Natural law. We live in it. There is no denying the sun rises and sets no matter your personal belief system. Thank goodness there are things we can agree on these days. But nature seems to have become a complicated concept, our earth mother appears to be dwindling in her inherent powers according to the environmental disaster we're imparting on her. Our attention diverted there for awhile whilst bigger and better seemed to take hold in our human evolvement on earth. But with everything becoming tiny again, we have hope! We are starting to consume from ethical supply chains, not just end products. We are re-using, up-cycling, and re-fashioning. We are growing our own food again. Things are looking good. And the earth mother, in her graciousness, was waiting for us all along, ready to give back again in a more conscious relationshuip between us.
Ayurveda, at its core, believes you are comprised of the elements that you see out there in the world (earth, water, fire, air, ether). We are all part of the same type of qualities. The Ayurvedic journey is understanding how you can create a relationship to nature. First understanding yourself and how your inherent nature works and then understanding how the external qualities affect you. It's a constant dynamic relationship. You essentially move together. Some of the teachers I have experienced believe an even more subtle relationship can be formed, which is listening for signs in nature. Dr Robert Svoboda, BAMS, said in lecture one day that if you can read the signs in nature you would have no need for astrology.
This is really exciting stuff. It opens up a whole new dialogue that we may not have tapped into in our modern view of the world. Technology to date has not been able to tap into our inner wisdom/gut feel/6th sense. It also opens up a new dialogue between us as companions living here on earth together trying to get along. Traditional societies talked with nature often and she acted as a guide and buffer between human frailty. Imagine working from a mode of less talking and deeper communication. We all feel loneliness, we all know social media ain't cuttin' it, there is a craving out there that wants something else. And we also, no matter how old we become, need mentors, someone to lift us up to the next phase of life. In our quest for freedom, we didn't realise that too much isolation and too much knowledge could create a vacant space that felt less anchoring. It's just better to have teachers show you the way.
It's wonderful that we have Moggie here in town taking on the role of guiding the art of mentoring and helping us access the ways of nature to heal the earth and ourselves in the meantime. It's so beautifully complimentary to the inner work of Ayurveda as it continues to expand on the art of listening and mindfulness.
1. You use the words deeper in your write up as part of the results of working with you. What does the every day feel like when it changes from superficial to deep? Do you have a personal anecdote on your own shift in perspective?
When I read your question I am immediately reminded of the work of Michael Meade (story teller, author, and scholar of mythology, anthropology, and psychology).
He talks more about breadth (superficial) versus depth. And in this place he is referring to the fact that we are biologically designed for the vertical axis, for depth and height – connection to the earthly and the spiritual; but in our modern day society and culture, we have become accustomed to breadth – spreading ourselves thinly across many things in life. He talks about the more we open to this vertical axis the more we can allow our genius to emerge. Because as many would say, we all have genius to express, but we need to open this channel in order for our genius to have a way through.
For me this is where the beauty of the nature connection work comes through, as it allows us to open up the neurological wiring for greater connection to the vertical – this is how we are designed (hard wired). When we describe connection, we are talking about connection to nature, to other people and ourselves. These are the 3 main areas of connection that operate separately but ultimately together. Indigenous wisdom tells us that nature connection is the fastest track to all three. Indigenous traditions are renowned for their “deep” connection to place – that is, their neurology has been fully activated by living for millennia in the same place. That is my sense of what is meant by “connection to country”.
Interestingly when you say – do I have a personal anecdote? – I reflect back to my first attendance at an Art of Mentoring (AOM) gathering in the USA. Prior to attending, I had a yearning from deep inside myself that I wanted to go DEEPER in life, without having any idea what that meant, but craving it with a passion and intensity I could not explain. I am already one that dives quite deep so I was searching for something to fulfil that yearning that I didn’t seem to be able to find around me. And so I stumbled on AOM, which I attended with my teen daughter.
