Rewilding the Psyche

Rewilding the Psyche

We took a wonderful walk yesterday, around a conservancy project here on our island. It’s very quiet there, off the beaten track, a haven to a growing number of diverse species of animals and plants. Previously a golf course, this gorgeous land is now regrowing its wild self. It’s the result of a complete transformation that began five years ago. It wasn’t as simple as leaving it alone. Pipes have been removed from deep in the earth, hundreds of native species have been replanted, nurselogs have been introduced. And, most importantly, a fence is surrounding it so it will be protected, left to become the thriving wetland it once once. Rewilding the psyche is like this. We must look at the ways in which our unconscious has been harnessed, and narrowly directed, removing those limitations so it can flow freely. Dreamwork is a powerful way to do this, because we are shown in every dream what unconscious patterns we might be stuck in, but we’re also given wildly creative solutions to our questions. Then we must plant new seeds of inspiration, from books and other mentors who reflect our native self back to us, and introduce any other good habits which return us...
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Criticism: Are you willing to take the hit?

Criticism: Are you willing to take the hit?

The fear of criticism is legitimate. Many empowerment gurus will tell you to “Just do it!” and “Don’t let fear hold you back!” But the truth is, as soon as you brave your gifts into the world, it’s very likely that the wolves will appear to say you aren’t doing it well enough. So the question shouldn’t be if you will be criticised, but whether or not you’re willing to take the hit. Before you make your decision, it’s important to know that there are two major consequences to your shrinking back: The first is the truncation of your soul’s purpose. Ouch, right? Well, something inclined you to create in the first place and, as most creative folks know, the creative cycle can’t complete itself until your gifts are received — for better or worse. Also, that urge to create? It’s not going away. The second consequence is the loss felt by everyone who will never receive the unique medicine you are meant to bring. So ultimately you have to decide; are you willing to take the hit on behalf of all those who need exactly what you’re bringing? Or will you let them take the hit, by your remaining quiet? So the...
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This is Not a Time for Modesty

This is Not a Time for Modesty

“The Summer Solstice is not a time for modesty. The wild world is not shy about its beauty and gifts. Plants and creatures are engaged in a no-holds-barred life-fest of blossoming and flourishing, each according to its unique essence, place, and purpose in this glorious weaving of Mother Earth.” – The Path of She, by Karen Clark There is a wildness in each of us. A way of walking, a set of spots, an inclination, a blinking impulse towards which we are silently drawn. Like an elephant finding water in a desert it’s never traveled, or a bird coming to fly with brand new wings, we all have this instinctual capacity. It is the animal in us, which knows what it knows, and is the origin from which all creativity is expressed. But in my practice I work with many medicine people who have sent their gifts for dreaming, seeing, and creativity into exile. These gifts, often forged in the belly of trauma, are sent into hiding because the world feels too hostile to use them in the open. Many take the path well-worn instead, because it guarantees safety. The way has been mapped and we know were it leads. But the price we pay is the life half-lived. To those willing to...
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Commitment: The Container of Creativity

Commitment: The Container of Creativity

When we hear the word commitment, most of us think of obligation and restriction. After all, modern life is already so heavily structured,  we’d much rather ‘see what happens’ and ‘go with the flow.’ So we may avoid making commitments. Or if we do make them, we keep them ‘soft,’ in the event that something shinier comes along. We change careers an average of 7 times in adulthood, half of all marriages end in divorce, we communicate in the undemanding ways of text messages and emoticons, infinitely scrolling, rarely giving the fullness of our presence to anything. And by extension, we are growing to expect that life should be immediate and convenient. But what if convenience is really a sham? It proposes to make your life easier, and there are obvious benefits, but there are often hidden tolls being taken elsewhere. Easy puts work into robotic hands, undermining our own necessity. Easy destroys the mentoring relationship. Easy robs us of the privilege of courtship, the very thing which bonds us to a place and its resources, or a craft and the people who’ve made a slow mastery of their lives.  Consider the ancient alchemists who, despite...
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The Handmade Life

