Harvest of Collective Alchemy Practice Circles—26 March 2021

birds landing

Under the umbrella of our orienting question—WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE NAVIGATING THIS ERA SHIFT TOGETHER?—our co-sensing conversation settled on how birds land on the wetland as how perhaps we are landing in ourselves, in our roles, as this era shift moves from phase to phase. This is not necessarily the wetland of beautiful possibilities – it is also a swamp, even a rubbish dump. It can be smelly, unloved, can be teeming with what might look like unpleasant life – squelchy, muddy, creepy and crawly. Nonetheless, it’s a place where migratory birds are called to land and feed before flying on – a place of richness, in its liminal nature between water and earth, a place of huge possibilities.

As birds land on a wetland, how are we landing in the liminal spaces which the era shift is opening?
How are we responding to what is changing in our lives and in our selves?

Early call
I see a liminal space like an ice field
broken into jagged plates.
A space between civilisation and nature
—I’m moving towards nature,
into silence, simplicity, solitude.
The fruits of society feel toxic to me,
and I am processing the knowledge of loss…
The loss of illusion, perhaps?
Everything I thought I was working towards
isn’t quite it, somehow.
My little plate of ice is drifting away from the pack.
The people and projects that used to be part of my life
recede, no longer holding my interest,
no longer occupying the same resonant space.
At the same time, new places, spaces and people appear,
but I’m not in a hurry to reach out and grab.
Rather, I’m waiting, curious to see how my wilder self responds:
Is there resonance?
It’s like watching a bird in the marsh; I’m a stranger to myself.
I’m done with the old conditioned self,
with all the identities foisted on me by society,
friends, family, profession, community.
There’s no template for acting,
I just have to wait and see what I do.
It’s such a relief to be liberated
from all those ‘musts’ and ‘shoulds’.

Being with the wetlands: how do I navigate in a swamp?
How is it possible to not sink?
Webbed feet? Spread yourself over it and paddle along the surface?
How do you rest when you’re in a swamp?
Can I trust to patches of firmer ground,
or must I allow myself to be fluid,
embrace the waterland?
That’s where the existential excitement bubbles up,
bringing me to that place of deep transformation
of the structure of who I am,
even the structure of my physical body changing
as part of this shift,
to enable us to navigate different terrains.
Excitement and a feeling of stumbling in the wilderness,
sobbing freely.
And finding sustenance. Resting places. Meetings. Community.
Such a relief to find others who also
feel like they are living in a parallel universe!
Crucial meeting points with fellow travelers,
and a re-definition of community.
In the absence of physical community,
finding virtual community is very sustaining.
Trust is becoming more and more prevalent; Necessarily.
Navigating in the moment, becoming familiar with things changing,
being in the unknown. Especially in relationships.
I’m experiencing a deep shedding of shouldering responsibility
for others’ decisions. My nearest and dearest.
It’s calling for finding a new level of kindness.
The intensity of finding ways of maintaining relationship
with people whom I care about who really do
seem to be living in a different reality,
caught up in the prevailing narrative of the times.
My response is calling on myself to maintain
an awareness of where I place my focus, 24/7.
What am I engaging with? Where is my energy focused?
As I allow the deep waves of emotion to come rolling through.
The feeling of stumbling around is a shock response
to the deep realisation that this is really happening.
How the bigger picture is playing out in the human realm is really shocking.
Letting it roll through. Letting things go.
There’s a sharpening of focus, of what I’m inviting in,
at the same time as the juggling act of still desiring to maintain relationships
with people who are choosing a very different ‘reality’.
Letting myself be with that, and wondering, as the paths diverge:
does there come a point when it is no longer possible
to maintain those relationships?
It’s a case of wait and see.
My sense of the swamp and the marsh is as a place of huge
potential and evolution.
I’m curious as to how we are all going to emerge from the swamp.
There’s also an image of effervescent light sparkling on water.

I’m not accustomed to so much humidity.
A humid environment is not my preferred choice.
I need to feel and sense how my physical body and mind work.
To acknowledge my level of natural health as a human being.
How do the body and mind work together (and against each other)?
How can I place them in service of what is emerging
through my and our era shift?
Not allow myself to be distracted by what I have been taught
about what is healthy and unhealthy, risky or safe.
What kind of life do I really want to live?
How much do I need to eat, do, talk
in order to experience different dimensions of what life holds?
I am owning my choices these days, self-responsibility
affords me a purer connection with myself and other beings.
The symbiotic relationship with nature reveals itself
when I act from this consciousness,
I need to drop the stories – mine and others’.
Finding the balance between light and dark,
composting the different elements, like the wetlands.
Composting the polar extremes allows me to consolidate new ground,
a new centre. I’m curious to experience this.

