Pray Within the Dark Earth

Pray Within the Dark Earth

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from the book Wild Yoga by Rebecca Wildbear. In this excerpt, Rebecca talks about connecting with spirituality, and demonstrates how caring for the nature and other nonhumans is an integral part of it. Learn more about her work at the end of this post.

I walk through the cave’s rocky, wet terrain, placing my hand on a wall to steady myself as my eyes adjust to the dark. Pausing, I hear the soft, dripping echo of dew sliding off rock. It sounds like a heartbeat from within this cool earthen interior. As water trickles over my feet, I remember watching springs emerge from darkness, rising from under the ground to feed streams, lakes, and rivers. I thank these waters for nourishing all life on our planet.

As a guide, I invite others to be nourished by the imaginal waters that spring forth from the depths, releasing visionary potential, expanding consciousness, and revealing other ways to live. Being in our deep imagination while attuning to nature’s wild imagination can enlarge our perception, align us with a deeper intelligence, and remind us of ancient and new potentialities. Grounded in reverence for the living planet, we can listen for what she needs.

Visions and dreams spring forth from the belly of the Earth, as does actual water, to nourish our souls and the world’s soul and keep everything alive. The majority of drinkable water worldwide comes from underground aquifers, now being rapidly drawn down. Rain is unable to replenish the amount being mined. Globally, water use has risen to more than twice the rate of population growth. It is still increasing. Ninety percent of water used by humans is consumed by industry and agriculture. When these waters are overused, lakes, streams, and rivers dry up.

In the Navajo Nation in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, a third of houses lack running water; in some towns, the figure is 90 percent. Peabody Energy, a large coal producer and Fortune 500 company, pulled so much water from the Navajo aquifer before closing its mining operation in 2019 that many wells and springs have run dry. And it is not only coal mining that usurps water. Since 1980, lithium mining companies in Chile have made billions consuming so much water that indigenous Atacama villagers were forced to abandon their settlements. For millennia, they had used their scarce water supply carefully. Now, where hundreds of flamingos once lived on beautiful lagoons, the ground is hard and cracked.

The cave womb of the Earth is creative and life-giving but fragile. As we bring awareness to life underneath the surface, we can grieve and offer our tears for the massive losses of groundwater and the poisoning of underground waterways. We can pray for a vision to help us respond to clear-cut forests, plowed prairies, drained wetlands, and the harms of human-only land use, like mining and agriculture. It is hard to bear witness, but we are part of the Earth’s body. We need to feel what is happening and seek and offer help.

Spirit abides in all living things and is inseparable from the natural world. To destroy the Earth is to desecrate God. Prayer is a way of being present and in relationship with everything. We begin to restore balance when we honor the sanctity of life. By listening to dreams, our muses, and nature, we align ourselves with powerful allies and can glean our purpose and understand how to serve the whole. The harm humans are causing the Earth asks us to return to her, listen, and pray for visions that can help us restore balance.

Into the Heart of the World

Opening to the suffering of the Earth carries us into the heart of the world. It is gut-wrenching to see the world around us becoming more damaged. The pain is not something we can deal with and move on. Once we finally grasp the immensity of ecological devastation, it is hard to bear the feelings of depression, rage, anxiety, cynicism, overwhelm, hopelessness, despair, and apathy. The feelings are not ours alone, but what we are sensing from our planet home. Stephen Harrod Buhner wrote it’s “our feeling response to a communication from the heart of Earth” urging us “to re-inhabit our interbeing with the world.” We need to face what is happening and let the feelings speak to us. To listen to their messages and let them alter the course we are on.

Whatever we love and may lose carries us into the world’s heart. When I was twenty-one, I had non-Hodgkins lymphoma and thought I might die. Many people prayed for me. Their good wishes healed me and brought me joy. I was surprised by how well I felt, despite the physical pain. Later, I wondered if their prayers had helped me feel good.

Prayer connects us to the moment and invites us into a cocreative partnership with life. In the yoga asana classes I teach, I invite our movements to be prayer and our bodies to be a doorway to the sacred.

I pray with others in nature, guiding people to let go and listen. To feel their unmet longing to find deeper meaning and purpose, to become whole and live a soul-centered existence. Sometimes the prayers we live can feel intensely tricky. In the cave womb of transformation, visions can emerge, and the dark nights of our souls can pull us toward the holy mystery at the center of our lives.

I am aligned with my soul, and I know others who are too. Yet ecosystems are collapsing under the greed of global capitalism, and more species and lands die each day. Our prayers need to stretch beyond the individual. Soul-making is a collaboration tied to the fate of Earth, asking us to descend into the collective dark night of our planet. To love the natural world is to weep at how humanity harms her. If we open to the tremendous sorrow of our failure to protect oceans, forests, and rivers, this can bring us into the world’s heart, dismembering our sense of self and what we have believed about the world. We can receive visions for the Earth through a collective descent into the underworldly depths. We can let the Earth touch us and listen to what she is saying through feelings engendered in our hearts.

Alicia, a young woman who lives in a yurt in southwestern Colorado, places her forehead and hands on the red soil of the desert. “This isn’t yours,” she cries, fierce and mournful. “This belongs to all of us.” She repeats this phrase over and over, her voice increasing in intensity, her hands slapping the ground.

Sixteen of us sit in circle in the Utah desert, participating in a five-day Prayers in the Dark program. The sky is blue, and the sun is bright. It is late morning, and the desert is silent except for the occasional call of a mourning dove. Today, we are engaged in a ceremony similar to the Truth Mandala practice developed by Buddhist teacher Joanna Macy, expressing our feelings about what is happening to the planet. Mary stands up and opens her mouth in a bloodcurdling scream.

The group is silent, frozen, taking in her scream. It pierces us and the land and is disturbing and relieving as if we had all howled, shrieked, or wailed.

Alex says, “I grew up on the Boundary Waters,” a wilderness area in Minnesota that is part of the Superior National Forest. He talks about canoeing as a child and all the birds he saw. “Trump has granted leases to mining companies,” he points out, referring to a past American president. “The land and water will be poisoned.”

Thomas, from Wyoming, is trembling and in tears. I asked him if he wanted to share his thoughts with the group. He shakes his head no. “I can’t speak,” he says, choking. “It’s too sad.”

I feel my longing for cement, metal, and tin to melt away. For machines that mine the Earth to be dismantled. For rivers to run clear and be full of salmon. Flocks of birds to darken the sky. Ancient trees to cover the land. Oceans to teem with whales, dolphins, and coral. People to stop extracting and start honoring. The Earth to breathe herself alive.

“Close your eyes and root in the Earth,” I suggest to the group. “Imagine you are liquifying in a cocoon or hibernating in a cave. Descend into your despair and listen for what emerges. Ask for visions of how we can respond.”

Our souls are linked to the underground heart of the world. Deeper under the surface of our planet than water is fire. Magma, a hot, semifluid material, can move up to the surface and be ejected as lava. Our feelings are linked to what is happening on our planet. Our fire — our rage — is an active and receptive grief cry. We can speak and listen, surrender and serve, and offer ourselves. We can embody what we receive as responses arise through images, emotions, words, dreams, or sensations. To live and die the visions we are given is a prayer.


An ongoing relationship with death changed my life and kept me close to the Mystery. My scare with cancer did not end once I was in remission. Symptoms I felt when I had cancer — pressure in my chest, a chronic cough, nausea — sometimes returned. I had frequent CAT scans after I recovered, checking to see if it had reappeared. Statistically, the odds of a reoccurrence were high. I worried cancer would return, and I’m incredibly grateful it did not.

Death will claim all of us and those we love one day. It preys on us, bringing us to our knees in humility, inspiring us to pray and listen. Death initiated me into the mysteries, connecting me more deeply with my soul and the sacred. Nature is a place where I’ve always experienced the holy. When I had cancer, I also encountered a divine presence within me. I didn’t know what it was then. Now I understand it as an aspect of my mythic soul.

Our death can feed the spirits if we offer our lives to what matters. According to Martín Prechtel, young people in the Tz’utujil Mayan village where he lived “wrestled with death” during their initiation ceremonies. They tried to court their souls back from death with eloquence. Death was likely to agree to give them their souls only if the initiates committed to “ritually render a percentage of the fruit of [their] art, [their] eloquence, and [their] imagination to the other world.” The Earth and Spirit are fed by how we live and die. I imagine them starving and grieving for people to listen, create beauty, and give back. When we live and die eloquently, our lives and deaths nourish the spirit world, like a grandmother tree nourishes a forest in her life and death.

Guiding on rivers, I sometimes feel close to death. Praying for my life, I am surprised by the images that arise and remind me of what I love and value — the sacred beauty of wild places; quiet moments alone with my body and my muse; being with loved ones, my dog Xander, friends; swimming or rafting; water.

On quests, I guide others to put their lives on the altar if they are emotionally and developmentally ready. Seeking a psychospiritual death is part of their prayer to receive a vision of their deeper purpose. People sometimes encounter their souls on their deathbeds, but they have no time left to live it. Intentionally letting go of the familiar and stepping into a liminal unknown is a kind of death, and visions of soul or other extraordinary or numinous possibilities can come. Some questers seek an initiatory dismemberment, hoping to receive what David Whyte calls

your own truth
at the center of the image
you were born with.

In a meadow in the Colorado high country, twelve people stand at the edge of a portal made of sticks, pine cones, and flowers. A deer peers out from behind a ponderosa pine. Quaking aspens, lupines, and bluebells surround us. Each person reads their prayer before walking across the threshold to fast alone in the wilderness for three days and nights.

