Big news: I’m now on Patreon. If you visit Vegan Place regularly, you know On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century is in print. Through Patreon, you can fund the transfer of the book’s ideas into public advocacy. I’m committed to doing at least one presentation monthly. Through public presentations, I am: Connecting dots for […]
Colonization has not only disconnected us from nature, it has disconnected us from our True Selves
During a recent speaking tour in his homeland of South Africa, the Creative Director of Starseed Gardens, Dan Schreiber shared insight into the theme of “decolonization” as a pathway to bring contemporary culture back into direct connection and experience of our own true nature.
There was a story told by the Gnostics of how Aeon Sophia, the Goddess who created the earth, loved this particular creative project so much that she became the Earth. So, to the cultures pre-Christianity and pre-monotheism, the Earth was a living, sacred being. Everything was sacred. The trees, the rocks, the oceans. And the people lived in accordance with that. There was an invisible, spiritual God and a physical Goddess, which was the Earth.
The birth of monotheism marked the death of Sophia in a sense because once humanity was disconnected from the Earth as a spiritual living being, then they could lay waste to the oceans and the rivers and cut down the forests.
Dan goes on to describe how the colonization process of the European and British empires in South Africa, Australia, India and the Americas was a process that broke down the basic, inherent connection with the Earth that the settlers themselves had before they became invaders and occupiers of new Lands. Not only were Lands colonized, but minds too.
When Europeans arrived in these lands, they had built within them a superiority complex. “We have guns, we have technology therefore we must be more civilized.” They chose a whole bunch of beliefs to support that premise. The Darwinian idea of evolution meant that they could convince their soldiers that we came from primordial ooze, through amphibians to reptiles and mammals, then to monkeys that awoken, then to black people and finally to white people. The belief of this succession meant that white people – the white male – could now have a moral and spiritual imperative. “We are the most advanced evolutionary beings on the planet so of course we can rule over everyone else.” Which, of course, is absolute rubbish.
Without that colonization of the mind of the soldiers themselves, these people wouldn’t have been able to walk through the jungles of South America and say, “Yes we are the superior race, give us your gold, before we rape and pillage.” Which they did.
Dan believes that in many ways we are “living through the karma” of this colonization and disconnection process, and sites the plant kingdom as a powerful example of this.
Take a plant like sugar. Sugar was one of the main colonizing tools. There was a huge demand for sugar in Europe. They went and they took the sugar to the tropics and they said, “You grow this. And they paid the Javanese people to have children to work in the sugar plantations. In this way, they could take over the land without actually fighting, by creating an economic imperative which ultimately lead the tribal leaders to enslave their own people in order to serve this imperative. But the karma of sugar is returning and we now have to digest that slavery in the form of alcoholism and diabetes as it sweeps the western world. Tobacco is another example, which was one of the most sacred plants on the planet. Now the karma of tobacco, misused for economic gain and control is playing out across the planet. How many people are killed each year?
The question is, as the descendants of those original invaders, how do we de-colonize ourselves and restore our loss of connection with Earth?
(This) process has been carried out by our ancestors on the land throughout the ages in the form of rites of passage, vision quests, fasts, sweat lodges. To the First Nation people of America, if one of their own was losing touch with their sense of connection they would stick out like a sore thumb and they would be brought back into the fold and taken through a process of re-connection.Today there is so much disconnection in our western world, it is a pandemic. We often can’t even see it because we are not living in a community that is connected for us to be guided back to. We all share this cognitive dissonance, this dis-connectivity. So much so that in many cases, the connected ones seem insane!
In Dan’s view, the modern reconnection process started en-masse in the 60s, supported by the psychedelic revolution that served as a literal re-awakening of a part of the brain. There was a left and right hemisphere reconnection. East and West rediscovered each other.
Now, as I travel around the world I am struck by how many people are interested in the Gnostic practice of waking up and connecting to the Divine directly outside of religious practice, outside of the church. Outside of the hierarchy of people saying, “Well if you do this and you follow me, you get to the Pearly Gates.” This idea of a direct connection with Source, and the reawakening and re-sacralizing of the Earth becomes so important. The rebirth of Sophia is in full swing and has been prophesized for this time and each one of us plays out this awakening in our bodies.
For the descendants of settlers and occupiers of stolen land, this is a powerful time to wake up to what the indigenous people of those lands have always known, that the destructive processes of colonization ultimately serve only to separate us from each other and the very Source of life… and it must stop. It is up to each of us to claim personal responsibility for decolonizing ourselves, and to do this we must be willing to go on a personal journey of reconnection and awakening, to restore our inherent sense of wholeness and bring ourselves back into connection with the Earth.
For Dan Schreiber, the journey back is a daily one of simple actions stemming from a deep reverence and commitment to being in genuine communion with the living energy of the Earth.
Stand barefoot on the ground. Look at the sun. Bathe yourself in the sun. Go for clean water. If you can’t drink the water around here, there is a problem. If you can’t grow crops without Round Up, there’s a problem. Once we’ve re-awoken, how we live, how we grow our food becomes a natural expression of that awakening to who we really are.
What is one simple thing you could do today (and every day) to consciously, genuinely experience your direct connection with the Earth?
