What is God|Consciousness|Spirit|Goddess??? Tell me in a way that I can understand.

Star Portal
God comes by many names.  Consciousness, Spirit, God, Goddess… is there any difference between any of these?  Really, no.  The difference is in the listener.The universe is constructed of information.  That information is Conscious.  The sum total of that Consciousness is what some of us call God, some of us call Goddess, some of us call Consciousness, some of us call Spirit.  What you call it ultimately doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you have a conscious relationship with that Consciousness.You will see and describe God|Goddess|Spirit|Consciousness through whatever lens makes the most sense to you.  That lens will be shaped by your culture, your experience and the proclivities of your soul.  To be real, it needs to be an authentic lens of feeling and experience, not just a collection of stories you inherited and repeated from your family or your context.

It is always bigger than you, yet paradoxically, also you.  It is always part of the larger experience of self that includes your inner awareness and the intelligence of what is outside of you.  (It’s something you can source for yourself, and it’s something you can rest into when you need a friend.) The way you see and describe it may shift upon your context – who you are talking to, and what part of that experience you are trying to express.

For example, when I’m talking with geekier types, I call on my own geeky experience of Consciousness-as-me having an experience called my life.  When I look deep into my own meditation and the inner dialogue of my daily experience, there is always a meta-dialogue going on that I easily recognize as a function of the intelligence of the universe-as-me.  A lot of geeky types get this.  They get that there is a part of themselves witnessing themselves that is bigger than themselves.  This amounts to the experience of Consciousness.  They get that how they interact with this this experience affects their moods and how powerfully they can bring presence to the day-to-day-ness of their lives.
Alternatively, when I’m talking with women, I often call on the Goddess.  Women understand the multiplicitous, ever creative, ever changing face of consciousness, that is described archetypally as the myriad faces and phases of the Goddess.  From the infinite, cool compassion of Quan Yin to the fiery fury of Kali, women understand that Consciousness, as a reflection of their own everchanging, creative essence as women, is a full spectrum of energies and essences that are innate to the manifest forms and functions of the universe.  They also get birth.  They get that things come out of nothing – and they get born through the feminine principle.
Just hold in your inner awareness the biologic furry of birthing in the same space as the luminous patience of a woman nursing an infant, and you begin to get it.  When you look at the many many faces of the Goddess (and of Gods when engaged as a pantheon), you see our seeking to name the specific meta-patterns, or archetypes, of the thing we called God.  This works really well when you’re wanting to relate to particular creative, destructive and preservative powers of the universe.
And, when I just want to be simple, I often say, “Spirit”, or “God”.  These names, for me, are both singular and embracing.  They are ways of calling to the magnificent, always present intelligence I am having a personal conversation with when I pray.  They are the everything that permeates the everything as a fabric bringing the world into form.  They are my own mind and awareness.  Everything.
Often, I use all the words at the same time, just to collapse our tendency to create wars over definitions.But, I DO use distinctions in how I speak to the various manifestations of Consciousness.  Consciousness, like people, is not all the same.  When I pray, I often pray to Tunkashela.  This is the Lakota word that refers to the specific aspect of God that cares for and listens to the humans.  I’m a human.  Somehow, it works for me to pray to the part of the intelligence of the universe that really cares for me.  Over a lifetime of praying in this way, I’ve seen amazing results.  So, this is all I need to keep doing it.
To make matters even more complex, you can also talk to Nature, or the Earth, or Gaia – or all that is manifest and the intelligence that manifests it.  Or, better yet, you can just listen to it.
But… I’m getting too complicated, here.
To really answer this question, you have to understand paradox.  Paradox describes the fact that the opposite of a great truth is often not a falsehood, but an equally great truth.  The universe doesn’t really give a shit what you call it, so long as you call.  The key is in the relationship you create.  But, the way to create a great relationship is to be specific.  Soul-fit is one of the keys to deep relationship.  So, your relationship with God|Consciousness|Soul|Spirit is best narrated in a way that feels authentic and honest to you.If you’ve never done it before, it might feel really awkward.  But, just start.  Open your mouth and talk to God|Goddess|Consciousness|Spirit.  That’s how you build a relationship.  And, that’s how the words start to make sense.

Know Water, Know Life. The Top 10 Things You Can Do To Heal Your Relationship with Water

Know WaterHey folks,
Saturday March 22nd is International World Water Day.

I invite us to WALK this prayer together.  The most powerful prayers are directly linked to action.  They are not merely energetic, they are soulfully engaged.  Water, being the cause of life itself, craves this engagement.  After all, action is the essence of sacred relationship.  So, here’s the

Top 10 Things You Can Do to Engage and Heal Your Relationship with Water:


1.)   Build a simple rainwater catchment system harvesting water using the roof runoff from your home or apartment.  Use it to water plants and gardens.

