rites of passage

earth message

Earth Message for you weekend, I offer a woven story.

Moratorium on Business-as-Usual (Part 1)
Project Drawdown:
>>Forest Protection: 38th ranked Drawdown Solution: 896 Gigatons of carbon saved
>>Temperate Forests: 12th ranked Drawdown Solution: Net carbon sink

Since I have lived most of my life in the wild west of the US, I am able to report about growth and change over more than 60 years. When I moved to the Idaho Panhandle 12 years ago, the first Al Gore movie was about to come out and we started a citizen’s climate action group. This group worked miracles retrofitting the city buildings and we raised local awareness. We didn’t persist, we didn’t go far enough. Eventually we were remade as Sandpoint 350. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change continued reporting and I numbed like so many others. Inner spirit in me as a spiritual activist didn’t start writing about possibilities or telling stories about core issues until Pachamama Alliance caused a personal shift. My voice does matter, so does yours.

I heard a voice the other day, a beautiful place-holder talked about living off the grid for 40 years at the headwaters of my watershed. She brought to my attention a theory that startles at the thought: Generationally, what we see, feel, and touch, literally using all of our senses, seems normal. This is not a phenomena that is well known, we have to hear from our Elders―what are we not seeing? Marilyn McIntyre introduced me to “shifting baseline syndrome” and I searched out a definition from an ecological journal: “People’s accepted thresholds for environmental conditions are continually being lowered.”

I am a logger’s Granddaughter. We are old together now, my Granddad and I; we remember the old ways with big hearts. After selectively logging with draft horses his whole life, he passed in 1970. Horse logging, selective logging is a dying art. It could be re imagined. Surviving into this century, in each of these western states, there might be one or two with skills like Granddad Board.

When I see a clear-cut forest I feel a deep heart pain. The Earth was not meant to be treated this way; there is something too greedy afoot. Useful and grounding words of Chief Seattle come to mind.

Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does
to the web, he does to himself.
~ Chief Seattle

With my spiritual eyes, I too can see huge differences in my childhood forests and those that are surviving today. Limiting the variety of tree species is one big difference, and a die-off is currently underway, maybe gaining speed. Whole species are no longer growing in our moist montane forests. This is what my friend Marilyn reported. She went back through her journals, as a life-long forestry technician and an artist, she kept good journal records. Some of the keystone species that welcomed her 40 years ago no longer even grow in the watershed we share. Sub-alpine fir and White Bark Pine are absent along Grouse Creek in North Idaho. Without her notes, I could not have known what I was missing. I did know about the blister rust that took out the Western White Pine. Intuitively and reaching into my heritage, I felt my own shifting baseline and planted 100 trees in an arboretum that included Ponderosa Pine, a reinvigorated Western White Pine and a little tree the deer loved, fast growing poplars.

It’s time now to call a moratorium on tree cutting. Even though many of the big timber businesses do replant and many consider trees a renewable resource, we no longer have 40 years to grow a tree. The tipping points in the climate are so close we can see them, feel them, and speak about them. We must stop business-as-usual at least until we begin to draw down the carbon from the atmosphere. Then, after the moratorium, we can re-imagine the logging business.

Pain Replaced by Sacred Activism

Drawdown is a huge concept, at least as big as the industry that put all that carbon out in the atmosphere in the first place. We are already drawing down and capturing carbon in more than 100 ways. I believe that drawing down begins at home, first by spreading information, teaching others to speak the language, and then by planting trees. Trees have been called the standing people by our indigenous Ancestors. In the language of Drawdown, trees worldwide are also precious because they are stored carbon.

Since we all suffer from “shifting baseline syndrome” and we view nature with eyes in this present-moment, it appears normal. This new level of suffering feels especially painful because we fail to realize the illusion and trickery of our own eyes. From the deep knowing, from the history alive from our Ancestors, each one of us can find our spiritual activism in relationship with the standing people, our tree friends.

We can give thanks, collectively, for this spectacular feedback from Mother Earth. That her messages are being gathered, noticed, and shared is outstanding! Normal is shifting so rapidly now a simple search back a few decades might begin with conversations with Elders. Those bridges are easy to build. Those of us with a few decades of growth, like old trees, we can see the difference in our memory banks. We welcome deeper conversations, we can talk ourselves into spiritual activism.

One thing our Ancestors all did, they planted trees! To honor the early passing of a young man in my watershed, he urged us to plant trees. After planting, give them a bit of extra care because they need to survive the shifting climate that we cannot see or feel, but we believe. I give thanks for the signs and the stories of the many Elders who keep our memories enlivened.

With love from me, Story Activist, Gail Burkett
October 2018

rites of passage

Always the Earth Always the Moon

Master Transformer – Pluto, September 14, 2018, Florence & First Snow

Dearhearts, A long read … Grab a cuppa (::). I cannot shorten this one.

For the ritual and the ceremony of Rites of Passage, I stand on the shoulders of giant teachers: Angeles Arrien, Michael Meade, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Mary Oliver, David Whyte, Ann Mortimer, Meg Wheatley, Kathleen Wilson, Lorene Wapotich. So many others: Every one of my women friends. Margaret Meade told the first coming-of-age indigenous story and Arnold van Gannep wrote about the Rites of Passage form.

Many moderns played with this form, including me. For 20 years, I have helped produce week-long, summer-long, overnight, and weekend ceremonies for women and girls, to offer – on time and out of time – Rites of Passage. They have filled me, these offerings, for babies, for 9 year old girls, for girls just about to bleed.  A brilliant ceremony, a group effort, happened over a 2-night-weekend where more than 40 women looked at the Passages in our recent memories.

