Nothing Lowly in the Universe: An Integral Approach to the Ecological Crisis

Crundale Press, United States, 2019.

The world is facing an existential crisis.

Looming climate breakdown and ecological collapse could lead to the “sixth extinction” event in Earth’s history, this time by our own hand, and the massive loss of human life and of many other life-forms with which we share the earth. How did we get here, and how can we transform our ways of thinking and living to avoid catastrophe? And what really sustains us?

In a wide-ranging and comprehensive analysis, based on decades of experience as an environmental research scientist, activist and Quaker, Jennie M. Ratcliffe explores the interconnected scientific, technological, economic, religious and psychological causes of our predicament and shows how the ecological crisis is, at its heart, a spiritual and moral crisis.

Drawing primarily on Quaker testimonies, on Gandhian, Buddhist, and other wisdom traditions, and the work of Thomas Berry, Arne Naess, E.F. Schumacher and others, she explores the underlying principles by which we–particularly those of us in the wealthiest countries–can radically transform our ways of life. The principles of integrity, reciprocity, nonviolence, simplicity, and equality, rooted in a realization of the unity and interdependence of, and love for, the whole earth community, are the foundation of an integral deep ecology, deep economy, and deep peace.

Far from being utopian, they can and are being translated into spiritually-grounded practices around the world, offering transformational paths to the long-term sustainability of a more just and peaceable world for the commonwealth of life and the emergence of a new Ecozoic era.

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I’m always interested in how language opens up a new reality, a new view on an old reality.

Not a sexy new word, not a new word, but it gets at it in a clear, simple way: compatibility.

If we simply make human culture compatible with ecology we’d be almost there.


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Evolutionary Cosmology and the Journey of the Universe: A Conversation with Brian Swimme

A Pachamama Alliance Conversation

 Pachamama Alliance • 30 May 2019

The global Pachamama Alliance community came together on May 29, 2019 with Brian Swimme—Professor of Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness and Director of the Center for the Story of the Universe at the California Institute of Integral Studies—to discuss the story of the universe.

Evolutionary cosmology refers to a way of seeing and relating to the universe as an ongoing story, and is part of Brian’s work that draws together scientific discoveries in astronomy, geology, and biology with humanistic insights concerning the nature of the universe.

He spoke of our Milky Way galaxy as a creative system that can regenerate itself through the creation of new stars, and offered that seeing how “the universe is the most spectacularly creative realm we know of” allows the dynamics of creativity to come alive in our own lives.

As he said, “the perspective we take determines how we understand the world,” and evolutionary cosmology points to a process “giving birth to a new form of human being, which includes a new form of human consciousness.”

Global Commons member Elly Lessin asked a great question about how to relate to the story of the universe in the face of possibly catastrophic effects from global warming (42:00 in the recording), and Brian’s answer highlighted why he is such a valued ally of Pachamama Alliance.

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Gaia Foundation eNewsletter – A New Story: Restoring Our Relationship with Earth

Gaia Foundation’s latest eNewsletter can be seen at this link:

The Stories from this eNewsletter:

  • New and Ancient: Stories for the Earth – De-mystifying Earth Jurisprudence In this interactive story, we tell the story of Earth Jurisprudence in video, images and words. We explore how ‘EJ’ can play a vital role in rooting the new story we need deep in the Earth’s laws, following the example of Indigenous Peoples from Colombia to Finland.
  • Africa’s movement for Earth Jurisprudence – Meet inspiring African community leaders working as ‘barefoot lawyers’. They are accompanying Indigenous and traditional communities across the continent who are reviving their Earth-centred knowledge, practices and goverance systems to protect their ancestral lands.  
  • Rooting Rebellion in Nature – Liz Hosken, reflects on the life and legacy of philosopher and ‘geologian’ Thomas Berry, and why his central idea- Earth Jurisprudence- can be a guiding light for emerging movements rebelling for the Earth at a time of crisis.
  • Thomas Berry: A biography – Our friends Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim of the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology have produced a wonderful new biography charting the life and thought of visionary eco-philosopher and Gaia elder Thomas Berry. We recommend it to everyone!
  • Expanding our circles of compassion – In 1950 Albert Einstein wrote a powerful letter that, we think, connects with and conveys both the deep message at the heart of many Indigenous Stories of Origin and the root understandings of the new stories we need now.

