Paying My Debts to Her 👸🏽🌎
Taking responsibility for harm I’ve caused to Women & Mother Earth.
Note A: My intention in writing this piece is to share my experience of a unique event I recently participated in (Pagamentos). I find that writing supports the integration process by crystallizing key takeaways so I can better carry forward what I’ve learned, while exposing people to valuable ideas that I have the privilege of accessing. There’s so much more to share on these topics. I don’t HAVE to write any of it. But I feel moved to. I’m not calling anybody out. This is my experience. I invite questions and reflections.
Note B: I plan on making small updates to the post as more insights come through.
Main themes: Indigenous Wisdom, Nature Connection, Love / Sex / Relationships, Systems Change.
I’ve always been fascinated by foreign cultures. In the last couple of years, I’ve become especially interested in exploring indigenous wisdom.
In this historical moment, it’s clear to me how much we stand to learn from our brothers and sisters who have mastered resilience and harmony with our living Earth over longer timescales than we can imagine. Their traditional way of life is powerful medicine for our sick society: how they relate to plants and animals, the sun moon and stars, community, women, elders, time. All our relations.
I’m still learning how to learn in a good and reciprocal way that honors tradition, while avoiding fetishization and extraction. Born into a world out of balance, disconnected from ancestors, nature and the elements, I am grateful to have the opportunity to learn about so many different ways of being and knowing. Not as a rejection of the modern world, but through a metamodern lens that seeks to integrate the best of pre-modern, modern, and post-modern philosophies in order to synthesize a more complete picture of reality and identify all-win solutions to the complex challenges of our time.
My mostly arms-length exposure to indigenous culture, cosmology and nature connection has come from many places: reading books like Sand Talk, There There, Stealing Benefacio’s Roses, Animal Speak, Soul Craft, Magic of the Ordinary, When Plants Dream, The Healing Magic of Forest Bathing, The Mayan Ouroboros; films like Aluna, Gather, The Twelve; engaging in conversations and study on decolonization; becoming friends with folks with indigenous ancestry or associations; attending sweat lodges and song circles and talks and fundraisers and nature meditation retreats and ceremonies and services; and most notably through Aniwa: an organization that brings together indigenous leaders from dozens of traditions around the world to share wisdom through live and digital events.
In early August I received an invitation from the Aniwa community to participate in a Pagamentos ritual in Mazatlán, Mexico and jumped at the opportunity, having just received omens of seeing a Kogi artifact in a dream and a family of deer (Mazatlán’s namesake; also my first word!) in waking life.
This was coincidentally on the heels of a self-directed retreat that the Azure Village community and I in New Mexico had designed, which had a special focus on nature connection as we overlapped with the Sun Dance period. I spent a lot of time journaling under the Juniper trees, making nature art in the creek, and learning about the rhythms of nature and medicine of the animals of the land (specifically hawk, hummingbird, deer, rabbit). I ran barefoot like a gazelle through a field, played around in the dirt, meditated on the directions and elements, made offerings, counted dozens of shooting stars, found a pair of oryx horns and watched apocalyptic lightening from my tent platform.
It felt like a homecoming back to my body and to nature, and teed me up to be in a highly receptive state for the lessons from the Arhuaco Mamos in Mexico.
The gist of the retreat was making payments to Earth for what we have taken. Not something people think about on a regular basis, as it’s anathema to the dominant stories of our time around humanity’s relationship to nature (separation and man’s dominion over her). One of the draws for me was the chance to learn about a new way of thinking about energetic exchange, as I’ve been writing and speaking about relationship with money and am motivated to take in more diverse perspectives on the topic.
Once upon a time I had actually entertained the idea of making a meme illustrating how if you made money in this way, then you might consider investing/donating in that area as an act of reciprocity and redemption (e.g. logging -> planting trees; social media -> funding mental health tech). However I had never considered inventorying and making amends for all of the different energy flows in my personal life. While I’ve become increasingly environmentally conscious over the years, I’ve still been operating on the assumption that I could consume whatever I want forever and never have to personally reckon with the impact.
Pagamentos are sacred offerings to settle our debt with the Earth. They provide spiritual food for nature as well as healing and well being to ourselves and all of humanity. We as human beings are consumers, meaning we don’t provide food for other critters in the circle of life, our consumption will always be out of balance compared to other species, that’s why we must give back to the Earth to have a harmonious relationship of reciprocity.
