Thursday, November 18, 2010

If eagles can evolve, can we?

There are a pair of eagles in Clayoquot Sound that are apparently evolving - to lessen genetically-programmed violence. It makes me think that if eagles can evolve, maybe even humans can too!

On a small island off the harbour of Tofino, there is a pair of eagles, mated for life, that have lived there for almost two decades. This is their story.

Normally eagles have just a single chick each year. They have several eggs, but only one normally survives. This is because in the eagle world fratricide is the norm. The first chick born kills the others. "Neither parent will make the slightest effort to stop the fratricide," says the American Bald Eagle Info Site.

But Tofino wildlife observers have noticed that this particular pair of eagles always has two chicks. Every year for more than a decade. Two chicks. The guide who was telling me this story thinks that the parents must have intervened in the sibling death matches.

I find this striking. This means that this pair of eagles is going against its - well, conditioning.

I mean, don't you, as a human, find it extremely difficult to change? Imagine how hard it must have been for these eagles! They don't have language, self-help books, or therapists - or even cops to maintain civil order amongst eagles. They did it anyway.

Makes me take a look at those things about myself that I get resigned about, or think are genetic and therefore unchangeable.

Makes me think that maybe humans might just evolve too, in time to save ourselves. (Okay, I know it's a leap, but it makes me think that anyway!).

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How I went from bad to good in a day

Today I flipped a family situation that was difficult and painful into something that was awesome and met everyone’s needs. I want to tell you about it. It was kinda cool actually. And scary.

You see, for a couple of weeks my partner Ian has been exhausted from all the energetic touring he does for our company DreamRider Theatre. Coincident with this, I’ve been coffee-ing and lunching with some of the brilliant people I met at Social Venture Institute and generally they have been expanding my own brain and vision considerably. So this weekend I was in a bit of a contraction. Meaning I was cranky, tired and whiney. (Lucky Ian!!!) 

His fatigue and my whininess left for a not-very fun couple of days. (I am not perfect, I am astounded to discover.)  Meantime I had been planning for some time a beautiful little mini-holiday to Tofino for my family this week. Full disclosure: I really needed to go – I used to live there and every now and again my soul just needs to get back to the wild west coast. But I was bringing them. Happy family times were planned. Except. Tia was going to miss saying a few sentences at her school’s Remembrance Day ceremony, and Ian was just too f’ing tired to contemplate the drive. They were both mad at me.

photo (c) Vanessa LeBourdais

And they revolted! They didn’t want to go. The day before we were due to leave. When I couldn’t cancel the reservations any more.

And the secret piece is that I’ve been spending too much time alone lately and really needed – I was sure! - to connect with my family.

My friend Erin – who is a wise witchy woman I call upon for inspired advice – said, with her typical way of cutting to the essence of it – “You should go. On your own. Face your fears of being alone front and centre. Do it.”

Now – everybody’s happy. Exact same difficult situation, looked at differently. Ian gets to stay home and do nothing, just as he has been dreaming of. Tia gets to do her presentation. I get Tofino. And I get to look at one of my deepest core fears. But I’ll do this in the place, where, in the loneliest part of my life when I was younger, the sea and forest and sand and wind embraced and held me as I healed.

Now that I'm looking at the upside, I notice some other things: I'm going away, guilt-free, from my kid and my husband for four days, to do whatever the heck pleases me. I could get used to this!  What a different perspective I got by surrendering to what was happening and opening to my fears.

I might even be able to let that old fear go. After all, the room I rented in my Tofino days is now a chocolate factory. Miracles can happen.

photo (c) Tia Gschwind 


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What's with all the single women?

I am thinking about single women.

There are a lot of them I am meeting, in this socially-conscious-sustainability-progressive community I am in.

Amazing women.

Powerful, smart, courageous, clever, sassy, attractive.

And all of them single!

I keep thinking about them, because I was one of them for a long time. Friends told me that my standards were too high, that I’d never meet someone who met them, that perhaps I wasn’t cut out to be in a relationship. My mother told me that I should pretend to be less smart so a man wouldn’t be threatened. I ignored her. I ignored them. And I ended up being together now fifteen years with the most amazing man I’ve ever met. Who, incidentally, surpassed my standards. By quite a bit.

So why me, and not these other women?

Or more importantly, perhaps: what the heck is going on that these amazing women are all single?! 

I put this together with what the Dalai Lama said: “The world will be saved by western women.”

But if all these women are coping with life/rent/mortgage/laundry/hangovers/illnesses just with the support of their friends but no mate –

 - then how the heck are we gonna save the world?!?

So what’s going on?

