The Roots of Belonging: Returning to Land and Ancestors

...continued from the Anarres newsletter for July...

There is a remembering that we come from the earth, that we are impacted by its rhythms and that we have the power to tune into natural rhythms and reject the unnatural pace of life which has been part of our culture for so long.

Even as businesses and workplaces are slowly beginning to reopen, as a collective, we’ve had a chance to sit with ourselves with fewer distractions and a slightly slower pace than many of us have been afforded in months past.

While the harmful and oppressive structures we were raised with must be dismantled to create a loving and just world, we must also work to build new structures to take their place.

Where there were systems which valued only one form of wealth, one kind of body or love or family, we are now called to create systems which honour the value of our diverse humanity. July is the time to begin undertaking this work on a personal and a collective level.

When I tuned in with my ancestors and helping spirits, the words that came up for this month are “Dream” and “Remember”. We are called to dream, not from a place in opposition to the imbalanced world we have lived in, but from a place of infinite possibility.

Who do we want to be and how do we want to live?

My hope is that we are guided by pleasure, peace, empowerment, kindness and right relationship with the earth, and by a deep knowing that we belong here and have a right to be our whole selves. We have the honour of witnessing others be their whole selves too.

We can turn to the ways of our ancestors, how they lived in harmony with the natural rhythms and use the parts of their myths and rituals to guide us in dreaming this new world.

For many of our ancestors, their connection to the natural rhythms came from eating the foods that were in season, working at a pace which aligned with the seasons, and taking only what they needed (water, animals and food), and doing so with gratitude and respect.

If we have grown up in a place our ancestors are not from, we can feel a less solid sense of belonging to where we are now. What helps me to feel a sense of belonging to my ancestors is to remember that I am literally their blood and bones, that I am fashioned from their love and hope.

In a society where we are told we must prove our worth in order to be deemed worthy of surviving, sometimes we make choices we're not proud of and act from our wounds.

Acting from our wounds and acting out of alignment with our wisest self can stir up great shame. While guilt is often described as feeling bad about what we've done, shame is about feeling bad about who we are.

One of the heartbreaking things about shame is that it can leave us feeling disconnected from others and unworthy of love or belonging. None of us show up as our best self all the time and when we cause harm, it's an act of self-love to acknowledge that and take steps to repair that harm.

A powerful practice I use for interrupting my shame spirals is to visualize myself as a child and think about what I would say to that child if she did something I didn't like. I can't imagine telling her that she was bad or wrong or didn't deserve care or community.

For whatever reason, that visualization gives me enough breathing room to offer myself grace and take responsibility for the impact of my actions without condemning myself as a "bad" or "unloveable" person.

If we don't believe that we can make mistakes as we learn and grow and change without being rejected or disposed of, we won't feel safe to be accountable or to ask for what we need. If we're afraid, to be honest about our mistakes, we will never show up honestly as our whole selves.

When I need more support than that visualization can offer, I connect with my well ancestors. They often present me with a more compassionate and thoughtful perspective and I can feel their unconditional support and acceptance. When I know better, I do better.

Tending an ancestor altar and offering food, drink, prayers and song helps deepen my connection to them. I drum for them. I dance for them. I learn their folk tales and medicine ways. Communing with food, drink and plants that were part of the land they were from helps me feel a sense that they are still with me, that I belong to them and to our land.

The land will never reject us. If we need to borrow strength, we can sit with our back against a tree and feel the earth holding us. If we need to release sorrow, we can open our hearts to the waters and speak aloud what hurts.

Our body and the body of the earth are the same, like speaking to like. We honour ourselves by honouring the land and the waters, only taking what we need, leaving natural places cleaner than we found them and being mindful that we are only one of the animals that make up this wide and wild world. No less sacred than the squirrel, no more sacred than the cardinal.

May it be the same for you.

by Jess Miller, Retail Coordinator
and the person behind Soulfire Sessions
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