Literally, I have sat with this question for years, “How can women who have missed every single passage possibly catch up enough to give this ceremony, in its truest form, to our ourselves first and possibly to our daughters?”

Women, we must give it to ourselves before all others. The form feels familiar: Just like Mists of Avalon, just like the search for the Holy Grail, just like our modern vision quest, offered as a fast. First the call, then an action to separate, to leave, to prepare a Threshold, and ask for a send-off by a village of our peers. The Journey is alone with our inner wilderness, to recover lost parts of our Souls, and to return to a special celebration of quiet elegance designed to celebrate the story. This is a Soul Story.

Women of the 21st Century, busy, hip, totally involved with wonderful, extraordinary people and things. In the past 2 years, I have met many of you, on-line at a distance. Pachamama, TreeSisters, Sophie Mortimer’s magical group. To all of you, oxoxo. Those hugs and kisses are real, just come in close! I am in awe of our collective Stardust. This is what I call women’s genius, Stardust. With my squinty eyes, I see so much longing.

Rites of Passage often does not enter our thoughts until a change comes calling. What does this mean? Women go through about a dozen biological changes in our lives. I chose nine as my number because every one of us go through nine biological changes in common.

What is the layer of this question, could layer be the answer? How can women continue with our amazing and surprising offerings, work and play as a sustainable exchanges for our energies, and how can we experience a deep enough ceremony to truly connect with our inner power, to feel and allow the change, how can we possibly answer the call of our Souls?

The answer was not my answer alone because by the time the download came through as Soul Stories, I had been walking with Ancestral Grandmothers for more than 10 years, asking the same question, how? How in the world? How are we ever going to lift Rites of Passage out of the dust where it has laid, broken and forgotten, for so long? Why? Because of this mystical thing known as calling, as stardust, as purpose ― this often nags at us and saps our energies. To dig as deep as Soul-self takes time, Earth time, slow-time.

I honor your doubt. I honor my own. Doubt comes through as not-belonging, as not-enough, and as not-deserving. These often turn into real fear. Fear is a stopper, we cannot possibly go along on a 9 month or year long Journey of Initiation. I received several body-blows in August ― fire in my core and a pulled hamstring, together. I know this was doubt and fear. Then, there is communication: What is this thing initiation anyway? Initiation is revealing yourself to yourself, nothing more and all of that. Because we are alive, we have survived excellent adventures and painful memories. Why revisit those? Again? This long Journey shows you that you have been whole all along, but perhaps you could not see. You have buried so many longings, they deserve to see light again, with your adult or elder eyes!

I am committed to Soul Stories as a long Journey of Initiation because it feels so much like a celebration of wellness and wholeness. My Sister is right … we are not so much the walking wounded as we are not celebrated. Women are not celebrated. Mind you, birthday parties are marvelous, just not this special blend of ritual, altar, quiet, deep. Ceremony is the capstone of this Journey, falling in love with the Earth and belonging to the Cosmos, these are our benefits. Earth is our only home, this Journey will prepare us to take steps to care for our Great Mother for future generations, for ourselves, and for the stories of our Soul.

This is absolutely a Sisters’ Journey. One of yours may want to hold for you, to celebrate you, to come along with you. Parts of this Journey may reshape your beliefs, not in a religious sense, but in a spiritual sense, in a holy soulful sense. Answers lie in the dust of your Ancestor’s footsteps: “Why this earth-walk?” The answer is yours to discover. The Women’s Journey of Initiation begins September 23rd. It may be the only one I ever offer on-line. I am old, so this might be absolutely true. Find me in this new place www.gailburkett.org and follow me through the registration process.

I am going on this Journey too, I am IN!
Feel my love, feel my arms encircling you,

Symbolic Language is one of the bonuses.
Growth continues until we die, this is true. oxoxo

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rites of passage


Dearhearts! Sisters!

This is my personal get-ready time, here and away, back here and away again, a ceremonial rhythm you will come to love.

From the lore, the Celtic mysteries, Ash Tree, magical potency, health and prosperity, can you open to receive?

Will you find some time, live at 11am PDT or later, to watch the EVENT on 9-9-18, this Sunday, that ceremony will open our Circle.

This will be the opening, plenty of time to think, to decide, to choose, to notice your process. Look at your obstacles, are they real? Do you have 15 minutes for yourself? That’s what this Journey requires of you. The Elders will Seal the Circle at 4pm PDT September 23, there is all the time in the world to consider, to read the “Steps before a Journey.” You will have to ask for those … Look for me … I am here, lots. Filling up with love, fueling from Momma Earth, getting myself ready.

oxoxo Love, Gail

rites of passage

Women’s Journey of Initiation Begins

Your invitation is here. A Woman’s Journey of Initiation.
Reveal yourself to yourself, initiate to your Soul-self.
Take this opportunity to get to know Soul, deeply.
Journey through the Life Spiral, so rare.
Unusual that something so sacred could be delivered on-line,
But it’s close, accessible, it’s thrilling, even fun to join a Circle.
On this Journey, you follow the Life Spiral around, guided by me.
We will be on-line with the Moons, New Moon and Full Moon.
By the Cosmic rhythm, the circle-women will be well held.
In our own Secret, Private Facebook Group, safe and secure.

~ Gail Burkett

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