When asked how to get Western society to understand the indigenous worldview, Melissa Nelson, professor in American Indian studies at San Francisco University, responded in Sacred Fire magazine:

“I’m interested in the eco-psychology movement because it’s critical of the more didactic approach of the environmental movement that says, “You must change! You’re ruining the environment! Be guilty and adopt these better ways, or else we’re all going to die!” We know that this approach does not work. It does not work for anything.”

Melissa also says that the most appropriate way to get others to understand a different worldview must be through an invitation. And an invitation, of course, is not manipulative, nor based in fear, since you can always decline the invite.

So, in this spirit, I would like to invite you (in a non-didactic way) to journey with me in 2009 to a different way of being through a radical re-imagining of the world, and a radical re-imagining of ourselves. This requires a deep imaginative capacity, so lacking in our literalised and fact-filled world.

While we mostly understand the world around us (and I suspect also other people) in strictly utilitarian ways, my approach to a new way of being is to imagine myself as one colourful thread in the rich tapestry of life on this planet. I try and see the earth, each other, and the many and varied forms of nature, with soft eyes, with compassion, with kindness, and most importantly with love. I also believe that mystery is at the heart of nature and ourselves. To get closer to that mystery, sometimes even just catching a quick glimpse, takes a lifetime of practice.

This “getting-to-know” others, especially non-human others, and the space created between, requires skills that are not associated with the intellect, or our educated, objective, rational, analytical minds. They are contained within the realm of soul – the symbolic, the mythical, the poetic, the not-knowing, and the imaginal.

Perhaps we can best arrive at this “getting-to-know” place through non-intellectual ways: ritual, meditation, dance, art, wild encounters, a bodily felt sense, intuitions, and especially through our dreams. Perhaps by accessing these other ways, we can more fully participate in the dream of the earth, and the dream of our souls.

So, this year, I would like to invite you to explore other ways of knowing, as well as exploring the deep inter-relatedness of nature-self-others. And I hope we can have some fun on the way!

I will leave you with a short (haiku-like) poem I wrote:

Nature resides deep
Hidden from view, mostly
Whose eyes watch, from where?