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Earthy Creativity
Ruth Rosenhek

for an article in All-Is-One journal - May, 2001

Like many other individuals working to protect Nature, I find myself drawn time and time again to sit in group circles, both home and abroad, as we trade news of the planet's health and practice deep ecology rituals and ceremonies. Deep ecology is a philosophy of Nature that emphasizes our intimate and interdependent nature with the entire Earth Community - planet, rocks, seas, and all Beings from bacteria to human. Rather than seeing humans as perched on the top of a pyramid, deep ecology sees humankind as one strand in a vast web of complex relationships, embedded in a rich ecological fabric which supports us one and all. If only we could experience our true connection to each other and the planet without slipping into illusions of separation, then surely we would put an end to the senseless violence that sweeps around the globe both against each other and against the planet!

Through Deep Ecology rituals and ceremonies, we creatively invoke our imagination to help us strengthen our connection to the Earth and to each other.

For example, in a recent workshop which I offered with rainforest activist John Seed, Wild Earth, Wild Heart, Wild Mind, we divided into 4 groups that each created a small ritual to greet and honor one of the 4 elements.

For Water, we tumbleded and somersaulted down the hill like waves in the ocean until we reached the bottom where we glided our bodies to feel the ebb and flow of the tides.

"Gratitude to Water: clouds, lakes, rivers, glaciers;
holding or releasing; streaming through all
our bodies salty seas
in our minds so be it."

-- Gary Snyder from a Mohawk poem --

For Earth, we birthed ourselves like worms in soil as we crawled along the grass underneath the splayed legs of a planetary birth canal.

"The earth and myself are of one mind. The measure of the land and the
measure of our bodies are the same..."

-- Hinmaton Yalatkit, Nez Perce chief --

For Air, we did a breath meditation with the trees. We visualized the oxygen we inhaled as the trees' gift to us and the carbon dioxide that we exhaled as our gift back to the trees - a sweet balanced mutuality. We reflected on how the very molecules of the air we breathe have most certainly passed through the lungs of other living creatures on the planet, many times before. Perhaps dinosaurs! Perhaps the ancient masters!

The air, blowing everywhere, serves all creatures.

-- Hildegarde of Bingen --

For Fire, we imagined ourselves around a fire as we held up our hands to the imaginary flame to keep us warm and listened to poetic words that spoke of the tremendous power of fire and the all-encompassing nature of the flame of life, the flame of the Universe, the flame of you and I.

"The extravagent gesture is the very stuff of creation. After
the one extravagent gesture of creation in the first place, the
universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging
intricacies and colossi down aeons of emptiness, heaping profusions
on profligacies with ever fresh vigor. The whole show has been on
fire from the word go!"

-- Annie Dillard --

We can effectively and deliciously use our Imaginations to remember who we truly are. One of my favorites is the partner hand journey. With a partner, we clasp each other's hands and close our eyes as we remember back…back…back…to the time when we were primates living in the forests, swinging from the branches and picking fruit apart. Ah, the wonderful invention of our opposable thumbs. Then further back we go to reptiles and amphibians, with our rough skin and claws (check out each other's nails here!) Then back to fish and other sea-life, in the oceans where we spent billions of years (here the hands flap back and forth). Finally, we lightly brush each others' fingers as we journey back to the star dust, as we imagine the supernova explosion that gave rise to all the planets in our solar system and all the stuff that is life. We thank the grandmother star from which all the matter of life has arisen. Now opening our eyes, we look around at each other and acknowledge the other star beings who are here, each of us birthed from the same source.

Rituals and ceremonies such as these can bring us closer to the Earth and truly rekindle our ancestral memories. Every intact indigenous culture that we look at has, at its root, a series of ceremonies and rituals whereby the human community acknowledges and nourishes it's interconectedness with the land and the rest of the Earth community. However, western culture, has suffered a great loss of these practices and what has ensued is a culture that can be characterised by its tremendous sense of alienation from the Earth Community. As Joseph Campbell warned, the chief sources of anxiety in our age are the loss of myth and ritual.

Reclaiming the rituals that can bind the human community with the Earth matrix is particularly important to humankind as we sit perched on the edge of the Cenezoic era. For, as Jean Houston Smith says, "ritual not only illumines our transitions, but puts up back in touch with earlier parts of our brain/mind system and hence with a sense of "flow" and identity with the continuum of Nature and its Beings."

Our hope is to activate a deep response through poetry, song, dance and other creative means aimed at bridging the illusory gap that we believe to be between ourselves and the Universe. Our hope is to feel more empowered to live sustainably, protect Nature and work for social justice. Our hope is to actively engage in the healing of ourselves and Earth.

We do so for future generations of both humans and all our relations. We do so, not out of a sense of guilt or responsibility, but because the same caring which we feel for our dearest loved ones, expands to include the larger web of life across the planet.

In the finale of the workshop, we do a great wwooosshh as we send out the love and healing energy that we have experienced through the strands of the web to all corners of the world, to the many endangered species and vulnerable ecosystems, to those who suffer from violence, hunger or disease, as well as to those who sit in positions of great economic power.

Go forth on your journey,
for the benefit of the many,
for the joy of the many,
out of compassion for the welfare,
the benefit and joy of all beings.

--The Buddha --

For more information about deep ecology workshops, see or write to


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