2.)   Re-use your greywater!  You can re-route showers, bathtubs, wash machines, even kitchen sinks, to water your yards and gardens.

3.)   Grow a garden.   Use the water you harvest from your roof and/or greywater system to grow your own vegetables. 

4.)   Plant trees.  Green things attract rain.

5.)   Stop drinking bottled water.  The process of bottling water takes water from existing healthy watersheds where it serves the natural ecology, people and farmers and redistributes it (plus a lot of new plastic pollutants for purchase to consumers.  It’s cheaper, easier, healthier and more environmentally sane to purchase a water filter and re-use your water bottle.  (FYI, plastic recycling takes seven times the amount of water it takes to produce the original plastic object.)

6.)   Eat locally raised, organic produce, grains, legumes and meats & use your financial power to pay the real price of your food.  This supports small farmers who have good relationships with the water, soil and ecology of your bioregion.

7.)   Stop eating factory-farmed meats.  It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to raise one pound of meat, not to mention the hormones, antibiotics and waste that leaches into ground water and watersheds due to factory-farming practices.  8% of global domestic water usage goes to factory farmed livestock.

8.)   Engage with local, state and federal levels of your government to preserve and conserve mature ecosystems and old growth in your bioregion.  Healthy, mature ecosystems are the foundation of healthy aquifers. 

9.)   Slow it.  Sink it.  Spread it.  Create swales and ponds on your land that keep rainwater where it falls and spread it into the earth where it can replentish your local watertable.  Check out this video on keyline water systems to see what is possible.  This can be done on a very small scale in side yards and parking lots using appropriate filter-feeding plants.

10.)Start or become a part of a wetland restoration or creek daylighting project in your city or neighborhood.



Samantha Sweetwater: founder of Dancing Freedom, permaculturalist, life coach & priestess

More info & inspiration + LIVE EVENTS can be found at UNIFY.ORG.

You Can Not Save The Earth Without Engaging the Earth


Scarlet runner beans harvested last September @ http://www.siskiyouseeds.coom

The prayer to “save the earth” is not a spectator’s prayer.  It’s a participant’s prayer.  If you’re not physically doing something with the prayer, you’re part of the problem. 

Beneath this is the reality that one can not “save the earth.”  The earth will save herself, regardless of the hubris of humanity.  The prayer behind the prayer is to save ourselves – to find a way as individuals to engage our own part in the collective, wholesale transformation of civilization – a transformation that must occur if we are to cause a viable future for ourselves as a species, and hopefully the future of other species, as well.  This is not a prayer that means anything at all when prayed from non-embodied, theoretical or imaginal place.  That’s just wishing in order to make one’s self feel better.  “Saving the earth” is a way of projecting the fear that we won’t save ourselves.

The prayer, then, is to be a part of co-creating a viable future for life on this planet.  And, that prayer only means something when you DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT – when you put your head, heart and hands INTO THE PRAYER through REAL actions.  These actions take place the living, sensuous, messy, challenging and exquisitely beautiful context of being IN YOUR BODY, working directly with the earth and engaging with other people.  If you want to “save the earth,” consider what co-creative and generative actions you can take.  And, mitigate the actions and consumption(s) you take for granted that have heavy impacts on the earth – like flying to Bali for dream vacations, driving rather than walking to the store, eating factory farmed meat or using plastic packaged anything).  Do the math on your actions and inactions.

It’s incoherent and cynical to talk about “saving the earth” while simultaneously justifying high-impact activities with statements like, “I deserve it,” or “it’s what I need to do to love myself.”  That’s a very short sighted form of self-love.

These days, I spend large portions of my days with my hands working soil, seeds, weeds, branch and the flower.  My fingernails are worn and often ringed with dirt.  I pack a knife and a garden clippers on my belt.  And, yes… I still dance, run my Dancing Freedom business and see coaching clients.  (FYI, my favorite new stacking of functions is doing my weeding or seeding while I do coaching calls.  Because I’m a kinesthetic person, being in my body helps me focus exponentially more awesome attention on my clients, and it channels all that healing energy directly into the earth.) 

Ghandi said, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”  I have no doubt that this is true.  


What do you want to contribute to the future today?


7 simple actions you can take now:

  1. Pay the real cost of food.  This means purchasing as much as you can from farmer’s markets and not cutting corners when (and if) you buy animal products.  Sustainable
  2. Demand that your city or town make water catchment legal.  Consider installing an illegal system in your home or building.
  3. Grow a garden with open pollinated, organic seeds.  Open your yard to share with others, if you have one.  If you don’t, knock on some doors.
  4. Get to know your neighbors.  Together, you can grow more awesome gardens, raise healthier, happier kids, create safer neighborhoods and maybe, just maybe, achieve miracles of collective best interest.
  5. Walk or Bike.  Still one of the best stacked function solutions for fitness and lower carbon impacts.
  6. Dance.  It will make you radiant and connect you with new people – both of which are functions of thrivability.
  7. Share YOUR ideas and solutions in a comment on this blog.

