IN RESONANCE WITH THE EARTH
We are pleased to introduce a new section of our journal, "In Resonance with the Earth." We see poiesis as providing the basis for human beings' creative responses to their environment. The arts in particular offer forms that crystallize these responses in ways that touch and move us. "In Resonance with the Earth" will contain poetry, artworks, photography and poetic essays relevant to our theme. We encourage readers to find their own poietic ways of responding. This issue embraces a selection of essays, poetry and artworks etc. by David Moss, Carrie Herbert (UK), Alexander Kopytin (Russia), Judith Alalu and Odette Velez (Peru), Stephen K. Levine (Canada), Vadim Ryabikov (Russia), Margo Knill Fuchs (Switzerland)
A CONVERSATION WITH ARTIST DAVID MOSS AND PHOTOGRAPHER CAROLINA HERBERT AT SKYSEA BEACH, THE GOWER PENINSULAR, WALES, UK
Rev., is an Interfaith Minister, professional musician/songwriter and artist. David’s immersive landscape paintings capture the beauty of nature in an Edenic form that invites you into a timeless joyful celebration of life
Carolina Herbert PHD,
is an arts psychotherapist, supervisor, educator and celebrant with over 20 years experience working with people, organisations and communities in post-conflict and conflict environments. As a singer/songwriter and photographer, Carolina has a passion for how the expressive arts can support us and enable us to be resilient and respond to the complex challenges we face in our world today.
On a sunny September day, David and I set off to Skysea beach on the Gower Peninsular1 with cameras, paints and canvases. The dappled dawn light led us through archways of beech and sycamore drawn by the sound of the sea. Our plan was to immerse into the landscape and use painting and photography to respond to a request for articles on the theme ‘In Resonance with the Earth’. The creative process presented a need for us to surrender into the unknown. We were excited, there was an air of anticipation, as if something was about to be revealed and born.
In the beginning…
Blank canvases, charged cameras and a leap of faith.
While David made his artist camp on the beach, I went off clambering over the rocks at low tide. I felt like a curious wild explorer going to discover a place I had never visited before, to see what drew my attention and resonated.
The return - a conversation, a harvesting
After a couple of hours, we met back on the beach to share our experiences and discoveries.
David: You’re back!
Carolina: Yes! I feel like I have been to another world to the bottom of the sea bed, peering into pools that mirror the sky in infinite circles. I spent a long time watching a heron that was so still, almost blending in with the rocks, just being. I was so grateful to feel so safe, it’s unusual for me to feel this safe in wild nature.
Being in and photographing this rugged and wildly beautiful landscape, standing still like the heron was like a meditation that calmed and grounded me. It helped me get out of the chaos of my thoughts to a place where I felt so peaceful, like I have been taught the wisdom of the whole universe! When you are being still in nature there is no doing required only being.
David: Yeah I resonate with all of that! Especially the chaotic thoughts, I have plenty of them! For me that’s the start of the process, trying to find a way to begin. This often involves a lot of swearing and sometime even tears! Tears of frustration or tears of overwhelm of the thought of what I am attempting to do in response to the vastness and beauty of nature.
Sometimes the stronger the energy and emotions, the more connected I feel and it gives me a better way in. The results come from a love of what I am doing. I have been watching the light change on the sea, it’s been quite dramatic so I’ve been trying to pull all the ephemeral moments together. So yeah, I have been exploring the ephemeral.
Carolina: Yes, I witnessed how everything is so transient and ever changing in nature. As the light moves you can experience the landscape in a new way in each moment. It kind of reflects how transient life is. Through your art and my photography it’s like we are attempting to capture something of the essence of the moment.
David: Yes, exactly, and I found myself feeling certain colours.
Carolina: Yes, I love how you have used the colours. Is this a new style of painting that’s emerged?
David: Well, it takes me back to my upbringing and a style I created when I lived at the coast in Yorkshire.
Carolina: Ah like a reminiscence, a style rekindled, and here we are on the coast of my childhood.
David: Ah yes! I found myself painting green, a colour I would normally associate with forests and woodlands. The more I tuned in, I have been discovering green today. The board I had brought with me had some green already on it from when I was painting in the forest in Wiltshire. And so, the green came out in this painting, serendipity!
Carolina: That’s amazing, I was looking into one of the pools and it was such a luminescent green it was like a forest and then you have painted it without knowing it was there.