Initiation ceremonies like these were common in ancient cultures of indigenous and nature-based peoples, and some still do them. Yet, as Martín Prechtel explained, when an entire culture “refuses to wrestle death with eloquence, then death comes up to the surface to eat us in a literal way, with wars and depression.” Perhaps if modern Western culture supported its people to grow and face death, it would stop consuming all life on the planet.

The dominant culture will not last. Founded on the principles of individualism, capitalism, human supremacy, white supremacy, and colonialism, this mainstream culture is incompatible with the Earth’s living systems. Yet industrial civilization continues on the path of futile addiction to an unsustainable lifestyle, in denial of its impending collapse.

The world will be healthier once the dominant culture ends — animals, plants, water, soil, developing nations, indigenous cultures, and rural people. The sooner it comes to a halt, the more animals, fish, trees, and rivers will remain, and the more likely it is that we will have sustainable food sources for future generations. Waiting for things to unravel may make the crash worse for humans and nonhumans living through it and those who come afterward.

If only the ecological crisis would catalyze radical change that would compel industrial civilization to let go of harming the natural world to keep itself alive. Government and corporate leaders and the systems of power that rule society do not seem willing to put global empire on the ceremonial altar, despite how much harm it causes. The global empire has been going on for a long time without any significant shift. Individuals and communities need to reclaim the power to take the necessary courageous steps to ensure global empire is put on the altar. We can let go of what we don’t believe in and know isn’t working. We can align with what and who truly matters.

Visionary Power

Modern culture has separated us from our land and the instinct to protect it. We reclaim power when we deepen our relationship with the Earth and descend into the heart of our planet to grieve and receive visions for our souls and the world. Visions imbue us with mysterious powers and guide us into greater alignment with nature in ways our minds can’t conceive. Dreams are real. Listening gives us authentic power by which we can change the world, bringing together our visionary and revolutionary natures.

When we let go, we don’t know what is next. We descend into our prerational instincts, listen and attune to our planet home, and invite our visionary selves to guide us. A caterpillar offers her life in the cocoon, not knowing she will metamorphose into a butterfly. We can liquefy in our wild imagination and pray within the dark Earth. Feeling our watery souls and the water flowing under the ground, we can pray for a vision to help us restore forests, birds, oceans, and justice. Yearning for a world where the sacred is blended with all we do, we can partner with the dream of the Earth. Will the universe hear us and respond?

I close my eyes and remember visions — mine and others’ — that have sprung forth from the depths of wild nature and dreamtime. I remember springs I have drunk from in the wild, my lips on a mossy rock, my mouth filling with the sweet flavor and vibrant texture of waters that have long gestated in the dark Earth until they were ready to rise. I lean in and receive the generosity of water, longing for her elixirs to stir visions of ways to halt the human-caused harm and restore and nourish her ecosystems back to life.

A Wild Yoga Practice for Praying within the Dark Earth

Go out at night or find a dark place in nature, be present in your body with all your feelings, and listen, wait, and pray. Find a cave or other wild place where you can sit in darkness. Imagine yourself deep inside the Earth. See if you can sense the place where water arises or feel her heartbeat. Imagine you are gestating in the underground heart of the world. Wait and listen. Notice what you feel and what arises. Ask the Earth what she wants. Explore whatever comes with all of your senses. Write or create art to honor the visions you receive. Let them guide your actions in the world.

About Wild Yoga: A Practice of Initiation, Veneration & Advocacy for the Earth

Wild Yoga invites you to create a personal yoga practice that seamlessly melds health and well-being with spiritual insight, Earth stewardship, and cultural transformation. Wilderness guide and yoga instructor Rebecca Wildbear came to yoga after a life-threatening encounter with cancer in her twenties. Over years of teaching and healing, she devised the unique and user-friendly practice she presents in Wild Yoga. In this book, she guides you in connecting to the natural world and living from your soul while also addressing environmental activism. Whether you are new to yoga or an experienced practitioner, by engaging in this vibrant approach, you’ll discover greater levels of love, purpose, and creativity, along with the active awareness we know our planet deserves.

In this video produced by New World Library, Rebecca Wildbear discusses how Wild Yoga connects us to the Earth. Check out this excerpt from the book, “Playing Your Part in the Symphony,” on the publisher’s website.


Rebecca Wildbear is the author of Wild Yoga:A Practice of Initiation, Veneration & Advocacy for the Earth and the creator of a yoga practice called Wild Yoga, which empowers individuals to tune in to the mysteries that live within the Earth’s community, dreams, and their own wild nature so they may live a life of creative service. She has led Wild Yoga programs since 2007 and guides other nature and soul programs through Animas Valley Institute. Visit her at

Excerpted from the book Wild Yoga: A Practice of Initiation, Veneration & Advocacy for the Earth Copyright ©2023 by Rebecca Wildbear. Printed with permission from New World Library —

Featured image: Rebecca Wildbear, from

Lithium: Mining Mountains of Water

Lithium: Mining Mountains of Water

In this article Rebecca Wildbear talks about how civilization is wasting our planet’s scarce water sources for mining in its desperate effort to continue this devastating way of life.

By Rebecca Wildbear

Nearly a third of the world lacks safe drinking water, though I have rarely been without. In a red rock canyon in Utah, backpacking on a week-long wilderness training in my mid-twenties, it was challenging to find water. Eight of us often scouted for hours. Some days all we could find to drink was muddy water. We collected rain water and were grateful when we found a spring.

Now water is scarce, and the demand for it is growing. Globally, water use has risen at more than twice the rate of population growth and is still increasing. Ninety percent of water used by humans is used by industry and agriculture, and when groundwater is overused, lakes, streams and rivers dry up, destroying ecosystems and species, harming human health, and impacting food security. Life on Earth will not survive without water.

In the Navajo Nation in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, a third of houses lack running water, and in some towns, it is ninety percent. Peabody Energy Corporation, the largest coal producer and a Fortune 500 company, pulled so much water from the Navajo aquifer before closing its mining operation that many wells and springs have run dry. Residents now have to drive 17 miles to wait in line for an hour at a communal well, just to get their drinking water.

Worldwide, the majority of drinkable water comes from underground reservoirs called aquifers. Aquifers feed streams, lakes, and rivers, but their waters are finite. Large aquifers exist beneath deserts, but these were created eons ago in wetter times. Expert hydrologists say that like oil, once the “fossil” waters of ancient reservoirs are mined, they are gone forever.

Peabody’s Black Mesa Mine extracted, pulverized, and mixed coal with water drawn from the Navajo aquifer to form a slurry. This was sent along a 273-mile-long pipeline to the Mojave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nevada, to power Los Angeles. Every year, the mine extracted 1.4 billion gallons (4,000+ acre feet) of water from the aquifer, an estimated 45 billion gallons (130,000+ acre feet) in all.

Pumping out an aquifer draws down the water level and empties it forever. Water quality deteriorates and springs and soil dry out. Agricultural irrigation and oil and coal extraction are the biggest users of waters from aquifers in the U.S. Some predict that the Ogallala aquifer, once stretching beneath five mid-western states, may be able to replenish after six thousand years of rainfall.

Rain is the most accurate measure of available water in a region, yet over-pumping water beyond its capacity to refill is widespread in the western U.S. and around the world. The Middle East ran out of water years ago—it was the first major region in the world to do so. Studies predict that two thirds of the world’s population are at risk of water shortages by 2025. As ground water levels fall, lakes, rivers, and streams are depleted, and the land, fish, trees, and animals die, leaving a barren desert.

Mining in the Great Basin

The skyrocketing demand for lithium, one of the minerals needed for the production of electric cars, is based on the misperception that green technology helps the planet. Yet, as Argentine professor of thermodynamics and lithium mining expert Dr. Daniel Galli said at a scientific meeting, lithium mining is “really mining mountains of water.” Lithium Americas plans to pump massive amounts of water—up to 1.7 billion gallons (5,200 acre feet) annually—from an aquifer in the Quinn River Valley in Nevada’s Great Basin, the largest desert in the United States.

Thacker Pass, the site of the proposed 1.3 billion dollar open-pit lithium mine, would pump 1,200 acre feet more water per year than Peabody Energy Corporation extracted from the Navajo aquifer. Yet, the Quinn River aquifer is already over-allocated by fifty percent, and more than 10 billion gallons (30,000 acre feet) per year. Nevada is one of the driest states in the nation, and Thacker Pass is only the first of many proposed lithium mines in the state. Multiple active placer claims (7,996) have been located in 18 different hydrographic basins.

Deceit about water fuels these mines. Lithium Americas’ environmental impact assessment is grossly inaccurate, according to hydrologist Dr. Erick Powell. By classifying year-round creeks as “ephemeral” and underreporting the flow rate of 14 springs, Lithium Americas is claiming there is less water in the area than there actually is. This masks the real effects the mine would have—drying up hundreds of square miles of land, drawing down the groundwater level, sucking water from neighboring aquifers—all while claiming its operations would have no effect.

Peabody Energy Corporation’s impact assessment similarly misrepresented how their withdrawals would harm the Navajo aquifer. Peabody Energy used a flawed method to measure the withdrawals, according to former National Science Research Fellow Daniel Higgins. Now Navajo Nation wells require drilling down 2,000–3,000 feet, and the water is depressurized and slow to flow to the surface.

Thacker Pass lithium mine would pump groundwater at a disturbing rate, up to 3,250 gallons per minute. Once used, wastewater would contaminate local groundwater with dangerous heavy metals, including a “plume” of antimony that would last at least 300 years. Lithium Americas plans to dig the mine deeper than the groundwater level and keep it dry by continuously pumping water out, but when the pumping stops, groundwater would seep back in, picking up the toxins.

