activity. Gaia for them was a call to change how we interacted with the earth and to realize that we could not continue to act as if the planet were somehow separate from us. We were an integral part of the web of Gaian life, and if that web were destroyed, we would be lost with it.

The act of Gaianeering with respect to this “Face” of Gaia is to participate in maintaining and nurturing the many environmental systems that sustain the balance of life on earth. It is to act in a “Green” and ecological manner.


*This blog post, excerpted from the essay “Gaineering”, will be presented to attendees of our upcoming Gaineering Conference. Click here for more information.

“Hey! Tell Me Before You Tear Down My House!”

By Julie Spangler

On a lovely spring day in the early days of the Findhorn community in Northern Scotland, sometime around 1970, a visitor handy in the ways of the bulldozer was helping clear the land for the construction of the community’s new building to house their printing endeavors. It was an innocent enough task as these things go, but as this earth moving was taking place, Peter Caddy, founder of Findhorn, received an emergency phone call.  On the other end of the line was his friend and colleague Ogilvy Crombe — ROC to his friends — calling from Edinburgh where he lived. “What are you doing?!?” he asked in his soft Scottish accent. “I have an apartment full of angry nature spirits carrying suitcases saying they are leaving your community. They say that you have broken your promises of cooperation.”

Now Peter was puzzled. The work at Findhorn was all about cooperation with nature and with the subtle beings who work with tending plants among other things. As far as he was concerned, he had done nothing to offend them. Peter did mention the bulldozer, however. That was the culprit. It turns out that while it is recognized by the nature spirits that humans do at times need to clear land, it is how we do it that is important to them. ROC told Peter that clearing the land is okay as long as it is done in love and in partnership with the beings who live and work there. The bulldozer is a tool which can be used with love and do no harm. But alerting the beings who live on that land is important. Why? So those associated with the plant can begin to withdraw the energetic patterns they work with to allow the removal to be done in harmony with the land.

Working the land with love and communicating with the spirits attending it has been a key note of the work at Findhorn. In using the bulldozer, the visitor had not been instructed to inform the nature spirits that this activity was planned so it came as a shock to them when this monster came along and began tearing up their homes. To them, the bulldozer had no life and thus it was not visible to them until it began to impose itself into their domain.  

Nature clears land all of the time through storms, fires, floods, etc…. The difference is that a natural event is part of the world of these subtle beings and they can see it coming and prepare themselves; in fact they can work with it. Human tools are not visible to them and cannot be anticipated without the humans themselves being in communion with the land.

Peter apologized through ROC, promising that the humans would behave better in the future if the nature spirits would come back home. And in fact it became protocol at the community that whenever any changes were planned for the land, respect for the lives living there would be offered through communicating what was to happen, when, and why.

Human tools abound in our world. Technologies currently exist which would be considered miracles 1000 years ago. Even 100 years ago, many were unimagined. Dick Tracy’s wrist phone, once a cartoon character’s silliness is now a reality. Communications are fast and global. Robots are doing work people used to do, and artificial intelligence is becoming a reality. It seems that whatever a human can imagine we can create. We are more and more detached from the land we depend on and rarely is the intent communicated to the land or the subtle forces associated with it.

This point was brought home to me last week when I saw a video of a farmer, part of an agribusiness, plowing his vast fields by sitting in his office in front of multiple screens monitoring the work of his huge automated combines! Amazing! So much back-breaking work which used to be done by human hands is being done by these robotic semi-intelligent machines. What a labor saver! And yet, I found myself feeling chilled by the sight.

How easy it is to disconnect from the land, treating it as a tool rather than as a living partner in growing food for life. It used to be that a farmer was directly on the land, feet and hands in the soil, out in the weather, feeding the land in order to grow healthy crops. Often there was love of that land entwined with the hopes for fruitful harvest. But one doesn’t need to work the land with hand tools in order to treat it with love.