David: Wow, that’s like the same green of the forest in Wiltshire, I had no idea it was so green where you were walking and here it is in my painting.
Carolina: Yes, and here we are on a Jurassic sea bed area where the forest from hundreds of thousands of years ago still remains, over there on the beach you can walk on it, it’s so green and you can see the tree roots. It’s gives such a mind-blowing meta perspective to imagine where the ocean is now there was once forest.
David – Wow, like revealing a whole other world! I was drawing with a pencil it pulled of the paint and revealed the white emulsion on the board underneath, so I used my stanley knife and started etching a bit like I did with those etcha-sketch boards when I was a child, I started scratching away the paint, creating dimension and texture. Kind of like excavating the past. Any image is evolving and revealing so much more beneath the surface. It took me back to my past and sitting on the beach where I spent my childhood. So being here today has been feeling like an excavation into my own history.
Carolina: That’s powerful, how do you feel?
David: It’s like a return to such a peaceful place, so pure, I love it! It’s the resonance of the place, I am resonating with the past in the present.
Carolina: Yes like a full circle, it looks like there is a circle in your painting! And how interesting that you were able to capture the texture of the actual rocks without being there, they are very sharp and scratched and grazed me as I was clambering over them. How were you able to resonate with being there without being there? It is as if you were connected through a deeper way of communion.
David: Really! I don’t know, I guess it’s like a tuning in and a surrender to another way of receiving information.
Carolina: When I started walking, I noticed a circle in a rock that seemed to mark the start of my journey. It made me focus on a sense of wholeness. The nature that I am walking in is not demanding anything of me, it was undemanding, totally accepting of me. Once my thoughts settled and calmed down it was such a relief and reminded me of the joy of roaming freely in nature as a child. This is what I love about photography it gets me out of my head and into the present moment.
David: When I am part of nature, I am. It reminds me of a quote ’One is when he does not think’ Alfredo Offidani.
And now looking at your photos, it’s like going into another world millions of years ago, like you have been time travelling!
Carolina: Yes! There was a moment where I almost felt like I was a primitive being. There are lots of stories and legends around this area of people living in caves, they even found a skeleton in nearby Paviland Cave that they dated as 33,000 years old, apparently its one of the oldest examples of a ceremonial burial in Western Europe. Incredible perspective right! I tried to imagine for a moment what would it be like if there wasn’t any civilization and I lived and existed within nature. I know of course it would be incredibly harsh.
David: You would be eating a lot of seaweed!
Carolina: Ha yes! I did taste some and put it on my skin, I wanted to dive in and experience a full immersion into the landscape. It started to help me return to being a human at one with nature and having to live with it rather than being in the world we have constructed. I felt like I could stay there forever. Why is it that when you have found such a profound sense of peace with a wild environment that you don’t want to leave?
David: Is it because you are home? Here I am?
Carolina: Yes, that’s it, being fully present and finding the peace and stillness and a sense of home. A full immersion in the ancient wisdom of the landscape.
David: Yes in it, with it, part of it, not separate. I am thinking that photography and painting is both observation and at the same time being within – that’s where the magic is. When I can communicate that ‘being within’, that’s where the authenticity of the painting is. You do that all the time with your photos. It’s like the photos are as close to it as being there.
Carolina: It’s interesting that I am not thinking technically when I am taking these photographs but really wanting to honour, through my being, the greatest beauty that is already there.
David: Yes I echo that in my paintings honouring the beauty, honouring the presence, stepping out of the way.
Carolina: Yes, as if the self goes through a dissolving to become a channel. Moving out of the way to create space and then through the artistic process you can bring the resonance of what is around you into being.
David: Yes, so that something new and life-giving can come through.
Carolina: Yes, I am so grateful for this time. I can’t wait to look at the drone photos. It was a powerful experience to fly the drone, to travel high up like a bird and look down and get a completely different perspective, a new way of seeing, it was so surprising, stunning and uplifting, I wonder what the images look like.
Endnote: perspective from the eyes of a bird…
“The creative process, like a spiritual journey, is intuitive, non-linear, and experiential. It points us toward our essential nature, which is a reflection of the boundless creativity of the universe” John Daido Loori2.
1 The Gower Peninsular is the first area designated for outstanding natural beauty in the UK and the South Gower Coast is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). An area of stunning and varied wildlife rich landscape of cliff scenery, woodland and dunes Wwth the second largest tidal range in the world, the nature reserve is frequently covered by sea water and the limestone rocks provide shelter for the full range of rocky shore life, fringed in a green kelp forest https://www.welshwildlife.org/nature-reserves.