At the time my mother had recently died which had been a profound spiritual experience for me, but none the less I had grief and all the feelings that go with this big life transition. When I arrived at the AOM, I was instantly struck by an energy field (the atmosphere) that I knew could hold all that was churning inside me. The village created at this event was able to hold my grief at the sacred fire for ancestors, support me as I stepped into being the “oldest woman” in my family with an elders circle, hold me in my parenting of my teen daughter with other parents in that group, and take her on an incredible teen rites of passage journey. With the support of a “village” to hold all these places together, there was also space for me to just BE myself, and it was then that I realised I was enough – just the way I am. And the deeper I drop into connection, the more I find this to be true.
That’s was quite a big life moment, so to describe this on a simpler level, in relation to nature connected journey, I will share another small story. I have a “sit spot” – a place I go most days, mostly in the early morning, all weather, to sit and be with nature and myself. I have been doing this for a number of years now and so I know my little spot quite well. And it has taken “years” to be able to tell you this story.
When I first started sitting and observing the birds, the rufous whistler was one of the first to make itself known to me. It came forth and showed itself several times and sang its oh so sweet song, such that even when I couldn’t see it I could feel its presence in its territory around my home. Each nesting season, the male creates a territory, which he guards with his song, going round in a circle for most of the day. This year I had the absolute privilege for the baby and adult male to both come forth and introduce themselves to me at my sit spot. They came to within 2 feet of my head and we checked each other out with a rich intent of connection! In the days that followed, I also got to witness the baby being fed by the male adult. The whole experience gave me so much joy I felt like I was bursting at the seams. It took time for this rich experience to reveal itself, but I can say that it opened me up deeply from the inside out.
2. As you know Ayurveda is a natural framework that sees the individual encompassing the same qualities as our environment. So we look to the environment for cues on how to adapt in our daily activities. How do you see nature as our mentor? How has that worked for you personally?
I love a story I read from Barry Lopez, about a “long term” study of wolves that was being done in Alaska. One day the researcher saw a mother wolf acting in a way he hadn’t seen before that sparked his curiosity as it fell outside of what he had determined to be the patterns of “how wolves behave”. He went and spoke with one of the indigenous elders to find out what was happening. The elder replied to his question about the mother wolf – “what was she doing?” – by saying “I don’t know”. I love how this illustrates how we study something for a period of time then think we “know” all there is to know … but everything is an individual expression, with a life and consciousness, and we too do not always “know” what is going on. This opens us to the unknown and limitless possibilities, a wonderful opportunity for our own unique creative expression.
The moon is not just the moon. It has different phases from new to full, from close to the earth to further away, to different trajectories across the sky. If we watch it every day, we see the subtle changes in the brightness, the size, the feeling of the moon. Lakota tradition speaks of the fourth day after the new moon, how it is a day of rest for all the species on the planet where they can rest, be free and without fear of being hunted. Is this true – I don’t know – but I am feeling my way into what this might be like.
For me personally, this is what I experience. I sit more comfortably in the present moment and respond to life as it feels “right”. Act when I need to act and “be with what is” when that is required. I am more attuned to all the world around me and increasingly feel the subtle shifts. It has enriched my life, made me feel more alive, more awake to the daily joys and challenges, and I feel like I can respond from a place of wholeness in myself when I am embracing the nature that is around me and within me. My curiosity is alive to possibility, and it is nature that teaches me this.
3. I personally see a lack of mentorship as a key factor in how to age well. We lack ritual and guidance and intention in the different phases of our lives. What are some of the positive benefits from reintroducing a mentorship program into society?
From what I have been studying in recent years about cultural repair and the foundations of indigenous culture, mentoring is one of the biggest missing pieces in our modern culture. It is the piece that has been most damaged by the process of colonization. Taking us away from place was the start of not being able to support the sharing of wisdom down through the generations.
It might be helpful to describe what mentoring is, so we understand the missing piece of the puzzle. Mentoring occurs generally from an older person in our lives who sees our gifts, and gently encourages and guides us on our journey by asking key questions along our path that expand our curiosity and guide us towards our potential – into our GIFT and purpose. In a “village” this would be the appropriate “aunt” or “uncle”. These questions are designed to guide us, first by affirming what we do know, then taking us a bit beyond our edge, and further still – asking a key question that may sit with us for years. Most importantly – they listen to us, they are there to witness and support us. This is not the parent role, as it is the parent’s role to just love us. As you have described they can “hold space” for us at key times of life, for rites of passage, so we prepare and take the step of transition in an empowering and fulfilling way. We are interdependent beings, not independent as we have been so well programmed.
