Below is my letter to the editor of the Medina Gazette that appeared on August 16, 2017.
I have included images to bring out what I wrote about:
Letter to the Editor
Addiction is a symptom of a culture that has paved over originality. The Latin, dict, in the word, addict, also found as diction, dictate, implies voice. The ad, in addict, means, to give over or to surrender.
An addict has surrendered her voice.
If you look at American maps over the centuries, you will see an ever-expanding grid of organization, control, and economic interests placed over forests, prairies, mountains, rivers and lakes.
In indigenous cultures, all the creatures of the ecosystems we have colonized have their own voices, songs, stories, teachings, wisdom, ancestors, medicines, dreams, and souls. Every human being is imagined in the same way.
Each has a one-of-kind original voice, song, story, teaching, wisdom, ancestors, medicine, dream, creativity, soul. Our paving over the wilds mirrors the organizational, controlling, economically-based grid within which we have all been placed. It is a grid that we have inherited from 2500 years of patriarchy. It’s important to imagine recovery as a collective cultural transformation.
Our generation is called to learn once again how to hear and understand the many voices — all the souls of Earth. We cause harm if we think healing is helping victims fit back into the grid. A good place to enter this magnitude of holistic healing is Thomas Berry’s book, The Dream of the Earth.
F. Christopher Reynolds, M.Ed.
Collective Cultural Transformation
In my letter, I shared the working hypothesis for the way forward together into a healed and whole culture. Ethical culture is a way to understand the new way of life being created. Ethical, in this case, is a term from the work of Marie Battiste’s Decolonizing Education, published in 2013.
She described ethical space as:
…the in-between space that connects Indigenous
and Eurocentric knowledge systems…the space that is created
when Indigenous and Western thought are brought together…
It is not a merge or a clash, but a space that is new, electrifying,
even contentious, but ultimately has the potential for an interchange
or dialogue of the assumptions, values and interest each holds…
Adding ethics to this space entertains our personal capacity and
our integrity to stand up for our cherished notions of good,
responsibility, and duty.
Moving Forward Together
I have used Battiste’s definition for a number of years and find it to be an excellent doorway that respects the colonial history of where I’ve lived most my life near Lake Erie of the Great Lakes. However, also because of where I live, there are more kinds of knowledge systems than Eurocentric and many who arrive in ethical space have been orphaned by life – oftentimes literally, but most often there is a profound sense of belonging nowhere, being not worthy enough to keep alive.
During this period that Leo Frobenius called, the Monumental Stage, I have found that what Battiste called, our personal capacity, includes more than integrity to stand up for cherished notions. It also includes an inner necessity to bring forth the original from within us as well as those around us. Schopenhauer called the originality of being within the principium individuationis. In Gifted Education, this is called, Thorn. In archetypal psychology, it is the Acorn.
In A Gathering of Orphans, my chapter in the 2005, Holistic Learning and Spirituality in Education,
I named this inner driver towards planetary awareness as it appears in teachers as, The Orphan Archetype or The One Who Belongs Nowhere.
The orphan path carries with it the challenge of belonging nowhere. If acted out too unconsciously, that path can take us from city to city, from institution to institution, driven on at time by an inner necessity, by others, by outer crises. However, having nowhere to lay one’s head, if taken up consciously, can also represent the stance of teachers working in relation with their deepest power. The difference between getting burned on the job and bringing a truly transformative fire into the world seems to be related to getting to know the archetype that has called us. (p.207)
At the end of A Gathering of Orphans, I concluded that planetary consciousness is being ushered in by wanderers, (the meaning of the word, planet), and that those most harshly affected by biology, symptoms, secrets, by history, culture, cosmology, that those whose lives through roles of trickster, chosen one, iconoclast, and elder, are individuals in whom a planetary necessity is most manifest.
Thus, I have found from working with persons in ethical space that most who arrive there are also orphans, orphan souls, of some kind – from a cultural background that has been rejecting, degrading, harsh and wounding. Also, there are persons from Asia, Africa, the entire planet who do not fit neatly into the Eurocentric or Indigenous categories set up by Battiste.
I expand Battiste’s original definition in the following way due to this:
…the in-between space that connects Indigenous
and Eurocentric knowledge systems that were separated
by the Canadian and American colonial history…the
space that is created when Indigenous, Western, and
global wisdom are brought together…It is not a merge or a clash,
but a space that is new, electrifying,
even contentious, but ultimately has the
potential for an interchange
or dialogue of the assumptions,
values and interest each holds…
Adding ethics to this space entertains our personal capacity and
our integrity to stand up for our creativity and receptivity, our
cherished notions of good, responsibility, and duty. It honors those
who have been orphaned by life, thus called into ethical space by
the archetypal driver and carrier of planetary consciousness — Joseph Campbell’s “mankind of individuals.”