Gaia Foundation’s latest eNewsletter can be seen at this link:

The Gaia Foundation is passionate about regenerating bio-cultural diversity and restoring a respectful relationship with the Earth. Find out more at

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Trust and the Natural World

by Allysyn Kiplinger and The Fig Tree in the back yard

There was a time when humans could trust the natural world to take care of them.

They could trust the seasons to be hot, warm, cool, cold. To signal when to move to warmer or cooler grounds, wetter or drier.

They could trust that drinking water from a living body of sweet water (river, lake, stream, brook, creek, pool, the palm of a leaf) would quench thirst and keep them healthy.

They could trust that salmon would return so they could eat.

The “outer” natural world activated a robust “inner” world of the human.

But that is not universally so anymore.

I see why my human ancestors may have become autistic, deaf, to the natural world in the 19th and 20th centuries. Water poisoned by corporations. Food poisoned by out-of-touch leaders. Seasons altered by the human desire for convenience. Trust was broken by the cultural establishments entrusted to keep them safe and vital.

Was that trust broken when my great grandfather drank bad water on a business trip and died of Typhus at the age of 46 in 1909?

Multiply that by millions. By billions.

A slow turn, a slow dependent co-arising of distrust – courtesy of the military-industrial-commercial-chemical-life-killing culture of the Western world – wedged itself between the inherent, natural, evolutionary trust that humans have for Earth and Earth itself.

If you and your people get sick and die from having ordinary interactions with the natural world, how do you create a culture of trust with nature?

In these times our historical mission is to alter our culture so that we may universally trust again and re-encounter, rediscover our genetic trust of Earth.

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Wild Imagination

Wild Imagination

by Geneen Marie Haugen

May 16, 2019

published in Parabola

John Atkinson Grimshaw , Midsummer Night, or Iris, 1876

“Go forth onto the land”—and reanimate the world

Descended from the indigenous hunter-gathers of the European arctic, I am an uprooted – or unrooted, or partially rooted – human being, currently re-homed in the American Southwest. Part of my family’s story was deliberately misplaced. Like the colonized indigenous people of North America and other continents, my Sami ancestors ingested profound shame for their “uncivilized” ways. Decades ago, when I started to wonder if there was something unspoken in my family story, I asked my mother if our Finnish ancestry might actually be Sami. She vehemently denied that we could be related to “those people.”  Her brother hedged and told me it was possible, since it was thought that the family had “come from the north.”  Neither of them could have imagined that DNA analysis and genealogical databases would break open the family secret. Before she died, my last surviving aunt told me quite matter-of-factly, “We are Laplanders. We’ve always known that.”  She knew, but her children and the children of her siblings did not know. Almost all of those children, some already grandparents themselves, enact seasonal, generational rituals of hunting, fishing, and/or gathering – rituals that extend, through our grandmother’s line, back to (at least) the last ice age.

I do not know if my Sami ancestors were easily Christianized, or if they vigorously resisted the obliteration of their animistic, Earth-based spiritual tradition. I do not know how many generations have passed since my ancestors engaged in ceremonial drumming to commune with spirits or to enter an altered state of consciousness – or go through the portal to an otherworld for purposes of healing or vision. I do not know how far back they were enacting ceremonies at sites of sacred rocks or mystical lakes. My great-grandmother was a Sami midwife and healer before she and her husband and many children crossed the Atlantic, migrating to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. My sister inherited a blood-letting horn that belonged to our great-grandmother. The blood of our mother’s lineage suffuses our bodies. I believe we also carry something like psycho-spiritual DNA, a kind of cellular ancestral memory. I have no “proof” of this, only a low-pitched, bodily intuition arising from my own affinity with the wilder Ones, with the living, many-voiced Earth, and with the mysteries of the world-behind-the-world.

