DAVIDS DESK #124 - "You Shall Not Pass"


David's Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however the material is ©2017 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.

You Shall Not Pass!”

There is a dramatic moment in the Fellowship of the Ring, the first book in J.R.R. Tolkien’s acclaimed trilogy, Lord of the Rings, when the Fellowship is racing through the dark caverns of the mines of Moira pursued by a Balrog, a demon from the depths of hell. As they scurry across a bridge, the wizard Gandalf the Grey turns to confront the demon, drawing on all the power of his magic to make himself a barrier to protect his fleeing companions. Standing firm, he yells to the Balrog, “You shall not pass!”

Humanity is facing its own Balrog moment. Around the world, hatred is feeling emboldened to pursue and enforce an agenda of division and brokenness based on the false superiority of one group over another. This hate can take many forms and march under the banner of many causes. It has shown up as ISIS. It has appeared as extreme forms of nationalism. It showed up this past month in Charlottesville, Virginia. Hate will continue to appear in the future until there is no place for it in the world. For that to happen, it falls to each of us in our lives to stand up to this momentum of hatred and division and say, “You shall not pass! This shall not be your world!”

Spiritual teachers and leaders, as well as others, routinely exhort us to be loving towards each other and to not meet hatred with hatred. There are excellent reasons for this, for the spirit of hatred doesn’t care in whose heart and mind it lives, only that it is being given expression. But loving can be a challenge. There are few of us who do not have our own Balrogs lurking in the dark corners of our anxiety, ready to strike out at whatever causes us fear, ready to attack and destroy whatever we don’t like. But if we are truly to keep the forces of hatred from rampaging through our world, we can’t become Balrogs ourselves. Giving hate license to emerge, even if seemingly for a good cause, only exacerbates the problem. “You shall not pass!” applies to our own darker impulses as well.

There is a difference between establishing a boundary that says a firm “No!” to attitudes and actions that divide and cause suffering, and becoming hateful ourselves towards those who espouse such behavior. It requires self-knowledge and inner discipline to manifest the former and not the latter. It becomes easier when we make lovingness a habit. This can take many forms: kindness, compassion, honoring another, listening, learning. Love is a spirit of inclusion that accepts and honors the plurality and diversity of the world and is comfortable with complexity and difference. Love grows out of a healthy sense of sovereignty and respect for one’s own boundaries and care for the sovereignty and boundaries of others. It grows out of taking practical actions to demonstrate its presence and power. It grows out of consistent practice even when faced with circumstances that might otherwise appeal to and evoke our inner Balrogs.

We are complex people who nonetheless love simplicity. Simple things are easier to understand and control and therefore feel safer. This preference gives rise to monocultures, the attempt to reduce the complexity of the world into sameness, stripping away the hard edges of differences and rounding everything off into conformity of belief and action. Whether this monoculture is environmental, political, religious, racial, or cultural, it always flies in the face of nature’s diversity and the plurality of life. Ultimately, it can only be established through control and violence. Ultimately, it turns love into narcissism.

The arc of human evolution has been to engage with greater and greater complexity, both within the world and within ourselves. It is love that drives us forward along this arc, for it takes a truly loving heart and mind to be open to the diversity that is the nature of the world and the nature of who we are . Hatred pulls us back into an imagined world that bleeds all the colors out of the rainbow and leaves only a grey sameness and conformity, a world that collapses into itself. It denies who we are, what the world is.

It’s vital that when confronted with hatred, we take a stand to say in words and deeds, “This shall not pass!” Otherwise, when we let the Balrogs win, either in ourselves or in our societies, it is we who do not, cannot, pass into what is possible for all of us in partnership and collaboration.


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Formative Forces

Essay and Photos By Freya Secrest


I spent a day in the northern section of Yellowstone National Park this past summer. It was a brief visit, but nonetheless powerful in connecting me with the formative forces building our world.  There were geysers spewing out hot bubbling minerals not safe to be touched by human hands, powerful rivers cutting channels in the landscape and various microbial life-forms wearing down rock. My day’s experience was an amazing window into the forces that tirelessly move, meet and mold a world.