ECOPOIETIC SKETCHES: WALKING WITH AN OPEN HEART
Alexander Kopytin is founding co-editor of the journal, Ecopoiesis: Eco-human Theory and Practice and of the book, Ecopoiesis: A New Perspective for the Expressive and Creative Therapies in the 21st-Century, as well as other books and articles, Professor at the Department of Psychology, St. Petersburg Academy of Postgraduate Pedagogical Studies (St.-Petersburg, Russian Federation)
I would like to share here my poetic sketches and photographs that I created while walking in the vicinity of St. Petersburg last summer. Poetry and photography help me preserve and process the experience of being in the natural environment and that special physical, erotic, emotional, spiritual and aesthetic experience that was accumulated at the moment of my intimate attunement to nature, awakening my ecopoietic gift.
By The Green River
Flocks of dragonflies flow around my body,
green hair glides down the shallow river of a poetic trance,
letting water into my slippery mind.
Watching the earth with delight,
accepting the kisses and glances of the nimble fish,
I catch her silhouette in my pupil
like a black butterfly on a flower,
left to languish in the depths of July noon.
The sky and the backwaters saw shadows and light,
the wet sheen of my body surrounded by a grove,
where, on the banks of a languid river,
clinging to the grass and inhaling the aroma of clover,
I collected the July odors
and the fragments of the green dream that entered me...
July Flowers Welcoming in the Meadow
July flowers welcoming in the meadow,
between sweet clover and fireweed, I open a path.
Watching the dance of dragonflies,
amused by the caresses of the wind and herbs
I slowly go into the shimmering depths of the lake,
and above the solar disk flares up and plunges into me,
overflowing me with its warmth ...
The gentle twilight is caught on my skin and in the strands of my hair,
smoothly flowing into the elegy of the night,
with its mist descending on the mirror of my dreams,
where fish lurk in coastal backwaters and catch the ecopoietic flow,
coming from the depth, until the star Altair is lit up,
overshadowing me with its light
in the constellation of the Eagle.
ELLAS / THEY
(paintings: Judith Alalu; poem: Odette Velez)
Judith Alalú L.
For several years Judith has been experimenting with painting and has created three exhibitions. She is an expressive arts therapist and has been working with children, adolescents and adults from 1998. In addition, she is co-founder of TAE Peru, co-director at TAE Barcelona, and a teacher on the Expressive Arts Training Program in these institutions. She holds a degree in Psychology from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and is currently a PhD candidate in Expressive Arts at the European Graduate School in Switzerland.
Odette A. Vélez V.
Odette enjoys exploring the fields of art, health and spirituality. She is the author of three books of poetry and co-author of several books on education. She facilitates learning, creation and healing processes through the expressive arts. She teaches on the Expressive Arts Training Program of TAE Peru. She obtained a Diploma of Advanced Studies from the Doctorate Program “Education and Democracy” of the Universidad de Barcelona. She is a PhD candidate in Expressive Arts at the European Graduate School in Switzerland.
Judith recently sent Odette some of her new nature-related paintings and she wrote some verses for them. This is a new and short co-creation that we have titled "They". The verses that accompany the images are in Spanish and English and our hope is that the arts and our responses resonate with the earth and bring beauty.
presta a navegar
ready to navigate
ellas me esperan
they wait for me
sabias columnas vertebrales
vuelos e inocencias
flights and innocence
OF THE ELEMENTS TODAY
Stephen K. Levine is co-editor of the journal, Ecopoiesis: Eco-human Theory and Practice and of the book, Ecopoiesis: A New Perspective for the Expressive and Creative Therapies in the 21st-Century, as well as other books and articles in the field of expressive arts therapy, teaching at the European Graduate School in Switzerland. He is a philosopher, theatre practitioner and poet, author of Song the Only Victory: Poetry Against War. (email@example.com)
I’ve been thinking about the elements, of the ways in which the pre-Socratic philosophers saw earth, air, water, fire, as the ultimate stuff of the world (the Chinese added a fifth element, metal). For them, the elements were a vital force enlivening the world. But what about the elements today? Michael Marder, in his book, Dump Philosophy, A Phenomenology of Devastation, presents the elements in our time as having been essentially compromised by our heedless activity. I wanted to see what would come to me in poetic reflections of my elemental experience. After writing the poems, I took a two-day workshop with the physical theatre teacher, Peta Lily, on Zoom, entitled, “Alchemy of the Elements.” Through a long process of embodying each of the elements through movement, I had a visceral experience of their essential qualities. Can the elements be recovered? Can we go beyond devastation to a life-affirming experience of elemental being? How could this be accomplished? I leave it to our readers to find their own ways of answering these questions.