How does this relate to the farmer with the combines on screens? He could be operating those machines unconsciously, allowing them to cut and chew the land without any awareness of how cut off from the land he is. Or he could be seeing those machines as extensions of himself as he loves his land, opening the soil to receive the love with the seeds. The machines could also be seen as part of a living team with their own cooperative intelligence. People often name their machines, giving recognition to the partnership that is offered. In this way, humanity can maintain a communion with the land, with Gaia, and still create new miracles of technology, miracles of connection and participation rather than of disconnection and alienation.

To me, that is one aspect of Gaianeering. Staying in touch with the life all around us, natural or man made, and engaging in partnership through love and communication no matter what work we are doing. We can harvest plants and still be honoring them, full of gratitude for what they are giving us, for the sustenance, for the tools to create and build and for the capacity thrive on the earth. And in return we give back our love, our energy and intent, our knowledge of how to enhance the environment, how to nurture, how to consciously partner.


At our upcoming Gaineering conference, from July 28-30, we will focus on the pioneering work of forming partnerships with the multiple dimensions of Earth’s living ecologies. There’s still time to join us. Click here for more information and to register.

The Body Realm

Essay and Sketch By Mary Reddy

As we prepare for Lorian’s summer conference, many of us are exploring our relationship with Gaia, how to “think like a planet,” and what it means to be a loving and conscious member of the web of life that is our earth. David Spangler describes relating to Gaia as more than viewing the planet as a living organism. It’s about “a more holistic, ecological, systems-oriented way of viewing reality, seeing things in terms of interconnections, patterns, networks, relationships, integration, and interacting wholes rather than as collection of discrete but separate entities.”

But it can be daunting at times to think about the enormity of beings and relationships within Gaia. How can I possibly stretch that far and wide? It helps to start with what’s right at hand. I go to what surrounds me, knowing it is a fractal slice of the broader and more complex relationships and energies within which my little life nests. What is closest to me as an expression of Gaian life is my own body. Our bodies, on levels both physical and subtle, interconnect with the earth and tie us to it.

Many of us have experienced trauma in our lives and have unwittingly frozen into defensive physical stances. Or perhaps we have followed the siren call of our culture and learned to live as disembodied mental beings, addressing physical needs as perfunctory tasks to perform on our way to the next great online experience. Even athletes and yoga experts can fall prey to a central-command model of authority over muscles, joints, and nerves. Despite our ignorance and inattention, a multitude of cells, organisms, subtle energies, and networks carry on the workings of our physical life—mirroring what happens on the broader Gaian level. Imagine what changes if we respect the innate intelligence within our bodies?

I once had an opportunity to try Hakomi therapy, a somatic approach to healing. As I lay on a massage table, fully clothed, the therapist invited me to tune into my body and simply mention what I sensed and where I felt it. I was drawn to my abdomen and noted a certain tension there. The therapist hovered her fingers over an area and said, “Do you mean here?” Without warning, I began to tremble in that spot. I experienced several minutes of spontaneous tremors within the tissues of my abdomen, as though a hundred butterflies had taken wing. Peter Levine describes this trembling in his books on healing from trauma. It’s the body’s mechanism to release the build-up of adrenaline after a traumatic event. (It’s amazing that the body can hold this tension for years after the initial trauma.) Even though I began the session with no preconceptions, I was thoroughly surprised by this deep energetic release.

Since that experience I have explored a number of somatic healing modalities and I’ve learned to relate to my body with open attentiveness. Experience in meditation and a good imagination have helped me feel into parts of my body. Sometimes I sense every bone, cell, and pore. Other times, I may connect with my left hip joint or the back of my neck and listen to what’s going on there, observing sensations when they arise. (I’ve developed a solid respect for the work done by my joints, fascia, and bone marrow.) I began to knit together these felt-sense meditations on various parts and reached a point where I can light up with an energetic sensation of the whole. This deepening relationship with my body allows me to move more fluidly into daily activities. It feels like I am part of a village.

Now when I move into the surrounding realms of life and Gaia, I begin with this open and loving partnership with my body. And my body has taught me how to stand confidently and extend that loving relationship outward. Ron Kurtz, the man who developed Hakomi therapy, drew the name from the Hopi Indian language. Hakomi is a Hopi word which means “How do you stand in relation to these many realms?” What a wonderful way to invite contemplation of Gaia and all the networks and alliances we participate in as members of her Body. Let us stand in beautiful relationship to these many realms.


Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.

What is Gaineering?

By Jeremy Berg

When I used the term Gaineering to describe the upcoming Lorian conference obviously Gaia was on my mind. Ever since James Lovelock used the title The Gaian Hypothesis to describe his theory that the world was indeed a whole, living system, the term has been growing in use. For many the word Gaia now coveys the sense of a conscious, sentient planetary being that hearkens back to the primordial deity the ancient Greeks revered; the ancestral primal Mother Earth goddess.

But Gaianeering has echoes of engineering, a human activity. I had this also in mind. We are now seeing the negative consequences of human technology uncoupled from natural ecologies and unfettered by ethical concerns for the environment. It is now time to change that approach and put our creative energy towards a loving collaboration with the life and lives of our world.

Organizations like the “Bioneers” and many others are promoting new and ancient ways that move us towards ecological sustainability. But life extends well beyond biology. Countless other conscious beings occupy niches of size, scale and dimension. These beings: angels, fairies, post mortems, elementals, nature forces, animal powers, gods and goddesses and many other “spiritual entities” appear regularly throughout humanity’s many religious and cultural systems. All are evolving with new potentials constantly emerging. Over the centuries, a lineage of seers have kept communication flowing between the various streams of earthly life — seen and unseen.

We tend to think of these unseen “otherworlds” if we acknowledge them at all as completely separate realms. But of course, as we have learned from ecological science, this is one intertwined world. It may not be possible for a new wholesome culture to emerge without engaging other dimensions of life that are being affected by our careless, world-altering actions.

In the distant past, we are told, there was a conscious connection between the life of nature, the evolving species of humanity and a parallel race of  humanity, the Sidhe (or Faerie). We are now entering an era when it is imperative that these “pathways of peace” be widened for new planetary partnerships to once again blossom. In addition we now bring our emerging technologies to this gathering of life-streams which must be incorporated into a whole new system.

So Gaianeering to me is the attempt to reweave the matrix of our world at a new turn of the spiral. It assumes that the Sidhe have something vital to offer humanity as we evolve towards a new understanding of our role as caretakers of Gaian life. And it assumes that we have something to offer in our exploration and manipulation of matter. Together, Sidhe and Human, working in concert with the Intelligences of Nature and Planetary Beings ,we plant the seeds of hope for a new tomorrow.

The Lorian Association “Gaianeering” conference is an exploration of these potentials. As David Spangler puts it:

Now we enter a time when understanding Gaia and, more importantly, learning to live in collaboration and harmony with this planetary life, becomes more essential than ever. In the face of climate change, it may even be a key to our survival as a civilization. We need to know the Gaian life in which we are immersed. We need, in the words of the forthcoming Lorian conference, to become Gaianeers.”


 At our upcoming Gaineering conference, from July 28-30, we will focus on the pioneering work of forming partnerships with the multiple dimensions of Earth’s living ecologies. There’s still time to join us. Click here for more information and to register.

 

Seeing Being: The Power of Images to Hold Multiple Levels of Meaning

Image and Essay By Deborah Koff-Chapin

 

I created this image a couple of weeks ago during a guided practice lead by David Spangler. He offered it as part of a recent Forum that explored the deeper impulses guiding the emergence of the United States of America. In this exercise we were integrating the deeper, visionary ideals upon which the founding of America was based into our personal selves.

The process that I use is called Touch Drawing. It is a simple yet profound way of making images through the touch of fingertips on paper that is laid over a layer of ink. The pressure of their touch leaves an impression on the underside. As I listened to the guided meditation, I focused on my felt sense to bring images into form. There is something about the full-bodied process of translating content into images that enables me to fully engage and internalize what I am hearing. I created about 9 drawings during the hour long session. This one was the last to emerge. I posted it in the Forum and left it at that.

Earlier this week, as the summer solstice approach, I began scanning my memory for an image to share with my online network. (I love to send images out into cyberspace for seasonal moments and holidays.)

