Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Poetic Garden

Celebrating one day at a time

By the Spontaneously Creative Plants

Picture of Luiza Oliveira at Zein’s garden 2019

I come along when winter is no longer around.

I thrive where others find too hard to be, but once I have made some space, the others come along.

My roots are deep and my arms embrace and dance with the challenges of what the new season has to bring.

I like to enjoy the kiss of the afternoon sun on my skin,

I like to hear the local news by the wind whispering them in my ears,

I like to experience the voluptuous touch of the water every time it rains,

And I love to play with the enthusiastic bees who are amused by my nectar.

My leaves are a bit bitter to prepare you and others for the sweetness and excitement that spring is going to bring.

I am tender, I am bitter, I am gentle and I am strong.

I am a pioneer. I am the one who opens the space for others to flourish with me, even when I am gone.

Some people see me as a symbol of Courage, some as a symbol of Resistance, others see me as a symbol of Stubbornness, but never mind … other people see me as a symbol of Hope.

The thing is, I am none and I am all. At the same time.

I tent to support others in making easier to understand what complexity is, making it easier to digest. Complexity is a real beauty, but sometimes it overwhelms some folks, and I am here to share some recipes when those times come, and we travel together toward complexity, one step at a time.

Come here, feel the sun with me. Stop a bit and lay down next to me.

Can you feel how gentle is the sun today?

Let the wind play with your hair.

Let those aunts climb your arm.

Let the bee buzz you a bit.

The wind has told me that the humans are more worried these days. I must say I found it curious to feel a new kind of silence lately.

I mean, we all have different cycles, rhythms, and pace, no? And I thought that maybe your winter has come.

Are you worried?

I understand.

Come closer, and let me remind you of something.

Winter times can be challenging in many ways. Moments of grief and mourning are expected. But when the winter starts to fade, remember me. I will be back and so does the Spring.

Now, take some of my seeds and make a wish.

Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

The Poetic Garden was originally published in PermacultureWomen on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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Sunday, March 29, 2020

A Simple Meditation for Pandemic Climate Emergency and Other Disasters

Dido Dunlop

In times like now, our emotional strength and resilience can feel drained away. It can seem like our inner resources are not enough. Yet here we are, still alive.

I Am Alive

When the going gets tough, I meditate on this. I remind myself that I’m still alive. It’s the most precious and essential thing.

Now, overtaken by pandemic, we’re constantly reminded that we or our loved ones might quite suddenly not be alive. We can get so caught up in worries about how to manage, we forget to stop, and notice that in this present moment, we are here, aware and breathing.

While we’re in the present moment, panic dissolves. Beneath the burnt-out field of grief or fear, is simply an aware mind, quietly present. We mostly take it for granted, and don’t notice.

If you’re grieving the death of koalas and platypus, or you’ve lost your home in a fire, or fearing that similar climate catastrophes may happen to you, some time in the future, this simple practice can be a bottom line support.

Long ago I began using this simple phrase to meditate on, to restore myself to myself, in times of personal disaster. I felt so hurt, when terrible misunderstandings seemed beyond intractable, with housemates, or in my community-building endeavours. I forgot I was a worth while person, or what the point of living was. Nevertheless, I was alive.

Remembering that I was alive transported me instantly to quite another place. Suddenly, a bright, clear space opened up. I felt charmed and free to relax. This practice takes me to profound and beautiful places. Being alive is an utter mystery and miracle.

Here’s a sequence of three meditations on this theme. Please do them in order; they were all done on one evening, and follow on from each other. (Just a note: the soundtracks were recorded live in class, so may not be flawless.)

Alive and Breathing

https://wisebirds.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Alive-hv-1-190829-tr-ed.mp3

Alive and Aware

https://wisebirds.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Alive-hv-2-190829-tr-ed.mp3

Alive, Calm in the Present Moment

https://wisebirds.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Alive-hv-3-190829-tr-ed.mp3

This may also remind us that others are also alive; they share with us this treasure of awareness. It can help us feel less alone, part of a great and inconceivable whole.

I love it that a lot of people are now hoping we’ll find a new, regenerative way to live on our beautiful planet, when this tidal wave of pandemic has passed over. If we can remember how precious is life itself, far more precious than money, this will help us rediscover our relationship with our Mother Nature, who gave us all life in the first place. We might build a life-affirming culture. That would be a wondrous revolution. May this simple meditation help us along that path!

There are many further things we can do in meditation to heal and strengthen. Soon I’ll put up some basic lessons on how to meditate. Look out for them.

If you have questions about this work, or how to do it,contact me.

Originally published at https://wisebirds.org.


A Simple Meditation for Pandemic, Climate Emergency and Other Disasters was originally published in PermacultureWomen on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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Wisebirds: Ecofeminism Meditation Regenerative Culture: Dido Dunlop

In times like now, our emotional strength and resilience can feel drained away. It can seem like our inner resources are not enough. Yet here we are, still alive.

When the going gets tough, I meditate on this. I remind myself that I’m still alive. It’s the most precious and essential thing.

Now, overtaken by pandemic, we’re constantly reminded that we or our loved ones might quite suddenly not be alive. We can get so caught up in worries about how to manage, we forget to stop, and notice that in this present moment, we are here, aware and breathing.

While we’re in the present moment, panic dissolves. Beneath the burnt-out field of grief or fear, is simply an aware mind, quietly present. We mostly take it for granted, and don’t notice.

If you’re grieving the death of koalas and platypus, or you’ve lost your home in a fire, or fearing that similar climate catastrophes may happen to you, some time in the future, this simple practice can be a bottom line support.

Long ago I began using this simple phrase to meditate on, to restore myself to myself, in times of personal disaster. I felt so hurt, when terrible misunderstandings seemed beyond intractable, with housemates, or in my community-building endeavours. I forgot I was a worth while person, or what the point of living was. Nevertheless, I was alive.

Remembering that I was alive transported me instantly to quite another place. Suddenly, a bright, clear space opened up. I felt charmed and free to relax. This practice takes me to profound and beautiful places. Being alive is an utter mystery and miracle.

Here’s a sequence of three meditations on this theme. Please do them in order; they were all done on one evening, and follow on from each other. (Just a note: the soundtracks were recorded live in class, so may not be flawless.)

Alive and Breathing

https://wisebirds.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Alive-hv-1-190829-tr-ed.mp3

Alive and Aware

https://wisebirds.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Alive-hv-2-190829-tr-ed.mp3

Alive, Calm in the Present Moment

https://wisebirds.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Alive-hv-3-190829-tr-ed.mp3

This may also remind us that others are also alive; they share with us this treasure of awareness. It can help us feel less alone, part of a great and inconceivable whole.

I love it that a lot of people are now hoping we’ll find a new, regenerative way to live on our beautiful planet, when this tidal wave of pandemic has passed over. If we can remember how precious is life itself, far more precious than money, this will help us rediscover our relationship with our Mother Nature, who gave us all life in the first place. We might build a life-affirming culture. That would be a wondrous revolution. May this simple meditation help us along that path!

There are many further things we can do in meditation to heal and strengthen. Soon I’ll put up some basic lessons on how to meditate. Look out for them.

If you have questions about this work, or how to do it,contact me.

Originally published at https://wisebirds.org.


Wisebirds: Ecofeminism, Meditation, Regenerative Culture: Dido Dunlop was originally published in PermacultureWomen on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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Thursday, March 26, 2020

A scrap of Comfrey

(in response to the Permaculture Women’s Writing Challenge, Day One: Pick a Plant)

If a plant could have a motto, comfrey’s would be “Fortify!”

She is tough. Determined. A survivor. Witness: one little scrap of comfrey, sent to another place, far away. Left outside to become dry. Forgotten.

Then: remembered! Ah! Finally, set back into the earth. She sank in, felt her way into this new place. Different, but the things were there that she needed: hello earth, hello clay, hello minerals. She reached up one small leaf, collected sunshine, sent out another. The rains came. She drank, earthed herself deeper into the new place. Over the days she took in the sun; every night she rooted deeper. Connecting herself to this place deeply.

She weathered droughts: her deep roots said, Fortify! She wilted, but made it through. Run over by a lawn mower: no problem. Back again, greener than ever with the next round of sunshine and rain.

