Council of All Beings
The Ecotherapy Certificate Program under the leadership of Dr. Ann Filemyr, Director of the Ecotherapy certificate program and President of Southwestern College, hosted a ceremonial weekend, October 28-30, 2016 to honor and celebrate our kinship with all beings. We became the Council of All Beings. Below are a few of the participant’s responses in poetry and prose. The Council of All Beings, this life-enhancing and life-changing experience, will become an annual autumn course.
A Butterfly’s Breath
As if by magic, through the dream of another being, I joined the society of butterflies as they came to the end of their long journey. My deceptively delicate new friends had traveled a life time, or two, or three. The ancestors began the journey somewhere deep in the cloud forests of Mexico. Along the way, if they had not perished, each individual being had transformed from one form to another. From earthbound to winged. From old to young. From young to old. From helplessly vulnerable to independent and strong. From one being to another and then back again. From one being to another—alone and together. Each being transformed themselves during the journey and when they reached their destination they were all completely different beings yet as a whole–they were as they had started. Each individual perished, transformed, and was reborn to sustain them all.
Yet on this particular journey, the butterflies came upon their ancestral destination and saw that it was no longer as it once was—as it had always been. It had changed and degraded by the actions of another being—another being that had deceived itself into believing that it was on a separate (and more important) journey. A journey distinct from the path of the butterflies. A journey distinct from all other beings. A journey, it believed most preposterously, was the most important journey of all. All journey for which all other beings existed to support. A journey… alone.
And the butterflies felt deep despair. And I, as one of them, felt despair. At first, I thought the butterflies’ despair was because their own habitat was no longer as it once was. But, then I realized that the butterflies’ despair, their sadness deep within their soul, was actually because another being—a that shared the soul of the butterflies, that shared the butterflies’ existence—believed itself to be separate from the butterflies–alone. Separate from the earth.
So after being a butterfly, as one the “separate” beings, I crawled into bed to sleep on that cold, windy, harsh and unforgiving, northern New Mexico night and I felt alone. I felt the aloneness we human beings, intent on separating ourselves for all others beings, feels deep within. But then the sun appeared the next morning–and the light burst forth over the newly snow dusted peaks to the east. And, I felt a bit more connected…comforted. I felt the gentle wind of a single butterfly wing. I felt the hint of a butterfly’s breath. And for a moment, I felt what the butterflies’ felt and I felt connected to it all. Home.
I decided to do some research to educate myself on the actual state of butterfly affairs. Taking action transforms directly into hope. I realized that, as an intelligent and aware human being, there is much I can do to help my winged friends. Although their primary beginning and ending habitats are endangered—butterflies as a species are not “endangered”—in a technical legal sense. There is much we can do to help them adapt to a loss of habitat. We can slow the destruction of existing habitat and we can create, bit by bit, new habitat.
I realized that I have a perfect opportunity to create a “Monarch Waystation” as part of the restoration of 20 acres of land that the Taos Land Trust has been fortunate enough to have been entrusted to care for. We have fallow fields and wetlands along the Rio Fernando River. I learned in my research that Taos is along the edge of the primary migratory path of the western Monarch. In fact, it is in a unique place that lies in between several different migratory paths. I learned that milkweed is essential to the survival of the Monarchs. Several non-profit organizations provide plats of young milkweed plants that should thrive in specific geographic areas. As part of our restoration, TLT can organize community groups and schools to establish a Monarch Waystation. How exciting! We are a long way away but are in the initial planning of a community garden and could easily incorporate a butterfly garden as part of our efforts.
As I reflect on my journey with butterflies, I see the similarities with the positive psychology type of counseling I am drawn to—perhaps that is another paper!
Factory Farm Animals
I step into the psyche of factory farmed animals
I feel the suffering, the abuse, the sadness
Of their objectified existence
I feel the love for them
They have never experience
And my heart aches
I call the human nation
To open your hearts
To cease and desist
The inhumane treatment
of our animal nation
brothers and sisters
I commit to appreciating
The flesh and secretions
From which I have received
Pleasure and convenience
During my lifetime
As I hold these beings
In Love consciousness
May their sacrifice
May they not
Going into the Council of All Beings class, I was unsure of what to expect. However as soon as I got the email about what to bring I was immediately excited! I felt honored and humbled to take part in ceremony with the group. It helped me to get out of my own head and be present. I set my intention that night to feel my wholeness and to know that what created me was intentional and magic. I wanted to feel in my bones that what makes up the stars and earth and sky is the same stuff that I’m made of.
