We are the People of the Alder

I recently gave a talk at the 9th Annual Portland Plant Medicine Gathering Nov. 12 2017 entitled We are the People of the Alder: Restoring Ancestral Roots in a Clear-cut Culture.

During this talk I shared some of the information I received while on the High Desert Odyssey in September during which I asked how we can make the necessary cultural and political changes that will guide and inform the transition from a human-centered way of being (which has paved the way for the ecological degradation wrought by the dominant capitalist cultures of our planet) to an earth-centered orientation that respects the rights of all life here on Earth and beyond? Here are some notes based the information I received:

  • Forces of divine law exist. The new, healthy human cultures that are currently unfolding will align with these forces. Those that don't, the ones who try to bend these forces to their will, will fail.
  • When we operate from a place of integrity, not driven by unconscious fears, shame, guilt, or neuroses, we not only act in our own self interests but for the good of the greater whole. Liberated from lower-self motivations, we will manifest institutions and cultural norms inspired by higher-self principles.
  • Integrity in its most fundamental form comes from an alignment with the Earth and Sky. Finding an orientation between these two poles I can ask, "Am I completely at ease in my body?" If the answer is no, I have work to do.
  • In order to be in right relationship to the Earth we must be in right relationship to ourselves, and in order to be in right relationship to ourselves we must be in right relationship to the Earth. The same can be said regarding our relationship to the Cosmos. Escaping the confines of our unrooted culture by venturing into wild nature and surrendering to the forces we encounter there with respect and humility allows these relationships to rectify within our bodies and energetic beings. We cannot find the answers while immersed in the old energetic patterns and old ways of being.
  • To act with integrity in regards to the land, one must be in right relationship to the land. Stating this is evidence that I am not part of an intact culture. A person born into and raised within a connected culture could not even consider such a notion. As the new way continues to unfold, each generation will come closer to losing the ability to have thoughts such as these. By their very nature the generations that follow will be unable to act in ways that are unsustainable or that put the integrity of ecosystems at risk.
  • Integral cultures express themselves as reflections of the people's relationship with the land itself. Before modern consciousness arose humans couldn't conceive of being separate from the lands in which they lived. Their cultures could only be extensions of the land itself. How do we reconcile our new conceptions of individuality with this way of being?
  • It is a precious gift to incarnate and inhabit a human body. And while it seems so confusing and crazy to navigate through life as a divine being in an animal body it will get easier as we learn to operate from a place of connection. The necessary transition time of separation is turning. We are now deep in a process of integrating the experience of individuality with the understanding of the oneness of all creation. As we consciously walk this path aligning ourselves with the forces of transformation and new, earth-based cultures emerge to support and nurture the new understanding it will become less difficult to be a human.

Some Questions to Ask Ourselves:

  • How do I define integrity?
  • To what principles do I look to guide my actions?
  • What motivates me to act in ways that are not integral or aligned with my values?
  • With whom or what am I aligned? In what am I rooted?
  • Are my responses to natural events or people motivated by a response to past traumas or to my understanding of the interconnectivity of all life?

These are all questions we ought to ask ourselves as well as those with whom we engage with intimately, those with whom we do business, those we choose to be our leaders, and regarding the structures of governance within which we operate.

Here is the poem I read during the talk:

Songs of the Consecrated Earth

Winds rise. Trees sway.

Mists curl around snaking mountain ridges.

I flow with the waters of glacier-fed rivers.

Fiery water courses through my veins.

Ancestor songs dance me away.

As the morning sun kisses my cheek through parting clouds,

I finish grieving what I now know can never be lost.

I have been here before and to this world will I return again,

Ever-strengthened and firmed in the knowledge that all life is one.


Of this land, of this Earth,

I am a spirit born of the Sun.

I remember my kin.

My heart reaches out to Alder,

to Aspen and Redcedar,

to Juniper and Hawthorn,

To Cottonwood and Elder,

To Dogwood and Madrone.


“Bless my soul, brother-sisters,” I cry,

"Feed and nourish me as I move across this land

Held by the consecrating earth,

Singing songs of remembrance,

And making way for the spirits of renewal.


“Awaken my sons! Awaken my daughters! Awaken my friends!

Many-born people of the Alder, 

Remember who you are

Feel the call. Feel the love.

Feel the support and acceptance of your ancestors.

Feel the rocks---they are your bones.

Feel the wind breathing you.


“Turn your face to the sun.

Receive its gift of love, light, and illumination.

Feel the stars twinkling through your being.

Feel the moon pull at your inner tides,

And as rivers of feeling connect you with instinctive wisdom,

Return to wildness.


“Give of yourself freely.

Purge, shake, and scream.

Cry and sweat.

Allow the sun to cook the impurities away.

There are always others who will make use of your refuse.

Piss and shit.

Feed the trees, enliven beings of transformation, and nourish the land.


“Stand tall and align yourself with Cedar.

Hug the ground and kiss the earth like Peony.

Allow Juniper to show you the wisdom of the bonds that reside within.

Let these forces of life clear away death-culture conditioning

As you hear the call across the mountains to the high desert lands

Where Ephedra and Sagebrush await.


"Hear the song of the thrush.

Remember the mystery that has awaited your awakening remembrance---

The truth of faith in nature.

Let this guiding earth-force bring a new awareness into your being

So you can receive your birthright---

To be children of this land.


“Flowers of love bloom from the poisoned earth.

Respect for life sprouts in clearcut forests.

Healing, rejuvenating waters rise up from the scarred earth

To fall as heavenly balm that greens moss-covered, dryland rock formations.


“Transform bitter self-hatred into acceptance

As harmonious songs emerge

From clanging, earth-destructing machines:

Hear them in the wind blowing through the leaves of the trees,

In the gurgling of mountain streams,

In the twilit drone of insects,

And beaming from the plant-light of your soul.


“Our indigenous souls long to walk these lands with reverence and humility.

We are the children of Ashusha coming to bless these lands once again. 

We are the Alder people, and we come to renew.

Bless all that comes before you!

Bless all that has gone!

Bless this precious moment now

As we sing these songs of the consecrated Earth!”


Berry, Thomas. The Great Work: Our Way into the Future.

"We cannot doubt that we too have been given the intellectual vision, the spiritual insight, and even the physical resources we need for carrying out the transition that is demanded of these times, transition from the period when humans were a disruptive force on the planet Earth to the period when humans become present to the planet in a manner that is mutually enhancing."

Masters, Robert Augustus. To Be a Man: A Guide to True Masculine Power. (initial chapters regarding shame)

"unexplored shame blocks the way to vulnerability, empathy, and relational closeness, existing as a barrier or layer that must be illuminated and passed through before such capacities can be significantly accessed."

Macy, Joanna. World as Lover, World as Self: A Guide to Living Fully in Turbulent Times. (regarding despair)

"The refusal to feel takes a heavy toll. It not only impoverishes our emotional and sensory life—flowers are dimmer and less fragrant, our loves less ecstatic—but also impedes our capacity to process and respond to information. The energy expended in pushing down despair is diverted from more creative uses, depleting the resilience and imagination needed for fresh visions and strategies. Fear of despair erects an invisible screen, filtering out anxiety-provoking data. In a world where organisms require feedback in order to adapt and survive, this is suicidal. Now, when we most need to measure the effects of our acts, our attention and curiosity slacken as if we are already preparing for the Big Sleep. Doggedly attending to business-as-usual, we’re denying both our despair and our ability to cope with it."