Pieces of her were cut, dug, transported…many not so far away: over there, by the chicken yard fence, she can feel herselves, over there by the orchard wall. Some pieces even farther: sent in a parcel to another piece of land, again different earth, different human connections, herselves thrived.

Once she was dug up and eaten by pigs. The earth turned over and over, trod upon, chewed….her small rootlets said, Fortify! and she returned, from even the tiniest piece, spread out with new nutrients to ingest and reach up to the sun. When the coldest time comes, she retreats, deep under the earth, under a blanket of dry leaves, she rests. Not breathing, just resting, waiting for the trickle of snow melt, the barest warmth of spring’s first breath to return.

She is medicine. She is food for animals, and for the earth. She is acknowledged, and thanked by the humans who also live near. She is deep, and strength. She will remain: the bone knitting, earthy crone of the land.


A scrap of Comfrey was originally published in PermacultureWomen on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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Why Its Worth to Surrender to Those Annoying Little Moments in Life

We’re told that everything happens for a reason. But really, what good could possibly lie in those everyday irritating instances such as having to rummage through your bag once again to find the train ticket, which — of course — has hidden in the last folded corner of the bag? I never knew until one sunny day in March, more than fifteen years ago.

I was visiting professor at the time at the Friends of Thoreau Institute. This was going to be my first lecture on environmental ethics with a group of German and Spanish master students. I stayed with friends in an apartment about an hour away and left early to catch the train to the university. Just before I descended the stairs of the station, I checked my bag for the ticket. Which — no surprise here — had hidden again. As I foraged through my bag, my mother’s face came into my mind, rolling her eyes at her ever-disorganized daughter. Here she was on her way to an important moment in her career, wasting time, because she had misplaced her ticket.

It took me maybe two full minutes, not more, to find it. Two minutes feel like eternity when you resist every second of them. I was as angry and impatient as ever, cursing my ticket, my bag and handbags in general. Who invented those things that only served to hide and eat your stuff, are either bulky or too small and never alert you that there are still some fruits in there that are about to grow roots?

In terms of my life of then almost thirty years, two minutes weren’t much. They were enough, though, to guarantee that I’d live another fifteen plus years so far. Two minutes of rummaging determined that at 7:34am I wasn’t at the end of the platform where I would get onto my train to Alcalá, but still on the stairs downwards. I don’t remember hearing the blast, but I remember the feeling of being pushed backwards. Then all memory gets blurry.

There is a woman crying out “mi hija, mi hija”, people running around in a frenzy and a dull feeling overall. Nothing else. My students later told me that I apparently made my way to the University of Alcalá and held a pretty surreal lecture, with eyes wide open and yelling the whole time. Other than the loss of memory, a temporary tinnitus and a headache I had not carried away any physical injuries. Unlike some two hundred other people who died in the Atocha bombing attack and hundreds more who were injured.

I have misplaced things again. I have spent time searching for lost items that ended up right in front of my face, I have been on hold on service phones only to have the call cut after ten minutes, I have stood in lines that seemed to never move ahead or waited at traffic lights that clearly favored all other lanes. I don’t literally see the benefit in those moments like I saw it in Madrid. But I know that it is there. Maybe this time it is for others. Maybe this time someone else needed that space to survive.

Everything happens for a reason. I am happy to surrender.


Why It’s Worth to Surrender to Those Annoying Little Moments in Life was originally published in PermacultureWomen on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Shedding Skin

Things We Can Let Go Of In A Crisis.

The new emerges

Sometimes we are like snakes that have outgrown our skins.

Sometimes, we need to shed them for safety.

It is a difficult time right now for many people and for many, it already was.

Some of the more redundant elements of our culture can and could be easily walked away from; it may be good to remind ourselves these are not necessary.

Here is a list of nine things you can pretty comfortably, ( in most cases ), live without.

  • Expensive cosmetics, moisturiser being an obvious one. In most cases, oil is preferable to moisturiser, olive or almond oil is available in pharmacies and shops for a fraction of the price. Almond oil does require a lot of water in areas that may have shortages so olive oil may sit better with your conscience. The industry of the latest cream, shampoo etc. is a million-pound one that is not doing you any good. Your skin will thank you.
  • Holiday resorts. Many will have no choice in this one, but we can take heed that it sometimes creates a divide between bearable and unbearable life often in places that fall prey to a decrease in quality of life for the permanent residents. A good practice is to develop and extend your feeling of being nurtured, protected, loved into your local surroundings.
  • Empty snacks. Doritos, Cheetos. Most of us know this already, and a small indulgence is not a fall from grace. An excellent cure to compulsion is to respect and believe our bodies as deserving of nourishment.
  • High maintenance decorative gardens. These hark back to colonialism and a showing of non-usefulness as a privilege. While they may look pretty so too does a garden rich in productive wealth. Start to think differently about what the will of your land is. Hint: if you are buying a ton of toxic chemicals every few weeks and employing a gardener to trim everything but having no actual yield and neither is the local wildlife, it is not what the land wants, nature needs or of any use. Everything is synergy — and dandelions can be beautiful too.
  • Gym Membership. Some people who have physical restrictions can benefit significantly from the equipment in a gym. Professional weightlifters or professional sportspeople may need a gym setting. Most other people would get a lot more from bodily labour or getting active outside, in my opinion, and the benefits are multilayered.
  • Computer games. There is going to be a lot more time to be had with access to games and virtual worlds. I’m not judging indulgence, but the effects of games disappear in a vapour. You matter, your words and actions can make a difference. Steer away from the vortex of dead-end activity, if you can’t do it all at once just a little at a time.
  • Experts. Sometimes we need experts, and I don’t mean complete abolition but a redefinition. Our obsession with experts being the ones with titles can limit our connection with our inner expertise and allow us to overlook the experience and insight in the person sitting next to us. We are all experts in our own lives and responses. We don’t always need to outsource to those with papers, and we can learn from everyone.
  • High Heel Shoes. Enough said. Ok if you want them: go ahead, and glamour is not under attack, but it’s not a need unless you’re in specific industries.
  • A belief that technology will save us from every limitation and growth is perpetual. We have lived without this delusion before, and many still do. Constant throwing ourselves into the future is also throwing away our present and plunging huge gaps between those who can access the tech and those who cannot. Calm down everything goes in cycles, not endless ascension. And, that is a moderating force.

An some things you can’t live without at least not well.

  • The elements of life. I would encourage a lot of time thinking about the foundational: soil, food, air, water. Where does it come from, where is it going, what does it need, who has power over it. Where is it located in your area, get specific and tangible and wonder why on earth you have not done this before, if you have not before. Map it and talk about them.

And the less easily graspable but highly important elements:

  • Love. Love is written into our beings — imperfect, lopsided love. Love that skews us into neurotic narratives. Nevertheless, it is like the air we breathe, and we don’t live very long without it. Believing that all these little, flawed but genuine loves are part of a greater appreciation that carries us along and is part of the urge that brings the whole world into being is a vision that has met many people throughout the ages in the most hopeless situations. A universal, accepting and non-dependant sense of love seems our birthright and is always a highly personal lived experience.
  • Connection. We need connection, to be connected, to have an orientation. When in doubt spend time connecting with someone you care about, a place in nature, the sky, a dog. Eat some food and connect with all the elements that brought into being. We are entangled and held by a million and one strands of connection.
  • Meaning. When you have not examined your sense of meaning and purpose, ideologies can be quickly thrust upon you. It is a good idea to reject the overriding mythologies of your time, well, especially in mainstream culture at this point. You can then give yourself time to tune into what motivates you and what holds, what encourages life and what plunders it. This search is likely to be lifelong and meaning always factors in our choices so it’s an excellent idea to locate it. Sometimes though this can become an overdrive — everything in moderation.

Happy to hear thoughts, additions and disagreements.


Shedding Skin was originally published in PermacultureWomen on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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Green Tara The Ecofeminist Goddess Shows Us How To Embody Regenerative Culture

Green Tara is a role model, to become a wise woman, and live in an ecofeminist way. Many of us who are women have a hard time finding women we can take as role models. This one has helped me transform my life. In one way, Green Tara is just an image; yet her image is designed so that when I work with her, I develop the wise love she embodies.