The above drawing came into my mind. My first awareness was that is had a strong solar presence, which seemed fitting for the solstice. I began to look at it on a more universal level, dissociated from the content of the class. I noticed that this being radiated a strong and knowing presence within its body. The flame-like pattern was repeated in the eye. I wondered what this image might be saying — the person in this drawing is BEING solar, radiating light. In its eye, it is also conveying a sense that it is SEEING that radiance in the world. I played with the words SEEING and BEING and finally settled on connecting the two — SEEING BEING. I like the way these words interact and communicate a different message one way or another.

After choosing the image and title, I took the time to add more color and refine the form. This drawing now stands on its own for you to interact with. I encourage you to spend a few minutes just taking the image in visually. Imagine how it would feel to have these shapes within your self. Be open to your own insights. Trying some poetic writing. You can even ask this Seeing Being to speak to you!


Deborah Koff-Chapin will be creating Interpretive Touch Drawings at our upcoming Gaineering Conference, taking place from July 28-30. Click here for more information or to register. For more information about Deborah and Touch Drawing, please visit her website.

First Language

By Freya Secrest

A friend and I were talking recently about the many ways we perceive and interpret the world through our subtle senses. She shared a conversation in which someone made the statement, “My ‘first’ language is intuition.” That statement got me thinking about what I would consider as my “first language”. How do I first connect with and hear the world? How did it first speak in return? How might I widen my perception in order to better understand and communicate with others?

As I slow down and tune into my personal process of communication, it is clear to me that I perceive the world through patterns of movement. I notice the way a person holds their body, how upright they stand, where their shoulders fall. I gather impressions from their rhythm of walking. These impressions are my first forms of meaning-making and connection building. Next I might listen to their tone of voice or the speed of their conversation. Only then do I register the words they are saying.

Following this track, I find that I need to widen my definition of languages beyond the verbal. When my children were small I remember asking them to “use their words” rather than grabbing or crying to get something they wanted. It was an important step to help them understand their feelings and gain more direction and control of their energy. As I consider it now, I see that my instruction in itself recognizes that an exchange of information includes verbal, emotional and energetic communication. Our familiarity with all three elements influences our ability to interpret and “language” our experience.

A language helps us to receive information, interpret it, and communicate to others. A language builds connection. Words can build those bridges and they are certainly the form most consciously used for exchange in our culture. But they are only one way to communicate an experience. Emotional and energetic languages also are tools of communication when we learn how to access them.

Once I was walking in the woods and I passed by a small grove of cedar trees. Focused on the path I was walking, I unexpectedly had the sensation of being called out to. “Hey! Over here!” It was as if I had walked by a group of people and had ignored them. When I looked around I became aware that the trees were calling out to me. As I turned towards them, I felt a warm fellowship. It was a palpable feeling of walking through a field of communion.

But multi-sensory information is not new to the subtle realms of our world. While we humans have privileged spoken language and only recently have come to recognize auditory, visual and kinesthetic senses as part of our communication platform, other realms communicate fluently through all these and a more formative language — the language of love and shared being. It is not specifically auditory, kinesthetic or visual, though it can use any and all of those forms. Love communicates through qualities such as respect, honor and joy and the energy of our intention in action. It is with these languages that we build our fluency for communicating in Gaia’s subtle ecology of life.

To widen into a deeper framework for communication, we need to be able to articulate our felt energies as well as connect feeling with our mental concepts and subtle experiences. Like light coming into a room from several windows, using multiple streams of information gives a wider perspective of what we are sensing. It is possible that when we are rooted more deeply into our natural form of connecting with the world that we will be better able to navigate other forms of expression and build bridges of understanding with each other.

There are so many languages I might like to learn. I have friends who speak Portuguese, French, science and honey bee. Our world can speak wind and storm and drought and warm rain, but I think under it all our first language, love, shines light through all of our windows.


Join Freya Secrest for A Touch of Love, a Summer Discovery Course, from June 25-July 1. For more information or to register, click here.

Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.