It hurts me to think about this. I imagine water being rapidly extracted from my own body, my bloodstream poisoned. The best tasting water rises to the surface when it is ready, after gestating as long as it likes in the dark Earth. Springs are sacred. When I feel welcome, I place my lips on the earthy surface and fill my mouth with their sweet flavor and vibrant texture.

Mining in the Atacama Desert

Thirteen thousand feet above sea level, the indigenous Atacamas people live in the Atacama Desert, the most arid desert in the world and the driest place on Earth. For millennia, they have used their scarce supply of water and sparse terrain carefully. Their laws and spirituality have always been intertwined with the health and well-being of the land and water. Living in mud-brick homes, pack animals, llama and alpaca, provide them with meat, hide, and wool.

But lithium lies beneath their ancestral land. Since 1980, mining companies have made billions in the Salar de Atacama region in Chile, where lithium mining now consumes sixty-five percent of the water. Some local communities need to have water driven in, and other villagers have been forced to abandon their settlements. There is no longer enough water to graze their animals. Beautiful lagoons hundreds of flamingos call home have gone dry. The birds have disappeared, and the ground is hard and cracked.

In addition to the Thacker Pass mine proposal, Lithium Americas has a mine in the Atacama Desert, a joint Canadian-Chilean venture named Minera Exar in the Cauchari-Olaroz basin in Jujuy, Argentina. Digging for lithium began in Jujuy in 2015, and there is already irreversible damage, according to a 2018 hydrology report. Watering holes have gone dry, and indigenous leaders are scared that soon there will be nothing left.

Even more water is needed to mine the traces of lithium found in brine than in an open-pit mine. At the Sales de Jujuy plant, the wells pump at a rate of more than two million gallons per day, even though this region receives less than four inches of rain a year. Pumping water from brine aquifers decreases the amount of fresh groundwater. Freshwater refills the spaces emptied by brine pumping and is irreversibly mixed with brine and salinized.

The Sanctity of Water

As a river guide, I live close to water. Swallowed by its wild beauty, I am restored to a healthier existence. Far from roads, cars, and cities, I watch water swirl around rocks or ripple over sand. I merge with its generous flow, floating through mountains, forest, or canyon. Rivers teach me how to listen to the currents—whether they cascade in a playful bubble, swell in a loud rush, or ebb in a gentle silence—for clues about what lies ahead.

The indigenous Atacamas peoples understand that water is sacred and have purposefully protected it for centuries. Rather than looking at how nature can be used, our culture needs to emulate the Atacamas peoples and develop the capacity to consider its obligations around water. Instead of electric cars, what we need is an ethical approach to our relationship with the land. Honoring the rights of water, species, and ecosystems is the foundation of a sustainable society. Decisions can be made based on knowledge of the land, weather patterns, and messages from nature.

For millennia, indigenous peoples have perceived water, animals, and mountains as sentient. If humans today could recognize their intelligence, perhaps they would understand that underground reservoirs have a value and purpose, beyond humans. When I enter a cave, I am walking into a living being. My eyes adjust to the dark. Pressing my hand against the wall, I steady myself on the uneven ground, hidden by varying amounts of water. Pausing, I listen to a soft dripping noise, echoing like a heartbeat as dew slides off the rocks. I can almost hear the cave breathing.

The life-giving waters of aquifers keep everything alive, but live unseen under the ground. As a soul guide, I invite people to be nourished by the visions of their dreams, a parallel world that is also seemingly invisible. Our dominant culture dismisses the value of these perceptions, just as it usurps water by disregarding natural cycles. Yet to create a sustainable world, humans need to be able to listen to nature and their dreams. The depths of our souls are inextricably linked to the ancient waters that flow underground. Dreams arise like springs from an aquifer, seeding our visionary potential, expanding our consciousness, and revealing other ways to live, radically different than empire.

Water Bearers

I set my backpack down on a high sandstone cliff overlooking a large watering hole. Ten feet below the hole, the red rock canyon drops into a much larger pool. My friend hikes down to it, filling her cookpot with water. She balances it atop her head on the way up, moving her hips to keep the pot steady. Arriving back, she pours the water into the smaller hole from which we drink and returns to the large pool to gather more.

Women in all societies have carried water throughout history. In many rural communities, they still spend much of the day gathering it. Sherri Mitchell of the Penobscot Nation calls women “the water bearers of the Universe.” The cycles in a woman’s body move in relation with the Earth’s tides, guiding them to nourish and protect the waters of Earth. We all need to become water bearers now.

Indigenous peoples, who have always been the Earth’s greatest defenders, protect eighty percent of global diversity, even though they comprise less than five percent of the world’s population. They understand water is sacred, and the world’s groundwater systems must be defended. For six years, indigenous peoples have been fighting to prevent lithium mining in the Salinas Grandes salt flats, in Jujuy, Argentina. Five hundred indigenous people camped on the land with signs: “No to lithium. Yes, to water and life in our territories.”

In February 2021, President Biden signed executive orders supporting the domestic mining of “critical” minerals like lithium, but two lawsuits, one by five Nevada-based conservation groups, have been filed against the Bureau of Land Management for approving the Thacker Pass lithium mine. Environmentalists Max Wilbert and Will Falk are organizing a protest to protect Thacker Pass. Local residents, including Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone peoples, are speaking out, fighting to protect their land and water.

We can see when a river runs dry, but most people are not aware of the invisible, slow-burning disaster happening under the ground. Some say those who oppose lithium mining should give up cell phones. If that is true, perhaps those who favor mines should give up drinking water. Protecting water needs to be at the center of any plan for a sustainable future.

The “fossil water” found in deserts should be used only in emergency, certainly not for mining. Sickened by corporate water grabbing, I support those trying to stop Thacker Pass Lithium mine and aim to join them. The aquifers there have nurtured so many for so long—eagles, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, old-growth sagebrush, hawks, falcons, sage-grouse, and Lahontan cutthroat trout. I pray these sacred wombs of the Earth can live on to nourish all of life.

For more on the issue:

Massive Dam Threatens Spectacular Gorge Downstream of Victoria Falls

Massive Dam Threatens Spectacular Gorge Downstream of Victoria Falls

This piece was originally published in Earth Island Journal.

Zambia and Zimbabwe plan to move ahead with the $4 billion Batoka Gorge Dam that would displace villagers, wildlife, and a vibrant rafting industry along the Zambezi River.

by Rebecca Wilbear/Earth Island Journal

More than 50 men traverse the steep, rocky gorge. They balance as many as three kayaks on their back each, along with other equipment for rafting companies offering trips in the Batoka Gorge. Sweat glistens on their skin; they earn a dollar for each kayak. These porters come from the Indigenous Tokaleya villages situated along the edge of the gorge, on either side of the Zambia-Zimbabwe border. For the Tokaleya, the Zambezi River is an essential and sacred deity. It’s also a source of income. Tens of thousands of tourists raft the Zambezi’s rapids each year, drawn to the region’s rich ecosystem. Alongside the Tokeleya, birds, fish, and other wildlife make their home in the gorge.

Yet the section of the river that runs through Batoka Gorge is threatened. In June 2019, the General Electric Company of the United States and the Power Construction Corporation of China signed a deal with the Zambian and Zimbabwean governments to build and finance the Batoka Gorge Dam. The danger from a massive hydroelectric project, which was first proposed nearly 70 years ago, has become urgent.

Africa’s fourth largest river, the Zambezi flows through six countries. The Batoka Gorge section begins at the bottom of Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world, also called Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “The Smoke That Thunders.” A few miles from Livingstone, Zambia, massive roaring waters spill from the sky and turn clear green as the river races through steep, dark canyon walls down the 50-mile gorge. The river then meanders for another 200 miles until it reaches Lake Kariba, the world’s largest reservoir by volume and an example of what Batoka Gorge could become.

I am a river guide, and in October 2019, I embarked on a four-day trip down Batoka Gorge as part of a two-week river guide training. Most of our guides, Melvin Ndelelwa, James Linyando, and Emmanuel Ngenda, were from the Tokaleya villages. Ndelelwa, who was a porter before becoming a river guide, pulled out a picture of a fish he caught at a hidden pool below the falls. It was almost as big as he is. His father was a porter his whole life. Becoming a raft guide in Zambia is hard work. The possibility of learning to guide energizes the porters.

Ndelelwa explains how his younger brother carves ebony root to make Nyami Nyami necklaces. The Nyami Nyami is a mythic river god, a serpent with the head of a fish. Legend has it, this god is angry that his sweetheart is trapped downstream behind the giant Kariba Dam. In 1956, a year into construction, the Nyami Nyami flooded the river, wreaking havoc on the construction site. The odds of another flood in 1957 were a thousand to one. Yet the river rose three meters higher than before, destroying the bridge, cofferdam, and parts of the main wall.

The guides told us that the Nyami Nyami would protect us when we wear the necklace that honors his sweetheart. On the river, I touched mine often, praying for safe passage. I am terrified of big water and scared of flipping. The Zambezi is a huge volume river with little exposed rock. It is extremely challenging, with long and powerful rapids, steep gradients, and big drops. Flipping is common. In high-pressure areas, you can’t even depend on your life jacket to keep your head above water.

On the river, I clung to the raft in awe and terror at the size of the waves. October is the dry season, when the water is low. In December, the rains raise the river and turn it muddy brown. Linyando navigated ahead in a safety kayak while Ngenda captained our raft. At one point between rapids, he pointed out the camouflaged crocodiles sun-bathing on rocks.