I define ethical culture as:
The new, electifying, even contentious, yet more peaceful, creative, biocratic culture that results when Indigenous/ethnospheric* and Eurocentric knowledge combine with the orphan archetype* to bring forth new ways of life. It is the emerging participatory culture that flourishes in the solar system and cosmos our current science understands. The art, music, dance, clothing, cultural themes all reflect the sustaining endurance of consciousness/collective consciousness (Ancestors, nature, cosmology) as understood by a growing edge of depth psychology called archetypal ecology
*Ethnospheric means of or having to do with the ethnosphere as defined by Wade:
…the living diversity of human wisdom, a vast archive of knowledge and expertise, a catalogue of the imagination, an oral and written language composed of the memories of countless elders and healers, warriors, farmers, fishermen, midwives, poets, and saints — in short, the artistic, intellectual and spiritual expression of the full complexity and diversity of the human experience.
*Orphan archetype or The One Who Belongs Nowhere comes from my own work in holistic education:
The orphan path carries with it the challenge of belonging nowhere. If acted out too unconsciously, that path can take us from city to city, from institution to institution, driven on at time by an inner necessity, by others, by outer crises. However, having nowhere to lay one’s head, if taken up consciously, can also represent the stance of teachers working in relation with their deepest power.
Ethical Culture is the Anti-drug is a class that teaches ways to push back on the opioid/heroin epidemic.
Ethical Culture is the Anti-drug is a 2-hour evening musical program or 4-hour workshop or 8 hour week-end retreat or 12 hour staff-development series or 1 graduate hour credit course through Ashland University.
Knowledge of holistic wisdom found when you combine Eurocentric teachings with Indigenous Wisdom brings new choices that offer an unexpected anti-drug. The making of ethical culture empowers us revision our understanding of the suffering of the opioid epidemic. Ours is a culture in labor to birth the new. It is possible to transform what troubles us into a new cultural way forward together.
Come learn about ethical culture and practice strategies from archetypal ecology which unites Jungian psychology, transpersonal psychology, archetypal psychology, archetypal cosmology, spiritual psychology, eco-psychology, creativity-studies and indigenous rites of passage.
Community healing and cultural renewal become possible when the approach is holistic, meaning whole in the deepest sense – body, mind, spirit, soul, and Earth. The goal is for individuals to recover a balanced relationship with self, community and nature as they participate in birthing the new.
After living in America for 7 generations and having family members participate in all its wars, political triumphs and tragedies, a healing possibility has been coming forward through the Recovery Movement that has strong foundations in the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas river watersheds – Akron, Cleveland, Canton, Ohio. I can share that for 7 generations, there has been addiction and co-dependency both hidden and in plain sight. It is unsatisfying to have this condition blamed on a family genetic flaw, even though there is certainly a genetic component. Our affliction is cultural because those who came to America from Europe came with a habit of privatizing the collective, especially collective emotions. The privatization of the common good is reflected in the map above.
Over the 7 generations, those who suffered most in my family began their troubles in adolescence. Emotions are the driver. At adolescence, emotional life begins to include the collective and communal climate. A sensitive soul feels the pain in a house or in a location, though there may be no words for it. A friend comes to share their grief and walks away, meanwhile, you are left with the emotional weight of what was shared. There is no private practice, drug, strategy that can truly deal with what is transpersonal – beyond the individual. We have lacked any form of transpersonal psychology.
Indigenous cultures that we colonized were and continue to be ways of life that integrate transpersonal experience into life – both in emotions and in the sense that a transpersonal experience is also what we call religious experience.
Fire Ceremony to relieve collective emotion.
The fire ceremony teaches a healthy way to physically respond to all the thoughts and feelings that are part of adult life. There are many ways that this is done. The following is a guideline.
1. Call the group together and put the most vulnerable/youngest in the center to let them know they are no alone in what they face.
2. Invite them to not carry the emotions they feel alone because the feelings do not all belong to them. We use newspaper and wood for this.
3. Invite them to feel the following emotions and then give them away to the paper or wood.
4. Begin with feeling gratitude, something you are grateful for, then, feel and release:
Grief, sadness, where your heart is on the ground
Fear, worry, anxiety, what keeps up up at night when you are alone
Desire, love, wishing, what you wear yourself out wanting
Anger, rage, resentment and anger turned inward, depression
Pain of all kinds, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual pain is despair
Confusion, feeling lost, don’t know where you are going
Shame, loathing for others and self – profound not belonging anywhere
_______any emotions that are left.
The personal emotions are connected to how everyone is feeling. Once you release them, there is a possibility to act in new ways that are connected to 7 virtues: Where there was grief comes a new possibility for courage.
Where there was fear is a new possibility for strength.
Where there was desire is a new possibility for wisdom.
Where there was anger, there is a new possibility for generosity.
Where there was pain, there is a new possibility for health.
Where there was confusion, a new sense of Purpose and
where there was shame, a new sense of worthiness.
The light and heat of the flame represent this transformation.
A fire made in this way becomes the Oldest Spirit in the Cosmos
because its light and heat can be experienced with poetic implications – ensouled.
The basic tenets found in Berry’s Dream of the Earth are the direct inspiration for the course-work found in Ethical Culture is the Anti-drug.
email contact – firstname.lastname@example.org