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Trees in Early Irish Law and Lore: Respect for Other-Than-Human Life in Europe’s History June 13, 2020

trees tall

My article, “Trees in Early Irish Law and Lore: Respect for Other-Than-Human Life in Europe’s History,” has just been published in the peer-reviewed journal, Ecopsychology.

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Abstract (summary of contents): In contrast to modern Western society’s treatment of plants as non- sentient beings to be used or killed at will for our own benefit, the complex legal system used in Ireland from prehistory up until the 17th century delineated penalties for mistreating trees that were not dissimilar to the penalties for mistreating other humans. The early Irish relationship with trees as described in Brehon Law and extant lore was not only utilitarian but also deeply spiritual and tied to the peoples’ identity. Brehon Law provides an example from European history that illustrates traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and animistic relationships with the more-than-human world of nature. This paper explores some ecopsychological and environmental benefits of applying its principles today.

 
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“Ecopsychology invites you to read this special issue dedicated to bringing forward insights from wisdom traditions, such as those from Indigenous peoples, and those from contemporary science, to more clearly inspire and guide actions that care for the Earth. The issue was co-edited by two leaders in their fields. Cheryl Charles is Co-Founder, President, and CEO Emerita of the Children & Nature Network, and an educator, author, and long-time advocate for connecting people of all ages with nature. Gregory Cajete is a scholar, educator, author and elder in his Indigenous tribe, Tewa, and served for many years as director of Native American Studies at University of New Mexico.”

 

Due to the timeliness of this Special Issue’s topic (Wisdom Traditions, Science and Care for the Earth), the publisher has offered a special link that contains free 30-day access with the request to “please be sure to share your work openly with your colleagues.” You folks reading this, feel free to share more widely as well if you know someone who might be interested.
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***Note one serious erratum: on page 130, the word “oyate” should have been ascribed to the Lakota rather than the Ojibwa, to match the citation. Please accept my sincere apologies to all concerned.***
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Link to my article:  https://bit.ly/2XIeutw
  
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                                    (available free from mid-June through July 12, 2020)
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I hope you enjoy it!   Please let me know what you think in the Comments below.

 

 

Protected: Course Reading- Ecopsych Training: Mindfulness in Nature June 2, 2020

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Insight from a Partial Eclipse August 21, 2017

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96% totality experienced.

Even at that much shadowed occultation, the sun offered a surprising amount of light.

The profound takeaway I got is this:

If we consider the parallels between the larger natural world and our own psyches, it’s a sweet reminder that even if we’ve sabotaged our lives a lot through our own BS patterns, our pure original nature still shines more brightly than we realize.

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Climate Crisis Solutions conference October 19, 2016

I’m pleased to be one of the presenters in Ohio this coming weekend at the 63rd annual conference put on by the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions. It will be held at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, from October 21-23, 2016.

The presentations cover a wide variety of topics related to climate change.

 

Climate Crisis Solutions: Charting a New Course

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My two presentations are:

PRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOP:

Stones as Mentors: Spiritual Ecotherapy    Tina Fields

As you face the big issues like climate change along with figuring out how to best live your own life, have you ever wished you had a wise elder around to give you perspective and advice? Engage in an ancient and powerful animistic practice that works with the oldest parts of the earth – stones – to gain insight into a life question. Participants will experience how the natural world can serve as spiritual advisor.

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Fostering Nature Connections and Joy as a Resilience Strategy     – Tina Fields

Along with structural alternatives, psychological and spiritual resilience need to be cultivated in order to effectively meet the enormous challenges and coming changes posed by climate change. Allowing the feelings that arise to be recognized and flow though us is a key element – both the harder feelings of pain, fear, anger and denial, and also the joy and mysteries of being alive at this time. In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to express their feelings about the situation of climate change, and to explore their own deep and abiding connection with the more-than-human world.

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I’m especially delighted that two of my former students will be attending, and one, Catherine Phillips, will assist with the Stones as Mentors workshop.

Hope to see you there!

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Anthropology of Consciousness July 5, 2016

“Huge thank you to Tina Fields the 2016 SAC keynote address for her talk, ‘I am He as You are He as You are Me, and We are All Together’ — Fostering Ecopsychological Relationship with Place.  Here is a snippet from an interview at Naropa University in 2012 on culture, consciousness, and conditioned assumptions about reality.”

That was reblogged from the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness (SAC)’s Open Access blog. It was a great honor to serve as their Keynote speaker.

If you are interested in exploring issues of consciousness with a group of very smart, kind interdisciplinary thinkers who look at wild topics with both rigor and open-minded humor, SAC may be the group for you.

The interview they spoke of follows below. I’m posting it here for the first time on my own blog (what a concept!) Perhaps you’ll like it too.

Source: SAC in 2016

 

What my students learned this semester December 6, 2015

Unknown

Start paying attention

The difference between me and you (or anything, for that matter)

is the thought that creates that reality.

 

I need to be radical in my love, my thoughts, my actions, my acceptance and surrender – to get to the root,

the seat of life and growth, which is the seat of quintessence.

That’s where i want to be.

 

[What I’ve learned has been] both extremely helpful and devastating:

How unconscious most humans are, but that it can change!

I uncovered some of my own self-defenses that keep me from action.

The application of psychoanalytical theories to understand the great complexity of our environmental situation.