“Our House is Burning”
The children know it
feel the heat around them
out of control
We say it began
when we stole fire
from the gods
Now we burn the planet
now nothing can be contained
the lust the greed
But some survive
dream of distance suns
fire up the rockets
to begin again
We the charred remains
as you walk
into the flame
From Water We Came
but if it drips
holds itself back
then there is
From water we came
crawling out of the depths
what were we looking for?
The dry salvages
And what of the ones left behind
the ones who couldn’t fit in the ark
are they not
worthy of remembrance?
those are pearls
And we have undergone a sea change
into something rare and strange
There Is No Air
Shortness of breath
If only there were time
but there is no time
only the guard
pressing down on his neck
not hearing the cry,“I can’t breathe!”
not hearing the call of the child
to the mother
Take three deep breaths
let them out slowly
now pay attention to each one
until the dirt covers your mouth
and wind blows over the empty field
Cover his mouth with love
breathe into it
now turn away
take another breath
until it ends
and all is still
We bury the body
and say Amen
Earth My Home Land
Earth, what do I know of you?
all the life you contain
I am of the earth
fashioned out of clay
brought to life by breath
Someday returning to you
buried in you
to make new life
I would be buried in a shroud
cloth covering my earth-born
Earth, let me walk on you
aware that you are there
beneath pavement, floor, shoes
all the coverings
let me feel you
We are one being
From you I came
and to you
I shall return.
MUSIC OF THE ARCTIC GLACIATION: TRIPTYCH
Vadim Ryabikov is a psychologist, anthropologist, musician, and participant in research expeditions to the Arctic, South America, and Southeast Asia. He is an expert of the Arctic Geoculture Laboratory of the State Institute of Culture and Arts of the Arctic (Sakha / Yakutia, Russian Federation), and founder
I communicate with the earth, conducting ecopsychology trainings and creating psi-geographic music based on my interaction with the land. The method of creating psi-geographic music was discovered during the marine Arctic complex expedition of the Institute of Cultural and Natural Heritage as an attempt to deepen and expand the perception of the environment to render its unique natural and symbolic properties.
It is impossible to impose a sound onto a space. In practice, interaction with the natural environment involves the selection of certain sounds that support an interactive resonance with the land. Through choosing tonality, intonation, sound, and musical colors, I reveal the unique qualities of the landscape in a particular moment of time.
I want to share my experience of creating such music, born during one of the expeditions, and still alive in my memory.
This experience embraces the four-month expedition in the Arctic Ocean aboard the Mikhail Somov research vessel. In a small cabin with a washbasin, table, lamp, 220V socket, round porthole, and storm-proof bed, I made my home, therapy room, research laboratory, and music studio. Many years have passed, but I remember everything as if it was yesterday: the ship rocking on the ocean waves, the hissing of sea foam outside the window, the slow shifts of ice atop an endless surface of ocean, which a few hours prior were as fluid as mercury, and, finally, the cracks of breaking ice.
I am sitting in a cabin. Beside me is a musical workstation and my companions who have come with me to explore the environment and their own subjective response to it. It would seem that there is only the monotony of the Arctic Void and boredom beyond the side of our ship, and that the same landscape that consists of the sky and the sea stays with us for a long time. Sea surface can be gray, blue, jade, or emerald, but always boundless. This landscape reveals to us waves, swells, ripples, and sometimes a mirror-smooth surface of the water and then ice and deserted islands.
What could be more boring? But suddenly I discovered that this Void is the focus of invisible forces that seem to know something about me. They remind me of something which is important and somehow forgotten. And there is no more monotony.
I try to remember the important thing the forces are reminding me of, and when it happened, leafing through the history of my life, most of which has been forgotten, as if it were unnecessary. But suddenly everything becomes important, and the most ordinary memory makes sense.
There was nothing in my life similar to what happened during the last months of sailing the Arctic Ocean. Something in the depths of my soul knows what the forces were reminding me of and remembers it.