Going into the Park I recalled several National Geographic documentaries of Yellowstone which shared the beauty and the rawness of life in its mountains and valleys. But as we traveled by the mineral geysers, the Yellowstone River canyon, and a wide valley with a vista that dwarfed its resident buffalo, I was aware of the vast energies that sculpt and give shape to our planet. Those documentaries had not given me the felt sense of the power in wind and sky and molten chemicals that underlie its unique landscape of bubbling springs and delicate wild flowers. Images could point me to a tree growing close to sulphurous upwellings or a wild creature who made that world their home, but they didn’t fully capture the spirit of determination and joy evident when standing in their presence.  


On the way home to Michigan, I found myself considering my own relationship to formative forces, not looking to those powers of nature outside myself but to those powers available within my human stream of action. Standing, Partnering, and Generativity – these are not geologic forces but human-centered formative forces that I can direct— each elemental and powerful in their way.  They work with elements of creation different from the geologic forces, but they are no less potent to the life of Gaia.

Back now to my daily life, I wonder how to better focus my formative actions. I do not always see the impact of my life in the world, do not always recognize myself as a formative force. But the choices I make, the relationships I foster and the way I invite possibilities to emerge in my life help shape the wider world. My awareness of the possible impact of my actions leaves me feeling daunted. How do I know my individual actions contribute to the dance of life in a way that leads to a more whole and coherent world?


The answer that comes to me in this moment is that we don’t always get to know our impact. We cannot control the end result of our contributions in life except through Love. The understanding we bring to our actions and the choices we make from Love create a field where connection, possibility and respect enhance mutual unfoldment, where results foster wholeness and a vitality of life. As a formative force, it is my responsibility, my opportunity to step into Love as the controlling factor.

I have to admit that love has been a bit of a mystery for me, not so much in the specificity of personal love or the spaciousness of love for the Sacred in life, but in the mystery of how to bring them together. How does personal love expand to touch the universal and cosmic love reside in daily connections? How do they come together into a wholeness of love that is a life-enhancing, formative force?

What comes to me as a path into answering this question is to live with the same determination and joy as does the nature I connected with in Yellowstone Park – to stand and celebrate my life as a feast , to partner deeply, joyfully, lovingly with myself and the people and life around me, to be generative as a spring is, bubbling out the fullness of myself from wellsprings of love, a resource freely available for co-creative interaction with my world.   


After millions of years of interaction and relationship, many large and small acts of beingess, Yellowstone is a landscape manifesting a presence that touches its visitors with integrity, beauty and coherence.  It is a whole greater than the sum of its parts. No one element could alone imagine its current shape and vitality, but each element is a formative force in creating it. The same is true of each in our own lives; we are a formative force in connection with other forces and together we shape a more whole and beautiful world.

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.

The Shadow of the Moon

By Julie Spangler

We Americans have just passed through "The Great American Eclipse”. It was a dramatic name for a dramatic event. Like most of the country, I waited eagerly for 10:20 AM to arrive in Seattle. It was awe-inspiring.

Seeing them all lined up, the three celestial bodies which makes life possible on our planet was a moving moment to reflect on. Celestial events always lead me to consider where I stand in the universe on a small planet revolving around a small sun on the outskirts of a huge galaxy. Our beautiful earth is a miracle worthy of love.

As part of the whole experience, I then watched the televised videos of the event as the shadow of the moon moved across the land, welcomed by crowds and news reporters all across the country sharing in the experience of the totality.  I was shocked to see how suddenly darkness fell, how complete the darkness was, and then how swiftly light returned. At each location the event was welcomed with cheers and the joyful camaraderie of a community created simply to share a unique cosmic event at a moment in time. Very different from some more recent public gatherings of people in our country.

As I watched the news, they played a clip of Frank Reynolds, the ABC news anchor in 1979 when the last solar eclipse happened in the US: “So that’s it, the last solar eclipse to be seen on this continent in this century,” he said. “As I said, not until August 21, 2017, will another eclipse be visible from North America.”

“That’s 38 years from now,” he continued. “May the shadow of the moon fall on a world at peace.”

Hearing this, I found myself gripped by a grief which I still feel. May the shadow of the moon fall on a world at peace. It did not. People the world over pray for peace, march for peace, work and write for peace, yet our world continues to display war and violence. Suddenly I am in touch with the grief I have buried in the face of all of the news we are bombarded by daily of those tortured parts of our planet where people and families and communities are torn asunder by violence.      