Halfway through the training, I was invited to guide the most challenging rapid, Gulliver’s Travels. I had already guided the rapid just prior called Devil’s Toilet Bowl twice, but my angle was off on this third attempt. The raft flipped backwards. I went deep underwater. It was dark and silent. A shaft of light appeared. Then more light. I surfaced. We turned the boat upright, but my confidence was shaken. I thought of backing out of Gulliver’s Travels, until the guides encouraged me. Back in the boat, I sent the raft through.

Throughout the trip, I felt that the guides protected me. Ndelelwa offered his sandal for the steep hike out after I lost my shoe. “This is my home,” he said. “It’s easy for me to walk barefoot.” Later, when I encountered a puff adder — a venomous snake with a bite that can be deadly — near my sleeping bag, Ngenda helped me move closer to the fire. “We sleep here,” he said. “The snakes don’t like fire.” It smolders all night smoking fish for breakfast, a staple food in villages along the gorge.

IN 2015, THE WORLD BANK funded an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) that concluded that the dam is a “cheap” solution to the “electricity deficit” of Zambia and Zimbabwe. An airport and road have already been constructed. The reservoir of the 550-foot tall mega-dam will be 16 square miles and a half-mile from the put-in just below Victoria Falls, impacting a UNESCO World Heritage Site sacred to the Tokaleya peoples. The entire canyon will be drowned and destroyed.

If the dam build goes ahead, wildlife who live and breed in the gorge will be lost or displaced. The Cornish jack and bottlenose fish need fast-moving water to survive. The extremely rare Taita falcon is endemic to Batoka Gorge — it nests and breeds only here. The hooves of the small klipspringer antelope are designed to jump up and down the canyon. They will not be able to live on top. Leopards that live in the gorge will be forced to move to higher ground, becoming more vulnerable to hunting and poaching.

The ecological damage is layered with the human toll. Downstream from Batoka Gorge, the Kariba Dam, built in the late 1950s, displaced 57,000 Indigenous Gwembe Tonga and Kore Kore peoples, while stranding thousands of animals on islands. Kariba Dam has also demonstrated that imprisoning a river damages water quality, reduces the amount of water available for people and wildlife downstream, and harms the fertility of the land. Dams can also spread waterborne diseases such as malaria and schistosomiasis, while mega-dams may cause earthquakes and destructive floods.

Plus, the lifespan of a dam is 50 years. Less than 30 years after construction, Kariba Dam began falling apart, causing earthquakes and operating at less than 30 percent its proposed capacity. Falling water levels have made it increasingly less productive. The Chinese construction company regularly pours concrete into the wall to keep it from buckling. If it broke, it could cause a tsunami that would impact much of Mozambique and even Madagascar, potentially killing millions.

The Batoka Gorge project will cost around four billion dollars. It is supposed to take 10 to 13 years to complete, but some locals have noticed that high cost infrastructure projects often do not reach completion in Zambia. Increasing droughts due to climate change raise the question whether there will be enough water to operate a dam. Electricity generated is likely to be sold to foreign countries for income, while local people become poorer.

The dam will also displace river guides and most likely the villages along the gorge. Tourism is the third largest industry in Zambia. The governments say the dam’s construction will create jobs, but many of these jobs go to Chinese nationals hired by Chinese companies, and after construction ends, few will be needed to operate the dam. Some say the dam will create new tourism opportunities, like parasailing and wakeboarding, but crocodiles and hippos proliferate in flat water, making these activities risky.

China is rapidly expanding its global reach, including in Africa, through its Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious infrastructure project extending to 60 countries and counting. The country has already financed two Zambian airports and the Itezhi Tezhi Dam, and owns a 60 percent share of Zambia national broadcasting service. As many less developed countries borrow big money from China for big infrastructure projects, they are incurring large debts. The debt incurred can be crushing to the food supplies, health services, and education of local people. As Daimone Siulapwa writes in the Zambian Observer, huge kickbacks are the root of the problem. They motivate Zambian leaders to negotiate deals with China. Millions of dollars go missing. Projects are not finished. The natural world and local people suffer.

Most river guides hope the dam never happens, but local rafting companies are afraid to speak out against it. They fear repercussions — from being shot to having their passport or business license revoked. International support is imperative if we want to see this river protected.

ALONG THE RIVER, villagers carve and sell wooden figurines: elephants, rhinos, lions, water buffalo. Ndelelwa always buys some, though he does not need them. I bought carvings too, and the vendor insisted on giving me a few extra.

Then Ndelelwa invited me to his village to eat nshima, a traditional thick maize porridge. We sat outside the round mud huts with grass roofs. Five children ran over to look at me with toothy smiles and a wide-eyed curiosity. As we ate from one bowl, I thanked them in their dialect, “Ndalumba.”

If the river is dammed, I wonder, what will happen to these people? How will they survive?

The last time I flipped the raft on the Zambezi, the waves were gentle. We held the perimeter rope of the capsized boat as we floated through a narrow section of canyon. Ngenda smiled as he turned the boat upright.

Dam projects are rarely stopped in industrial civilization. Save the Zambezi formed to oppose the construction of this dam. They seek help in challenging the ESIA. This dam will likely go ahead unless there is an unprecedented outcry of resistance. The Nyami Nyami protected us on the river. Perhaps his rage may once again knock down any walls placed in his path. I touch my necklace and pray for the river.

Help stop the Batoka Gorge Dam:

Radical Dreamwork

Radical Dreamwork

By Rebecca Wildbear

Cottonwood trees shaded the little river, while the rising sun brightened the blue sky and lit up the expansive slopes of the Sonoran Desert, dotted with prickly pear, saguaro, and cholla cactuses. I was in Aravaipa Canyon, a gorge in the Pinal Mountains of Southern Arizona, where I would prepare thirteen people to be in ceremonial conversation with the land for three days and nights. Aravaipa is an Apache name which means “laughing waters,” and the name fits. The river was brisk and clear as it churned its way around boulders and rippled over gravel bars in a playful, bubbling chorus.

On that first morning in the desert, I’d awakened with a dream.

I see a woman about to be raped. She’s yanked out of the driver’s seat of her car by a man who holds her captive while undoing his pants. A male friend turns to me and asks if he should try to stop it.

“Yes, absolutely!” I respond in haste.

            My friend picks up a club that resembles a baseball bat and moves toward the rapist. My stomach knots; what if I’ve just sent my friend into a dangerous situation and he gets killed or hurt? I decide to join him and approach the rapist from behind, while my friend approaches him from the side. As we get closer, the rapist stops, and I feel surprised when he turns around with his hands held up in surrender.

Although our dominant culture marginalizes dreams, we must learn to pay attention to the wisdom and direction they offer. The Tz’utujil Mayan culture elected officials based on the number of villagers who dreamed of that person occupying the position.[1] The dreamwork of the Iroquois preceded the dreamwork of Freud and Jung. The Iroquois knew dreams were sacred and that to ignore them was to invite disaster;[2] they understood that the human soul makes its desires known through dreams.[3] Founder of Dream Tending, Stephen Aizenstat says dreams arise from the “World Dream;” they offer us a glimpse of the desires of the world so we may “act in the world, on behalf of the world…in Archetypal Activism.”[4] When the wisdom of our dreams guides our direct action, we’re able to bring together our visionary and revolutionary natures in a radical dreamwork. With the earth dreaming through us, we’re guided to take the actions that matter most.

Dreams hold a multiplicity of meaning and, like trees, rivers, and birds, each dream element has intelligence; it usually understands more than our waking ego. I guide others to recount their dreams in present tense, inviting them to be in the dream so its visceral impact has an opportunity to arise or burst forth.

On that morning in Aravaipa Canyon, I closed my eyes, returning to the dream about the rape. What was it asking me to experience and how could I steep myself in its mystery? The edgiest part of my dream was asking my friend to risk his life. I felt afraid that he could get hurt or die. I feel similarly when I send questers on a 3-day solo fast. Although I’ve taught them ways to be safe in the backcountry, anything could happen.

On a vision quest, each quester is invited to let go of their identity and listen for a deeper call—in this way, we discover who we really are and how we may serve the world. Questers are invited to undertake a psycho-spiritual death, an initiatory dismemberment, which can lead to a mature adulthood. Such a journey is inherently risky, even beyond the solo days.

Founder of Animas Valley Institute, Bill Plotkin writes that the great crises of our time stem from breakdowns in natural human development. He says that healthy, mature cultures have always emerged from nature: “from the depths of our individual and collective psyches, from the Earth’s imagination acting through us, from the mythic realm of dreams or the Dreamtime, from Soul, from the Soul of the world, from Mystery.” We can’t think our way into maturity; we cultivate our wholeness through allowing the natural world and our dreams to guide us.[5] Yet we can only become whole within a healthy Earth community. So what about the clear-cut forests, drained wetlands, and plowed prairies?

As mountains are mined, rivers are dammed and poisoned, and hundreds more species become extinct each day, my heart breaks at our human failure to protect our nonhuman relatives on whom we depend; they’re dying because they depend on us too. As the oceans fill with plastic, the ice melts, and greenhouse gas emissions grow higher each year, I feel the rape of the Earth alive in my body and psyche. Perhaps this dream invites me beyond myself. What if this dream is asking me to seek assistance in stopping the rape of Earth?

Rape is Acceptable

I had a lot of dreams about rape in my early thirties; it felt unstoppable. How surprising that this dream ends with my friend and I stopping the rape.