For any chance of surviving the climate emergency, we need to build a regenerative way of life, based on the patterns of nature’s life-supporting ecosystems. It’s peaceful, cooperative, egalitarian, and in harmony with nature. Tara embodies this culture shift, in how we understand what life is for, what brings us happiness, how to live interconnected with all creatures, how to live as a community. When I lived in a permaculture ecovillage, Green Tara seemed to me our patron goddess, and patroness of activists.

Her practice

Green Tara is a meditation deity, practiced by all Tibetan Buddhists, men and women. She’s a different kind of goddess from what we usually think of. She’s ‘our own mind, in the form of Green Tara.’ She teaches us as we meditate on her.

When we imagine ourselves as Tara, we practise what it feels like to be in a state of awakened compassion. Her body is made of green light, the light of compassionate skillful action. I infuse my body with her light, and explore all through my body what it feels like. Meditating is a bodily process. Being in my body as her, so the green light’s all over my body and helps me feel like her. My woman’s body can identify with Tara.

When we imagine her in front of us, separate from ourself, she’s our companion. We develop a relationship with her. It’s a practice ground for how we relate to ourself and to others.

Like a Dream

When we imagine Tara, we use all our inner senses to create the image — touch and body sensation, sound, smell. It’s usually called visualisation; a better word is sensualisation.

We send this healing image to our depth, like a reverse dream. When we dream, our depth sends up an image to our conscious mind, to heal us. We send a dream image of Tara, for the depth to grow around. We create a relationship with our own depth, commonly called the ‘subconscious.’ It has its own healing processes.

Sometimes I thought, this is idiotic — I’m just imagining it. However, with imagination, we can explore, experiment, and let our creative powers take us to new discoveries. In meditation, we take ‘imagining’ to a deeply visceral level, to integrate and embody healthy states of being.

Culture Shift

As a modern woman, watching patriarchy destroy our living planet through the climate emergency, poisoning of environment and people, social injustice and all the interrelated issues, Green Tara empowers me to persevere in trying to create a way of life that can sustain us. To that end, I practise and teach her in an unconventional way, that works for me and my friends, in our modern life.

Tara’s life-affirming path teaches us not to withdraw from the world to find our spirituality, but to experience ‘ordinary’ life as full of magic and mystery. This is a woman’s way. We live our spiritual life around children, in our work in the world; in our relationships with people and nature.

Can Tara save the world — as well as ourselves? Yes indeed. This may seem very large. To take on such a big task, we need the almighty compassion of Tara, and the personal empowerment and support she gives us.

H.H. The Dalai Lama has been calling women to come forward and save the world. He says women, because we are mothers, have deeper compassion and sensitivity to suffering, and are better geared to find peaceful ways to dialogue, rather than going to war to solve problems.

Tara comes to us from an ancient, unbroken, living tradition of practice. I believe she originates from a time before patriarchy; she demonstrates all the features of ecofeminist culture. Her practice is part of an ancient tradition called tantra (different from the kind that specializes in sexual practice.) Tantra means a thread in woven cloth. It teaches us to live as part of the weave of the world — without getting entangled in the nets and traps of believing it to be permanent and solid.

It’s the ecofeminist way. Riane Eisler calls it the Partnership way. It’s still lived in many indigenous cultures all over the world. In what follows, I’ll point out some of Green Tara’s features as an ecofeminist heroine.

One Side Wisdom, One Side Compassion Action

Green Tara has one leg drawn back in meditation posture; this side of her rests in the deep peace of primordial wisdom. Her other leg is forward a bit, so she can leap up and help when she’s needed. Her right hand on her knee is in the gesture of giving; the left at her heart shows fearlessness. Tara is a goddess of compassionate skillful action. She gets her hands dirty, pulling us out of ignorance and suffering. She shows us how to live the deep insight of meditation, while active in the world.

Wisdom and compassion are the two wings we fly with to awakening. They’re interwoven. With Tara, we practise what it’s like to be a compassionate wise woman: resting in union with the vast spacious peace of the Great Mother, commonly called void in Buddhism. We still live and act, in our worldly body, while knowing at the same time we’re not separate, but a part of it all.

Tara’s Compassion

Compassion connects us. Love and compassion are the basis of our cooperative culture. Like Tara, we provide for all creatures in an interconnected world. We restore nature’s ecosystems.

‘Compassion’ usually means, compassion for suffering. In Buddhism there are four kinds of love. First, friendliness to all creatures: each is equally precious in Mother Nature’s ecosystems. Second is compassion for suffering. Third is delight in beauty and happiness. Fourth is equanimity: to stay in a state of love towards whatever arises.

I wanted to develop these qualities in myself. I needed to learn to love. It was easy to be compassionate to others: but to have Tara be compassionate to me? And me to myself? I learned to attend compassionately to my plentiful miserable emotions; also I learned how to delight in good things. That’s helped me become a warmer person.

Tara’s love extends to many areas:

Tara The Environmentalist

One title of Green Tara is Khadiravani: of the forest. Perhaps she was originally an ancient nature deity. Her compassionate action extends to trees and all creatures, as well as humans. In this time of climate emergency, we need this.

Tara Protects Against Fears

Part of our compassionate work is with emotional difficulties and traumas. Emotional and psychological healing is an important part of moving towards awakening. As long as we’re in confusion and distress, we don’t have the calm and openness to see clearly the nature of mind.

Tara skillfully works with our emotional healing. By her nature she reminds us that emotional healing is to liberate us from suffering. When we become her, we release confusion and fears, so the wise woman within can shine forth. We overcome our sense of separateness in the world. We learn to live in the world with an awakened mind.

Light and dark

What sort of ‘fears’? Ultimately, any emotional disturbance is a fear. It ties us up in emotional patterns that separate us from the world. At present, we have to deal with a whole range of terrifying emotions aroused by climate emergency, pandemic, economic collapse, and a host of related horrors.

Traditionally, Tara works with eight fears:

Pleasure and pain

Loss and gain

Praise and blame

Notoriety and fame

Another way the fears are described is: fear of water, lions, fire, snakes, elephants, thieves, false imprisonment, ghosts. It’s easy to see how they represent our inner emotional turmoils as well as outer fears.

Buddhist teachings overcome suffering, by understanding impermanence, and how greed, hatred and ignorance cause us suffering. We cling to having this and not having that. This is what’s causing our climate emergency. With Tara, we deal with fears also in more visceral intimate ways.

Tara helps us embody this wisdom, by meditating that our own body is the wise body of Tara. The green light, of which her body is made, fills our body, and helps the feeling of compassion grow in our own flesh. We develop a sensitive awareness of what’s happening in our body. Emotional traumas stored in the body can be compassionately brought to awareness, and this in itself heals them. We can also use variations on the ‘clearance’ methods developed by Namgyal Rinpoche, my teacher.

(See my book Storm Weathering: a Workbook for our Inner and Outer Climate)

Re-Mothering

Tara sees our wisdom and goodness, even when we can’t; and loves us, despite our confusions. For me, this work has been like re-mothering. Many of the wounds of childhood come from unskilful parenting. I imagined Tara as like a ‘perfect mother’, and practised how to relate to her, how to feel her as loving, protecting and all the qualities I needed, to heal childhood lacks.

Re-mothering is learning to love and be loved, which we have so many lacks around in our Western culture. It’s a way we develop compassion. We build a healthy self, through seeing the light in Tara’s eye for us.

When we’re full to the brim with Tara’s love, we beam it out to all other beings. This helps us see how interconnected we all are; that increases our compassion.

Mothering values, like Mother Nature’s, are the heart of our regenerative culture. Caring, connecting, nurturing, helping children and everyone else, and nature, grow into our healthy potential.

Beauty, Happiness, Delight

Green Tara is beautiful, smiling, ‘alluring to the heart.’ Pleasure and happiness are life-giving, they support our health. This is a deep shift from patriarchy’s dour attitude that suffering is holy.

Wisdom

Wisdom gained in meditation is not so much intellectual; it’s a whole-body-presence knowing. The first step is to understand we are not in the thrall of our thoughts. Gradually, through learning to rest in the present moment, we experience in a whole new way what it is to be a ‘self’ in a body, a form in union with void.