With Frank's words, though, I am also made aware of our collective expectation that global peace is possible. I am deeply moved by the way humans continually envision a future of peace. In the '70's we marched for peace with the hopeful, expectant youthful belief that we could make it happen. One war ended. Others began.

Unlike many of my fellow students who thought taking down the government would solve our problems, I believed that the only way to make such changes was for each individual to be at peace within him or herself, to seek a spiritual center which does not foster violence. Often violence comes from dark unintegrated parts of our past which can lead us to strike out. It is the task of each of us to find the courage to uncover those parts, to see them, name them and reclaim them as part of our wholeness. There are many teachings and approaches to help us do this, but first we must look at how we choose to act and take responsibility for it.

The shadow of the moon imposed an unusual darkness during the daylight, a darkness that unexpectedly brought things up to be examined. As we enter times of darkness when things go bump in the night, we may find ourselves confronting those things which hide inside us from the light of day. They may sneak up on us, taking us by surprise as I was, or they may erupt suddenly and forcefully. For me, this grief for my world in the grip of so much violence has always been there, but I manage to keep it under the bed so that I can function in my day. The eclipse and Frank Reynolds brought it back into the light of my consciousness.

We are in a time when the violence and hatred in the collective is erupting all over the world. Is there more violence than there has been in the past? Are we in a time in the cycles of the world where hidden distortions  at the heart of humanity are brought to the surface - shadows of the collective past - so that they can be seen and dealt with? Or is it simply that with the speed of communications and connections these days we are seeing the violence and hatred more clearly and more immediately, again bringing to our awareness that which isn't normally visible? Will being made more aware of it allow us to finally address the hurt and pain in the human experience in order to bring healing to the species? In any case, we are seeing it and if we are to see a future where the next shadow of the moon can fall on a peaceful world, we must act toward that goal.

I still believe that the path to peace is a personal one. It requires us each to be attentive to those buttons which lead us to violent thoughts, words or behaviors. And it also requires us to reach out to each other with love and caring, recognizing and accepting our differences. What a boring, colorless world it would be if we were all the same.

With Frank Reynolds, I also wish for the shadow of the next eclipse to fall on a world without war. And given that the next eclipse is in 2019, I suspect that it will not. But this knowledge does not have to stop me from holding the intention for global peace, and as we are aware, subtle effects can have impact. The more people holding a vision of global peace, the closer we get to it. One day, through the efforts of us all, it will be the reality we live in.

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Strange Attractors

By Susan Beal

I have had a meditation and spiritual practice for almost 40 years. Mostly it’s been a private thing, central to my sense of self and informing my activities in the outer world, but never overt. In many ways, my experiences of the “inner” and “outer” worlds had felt like very different, if not opposing forces in my life. Two summers ago, I was ordained as Lorian Priest. I saw ordination as a way to reconcile these worlds.

I also have a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution. Although I have not been in formal practice as a mediator in some time, I still see myself as a mediator in the larger sense of seeing things from multiple perspectives and bridging differences when I can. It wasn’t until after my ordination that I realized that what drew me to ordination was the same thing that drew me into conflict resolution: a desire to be of service in the world, a longing for peace and wholeness, and the need for practical skills to that end. It was also the call to maintain a higher perspective and identify a compass point to guide and inspire me as I moved through my life.

Long before I thought to be a mediator or a priest, I was an artist. I come from a long line of artists and always thought that was the path I would follow. I went to art school to become a professional artist. When my life path took a detour, I didn’t see the common thread linking art, mediation, and, later, ordination. I just thought I was moving between different, unrelated stages of my life. But now, looking back, I see that what connects them is my fascination with what I have come to think of as the Inbetween—the place between places, a zone of high potential, of unformed possibilities, of What Could Be, but isn’t yet.

It’s the mix of excitement and anxiety I feel facing a sheet of good drawing paper, a freshly gessoed canvas, a wedge of soft clay. It’s discovering the small bud of cooperation that can blossom and grow between parents warring over custody or coworkers snarled in office politics. It’s where the friction between the material and subtle worlds can be shaped into useful warmth and illumination. It’s the call to action of the neglected garden, the cluttered house, the dispirited friend. It’s facing the question: Can I help in some way to make something new, meaningful or beautiful out of this? Will it work out? Will it fail? Am I up for this?  