Because what these women are needing – assuming they want a partner, which I’m pretty sure they do – is support. A friend once described it as “having someone else to hold up the sky sometimes”, which I think is an apt description.  Someone to come home to at the end of the day, who still loves you even when you collapse into a ball of pathetic-ness because you used up all your energy being incredibly brave at your job all day, changing the world and generally being a super-heroine (as these women all are! I mean, truly, these women ROCK and you know who you are).

We women have had decades now of liberation, movements, therapy, support groups, feminist theory, etc. etc. etc. We have been evolving out of our former allotted roles at a rate that would be envied by viruses. We have been part of a movement of change for several generations now. As I told my daughter this morning, grandma didn’t have nearly as many choices as you or I about who she could be or what she could do.

One way Ian evolves... (Photo Joe Menth)

But men. Who’s been helping them evolve? I mean, really, they’ve been blamed quite a bit, as a gender. Not without reason, historically. But they’ve been left kind of high and dry on the evolve-into-a-new-kind-of-being support scale. You only have to look at the nearest playground to see boys being peer-pressured into the same limited behaviours as they have been forever.

Lately I have been meeting some great men who are completely giving me hope for the future of man-kind. (You know who you are).  So I can see that things are starting to change.


I think it’s because the old stereotypes live on underneath.

It used to be: the powerful man had the supportive woman.

Most women are still, underneath, looking for a man to be stronger, protective, ambitious, bigger.

Most men are still, underneath – no matter how evolved they think they are – still really looking for the little woman, in some way. Are threatened by a woman fully in her own power. (Sorry guys, I see this a lot still).

It’s nobody’s fault. It comes from thousands, millions of years of enculturation. And this amazing-single-woman thing is a trend, a symptom of being in the middle of the process of change. One day, the guys will catch up.

In the meantime? I hope men will start letting go of needing to be the Big Important One in the relationship with a Little Lady, and honour the awesomeness of powerful women.

And I hope women will start looking for someone who’s going to support them in their amazingess.

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays

On this solstice/Christmas/holiday season, I want to share with you a Yuletide song, a prayer for ourselves and the planet. But for that, I'm going to have you click over to A Yule Prayer Song to download it (free! we love free!). It's cool - you can load it into your mp3 player and stick it on repeat and play the prayersong over and over, spiralling the magic of it through you and into the world.

Thank you for being on the path of spirit and art, however you follow it. I am grateful to know you all, grateful that the means exist for us to share our discoveries.

Happy holidays,

In gratitude,


Download the free Yule Song here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How a Myth Can Change the World

During the Copenhagen climate change conference, I am looking at the energetic underpinnings of the problems in the world.

I work with the energies underlying patterns. I look at the root, core movement of things to discover where the true lever of change lies.  And I do magic to move that lever in the right direction.

If we only work at the level of surface reality (politics, policies), and never challenge the underlying stories and myths that have driven us for millennia, the face of the policies and powers may change, but the dynamic of profiting from cruelty will not.

When I look at the energetic underpinnings of the problems in the world today, I see a wave of cruel, destructive energy that seems rampant and unstoppable.

It calls to me the story of Pandora’s box.

Pandora Got a Bum Rap
In brief: Pandora has a box, and she’s told not to open it, but she’s so curious she can’t help but open it. And all the evils of the world are released. Only hope remains in the box.

That’s what it feels like, when I look deep beneath the world’s problems: it’s like somebody unleashed evils upon the world.

So I went back and read up about the Pandora myth. And I found some things that surprised me:

First of all, the name Pandora means “all-giver”.

Secondly, “box” is a mistranslation. She actually had a jug.

Let us think about her name and her jug for a second, before we get to the myth as we know it.

She is an all-giver with a jug.

Jugs of course are for carrying water. And water is life. We look for water on Mars because if there is water there is life. The mythic jug represents the source of life. Pandora is the all-giver source of life.

The Goddess who is the source of all.

How the Goddess Became the Villain
The first known writings about Pandora are by the ancient Greek Hesiod. According to Hesiod, Pandora was not a goddess. Hesiod says that Pandora was the first mortal woman. To boot, she was responsible for all the evils of mankind when she opened this jug of hers.

Therefore, he concludes, all women are to blame for the ills of the world.

How do we get from Pandora being the bountiful giver-of-all, source of everything, to being the cause of the evils in the world?

And if you check in any history, book, you quickly see that the people out doing evil on a grand scale have pretty much always been men.

So Hesiod’s revisionist Pandora story is beginning to look like a shell game.

Hesiod split Pandora’s gift in two. She used to be the giver of everything. A Goddess of multiplicity – the source of all that is.

But Hesiod split “everything” into “good” and “evil” and left poor Pandora only with the “evil”.