The Handmade Life

The longing to handmake things overtook me some years ago when I was gifted a deerskin medicine pouch by a friend in ceremony. She had learned to skin & tan the hide herself, working it until the tassels hung gently and the slipknot moved gracefully along its braided path. Instantly, I felt a longing in me to know things with my hands as she did, since music, writing and dreamwork are all intangible arts. Since then, I’ve set about accumulating skills in basketry, lightsculpture, knotwork, and recently crochet (!) finding myself inextinguishably thrilled by how the objects I make seemed to live a life of their own once they leave my hands. I think it’s because when we put in the long efforts into bringing beauty into the world, we are honouring that which made us by creating as we have been created. We are taught to respect the slow, attentive piecing together of the life we yearn for. Stitch by stitch, we apprentice the craft. We work in tandem with mystery, feeling its rhythms awaken in our bone-memory. And we realise the patience it takes to make a life materialise. There are no shortcuts, and it can’t be done cheaply, or en masse. The work is small, the...
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DIY Solstice Tree

DIY Solstice Tree

A few years ago, I posted about Birthing New Traditions during the holiday time, and when I shared a photo of my DIY Solstice Tree, made entirely from bits found on the forest floor,  I was amazed to see it go viral! I’ve had so many requests since then to explain how the tree is made so with the help of my sweet friend Luma, here is a step-by-step process for anyone who might like to try one for themselves. Step 1: Step 2: Step Three: Decorate and TA...
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Comparison is Essential

Comparison is Essential

  To compare yourself to another is an organic impulse vital to the unfolding of individuality. In our admiration of someone, we encounter the undeveloped qualities we have yet to step into, while in our healthy disdain, we come to know our refusals. Both are essential to developing a standpoint in the world. But after comparison, you must pull back to the inner earth-work of cultivating those qualities, weeding out those rejections, and cross-pollinating your own originality into the mix, or comparison might freeze you in stasis. Learning to trust Nature is the next responsibility of comparison. As extensions of her, we require our differences to thrive and we must shelter them in remembering that we are in service to that which dances us. As we draw down into that commonality, we come to know that true humility is not making yourself smaller, but recognizing that we are all the same size: Necessary. To read more, sign up for Toko-pa’s free newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/jtRaL
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Interview with Toko-pa: Be You Media

Interview with Toko-pa: Be You Media

It was a treat to be interviewed for Be You Media, by the lovely and talented Jenn Grosso this week. Our conversation turned to some intimate topics like depression, stage-fright and the book I’ve been writing on Belonging. I hope you find something useful here and I look forward to hearing how it lands with you: “In my own life, and in the lives of the  people I’m blessed to do dreamwork with, I found that the search for Belonging is the silent conversation behind so many of the other conversations we have in the open. And while we crave this elusive thing, so few of us feel as if we’ve achieved it. So this book has taken me deep into the question of exile in my own personal history and in my ancestral lineage, taking me as far as rural France where I’ve walked the same cobblestones my ancestors walked before meeting their death in the holocaust. And I’ve come to understand that belonging is not a place at all, but a set of skills that we in modern culture have forgotten. This book is an attempt to enumerate what I call those ‘competencies of belonging.’”  Read the rest of the interview...
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The Sound of Duende

The Sound of Duende

To explain the mystery and importance of Duende to artistic expression, Lorca tells the story of a great Andalusian singer whose performance leaves a modest audience unimpressed one night in a little tavern in Cadiz. “Here we care nothing about ability, technique, skill. Here we are after something else,” they seem to say. The songstress then tears at her expensive gown, guzzles a tall glass of burning liquor and begins “to sing with a scorched throat: without voice, without breath or color but with Duende” all to the crowd’s raucous approval. Lorca says, “She had to rob herself of skill and security, send away her muse and become helpless, that her Duende might come and deign to fight her hand to hand…” (from Terrance Hayes, More Theories of the Duende & Teaching the Inexplicable) As Nick Cave wrote, “All love songs must contain duende. For the love song is never truly happy. It must first embrace the potential for pain. Those songs that speak of love without having within in their lines an ache or a sigh are not love songs at all but rather Hate Songs disguised as love songs, and are not to be trusted. These songs deny us our humanness and our God-given right...
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As We Came to Do