For me, Incarnational Spirituality is a guide through this luminous, promising, confusing, powerful Inbetween, where outcomes are uncertain and hope is tangible. To navigate through it one needs a guiding star, which I.S. provides.

I studied General Systems Theory in college as part of learning about the relationship between conflict and cooperation. One of the most useful things I learned from it, something that helped me immensely as a mediator, was that conflict and cooperation are partners in the movement towards wholeness. It describes the transitional zone between chaos and order as a place of great power and sensitivity, where the least influence can have enormous impact and result in a domino effect for good or ill. The influence that helps a system in flux settle into a new pattern is known as a “strange attractor” or seed crystal. A seed crystal is an anchor, precipitating change in a system wavering between outcomes. The quality of that little crystal can determine the quality of the outcome.

Being a priest, a mediator, or an artist is akin to being a strange attractor, someone who strives to draw out new meaning, order, and beauty that before was only latent. Incarnational Spirituality provided a kind of strange attractor for me, a number of guiding principles and concepts that have oriented me when I come face to face with doubts about the hows, whys and whats of my life and the world.  

Most spiritual paths tell us our true power comes from spiritual sources. Most scientific perspectives insist that reality is physically based and consciousness results from that. We’re left with a gap between spirit and matter, an either/or choice that generates endless conflict. And yet physics demonstrates that all useable power is generated from opposite energies coming together. Differentials in temperature, pressure, direction and flow is what powers thunderstorms, engines, generators, turbines and heat pumps.

So I’m particularly inspired by the concept in Incarnational Spirituality of generative capacity, the power and potential that result from the act of incarnation itself, the coming together of the fiery, cosmic, unbounded nature of spirit and the dense, flesh-and-bones, finite nature of a physical body. We are beneficiaries as well as custodians of the creative light that comes from reconciling seeming opposites. Using that power wisely and well to benefit Earth and all who call her home is what I believe we are here to do. It is the essence of Incarnational Spirituality as I understand it, and it has become a guiding star for me.

The way I see it, we are all mediators, healers and artists by design. We not only have the capacity, but also the responsibility, to be seed crystals and strange attractors for greater love and wholeness on Earth. Understanding and manifesting that potential is, for me, what Incarnational Spirituality is all about.

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.

Reading Water

Essay and Pastels by Claire Blatchford
Mesmerized by a video about water I saw almost two years ago, I knew I wanted to try meeting water by way of pastels. It wasn’t so much the drawing challenge (water, clouds and faces are, for me, the ultimate challenge when drawing) because water is, as the late Theodor Schwenk, German Anthroposophist and pioneering water researcher, says in his wonderful book, Sensitive Chaos, “always on the way somewhere.”  It was the challenge of trying to feel my way into the movements — visible and invisible—of this powerful, vital, elusive and wondrous element. I'm not out to simply record what I see with my physical eyes—I could use a camera if I wanted to do that-- so the results sometimes don’t make sense to viewers.
I think of this as my attempt to “read” into water. Put another way: a stream, for example, can be seen as an ongoing sentence or story flowing—or being “uttered”—onwards. When “reading” a stream I might catch a couple of the words passing by. Here follow seven examples of attempts to read water.
In this first one I saw, and read, shapes the water made in the sand over which is flowed: 
In the next one, when looking at the surface of a pond, I was amazed at how just a few inches of water could look like a view of our earth seen from a great height.  
In this one —another up close of a spot on a small stream near our home--I was struck by how water has fingers!
Again and again, what comes home to me in this “reading” is how water, despite the fact that it’s almost always on the move, is not without shape. And it tends to be spherical as I tried to show here (and as if evident too in the one above.)
As I see it, water is almost always reflecting things above and around it. Or one may see through it to what’s beneath it. In this “reading” other things are enhanced or brought to my attention. I’m always drawn to the moments when water moves with, into and through sunlight. 
There are also those moments when water is playful —the moments are easy to “read”! It surges, draws back, leaps forward, folds over, pops up again. I'm certain, if I stay attentive, I'll see the water elementals, the undines, whom I saw once years ago.  
And so the “reading” continues…..

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.

