“You were made for these times.”
I love this quote from Clarissa Pinkola Estes. It’s something that I have to keep reminding myself because these are incredible times to be alive.
We appear to be in a state of potent (we hope creative) unraveling. I am reminded of how caterpillars dissolve to become butterflies. While I’ve always enjoyed this metaphor, it’s another thing to live through it!
I continue to set my sights on helping to birth a regenerative culture. I have a regular discipline to help remind me of this intention and I want to share this with you today.
The ideas of justice and environmental sustainability has always been important to me. But even more urgent has been learning a sense of personal sustainability. It was not a noble quest as much as knowing I had to find another way to live that wouldn’t leave me tired all the time.
For my own sanity and wellness I’ve sought out mind-body practices that help me learn reciprocity. This inner experience is my guide for fostering those qualities in the world around me.
Focusing on Re-Learning Reciprocity
Every indigenous culture has it’s own songs, dances, and traditions that teach how to live together in a good way. I have become a student of the dances from the Balkans, Greece, and Asia minor that according to Laura Shannon’s research have living roots in ancient European indigenous cultures. Dancing for me is about joy, yes, but also about learning to move through the world in a different way.
Anytime I am leading a group in which our purpose is to learn to move through the world in a new way, I like to begin with the invocation I will share below. Most often I use this in the dance classes I teach but you could use it any time you are gathering for a process dedicated to transformation.
This invocation began as a land acknowledgement. Over time, I realized so much more was needed than a perfunctory statement that we are standing on the traditional territory of the Dakota. I realized we need to acknowledge the aliveness of the water, and earth. We need to acknowledge the ancestors whispering through us. Over the past year I’ve been pondering how to explicitly acknowledge how black bodies built this country and the debt we owe them. It’s a lot to hold. Somehow we need to hold gratitude and indebtedness in the same breath. While we feel the pain of historic and ongoing traumas there is also so much love and beauty supporting us. We need practice standing in this complexity.
Speaking this invocation every week is a touchstone for me, reminding of my highest goal for every moment. It is shaped by my work largely with groups of white people who are interested in dismantling whiteness and it might take a different form in more diverse groups. It is a work in progress. In solidarity with the messiness of these times, I’m sharing it with you mid-evolution.
Invocation for Coming Back Into Reciprocal Relationship
Before speaking this I like to invite people to rub their hands together and put them on their hearts. Then I ask people to open their arms and open their hearts to the people in the circle, pausing to look around the circle.
We open our hearts to the world surrounding us. We greet the trees, the stones, the water, the birds and animals as our elders.
We acknowledge the indigenous people – Dakota, Ojibwe, Ho-Chunk – who have been and continue to be deeply interrelated with this place, Mnisota Makoce. May what we are about to do help us move towards living here in an honorable way.
We welcome our family of ancestors and the love, hopes, and dreams they have sent forward to us.
We acknowledge our collective debts to black, brown, and immigrant people. May what we are about to do fuel our hunger and courage to come into right relationship.
With deep respect, we ask for guidance from our teachers for living in a good way.
We express our profound gratitude for all the lives that have contributed to ours. In return we share our love and dedication to healing. May what we are about to do help us be in life-giving, reciprocal exchange with all our ancestors, all our relatives, and with future generations.
Please feel free to draw inspiration from this however you like. You could speak it to yourself before meditation. You could read it before a meeting or small group. If you do, I’d love to hear about your experience!
Do you have suggestions for how this invocation could continue to evolve? I’d love to hear that, too.
With love and gratitude,
Practices to help you move through the world in a new way
Join me in dancing into a deeper understanding to reciprocity and community in the Wisdom Dances Circle most Thursday nights. Or practice opening your heart to a deeper understanding of your place in the universe through the Healing Waters Qigong Practice Group.