I remember guiding women survivors of violence on Women of Courage Outward Bound courses in my twenties. We’d listen to the women’s stories, the other two female guides and I, and then one night, to our surprise, we shared our stories in hushed voices, confessing that we too were survivors. The line between heroine and victim, wilderness guide and survivor, blurred.

It’s hard to perceive rape when you’re raised in a culture where rape is acceptable. As the most under-reported crime, rape[6] is notoriously under-investigated, largely unpunished, and rarely spoken about; less than one percent of rapes end in a felony conviction. Even then, a perpetrator does not often receive jail time, especially if they knew their victim; this sends a message that it’s acceptable to rape someone you know.[7] In eight out of ten cases of rape, the victim knew the person who sexually assaulted them,[8] and ninety-three percent of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are known to the victim.[9] Our culture barely acknowledges rape happens and nearly condones it. The rape of women, the abuse of children, and the destruction of land is our norm.[10]

Sister Carl, my junior high school teacher, repeated daily: “Silence gives consent, girls.” Perhaps she was trying to help us avoid some trauma she’d suffered. But what did the boys in the room hear? What if there wasn’t an opportunity to speak, or we were too young to understand? And what of the Earth? If we are deaf and dumb to her language, does our lack of hearing exempt us from the harm we cause? Perhaps the memory of Sister Carl’s words is echoed in the message of this dream: speak, act, stop the rape.

Rape is Legal

American law is orchestrated to protect abusers,[11] and it legalizes the right to exploit land and water, while simultaneously making it illegal to protect them. “Sustainability itself has been rendered illegal under our system of law,” said Thomas Linzey, Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.[12] Our dominant culture, global industrial empire, does not acknowledge the rape of the Earth. Instead, it talks about acquiring resources and the right to exploit. While the Earth suffers massive environmental devastation, many call it climate change and focus on human survival, but dealing with climate change within the values of our dominant culture will only allow the rape to continue.[13]

Our ecological crisis is sourced in a “collective perceptual disorder,”[14] a “collective myopia”[15] that misses our innate connection to Earth. Our culture is founded on the misperception that nonhumans aren’t alive and have no feelings or consciousness; this allows us to perpetuate the lie that no rape is happening at all. To stop a rape, we have to perceive that one is happening, and to do that, we must recognize that we live embedded in relationship with all of life on the planet.

How will I ask people to help me stop the rape if they don’t see it? Dissociation, denial, and silencing perpetuate trauma; to heal, the truth must be told. Although the “ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness,” remembering terrible events is part of restoring justice.[16]

How would you respond if someone you love was threatened? When we see our earthly relatives being harmed, aren’t we equally responsible to act fiercely and lovingly to protect them, like a mother grizzly looking out for her cubs? Fighting back isn’t wrong; it’s relative to the situation in which we find ourselves. It is just as wrong and harmful “to not fight back when one should as it is to fight when one should not.”[17]

The Love of Trees

I know how it feels when others don’t see the rape. My neighbor friend and I were four years old when we had our first sleepover. When I returned the next day, sick with a fever of 103, no one guessed that my neighbor’s father, Jack, might have hurt me, even though his wife sometimes came over to our home when he was drunk to avoid being hit. No one found it odd when I said my vagina hurt and suddenly refused to attend nursery school. I screamed and cried until I was allowed to stay home. No one wondered why my friend, Jack’s daughter, was so troubled. I still remember when she stabbed me in the belly button with a needle. After playing with her, I often returned home with bite marks and bruises up and down my arms.

When I kept insisting that my vagina hurt, my mom took me to the doctor. She stayed in the room while the white-haired man examined me. I asked her later what he had said, and she told me that he said I needed to use less soap.

Being told everything was fine was confusing when my body knew a different truth—one that my mind didn’t know how to hold, let alone put into words. Although in the dream my friend could see the rape, no one saw it when I was four.

But I wasn’t alone; I lived in trees. The thick, ancient trunk of a giant ash tree that rose well over 100 feet in my backyard was the center of my world. Down the hill in a grove of pines, I played in needles, sometimes climbing to the tippy top, arms and body wrapped around the thin tip, the weight of my body gently swaying from side to side. In summer, I crawled to the far reaches of the cherry tree’s branches, eating more berries than made it into my basket for mom’s cherry pie. The maple tree grew in the front yard; I went there to hide, high behind walls of green leaves, where I could see all and no one could find me.

I sensed the trees had feelings, lives; they were living beings with whom to be in relationship. Did the trees know my secret? Is that, in part, why it felt like they looked after me? All trees know rape; ninety-seven percent of North America’s native forests have been cut down.[18] I didn’t know why my young body returned again and again to be held in the branches of these elders who surrounded my suburban home. Or why I turned to the smell of pine and bark instead of human skin or voice when I hurt. Now, I imagine that something in my cells trusted their love and wisdom; they nurtured me.

The Rape of Earth

The Apache who named Aravaipa Canyon no longer live here. Sitting at the edge of the river, I marvel at the joyful laughter of its flowing waters. During the 19th century, the Aravaipa band of Apaches living here fought many battles with the U.S. Cavalry. Hispanic and Anglo settlers began grazing stock and developing copper mines in the watershed. In the infamous Camp Grant Massacre, a death squad of American pioneers—including Tohono O’odham Indians, as well as Mexican Americans and Anglo-Americans from Tucson—descended upon an Apache camp before dawn on April 28, 1871. Those sleeping were clubbed to death, while those awake were shot by men stationed in the bluffs above. [19]

arvaipa canyon wilderness in arizona, a stream running through the bottom of a canyon with saguaro cactus and tall red-rock cliffs

Arvaipa Canyon wilderness

In less than an hour, the raiders had claimed the lives of nearly 150 Apaches, mostly women and children; the men were away hunting. With no casualties to themselves, they sold twenty-nine children into slavery in Mexico. This is neither the largest nor the most brutal of attacks on Native Americans, but it came at a time when a “peace policy” had been promised by the federal government. President Grant expressed outrage and sought to punish the attackers. Although a trial was held for 100 alleged participants, no justice was had; a jury of twelve Anglos and Mexican Americans from Tucson took only nineteen minutes to find the accused not guilty.[20] The remaining Apache were relocated to White Mountain Reservation to the northeast.[21]

The rape has been happening for the last 6,000 years as “indigenous people and their tribal societies have been targeted” by the predatory expansions of civilization.[22] Species disappear by the hour.[23] Capitalism is a war against the planet—operating off the slave labor of poor people and countries, poisoning our waters, air, and lands, and destroying ecosystems through mining and agriculture. With patriarchy, “men become real men by breaking boundaries—the sexual boundaries of women and children, the cultural and political boundaries of indigenous peoples, the biological boundaries of rivers and forests, the genetic boundaries of other species, and the physical boundaries of the atom itself.[24]

Civilization is brutal and unsustainable; agriculture is dependent upon imperialism and genocide. As feminist and environmentalist Lierre Keith said, “You pull down the forest, you plow up the prairie, you drain the wetland. Especially, you destroy the soil.”[25] Shifting from fossil fuels to green energy is a false solution. Green technology markets solutions while denuding the planet; corporations and government profit.[26] Ecosystems are devastated by solar and wind projects, and the increased mining and consumption they entail. Our political system is bankrupt, and violence against women and the Earth are “legitimated and promoted by both patriarchal religion and science” and “rooted in the eroticization of domination.”[27]

The Earth Created Us This Way

Three saguaro cactuses surrounded us in Aravaipa Canyon; each one about thirty feet tall with barrel appendages on each side that look like arms. I shared my dream with the questers in our opening council. “Will you help me stop the rape?” I said. “Put your body between the rape and the rapist?” I raised my voice, uncomfortable with the ferocity of my words. The rim across from us was some distance away, but several moving dots caught my eye. I slowly deciphered them as five bighorn sheep moving causally along the mountainside.

Harrison[28], a young man in his late twenties in graduate school, later shared his view over dinner.

“There’s not a problem,” he said. “The Earth is dreaming us; she created us this way.”

“It’s not a problem that 200 species go extinct each day?” I responded, feeling stunned.

“Extinctions have happened throughout history,” he answered. “It’s all part of her plan.”

“Extinctions have never occurred at this level. This isn’t a passive geological event, it’s extermination by capitalism,”[29] I said. “Yes, the Earth is dreaming us, but we’re sick and disconnected. This isn’t her plan.”

“We shouldn’t treat the Earth like a victim,” he responded. “She’s whole. She doesn’t need us to rescue her. She can take care of herself. She’s more powerful than we know.”

“Isn’t it possible for someone to be both whole and harmed by another?” I asked. “Life is far more complex than a drama triangle—victim, rescuer, perpetrator. This is about honoring the Earth and all of life as Sacred, regardless how powerful she is.”

“Activists are too angry, and protesting doesn’t change anything,” Harrison stated. “Tapping into the imaginative powers of Earth and soul is more powerful—shifting our consciousness.”

“Listening to dreams and perceiving our larger mythic potentialities is imperative, but so is direct action; there are forests, prairies, and animals alive today because of activists and revolutionaries,” I responded. “Perhaps it’s not either-or, but both-and. Each perspective, dream, and revolution are relevant. The mythic is happening, and the rape is happening too. It seems necessary we attend to both. Why are you opposed to seeing the rape?”

A Morsel of Empathic Resonance

While apprenticing on a women’s quest in my early thirties, I asked the dream-maker to help me remember what happened when I was four. Sleeping on the edge of a red rock cliff, I awoke to roaring thunder and the grove of ponderosa pines lit up in the lightning’s glow. Jack was in my dream. “I’m the one who abused you,” he said.