A Gaian Potpourri

By Mary Reddy

Lorian’s first Gaianeering conference ended just over a week ago. The gathering grew into a lovely collaboration among new and old friends—both physically visible and subtly present ones. It was like an exercise in midwifery, offering wisdom, support, and sustenance as we humans labor to give birth to an emerging Gaian awareness. To sustain us through the labor pains, let’s celebrate the new.

How to appreciate Gaia, to feel the thrumming resonant life of the planet, to see the spinning globe wrapped in stars, to hear the singing in many tongues? It’s beyond words, right? Yet here I offer a collection of words that have inspired me. See between the lines and let them transport you.

Gaia—the Wild, our heart’s beating

“As I came home through the woods with my string of fish, trailing my pole, it being now quite dark, I caught a glimpse of a woodchuck stealing across my path, and felt a strange thrill of savage delight.” —Thoreau, Walden

Gaia—life within and criss-crossing cities

“Waters infinitely full of life move along the ancient aqueducts into the great city and dance in the many city squares over basins of white stone and spread out in large spacious pools and murmur by day and lift up their murmuring to the night, which is vast here and starry and soft with winds.” 

—Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Gaia—whispering through all life

“A crow 
has settled on a bare branch.
Autumn evening.” —Basho, haiku 

Gaia—love rooted in beauty

“Oh give us pleasure in the flowers today 
And give us not to think so far away …

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard …

For this is love …” —Robert Frost, A Prayer in Spring

Gaia—even in sorrow

“You mustn’t be frightened … if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than any you have ever seen, if an anxiety like light and cloud-shadows, moves over your hands and over every thing you do. You must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hands.” —Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Gaia—oceanic movement distilled into miniature

“lapping of the little waves
breaking of the little waves
spreading of the little waves
idling of the little waves” —Thomas A. Clark, Coirre Fhionn Lochan

Gaia—home inside

“The house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.” —Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

Gaia—home outside

In the forest, I am my entire self. Everything is possible in my heart just as it is in the hiding places in ravines.” —Rene Menard, Le Livres des Arbres


“Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sun-rise would kill me, if I could not now and always send sun-rise out of me.” —Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

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.


David's Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however, the material is ©2017 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.


Perhaps it’s the presence of August and the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of Summer,” but I’ve not been able to think of a suitable topic for this month’s David’s Desk. I think my mind has gone on vacation!  Consequently, I’m turning to a previous essay I wrote about five years ago which is just as pertinent now as it was then. I hope you find this blast from the past interesting and useful, a tidbit of thought to carry into your own summertime.

My wife loves the science of geology, a topic I’ve learned to appreciate through her eyes. When we’ve driven through mountainous areas of Arizona and New Mexico she loves to point out the various colored layers or strata of rock indicating the different geological ages of the earth. Such strata are easy to see in such places. Unlike the Pacific Northwest where all the mountains are covered with lush forests, everything is stripped bare beneath the sun in the American Southwest. The mountain’s history is there for all to see.

We have strata within us as well. On the one hand, there is the deep history of the soul laid down over millennia and carrying ancient memories, and on the other, there is the history of current experience, laid down and changing moment by moment. In between these two is a range that is unique for each of us.  

Our experience of the world is influenced by which of these strata we identify with. The deeper the strata, the more my vision is one of long time-spans and depth of experience; there is a calmness there, a sense of perspective that no matter how bad or urgent things seem in the moment, they will pass. Nothing is bad forever; nothing is good forever. It is the perspective of age.  

On the other hand, the more the strata are close to the surface of my life, the more my vision can be captured by the flickering importance of the moment. The long view is not as evident; I lose perspective. Specific events, taken out of a context of history, seem more urgent, more demanding; I am less calm in their presence.

A number of factors have led to my thinking about these strata. I have always been a news junkie, taking after my father who listened to the news several times a day. So I start my day with one of the morning news programs on television. I can’t help but notice, though, that the intent is less to inform me than to quicken my pulse and engage my emotions with a sense of drama and urgency. From the way the headlines are written to the presentation of the anchors, everything is slightly breathless, the recitation of one crisis after another. Channel surfing, I find this is true of all the morning shows (and evening ones as well); the not-so-hidden subtext is to gain ratings over the competition not by informing alone but by entertaining.  