The Mamos of The Sierra Nevada, Colombia say the Earth is sick because there aren’t enough people making pagamentos, and if our mother is unwell, we get sick. It is imperative that we come together at this pivotal time and channel our energy to the healing of humanity and Mother Earth.
Pagamentos have huge healing benefits on an individual and at a planetary level.
We are all interconnected through a sacred web of light, our prayers, words, songs, intentions reach far and wide, the Mamos have known this for time immemorial.
In this retreat, we will look at the four elements, foods and sexuality and how different types of destructive energies are related to them. How these are manifested as physical, emotional and spiritual imbalances as well as environmental issues. The Mamos will guide us to do a spiritual payment to energetically return all we have consumed to the Earth.
Two Arhuaco Mamos will be guiding us from the mountains of Sierra Nevada, doing these at the same time as us, holding the spiritual portals and will be connected via phone.
The Teyuna are an indigenous group formed by the Arhuaco, Kankuamo, Kogi and Wiwa people of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, in Colombia. They, until recently, lived in isolation high in the mountains, however, they received a message they had to come down and share their wisdom and work to help the Earth in places where it’s being destroyed. The spiritual leaders of these cultures are known as Mamos.
A Mamo represents the beginning of knowledge, the maximum expression of wisdom, they are spiritual guides of the laws of the origins, believed to be destined from the moment of conception by the superior forces of the universe. As soon as born, a Mamo learns the secrets of nature, they are required to spend a large portion of their early life living in total isolation, even from their own community, elders will come and pass on their knowledge on different subjects such as philosophy, sacerdotalism, medicine, practical community and individual counselling, etc. This is done so that the young Mamos become attuned to the Earth and the forces of nature, in order to establish a channel of communication with these forces.
The Mamos have a direct connection to Mother Earth, using the dialogue and ‘pagamentos’ to balance the natural elements and harmonize the energy on the planet and in the cosmos. They spend their lives doing tireless selfless service in the form of these offerings to the Earth, giving back for all that we take, energetically cleansing the world and praying for all of us.
I’ve come to believe that:
EVERYTHING comes from the Earth.
The source of ALL capital is nature.
We owe A LOT to nature. Our mother. Our home.
We’re so disconnected from our mother, our home, our bodies, our essence.
We seek to fill this empty hole with food, drugs, sex, work, entertainment, social media, and things to numb the pain of disconnection, often causing more harm in turn to all life.
One way to make payments back is by acknowledging what we owe and then going through special cleansing practices to pay down the debt.
This retreat felt historic. To have two Mamos sitting on a rock on a remote mountain thousands of miles away, giving translated instructions over WhatsApp voice notes to a Zoom chat room of dozens around the world meditating and praying together. While not the same as being together in person, the synergistic power of spiritual technology meeting material technology to facilitate healing is mind boggling. With the right ingredients, transformational experiences are entirely possible over audio/video, and will inevitably proliferate in a post-COVID world.
Without going into too much of the detail on the actual exercises, I can share that we woke up every day at sunrise to meditate for several hours on specific themes, and then came together for a sharing circle to talk about what had come up for us as we cleansed. It reminded me a little bit of a Vipassana meditation retreat I attended last year, in which there was some light facilitation at the beginning of each sit and then we would be on our own to practice the technique. There was also a strong Yom Kippur quality to the offering, in terms of the individual and collective intention around repentance and purification. But for a week instead of a day.
The Pagamentos permissioned me to comb through my life across domains that are easy to ignore, excavating experiences and feelings that I had long forgotten or wasn’t ready to look at. Cleansing all the air pollution I’ve contributed to through plane travel in pursuit of passport stamps; negative externalities I’ve created through working jobs in pursuit of the most dollars; mankind’s abuse of the power of fire; animal abuses our society has perpetuated through eating factory-farmed meat out of laziness and ignorance; unresolved personal anger towards people and institutions; vacuous sexual experiences..
After several days of realizing how much cleansing I needed to do, and feeling more connected to the wellbeing of the planet than ever before, I felt compelled to share these words to the group:
Is for our children to wake up everyday
Feel inspired to put their hands on their hearts
And pledge allegiance to Mother Earth
I’m so grateful for these containers because they help me integrate the past, see more clearly and connect the dots of my life from new angles. It’s like years of therapy in one sitting. Or rather, open heart surgery.
