Master of Community and Regional Planning (MCRP)
University of British Columbia
This weekend some SSSEA folks attended the 8th annual Indigenous Leadership Gathering hosted by the Xaxli’p First Nation from June 2nd to June 5th near Lillooet, BC. Chief Darrell Bob of Xaxli’p First Nation reminded us that the first gathering was held to protect the sacred and took place in 2009. The gathering is open to everyone from all over the world. Three meals a day were generously provided. We had tasty moose and deer cooked by volunteers. I had fun volunteering in the kitchen for the first day.
Being at the gathering reminded me of my journey of seeking to know my spirit and the sacred. I have been exploring what it means to be in touch with my spirit for some years now. It is a bumpy road of push and pull where diving into my heart more deeply has uncovered both gifts and many uncomfortable truths. And where sometimes I have tried to run away from the difficulties in my heart only to be pulled back to what seems to me to be more authentic within myself, the spirit in me: the eternal beauty that embraces the pain so tenderly.
At the gathering, one of the speakers, Phil Lane Jr. spoke about the prophecy of the eagle and the condor, where these two birds come together. These two birds do not typically migrate, they stay in their respective continents (specifically true for the condor, but depending on the eagle, some species migrate). The speaker mentioned that the condor, native of South America, is symbolic of the heart, and the eagle, native of North America, is symbolic of the mind. Right now, there is an opportunity for these two energies to meet and come into union. A union that could benefit mankind immensely, and that perhaps could unite the energies within us too. According to the Pachamama Alliance,
“The Eagle and the Condor is an ancient Amazon prophecy that speaks of human societies splitting into two paths – that of the Eagle, and that of the Condor. The path of the Condor is the path of heart, of intuition, and of the feminine. The path of the Eagle is the path of the mind, of the industrial, and of the masculine. The prophecy says that the 1490s would begin a 500 year period during during which the Eagle people would become so powerful that they would virtually drive the Condor people out of existence. This can be seen in the conquering of the Americas and the killing and oppressing of the indigenous peoples in the subsequent 500 years – up to and including today. The prophecy says that during the next 500-year period, beginning in 1990, the potential would arise for the Eagle and the Condor to come together, to fly in the same sky, and to create a new level of consciousness for humanity. The prophecy only speaks of the potential, so it’s up to us to activate this potential and ensure that a new consciousness is allowed to arise.”
The last few months I have been meditating on this union within myself. I decided to explore both the feminine and the masculine in myself in order to understand what the flow of these two energies would feel like if they were not blocked. What I found was that for a while I had refused to accept the masculine in myself because of the social construction of what it entailed to be masculine. I was searching for a healthy masculine, one that does not seek to control, judge, nor block off, but one that is protective of my fluid nature and speaks truth when truth is needed. I was finding that my unhealthy masculine sought and seeks to sometimes control what is around me in order for me to feel safe.
The feminine in me is fluid, like water, but often times seeks to flow uncontrollably. She is sensation-based, she seeks pleasure, and she wants to indulge in ultimate feeling. Yet, I also do not have a clear idea of what a healthy feminine in me looks like, because again socially I have been led to believe that the free feminine is the social construction of the current masculine: independent, and head-driven. (Just to be clear, these are energetic conceptualizations, and they are by no means prescriptions of naturalized femininity or masculinity as pertaining to gender. Some men can have more feminine energy or vice-versa.)
As I worked to balance these energies within me, so that my spirit is in alignment with what feels right to me, my intuition tells me to lift my masculine and ground my feminine. At the moment I find myself happily living in one or the other but I seek a balance of the two. For myself, these are of course just metaphors, metaphors that I use and perhaps others do to in order to navigate and accept myself and arrive to what feels like the most authentic expression of me.
I had the honour of being on my moontime at the gathering, and I was treated with so much kindness, love and reverence. At the ceremonial circle, there was a space for women on their moontime to sit. There were blankets, chocolate, and water for us to drink and an Elder that took care of us and answered questions. I was told that at night, there was also a women’s circle where women talked about how being on moontime is something to be honoured and not feel ashamed of (I did not participate but I was told by another women at the gathering about this).
At the women’s honouring circle we walked into the middle of the ceremony and were invited to sit in the middle while men sang in honour of women. Although the circle was for honouring women, I began to think about my father. I thought about my father and began to cry because I knew that in his heart he had been deprived of the ability to express his emotions fully. Patriarchy had dictated that he needed to behave a certain way and express his emotions a certain way or not at all. I cried because I knew in my heart that he loves me so much, even if sometimes he does not have the tools to express this love.
Back to ecology, to nature, the focus of this blog,and bringing this back full circle. A huge tug of war exists in my heart about development and the preservation of the environment. There is no such a thing as sustainable development, as Bill Reese proved through the ecological footprint, growth is inherently unsustainable. So what to do? To me, development is a very masculine, Yang-driven energy, it is an energy of doing, and growing, and achievement. Yet it is almost a hyper-masculine energy. Living in complete alignment with nature, and letting the flow take us, to me, seems hyper-feminine, at a time of extensive environmental destruction, climate change, we need warriors that will live in alignment to mother earth but which will use the mind and the heart to find ways to flow with the mother, while using the masculine energy to build new futures of togetherness and community. In the end, how do we achieve a unity that honours the unity that brought us here?
Perhaps it is indeed about the unity of these two energies, it is about the condor and the eagle finally arriving. Each energy with its gifts and pains if misused or taken to extremes can be dangerous. Unity with nature, I think ultimately entails a unity of these two energies in ourselves so that they are not out of balance.
To the condor and the eagle in all of us, may the north and south indeed unite…
The generosity at the gathering is a huge testament to the potential of the human spirit. Thank you to Xaxli’p First Nation for generously hosting us and for providing a space where the mind and heart are encouraged to meet.