In these presentations, there is no sense of past or future, only of the drama of the moment, the urgency of what’s happening. It is aimed not toward a stratum of thoughtfulness and calm reflection but towards one of immediate emotional reaction and thoughtless opinion. If I were to live at that level of awareness, then my day would be filled with one disconnected event after another as one layer of experience is immediately replaced by another. Like a layer of loose shale that can give beneath my feet when climbing over stone, this stratum has no staying power. It gives way, potentially sliding me into one feeling of crisis or another. Economic collapse! War! Terror! Climate change! Celebrity divorces! If this surface stratum is as deep as I go, I condemn myself to lurching from event to event, never finding stable footing and feeling an ongoing anxiety about life and the world if not outright panic.

I think of this as the “stress stratum.” It offers little to calm me or give me a sense of safety and composure in the face of the challenges of modern life. It’s not without its attraction, though. For those who like drama in their lives, it keeps the adrenaline going. I remember years ago when I was a co-director of the Findhorn Foundation community in northern Scotland being asked occasionally by visitors, “How can you stand living in a community where people get along with each other? Isn’t it boring?” For many people, a good argument, a good crisis, a good fight, a bit of urgency provides desired spice to their lives.

There’s some rationale for this. Medical science has long known that some stress is good for us, keeping our minds alert and our boosting our bodies’ performance. The challenge comes when there’s too much stress or stress continues over too long a time. Then mental and physical capacities degrade making us less able to make good decisions or having the healthy energy to sustain effective follow-through to the decisions we do make. So the stress stratum is good to visit now and then, but living there all the time can have serious consequences for ourselves and for society as a whole.

We are all living in a world now that is filled with challenges; the possibilities for danger, for threat, and for stress are all around us. This is particularly true if our information about the world comes mainly through popular media where drama often trumps information and thoughtful reflection. In calmer times when events did not seem so pressing and potentially calamitous, living mentally and emotionally in the surface or stress stratum of our lives might not have been so problematic. But now we run the risk of being jerked back and forth by events, media, and the apocalyptic rhetoric of political forces. Caught in the loose and unstable shale of our thoughts and emotions, we are less able to find the depth of thought and perception that can provide a stable place to find our footing to make choices that will best benefit all of us.

In spiritual practice, it is traditional to urge the seeker to find a place of calm and serenity in his or her thinking and feeling to meet the world from a more effective, compassionate and thoughtful place. There are different ways of doing this, meditation and yoga among them. The idea is to find those deeper strata of life and consciousness within us and make them the foundation for our behavior.

In a materialistic world, we are prone to think of spiritual practices like meditation or the calming of the mind, heart and body, as optional lifestyle choices, a kind of accessory to getting on with being successful in life. But this is changing. The capacity to access a place of calm within ourselves in moments of crisis is becoming a survival skill. We can’t just pay lip service to the deep strata of our being as we drive by en route to a better job, a better house, a better car, a larger television, and more status than our neighbor.  Ask the thousands who are being displaced by the wild fires in the American West or the floods in the American South and Midwest, not to mention the refugees from the terror in Syria, or the potential chaos lurking just below the political, social, and economic surface of many other countries around the world. Without a capacity to find a calm center, they are at the mercy not only of the storms of events but the inner storms of their own fears and sense of helplessness. The deep strata of our being don’t automatically work miracles to keep us free from crisis but they do give us a solid foundation of resilience and hope that the stress stratum does not. Events may cascade around me forcing unwelcome change in my life, but if I can access the calm place within me, I can respond with strength. Otherwise, fear may rule, sweeping away my capacities to cope and transcend.

How might we find these deeper strata? Each of us must find our way of doing so; after all, it is our unique inner place of calm, not someone else’s. Yet there are avenues open to us:  prayer, meditation, body work like yoga, compassion, a reverence for life, giving service to others. For myself, I anchor my awareness in my body, finding my center of gravity, and then connecting to the earth beneath me and, with love, to the things around me. In fact, turning my attention away from myself and towards others or to the things in the world around me with love works because the deep strata of our being are soul strata where love is the dominant mode of expression.