Aleksander Lauréus’s painting of the Sámi by the fire, 1911

Somewhere in mists of ancestral times, all of us are connected with people who once lived close to Earth, entwined with their places, entwined with the Others – people who participated and communed directly with plants and animals, dependent on Sun and rain, at the effect of storms and geological events.  Many, if not most or all, of our distant ancestors once inhabited an animate world, infused with intelligences and souls. Clouds and stone spoke. Seas opened. Birds and snakes delivered messages. For some, eating bear opened the way to bear-mind. Perhaps honey was known as sacred elixir. Plants revealed themselves as characters with talents for healing or for inducing ecstasy. Dreams offered direction.

For modern people, an animate worldview might seem a superstitious, primitive perspective, or an artifact from an “over-active imagination” – a dismissive designation that was frequently directed toward me as a young person. Meanwhile, the common (and perhaps unconscious) dead-universe worldview allows for, and maybe even insists upon, a cannibalistic relationship with unfeeling forests, mountaintops, rivers, creatures, cultures.

Anguish over the diminishment of our world, the destruction of Earth’s life support systems, and the extinction of species is deep in our shared human psyche, though largely unexpressed. So many of us can only dimly imagine our way through the psychic and physical debris to a regenerated, thriving, Earth community. Yet the mysterious human imagination itself may be our best resource for experiential recovery of a vibrant, participatory, and wildly sacred Earth.

(Oh, do please continue reading here….)

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20th Anniversary Celebration of Green Mountain Monastery & 10th Anniversary of Passing of Thomas Berry

Green Mountain Monastery Sign: Differentiation, Interiority, Communion

Green Mountain Monastery and Thomas Berry Sanctuary in Greensboro, Vermont
Weekend events May 31-June 1, 2019

in honor of the

20th Anniversary Celebration of the Founding of Green Mountain Monastery & the 10th Anniversary of passing of Thomas Berry

For more information contact Gail Worcelo – srgail at together dot net

On June 1, 1999 Bernadette Bostwick, Gail Worcelo and Rita O, set out from St Gabriel’s Monastery in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, (where our first Sisters of Earth Gathering was held), to co-found a new religious community with Thomas Berry dedicated to the protection and flourishing of the Earth Community.

Ten years to the day, on June 1, 2009, Thomas passed away.

These two anniversaries with be celebrated with concerts, forest healing walks, a historical overview, vegetarian food, Earth liturgy and the unveiling of 4 Cosmic Stained glass windows by the renowned glass artist Amber Hiscott from Wales. Cellist Eugene Friesen from the Paul Winter Consort will also be performing. There will be a Zoom Call with people from around the world and here in the USA to celebrate Thomas Berry.

For more information contact Gail Worcelo – srgail at together dot net

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Underland: A Deep Time Journey

This book recommendation and description came from a local book shop, Pt Reyes Books in Pt Reyes Station, CA.

Anything that helps humans become aware of and live within an awareness of “deep time”, geologic time, that living in the Ecozoic era requires of us, seems worth paying attention to.

Description of Underland: A Deep Time Journey

by Robert MacFarlane

Hailed as “the great nature writer of this generation” (Wall Street Journal), Robert Macfarlane is the celebrated author of books about the intersections of the human and the natural realms. In Underland, he delivers his masterpiece: an epic exploration of the Earth’s underworlds as they exist in myth, literature, memory, and the land itself.