Reckoning With a Womanizer Past
The biggest and most unexpected thing that came up for me was in the realm of love, sex and relationships. I had been aware of conditioning around toxic masculinity and unhealthy patterns related to dating, but was shocked to uncover deeper and deeper layers of this critical domain.
Oof, there’s so much entangled here. Insecurity. Social validation. Pornography addiction. Dating app addiction. Anxious attachment style. Drinking and drug culture. Hookup culture. Commitment issues. Identity confusion. Judgements. Shame. Body image. Sexism. Objectification. Scarcity mindset.
As I “cleansed” these aspects of my life through the Pagamentos exercises, I dusted off a block of time in my young adult life that I wasn’t even tracking was an area I was not ready or willing to face. Let’s call it my “womanizer” past, defined by Webster as “a man who seduces or attempts to seduce women as a matter of habit.” Or a more crude term I’ve heard recently: “fuckboy.”
Accurate context would require starting from before I was born and might include ancestral trauma related to my Ashkenazi Jewish lineage, pre-natal environment, developmental experiences, cultural expectations, colonizer and domination programming, class privilege and consciousness, bullying, low self esteem, negative or missing role models, fraternity life and many more influences and conditions that would inform my choices to enact womanizing behavior as normalcy. Whatever the generator functions, at some point, starting in middle school but really coming online in freshman year of college and lasting approximately five years, my ultimate concern became GIRLS.
I tied my self-worth to sexual and romantic experiences with women, often prioritizing these pursuits over everything else in my life. It was like I needed to be chasing one or more people to feel whole. I was addicted to the validation of the perception of being somebody who “gets girls.” Nothing brought me more joy than to boast to my guy friends about my escapades, as if it were a currency that would lead to greater belonging in peer groups of men who I admired because of their ability to do that. My favorite game was “Never Have I Ever” because I got to experience that pride and joy amplified in front of a group. Success in this realm was equivalent to finding my Holy Grail. A sense of completion and fulfillment.
I wasn’t even really good at this, thank God. I was often awkward in social settings and didn’t have enough confidence to go up to people in public and try pickup lines (and, something always felt kinda gross about that behavior). I never read The Game or other pickup artist bibles, though at 18 I thought I hope they Serve Beer in Hell was the funniest thing I had ever read (interestingly, both of these authors have gone through personal transformations since publishing those works). Even if we didn’t study the pickup arts, my friends and I worshiped the playboys of Entourage and reveled in talking shit about each other’s recent hookups.
Maybe I thought this lifestyle was my best chance at being the popular guy I never really was in grade school, and to earn the respect of those who I considered more cool, wealthy, attractive, intelligent and successful than me. Maybe I deeply yearned for love and didn’t know how to create it in a good way. Maybe it was the best way to fill a deep sense of emptiness. Maybe the drinking/partying culture poisoned my heart. Maybe no alternative ways of being were able to break through to me at that time, so I resigned to this being the only way. Maybe I yearned to be closer to the feminine energy that could hold space for me to truly express myself, and this was the only way I knew how to access it. All of it and more. Sadly, allocating so much energy towards this single track meant I couldn’t be as present with family and friendships, academic studies, personal health, etc.
Note: I plan on writing another piece examining and integrating the dumpster fire that was my life in those college years. A lot of these womanizing behaviors were cultivated amidst a toxic party culture that setup a race to the bottom for young men and women. I blacked out from drinking alcohol over 50 times, put my life at risk for epic stories (once waking up on a bench at a train station in another state), cheated and vandalized, boiled in anger towards guys I perceived as competition for women, was seduced into further toxic behavior by subliminal promises of money/power/sex/status, rushed fraternities that put Xanax in their jungle juice and highlighted imperfections on women’s bodies in Sharpie.. (message me if you’re interested in reimagining the Greek Life system!). To my brothers who may read this: I love you and cherish our friendships and time together. I do not reduce our shared experiences to simply Good or Bad, or seek to accuse or make anybody wrong. I celebrate the brotherly love, traditions, adventures, creativity, community, support. And in this moment I am making a sovereign choice to speak up on the aspects that I don’t want to see more of in the world. I don’t have the answers. Maybe together there are ways we can collaborate to return our beloved organizations to the original instructions of their founding fathers.
Miraculously, everything changed when I moved to India at 23 and stopped drinking, paused dating, embarked on a path of self-development. Mega pattern interrupts.