In the mountains of the Southwest, the lower strata of stone that my wife and I can see as we drive by represent the ancient history of the earth. They are a testament of what has been. But in our lives, our deep strata of soul life and calmness are not our history but our present, if we choose them; more importantly, as crises come to us in the future, whatever they may be or however many there are, these strata are the foundation on which a promising future may be built, one that can bless all of us.

(Originally published at David's Desk #62 - Strata)

Join David Spangler, Soren Hauge and Jeremy Berg at Mosswood Hollow from August 5-6 for The Wild Alliance: A Weekend with the Sidhe. For more information or to register, click here.

The Art and Craft of Collaborative Fields

By Freya Secrest

The subject of “collaborative fields” came up recently in a conversation I had with Mary Inglis, one of our Gaianeering presenters and a facilitator of the Game of Transformation. Mary defined a collaborative field as a particular ecology of relationship in which one consciously takes steps to foster a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. She described some of the steps they use in the Game process which helps to lead to such a field: “We always start a game with attunement – to ourselves, to each other, to our activity and purpose. We also consciously invite in the “Game Deva”, that overarching presence that works with the game process.” She further outlined that each game is guided by a stated intention that helps to focus the group effort by connecting the participants with a common purpose.

These are important group building processes, but I wondered what is the “magic” or “zing” that ignites attunement and shared purpose into a new wholeness? That seems harder to pin down. Mary used the results of her experiences in the Game to point to possibilities: “You know how sometimes you look at what you have been doing and you see it is more than you thought it was? This happens in a game when we have created a collaborative field.” She pointed to the magic that leads to a new wholeness as emerging out of the attitude each person held and brought to their participation in a game. In her work she noticed that the willingness of participants to engage all parts of themselves, energetic, physical, mental, emotion, subtle, spirit and soul made a difference. It was when each person brought their full selves forward with commitment to the ecology of the process that new “whole-making” would most often happen.

I was intrigued by the thought that I might nurture a similar collaborative field in my own daily life and activities and curious about how to foster and encourage its development. I didn’t want to just wait and hope it would “happen.” First, in considering my own experiences, I began by looking at the moments when I noticed synchronicities or connections with others or the world around. Those are my first thoughts of a collaborative energy at work. What I noticed about the synchronicities is that they can happen at a meeting or around a shared creative project, and sometimes even when I am alone in a reflective, quiet state where an answer or idea that solves some daily issue pops to mind. Upon further reflection, I realized that at those times I am in a loving state, not a head over heels “in love” but a resilient, at peace and “in tune” loving. In that state of love I generate an energy or “field” of connectedness within myself that flows out and links with the world around me.

Magic Step #1: Love is the foundation for a collaborative field.

This loving state needs a place where it can land and grow. My reflections jumped to the interaction of the Four Incarnational Principles of Identity (Standing), Boundary (Holding), Relationship (Energizing), and Emergence (Co-Creating). Each of these ideas hold a different signature or element of connection for me and together they shape a balanced place where I engage, integrate and grow through my life events. Going back to Mary’s definition of collaborative fields as attunement to ourselves, to each other, to the subtle ecology of life and to our activity and purpose, it is through being able to bring my love into the diversity of my everyday life that I bring about the possibility of new “wholeness”.

Magic step #2 : Engaging in our own life and incarnation is the place where collaborative wholeness can root and grow.

Coming to appreciate the different essences of the Four Incarnational Principles has been a process that is evolving for me. Using these principles helps me to better understand the magical wholeness that emerges out of my life. But I can’t do it only from the level of thinking or even feeling; I must embody these qualities with a physical stance or action that encapsulates their energy. Sovereignty fits with the uprightness of standing, connected through head and feet to the stars and earth, and through my skin with the world around. So I often physically stand to create a link to this element. Boundary creates a place of connection where differences meet — a lap that can hold or arms that encircle and define the space of inside and outside. When I sit or hold something I link with the energy of boundary by the very shape I take. Relationship I see as an activity of exchange where differences can meet “eye to eye” with respect and recognition of the value of self and other. When I look at someone or something I try to bring that attitude of respect into my gaze and approach to our relationship. The idea of Emergence has evolved in me to be the stance of the open hand. It requires a strong energy of standing and balance in order to hold an openness to other. It is something I try to explore through developing my capacity for invitation and welcome.