In this highly anticipated sequel to his international bestseller The Old Ways, Macfarlane takes us on an extraordinary journey into our relationship with darkness, burial, and what lies beneath the surface of both place and mind. Traveling through “deep time”–the dizzying expanses of geologic time that stretch away from the present–he moves from the birth of the universe to a post-human future, from the prehistoric art of Norwegian sea caves to the blue depths of the Greenland ice cap, from Bronze Age funeral chambers to the catacomb labyrinth below Paris, and from the underground fungal networks through which trees communicate to a deep-sunk “hiding place” where nuclear waste will be stored for 100,000 years to come. “Woven through Macfarlane’s own travels are the unforgettable stories of descents into the underland made across history by explorers, artists, cavers, divers, mourners, dreamers, and murderers, all of whom have been drawn for different reasons to seek what Cormac McCarthy calls “the awful darkness within the world.”

Global in its geography and written with great lyricism and power, Underland speaks powerfully to our present moment. Taking a deep-time view of our planet, Macfarlane here asks a vital and unsettling question: “Are we being good ancestors to the future Earth?” Underland marks a new turn in Macfarlane’s long-term mapping of the relations of landscape and the human heart. From its remarkable opening pages to its deeply moving conclusion, it is a journey into wonder, loss, fear, and hope. At once ancient and urgent, this is a book that will change the way you see the world.

Product Details

ISBN: 9780393242140
ISBN-10: 0393242145
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Pages: 384
Language: English

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Genesis Farm Tribute to Thomas Berry

Editor: This lovely essay arrived in an email from “office @ Genesis Farm dot org”. I don’t see it on their website.

Medicine Wheel at Genesis Farm, Blairstown, NJ

Genesis Farm, Blairstown, New Jersey

May 13, 2019

June 1


In the early 1980s, soon after coming to this land, we hosted a special workshop/retreat for a group of people who regularly attended Alcohol Anonymous meetings at a site nearby. We framed the retreat around constructing a special circle of stones, laid out by a Chippewa Elder called Sun Bear. The design for the Medicine Wheel came to Sun Bear through a vision.  With his Medicine Tribe in Spokane, Washington, he published it in a book called The Medicine Wheel in 1980. Because he shared it so freely, we felt it was not inappropriate to explore and work with it in the context of “recovery”.

That retreat had intimations of what has slowly come to evolve here— an addiction/recovery program integrating the perspectives of a “new cosmology” with the wisdom of the 12-Step program in sobriety. This was an idea inspired early in the 1990s by the writings of psychotherapist, Anne Wilson Schaeff, and the insights and experiments shared by Albert LaChance, founder of Greenspirit.

The belief that there is a separation of humans from the rest of existence has plagued western societies for the last 3,000-5,000 years. Cultural historian, Thomas Berry focused much of his study and writing on this major flaw in the origin stories of western classical traditions. These traditions implied that there is a disconnection or discontinuity between humans, who possess a transcendent soul, and everything else in the Universe, which were not infused with soul. Everything else was believed to lack transcendent ensoulment because of their basic physical, material nature.

Thomas Berry suggested that a belief in this discontinuity from Earth and Cosmos is the source of our cultural addiction to meaninglessness, materialism, consumerism and the myth of unrestrained progress. He called it a “deep cultural pathology, which would necessitate a deep cultural therapy”. He believed the seeds of a deep cultural therapy were accessible in a new origin story that revealed the continuity and seamlessness of an emerging Cosmos, Earth, life, human life and human consciousness; relationships discovered by empirical observation in more recent times. This new story insists that every individual person and every individual atom, every star, every substance, stone, plant, insect, animal, river and microbe has an identity originating at the beginning of the Universe; each sharing community and purpose with every other being in existence.