I developed more clarity and compassion, for myself and others

Context for the madness

A lot less anger

At once, I feel the urgency to act and the need to be patient and not act forcefully

To learn to live with and through the earth, not just on her

Gratitude that I owe to my family

 

Humans’ connection with nature

A sense of oneness

Enmeshment within the natural world

Being an integral part of the macro interdependent-system that feels itself, knows itself, and heals itself

Ecological identity

This has forever changed my life

 

I look at all that is around me a little differently now.

Knowing it is all of the earth, and perhaps more importantly that it will go back to the earth, changes the way I operate in my days.

 

This sense was deepened and became more embodied

An exchange in breath: as the plant was breathing out, I was breathing in

Increase my awareness and widen my perception

Eventually feeling the reciprocal awareness of nature

How incredible these realizations have been for me.

 

Awakening has been the most beautiful process I’ve ever endured.

Thank you Earth!

Healing source

Never ending story

 

These are the truths that have become my mantras from being absorbed in ecopsychological concepts.

These are incredible supports that I rely on when feeling distressed, confused, and at times, hopeless.

 

I will continue to live mindfully in respect to nature.

Being conscious about what I purchase, what I waste, how and what I eat etc.

“No matter how big you get, don’t forget to take out your own trash.”

 

So grateful to walk this path with you

and share what I can with whoever will listen.

A challenging(!), engaging, deepening, fulfilling and respectful round of studies

I’m so grateful to be receiving wisdom

Like candy for my soul.

 

I bow out to a transformative journey

I and the moon bow in thanks

Your wisdom and beautiful hearts

 

Just bloom.

 

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These words are from first-year students’ final self-reflections on their learning in my Ecopsychology class, part of Naropa University’s M.A. program in Ecopsychology, early December 2015

collated into a poem by professor Tina Fields

I composed this as a gift back to them, a lens on what happens in this program, and a reflection for teachers to turn to when times at work get rough. To help us remember that what we do matters.

Students whose words are in here: Katie Poinier, Thompson Bishop, Melanie Gajewski, Colleen Kirkpatrick,  Karen Delahunty, Lauren Mangion, Anne Gordon, Sierra Robinson, Erika Dearen, Bekah Turner, Tessa Stuart and Jakob Ledbetter.

I am extraordinarily fortunate as a teacher, so often getting to feel awe at the depth of my students’ thoughtful engagement with their learning, their passionate desire to care for the planet, and most of all, their souls.

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Iñupiaq ancient lore in video game May 11, 2014

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Exciting news on the indigenous storytelling front: the Iñupiaq people (of the place currently known as northern Alaska) will soon release a video game based on their traditional stories. For those who haven’t the ability to physically sit at the feet of their First Nations elders and listen, what better way to get this ancient knowledge of how to live in right relationship with the more-than-human world into the ears of today’s youth — and even the world?

Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa) is the story of a young girl who, with her arctic fox companion, must save her people from an endless blizzard.  From their trailer:

“Welcome to the top of the world. Where nature challenges life in the extreme. Where death lies waiting in the cold. Where you must explore the fantastical world of Iñupiaq stories to help a young girl save her people from an endless blizzard. …A game of survival in a place where survival shouldn’t be possible. A game that opens a gateway to explore what it means to be human.”

Indigenous-Owned

Upper One, the creators of this “atmospheric puzzle platformer” adventure game, say they are the first indigenous-owned video game developer and publisher in the U.S. To create Never Alone, they had experienced game developers join forces with Alaska Native storytellers and elders. Some of the stories are thousands of years old.

Ecopsychological Dimensions

On the one hand, such video games encourage more staring at glowing machines indoors instead of actually interacting with the natural world in both its physical and magical dimensions, as seen in Never Alone‘s storyline. From an ecopsychological viewpoint, I find this a painfully ironic disjoint. But if we accept the fact that the burgeoning use of internet technology is here to stay for now, telling traditional stories in an interactive way like this is a wonderful use of it – especially if players then apply the principles to their own lives, seeking deep relationships of the sort featured in the game.

Native Language

The game will be released in Fall 2014 so I obviously haven’t played it, but from the trailer alone I love nearly everything about it. Besides the sheer gorgeousness of the visuals and the fact that it offers vitally important traditional lore in such a delicious and widely accessible package, one of the best things about this game is that it is presented in the characters’ own language of Inupiat, with an English translation below.

Why is this so great? Because native languages are in serious trouble. According to MIT’s Indigenous Language Initiative, “In the world, approximately 6,000 languages are spoken, of which only about 600 are confidently expected to survive this century.” Preserving them is important not only for the speakers of the languages themselves and the integrity of their cultures each one’s language creates and holds, but the fact that diversity of languages is intimately tied to biodiversity.

First Nations languages contain words and phrases for local natural events and features. They therefore hold keys for the local natural world’s survival and thriving, so when the language is lost, this knowledge of how to work with and care for the local environment is lost as well. The loss of a native language is therefore a painful loss for the whole world. Exposure like this game offers could go a long way toward preserving and even expanding these languages’ use.

What, no Mac version?

The game will cost a reasonable $15, but is only going to be released for PS4, Xbox One and PC. No mention of Mac. 😦   So I only hope I can gain access to the right kind of machine for awhile to play it. (Hey Upper One developers, if you’re reading this, please make a version for Mac too!!)

To learn more or to play it once it’s released, here is the game’s websitehttp://neveralonegame.com

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