“There is one, and only one, solution, and we have almost no time to try it. We must turn all our resources to repairing the natural world, and train all our young people to help. They want to; we need to give them this last chance to create forests, soils, clean waters, clean energies, secure communities, stable regions, and to know how to do it from hands-on experience.”   – Bill Mollison




ps.  More on permaculture principles, thrivability and purpose coming soon…

Finding Clarity


Find clarity in the full spectrum of your life.

My litte overwhelm…

Two days ago, I found myself desperately praying for clarity.  I was so overwhelmed with what felt like too much to do, too much to hold, too many responsibilities and too little time.  I was literally immobilized.  (Sound familiar?)  Compounding this, I simply could not hold the vast feeling of unknowing surrounding every aspect of my life, work and relationships – everything up for constant redevelopment and shift – EVERYTHING evolving – CONSTANTLY.  The temptation to drown in the quicksand was huge!

I am in a place in my life where I have manifested and exceeded just about every dream I have ever had. Community, partner, business, opportunity, great health, good friends, global projects to change the world… all happening now. And, it’s all pretty whelming at times. My businesses has grown beyond my capacity to manage it alone, so I now have a whole organization working with me. My partnership is ever evolving – a home beyond definition – which is the deepest invitation I have ever lived to love truly and fully in the way of God – and which is totally terrifying at times. The global projects I’m working on are high-stakes and high risk and require both an expanded level of vigilance and presence and a very mature level of compassion and surrender.

Mostly, I love it…  but, sometimes lately, I’ve been totally stressed out.

It’s been really interesting to see what I do.  (I kinda think of myself as my own private social experiment.) I’ve been taking that frustration and anger and all the stuck and small feelings to God. Sometimes, I’ve been raging in my prayers.  Like, “WTF, GOD?  What’s this all about?”

God just laughs and smiles and says, “It’s for you.”

And, being a human being, sometimes I’ve gotten madder.  (Anger is so predictable.)

But, by two days ago, I was just done being upset. I was just done arguing (which never works). So, I took a desperate prayer to god.

“Please god, give me clarity.  Give me peace.  I need your help.  I need it now.”

What happened quietly startled me.

Instead of new information, I was gifted silence.  Instead of visions of futures and projects, I was given presence.  Instead of the clarity I have known before of guidance and direction, I WAS GIVEN PEACE.

Today, I am living the way.  I am un-overwhelmed.  I am at peace.  And, somehow, easily, without effort, the path forward, one step at a time, is reveling its self as one of clarity and grace.

So, what I want to say to YOU, today, is this:

Make a prayer to clean the slate, clear the clutter, open your heart and free your mind.  If you are overwhelmed, and I know you sometimes are, do what you need to do to open this space for grace. Dance, sing, meditate, go to nature, have a really good sweat, get yourself to a ceremony…. whatever it is. I promise, the silence is worth as much or more than the infinite space it contains.

Thank you, God!  Much love! ~s.s.

How to make magic a way of life


What Do You Feed?

For years, I used to hear a little, quiet voice in my head saying,

Your life IS MAGIC.  It’s as magic as you think it is.  It’s as magic as you will let it be.

This little voice was telling me that it is up to me to allow and cultivate my true dreaming, my honest power and my real desires to be expressed and fulfilled as my life.  It was telling me that my beliefs yield real results.  It was telling me that I am, in fact, immeasurably powerful, and that if I focus my energy, attention and intention on co-creating through love, in alignment with the harmonics of the universe, unbelievably magic things will happen.  It was asking me to live the measure of my own faith and the full spectrum of feeling and wonder.

Finally… after falling down and getting up, after living and loving and loosing and realizing that my only true happiness resides in trusting soul and spirit’s path for me, after hedging my bets with God and discovering that God always wins… I surrendered.  I followed.  I CHOSE TO FEED THE MAGIC.  I CHOSE TO ATTEND TO SYNCHRONICITY, TO TAKE MY DREAMS SERIOUSLY (AND LIGHTLY!).  I DECIDED BOTH TO TAKE ROOT AND TO FLY.  In the a face of great loss and change… again and again… I chose love.

Everyday, I re-make this choice to receive my life.  Everyday, I ask to follow and receive God’s path FOR me.  I make the prayer.  Everyday, I practice meeting the pleasure and the pain, the shadow and the light, the grit and the grace, with curiosity and presence.  Everyday.

HERE’s THE DEAL:  we either embrace the whole ball of wax as the tapestry and opportunity of our lives, or we shut the magic out.  (Which also amounts to depression, despair, numbness, stress, anxiety and alienation.)