As We Came to Do

We’ve begun again in the direction of home as the first sharp winds sweep changed leaves onto the lake – they’re taken. This is the first time this has happened again. We’ve done as we came to do, by not a wish of our own, but a marrowdeep migration we’ve always made on weakening wings. The coming together, the falling out of formation, dizzying rests for breath and grazing. As we came to do, we’ve come and done for the first time once more, chasing the skirts of summer gone and back again. Toward home in the cycle at home in the turn in the cycle home in rotation of ponds and puddles creeks and lakes seas and streams we’ve always never seen. We land swimming and fly singing, as we came to do. © Toko-pa Turner
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California Dreaming: Synchronicity Symposium

California Dreaming: Synchronicity Symposium

SYNCHRONICITY: Matter & Psyche Symposium Sept. 12-14, 2014 • JOSHUA TREE, CA I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been invited to Joshua Tree as a presenter for the first annual Synchronicity Symposium – an “Embodied Ideas Festival” which, alongside visionary leaders in their field including biologist and author, Rupert Sheldrake, writer on ancient civilisations, Graham Hancock, sound healer and Family Constellation therapist, Jill Purce and many more, we will be exploring the elegant symmetry between Psyche and Matter;  between our inner and outer lives. At this time in history, we seem to be undergoing a collective passage into an era of conscious realization that psyche and matter are inseparable and that, far from being passive observers, we have a participatory relationship with the unfoldment of the world around us.  Now the work ahead is in learning how to move in concert with these rhythms, developing a mastery in weaving between the worlds to come into a greater personal and collective harmony. It’s an honour to be included in this roster of brilliant outcasts who have made a life out of studying consciousness, sound, somatic and Jungian psychology, quantum...
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Parenting our Originality

Parenting our Originality

Again and again, our dreams demand leadership of us, calling our life’s vision forward into the world, step by tenderbrave step. The practice above all practices is to relinquish the immature desire to be taken care of (by our parents, spouse, government, guru, church, etc), and to parent our own originality. To give ourselves the support that we may never have received. To get behind the creation of one’s life is to recognize your influence in ‘the way things are,’ and nurture your vision with protective discipline until it is strong enough to serve in the world on its own.        
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Thomas Merton Listens to the Rain

Thomas Merton Listens to the Rain

Artwork by Eyvind Earle (1916-2000) Let me say this before rain becomes a utility that they can plan and distribute for money. By “they” I mean the people who cannot understand that rain is a festival, who do not appreciate its gratuity, who think that what has no price has no value, that what cannot be sold is not real, so that the only way to make something actual is to place it on the market. The time will come when they will sell you even your rain. At the moment it is still free, and I am in it. I celebrate its gratuity and its meaninglessness. The rain I am in is not like the rain of cities. It fills the wood with an immense and confused sound. It covers the flat roof of the cabin and its porch with insistent and controlled rhythms. And I listen, because it reminds me again and again that the whole world runs by rhythms I have not yet learned to recognize, rhythms that are not those of the engineer. I came up here from the monastery last night, sloshing through the cornfield, said Vespers, and put some oatmeal on the Coleman stove for supper. It boiled over while I was listening to the rain and toasting a piece of bread at the log fire. The night became very dark. The rain...
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Dreaming it Forward

Dreaming it Forward

Once I’ve been given a Dream answer or, in many cases, a poetic refining of my question, I look for ways to Dream it Forward. What I mean by that language is; if the generosity of the Dream is ignored or discarded, the gift is not fully received. Similar to listening to someone with only cursory attention, it can do more harm than good. It unconsciously communicates your disinterest and so you won’t be surprised when a distance, a forgetting, develops between you. What really makes someone feel seen and loved, is when you listen with the fullness of your presence. Presence is a kind of silent vow to our inseparability. And at some future point, when you hand back the other’s pieces, which you have been carrying as your own, to say, ‘I remember this,’ then the tenderness of your intimacy grows. To fully acknowledge a dream means finding ways to walk it in the world: to materialise the ineffable. Maybe this just means carrying your symbol in your heart, letting it change the way you see things, or maybe you’ll render the dream in paints or song. Perhaps you’ll fashion an altar for your animal helpers, or maybe you’ll even take the...
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A Prayer by Nina Simons