Calm And Peace, In The Present Moment

The first thing we look for in meditation is calm. It’s also the first step in wisdom: to go beyond the net of thoughts and anxieties. Then we can see more clearly.

Tara helps us understand the power of peace. The peace we achieve in meditation is not a blanked out state. It’s beautiful, delightful, powerful, being present in the present moment, able to respond to anything that is needed.

This is the heart of meditation. The present moment is called Mother of all Buddhas. It’s the only place we can awaken. It can seem strange to visualise the complicated figure of a goddess, to bring ourself into the present moment. It works though. There’s no other place we can visualise ourself as Tara but in the present. We become a peaceful awakened goddess, resting in the magic and mystery of the present moment.

Void And Great Mother

Tara’s green body of light, that arises out of emptiness, or spaciousness, directly teaches what it feels like to live in the lap, or embrace, of the Great Mother: in union with her. When we’re a body of light, it’s easier to feel part of vast spacious love than in our solid flesh. Gradually I learned to feel it in my ‘solid’ body too.

The heart Buddhist teaching is: ‘form is void, void is form.’ Form and void are the same, not two separate states. Void, or emptiness, can feel impersonal, often frightening. For women it can feel neutral, in a way that makes us feel we must set aside our femaleness, to experience it.

Often in Buddhism, void is called Great Mother. For people open to the idea of working with Great Mother, it’s proved an easy way to access the feeling of ‘emptiness’ as a state of primordial loving awareness.

Western ecofeminists describe the Great Mother in just the same way as Buddhism: innate, immanent in all that appears.

Great Mother strengthens me as a woman who wants to become wise. The magic in nature is not just neutral; it’s a living force. I think we call her Mother Nature not just because she mothers creatures. She feels like the living vibrant energy in my body. Men have it too. We’re all nature’s children. It’s my mother. It’s a comfortable state of love.

Someone said, ‘ Oh, it’s all right for you. I didn’t have good mothering.’ She thought I must have. I didn’t. Tara and the Great Mother helped me fill that lack.

Creative mind

All our life experience comes through our senses. Tara shows us our creative mind, how we create our world. The way she arises out of Great Mother spaciousness, and dissolves back into that, shows us how thoughts and perceptions constantly arise and pass away. They’re impermanent — and impermanence is not scary. It’s creative. This creative mind can lead us to wisdom.

What Kind Of ‘Self’ Do We Grow Into?

We often hear Buddhists talk about death of ego. This is not the death of a sense of self. It’s letting go fears, worries and anxieties about how I want to be, and how I don’t want to be. It’s a complete change of how we understand what our ‘self’ is.

Tara, the awakened goddess, obviously has a strong presence, as some kind of self. She hasn’t evaporated by being enlightened. She’s become more empowered, more capable of acting with compassionate skill. She’s a resilient ‘self’, who can be fully present in the world, while at the same time knowing she’s also emptiness — we feel that through her body of green light.

She also knows she’s totally connected with all beings. Meditating on her, we get to explore what it feels like to live in a different kind of self: the person we can be, in a partnership culture.

Empowering The Wise Woman

Both men and women practise Tara. In the ecofeminist paradigm, women are valued alongside men. For all genders, meditating on Tara trains us to experience wisdom in female form.

In addition, Tara serves a special purpose for women. Long ago, she vowed always to be reborn as a woman, to show women it’s possible to awaken in a woman’s body. In our modern age, women still suffer from internalised oppression, which can make us feel unworthy and inadequate. Tara is a role model, for what wisdom can be like in a woman’s body. This is enriching and empowering work for women. We can feel proud to embody the ecofeminist way to live.

Originally published at https://wisebirds.org on March 18, 2020.


Green Tara, The Ecofeminist Goddess, Shows Us How To Embody Regenerative Culture was originally published in PermacultureWomen on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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Love in the time of Corona

One of the most impactful books I have ever read was The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which is a memoir transcribed to a personal assistant by a French Journalist, Jean-Dominique Bauby. Where the autobiographical tale picks up, he had spent several years with a rare and completely debilitating condition called locked-in syndrome. It is a beautifully recounted, brave and soulful work.

It hit a deep chord because I was also working as a personal assistant for a man in his mid-thirties who had become tetraplegic in his late teens. He had been unable to move anything below his neck after diving into a too shallow swimming pool. There was so much that broke my heart about his story and taught me grace and humility in catastrophe.

Something profound can happen when a world shrinks and its not always an immediate light-filled growth opportunity. I don’t think mindless optimism gets us there either. What shines through this book is the authors growing sense of enchantment and awe at the small irreplaceable, ordinary details of his life. There is a deep affection for people and places that is contagious, palpable and so obviously alluded him in his previous life, before the illness.

He had been attractive, successful and ambitious: a go-getter with the world at his proverbial feet. But, nothing had ever quite been enough. There was always more to gain the next conquest; the new challenge which negated any real connection with all the abundances which surrounded him.

I am on day three or so of very little normal social too-ing and fro-ing, and as I was walking today in the still chilly spring sunshine, this book came back to me. It struck me as the perfect metaphor for our current situation globally with all the distancing and what we face interculturally, around the world in the face of lockdown in this bizarre new set of circumstances.

Our dominant narrative is currently silent or at least muffled. We don’t know how long for or if anything will go ever back to “normal” or what we have come to believe is normal. Our overriding myth for so long has been one of “more” and ruthless progress. Even if you know this to be a false one, it’s hard not to follow along. Likely the big top-down answers will start to filter in soon with this domination obsession before too long. And it could be a painful, dangerous pause for many.

But, we have an opportunity to take a moment to connect to what is alive within us and surrounding us. To release what isn’t whole or needed and consciously make time for those things that are still living. For me today, it was the softly breathing earth coming back to life after winter and the faces of my children still softly wrapped in childhood.

It could be a time to appreciate the abundances and heal the hurts we have had and carry this pause with us and start to let in the droplets of beauty and connection that are waiting to quench our hunger. And, begin to shape our own stories.

I flipped open Coming Back To Life by Joanna Macy today and fortuitously landed on a section on which she says: “gratitude is politically subversive”. The fuller we feel the less we will need and the more we will be able to give and see and move and act.

It is an opportunity to start. Start small, start big. To take this pause in and imagine where you could get to if you felt just a drop in the beauty and richness of the world and felt moved enough to protect it.


Love in the time of Corona was originally published in PermacultureWomen on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Why should farmers get subsidies?

Farming, Brexit and Coronavirus

Over recent years, there has been a growing resentment about the subsidies farmers receive. But why do farmers get subsidies anyway?

Photo: M Parker

Farm subsidies started with good intentions

There was an urgent need to ensure people had food after the second world war. Rural communities were struggling not only after losing many young men in the war but also due to several years of bad harvests right after the war.

Although farming had not been purely about growing food for your own family for several hundred years, many rural communities were still operating outside the cash economy to a significant extent right up until the war.

Unintentional consequences

Initially subsidies were targeted towards specific crops or produce to reduce dependence on imports. Although it seems sensible to encourage farmers to produce more staple foods, the “quotas” system had some lop-sided results. Was it perhaps headlines in the 80s about “beef mountains” and “butter lakes” that started the resentment towards farmers?

The US also disliked these subsidies because of course they liked Europe’s dependency on imports. One nation’s food security is another nation’s loss of exports: the underlying dilemma when food becomes a commodity.

A major change was eventually made in 2003, when the Single Farm Payment replaced targeted subsidies. Under this scheme, farmers received a set amount depending on how many acres they farmed. However, this meant larger farms were paid more, and not surprisingly led to smaller farms being swallowed up. In places like Wales, which have traditionally been home to small farms and smallholdings, it changed the face of rural communities: villages that used to have several farms and smallholdings and be home to farm workers, shepherds and foresters have become dominated by two or three large farms.

Do farmers like CAP?

This may come as a surprise, but this system has not been popular with farmers. There have been calls for a radical overhaul for some time. Whichever way individual farmers voted in the EU referendum, replacing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with a fairer and simpler system was a major issue. Some saw leaving the EU as the simplest way to change things, while others thought it better to campaign alongside farmers across Europe.

Why don’t we just stop farm subsidies?

Ending subsidies suddenly would cause real hardship: when this was done in New Zealand, many farmers went bust, and suicides rose dramatically.