In late, 1984, we were advised to visit a Cherokee Tribal Chief, who resided near Culver Lake NJ, about 35 minutes away. His name was Chief Thundercloud. Soon after, he came to Genesis Farm, identified a particular tree on the land, and opened a unique window into the inner powers and connections present in the depths of all existence. This inner realm was familiar to him- a surviving legacy of indigenous peoples. It was an unfamiliar realm to those of us gathered as he identified the “Grandfather Tree” and explained the tree’s role in the future of Genesis Farm. It was later, as we gradually pursued our study of the inner and outer dimensions of an evolving Universe, especially through quantum physics, that we realized the pervasive presence of that inner mysterious realm and began to grasp the intuitive wisdom Chief Thundercloud expressed in his ceremony.

Both experiences left a deep imprint on our founding years. They leaned us into a direction that reverenced the enduring inner realm of indigenous peoples and cultures. They drew us into a longing to learn that wisdom and later to face into the shocking history of indigenous oppression authorized and condoned by the royal and ecclesiastical powers of Europe during the expansion of colonialism.

On June 1, we will mark the tenth anniversary of the death of Thomas Berry, himself an historian of indigenous culture and wisdom. Thomas’s thinking and vision became the cornerstone on which the work of Genesis Farm has emerged over these nearly 40 years.

For the last 10 years we have been guided by a particular valley on this land. With its stream and hillsides, it has become a place of great mystery. It is called the Valley of Aluna, a place of pilgrimage into “deep-time”, not only cosmological, geological and biological time, but into the depths of that ensouled realm from whence come myths and dreams, archetypes and visions as well as the unlimited capacities to imagine and reinvent our individual and collective human identity and destiny.

On one of the two hillsides we have created a “Pathway of the Four Fold Wisdom”. Its inspiration was drawn from a chapter by the same name in Thomas Berry’s major work, The Great Work published in 1999.

In this chapter Thomas suggested that as our human species awakens to the depth of the crises caused by so much of our reckless behavior, we are not necessarily abandoned. He reminds us that Universe and Earth provide all that is needed for our awakening and that we are connected to a legacy of wisdom, laid down by the collective wisdom of all the humans who have lived before us. But he also warns us that the window of opportunity for this awakening does not remain open indefinitely.

Thomas advised that we need the wisdom endowed by four major periods of human creativity. We need the wisdom of indigenous people, originating in Paleolithic times and brilliantly enduring throughout the planet today. Similarly we need the wisdom of women laid down in the creativity of the Neolithic village period. It persists in its resistance to the entrenched patriarchy playing out in so many of our present crises. We need wisdom from the diverse classical religions and cultures of more recent and familiar history. And we can acquire a new-found wisdom if we allow ourselves to see through the lens of the empirical discoveries revealed through our scientific instruments of observation. This is the lens into an unbroken continuity with all that is.

We can draw a new wisdom and a new courage through the insights of all four of these testaments of human creativity. Just as no one facet of a diamond can lay claim to be the sole or best illumination of its light, neither can one human tradition claim to be the total source of illumination of an Ultimate Mystery out of which everything proceeds. Any such claim perpetuates isolation and estrangement from the others. Our unity is Earth. We are Earthlings. We share a common birth out of a common star.

Over many years we have gathered on the Path of the Fourfold Wisdom to mark each of the eight seasonal changes experienced in this region. We seek to “reinvent” ourselves as part of the community of all other beings of the land. We align ourselves in the desire to learn and commune with them. We seek to grow in the four sources of human wisdom, even as we search for the courage to acknowledge their limitations and shadows, especially those patterns of plundering the natural world arising from our own addiction to unrestrained economic and industrial growth.

On June 1, in honor of Thomas Berry and to mark the 10th anniversary of his death, Genesis Farm staff will gather for a ritual. Once again we will construct a circle of stones in the Medicine Wheel pattern as envisioned and shared by Sun Bear. In the light of devastating climate catastrophes and the implosion of so many of our human institutions we will imprint on the land our deep desire to be aligned in the service of all life. It will symbolize our response to the cries of the children and the young people asking us for their threatened future. We cannot turn away from the urgent words of Greta Thunberg speaking on their behalf. Nor can we abandon any children to the bombs, starvation, caging, ugliness and trauma of the recklessness of this generation of adults. They are telling us they don’t want our words of hope they want our actions.