A Prayer by Nina Simons

May we rediscover the power of circles, of sitting in council to listen and learn; the power of trusting the wisdom that emerges from the voices that are quietest, least valued or that we least expect to learn from. May we recall the power of listening patiently for the intelligence of the whole to emerge, without rushing toward conclusions. May we risk that first step of standing on behalf of what we most love and value— knowing that the first step is the hardest, and trusting that once we take it we will be met tenfold. May we practice growing ourselves, cultivating our capacities to connect and curbing our habituated tendencies toward comparison, hierarchy and isolation. May we be willing to feel the depths of our despair so that we may dream ourselves into the possibility of soaring together. May we be informed by our wounds but not defined by them. May we remember the power of empathy and practice seeing the world through others’ eyes. In this great interdependent web may we remind ourselves that whatever befalls others happens to us. May art remind us that it can reveal and awaken new possibilities as we look to our artists to reveal pathways forward. May we recall,...
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Shouldering Together

Shouldering Together

By coming together in sacred ritual with our community, we are restoring our relationship to the Earth, our Mother. As we re-establish our Belonging in one another’s hearts, we are quelling the “never-enoughness” that drives so many of us to accumulate, achieve and produce beyond our (and Her) means. When we share our stories and dreams, we are accepting help in the shouldering of responsibility and despair. By extension, our windfalls and triumphs belong to us all. In witnessing each other, we are cross-pollinating our wisdoms and broadening our storylines, moving the locus of our attention from competition to collaboration. No longer governed by personal lack, we begin to make decisions as an ecosystem would, from the appreciation of our indivisibility.
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Morning Never Remains

Morning Never Remains

How do you endeavour words at the marvel of dawn – slow but suddenly arising in your heart? How do you speak to the dispersing cold and fog from the treetops, the gradual bathing of your outlook in gentle pinks and gold? What can you say towards the stillness of things, even as they move, like a sleepy barge drifting through the channel, reflecting the presence of that forgiving first light from all its bright sides? How can you say I am sorry for all the dawnings you’ve not gambled in poetry? Perhaps today, you think, you’ll make up for it – steadily pulsing in your reverence, keeping these embers of attention aglow. But morning never remains. Instead it grows into a glory of chaos, dropping its gifts – too numerous to carry – in an afternoon heap at our feet. Generous as it is, the day collapses us into a womb of darkness, where we can finally rest our magnificent failures at being all the way alive.   2013 © Toko-pa Turner        
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James Hillman on the Daimon

James Hillman on the Daimon

“Each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny. As the force of fate, this image acts as a personal daimon, an accompanying guide who remembers your calling. The daimon motivates. It protects. It invents and persists with stubborn fidelity. It resists compromising reasonableness and often forces deviance and oddity upon its keeper, especially when neglected or opposed. It offers comfort and can pull you into its shell, but it cannot abide innocence. It can make the body ill. It is out of step with time, finding all sorts of faults, gaps, and knots in the flow of life – and it prefers them. It has affinities with myth, since it is itself a mythical being and thinks in mythical patterns. It has much to do with feelings of uniqueness, of grandeur and with the restlessness of the heart, its impatience, its dissatisfaction, its yearning. It needs its share of beauty. It wants to be seen, witnessed, accorded recognition, particularly by the person who is its caretaker. Metaphoric images are its first unlearned language, which provides the poetic basis of mind, making possible communication between all people and all...
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Lighting Fires of Affection

Lighting Fires of Affection

So many of us are out at sea, looking for home. We try this way and that, battling the endless march of adversaries, led by cynicism and apathy. We fight them with every poetry we possess. We are gentle. We yield. We get back to navigating our crafts. Every once in a while, exhaustion can turn into despair. The tiny flame, which takes our every resource to shield, blows out on an unexpected gust. Even then, lightless and alone, some of us remount our enterprise. It helps to think of more than ourselves. It helps to see the earth workers, the artists, the mothers, the lovers, the singers, the poets and dreamers as threads in a web. By ourselves we are fragile strands, songs with no listeners, but together we are a relentless network. Wherever there is depression, there is colour made vivid by the grey. When I feel this fog rolling in on me, I light fires of affection in the hearts of others. I tell them in tangible ways how the life they live makes me live mine differently, how precious and important they are to the rest of us. That fire then becomes like a beacon which burns through the grey and which I can sail towards.  
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