Even with subsidies, farm incomes are so low that some hill farmers have had to use food banks to feed their families.

How have we got to this state where the very people growing and producing food can’t feed their families?

Photo: M Parker

Supermarkets

Supermarkets have changed how our culture sees food. We have been groomed into becoming consumers. Convenience and special offers matter more than taste, quality and freshness.

Farmers and growers have watched helplessly as supermarkets have driven prices down and down. Low milk prices, for example, means two dairy farms going out of business every week.

It’s also the reason for the introduction of mega-dairies. Economically these may “make sense” but this route usually means farmers going deep into debt, and also means changing completely the way a farm is run.

Austerity

Add to this ten years of austerity. When two wages are barely sufficient to pay the rent, bargain hunting at the supermarket has become a survival strategy.

What’s Brexit got to do with it?

Europe has been an important market for British farmers. Welsh hill farmers in particular have come to depend on selling Welsh lamb to Europe. The farming cycle means planning far ahead, and the fear that markets could disappear with little warning has cast a deep shadow across rural communities.

Farm subsidies came from EU money.

Wales and Scotland had channelled some of this money into agri-environment schemes that were producing measurable results.

As soon as the referendum result was in, agri-environment schemes were immediately cut right back. In Wales, instead of five year contracts, short term funds were introduced. Any work had to be done within three months, and the funding barely covered costs, never mind the skills or labour involved. Being short term, trees for new hedges and woodland had to be bought in, adding significantly to the cost: there was no time for on farm seed collection, or for natural regeneration from self-seeded trees.

A double whammy

As European markets disappear, new trade deals are being made. The US in particular is poised to cash in on the newly-opened markets. Lower standards of animal welfare mean lower prices.

The bottom line is British farmers can’t compete in an open market.

Coronavirus

This new kid on the block is bringing home the importance of local food and food security. Relying on imports means empty shelves — and empty plates — when our complex trade infrastructure is brought to a halt.

People need food. They need it to be available and it must be affordable. To keep us all healthy we need good, nutritious food.

British farmers can provide this. Welfare standards are high in this country and farmers take a pride in their ability to feed the nation, and to feed it well.

It’s time to level the playing field for a fair food system.
It must become easy and affordable to find healthy, nutritious food everywhere, and, at the same time, expensive, difficult or illegal to produce food that harms people and planet.

Sue Pritchard, Director, RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission

A fair, well-planned system of subsidies is how the playing field can be levelled.

Photo: M Parker

Putting a price on nature

The current proposals from Westminster are very different. Food is barely mentioned in the Agriculture Bill: the focus is on preserving the countryside, a “public good”, through paying for “ecosystem services”.

This means paying farmers to ensure certain aspects of nature are safeguarded. The problem is this is done by putting a price on different aspects of nature. And once a particular species or habitat has a price tag, we can decide we can’t afford it: we’d rather send the money on something else.

Focussing on specific aspects of an ecosystem, such as a particular bird or moth, mean we lose sight of the whole picture. Restoring habitat for bees doesn’t help if spraying pesticides nearby kills them.

The countryside as we know it has been formed through farming. Hedges, meadows and moorland exist because livestock graze there. Habitats and ecosystems are damaged or lost through both under- and over-grazing, so the simplest way to ensure the countryside is cared for is to ensure farmers are paid fair prices.

A fair system

The RSA Food Farming and Countryside Commission’s report, Our Future in the Land, proposes a ten year transition to sustainable agroecological farming. During this transition period they recommend that farmers receive a straightforward payment:

If all farmers received £500 per hectare for their first five hectares, and £20 per hectare thereafter, the estimated cost across the UK would be £840m per year, about a third of the current CAP budget.

Introducing this as a matter of urgency will ensure we don’t lose farmers and their valuable skills and knowledge.

Feed me!

We all need food.

We need to eat to survive. We can’t wait months for imports: we need food every day. The nearer we are to where food is grown, the more reliable it is as a source. Food grown locally doesn’t rely on complex transport systems.

Good fresh food can help boost our immune systems. Food grown nearby doesn’t spend days or weeks in a container, losing vitamins en route.

But food is more than just staying alive: our lives revolve around mealtimes. Enjoying tasty, nutritious meals is an important part of reducing stress and staying positive, especially during isolation.

Even with ketchup, those loo rolls just aren’t that tasty…

Marit is a farmer, gardener and writer and is one of the teachers on the Women’s Permaculture Guild online Permaculture Design Course.


Why should farmers get subsidies? was originally published in PermacultureWomen on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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Sunday, March 15, 2020

6 Steps to Befriend Your Fear and Get a Life

6 Steps to Befriend Your Fears and Get a Life

© Cécile Carre https://www.facebook.com/carrececile/
© Cécile Carre https://www.facebook.com/carrececile/

I could start the article by suggesting that the corona virus was designed and spread by the toilet paper industry, but that would be a lame joke. In fact, I don’t want to talk about COVID-19 at all. I want to talk about something way more contagious. About fears.

Let me clarify. I say fears. Not The Fear. The Fear is something else.

One day, when I lived in the Amazon rainforest, I was walking on the ground (our houses are on stilts, since it’s all wetland), looking for a piece of lumber to chase away some wild boar that kept rummaging too close to our house for my taste. As I bent down to pick up the lumber, I caught a glimpse of something bright orange in the corner of my eye. The açaí palm leaves, when they die, turn quite orange. My last thought was: this is not a leaf.

When I lifted my head, still bent at the waist, I found myself eye to eye with a jibóia — a massive snake of at least four meters — still coiled up, but with its head raised. Staring at me. That’s when my mind stopped.

My reptilian brain — happily recognizing its sister out there — jumped into action. I slowly moved backward a few steps, turned around and ran. I ran with such lightness and speed that I never thought was possible, much less for a woman in her eights month of pregnancy. I jumped back onto our bridge and called my husband. Who eventually came and scolded me for not “staying with the snake” so that he could see where it ran to. Funny man.

This was one of the most amazing, beautiful moments in my life. At no point did I ever have a problem. I didn’t worry about losing my sandals, scratching my feet on the jungle ground, running fast enough, jumping high enough, whether my baby would suffer an adrenalin rush or if it would hurt to be eaten by a snake. There was never time for that. Instead, my body did what living bodies do: it activated the flight or fight response and — for the first time in my life — very successfully so. I felt incredibly empowered, capable and strong, and I love snakes even more than I did before.

That moment was defined by primordial fear. Stimulated by a real threat. In the present moment.

What I want to write about now, are the fears, the angst and anxiety that crush our quality of life, hold us prisoner and paralyze our powers. All those fearful thoughts that have no basis in the present moment, but keep looking at a gloomy, illusory future.

Unlike the primordial fear, which is seated deeply in our natural instincts, our fears are not imposed on us or “overcoming” us from the outside. Fears are learned behavior. And like any learned behavior, we have a choice to apply that behavior or find alternatives.

What if I lose my job? What if my mother doesn’t like the present I bought her? What if my wife leaves me? What if my child will fail in life (looking at your nine year old that — isn’t that just unbelievable? — has no interest in sitting still for hours on an uncomfortable chair listening to algebra)? What if I can’t pay the bills next month? What if corona comes to our town (first the Germans hoarded groceries and toilet paper, because the Russians could come, then the Chinese, then the Africans — now they’re all here and our stores have more food than ever before, so thank God for corona that allows us to hoard again)? What if I lose my mind?

If you are the proud owner of any of these or similar angsts, I invite you to do a little reflection here.

  1. Own your fear

I’ve kept producing and raising 2-year-olds for the sheer pleasure of playing hide-and-seek and watching them turn their backs on me, close their eyes and think I can’t see them anymore. The funny thing is, as much as we adults feel high and mighty for knowing that this doesn’t work, we continue to play the game precisely the same way when it comes to our unwanted feelings and fears. Turn our backs, close our eyes and pretend they are gone. And then we feel the cold touch of their hands on our backs.

It won’t do you any good to deny your fears. For the simple reason that denying them will not make them go away. That’s not the point anyways. Unless you are entirely enlightened, fears are and will be part of your life. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to accept them and move ahead. Courage means you face your fears, thank them and then take over the driver’s seat.