Grateful for the image of the birds.
I can see myself as one of these birds
seeking a spot that is just enough. Lagom.
There’s no point in drowning in the wetland,
this is my time to prepare and nourish myself.
Keeping on trying to find a place to land.
Sensing my readiness, finding a dry enough spot to land.
The relief of the landing after so much anxiety
and so many false starts.
Now I’ve landed for a spell in my life,
while others are still in the air.
How can I land, rest in my steadiness,
be still without being distracted
by the other birds, going through the same process?
Looking around to see who else has landed near me.
How can I be with them without wishing for
the presence of specific others who are not present?
What can I learn about being content with the others around me
in this moment? Tomorrow they will change.

The threshold between life and death.
Not knowing.
The language barrier – the baby must transition
from living in water to living in air.
I feel a bit the same. I don’t want to waste
energy explaining fruitlessly to people.
I don’t yet have the new language for what I’m feeling
I’m on the way towards, whilst I’m still in the established structures.
I have become more quiet, while I do want to express it more.
And I need to carefully choose when it resonates,
interacting, speaking from my body’s intelligence.
I feel liminal in the cultural space between Germany and Australia

And I realise I’m at home in this bridging space,
not knowing if where I land will carry me – will I have to fly, swim or walk?
Trusting that I will know how to live,
as the baby finds that it can breathe.
Ritual is a better language than words
for me, right now.

Navigating together.
Birds flock together without attachment to each other.
Are we together and attached, or are we together and free?
During the silence, I saw
that we don’t have to land right away—we can recoinnoitre the surface
to find a spot.
We have spaciousness to look down from above.
The confidence to surf.
Letting go of what weighs me down, so I don’t sink on landing.
This spaciousness, taking the time I need.
Can I actually do that?
The spaciousness is demanding my allowing.

Muddiness sticking to our feet.
Mud is neither a liquid nor a solid: it’s a colloid,
much like paint or blood.
Even describing the quality of the wetland
gets into a tangle of definitions,
Like coffee: neither a suspension nor a solution. It’s both.
It could take a long time, to find the quality of mud,
to truly understand its value to the migratory bird as it lands.
From our natural state of flying with the wings we have been given,
it’s not without risk that we stow our engines, to land on our spindly legs,
pausing to resource, gather, rest and replenish.
I am no psychologist of migratory birds,
but I know that not one of those birds in the picture is thinking:
I wonder how this wetland works? Is that mud a colloid or a suspension?
Why am I doing this?
I’m trying to land in a place where this muddiness doesn’t matter,
whilst recognising that the whirligig of trying to reason where I land, how and with whom,
is either too complex to understand, or so simple that it doesn’t matter.
I’m trying to be at home on the bridge, in the inquiry.
By asking these questions, do I really expect answers?
I’m landing. Just that.

I’m learning to love mud.
Though I was told not to, growing up.
My youngest daughter shows me the value of mud.
She’s fine with it.
A wetland I visited with my children: “don’t get wet, don’t fall…”

My children are fine… dirty but fine.
They teach us how to be close to nature.
We might not be birds, but we do need to re-learn
to the ground, the soil and what’s underneath it.
For years I felt I was stuck in the mud.
But it’s GOOD there! Mud rejuvenates us!
I’ve liked flying high, now I could stay in the liminal space
I love living in the inquiry. That sinking feeling
no longer feels like depression. It keeps me grounded.
I resist people trying to drag me out of it,
it’s so quiet and powerful there.
This circle has brought so much together:
It’s wonderful to talk about mud in this way.
We’re not done with this one yet!
Maybe it’s not landing, but bathing…

The image helped guide my thoughts about where I am,
which I haven’t really engaged with.
Perhaps I’ve been in the landing process,
without surrendering to the swamp.
I welcome the acceptance of my webbed toes.
Realising that if I try to do too much, I’m fighting the process.
I trust that when the time is right, we will all leave the wetland.

I feel like one of those very strange, ancient, ugly big fish
that live deep deep in the ocean, where the earth is muddy.
The ugliness made me so joyful.
I carry the wrinkles of age
like a primordial whale.
And I carry a lantern of phosphorescent light:
It’s in the deep dive that I’m finding the light within.
My fish can decide when it wants light, and when it wants to be in darkness.
Limen – also means wetland. Alluvium: rich, fertile.
So I am navigating not in the outer world,
but in a world I don’t know.
I haven’t landed—I’ve not been flying!
I have landed my past. Somewhere,
and now I want to be that fish,
and to invite you all down into my muddy deep waters
where we can light our lanterns unseen.