Recently with the rise of Me Too and other women’s empowerment movements, my internal narrative has been that “I’ve always been a really nice guy, and any questionable stuff had been cleared long ago.” I’ve leaned on my sexuality and gender explorations to reinforce that story: “Women constantly celebrate me for how I express healthy masculinity! I’ve done a lot of inner work! I’ve cultivated so much empathy through starting a process to actually become a woman! So I have nothing to worry about and nothing to look at..”
This retreat shattered that narrative.
I have never sexually assaulted someone. But I have been physically and emotionally aggressive, overly persuasive and manipulative, not known how to ask for consent or create environments of safety, taken advantage of intoxicated situations, crossed boundaries and broken agreements, hurt women with my words through lying and gas lighting and gossiping, opportunistically played with hearts, irresponsibly integrated personal healing experiences, participated in cheating, make people feel uncomfortable, created hollow experiences, abused power, not known how to provide support, bottled my emotions and truth, treated sacred acts without the sacredness they deserved.
I repeatedly allowed an immature impulse for immediate and sexual gratification to overpower the infinite potential of our connection in this lifetime.
My body groaned at these realizations. I shuddered at some of the things I did. I felt sick to my stomach thinking about how little respect and love for myself and for life I had during this phase that I saw many of these actions as normal, expected, celebrated. I betrayed myself, women, life. I had swept all of this under the rug as if it didn’t matter because nothing at the time told me that it did. That was the water I was swimming in. Seeing life as something to consume as a result of the lack and disconnection in my own life.
The deepest moments of reckoning occurred during a candle prayer, where my candle seemed to defy the laws of physics and burn four times faster than anybody else’s. I felt like curling up in a ball and dying. Swelling with such intense shame and remorse at how much my energy has polluted life.
There is a lot more light to the whole story–I have deep gratitude for the many healthy relationships I’ve cultivated with women over the years–but I’m not here to defend my record or something. The chance to face my shadowy past through the Pagementos exercise was extremely liberating for myself to voice and for many others in the group to witness. I don’t think I’ve ever received so many positive reflections about how I was showing up as a man. It’s incredible how one story or even one word can open a door to a world of possibilities for somebody else. Stories are powerful medicine.
And then a big test came.
Among core intentions to open my heart and feel more of my emotions, I came into the retreat wanting to interrupt two patterns in particular: getting overly excited about new ideas and projects, and developing crushes, both of which often occur for me when in these spaces of deep work.
So of course, I fell head over heels for somebody in the retreat group. But I wasn’t able to express any of it for a whole week (in consideration of the sensitive container), so I was forced to sit and look at ALL of my patterns that arose in the relationship corner:
Anxiety, illusion, lust, expectations, distraction, jealousy. How my nervous system quickly hooks onto somebody and becomes dependent on their actions for my sense of security. How I ever so subtly pretend to be somebody else in order to control the situation. It was incredibly challenging to focus and relax amidst this bottled up limbo period. I fixated on this person, spun stories, tracked their movements, rehearsed conversations, wrote poetry, couldn’t stop thinking and dreaming about them.
And then something remarkable shifted. I came to a place of consciously choosing to let it go. I remembered I came here to interrupt this pattern. I saw how obsession took me out of my own present experience. I realized how unfair it would be to both of us to rapidly dump all my energy on them and expect reciprocity. I empathized with how oppressive it can feel for somebody to attempt to control your experience or force a reality on you that is not shared (my calling is people are free). I saw how building up this goal in an all-or-nothing way (partnership or rejection) would vastly limit the multidimensional potential of our paths crossing. I realized how playing out this pattern in the past had not served, going as far as to follow somebody around the world for a year because of stories that lived in my head and not our shared reality.
I understood that by slowing down, choosing presence and self-love, and being gentle with myself, I could surrender to emergence and embrace whatever naturally unfolded. I discovered how anytime I felt anxiously lovesick about them, I could redirect that energy right back into my heart. I found pride in being able to honor her sovereignty. I tasted how connecting deeply with and loving myself curbed the need to find transcendence in another. I found the holy grail within myself, realized I didn’t have to look outside for fulfillment, and felt into the power of what it might be like to create a beautiful world with a partner from a place of sovereign unity.