 

Pathways

Essay and Pastels by Claire Blatchford

I’m an avid walker and hiker and love the sweet and reassuring familiarity of old pathways and the lure and promise of new, unexplored ones. This winter when the wind was knife-sharp and the earth was snowy and icy, too icy for a brisk stroll or an easy saunter, I turned instead to pastels. I used my fingers, rather than my feet, to retrace some old pathways and try out some new ones. Come along… let me show you where I went…

I headed towards the morning sun, all bundled up.

Then recalled a hike in the Smokey Mountains in North Carolina.

Next a cousin sent a Christmas letter from California with a gorgeous photo, so I went into it.

The light and shadows of California took me, in turn, down a straight golden-white road lined with tall trees.

Next I went to a beloved spot, clad in autumn colors, on the Franconia Ridge Trail in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Back in my imagination, I chambered up a stone stairway.

 Then, as the days began to lengthen, out into the sun along a poppy path.

Art shows me again and again how our beautiful earth is not only beneath, above and about us— it is within us!


Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org

 
 
 

Working Together To Change the World: An Interview with David Nicol (Part 2)

Interview By Susan Beal

SUSAN: What strikes me is that much of what we’ve been taught about the spiritual path is that it’s about personal, individual discipline and study— a solitary climb toward God— and you’re saying no, it’s actually more that we’re all in this ocean of wisdom. Instead of struggling to swim against the currents on our own, if we intentionally link together we’re buoyed up and float far better as a result of our collaboration.

DAVID: Right, it’s not the heroic path, the spiritual hero. It’s more like we can help each other in profound ways. In the places we tend to be weak, somebody else will be strong. Through being together in that very profound, group spiritual intelligence, the field is acting on all of us in nuanced ways, and we’re all getting uplifted while we’re also co-creating the thing that’s uplifting us.

In all honesty, I’m so excited about this stuff! What excites me the most is that people are connecting at a really deep level to the unity and coherence of the group field, and intentionally expressing that in simple, sort of tribal dance forms that ground those energies in an embodied, ecstatic way. I think it is tapping back into ancient wisdom, states of consciousness that are powerful and quite magical, maybe especially because we have been such an individualistic culture and when we enter into these forms, something comes into the group field that is clearly beyond it. It’s like the group becomes a portal for higher dimensional consciousness to come through. It’s more than the rational mind can comprehend.

SUSAN: It sounds like you’re saying there’s a difference between the newness of what is emerging with these group subtle fields and rituals, versus an attempt to return to tribal culture or recreate “tribal consciousness” in some kind of reaction against our individualistic culture.

DAVID: Yes, I do feel what we’re discovering here is an integration rather than a regression. We’re coming from a place of honoring the preciousness of the sovereign, human individual, which I think is an evolutionary development that we all prize, very much—our autonomy, our freedom, our ability to make our own choices. That has been an achievement of the whole Western journey. I don’t just have to do what my father did, or what my tribe tells me to do. It has led to an incredible flowering of creativity as well. So these group field practices are not a diminishment of that, but a voluntary, temporary entering into these states of collective awareness, with a clear, conscious recognition that we’re doing this so that we can find and experience something greater than any one of us can have alone. It’s definitely not just trying to get back into some sort of ancient wisdom. It’s more of an integration of ancient and modern, past and present.

SUSAN: Getting back to the topic of the shadow—as far as these emergent group organisms or entities, if we really realized we’re contained within this higher, collective wisdom and healing capacity, maybe there’s no need to disown parts of ourselves because they’re represented there in everyone else anyway. Maybe it’s a way for our shadows to be integrated through this collective embrace. It sounds like you’re talking about the possibility for the healing of the individual and society by drawing on the combined healing capacity of everybody within the group.

DAVID: Yes, and as part of that, a coherent group has the ability to witness and hold more suffering and trauma than an individual can. It’s very difficult, in fact I think it’s inappropriate to ask an individual to open up to the collective traumas of humanity and to try to process that themselves. It can actually lead to health problems and more trauma. It’s a mismatch of levels. But groups are inherently a social space that can hold more than an individual. And so a coherent, skillful group can open up to, say, the suffering of the Holocaust, or racism, or large scale suffering of any kind, because it’s got a much larger capacity.

SUSAN: In your book you refer to Christopher Bache’s work in which he says it was opening up to collective suffering that allowed him to access his sacred identity, but I think it can also destroy you to do that.