In the months that followed, I remembered the grey streak that ran through his curly black hair, and the disturbing way he looked at me in later years when we both found ourselves at the curb taking out the trash. With the support of trees and humans, my body re-experienced and integrated the memories that arose. It took years to trust what came and even longer to speak about it; it’s not a story I often share.

Those victimized in our culture are invalidated and stigmatized, but my story is only a small thread in the tapestry of violence that pervades and envelopes our culture. My trauma has gifted me with a small morsel of empathic resonance for what most other living beings on this planet endure far more often than I.

By the age of five, I wasn’t allowed to play with my neighbor; my mother had grown concerned about the reoccurring bites and bruises. The giant ash, the grove of pines, and the cherry and maple trees with whom I grew up were far less fortunate; all have since been chopped down. Although my parents had moved, I returned to pay my respects for the lives and deaths of those loving trees who raised me and were my family. I remember them often in my imagination.

The Questions of Displaced Descendants of Slaves

I remember weeping in love and loss while huddled in the crowded adobe hall with over 100 people; Martin Prechtel was sharing the rare and forgotten history of indigenous peoples worldwide. We listened to their music and heard about their creation stories, animals, and daily life. We wept over the rape, the slavery, the injustice, and so much beauty already lost. We asked questions: How did we get here from there? What birthed the original destructive culture that grew to destroy all others? How can we, the displaced descendants of slaves, live and die in a way that feeds life?

Bolad’s Kitchen is a never-before-seen school which aimed to help us remember an intact human approach to living in sacred relationship with Earth. I returned there for seventy days over four years, in my mid-thirties. Martin had grown up on a Pueblo reservation and apprenticed to a Tz’utujil shaman. He taught us an ancient economics. Fellow participants and I made beads, and later repaid our debt to the Earth for the obsidian rocks and shells we borrowed. We made pottery, moccasins, and felt, always offering the best back to the Holy Earth. She is starving and grieving, because she has not been given the ritual food and gifts she needs to live.

Martin shared stories of indigenous cultures who responded to attack in two ways. Some acted directly, fighting to protect their land, animals, and people; they were often killed or enslaved. Others acted mythically, returning to the “origination” place of their creation stories; there they waited to die intact, so their death would send out an echo that feeds all of life. But what if it isn’t either-or but both-and? What if we could act both mythically and directly? What if our revolution to stop the rape was sourced in both our ability to attune to our dreams and our willingness to resist our dominant culture?

Stopping the Rape

My dream seems to imply that we can stop the rape. I write to weave the world of dreams with direct action, so that our dreams can guide us. The weaving of mythos with revolution can support us in stopping the rape. Dreams are “willful, living beings”[30] that can re-align us with earth’s wishes. Through dream incubation, artists ask for a dream to guide their creation, and the dream that comes is “for the work of art, which uses us to birth itself.”[31] Similarly, we can invite the Earth to dream through us, and guide us toward the actions that matter most. When we act on our dreams, more dreams come to guide us further. In this way, dreams can come to guide our life. Dreams have led me to heal and discover my soul; they direct me now to guide and write; they urged me to write this piece.

Dreams offer pivotal clues about our deepest purpose. Each soul’s story feeds and seeds the mythic sinew of our human potential while also empowering our creative service on behalf of Earth. Just as individual transformation requires a journey of dismemberment, so too must our patho-adolescent civilization dismember and dismantle. Civilization will fall no matter what we do, and it’s likely to be messy and dangerous. To stop the rape, we must stop industrial civilization from continuing to harm people and the planet.

Radical change is necessary rather than minor reforms; it doesn’t work to “ask for justice from a system which is deeply invested in injustice.[32] We’ve been taught to solve problems by getting along, but this strategy isn’t effective with an abuser, and global industrial empire can be likened to an abuser. Abusers “feel entitled to exploit, will do anything in order to exploit, and will exploit precisely as much as they can get away with,” and as eco-philosopher Derrick Jensen says, the only way to stop an abuser is to place him “in a situation where he has no other choice.”[33]

How may we bring this radical change about? We need stealth, resistance, ferocity, and creativity. We need to cultivate a relationship with our dreams, the more-than-human world, and our deep imagination. We need humans willing to fight for what we love by all means necessary to dismantle industrial civilization. Judith Lewis Herman says it’s “morally impossible to remain neutral.” Bystanders are forced to take sides. It’s tempting to side with the abuser, because doing so risks nothing and requires nothing from us; it also appeals to “the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil.” Acknowledging rape asks bystanders “to share the burden of pain.” It demands “action, engagement, and remembering.”[34]

Global industrial empire and a living planet can’t exist at the same time. If you love the Earth, are you willing to stand with her? What happens to Earth happens to us; to side against her is to rape ourselves.

Primal Scream

The cottonwoods shaded us as we sat in final council. Harrison shared an encounter with a teddy bear cholla—a cactus so thick with spines, it almost seems covered in fur.

“It told me to slow down so I could listen better. I took off my shoes and walked barefoot,” he said. “I later touched a hurt place on a barrel cactus, and a surprising flood of painful memories returned of a time when I was abused.”

Harrison’s demeanor was soft and somber. I wondered if his experience would shift his perspective on the rape of Earth. Many women in the group had shared stories of rape earlier in the week. One woman had dreamed about a primal scream of pain for the feminine and the Earth. She carried it out on the land.

“I wanted to hold that scream forever,” she said. “Perhaps my writing can be a voice for it.”

As we paused to take in her words, a squadron of javelinas wandered into a neighboring field to eat some nuts from under the truffle trees. Javelinas are pig-like animals with tusks; they roam the gulches in family bands (like the Apache did).

I shared too.  “You may see me as a strong guide, living her mythic purpose. Yet I’m also someone who has been harmed by the violence of our culture. The young girl inside me who carries this hurt also holds gifts. I love her. She lives within my mythos, her heart connected to the heart of the world in a cave underneath a world tree. That little girl who found comfort in the arms of the trees still speaks to me today—if I’m still enough to listen. She informs how I love, guide, and write.  She chisels a sensitivity into my bones that attunes me to the rape of Earth and feeds my fervor to act.”

Author Bio

Rebecca Wildbear is a river and soul guide who helps people tune in to the mysteries that live within the Earth community, dreams, and their own wild Nature, so they may live a life of creative service. She has been a guide with Animas Valley Institute since 2006 and is author of the forthcoming book, Playing & Praying: Soul Stories to Inspire Personal & Planetary Transformation.

Image is Toppling Over the Edge of the World [Collage] by Doug Van Houten ©, used with permission.

Upcoming Radical Dreamwork Event

Rebecca & Doug will offer an Animas Valley Institute program to Deep Green Resistance members and allies, June 26 – 30, 2020, A Wild Mind Intensive for Activists & Revolutionaries: Partnering with Earth & Dreams. We’ll deepen our ecological perception and engage in radical dreamwork…and more!

See the flyer for full description ~

Or register on-line  ~


[1] Martin Prechtel, Long Life Honey in the Heart (North Atlantic Books, 2004).

[2] Tika Yupanqui, The Iroquois Dream Experience and Spirituality,, 1998.

[3] Derrick Jensen, Dreams, (Seven Stories Press, 2011).

[4] Stephen Aizenstat, Dream Tending: Awakening to the Healing Power of Dreams (Spring Journal, Inc., 2011).

[5] Bill Plotkin, “Self-Development and Cultural Transformation #6,” Musings,, March 2019.

[6] National Sexual Violence Resource Center,

[7] Lili Loofbourow, “Why Society Goes Easy on Rapists,” Slate, May, 2019.

[8] National Sexual Violence Resource Center,

[9] RAINN,

[10] Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Volume 2: Resistance (Seven Stories Press, 2006).

[11] Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (Basic Books, 1997).

[12] Sean Butler and Will Falk, “Rights for Lake Erie? Why Corporate Rights and Preemption Must Go,” DGR News Service, December 2019.

[13] Aimee Cree Dunn, “An Open Letter to Climate Activists in the Northwoods…and Beyond,” DGR News Service, December 2019.

[14] David Abrams, Spell of the Sensuous (Vintage, 1997).

[15] Laura Sewall’s essay “The Skill of Ecological Perception” was published in Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind by Theodore Roszak, Mary Gomes,  and Allen Kanner (New York: Random House, 1995).

[16] Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (Basic Books, 1997).

[17] Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Volume 2: Resistance (Seven Stories Press, 2006).

[18] Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Volume 2: Resistance (Seven Stories Press, 2006).

[19] Ari Kelman, “Murder, purely,” The Chronicle, April 2008.

[20] Ari Kelman, “Murder, purely,” The Chronicle, April 2008.

[21] Edward Abbey, “In the Land of ‘Laughing Waters’,” The New York Times, January 1982.

[22] Aimee Cree Dunn, “An Open Letter to Climate Activists in the Northwoods…and Beyond,” DGR News Service, December 2019.

[23] Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Volume 2: Resistance (Seven Stories Press, 2006).

[24] Lierre Keith, “The Girls and the Grasses,” DGR News Service, August 2015.

[25] Lierre Keith, The Girls and the Grasses, DGR News Service, August 2015.

[26] Max Wilbert, “The Moral Argument for Ecological Revolution,” DGR News Service, November 2019.

[27] Jane Caputi, Gossips, Gorgons & Crones: The Fates of the Earth (Bear & Company, 1993).

[28] Name and identifying details have been changed.

[29] Justin McBrien, “This is Not the Sixth Extinction. It’s the First Extermination Event,” Truthout, September 2019

[30] Derrick Jensen, Dreams (Seven Stories Press, 2011).

[31] Robert Bosnak, Embodiment: Creative Imagination in Medicine, Art, and Travel (Routledge, 2007).