And so mentoring has a role to support us as we age, whether through childhood, teens or into elderhood.
As I described at the AOM, all the different “parts” of the village are accounted for – yes I know that sounds a little artificial, but none the less true. When all parts of the village are present, we all feel whole. And when we feel whole, our attributes of connection are activated, and we can take up the appropriate “roles” for stages of life. With others there “holding space” for age appropriate stages, we can sit comfortably in ours and have a sense of where we are going.
I work a lot with a model described by the 8 Shields Institute that encompasses the attributes in relation to the life stages. It goes like this …
During the AOM we all experienced a powerful journey supporting the teens on their rite of passage. All parts were well held for the teens by the elders, for the parents and for the village. As I reflected on my own teen years, I was reminded of the incredible capacity we have for transformation. Most of us reflect back on that time and think “I’m so glad I don’t have to do that again”. But we did it! Imagine if we embraced life at any stage with this same capacity to transform and we did this now, with awareness, to create the life we want to live, not only for us but for the future generations. What an amazing world we can create together!
4. In terms of the masculine and feminine, do you see the work as being different for men and women? Do you believe we can tap into different connections with nature?
This is something that I find quite fascinating and continue to explore with depth as I have for a number of years. My mentor has guided me to continue to look beneath the veil of deception, the “stories”, the multiple layers to see the truth of the masculine and feminine. I feel like I have peeled away many layers and continue to hold the possibility for more to peel away while holding both deep in my heart.
Is the journey different for men and women? I don’t know, as I am a woman and I can only experience the world from where I sit, but what I do know, is we can embrace both the feminine and masculine in ourselves. And for me, this is both the strengths and gifts, as well as the wounding. The wounding is part of the same deception. I believe that if we can unite the masculine and feminine within ourselves we have much greater hope for peace in this world. In my own journey this has been an extremely powerful place of love and forgiveness for both myself, and looking at where humanity is right now – we are seeing the wounding loud and clear – it is ours, not somebody else's, over there and separate. If we can embrace this in our own hearts we have hope for finding true peace.
I recently heard a talk from a Native American woman Pat McCabe. She professes that the separation between the masculine and feminine is the greatest wound and deception imposed upon humanity and that if we can heal in this place we will bring peace to the world. Is this true? We can only explore this for ourselves and for me personally I do experience this.
As men and women, I do believe we have different roles on this earth plane. I am excited about how we can live these fully and celebrate each other, not try to be the same but embrace what makes us different and honour this in each other. We both have the masculine and feminine inside us but we have different roles. It’s like a yellow-breasted robin wanting to be like a collared sparrow hawk – they are both birds, they fly, they hunt and gather food – but they are different! And they can’t be compared! I heard a great story once imagining a robin waking in the morning, can you imagine if it started the day with … “I can’t be bothered singing now” … and “I don’t like my song anyway, it’s not as good as the rufous whistler”. Or imagine the 2 parts of a flower that together make the fruit … you can’t have just one or the other or we would have no fruit.
Last year when I was at another AOM, I had an experience some may find a bit gruesome, where a group of 15 of us took the lives of 2 sheep and butchered them for the village. It was one of the most profound days of my life, where the veils were thin, and we moved between life and death. I learnt so much about the masculine and feminine that day, too many things to start sharing. But I can say there were men and women, and many women took up roles you may have expected the men to do. When we all shared our personal experience and “story of the day”, a whole other story of the sacred feminine emerged. It made me weep with gratitude and respect for all of life.
One of the things I like about the nature connection movement is the equal representation of men and women on the journey. It feels like it is a place where men and women find balance with their feminine and masculine sides while honouring their gender and celebrating the other. It feels like a great place of unity while embracing difference!
5. Where do you see the stuck aspects of ourselves these days? What are the more common issues that you encounter as a healer and what do you believe is the root cause of them?