Although each principle is involved with the others, it is emergence that is particularly connected to the idea of collaborative fields for me because it is a place where we discover and are surprised by newness. What fosters emergence is that sense of loving invitation – the open hand. I imagine I am offering a treat to a shy deer and feel how still, strong and at peace I need to be in myself to give the other “room” to come forward. When this is hard, it is usually because I am turned inward, closely focused in my own life. But when I turn toward the life around me in the spirit of love, welcome and open-handedness, then my energy and imagination can begin to foster collaborative possibilities. This to me is the art and the craft of a collaborative field.

Click here to listen to Freya's interview with Mary Inglis and recordings of other Gaineering Conference presenters. For more information about The Game of Transformation, please click here.

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.


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.


David's Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however, the material is ©2017 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.


At the end of this month, Lorian will be hosting its first major public conference. I’m excited about it because of the excellent roster of international presenters it will have and also because it will be my first time giving public talks, other than online, in several years. I’m looking forward to it, and naturally, I hope you can come.

The conference is called “Gaianeering,” a term coined by my Lorian colleague Jeremy Berg to describe the many ways, inner and outer, that we can contribute to the wholeness of our planet and to our own spiritual development. Which is, besides to make a shameless plug for this event, what I’d like to discuss in this month’s David’s Desk.

In 1979, the British scientist James Lovelock published the 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. At the suggestion of his 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.”

Both Lovelock and Margulis were Lindisfarne Fellows, members of the Lindisfarne Association founded by cultural historian and author, William Irwin Thompson. This was a gathering of scientists, artists, engineers, economists, historians, spiritual teachers, philosophers, and even an astronaut, all promoting a society committed to holistic thinking and behavior and working towards a positive future for humanity. As I was a Lindisfarne Fellow as well, I had occasion to meet and talk with them both at the Association’s annual conferences.

The theme of one of these conferences was “Gaia:  A Way of Knowing,” which later became the title of a book edited by William Irwin Thompson. The conference focused on the idea of Gaia not simply as a way of talking about the planet as a living organism but as a way of describing a more holistic, ecological, systems-oriented world view, a way of understanding the world as networks and patterns of interconnections, relationships, and interdependent wholes rather than as collection of discrete but separate entities. In other words, how would an organism think that was responsible for the vast, complex interactions that make up the ecology of the planet and that sustain all life? How would we think with such a focus?

I thought of this worldview as “thinking like a planet,” a way of thinking and engaging the world in ways that are holistic, ecological, and systemic, honoring the whole and the whole-within-the-part. It is a worldview that is native and instinctive to the non-physical beings who are my subtle colleagues, but it’s one that’s not so familiar yet to most of us living in the industrialized world which is historically based on a non-holistic, non-ecological way of perceiving and acting in the world. As we are seeing the destructive consequences of that approach, it seems to me the challenge of our time, for our survival and the survival of many other species that share the biosphere with us, is to learn how to “think like a planet.” It is for me a form of thinking that is infused with love and the willingness to nourish and foster life in all its forms.

What the idea of “thinking like a planet” also implies is that we are the planet. We are Gaia. If anything, this is what an understanding of ecology (both physical and spiritual) teaches us: that we cannot separate ourselves from the web of interconnectedness and interdependency that makes up the web of planetary life. We simply cannot affect one part of our world without affecting in some manner all other parts, including ourselves. Some of these consequences, as we are learning, can be disastrous. It is in our best interests to learn to think in terms of the whole system of which we are one part.  

We are Gaia, so let us think as Gaia.

This is what Gaianeering is all about. It is learning to think and act as if we are not only our human selves but an embodiment of the spirit of the Earth as well. As our power to affect the planet as a whole has grown exponentially over the past century, so has our need to be the spirit of Gaia—to become skilled and wise practitioners of Gaianeering—grown as well.

[If you would like more information about the Gaianeering conference this month, in which both practical and theoretical aspects of this theme will be explored, you will find it on Lorian’s website here.]


From July 8-15, join Rue Hass for Imagination, Shapeshifting and Loving the World. In this week-long Lorian Discovery class, you will engage in activities to help you understand the spirit of your own imagination, our human imagination and the imagination of the earth. Click here for more information and to register.

What is Gaianeering?

By Jeremy Berg

When I used the term Gaianeering 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."

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.