Earth-Dreaming Ritual: Milk Flows

posted in: Pilgrimage Stories | 4
Grandmothers Country Cloak Museum of Australia
Grandmothers Country Cloak

We are destroying our birthright to belong to a natural world of Earth, Humans, and Spirit. Trying to think of solutions has not helped. We need to descend to a deeper source—into our bottomless wellspring of intuition and creativity, into our profound relationship with the Earth and her creatures.

French philosopher and mystic, Henri Corbin, named this place the mundus imaginalis and Jungians call it the psychoid realm. This is the place of imagination where the reality of this world and the reality of the spirit world overlap. We can enter this bridge world through dreams, visions, and creative absorption.

Through Earth-dreaming we seek to contact the wisdom of the deep psyche where we are one with the wild, where we are one with Spirit-filled Earth. When Earth speaks to us through our dreams, nature presents itself in a way that seems universal, beyond our personal issues. The dream may even feel non-personal, as if it’s a dream for everyone.

We desire to co-create with Earth’s endlessly generous nurturance and her boundless gifts of beauty. We seek to awaken the subtle energies, the inner wild of body, soul, and Self. To see what arises when inner wild energies meet the outer wild energies of the dream. Through the embodied Earth-dreaming process we try to keep the dream alive, so its living reality can be re-entered. We are encouraged to engage in the livingness of the dream, to experience the image, to sense the energy, letting body and feelings lead while mind simply witnesses.

***

A small group of women and women-identified men have come together to each share a poignant image from an Earth-given dream. We will enact these dreams through rituals and ceremony. Our intention is to create space for healing to arise for the dreamer, for each other, and for our relationship with the world. Our process for Earth-dreaming ritual is this:

• We begin the ritual by preparing the space with candles, incense, perhaps offerings.
• We prepare ourselves by cleansing our energies. A simple smudge of red cedar clears any negativity and creates a protective circle around us.
• We are guided in a meditation in which we bring our awareness slowly down through every part of our body. We notice our breath slowing and deepening and our hearts opening. We are reminded to enter curious, playful mind and leave critical mind aside.
• Someone starts a soft shamanic drumbeat and keeps it going while we enter into four segments of about 15 minutes each:
• We go around the circle, each sharing a small dream or a numinous part of a dream. The only response is we hear you.
• We each move to our dream and share a vivid word or two from our experience.
• We each draw our dream and do a round of sharing a feeling that arose.
• Finally we are invited to write a poem, then read it if we’d like.

We keep these verbal sharings sparse in order to linger in the sensing body, in the textures of the dream, in the rhythms of the earth.

***

To illustrate the Earth-dreaming process I’ll share a recent dream of mine:

Dream
A woman picks up a lone baby ‘possum.
It immediately crawls to her breast.
I am watching the ‘possum suckle.

I wonder, should all of us women be doing
this to save the animals?
Might we all be making milk for them?

Movement
As I move to the dream it is all flow—flow from my body, flow from my breasts. Suddenly I have a visceral revelation of being an animal, just like any other animal. I know in my head that people are animals, but our culture has worked relentlessly to say definitively that we are very different, very superior, very distinct and apart from animals. So, I mostly don’t experience myself as an animal. But I am animal giving milk. I experience viscerally that animals give us their milk.

Drawing
As with the authentic movement above, these quick, spontaneously-drawn responses are authentic drawing–sketches arising from, drawn by, the still-moving inner body’s senses and feelings.

Drawing by Betty Lou Chaika in Earth-Dreaming Ritual: Milk Flows

Poem
                                                                   (chorus)
Milk Flows
                                                                    milk flows
women arrive,
women of colors arrive,
animals arrive
                                                                    milk flows
milk flows from
women’s breasts,
the animals drink
                                                                    milk flows
milk flows from
animals’ breasts,
the women drink
                                                                    milk flows
milk flows from
all our breasts, from
all our animal breast
                                                                    milk flows
Mother of All,
hold us all, and
suckle us in our pain
                                                                    milk flows

 

When everyone is finished exploring their dreams we gather together to create a ceremony to honor them. To fully support each other and the powerful reality of our dreaming, groups enact each dream as the dreamer watches. The community transforms Milk Flows into a colorful, scarves-flowing play with dancers, chanters and chorus. After awhile someone pulls me in to join them. Tears flow when a Mother wraps me in her arms.

***

This dream came in the fall. I said to my husband that I hadn’t seen a ‘possum here in years. In the spring two scruffy baby ‘possums climbed awkwardly, on shaky little legs, out from under our deck and ambled towards me. The mother ‘possum had given birth to a litter of baby ‘possums under our deck. I happened to have my camera with me and managed a quick snapshot. They nosed around, exploring curiously, tried to climb in flower pots, and rambled on towards the garden.
Photo of baby 'possum by Betty Lou Chaika in Earth-Dreaming Ritual: Milk Flows
Synchronistically, while I was writing this, a short film appeared on BBC of a young indigenous artist who is helping revive the south-eastern Australia Aboriginal tradition of making possum skin cloaks, which was mostly lost after colonization. He’s teaching communities how to make them again. When a child is born she’s wrapped in a small possum skin cloak. More skin squares are added as she grows, and she engraves them with images that tell the story of her life. She is buried in it when she dies. Indigenous artist, Dr. Vicki Couzens says, “Possum skin cloaks were an important part of our ritual and ceremonial life. Possum skin cloaks are the embodiment of spiritual healing.”

Being wrapped in mother possum’s body all one’s life sounds like a dream come true. The dream of the Earth, the Earth’s dream for all of us is to wrap each other and all of nature in love.

Brisbane Aboriginal Community Cloak, 2016

 

Text, drawing, and photo (C) 2021 Betty Lou Chaika

Grandmothers Country Cloak at top is from https://australian.museum/learn/first-nations/possum-skin-cloaks-then-and-now/

Brisbane Aboriginal Community Cloak is from https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2016/06/27/possum-skin-cloak-traditions-revived-south-east-queensland

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4 Responses

  1. Sandra

    This story is very moving to me, dear Betty Lou. Thank you so much for sharing it! At the beach with friends this coming week, we will do a Spirit Journey led by Laurie. I feel my experience of reading your revelatory dream and aftermath will enhance my Journey.

  2. ann loomis

    Betty Lou, your possum poem and story reminded me that possums are marsupials that carry their babies in their pouch. Their babies are literally surrounded by mother-love, like the Brisbane community cloak. Maybe possums are telling us that the Earth is surrounding us and all her creatures with her love always. Your image of milk flowing from the breast of Mother Earth is so nurturing and powerful. Thank you!

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