We suggest to all our friends and colleagues who have been touched by the life of Thomas Berry to pause sometime on June 1st, whether alone, or with family and friends to create a ritual of beauty wherever you are.

Every place is sacred. Every being is an unrepeatable mystery. Every dark prison reflects the frozen soul of a culture that perpetuates disrespect and poverty and then blames the victims of that poverty.

We can join in actions of fierce resistance to the forces of despair, hatred, prejudice, oppression, unbridled cruelty and ignorance. We can also do something to bring forth beauty. Plant and nurture a seed, a garden. Light a candle. Give your gifts and beauty away, like the candle gives away its light. It does not charge money or interest.

Even after all this time, Sun never says to Earth, “You owe me.”Look what happens with a love like that; it lights up the whole sky.

~ Hafiz

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Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox

Calling all Lovers of Creation, Social and Environmental Activists, Mystic Explorers, Sacred Earth Keepers:

On Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019, in honor of Gaia, our wounded Mother Earth, I and a dedicated team of helpers, will be launching a series of daily meditations to support your being and your work. We will be launching a Free Daily Meditation that will support your inner and outer work, your contemplation and your action, your mystical and prophetic vocations. We are naming this project:

Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox www.DailyMeditationsWithMatthewFox.Org

Some of the meditations will be brand new and some will be drawn from my past writings. Suggested practices and short videos will be offered at times as well. You are welcome to blog or interact with other subscribers along the way. Building on our Mother’s Day launch, the first few weeks of our meditations will focus first on the return of the Divine Feminine; and then the ushering in of the Sacred Masculine—these themes lie at the heart of the eco-disasters we are facing as a species.

To put it bluntly, Patriarchy with its compulsion to control and extract and take and dominate and play reptilian games of being #1 is killing the earth as we know it and often killing the souls of children as well as other species. It does not have to be that way. Healthy masculinity and the throwing off of Patriarchy is a requisite for defending Mother Earth. As is of course a healthy feminine energy that feeds mothering, caring, nurturing and the practice of compassion and justice.

With the United Nations Scientific Report on the climate change crisis telling us we have less than 12 years left to turn our ways about as a species if we are to slow climate change down at all, we are feeling the need for all of us to do what we possibly can. This is clearly a time for All Hands on Deck! For this reason we are offering these Daily Meditations to contribute to the struggle that is clearly both an inner as well as an outer one.

I hope you will join me in this daily meditation project and invite your friends and families and communities to join as well. Use email, your fb pages, twitter, Instagram, whatever! Just send them this link : We want to get it into as many hands as possible, especially that of young adults who have some big lifting to do to save mother earth as we know her.

In these meditations I will be drawing out themes that I have been developing in my work for the last fifty years where I tried to take treasures from the burning building of our Western spiritual heritage to inspire and train mystics and prophets. We will be creating a conversation with emerging movements of eco and gender justice as well as those of interfaith or deep ecumenism. My goal is to create a creation-centered vision and practice for a spirituality that can nurture and help sustain mystics and prophets for our times with a “Great Turning” upon us. Creation spirituality has always been eager to incorporate science and in our day a new cosmology assists us to grow our souls larger and our hearts stronger. Hopefully by drawing on the riches of the CS lineage we can be better empowered to carry on healthy resistance and inspire creativity that leads to authentic transformation of hearts as well as structures.

I am deeply grateful for the team that is assisting me in this special gift we are sharing with others. That team includes Dennis Edwards, Rick Reich, Gail Ransom, Ellen Kennedy, Jill Angelo, Phila Hoopes, Adam Bucko, Mariko Pitts and Brian Nguyen.


Matthew Fox

Read more here at DailyMeditationsWith

Read the above announcement that includes Matthew’s calendar here.


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