DAVID: And he came close to losing it. So not everyone can go there. It’s a very high risk method. But I think groups can take us there and hold us safely.

SUSAN: That’s part of what I love about your work, that it works with this grounded, powerful group intention that acts like a boost to get you into states of collective consciousness and wisdom that a lot of people think you can only access via clairvoyant skills or psychedelic drugs and entheogens.

DAVID: And the experiences people seem to be having in these group explorations of subtle realms is amazingly vivid. I think there’s something significant about the inter-subjective validation. We’re in there together, so it’s harder for that inner skeptic to come in and say, “You’re just imagining things,” because we’re all imagining it together!

The other thing that has been sort of revolutionary is this approach of co-creating and entering together into these subtle realms not just with visualization or imagination, but through our presence, our actual essence. It’s a key element to how I work. There’s a difference between saying, “Imagine there’s a green diamond coming into your crown chakra,” for example, and saying, “Connect with the part of your being that is inherently compassionate and kind,” and then, when everyone has connected with that familiar quality within themselves, saying, “Let’s start to envision that presence of compassion within us as a green light.” The visualization simply gives form to the felt sense we’re all having. It has a different ontological status than a thought-form suggested from outside oneself. It’s actually something within us.  

SUSAN: That’s lovely, because I know a lot of folks feel shy and uncertain about their ability to visualize things or “see” subtle energies, and this approach draws on a familiar, felt sense of things and our natural capacity to access that presence within.

DAVID: And then we all share an experience of a tangible phenomenon, which then becomes a tangible subtle world that we’re all in together. It goes a long way toward dissolving the usual barriers and doubts we have about the subtle realms, because firstly, it’s very tangible— we can feel it with our bodies and presence— and secondly because it’s got the social, inter-subjective aspect to it.

SUSAN:  So are you developing new courses from this? What are you up to at this point in terms of teaching and research?

DAVID: I’ve been building foundations for this work since about 2005, when it was clear to me this is what I was meant to do. That’s when I started writing my dissertation and formed the Gaiafield Project. This path is still revealing all kinds of things about its direction, so I’ve been in a real R & D phase, just trying things out. Right now I’m playing with an approach with a smaller group process in which we’re setting up the group field to focus on individual healing and each person in the group gets a turn to be in the center and bring in a particular issue they want healing for, or a particular project they want support for. And then they get this amazing, multi-dimensional, powerful group field that offers a profound healing.

SUSAN: Do you have an identifiable group of inner colleagues or guides that you work with, or is it more intuitive hits and that kind of thing?

DAVID: I don’t have a corresponding experience to what David Spangler has as far as his inner colleagues. For me, I feel guidance from Gaia, itself, and more specifically, trees. In particular I am inspired by the forest of redwoods in Montgomery Grove. I went there with a prayer some time ago, because it’s such a sacred place, and I asked for help turning this seed of an idea into a forest. I came back from time to time and would check in. I thought it would be metaphoric, but about 9 months ago we found a place to move right down the road so it was a tangible result. Now my wife and I live right near there and our back yard is this massive redwood forest. Suddenly it’s as if the forest is literally speaking to me and guiding me in my life and work. And beyond that there’s this sense of a cosmic dimension as well. I’m connected to a group of beings whose culture, if you will, is oriented around tapping the energy of ecstasy and celebration. I feel they’re in communication with me about that frequency of ecstasy, and that’s what I want to bring in on a big scale.

SUSAN: So how can people learn more about your work or get more involved in what you’re doing?

DAVID: The best thing is to go to the website (http://gaiafield.net/) for information about our online community and offerings, or get on the mailing list. I’ve also just launched an online course— https://gaiafield-community.thinkific.com/courses/introduction-to-subtle-activism.  I’m offering a 50% discount to Lorian blog readers who enroll. Just enter the code gn5O when you check out.

SUSAN: Well, thank you so much, David. I’m really grateful to you for talking to me and for the work you’re doing in the world!

DAVID: Thank you, Susan. It’s been an enjoyable conversation.


Click here to read Part 1 of this interview.

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