People can be such powerful medicine. I’m forever grateful to this person for helping me along the road from my head to my heart, practice managing my sexual energy, redirecting leaky and anxious energy into supportive and loving service, reminding me of my highest potential, inspiring me to open my heart and call in partnership for the first time in years. It’s enough that she initiated me into a new understanding of love and relationships. I sense this will impact the next few generations of my lineage. In a beautiful synergy, I later learned that I was a major part of her experience throughout the week, through the vulnerability I expressed in sharing on the aforementioned topics that were alive for her in related ways. The mutual gratitude made the experience all the more sweet 🕊
Taking Responsibility for Everything
I’ve been reckless with life. I’ve left life worse than I found it. I dutifully followed the American D̶r̶e̶a̶m̶ Nightmare into raping life–unconsciously dominating Mother Earth through my consumer and labor choices, and women through violating innocence, breaking trust, and limiting potentiality. I’m a product of my environment, including all the stories I’ve inherited and constant barrage of cultural programming, but I still did all these things, and they caused harm. This way of life is neither sustainable in the ecological sense nor in the social/political sense. I don’t want to perpetuate that. It ends now.
Is truth and reconciliation possible on a national level if we are not ready for it on a personal level?
I could easily go my whole life without speaking about these things, but I recognize that my staying silent makes me complicit in upholding systems of oppression that leads to more violence against life. Too many women in my life have experienced sexual abuse. As men we need to bring our leadership forward to support healing, restorative justice, education and modeling a better path for each other and the next generations.
I want to set better examples. I want to take full responsibility for the harm I’ve caused to the women in my life, to life on Earth, and to all who I have been a poor role model for through my words and actions. I want to be a better man. What does that look like in this time?
I was wrong.
I didn’t know better.
I acknowledge the harm I caused.
I regret these choices.
I believe your experiences.
I pray for forgiveness.
I pray for guidance.
I pray for cleansing.
I want to do better.
I am motivated to mend.
I commit to honoring and nurturing life.
I commit to telling the truth.
I commit to lifting up women’s and nature’s voices and supporting their becoming.
I commit to better listening, feeling, softening, integrity, truth telling.
I commit to being a better friend, brother, son, father, human, steward.
I commit to extending my circle of care.
I thank you endlessly for your grace, patience, lessons, love.
I understand words are just words. And words can be medicine. I wish to share more words with those who want to, and I ask to be held accountable to my commitments. I also want to apologize to my brothers who I’ve harmed directly and indirectly along the way. I know there is a more inspiring version of myself and I mourn the ways in which I’ve created disconnection and missed opportunities between us.
As this deeply humbling retreat experience came to a close, I felt like I was the iconic Burning Man effigy: an identity representing notions of conventional success while causing outsized harm, slowly being transmuted by the fire into something new. In public, as a cautionary tale, an invitation to evolve. We can honor what I was, learn from me, deconstruct and burn off what no longer serves, and get out of the way to support new voices and identities.
I sacrifice my identity as an offering to the birthing of a better world.
Let the shadow aspects of the womanizing, reckless, privileged, self-centered, entitled, ignorant, arrogant, greedy, disconnected, anxious, comfort and status-seeking Andrew Dunn burn away. Cancel him.
I think it’s time to unpack how even with all the “right” ingredients for human “success’ (education, family, economic opportunities, political freedoms), the culture I was born into created a little silent monster. And is just going full steam ahead. 93% of global Fortune 500 CEO’s are men. 85% belonged to a fraternity, as did 76% of all Congressmen and Senators. No wonder our institutions suffer from such short-term focus, narrow self-interest, burnout and sexual violence; while blindly externalizing harms to communities and commons, and creating cultures that lack psychological safety. It adds further weight to the claim:
It’s so clear to me that these organisms are sick and need help. It’s so clear to me that the way we treat women and our bodies reflects how we treat the Earth. How can we just accept this as the way it is, chalking it up to the same old “boys will be boys” logic? If not now..
Too many people are getting hurt by cultures and systems that once served but are no longer serving. Even before the events of 2020 exposed deep systemic flaws, there was a growing chorus of voices highlighting the dire need of a new way of being with each other and with our living Earth. Employees staging boycotts and walkouts at Big Tech firms. Business leaders from Larry Fink to Marc Benioff to Ray Dalio making statements against market fundamentalism and endless growth.