So, feed the willingness to meet what is and to co-create with the impeccable trajectory of your soul.

Let the beauty you love be what you do.

This is how Magic becomes a way of life.



In honor of magic, here’s one of my all time favorite pieces of wordspell from Leonard Cohen – for you, for me, for we:



God is alive, magic is afoot 
God is alive, magic is afoot 
God is alive, magic is afoot 
God is afoot, magic is alive 
Alive is afoot, magic never died 
God never sickened 
Many poor men lied 
Many sick men lied 
Magic never weakened 
Magic never hid 
Magic always ruled 
God is afoot, God never died 
God was ruler 
Though his funeral lengthened 
Though his mourners thickened 
Magic never fled 
Though his shrouds were hoisted 
The naked God did live 
Though his words were twisted 
The naked magic thrived 
Though his death was published 
Round and round the world 
The heart did not believe 

Many hurt men wondered 
Many struck men bled 
Magic never faltered 
Magic always lead 
Many stones were rolled 
But God would not lie down 
Many wild men lied 
Many fat men listened 
Though they offered stones 
Magic still was fed 
Though they locked their coffers 
God was always served 
Magic is afoot, God is alive 
Alive is afoot 

Alive is in command 
Many weak men hungered 
Many strong men thrived 
Though they boast of solitude 
God was at their side 
Nor the dreamer in his cell 
Nor the captain on the hill 
Magic is alive 
Though his death was pardoned 
Round and round the world 
The heart would not believe 

Though laws were carved in marble 
They could not shelter men 
Though altars built in parliaments 
They could not order men 
Police arrested magic and magic went with them 
Mmmmm…. for magic loves the hungry 
But magic would not tarry 
It moves from arm to arm 
It would not stay with them 
Magic is afoot 
It cannot come to harm 
It rests in an empty palm 
It spawns in an empty mind 
But magic is no instrument 
Magic is the end 
Many men drove magic 
But magic stayed behind 
Many strong men lied 
They only passed through magic 
And out the other side 
Many weak men lied 
They came to God in secret 
And though they left Him nourished 
They would not tell who healed 
Though mountains danced before them 
They said that God was dead 
Though his shrouds were hoisted 
The naked God did live 
This I mean to whisper to my mind 
This I mean to laugh within my mind 
This I mean my mind to serve 
Til’ service is but magic 
Moving through the world 
And mind itself is magic 
Coursing through the flesh 
And flesh itself is magic 
Dancing on a clock 
And time itself 
The magic length of God 

© 1966- Leonard Cohen.

Let The Circle Lead


“You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round.” ~ Black Elk

A circle has no leader.  It shows us what we must follow.

Listening to the Center ~ Photo: Darren Miller

A circle is a primal wholeness.  The social and spiritual architecture of the circle is simple, non-hierarchical and natural.  It replicates an eternity that flows through the arc of time, and the web of connections that hold all of life.  A circle is a fractal of the totality of life expressing all of the directions, and all the phases and faces of existence: birthing, growth, maturation and death.  To pray and listen in a circle repeatedly, regularly over the arc of time is to recognize the eternal and transpersonal aspects of every person’s struggles, joys, growth, and desires.  It is to come to know and feel the mirror that each person’s experience offers for my own, and to receive these sacred mirrors as a continuous invitation to more coherent participation in the life of my tribe.  It is to feel myself in others and others in me and so to move with greater empathy, respect and compassion.  The circle is life speaking with life – a feedback loop for living harmony.

When I sit in circle, I am a member, a listener, a co-equal part of the Collective prayer.   When I sit in circle, before the altar of All of My Relations, I am witnessed by my community, my elders and by spirit.  I am seen, and I see.  If I am falling apart, I am held.  If I am strong, I am part of the collective strength.  If I have courage, it is because I am reflected by my tribe as one who is willing to show up, both in pleasure and in pain, in struggle and in grace.  If I soften and open, it is because I am reminded that the heart is home, and that the path of embrace is the one that leads us all to greatest grace.  My life is elevated because I experience it through the mirror of the whole.  My life makes sense, not because I am “special”, but because the particular ways in which I feel, give, grieve, create, and gather serves to the One Great Life.

The Perfect Logic of Life

About two years ago, I started going to a Chanupa (Pipe) and Wachuma (Sacred Andean Plant Medicine) Ceremonies with George Grey Eagle Bertelstien, an elder living in Berkeley, CA who has held pipe ceremonies and medicine ceremonies for over 25 years.  George is the steward and space holder for our circle, he does not lead in the way we commonly think of leadership in the West.  He would not call himself “a leader.”  Rather, he is a dedicated follower of the ways of ceremony, a listener to the medicine who has given everything in the calling and the vision to steward life in this way.  He is a servant.  As one who has given everything, we trust him.  We take his lead.  We follow.  And, we, too, show up to serve the circle.  As elder, he defines the space, sets the boundaries, shares the teachings, opens the heart.  His stewardship is clear, unwavering, intensely loving and immensely disciplined, yet it arises though a deeply feminine surrender to his own prayer.  He is in dialogue with all of life as the medicine.  His eldership is the closest model I have to the way I now choose to live and lead in the world.  I am choosing to lead through a deepening listening to life, to my creator and to the circle, the sacred hoop of all of my relations.