My companions suddenly gain the ability to speak and describe the most subtle details of the experiences caused by being in this Arctic Void. It becomes obvious that the space through which our ship makes its way, seems to be homogeneous. In fact, it has one sound in one place and another sound in another place.
While I was listening to the words of my companions, I was looking for sounds in the hope of supporting them to give a voice to the Arctic Void in which we are immersed. Day after day, week after week, and month after month passed us by, and eventually a gallery of musical images appeared, in tune with my internal state of mind and the inner essence of my companions.
Later, I created a collection of such images along the routes of other expeditions. But the Arctic one was the most thoughtful and meaningful. Even the formation of ice was a source of creative inspiration. I bring to your attention here the three musical images that convey the state of travelers contemplating the formation of ice in different places of the Arctic Ocean.
It is the Laptev sea. The sky is overcast and very quiet. The surface of the sea to the horizon is like a mirror. Flocks of small birds occasionally fly very low over the sea, almost touching the water. Our ship cuts through heavy waters. It moves smoothly and confidently. Waves are so thick and viscous, like glycerin, and radiate from the nose of the ship. The air temperature is minus twenty degrees Сelsius, and the water temperature in the sea is below zero. The freezing point of sea water is lower than that of fresh water. There is a glow on the horizon. Beyond the horizon, there is already ice, and it reflects the light. We are going there. Our ship is ice-class and can crush sheets less than 20 cm thick. If the ice exceeds the allowable thickness, we will freeze. The whole team knows it. But we don't have a choice and continue west. Gradually, a thin film of ice appears on the surface of the sea. Behind the stern, the ship leaves a trail of ice already cut through. An hour later, it refreezes. Every hour the ice gets thicker and thicker.
Novosibirsk Islands. Emptiness, sparkling snow, and ice crystals everywhere. Everything here is now like New Year’s Eve. It’s as if Santa Claus really comes from the north. Somewhere here he lives, and when the time comes, he spreads to the south without leaving the north, where he has always been.
A Christmas miracle. I remember how I foresaw it as a child before New Year's Eve. What exactly was this miracle? Presents under the tree. This is from mom and dad, but I knew that it wasn’t a miracle. What is the miracle? I did not expect anything abnormal, but still expected a New Year's miracle, and it happened. What is it?
Cape Sterligov. Ice formation. According to the Pomors people “pancakes” are round ice formations, which sometimes form on the surface of the sea in huge quantities at water temperatures below zero. This doesn't always happen. It probably depends on the salinity of the water. It seems to me and my companions that such ice looks more like lotus leaves than pancakes. We call them arctic lotuses. When they will freeze, they form a strong ice shell that will forge the sea until next summer. Now we are free to go, as if pushing the sides of the ship thickets of arctic lotuses. The sunset is scarlet, like in the tropics, and the lotuses are flooded with scarlet light. The sun is hiding behind the horizon. Stars appear in the sky. The cosmos peers into the sea. And lotuses become cosmic.
THE SLEEPLESS EYE
Dedicated to All Souls – and in memoriam of Paolo Knill
Margo Knill Fuchs is a professor, psychotherapist, expressive arts professional and poet. She is the Dean of the Division Arts, Health and Society at European Graduate School, and a member of the original Core Faculty of the European Graduate School (EGS). She was an Assistant Professor at Lesley University, Cambridge, MA. Margo Fuchs Knill works in private practice and teaches expressive arts internationally at training institutes in Europe, Russia, Asia, Latin America and the US. She is the author of numerous poetry books, such as Love Survives and she has contributed numerous book chapters on poetry, poetics and expressive arts. She is co-author of Minstrels of Soul: Intermodal Expressive Therapy, as well as a contributor to Foundations of Expressive Arts Therapy. Her latest book together with Sally Atkins is titled “Poetry in Expressive Arts. Supporting Resilience through Poetic Writing”
The eye of the mountain
tears at night
ice splits, river spills
spits its watery milk
sun stings, pinches
the eye of the mountain
the rising of the first sign
my own shortened breath
my cells stiffened by grief
I have a pact with our scared life,
our sacred, shaken life
and I need a shelter
a small place for peace
to wake from shock.
Eye of the mountain
imaginary of the world
its fissures, its beauty:
weep for us
it must be possible
to walk with bittersweet joy
through the immense
galaxy of adaption
it is not about death and dying
it is about the resurrection
of new life.