So, to recap: here I am, looking at the energetic underpinnings of the great problems of the world, and I see a Pandora’s-box kind of energy there.

And at the heart of that story is the gifts of the all-giving Goddess being split in two:

Evil and good.

The Rift in our Myth
It strikes me that the heart of the source of our problems is in fact this dualism. Dualistic thinking.

Separating “everything” into “good” and “bad”.

Us vs. them.

Winners vs. losers.

Mind vs. body.

Humans vs. the earth.

Nations picking sides in conflicts.

It's already changing
But there are signs everywhere I look that we are leaving dualism behind.

We are seeing that we have to work together to save our climate, to save humanity. There is no more “us” and “them”.

Kids are thinking in multiplicities. They talk, text, watch videos and surf simultaneously. This is how they are thinking.

All around us we are mixing more and more our heritages. Most people I know are “mutts” of one kind or another. Soon there will be no more “white” and “black”.

Science shows us that the air I breathe out is the air someone in Africa breathes in. Molecules from me become molecules in you.

Men are honouring more feminine qualities in themselves; women are doing things only men used to do. Some people identify as multiple genders.

We are entering the age of multiplicity. Not either/or but both/all. Ambi/Omni.

And I say Pandora is getting her “all” back.

Let's Heal the Rift
Let us heal the fracture caused by Hesiod’s dualitistic thinking.

Let’s honour Pandora as the source of all.

Sing with me: Pandora, you are the giver of all.

Pandora’s fractured jug is healed by these words.

By this song, the river of evil that is said to have come from her jug is bound together with all-that-is. Diluted. United. Integrated.

Myths are powerful. The myth of women-as-the-cause-of-evil was used to oppress women for millennia. Let us revise the Pandora myth again. Let us say, we are all in this together. We are all one. Dualistic thinking was a shell game. Pandora is the all-giving goddess of the earth, and everything on this planet – you, me, George Bush – are a part of her.

And so comes the healing of the world.

And the healing of me and you. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How Your Imagination Can Change the World

Every single creation of humanity began in the imagination.

It all starts with a story.

I have tasked myself with the creative imagining of a world in which humanity thrives in balance with the planet. I am self-identified storyteller of the New Story.

My work lies in the field of imagination. My heart and soul tell me that humanity can and will change, and that there is hope for us. These days, it seems to me to require a certain kind of courage to have hope. But first, all that’s needed is imagination.

These are the early beginnings of my imaginative exploration of this world, and I invite you to share in its storytelling. I ask you, rather than looking for inconsistencies or impossibilities in my story – and I am sure there are many – that you look instead for possibilities and for opportunities to imagine.

Can you imagine this world with me?

You are walking in the city. Every car, bus and truck that passes is quiet and emits no pollution into the air at all. As a result you can breathe the fresh air of the trees, flowers and vegetables grown in urban farms you pass.

There is barely any garbage in the street at all, because there are barely any things that can turn into garbage: everything that we make is contained within a cycle of re-use of all materials. There are no extraneous materials that cannot be reincorporated into something else, because everything we make and use has been designed that way. To be completely recyclable.

Factories – where things are made – emit no pollution into the atmosphere. Their by-products are recycled and used by other industries. Everywhere you look there are alternative forms of energy in use: windmills, solar panels, sources of power we haven’t ever imagined before.

Our rivers are coming back, the fish are growing healthy again because we are not overfishing. Everyone is mostly vegetarian, because when there are many of us on the planet we know that we must each tread lightly, and being vegetarian is much lighter a footprint than eating meat.

There are methods of transportation over vast distances that do not have the carbon footprint of airplanes. We were able to discover and implement them because governments in the world realized that these inventions were crucial to our survival, and had to be funded, supported, and encouraged to thrive. And so they did.

We are no longer spending all our money on wars over resources. Humanity has learned the difficult lesson that survival requires co-operation, not competition. When everything is kept within a cycle of reusing, there is no scarcity of resources. Your garbage is your goldmine. Just as the excrement of the animal nourishes the plants which emit oxygen which the animals breathe, so have humans learned to behave.

There is universal health care and education. Most countries in the world are now peaceful and prosperous. And prosperity is defined by the good standard of living of all inhabitants and their health and happiness, and the peace in which they live. A prosperous nation is no longer one that grows in wealth at the expense of its own citizens, or of those in foreign countries.

This is a world where, in order to survive, you must care about the ramifications of everything you do. This practice has habituated us to act in the long-term interest of all beings. We have become used to making sure there were no negative impacts from our materials use, and that has taught us to behave in ways that do no harm to anyone or anything. Peace has followed. Peace between neighbours, peace between countries, peace in our hearts, because before, underneath, we always knew we could do better in our actions.