[32] Shahidah Janjua, “By Any Means Necessary?” DGR News Service, December 2019.

[33] Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Volume 2: Resistance (Seven Stories Press, 2006).

[34] Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (Basic Books, 1997).

Deepen Your Ecological Perception

Deepen Your Ecological Perception

by Rebecca Wildbear

The first time I was invited to speak to nature in my late twenties, I walked into the oak-hickory forest near the Blue Ridge Mountains, skeptical but eager. A former Outward Bound guide and a Wilderness Therapist, I loved nature and preferred being there to anywhere. I biked and backpacked, kayaked and rock climbed, always longing to be closer in some way, but I didn’t know how. It had never occurred to me that I could have a real conversation.

A squirrel began barking almost immediately. I felt surprised and captivated. The sound grew louder and closer. When I finally looked up, I saw a squirrel only ten feet from my head, looking straight into my eyes and barking loudly. I had witnessed squirrels bark before, but never one like this. He was persistent and emphatic. He barked while maintaining eye contact for a long time. Then he began to move up and down the tree and along several branches, still barking, before returning to the place where we first encountered one another. Again, he looked into my eyes. He seemed neither upset nor injured. It seemed clear this squirrel was tirelessly trying to communicate something, but I felt dense to his message.

I was participating in a Soulcraft Intensive, my first Animas Valley Institute program, and the guides had urged us to wander in nature alone and listen for who wants to speak with us. Soulcraft[1] springs from nature-based cultures, eco-depth-psychology, the poetic tradition, and wilderness rites of passage; it offers a contemporary path to soul discovery.

He must be talking to someone else, I concluded, but I looked around the forest, and there were no other squirrels or animals in site. He moved closer, looked into my eyes, and continued his sequence for more than an hour. I thanked the squirrel, feeling elated to have had this intimate connection even if its meaning was still mysterious.

Our deepest place of belonging is nature. Most young children instinctively sense this connection. They are enchanted by the flutter of hummingbird wings, the colors of wildflowers, and the sounds of a rushing river—until they’re separated from nature, placed behind walls, and removed from the sounds of leaves blowing in the wind and the smell of rain falling on meadows.

We reside within Earth; she’s our home and our greatest teacher. Re-attuning our perception—our sensing, feeling, and imagination—so that we’re able to listen to the Earth is imperative to the wellness of both humans and all of life. Author and activist Chellis Glendinning believes our “original trauma” is the horror of the domination paradigm in Western civilization that has systematically removed our lives from participation in the natural world, a psychic displacement or homelessness.[2] What if the anxieties and mood disorders of the DSM-V[3] are symptoms of this greater illness? What would our treatment be then?

Although I’d witnessed people grow and heal in the wilderness in my roles as guide and therapist, I’d intuited in my heart that even this connection wasn’t deep enough. Nature was still merely a backdrop for human healing. Indigenous nature-based peoples know a deeper way. When I read “conversations across the species border” on an Animas brochure, I knew I had to participate.

A couple weeks after returning home, I walked on the farm where I lived in West Virginia at dusk. Across the small pond, a red fox appeared. He stared at me, and then he too began barking.  His bark was different from the squirrel’s, more shrill and piercing. He looked at me and barked for a long time before turning to continue his walk. “What were the squirrel and red fox saying?” I asked in an email to my Animas group. Lauren, my Animas guide, responded, “Perhaps they were noticing and welcoming your presence in the wild world?”

Whatever was happening, it was evoking aliveness and connection. As I remember the squirrel and red fox, I experience Mary Oliver’s words in Wild Geese. I feel the wild world offering itself to my imagination, calling out to me “harsh and exciting,” as if to announce my “place in the family of things.”

Replant Ourselves in Nature

It’s vital we realize that Earth and all its creatures are fully alive; to be healthy ourselves we must attend to our relationship with the Earth community. A “re-enchantment with the Earth as a living reality” is needed to stop the destruction humans are imposing. What we experience as alive and sacred, we naturally want to protect.[4] We can’t be healed separately from the planet, because the human soul exists within the world soul.[5]

Our wholeness comes from rooting in the rhythms and cycles of nature. When tending the health of a damaged ecosystem, we improve the soil quality and plant native species, rather than eliminating invasive species. Likewise, we tend the health of our psyches, not by getting rid of pathology, but by cultivating the “native species” within ourselves. Bill Plotkin’s Nature-Based Map of the Human Psyche offers a pathway to cultivate wholeness by replanting ourselves in the natural world; this occurs through allowing nature to be our primary guide.[6]

When we’re whole, we feel both Earth’s magnificence and her destruction, because we’re no longer separate. This awakening is urgent. “We belong to this world…[and] of all the dangers we face, from climate chaos to nuclear war, none is so great as the deadening of our response.”[7] Our ecological crisis is sourced in our species’ “collective perceptual disorder,”[8] a “collective myopia”[9] that has missed the basic reality of our innate connection to Earth, perhaps originating from “the historical and conceptual split between ‘in-here’ and ‘out-there’”[10] between self and world.

We become whole not only for ourselves, but also to strengthen our capacity to protect and serve our world. Protecting nature means resisting the dominant culture, industrial civilization, a way of life fueled by the perpetual exploitation of peoples and lands in a futile addiction to an unsustainable lifestyle. A strong resistance is one that is multi-faceted; a foundational ingredient is rooting the depths of our psyches in a genuine perception of the Earth as a living and breathing being with whom we can commune and listen.

We must let it direct us. “Nature is an incomparable guide if you know how to follow her.”[11] Laura Sewall offers five practices to cultivate ecological perception:

  • Learn to attend. With mindful awareness, we get out of our heads, and become open, receptive, and reverent to the forms, textures, and colors of nature.
  • Perceive the relationship between things. We look at the interface where everything meets everything else and see the Earth through “love eyes.”
  • Develop perceptual flexibility. We feel how human time interacts with the pace of Earth’s processes and grasp time scales beyond that of a human lifetime.
  • Re-perceive depth. We recognize that we are within and wholly dependent on the vaster body of Earth, living in a communion similar to that of a lover.
  • Receive images from Earth through the imaginal self, through body and psyche, like a force of nature entering us. We become co-creative.[12]

Most of us received messages in grade school that imagination isn’t real—that we must put it away like an outgrown toy. Yet nature-based peoples have always experienced imagination as a way to listen and commune with the world. Strengthening our imagination returns us to our primal roots; it’s an avenue to our aliveness. The deepest layer of this realm isn’t under our control, but bubbles up from some mysterious place deep down.[13] It’s not created from our minds, but has its own intelligence. Rather than trying to interpret it, we allow it to guide us; we partner with it in the process of co-creating the world.

Six months after my encounter with the squirrel and red fox, I quit my job, moved out west, and participated in an Animas Quest, a ceremony to be alone in conversation with the land for three days and nights while fasting. Nature was my greatest love, and I put my life on the altar and asked how I might serve. My question, however, was met either with silence or a simple response: “You’re not ready.”

I felt weakest on the third day of the fast. I’d just hiked back up the steep trail after placing a rock on the stone pile to signal I was okay. Every few feet, I had to stop. My heart beat so rapidly it scared me, reminding me of when I’d been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma at the age of twenty-one. The two lymph nodes in front of my heart had grown a nine-centimeter tumor. Chemotherapy and radiation had been the prescription, and I was told there was a thirty-three percent chance it would work. It was then that I first learned to let go of my plans and truly listen.

Feeling unsteady from the hike, I sat on a large rock that had invited me to a high perch with its glimmer from across the red rock canyon. It comforted me. “What is my purpose?” I asked, more softly this time, directing my question to the juniper and pinyon trees covering the canyon.

“Brave Heart,” a nearby pinyon pine whispered. I felt disarmed.

“No, that’s a movie.” My response was rapid, but too late to stop the mysterious flood of memories, images, and emotions that ensued, including both moments I had been a brave heart, inciting tear-filled awe, and moments I’d turned away afraid, breaking my heart in utter disappointment. Some memories highlighted my courage to speak the truth and others were of times when I’d silenced my own voice.

Many a night in the months after the quest, this vision awakened me as if asking me to tend my newly de-thawing heart in its unraveling. I’d write poetry at 3 a.m. with tears running down my face, feeling as if a dam had burst and the inner river of my heart and soul and words were finding their way back to life.

Layers of understanding the meaning of “brave heart” unfurled over decades, persuading me that perhaps I was being asked to embody the strength of a warrior and summoning me to hear again the bark of squirrel and red fox as a call to speak out, make a lot of noise, perhaps through guiding or writing.

Restore Animistic Perception

When we listen to the Earth, we may receive the most important instructions of our lives. As Geneen Marie Haughen wrote in “Wild Imagination,” to listen to Earth requires we access our deep imagination; this is a necessary capacity to decolonize the mind and “revive animist perception”—a perception that experiences all things as alive or sentient. For those who experience the world as ensouled, and for whom bear, river, tree, and rock are regarded as intelligent, are more likely to fight against global industrial civilization. Yet it’s difficult to thwart the fragmented narratives that our colonized world urges us to live, and to engage, instead, directly with the natural world and our deep imaginations.[14] Perhaps in part, because this would require us to feel our grief and rage at the ongoing destruction of so many beloved wild places and beings.

One of the oldest belief systems in the world, animism isn’t a religion, but a way of experiencing the world. It suggests that soul or spirit exists not only in humans, but also in animals, plants, rocks, and geographic features such as mountains, oceans, or other entities of nature, including thunder, wind, and stars. Although each culture has different mythologies and rituals, animism is a foundational thread of indigenous peoples around the world.