In the circle, I pray to my creator – not the impersonal god of books and institutions, but my personal creator who I can talk to, who listens, and who “speaks” with me through everything – through my body, my emotions, my friends, my family, my community, the water, the buffalo skull, the eagle feather, the song of the rising sun – everything.  With the sacrament of tobacco and the power of my voice, I pray.  Through the prayer, I meet the unknown, I open my heart, and I set a clear trajectory of intent for my life.  Through the prayer, I gain clarity beyond words that I carry daily into work and relationships.  In this way, the prayer continues to unfold as my life, and again, I meet my life and continue the prayer.  It is a circle.

Dynamic Equilibrium

In Pipe Ceremony, we pray in this way:  we give gratitude; we ask for what we most want; we ask for help.  Then we get quiet and listen.  Our listening to each other makes us transparent as it amplifies and harmonizes the prayer.  Then we smoke the prayer, passing the sacred pipe from heart to heart, surrendering outcomes to the divine intelligence that governs All.

Praying in this way has shown me that we human beings all want the same things, all feel the same pains, all struggle in the same ways.  We all suffer pain and loss, we all revel in victory, abundance and success, we all want a good life for our selves and the people we love, we all crave intimacy, connection, direction and meaning.  We are all deepening our capacity to be with the unknown and the difficult, and to soften and open to life, even as we get clearer and stronger in creating our deepest heart desires.  We all fall down, and are ever growing in courage, strength, surrender and discernment.  Sitting in circle teaches all of this.  It invites immense compassion and empathy.  And, it supports participation because everyone has a unique place and everyone is the same.  We see again and again the mirror that no one is perfect, yet our commitment and right effort bring great gifts into our own lives and to the world.  We say, “Bless your life.”  These words elevate both the sacred and the profane – the “life-y-ness” of our lives.

The Sacred Altar ~ Thank You George Grey Eagle Bertelstien & Barrett Eagle Bear!

The circle has taught me to get humble.  “Getting humble” means setting down indignance, entitlement, judgment, importance and smallness.  It means surrendering ego defenses, taking ideas, opinions and preferences less personally, and literally becoming more naked to what Spirit asks.  “Getting humble” means to cease the endless human vanity of thinking that I have all the answers.  It means setting down rage or frustration at life or at God and instead practicing trusting, asking and allowing.  “Getting humble” means to take the corrections that life offers, in the form of suffering or disharmony, and to find a new prayer for greater grace.  “Getting humble” means not rejecting what is.  The prayer is always to embrace what is and to thank it.  This gratitude is the gateway to transformation.  It is through this authentic “thank you” that I am empowered to stand in the blessing, the bigness and the beauty of my life.

Getting to humility is not always easy.  In August, I was hosting the VISION Soul Quest Ceremony I do in Mount Shasta every summer.  For the first time, George and many of my medicine family had come to support the ceremony.   I felt intensely honored and humbled by their presence, willingness and collective wisdom.  But, I was a mess – completely stressed out, feeling terrified of doing the wrong thing, of mis-stepping, or of in any way dishonoring or upsetting my medicine family or any of the participants in the quest itself.  I felt like I was going to do “it” wrong – meaning everything and anything.  My inner perfectionist was literally wreaking havoc on my inner compass.  The whole situation was a perfect storm of triggers for my deepest control patterns and ego defenses.  The people I most love and respect had showed up to support me and to learn from me, and I could not bring myself to surrender to the circle of our co-creation.  George, of course, noticed this, and jokingly said to me, “honey, you just try to make a bad prayer.”  My inner spin continued.

Once the questers were on the mountain, those of us holding space entered into a second cycle of medicine ceremony.  When my turn came to pray, I said to George, “I don’t know what to pray for. It’s not that I need to be right, I just want to stop making myself wrong.”  He chuckled and said, “Oh, that’s a good prayer.  That’s the prayer to not be an ass-hole.”  What he meant was that, the more you try to do it right, the more you generally do it wrong.  There is no “right,” there is just the profound and total act of showing up.  When we show up to create big ceremony, a big prayer, part of us is convinced that it is “us” leading the ceremony.  This part competes with the part that is actually surrendered to the ceremony, so we make ourselves and others crazy.  “Not being an ass-hole” means letting go of thinking we are (or need to be) in charge.