So, step one is to own your fears. Accept them. Thank them. They are part of you and they serve a purpose. More about their purpose in number 6. For the time being, just own them.

2. What do you gain from holding on to your fear?

Before you holler “what’s wrong with you? Nothing at all!”, take a deep breath and sit with the question for a few moments. Then another few. No matter how much you think you suffer from having your fears, there are benefits that make you hold on to them. Maybe it gives you a sense of belonging. All of a sudden and for the first you’re engaged in a conversation with your neighbor, while both of you are piling up toilet paper and disinfectant into your cart. You affirm each other and it feels good.

If you have created your identity around being the tragic beauty that always falls into the hands of the beast, you’ll be hesitant to give up your fear of the bad man and accept that you can be an assertive, powerful partner to an equally assertive, powerful other.

Is your fear part of an unspoken agreement between you and your partner that creates the basis of your relationship? Does withdrawing into your fear guarantee his attention and affection?

Do you hold on to your fear, because you believe that fearing for your child is what makes you a responsible, caring parent? Do you believe that fearing to lose someone is a sign of your love for them?

As long as your gain from holding on to the fear feels bigger than the pain, you have no incentive to let go. So, start looking at it and question it.

3. Who would you be without the fear?

What would you do, think, feel, say if you didn’t have that fear? How would you live your live, how would you relate to the people around you, how would you feel about yourself? How would you connect with your child or parents if you did not impose your fears on them? How would you do your work if you had no fear of losing your job or being ‘found out as fake’? Imagine and incorporate the person you would be without the fear and notice any changes in your body.

4. Get knowledgeable

At the core of our fears most often is ignorance. Most of us fear the unknown. Well, let’s get to know the monster then, shall we? The three year old may wail she’s seen the monster already and it’s terrifying, but when you ask her all the details she’ll eventually find that the monster isn’t that scary after all. The same is true for us. If you want to get a grip on your fears, do the work. Ask yourself: what exactly do I fear? What is it about dogs, women, trains, Chinese men or lightning that scares me? Learn everything there is to know about them. Not from Fox News or your chatty neighbor. Learn from serious sources that have direct access and inside knowledge about the object of your fear. Scientific articles, dog trainers or Chinese women. Use your critical thinking.

What are the signs that make you think that you may lose your job? Did your boss tell you that? Has the company let go of a lot of people recently?

What exactly scares you about women? What do they do or say that you fear? Do they all do that? All the time? Have you ever met a woman who didn’t do or say what you fear?

Read about snakes. Where they are, how they live, what their primary prey is and how they’re usually happiest when they’re far away from people.

Read about corona virus and find out that we probably all had one at some point, because corona describes a whole family of viruses. Learn that 80% of people infected with COVID-19 feel what we all feel when we have the flu and then get on with life. That the other 20% that get more seriously ill are mostly older people with pre-existing diseases. Learn that while the world is upside down about this virus, every single day between 4,000 and 5,000 people die in car accidents. Get the bigger picture.

5. Answer your own question

It’s interesting how many people run around with a thought that starts with “What if….”, but actually never think it through. So, what if you DO lose your job? What if you do get sick, have no money, get divorced, make a fool out of yourself in public, have a macaroni hanging on your cheek? Spell it out in all the details, write it down. What is the worst that can happen? Then think about what you would do in such a case. Many times you’ll find that once you face the monster, it’s just another teddy bear that needs some washing.

6. Go to the origin

If you want to find out what is the fear behind your fear, go into the feeling. Whatever you fear is not the thing, person or disease, but how it makes you feel. Helpless. Exposed. Unloved. Abandoned. Go back to where you first had that feeling. Yes, that’s probably somewhere in your childhood. Now you are grown up. You have infinitely more resources and options now than you had when you were little. Look at that child with compassion. It’s still within you holding that fear to protect you from those feelings.

Except today you don’t need that protection any longer. You are powerful enough to deal with it. You can reach out to other people, you have more knowledge (even more once you’ve done your work in number 3), you have more choices.

Thank you, fear, for wanting to protect me. I can move on without you now.


6 Steps to Befriend Your Fear and Get a Life was originally published in PermacultureWomen on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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Sunday, March 8, 2020

Male violence against women kills more than COVID-19

Eco-feminism & Public Health

A Pandemic Taboo

Photo by Camila Quintero Franco on Unsplash

March 2020, I turned the radio on and the first news on it was the number of new cases declared related to the pandemic COVID-19 and the number of deaths related to it. In the last week, schools and local businesses around Italy have been closed, cultural events canceled (1,2) and even the interaction between meetings and neighbors got more distant to try to better deal with this COVID-19 virus.

I mean, all preventable death should be prevented, taken care of, no doubt of that. But why some deaths seem to be more important than others by the media?

Today, March 8th, in English called International Women’s Day, that I preferer to call as the french version I learned in Geneva, with the local feminist movement, that makes clear what this day is actually about. Here, March 8th is la Journée Internationale de lutte féministe et pour le droit des femmes, personnes trans et non-binaire. That means International Day of the Feminist Struggle and for the Women, Trans and Non-Binary People Rights.

According to UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), a total of 87,000 women were intentionally killed in 2017. More than half of them (58 percent)-50,000 -were killed by intimate partners or family members. This means that 137 women across the world are killed by a member of their own family every day. This amounts to some six women being killed every hour by people they know(3). That means 7250 women were intentionally killed by month, and 1 woman every 10 minutes was killed in 2017 by someone close to her. Isn’t this alarming?

Especially when comparing data from 2012, to see that the annual number of female deaths worldwide resulting from intimate partner/family-related homicide, therefore, seems to be on the increase(3).

Besides thinking that these number are often underestimated, since collecting correct data on femicide is challenging, largely because in most countries, police and medical data-collection systems that document cases of homicide often do not have the necessary information or do not report the victim-perpetrator relationship or the motives for the homicide, let alone gender-related motivations for murder (4).

And here I am focusing on the absolute number of deaths, if you think these numbers are already too high, imagine the numbers of women and girls suffering violence because of their gender.

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma, and shame surrounding it(5). For women in many parts of the world, violence is a leading cause of injury and disability, as well as a risk factor for other physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems. Violence has long-term consequences for these women and their children, as well as social and economic costs for all society (6). Intimate partner violence has long-term negative health consequences for survivors, even after the abuse has ended (7).

So, it is important to think that in reality the number of women, girls affected by violence related to gender issues are much higher than 87'000 deaths mentioned by the UNODC report of 2019.

This is a heavy, challenging and so important subject to be discussed that I wished government, schools, business, and people could find practical measures to deal with it, as quick as apparently people are trying to postpone the propagation of COVID-19. Wouldn’t that be great?

So, let’s compared the data of COVID-19 registered deaths since December 31, 2019, from the WHO (World Health Organization) report-47 (8), and confront it with what we got from 2017 data about women who were intentionally killed in 2017.

COVID-19:

  • In China, 3 073 deaths, from the 80 813 confirmed cases.
  • Outside of China, 491 (413+78) deaths, from the 24 743 (21 110+3633 new) confirmed cases.
  • In total (in and outside China) = 3 564 deaths since December 31, 2019, that means 97 days until now. Giving an average of 37 deaths per day.

Male Violence Against Women:

  • 87 000 women were intentionally killed in 2017 around the world.
  • Giving an average of 238 deaths per day in that year, and as they mentioned in the UNODC document, these numbers are underestimated and since 2012, they have been rising(3).
37 deaths per day vs. 238 deaths per day!
Image from: UNODC, Global Study on Homicide 2019 (Vienna, July 2019). Booklet 5

Some people may think, but COVID-19 is a pandemic outbreak!

Let me tell you, Male Violence Against is too. Let’s go back to the dictionary. Pandemic is defined as an epidemic occurring over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries, and usually affecting a large number of people(9).

Male Violence Against Women checks all these boxes, since it happens as an epidemic for over a very wide area (worldwide), crossing international boundaries and affecting a huge number of people directly and indirectly.

This is why my question at the begging of the text: why some deaths seem to be more important than others by the media? What is the symptom of a bigger problem?

Remember to keep things in perspective, check the sources of information, check numbers, avoid collective desperation, and keep looking for coherent ways of dealy with your life, support and take care of your community, especially women, cis and trans, and non-binary people.