I feel we all carry similar wounds. They vary in shape and form but the deeper we get we find we are all pretty similar – the human condition. For me, it comes back to the same place of disconnect … where we are not deeply connected to ourselves, listening and following with deep faith our intuition, our heart, our gut, our messages, our callings, our passions, our yearnings. Which comes back again to the same place that we don’t have a village to hold us in this place, to receive us, to guide and be guided. Most of us lack mentors who will guide and support us through this terrain.
And so we are held back from fully expressing the gift of who we are. It doesn’t mean we have to be someone profound and out there, but just fully ourselves. I heard a great story about a guy who was a mentor who people travelled far and wide to seek his counsel and wisdom – turns out he was the janitor at a local movie theatre who happened to be a wise old man, but he kept humbly doing his job at the theatre. They bought their ticket, walked into the movie theatre, and walked out with a new look on life!
I feel we get stuck not fully expressing our gifts for two main reasons - we encounter our wounds in the same place, and because expressing our gift often doesn’t fit into the mould of society, doesn’t easily earn us money or doesn’t have a place in our modern construct.
One significant secret that is not widely shared in our culture, is how the wound and the gift live in the same place inside us. Again, Michael Meade has some wonderful things to say about this as he unpacks the lost meanings of mythological tales. So, with this misunderstanding, as we move towards our passion and gift, we encounter the uncomfortable, the wound, the pain, the self-doubt, and interpret this as being on the wrong path. In fact, it couldn’t be more right.
In the modern western world, a significant part of our construct is “knowing”. Often when we are in the flow and following our own guidance, we are moving in the “unknown”. In reality, we are always moving in the unknown, it’s just that we create a feeling of control and certainty about the known. When we are truly in the present, it is just that moment emerging and the next – how can we know? But at the same time, I can answer this question by saying that deep inside we do have a knowing when something is “right” for us.
I recently attended a workshop with Malcolm Ringwalt – and he had a beautiful summary of our “demons of darkness” (really there is no light or dark): Distractions, complacency (lack of commitment), physical mind, expectations/prejudice, ego, trying, and self-doubt.
If you consider these in the light of our modern culture, it says a lot!!
6. What does your vision look like? How do you see the work of Jon Young and his Art of Mentoring creating change in the goldfields region?
Following my first attendance at an AOM, I was super inspired to have this here in Australia. Since then it has been quite a journey finding folk who know this work in detail, then partnering up to create such an event. It is no small task to create this powerful village. There are many subtle layers that are created for the final result and so we have been working with Jon Young to manifest just that! Because of the size of our population here, we have started with a national approach (including New Zealand) to build our clan. At our first workshops we had all 7 states represented and NZ. But we are also creating the breathing in and out effect where we come together nationally then return home and work locally. The thing I love about this vision is it includes people with varying interests with nature including naturalists, permaculturists, localisation, primitive skills, land care, healing, ceremony, musicians and artists.
For me with my interest in working with healing, ceremony, grief and nature connection, I have been running small workshops doing the “renewal of creative path” (ROCP) – a process based on indigenous wisdom to support us in discovering our gifts, as well as setting specific steps and goals for achieving this. Combining this process with nature connection is rich and rewarding. I am currently personally doing my 6th ROCP, and I am always amazed how it takes me deeper each time. It has the quality of a mini vision quest.
I am also working with other Victorian folk to run a “deep nature connection core routines” workshop to offer people some wonderful tools for taking this journey themselves. As more people express interest then the more locally we can run these events. I am certainly keen to partner with others around this.
Guided by the wisdom of nature and the heart, Moggie mentors and supports people in discovering their gifts and purpose in this life, so that together we can all grow the world we want to live in, not only for us but for the future generations. Using a variety of techniques gleaned from over 30 years of working with health, healing, zen buddhism and nature connection, she can mentor you to become happier, more alive and vital to life, feeling more connected, and opening more deeply to love and forgiveness. Sessions involve a variety of talking and sharing, nature connection exercises, deep listening and sacred questions.
The Renewal of Creative Path for Women course is running February 11/12th. For more information call Moggie on 0414 138 831
OTHER EVENTS - I am also co-facilitating a Vision Quest in the lineage of Stalking wolf this autumn.