Then he said, “Let me show you a trick.  Get down on your knees.”  He had me kneel on the ground and place my hands behind my head.  Then he put a cup of medicine in my hands and told me to carry it over my head without spilling a drop – a simple, total gesture.  “The only way you can do that is to be a human being.  Breathe.  Be a human being.” I followed, crying, breathing, praying with every aspect of my being to release, to let go of the tyrant of my own perfectionist.  I prayed to surrender my striving to be enough or to “get it right.”  I asked for the simple poise and trust to relax and be a human being.  Then I drank the medicine, letting it fill me, letting all of my emotions release, and trusting the prayer.

It worked.  Something huge and subtle shifted in me that day.  When the questers returned, I was able to receive them with an open heart and a quite mind.  I was able to carry out the rest of the ceremony as listener, a leader yet an equal member.  I was more able to simply be a human doing her part for the life of the tribe.

And, if any of us wanted or needed any kind of affirmation that we had genuinely given our prayer in service to the one great life, we received it from the spirits of the land in the form of an extraordinary omen.  At the completion of the ceremony, an Eagle and a Condor soared together, magically, over our heads.  It felt as though they were showing us, doubtlessly, that we had married our hearts, bodies and minds through our prayers, that our prayer were heard, and that we had genuinely surrendered ourselves to spirit.

The Fire of Life

The shifts continue to deepen.  I am now more able notice the part of me that generates answers (so that I can feel safe) and to restrain that part so that I can listen more fully to how to serve the situation at hand.  I have learned to pause and ask for help with every situation in my life: big, little and in between.  In doing this, I have discovered a well of connection, surrender and of faith where I can flow with the changes and also rest.  Rather than immediately seeking an answer or solution in any situation, I tend to exhale into trust first, then ask what is in highest good.

I am experiencing renewed collaboration and passionate co-creation in my work.  I have initiated a community-wide conversation with all 60 Dancing Freedom Facilitators about how we can collectively create our brand to reflect each person’s unique leadership contribution, thus shaping a unified circle of embodied change-agents all serving the same purpose of embodied awakening within an immense diversity of communities.  We are literally creating Dancing Freedom as a reflection of the whole circle of teachers.  It is an experiment where leadership is emergent through the shared heart, mind and practice of my community, not through me as the founder of the school.  This fluidity is being supported by an increasing coherence in the way I hold the role of founder (elder) with lightness and clear authority.  It is trustworthy because I trust myself.  I hold the anchor, and I welcome true participation from everyone.   This is the wisdom of the circle in action in my life.

George’s guidance and these traditional ceremonies and ways of prayer have changed everything.  I live in the circle of life.  I have learned how to be in a daily conversation with My Creator and with all things – animals, elements, directions… everything – as animate, power-filled Relations that I am here to serve. I have learned to engage every aspect of my life as prayer.  And, I am beginning to see the world with medicine eyes, hear the world with a medicine heart and act in the world as “a medicine person” – one who lives transparently and who navigates from a constant dialogue with spirit and with the life principle itself.  These ceremonies are teaching me how to lead through listening, to be authentic and simple in all of my relationships, and to love and serve with a humble and grateful heart.  They reveal to me again and again that the Power of the World flows in a circle, and that the best I can do to “lead” is to shape myself as a servant to that Power.

Soulvival: A Preface


The Listening Universe

The Praying

Everything, every-Thing is real.



No thing.

I am real,

and no



that there

is anything other



– s.s.

“The entire Universe is condensed in the body, and the entire body in the Heart. Thus the Heart is the nucleus of the Whole Universe.”

-Sri Ramana Maharshi

Once upon a thought, long, long ago, the universe was born in the breath and flurry of God understanding herself.  Long, long ago in a meta-verse not unlike your own heart, conscious life began, coursing with the life-blood of light and energy, beating the rhymes of time, condensing through the forces of love and gravity.  Once upon a desire, spirit birthed soul and was found in the arms of her own creation.

This creation expanded and grew.  It formed and furrowed.  It danced and wiggled and learned about spirals.  It seeded and sprouted and grew flowers that became fruit that fell to the ground and became seed again.  It composted.  And one fine, star-filled day, it listened.  It opened its innate sensitivity to receive itself and began to understand it’s own heart.  It reflected on its own music, and on that sweet day, consciousness became aware of itself.