Wash your hands, and keep aware of Patriarchy.

Some ideas of how to deal with Patriarchy, go here.

References:

  1. Dipartimento della Protezione Civille-Ministero della Salute (2020, March 7). Coronavirus: la situazione atualle. http://www.salute.gov.it/portale/nuovocoronavirus/dettaglioContenutiNuovoCoronavirus.jsp?id=5351&area=nuovoCoronavirus&menu=vuoto
  2. Associated Press (2020, February 23).Coronavirus: northern Italian towns close schools and businesses. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/23/coronavirus-northern-italian-towns-close-schools-and-businesses
  3. UNODC, Global Study on Homicide 2019 (Vienna, July 2019). Booklet 5
  4. WHO (2012). Understanding and addressing violence against women . PDF here.
  5. WHO (2018, November 25). International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. https://www.who.int/life-course/news/events/intl-day-elimination-of-violence-against-women-2018/en/
  6. WHO (2012) Understanding and addressing violence against women. https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/violence/vaw_series/en/
  7. Campbell JC. Health consequences of intimate partner violence. Lancet, 2002, 359(9314):1331–36. (PDF here)
  8. WHO(2020, March 7)Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report — 47. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200307-sitrep-47-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=27c364a4_4
  9. Porta M, editor. A dictionary of epidemiology, 6th edition. New York: Oxford University Press; 2014.

Male violence against women kills more than COVID-19 was originally published in PermacultureWomen on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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Sunday, March 1, 2020

Top Ten Tips for Gardening on a Budget

bKareen Erbe

​Recommendations for gardening on a budget that not only allow you to save money but also have the added benefit of building soil, conserving water, cutting down on pests, and creating a more ecological garden.
At the end of the growing season last year, one of my volunteers remarked, “I think you have given us hundreds of dollars worth of vegetables this fall.” Indeed, growing your own garden often means that you are saving money on produce that would normally cost a lot of money in the grocery store, especially if it’s organic.
Picture of a flower and the name of the article, gardening on a budget.
However, with the money you invest in compost, seeds, and plants each season, not to mention the time, sometimes the vegetables or fruit that you’re harvesting from your garden seem like they are worth their weight in gold. Granted, there are so many intangible benefits to having a garden and I would never give up gardening because the ‘numbers don’t pencil.’ But, it is also possible to grow delicious and healthy food without breaking the bank.

​In my video below, I go over my Top Ten Tips for Gardening on a Budget. These are recommendations that I practice myself that not only allow you to save money but have the added benefit of building soil, conserving water, cutting down on pests, and creating a more ecological garden.
Want to see more gardening and permaculture related videos?
Go to Broken Ground’s youtube channel here.
Also check out Broken Ground’s online gardening courses here.
#gardeningonabudget #freepermaculture #permaculturewomen #permaculturedesign
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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Are you too scared to have kids in a climate emergency? Me too

Thankyou to my friend Catherine Van Loo for letting me use her photo from the School Climate Strike in London in September

As always, I was fascinated by what happened in Davos this year. If not necessarily encouraged. Donald Trump criticised climate ’prophets of doom’, pronouncing the amazingness of the USA and promoting their fracked gas as a safe solution to energy security. On the same stage, Greta Thunberg gave all the adults in the room a good talking to about the rapid action needed to tackle climate and ecological breakdown to provide her generation with a future that they can thrive in. HRH The Prince of Wales told us that we have just ten years to get our act together. And an interesting BBC documentary on population, consumption and the outlook if we keep growing both. Which was a first and, in my opinion, welcome discussion of the issues.

It seems to me that population and consumption growth are at the heart of our current crises. And talking about them is still a taboo. In right wing circles it’s an excuse to lay the blame for the world’s problems at the feet of poor countries with high birth rates, whilst frowning on contraception. On the left, it’s impossible to discuss without being accused of wanting to deny fundamental human rights to reproduce and live well. And there are endless discussions about becoming more efficient and changing consumption patterns to accommodate more people. When we know, deep down, that this only slows down progress to the same destination. See Sheri S Temper’s excellent book ‘Beauty’ for a frightening vision of what this future could look like. Surely it is time to think a bit more rationally about this? After all, physics would suggest that we can’t continue to expand without breaking the system at some point. Which means we need to rethink our assumption that we can have what we want, when we want it, with no thoughts to the consequences. And being intentional about bringing more people into the world strikes me as a good place to start.

From a personal perspective, I am purposefully childfree. Both in the sense that I chose not to have children and that I am using my childfree life to do my best to help create a world where all children — human and other species — can live well, now and in the future. It was a hard decision to make and an even harder one to stick to. I had always wanted to be a mother. I didn’t think life could be complete without a family of my own. But as I became settled and started to feel ready to become a mum, my husband and I realised that we couldn’t bring new people into the world. Not at a time when we seem to be hell bent on undermining the life support systems we depend on. When the last thing it seemed the world needed was another spoilt English kid. Let alone thinking about what their future might look like with nature stripped bare and getting on for 10 billion people by the time they are thirty. So, we don’t have children. Now, as I move into my late 40’s, I can start to appreciate what I have developed and become as a result of being childfree. But I have gone through a full process of grieving for the children we never had, coupled with such strong biological urges to have a baby that it was incredibly painful at times. I still feel wistful on occasion when I see families having fun. Less so when I witness toddler tantrums and teenage rebellions!

It is not for me to judge or to tell others how to live. Children are a joy and reproducing important for the future of humanity. But I know that women (and the men in their lives) are increasingly worried about having children in a climate emergency. (Thanks to my friend, Catherine Van Loo for letting me use her photo from the September Climate Strikes here!) My question therefore is how can we make it less of a taboo to be childfree and enable people to feel good about putting their energies into birthing and raising a new way of being in the world, rather than their own families? I know I have experienced too many upsetting conversations where people with children have questioned my decision, told me I’m wrong and will regret it, am selfish and not a proper woman. Even relative strangers. So how can we all support each other so that we can create a better world together?

I believe that the Dalai Lama was right when he said that western women have the potential to save the world. And I feel that childfree western women have a special contribution to make.

Whilst our sisters invest their energy into nurturing the next generation, we can focus on changing memes and nurturing a culture that will start to restore the health of communities of people and nature so that the next generation can look forward to their future. Step into our uniquely feminine powers and develop new ways to lead, at home, at work and in our communities, so that we can bring balance and a different perspective to important decisions that need to be made in all spheres of life. To own our roles as equals in the world and make our voices heard. The role of women has always been to nurture the future. We need that now more than ever and for some of us it involves not having children and finding our own unique path to fulfillment and contribution. But most importantly, we must support each other, with kindness, understanding and appreciation — whether we are mothers or not. We can be the change we want to see in the world, with a little courage, faith and solidarity. Let’s do it!

If any of what I have said chimes with you, please do get in touch. I have created the ‘Purposefully Childfree’ network with groups on Facebook and LinkedIn and am starting the 21st Century Grown Ups project, figuring out how to design a good urban life that maximises my contribution to tackling our shared social and environmental challenges. I have created a free guide to boosting your wellbeing in a climate emergency that you can find at my website — www.gudruncartwright.com. I look forward to connecting.

With much love and hope for what we can create together

Gudrun x


Are you too scared to have kids in a climate emergency? Me too… was originally published in PermacultureWomen on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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Ecofeminism and Permaculture

Ecofeminism is commonly seen as women planting trees: just as permaculture is commonly seen as gardening. Those are the first steps.

Permaculture is a design system, based on Nature’s ecosystems. Social and spiritual permaculture design for human communities. Eg, Transition Towns.

Ecofeminism finds similar patterns, for a life different from patriarchy.

Short video: Dido Dunlop introducing this

Women and the Earth

Ecofeminism adds that patriarchy devalues women, and therefore devalues nature, because nature is seen as mother. Women and nature get trashed together. Anything patriarchy associates with women is also trashed: caring, compassion, mothering, emotions, looking after nature, valuing life over money.

To survive the climate emergency, we need to know we’re part of Mother Nature. To value nature, we must honour women too, and vice versa.

‘We are proud to be identified with nature!’