Being that all humans are the descendants of indigenous peoples somewhere, we all have ancestors who once experienced the world this way. Therefore, it’s in our DNA to open to this way of sensing and perceiving. Bill Plotkin describes three possible ways to be indigenous: culturally (of a particular people or tribe), ecologically (of a particular ecosystem or geographical place), and terrestrially (of Earth).[15] Though only some of us are culturally or ecologically indigenous, we are all terrestrially indigenous. Remembering our relationship with Earth in our flesh and bones is a resource of the greatest significance and potency.

For nearly all of the time humans have been on the planet, regular conversations across the species border were an everyday natural part of life. Sadly, this seems like a strange invitation in our world today; most people have difficulty initiating such a conversation. Perhaps this is because we’ve been taught from a very young age to perceive nature as separate, a life-less object, a commodity. This mistaken perception seems to be at the foundation of our cultural ills.

In The Lost World of the Kalahari, Laurens van der Post writes about living among the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert and describes how shocked they were that he couldn’t hear the stars. At first they thought he must be joking or lying. When they realized he really couldn’t hear the stars, they concluded he must be very ill and expressed great sorrow.[16] For the Bushmen knew anyone who can’t hear nature must have the gravest and deadliest sickness of all.

Humanity’s ability to perceive the sentience of Earth is critical to our survival and to all life on Earth. Eco-psychology reinforces insights from naturalists like E. O. Wilson, who suggests that we possess “an innately emotional affiliation with all living organisms,” a biophilia.

Longing to be in conversation with nature can catalyze us. And perhaps the natural world longs for this relationship with us too. Longing is not acquiring, as the vulnerability of failure feels all too possible. Instead, longing incites us into feeling the love-ache of what we really value, and it matures us into becoming and creating that which matters most, like an embodied prayer that lays our life on the altar to serve what we love.

One week after the Quest, I backpacked six miles into a remote and ancient red rock canyon in Arizona; dwellings and petroglyphs were abundant here, marking the lives of those who came before. It was the middle of the night, and I couldn’t sleep. The canyon seemed to be calling me out of my tent, to wander in the dark and be in conversation. I was afraid of the dark—tarantulas, rattle snakes, anything I couldn’t see—but I longed to engage with my surroundings as I had on the Quest. And I wanted to accept the invitation to be a brave heart.

I wandered to the creek that meandered through the canyon; it formed a large pool near a tall red rock wall; the stars glimmered in the water. Meanwhile, a memory from my Quest arose. I had picked up a heavy rock and tossed it down hard on several rock surfaces repeatedly. I was trying to crack it open, whilst asking nature to help me crack open my heart so that I could feel it fully. Sometimes I felt as if I lived imprisoned behind a protective shell. There were tears to cry and secrets to encounter, but I could not access them. Unsuccessful, I eventually fell over exhausted from my effort.

I tasted the possibility of failure. How would I ever become a brave heart if I couldn’t even feel my heart? I spoke to the rock wall and the creek, the spirits of the ancient ancestors who lived in this canyon and the cottonwoods, to any wild being who was listening.

I spoke of my longing to feel my heart, to free the dam of my emotions and cry, so that I could be a brave heart. When a few tears came, I offered them; they fell and splashed in the water. The wind and water seemed to respond to my words and tears in gusts and ripples. The light of the stars seemed to dance and grow brighter on the water.

I made rhythm with two small rocks, one red and one white, which I left at the edge of the creek. Some of my words later turned into a poem, the first I’d allowed myself to write since high school.

A mysterious ache in my chest keeps me from sleep.

Is this pain ~ heartbreak, longing, or love?

I survived by skipping my feelings.

Sensitivity grown tough.

Let the dam crumble.

Let the river flow free.

Let me cry for the Earth and all its people.

In the morning, I returned to the water. My two rhythm rocks were not on the ground where I had left them. They now sat elegantly atop a rock a few feet off shore, surrounded by water.  Placed underneath them were red and yellow flowers. My heart began racing. How could this be? Who moved my rocks and put flowers underneath them? No other humans had hiked or camped out there since my arrival. I felt as if the canyon and its inhabitants had heard me and were grateful for my presence and words. This felt magical and touched my heart deeply.

This thread of my conversation with water has grown into an unfolding tapestry. Un-damming the waters of my own heart has ushered me into an inexplicable conversation with the ocean and river. The more-than-human world has become my family, my best friend, my muse, and my lover. They guide me to new edges every day.

Co-create & Dismantle with Earth

The rock canyons with whom I have lived see me more deeply than I see myself. Nonhumans are more intelligent and wiser than we are, although most humans believe they’re superior. Humans have a lot to offer, and our greatest contributions are inspired from a relationship with nature. If we can decolonize our minds and our lives by allowing the beings of nature and our deep imagination to be our guides, they may offer us genuine direction and possibilities we’ve never considered.

Surprising and even extraordinary occurrences arise personally, such as my experience with the rocks and flowers in the canyon, and they also exist on a grander scale. Thomas Berry calls them “moments of grace”—the star out of which our solar system was born collapsing in enormous heat, scattering itself as fragments in space; the first living cell, a prokaryotic cell capable of a metabolic process never known previously, involving the energy of the sun, the carbon of the atmosphere, and the hydrogen of the sea; or 2.5 million years ago in northeast Africa when the first humans stood erect.[17] These wondrous transformations certainly don’t lessen our responsibility to engage directly and act politically, but rather they encourage us to open our communication to those who are of greater intelligence, and the guidance, support, and potentialities they offer us.

The Earth community is in dire circumstances. Our old paradigms don’t work—individualism, patriarchy, imperialism, capitalism, human supremacy, and technology won’t save us. If we look at the environmental devastation and the political-economic corruption, there seems to be little hope. Ecological revolution by any means necessary is a moral imperative; we must do what we can to stop industrial civilization from destroying the planet.[18] We must listen closely to the animate natural world and be willing to engage through direct action. We must become visionaries and revolutionaries who tune in, engage, serve, and fight both in deep relationship with and on behalf of Earth.

What we co-create in concert with nature is far more powerful than anything our minds create in isolation.  Through embodying the images that arise from nature and our deep imagination, perhaps we can dismantle and de-construct our pathological, adolescent civilization and co-conceive and remember alongside nature another way of being human in relationship with all of life on Earth.

Converse with Nature ~ an Invitation

Wander in a wild place, away from humans, and see who attracts, repels, or scares you (rock, tree, or wind). Speak aloud to the others as you attend to what’s happening. Introduce yourself out loud and tell the others what you notice about them. Share a deep truth or offer praise. Be curious. Perhaps communicate with song, dance, or movement. Listen with all your senses, intuition, feeling, and imagination. Notice shifts in the world around you as well as in your own perception.

Be surprised. A response may come as a sign, synchronicity, dream image, vision, memory, or kinesthetic or emotional sensation. It may be immediate or delayed, auditory or visual (color, shape, movement). It may be unusual, and you may miss it or talk yourself into believing it was nothing. What’s mysterious is well worth pursuing, being with, and learning from!

Rebecca Wildbear is a river and soul guide who helps people tune in to the mysteries that live within the Earth community, dreams, and their own wild Nature, so they may live a life of creative service. She has been a guide with Animas Valley Institute since 2006 and is author of the forthcoming book, Playing & Praying: Soul Stories to Inspire Personal & Planetary Transformation. 

Image by Doug Van Houten, “A Journey to the Depths of Soul” [Collage]

Upcoming Listening To the Land Program

Rebecca & Doug will offer an Animas Valley Institute program to Deep Green Resistance members and allies, June 26 – 30, 2020, A Wild Mind Intensive for Activists & Revolutionaries: Partnering with Earth & Dreams. We’ll engage in practices to replant ourselves in nature, restore animistic perception, co-create & dismantle with Earth…and more!

See the flyer for full description ~

Or register on-line  ~


[1] Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft: Crossing Into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche, New World Library, 2003

[2] Chellis Glendinning, My Name is Chellis and I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1994).

[3] Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition.

[4] Thomas Berry, The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future (New York: Random House, 1999).

[5] James Hillman’s essay, “A Psyche the Size of Earth” was published as the foreword to Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind by Theodore Roszak, Mary Gomes, Allen Kanner (New York: Random House, 1995).

[6] Bill Plotkin, Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche, New World Library, 2013

[7] Joanna Macy,

[8] David Abrams, Spell of the Sensuous, Vintage, 1997

[9] Laura Sewall’s essay “The Skill of Ecological Perception” was published in Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind by Theodore Roszak, Mary Gomes, Allen Kanner (New York: Random House, 1995).

[10] Theodore, Rozak, The Voice of the Earth, Phanes Press, 2001

[11] C.G. Jung, Letters, Volume 1:1906-1950, Routledge, 1973

[12] Laura Sewall’s essay “The Skill of Ecological Perception” was published in Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind by Theodore Roszak, Mary Gomes, Allen Kanner (New York: Random House, 1995).

[13] E.S. Gallegos, Ph.D, Into Wholeness: The Path of Deep Imagery, Moon Bear Press, 2002.

[14] Geneen Marie Haughen, Wild Imagination, Parabola, May 2019.

[15] Bill Plotkin, Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche, New World Library, 2013.

[16] Laurens van der Post, The Lost World of the Kalahari, Harcourt Brace & Company, 1977.

[17] Thomas, Berry, Moments of Grace, Yes! Magazine, Spring 2000.

[18] Max Wilbert, The Moral Argument For Ecological Revolution, Deep Green Resistance News Service, November 2019.