Richly Storied Places

EveningIndigenous people give value and preference to story. Stories arise from place; it is often said they come from the land, but it is more accurate to say they arise from places, which might include the water. Seafaring peoples depend on water for food and commerce, and many speak about the ocean as a First Place, a location of origin. These notions of storied places are inherent in shamanism and other Indigenous healing traditions, although they are largely erased from New Age and neo-shamanistic renderings. It is easy to forget, or ignore, that in the Americas, Indigenous healers have traditionally been instrumental in both resisting colonial power, and in healing individuals and communities harmed by colonial violence, including racism. In this context, shamanism is inherently political.

It seems to me that our preference for stories is difficult for folks of European ancestry to grasp. That is true for Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and folks from the U.S.. Many of us Native people understand ourselves to have been born from place, our tribes emerging from specific places: mountains, springs, caves, inlets. We traditionally understand the Earth to literally be our mother. If one stops to think about this, it makes profound sense: at the very least we are birthed from the stuff of this planet, the building blocks of place; clearly, one should not harm one’s mother, should not act in ways that defile the physical or spiritual environment. Continue reading

Making Space for Difference

Spring!This is the second of a series of posts about this year’s ASGPP conference.

One of the things that has drawn me to Psychodrama over the years is that it is rooted in the desire for social equality, freedom, and community, and deeply embedded in hope. Indeed, most of the people engaged in the discipline are fierce advocates for these values, and are, thus, visionaries. They are also human, given to the same foibles that plague most of us. Continue reading

Whose Stories ?


This is the first of a series of posts about my experiences at, and thoughts about, the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama annual conference this past weekend.

After a day in airport purgatory we made it home from the ASGPP  conference shortly after midnight this morning. The conference was exceptional. It was also eye-opening.

The first evening was devoted to a “diversity event”.  As usual, I was the only person who spoke to identifying as Native, and  of a very few who identified as physically disabled. Not that I was alone in my difference, rather, there were a variety of alonenesses identified by people; it turns out that groups marginalize folks for all sorts of reasons. Continue reading

Soul Loss

Snow-BuddhaI’m sitting at my desk in the study, watching the sun descend over the mountains and lake. The light is soft and rich, a glow that persists off to the west. I’ve just come from teaching my college class; today I feel emotionally satisfied enough to put off dinner for few minutes in order to write this brief piece.

After class, a graduate student and I spoke for a while about soul retrieval and substance abuse. I explained that I often wonder exactly what is being retrieved. I imagine that we are calling back a part of self that left the body because of fright or other insult. But what part, and how are we to think about it? Continue reading

An Easter Walk

Remnant_SnowLast night we held out family Sedar, the Passover meal at which we remember the Jewish people’s Exodus from slavery, and the many people who are oppressed today.  As we sit together, we think carefully about the strategies of oppression that abide in our world, and the duty of each generation to confront them. Then we enjoy a splendid meal that Jennie has spent days preparing. Even then we remember those who are hungry, in danger, or without shelter.

Today is Easter, and following a lively and uplifting service at our local Unitarian Universalist church, during Bicyclistswhich the snow melted away in the bright sunshine, we joined throngs of people who had come downtown. Later in the afternoon Jennie and I went for a walk in the woods and field near our home. As often happens, we met others along the way: friendly dogs and their owner, mating songbirds, and young people on bikes. Continue reading

For the Love of Open Space

The_FieldColder weather has returned and flurries fill the air. Even so, the snow and ice are increasingly found only in the deeper woods. The maple sap is running only intermittently, although perhaps we will have a strong run later in the week. There is some talk of snow for Easter.

This post, like so many of mine, is firmly rooted in the Nature; the Natural World is a crucial part of Jennie and my lives and spiritual practices. Yet, as the Natural world collapses under the stress of human greed and malice, we find ourselves struggling to stay positive and useful.

Jennie and I have been speaking about documenting the beauty, and perhaps fates, of some of our favorite open spaces in the city. In prior posts I’ve mentioned some of the development threats that face open space here. I’ve been trying to understand how to address these issues in a positive way, to allow myself rage and not give in to hopelessness. I spent much of Saturday thinking about these things. Continue reading