Original interview by Nyck Jeanes and Leigh Chamberlain on the Seriously Fact Up Breakfast show – Bayfm.org
“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.” ― Thomas A. Edison In my experience, the idea that humans are supposed to eat meat is one of the most pervasive justifications for continuing to eat animals, to the […]
By Alessandra Seiter
originally published on the Farmer’s Market Vegan; republished with permission from author
A substantial number of radical activists (see my bibliography below the main text of this post) have offered up cogent, change-inspiring writings on the veganism and consumerism long before I even began to understand the issues embedded within the links between the two phenomena. As such, in this article I will not attempt to claim responsibility for the ideas or suggestions already in existence, nor will I – as an activist still very much in the early stages of investigating veganism and consumerism – introduce new theoretical formulations on the topic. Rather, I seek to present a summary – informed, as always, by my own positionality – of existing scholarship to an audience perhaps not normally exposed to such information. I should note, however, that I am as of now in complete agreement with the ideas that I am about…
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In psychology one of the ‘hot topics’ exciting to explore is the ‘feral child’, i.e. children who for one reason or another are either socially isolated or abandoned in ‘the wild’ during their earliest years. This excitement filled the director and psychologist who called me in for a special meeting. They ran a nonprofit serving young children and families with emotional and behavioral issues. As the intake room head teacher, my job was to assess incoming children and help them get acclimated to the setting, a process that usually took 3-6 months. At this sad but oddly upbeat meeting, my supervisors first reminded me of my duty to privacy. This was a case that could draw much publicity if leaked, which would be especially embarrassing to the child’s grandfather, a high ranking US government official.
His wealth afforded lavish lifestyles for his daughter, her husband and their son Charlie. Unbeknownst to…
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By Lee Hall | August 8, 2016 | Categories: Agriculture and Environment
On Earth Overshoot Day, which inches earlier each year, we exhaust more resources than Earth annually regenerates. #Pledgefortheplanet, we tweet! But what of the root-level change needed to address “over-exploitation” of Earth and its living communities?
Sometimes we pause to focus on our most blatant, direct exploitation of other living beings—say, in heavy agribusiness. But the problem is bigger. Throughout our range across the Earth’s surface, we deem ourselves nature’s managers. Managers usually have to account for themselves in performance reviews. What if Earth Overshoot Day prompted a performance review of humanity? Let’s try it.
Specific Evaluation Areas: Shares Accurate, Complete Information; Is Committed to Act Upon It
Standard not met. We sideline thinkers who challenge the supremacy of Homo sapiens, while agribusiness and extractive corporations dominate “sustainability” conversations. Politically influential charities support the quest for profit if it’s “just this far.” Rather than pondering how many marine biocommunities we should exploit, can’t green groups ask their donors to leave fish in the water?
Communication: Listens Carefully.
Not happening. Consider the climate crisis. Public figures (those who do acknowledge the scientific consensus on climate change) treat nature’s response to us as an enemy force.
Climate change is the loudest message Earth has ever sent to us, yet we cannot humble ourselves to listen. If we listened, we wouldn’t push untamed animals into ever-smaller fractions of the Earth’s finite surface. Our cows alone outweigh all the free-living land mammals combined.
Competently Approaches Problems
Needs work. It’s not that we lack ways to solve our species-version of manspreading. We could shift government support for human procreation to adoption. We could remove loopholes allowing drilling, grazing, logging, commercial explorations, and other human intrusions into current public lands and wilderness areas. We could undertake a shift away from animal-derived foods, excessive residential footprints, private transportation, and disposable items and packaging.
Immediately needed are goals and assessment methods to stop sprawl—everything from fracking to pasture-based farming. Policy must be written to support community participation. We could start now.
To start, we must admit we know little about the biosphere—the ultimate example of complexity. We humans are ill-equipped to predict a variety of consequences of our activities.
Take microfiber clothing, now a mainstay of outdoor fashion. What could go wrong? Production is cheap; no pesticides; low energy and water input; “vegan”; and the end products are easily spot-cleaned and air-dried.
We put a few million garments into the environment, and the experiment began.
It’s a case study at the intersection of technology and ecology. A useful material for many people in societies and states driving global trends, whose impact isn’t perceived in our real-time observations. And when it finally comes to our attention—when an ecologist releases a study of these modern garments as possibly the biggest source of plastic in our oceans—nobody wants to deal with it.
What’s going on with nano-tech materials? There’s a technology with multiple known potential failure modes prior to the launch into the consumer sphere. Lots of hand-wringing. Yet it’s full-speed-ahead as new applications proliferate. A cautionary tale for high-tech advancements in the quest to “combat climate change” as well?
Collaboration: Encourages Mutual Support
Could do better. The stress humans impose on each other is mind-boggling. Many of us nurture pets. But “man’s best friend” should be humanity itself.
Not that it’s OK to “get rid of” our pets. Let’s not be moral jerks. But we should have the maturity to stop breeding new animals into being to become our unwilling children. Learning to love each other could be an element of a paradigm shift that also effects animal liberation.
This root-level response to Earth overshoot would remediate the impacts of housing and feeding domestic animals, covering wildlands with yards and paddocks, and creating conflicts between pets and untamed animals; it would halt the generation of waste from tens of millions of pets.
And can we stop relating to untamed animals as though they were pets?
On an asphalt path in Rocky River Reservation in suburban Cleveland, a squirrel watches expectantly as we approach. “How cute!” Maybe we could feed the squirrel, take a close-up and post it to Facebook! It’s our conditioning that tells us buying a feeder is in birds’ best interests, that we should nurture raccoons, rabbits, and bees, rather than the habitat and natural foliage that would support them as they nurture their own.
Perhaps the issue here is that we, the generation that grew up with Walt Disney, have yet to articulate an ethic of respect for the untamed.