Eons later, on a crisp, late autumn day in the Earth Year 2009, somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, an activist, a mystic, a scientist and a social entrepreneur sit down to counsel.  Each from their own angle is deeply engaged in the hard and heartful work of Climate Leadership.  Each has lived enough life and looked far enough into and out of themselves to see the integral confluences between their individual work and worldviews and those of their colleagues.  They agree that they all share one fundamental reality: “Everything now is at stake and everything is possible.”[1]

From this foundation, they begin to ask questions.   “What is a conscious life?  How does one live it?  What is soul and what does it have to do with the evolution of consciousness?  What is pain, and how does it motivate evolution?  What is the connection between our capacity to survive and our capacity to thrive?”  They settle into their chairs a bit deeper.  “How are survival and soul entwined in the process of planetary emergence?  Could soul be a key to surviving the fires of Global Warming, Economic Collapse, Species Decimation and Overpopulation?  What motivates a whole and soul-filled approach to being, becoming and participating in a world on fire?”  Falling silent for a moment, they arrive at one final question: “What ignites compassionate action?”

“Perhaps,” says the activist, “it is the sheer compression of suffering.”  “You could say that it is the quantum increase in turbulence is revealing new capacities for resonance and synergy,” says the scientist.[2] “Yes,” says the activist, “But that compassionate ignition comes through something mysterious, something bigger than movements or parties or creeds.  It comes through some deep response to the world, to humanity, to the planet.  It descends like grace and flows like water.  I don’t understand it, but I see it everywhere, particularly in the youth.  It’s a force for collaboration and innovation bigger than anything you can wrap your mind around.” “It could be that we are learning how to listen, and that what we are responding to is the calling of the World Soul to the hearts and minds of individuals,” chimes the mystic.

“This pressure cooker we are in is the greatest opportunity ever to choose to love what is. That’s the beauty of it; it’s not easy so we are confronted with the choice to suffer or embrace, to resist or to co-create with material reality as it is.  No one has ever done this before.  All our previous models were based on what seemed expedient and profitable at the time, leading to dominance and expansion at the expense of people and planet.  Now we are learning how to work and play soulfully, how to include people and planet in our value systems and bottom-line equations and thus transform what is from a greater space of inter-relatedness.  We are learning how to do this by working within – not separate from – broader ecological, social and structural contexts and exercising our capacity to choose sensitively,” says the social entrepreneur.  Taking a breath and looking around the circle, the mystic offers, “We are learning to collaborate with everything.[3] In the emergent context, the motive for living with soul meshes with the innate desire of life to seek conditions favorable to life.”[4]

“Yeah, I love to quote Janine Benyus on this one,” says the scientist.  “’The answers to the questions are everywhere… The important thing is that these are solutions solved in context, and that context is the earth – the same context in which we are trying to find solutions.’[5]

“Let’s back up.  What is soul, anyway?” says the activist.

“Recently, in my work, I have been exploring the mathematic reality of the singularity contained within every atom.  This singularity is a mini-black hole within the nuclei of every atom in the universe.  The same is true for the heart of every sun, and for your own human heart.  It’s unbelievably beautiful.  I believe it proves the existence of soul.[6]”  “It’s what Celtic wisdom teacher John O’Donohue calls ‘the point of absolute non-connectivity with everything else’”, says the mystic.  “But, what’s so cool,” replies the scientist, “is that each and every one of these points is connected to each and every other point in the fabric of space and time.  That means that everything is both completely distinct and interdependently linked with everything else.” “Exactly.  Dependent co-arising.”

The activist pipes in, “So, that’s what Lovelock was talking about in earth terms when he published the Gaia Hypothesis?”  “Sort of, yes.  His work described, a profound inter-related intelligence that manifests through the biologic cycles and systems of the Earth,” says the mystic. “This interdependent intelligence is what ecologists, biomimics and neurobiologist know intuitively, and it is what the eco-psychologist Bill Plotkin writes of in Soul Craft and Nature and the Human Soul.  For him, and for most indigenous peoples, soul is a category inseparable from All of Our Relations.  It is both a suchness unique to each and every created thing and a divine field of intelligence arising through the interconnectivity and intersubjectivity of all things.  It is real, and it is in, and runs through, everything – not transcendent or ephemeral, but actual and profoundly manifest.  It can be contacted through the senses, through the body and through the heart.  One cannot find it through thought alone.  One must find it through dedicated engagement in the World and the More Than Human World.”

“Have you done this?” asks the activist.

“Well… yes.  And you?”

The circle takes a collective pause, a breath, and another breath.  All at once, all four people realize that each of them has passed through the valley of fire more than once and come to the other side more loving, compassionate and committed than before.  All at once, a kinship is born that can move mountains.

All four hearts start to “think” together.  The social entrepreneur softly offers, “When I live in accord with my soul, when I listen to the world as the greater Field of Soul, then everything I see and experience, everything I sense and feel, becomes a living foundation for my responsivity and action.  Everything speaks to me of its rich capacity to collaborate and share value.  What I do as a businessperson is not separate from what I do with and for the earth, with and for my daughter, with and for my community, with and for the Divine.  When I, and thousands of others like me, start to aggregate this kind of thinking and action, markets become a function of natural limits and intelligent flows of energy.  This is how I apply my passion.  This is how I want to work and play with each of you.  I experience it both as my joy and as my duty.”