Late call
There’s a global liminal space
which feels survival-critical.
Recent experiences are showing me
that humans are 100% entangled together,
beneath the waterline of consciousness,
like the mycelium and the roots of trees.
We might not recognise it,
but our entanglement seems particularly sensitive to trauma.
It’s becoming ever harder to deny
that all human beings alive today
carry both individual and collective trauma:
ancestral, historical, biological… at any and every level.
It means we are like a powder keg,
because to the extent we are not conscious of this,
we spark each other off
in ways that become more and more destructive.
Today, I witnessed the liminal zone
where a bunch of humans collectively became aware
and asked: “how do we deal with this?”
“How do we hold each other?”
“How do we behave in a way that allows this shared trauma to become visible,
so we can hold it together without acting out unconsciously
in destructive ways?”

As we, as individuals steeped in subliminal trauma,
are triggered right, left and centre,
yet, still being able to make the gestures,
speak the words that will reveal what is happening
so that it can be collectively held and worked through.
This liminal space is one of consciously living in a space of triggered trauma.
I notice myself in this space over really trivial things.
It is as if the mycelium of collective trauma is rising up above the ground
so we can start to see it.
It’s not we who are stepping into that liminal space,
rather, the space is rising up to enfold us in our life world.
If we don’t find ways to dance together in that space,
there’s very little chance we will survive ourselves.

I was in that liminal space this morning,
held in the mycelial space of a city whose nervous system is traumatised
(mass shooting in Boulder, 10 dead).
In that space, there was a recognition of the history of trauma held in the land,
with its history of massacres.
And this one young human being became that powder keg.
It’s been under the surface all the time, happening over and over.
The group I was with was holding the perpetrator as a human being.
Recognising that this is a pattern without a bandaid.
There is no tried and tested solution.
We have to feel the pain,
sit with it. Be with each other in that.
The energy in that space – on zoom – was potent with the kind of love
that doesn’t just gloss over, but asks:
how can I love in a way that understands, that sees,
that deeply feels what’s wanting to be seen?
This is part of our survival.
In that group the seeds were planted for something new.
Without us knowing what that is—for this city or for the planet.
This young man is human. He didn’t die, like so many do.
He asked to call his mother.
There’s something we need to understand at a much deeper level.
If we are all connected, then there’s a part of us in him, and he in us.
I was heartened, silenced, by what came forward in that group.
The level of presence.
An astounding experience.
A healing ritual and ceremony,
I wish we can amplify such spaces across the planet.

Picturing the mycelium in the US.
It feels like part of it is not alive.
And so there’s no connection.
How can we love each other, bringing in this other element?
I’m not sure what it would be – some kind of food (like love)
is needed to awaken the mycelium that’s not ‘with it’.
That’s what I’m thinking about.

This morning I was called by a friend of mine,
in distress, being persecuted by a toxic institution.
What does it mean that we have such toxic and destructive behaviours
in a humanitarian organisation?
Contemplating the lake where I live,
I saw that it is only by this constant returning to the deep awareness
of what we stand for that we can go forward and
‘build something new’.
Doing so we can welcome whatever arises – however toxic –
with a quality of presence that allows us to receive and enter fluidly.
Understanding that our cells are part of the whole,
allows us to witness the life of the universe through our own cells.
If we want to be able to render fluid the worst that is still present
in our reality, we can’t keep it outside: that’s where it gets stuck.
We need to welcome it in.
We are all one, and our skin is an edge between the inner and outer universe.
Letting the edges open so the universes intermingle,
we can allow this transformation.
Seeing my body as a jigsaw puzzle where one piece is missing:
the heart centre is where we welcome.
As long as we are ready to welcome, we can become more complete.

To embody the reality we can create and witness:
all in one and one in all.

Swimming in the lake,
a balancing and cleansing ritual,
letting the sun dry on my skin.
The water connects me to the universe.
Going against the wave of workload coming in,
avoiding the crowded lunchtime.
The shower and the evening salt bath:
cleansing rituals that bring me back to balance.
The importance of drinking together:
who is drinking what with whom?
In my region, everything is open until 8pm. Then curfew.
The upper echelons of our municipal society dine in our brasserie
even as the curfew falls.
Having the same fun as the youths at the lake with their beers.
The holding of the glass together is what connects them.
Happy like small children in a sandbox. Innocent energy,
gratitude for whatever they are getting,
after 5 months without each other.
It’s so beautiful to dive into these bubbles of emotion;
people able to look into each other’s eyes
in a place that isn’t their own home,
without knowing who else will show up.
We are connecting through that too.
The ritual is just the icing on whatever is underneath.
Water is the real internet.
The water in our bodies,
and we drink to bring it alive.
We are hoping this can continue.
Freedom and gratitude. I’m glad to be serving that.