We are that powerful

This blog is subtitled “Art, Life and World Transformation” and yet I haven’t talked about world transformation here, until now. So far my articles have been about the transformation of my personal and artistic life. The imagining process I speak of in this article is no different than the methods I have used to imagine my life into the beautiful form it is now.

We are that powerful. We can choose to imagine a world where humanity thrives.

This is an early story – or perhaps the germ of an idea of a story – of what it will look like when we succeed. Let it live in your imagination for a while. Allow it to gestate and reform. Permit a vision of a happy, thriving future for humanity and the planet to percolate in your being.  Allow yourself – even just a part of yourself – to imagine that it might be true, that the imagination itself might be so powerful. Because it can.

And then imagine what it will look like through your eyes. And begin to tell the story your way.

As we each begin to tell and share this New Story of ours, it can fire the imagination of others, as so may it become a living story, shared between us.

Every single creation of humanity began in the imagination.

It all starts with a story.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Unleashing your deepest, strongest power

This is a time when the feminine is increasingly being called and welcomed back into the world.

Women are occupying ever greater positions of power. Little girls in our society generally have no conception that there is something they can’t do. Men are opening up to previous taboos like: childrearing, doing housework, showing emotion, eschewing violence. The earth – the ultimate feminine energy – is crying so loudly for our attention that Her voice is in the news daily – and all around the world people are calling out that we must pay attention to her. We must pay attention to the feminine.

The rise of feminine power has everything to do with old women

Today I got my hair cut and thought again about my decision to go grey two years ago. “If I dye it brown again, I will look much younger, “ I thought. It feels weird to look in the mirror and see a “grey-haired lady”.

The story we are told is: get older, lose power. We’re silently told: “Fear getting older, girls! Fear becoming invisible, unimportant, cast off, a bag lady! The worst thing that can happen to you is to lose your looks, remember that every time you look in the mirror after 35!”

But what actually happened when I let my hair go grey? People whom I didn’t know started treating me with respect, as though I had something valuable to say and as if I was powerful. Men started giving me appreciative glances (which had been pretty rare before, let me tell you!). People I did know started saying how fabulous I look. I had a sense of myself as a powerful, capable woman.

In essence, I gained status by going grey. The paradigm is changing.

The change is happening very quickly

My Lebanese grandmother was forced into an arranged marriage to a man she hated who was twenty years her senior.

My mother, unlike her mother, was free to marry whom she chose. Her boss however told her that she was never going to rise at work because she was female. 

(That's my mom on the right)

I, on the other hand, was raised with the knowledge that I could be anything I want to be and can marry whomever I choose.

Women have feared getting older because it has meant losing that little power we had – our sexual power. But things are changing. Women are more powerful in the western world than ever before. Maybe we don’t need to fear getting older as women. Maybe we can look forward to it!

For the first time in thousands of years, some of the leaders in our society are also grandmothers. Leaders who have borne babies in their wombs, and watched those babies bear babies. Leaders who will be very concerned, not just for the current generations, but for the ones to come.

When I think of it, grandmothers are the perfect leaders: they have lived a long time, they have left their hormonal motivations largely behind, they know the value of life because they have nurtured it with their breasts and with their hands.

All of which leads me to these questions:

What if the inner struggle with our bodies -  that all woman share in different ways - is in fact a symptom of the suppression of the divine feminine? And what if it is more specifically the suppression of the divine elder feminine? The feminine energy that has nothing to do with our sexual appeal, and everything to do with our wisdom and loving kindness?

What if I lived in a culture that honoured elder women? What would it feel like to know I was now entering into their esteemed company?

What if I unleashed that crone power in me? A power that has been chained up, devalued and mocked for centuries?

Can I fearlessly claim my fullest, deepest power? Can I be that powerful, and loving and kind?

An unleashing the inner goddess ceremony
You need: a long ribbon and some scissors.

Bind the ribbon around your hands

As you tie the knot in the ribbon, say:
            This ribbon and this knot
            are the chains upon my divine feminine spirit
            as all men and women have had this spirit bound

            Today I cut these bonds
            and allow my feminine divinity free
            may she be powerful
            may she be strong
            may she be kind
            may she be abundant
            may she always act for the benefit of seven generations to come
            may she be free

Now cut the ribbon and say:

            As the divine feminine rises up in me
            May I see her divinity
            honour her
            bow to her
            allow her her freedom
            I allow her her freedom

Warning: your inner female divinity may be a little cranky for having been bound so long. Be patient. J

mandala by Erin Dragonsong (psst she has a cool make-your-own mandala e-book.)