“So, here is hope,” says the activist.  “The soul is the key motive, the deep voice within and through all things, that can empower our survival and our eventual thrival in the next evolutionary spiral for humanity.  Conscious living is the outcome of an ongoing practice of sacred activism arising from this felt sense of compassionate connectivity with all that is.”

Talking late into the night, they coin a new word: Soulvival – survival and thrival emergent through a deep and engaging relationship to the animate soul within all things.  Soulvival means the capacity to survive and to thrive through the continuous practice of living in accord with soul.  Soulvival means engaging life through the fierce grace of loving what is and choosing to act as a force for regeneration, beauty and justice.  Soulvival means asking the hard questions, doing the home work and the due diligence, and then collaborating with other humans, with nature, and with everything, to create a life engaged in a net-positive, creative, cogeneration of the evolving world.  It is the ultimate prayer – a non-secular invitation to engage every aspect of life as sacred.   It is an invitation for us to reconnect with that far off (and near) impulse of the universe to listen to itself and so become conscious.  It is us becoming the universe evolving as it listens to and co-generates itself.


In and Beyond Time

Words Fall

In oneness, through me.

Words fall on my side of the cosmic divide between this “one”

and “everything else.”

It is for me to hear through my soul channel,

As it is for you to hear through yours.

We are not alone in the hearing

Because the listening itself is a fabric,

a connective


a verb that is a tissue,

a structure,

a promise

of gossamer connectivity between all things

In all time

In now.

I no longer forget.

I no longer remember.

I act or be

Be and act.

Noun into verb,

Verb into noun

All object.

All subject.

All subject to the rulership of divine harmony,



All in service to the sweet channel… of love.

And, in this, I have chosen.

I choose to dance the violet pentacle at the center of the flame,

At the center, where all hands grasp through the fire,

I choose a creativity

Which is uniquely peace.

I chose embodiment that is universally peace.

That is what is.

No more.

No less.

We are bowls of water.

Always full

Always empty.

Half and half is for beginners.

Take it all and leave it all.

And, still…

Don’t forget skillful maybe –

the open portal to what is beyond imagining.


leave ambivalence at the door.

In this fierce storm of yes,

this sweet autumn of wind,

this quiet knowing of the path:

Begin in the Body.

Let it live.

Let it breath.

Let it feed.

Let it be soft, animal, instinctive and


Begin in the body, and connect.

This is where peace lives.

Peace becomes.

Peace acts, one gesture at a time.

Begin in the body.

Live in the heart.

This is not a choice.

This is a fact.

ACT from this fact.

And through this align in and beyond – space and time.



Benyus, Janine. “Janine Benyus Shares Natures Designs.”  TED, filmed February 2005, Posted April 2007, http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/janine_benyus_shares_nature_s_designs.html (accessed November 24, 2009).

Casey, Caroline. Making the Gods Work for You: The Astrological Language of the Psyche. New York:  Three Rivers Press, 1998.

Gore, Al.  Our Choice: A Plan To Solve the Climate Crisis. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, Inc., 2009.

Harvey, Andrew. The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism. Carlsbad, California: Hay House, 2009.

Hawken, Paul.  Blessed Unrest. New York: Penguin Books, 2007.

Haramein, Nassim. “The Schwarzschild Proton,” Paper presented at the Mystic Garden Party, July 27, 2009.

O’Donohue, John.  Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom. New York:  HarperCollins Publishers,  1997.

[1] Andrew Harvey, The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism (Carlsbad, California: Hay House, 2009), 61.

[2] This thought is echoed throughout the work quantum theorist Nassim Haramein. http://www.theresonanceproject.org/ (accessed frequently, most recently November 28, 2009).

[3] Visionary Astrologer and Jungian Scholar Carolyn Casey speaks with great consistency of the mystical, shamanic choice to “partner or collaborate with EVERYTHING.”  I have been to over 10 of her talks over the last fifteen years at Bioneers, Greenfest, Harmony Fest, in bookstores and at community performances, and this is one of her most consistent messages.

[4] An often shared quote from Janine Benyus, founder of Biomimicry

[5] Janine Benyus, “Janine Benyus Shares Natures Designs”  TED, filmed February 2005, Posted April 2007. http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/janine_benyus_shares_nature_s_designs.html (accessed November 24, 2009).

[6] Nassim Haramein, “The Schwarzschild Proton,” a peer reviewed and award winning paper presented at the Mystic Garden Party in Ashland, July 27, 2009.  Here I paraphrase both the basic thesis of the paper, that there is a mini-black hole within each atom, but also Nassim’s larger theory on the implications of this for how we understand soul and resonance.