The experience of our medicine walk the next day was truly altering. I was called to this little alcove in the rocks and I sat and thought while I ran my hands over the cool stone. It seemed to fit perfectly to my touch and as I began to journal something just opened up in me. For the very first time I was aware of the earth speaking to me. And for the first time I felt like I was a part of her endless circle. I realized how much I was missing out by not being attuned to her language. I went through the day euphoric, open and grateful. I felt like I was in bloom.
When it came time for the Council I was nervous but excited. I felt so connected to the stone and mountains, and I just wanted to speak truthfully and respectfully for her. When I stood and took my turn to speak, everything I planned left my head and I just spoke from a hollow space. I told our human witness, “Everything you need to know is before you. You just need to listen and look.” These words I feel in my bones. I don’t need to keep searching for answers or some kind of awakening. Everything I need to know is here, laid out for me to see and hear. I just need to open my eyes and let myself receive the messages.
I am so grateful to have been part of the Council of All Beings. Everyone’s testimonies touched me so deeply and I can feel myself thinking much more consciously about the world around me. And beyond that I really fulfilled my intention. I feel whole and connected to the earth. And I know that what created me did so with stone and stars and purpose and magic.
Breathe dear ones
Remember the council
Remember their messages
Each being request for
Honor and acknowledgement
As you go thru your day
And how you can
contribute to the whole
Be not afraid to buck the system
To speak your truth
Each persons truth rings differently
But together our voices can find a solution
Stand in solidarity Let your voices be heard
There is strength in numbers
Be peaceful warriors
Eyes watching, recording, observing
Be the wave of love
That flows out from your heart
To the far reaches of this
Each of us beings
Has a life force and a longevity
All created equal
Let yourself be known by the seeds you sow
The Council of All Beings
Through the experience of our Council of All Beings weekend, something deep inside of me is vindicated and has been given strength to come out of hiding. Our circular ceremony was that of my childhood, our cyclical understanding is innate in me, and our connection to everything was deeply validating.
In the company of people that I did not grow up with, I have often found myself labeled as strange and ridiculed for “thinking about everything so deeply.” But it is not thinking, it is feeling. When the lynx crosses my path high in the mountains, when the hawk circles, or the deer approaches – I have never doubted that the Great Spirit has something to tell me, I just started to be quiet about it.
Sharing this weekend with like-spirited people has my heart overflowing, I understand that this connection is far more important than my yearning to be accepted by society. I am proud of myself to be identifying with humanity enough to want to be accepted, but this human form is only a part of what I am – I am of the Earth, first and foremost, and in my wholeness.
In recent years, I have come to speak of the Goddess only in the sacred hush of isolation. I have felt judged and cast out by my devotion to the Divine Feminine in certain company. Of course, I pray to the Great Spirit, and honor the Masculine, but my umbilical pull has always been to Her. As a child, I was surrounded by devotees of the Goddess, I felt at home among them and they groomed me to carry on the connection to fertile Earth, sacred darkness, moon and mystery. But somewhere along the way, I lost my courage. This weekend gave it back to me.
Another deeply profound gift returned to me was on our medicine walk. Looking for my place of connection, I first saw a king snake. I love snakes, and they represent to me an ancient pagan understanding of fertility. I followed it to an arrow of round, black, volcanic stones the size of my hand. I followed the arrow down a slide of black rocks where I saw my destination – a tower of stone that called me. I had to take off my skirt and shawl to climb it, so I sat atop with the sun and breeze igniting pleasure on the surface of my skin. It is then that I remembered my favorite lover – that feeling of the elements caressing me. I remembered my first orgasm – all alone in a juniper forest, laying naked on a flat sandstone warmed by the sun. I realized how much of this sensuous connection I have stifled in order to make a man feel at ease. I sang and shed a tear, grateful that these feelings were here waiting for me. I opened my eyes, and there was the Kokopelli petroglyph right in front of me! He has always been my favorite lover, I’d just forgotten.