I’m ready to land, without knowing exactly what the liminal space is called.
In my hurry to land, I’m ready to get dirty without terms and conditions.
By myself, if needed. But willing to see how other birds approach
a simple and free lifestyle. I’ll stay in this space for as long as I need,
investing, taking an active part in this ecosystem,
and flying away when I feel ready.
Zoom is not enough for me. I want to grow out of big public narratives,
take responsibility for my natural health, and meet others doing the same.
Unconditional love.
Approaching the landing, looking back to my past,
that’s what I’ve been craving.
Unconditional love for my trauma, our trauma,
for the abusive systems and extreme thoughts and deeds.
I don’t care what people look like, I want to see how they experience life.

I have had to shake off some weight before being ready to land.
Feeling like I’m almost there but not yet.
I don’t yet know what that weight is, but I’m longing to land.
On Wednesday we held a circle, where I went to connect.
Someone started to say things that identified the weight I’m carrying,
the unconscious protection mechanisms playing in my own life.
I was amazed at the mirroring, the power of coming together
and sharing what’s alive.
Confirming, transforming.
Unburying those hidden and rejected aspects of myself,
it’s tiring to process, but liberating:
Now I’m ready to land!

Not far from my house,
is a piece of land next to a prison hospital.
An ancient piece of land that has been protected as a wildlife sanctuary.
A strip of English hedgerows and small waterways, bushes and shrubs
teeming with life.
It’s under attack: a high-speed railway project
is damaging that land.
There was a conversation with two sides,
a company acting with impunity under wartime laws
that override the centuries-old laws of the land.
People can’t be made to feel the mycelium
that connects us, if they can’t feel it.
The idea that our trauma is not ours: it’s everyone’s.
In holding onto our trauma as a journey of personal experience,
we miss the dimension that we’re suffering in service, if we choose to.
Some might call it a responsibility.
And some of us see it as a right: to hold space where trauma is felt,
to make it a purifying experience,
not push it away with outrage and blame,
because it’s the best investment we can make.
How deeply troubling that question, if we don’t ask it to ourselves:
can I be all right while others are suffering?
Next week I will be walking in Wormwood Scrubs
with my estranged wife.
There’s trauma there, I accept it,
and I’m scared for my wife, who is making that trauma personal,
so it is difficult to share.
Dissolving our marriage.
With all the trauma, all the questions, all the feelings that are there,
she feels the best is to drain that swamp, brick up the pain.
The liminal space I’m landing in is one of fear
that it can’t be relied on. It won’t be there forever
if we aren’t there to protect it with our care and our attention.

‘Drain the swamp’: as if the swamp is the cause of the problems.
The place of corruption.
Until this moment, it never occurred to me how bad that metaphor is.
I’m lucky to have grown up in the countryside
and had access to 6 million acres of protected forests
where I often went camping as a child.
Hiking, canoeing.
Winding waterways with reeds and marshes
that went on forever, following upstream
in wild places where the only other humans
were on the waterway too.
Where life emerges from the soup, the muck, the mire.
What does ‘accountability’ really mean?
What are the obstacles to it?
They are cultural systems and traditions around blame and punishment.
It’s not an easy path, but the way out/forward is to recognise
that we have all done harm, and will continue to do harm.
But for those who cause immense pain, we must provide a path back.
Incarceration is not any kind of an answer.
That path back is not easy, not everybody can follow it,
but for those who own the choices we have made that have harmed others
… there’s so much to unpack.
There’s little to delineate between those we incarcerate
and those much greater offenders who hold power in our countries.

I’ve been immersed in the liminal for some time now.
At the beckoning of my mother.
The journey we have been in as a family for 3 months,
to the threshold of yesterday, when we held a memorial.
Releasing my mother’s form into light.
The ashes are a distillate to be released on Easter Day.
How to reside in the liminal?
Riding over the edges of the current restrictions,
we have been able to be together as a family
as we would be in any time.
Not all have been so lucky.
I feel fresh and very tender,
and it felt important to be here;
being willing to show up in the depths of our vulnerability and pain
feels like the calling of the times.
The alchemy and the purification, very different energies,
feel interwoven these days.

Who showed up:

Louise Carpenter, Daniela Tablado, An van Damme, Julia Hoffmann, Wini Condic Begov, Lucy Ferguson, Brigitte Kupfer, Anna Brunain, Madeleine Schwab, Charlie Derr, Judy Wallace, Ursula Hillbrand, Sarah Whiteley, Pieter Deceuninck, Giorgios Kastrinos, Aakanksha Singh, Marie-José d’Aprile, Helen Titchen Beeth

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Invitation Page

Invitation to Practice

Our invitation to practice Collective Alchemy continues on 26 March 2021

As the waves of change intensify, the community of Collective Alchemists has launched its flotilla of coracles into the evolutionary jet stream of the era shift. Come practice with us! WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE NAVIGATING THE ERA SHIFT TOGETHER? Orienting the next Portal Day calls on the arc of the journey so far: Our last portal waveThe two weeks between twice-monthly Collective Alchemy Portal Days (when open practice calls take place), when co-sensing

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