If we called it Father Nature, would we trash him? We expect Mother to look after us endlessly, without asking for care in return. She feeds us, takes away our nappies. Patriarchy throws trash on the ground; she’ll take it away!

Matriarchy is the rule of Mother Nature: the laws of nature, not the rule of women over men. Patriarchy is based on hypermasculine values. Hypermasculine is not how the world works. It’s not even healthy for men. Ecofeminism brings out women’s values that patriarchy rejects. We could all live together in a healthy harmonious way. Ecofeminism doesn’t diss men: only patriarchal behaviour.

My matriarchs in the picture express how it feels when the powers of nature flow through me.

Here’s an easy way to ‘get’ the issue: ‘Ecofeminism in a Nutshell’

Practical work to Support Women

Women are on the front line of climate emergency: they grow most of the food. The book ‘Drawdown’ says educating girls is super helpful for climate.

Working with the Feminine is Brave

Ecofeminism addresses the thorny issue of feminine values: the scariest place in our culture. Patriarchy does NOT want us to go there! It undermines the whole hierarchical structure.

This is the root of our problem. That’s where we need to go, to thoroughly and deeply transform culture.

Features of ecofeminist culture

We are part of Nature, not separate.

We look after nature. She’s our mother; we rely on her.

All creatures are precious

Egalitarian

Men and women are equal, all genders included

We honour activities and values associated with women: compassion, caring, parenting, relating, connecting, pleasure.

We operate like an ecosystem. Interdependence is the central principle.

Cooperative negotiation; consensus

Gift economy: people are important, not money

Peaceful

Mother Nature is sacred

Indigenous matriarchy

Many indigenous matriarchies still live this way, or retain some of the patterns. Women are central, they are Mother Earth herself. Men treasure their women as Mother Earth, and protect and cooperate with women.

Can we learn from this, in a non-colonising way?

Taowhywee: Nuu-sru’ Agnes Baker-Pilgrim — Siletz — Mother Earth & Water

Modern Western Ecofeminism developed in the 70’s

Marija Gimbutas saw this pattern in her archaeological work in Old Europe. patriarchy is not more than 5,000 years old. her friends developed her vision into a model for a regenerative future.

Ecofeminist Spirituality

Mother Nature is sacred. It’s not about ‘religion’. Nature feeds our soul. In nature, or a permaculture garden, we feel deeply vitalized.

Buses, concrete, coal, are all made of the same four elements. Nothing on this planet is not part of nature. So everything is sacred: cooking, nappies, sex, washing dishes. There’s no separation of mundane and sacred, dark and light.

Many ecofeminists see that sacred presence as Goddess, immanent, innate in every detail of life. The patriarchal god looks down from above, separate from nature.

Starhawk

Starhawk covers physical, social and spiritual permaculture. She leads ecofeminist earth spirituality. She teaches how to run community groups. Her novels lay out a vision of ecofeminist community.

Starhawk

www.Earthactivisttraining.org ; www.starhawk.org

Women caring for nature

Vandana Shiva is a protector of Seeds, and fights GMO.

Vandana Shiva

Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement

Wangari Maathai

Climate Justice

A big majority of climate activists are women, especially school strikers. Many are from the global south. These young ecofeminists are fighting for immediate issues: climate justice; protecting land and indigenous communities; rape of women, rape of nature; activist women being murdered; that women are at the frontline of climate change and it’s not fair. They don’t want climate negotiations about money, marketing and profit.

Can we create a regenerative way of life?

Indigenous people say, don’t colonise us, find your own culture. Gimbutas offers a foundation for this. Our creative adventure is to weave together contemporary ecofeminism, permaculture, learning from indigenous matriarchy, (without colonising!) into something that works for our modern world.

If you have an indigenous background

Do you see features of matriarchal/ecofeminist culture in your culture? Please consider sharing that wisdom with us. How does it work for you?

Train yourself to see the world a different way

Values

list qualities of patriarchy you’d like to leave behind.

list values you’d like as part of healthy regenerative life.

list Mother Nature’s ways of operating. compare this with the other lists.

What would nature-based culture look like?

Relax, let your imagination fly free and bold. How could our world look?

Think ecosystems, interdependence. How do plants relate to each other in permaculture? Imagine people are plants. Imagine Mother Nature and women honoured as central. How could that work: in relationships, in social structures?

Once you’ve imagined new possibilities, you can put them into action.

What would your local community could look like?

How would we relate to each other if we felt like a community?

What could women and men be like?

Patriarchy’s idea of how men and women should behave is not healthy.

Patriarchy is the rule of hypermasculine values. Not all men.

What qualities do you associate with women and men in patriarchy?

You may find they are extremely feminine or extremely manly.

How about cooperative nature-based values?

Perhaps not hypermasculine or hyperfeminine? more in the middle?

Find these in yourself. Spot them in others. Imagine them. Other genders?

Could we all be more alive, less shut down, develop more of our potential?

International relations

Think big. Rights of nature? Ecocide laws? Women? Peace?

Inner Transformation:

Become an ecofeminist heroine

To transform culture, we need to transform inner habits, values, assumptions. Grow your ecofeminist permaculture garden within!

Notice habits that are on your leave-behind list. Can you leave them behind?

Choose from your healthy lists things to practise doing more of.

The idea alone won’t transform us. We need to feel:

What is it like to feel interdependent? We’re so used to being proudly independent.

The way I do it is, I imagine how interdependence could play out in my life. Then I see if can do what I imagine. Bea woman like that. Feel what it feels like. I experiment, try it this way, then that way.

Short video by me, demonstrating this practice

Feel your deep connection with nature

Feel your bones are made of minerals like rocks, your blood salty like ocean water, your mind like breezes, fire in your heart. Nature created you as she did the kangaroo.

Life-affirming attitude

See all your activities as ‘sacred’.

Your leadership style

All over the world people are voting for strongman leaders, who won’t help the climate emergency. Our New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern gets criticized for cooperating, consulting, seeking info from others. They say she’s not a real leader. She’s leading in an ecofeminist style.

In what ways do you lead cooperatively? Empower others to lead? Consult with others?

Paint or draw

What could ecofeminist heroines and heroes feel like?

What could our world look like?

Books

Women working with nature and each other

Vandana shiva Soil not Oil; Staying Alive; Making Peace with the Earth, and other books.

Wangaari Maathai autobiography: Unbowed.

Books on indigenous cultures

Helena Norberg Hodge Ancient Futures: Ladakh

Peggy Reeves Sanday Woman at the Center

Goettner-Abendroth Matriarchal Societies

ed Goettner-Abendroth Societies of Peace: includes indigenous women writers

(These two are academic but fascinating.)

Colin Turnbull The Forest People

Modern ecofeminism

Riane Eisler: Nurturing our humanity

The Power of Partnership and other books: partnership in relationships, economics, education, pleasure.

The Chalice and the Blade: her original book on partnership and dominator models

Studebaker: Switching to Goddess: witty

Novels

Starhawk The Fifth Sacred Thing; City of Refuge

Marge Piercy Woman at the Edge of Time

Rachel O’Leary The Swan-Bone Flute

Ursula LeGuin The Dispossessed, and other books.

Spiritual Permaculture / Ecofeminism

Carol Christ She who Changes: beautiful look at Mother Nature

Starhawk Earth Path.

Dido Dunlop Storm Weathering: a Workbook for our Inner and Outer Climate: meditations to restore connection with nature.

Grief and Empowerment

Joanna Macy: Active Hope; Coming Back to Life: transform environmental grief, anger and other emotions. Great Turning.

Relevant Links and Resources

Here are some meditations I led to help with visioning

‘ “Market Solutions” Won’t Bring Climate Justice. Eco-Feminism Is an Alternative.’

Why the world needs an African ecofeminist future

Panels at the COP25. Women’s Earth and Climate Caucus: Women for Climate Justice on the Frontlines of Systemic Change

Indigenous matriarchs stand together in dark times

These interview women doing interesting projects:

Treesisters

Mothers of invention

Eco-Grief and Ecofeminism | Heidi Hutner | TEDxSBU

I, Dido, have lived 40 years with severe chronic fatigue from pesticide poisoning. Poisoning the earth is a big ecofeminist issue.

Feminist Leadership in Building Global Community


Ecofeminism and Permaculture was originally published in PermacultureWomen on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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