I have compassion for all involved in upholding these systems because I too was built to play these finite games. I am you. I see your innocence. I forgive you. And now I want to call you IN. Come home. To yourself, your body, your home, Mother, Life. I know it’s scary. We need to feel the yuck in order to release it. I invite you to trust that everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of this fear.
I’m done trying to control others and life. I see how man’s desire to control what it fears (nature and women) has merely perpetuated core wounds, in my case around feeling controlled and oppressed. I see how not experiencing deep belonging and love in the way my essence needed made me seek it outside of myself. I’ve sought to fill this feeling of lack and emptiness with work, sex, stuff, thrills. I really just want to be invited to play with all the other animals and feel welcomed and loved. I know that starts with self-love. I want to tattoo “You are loved!!” onto the homescreen of every phone and computer (p.s. who wants to explore designing an nature-inspired smartphone interface?).
Just a couple of weeks before, my brother Benjamin Ross wrote a powerful incantation called Fathers of Life that exquisitely encapsulates my experience with the Pagamentos:
Brothers, Fathers, Sons,
Her body does not belong to you. Her time, her energy, her love and her attention are not yours.
I know what it is to be afraid of the darkness, to grasp furtively at illusions of control, structures of meaning that seem to sooth the gnawing awareness of death and loneliness.
For countless generations our DNA has encoded patterns of genetic survival. For countless generations the masculine has been tasked with the sacred duty of protection. Yet along this journey we have forgotten the harmonic balance of the Great Mother, the Lover of RA, and the Creatrix of the Universe.
The time of struggle for survival is ending as we awaken a new expression of life’s longing for life. As the Shadows of division, intolerance, self-obsession, judgement, co-dependence, control, dishonor, constriction, pride, force, expectation, deafness, domination, agitation, victimization, and limitation are transmuted and transformed into their Gift and Siddhic frequencies, a new expression of the masculine archetype is yearning to be born. Just as humanity must now write a new story to explain its cosmic destiny in the face of ecocide and self-destruction, man must now re-invent his relationship to the web of life in the face of rape, domination, and selfishness.
The weapons of violence, rage, and destruction, dulled by thousands of years of incessant use into petty intimidation, emotional manipulation, and implicit authority, must be melted in the flames of pure consciousness and molded into plowshares to harvest humanity’s collective potential.
May we use our strength, our intellect, our heart’s pure devotion to build temples to the sacred feminine force of life, in so doing making love through the purity of our offering. May the structures of our minds, bodies, and world be supple yet firm like Brother Cedar who gracefully sways in the wind while holding form. May our struggle become one of surrendering deeper and deeper to the wisdom of the One Feminine Mind and Heart, that our structures may contract and expand with her cycles. May we struggle to open our hearts and minds to contain, support, and offer form to the infinite formless sea of Sophia’s vast Love and Wisdom. May we see our sisters not as objects, tools, or balm for our wounds, but as Temples of Life Becoming Life.
Approaching the altar of this Yoni-verse, a fractal whole of the womb of creation, may we lay the gifts of our soul without attachment or expectation. Should we be admitted entrance within the holy of holy sanctums, may our phallus be an offering of pure wholeness, pure harmony, completing the Resurrection of Osiris through his union with Isis’ devotion, creating the Christ Horus whose finite infinitude is the Glory of Creation.
This is my prayer. I weep in the face of its beauty. Glory of glories, lightness of light, radiant Earth. I see it within you. The seed lies waiting for the sweet rain of your tears that it might break open to germinate in the rich soil of your soul.
May we hold the staff of council, not as a talking stick but as a pillar of light around which the wisdom of life may dance and play. May we hold the circle around the fire such that all are safe and included. May our noble silence speak louder than the shouts of lost men. May our speech be nourishment to the ears that hear it. May we explore the feminine intelligence of our own bodies, our own dreams, and the cycles of Earth, Moon, and Stars such that our own completeness exudes from each cell and pore of our bodies. May we taste the quintessence of our soul, knowing it is neither male nor female but the perfect union of God, Flesh, and Spirit. May we descend into our own darkness that we may uncover the perfection of our pain. May this redemption be the source of our strength. May all beings come to know their own perfection through the light of our loving awareness. May we return to the Source of all that is, knowing that we did what was ours to do. May the dream of an awakened humanity and a Christed Earth be made manifest through our transfiguration.
May we become Fathers of Life.
I commit to being a Father of Life.
Towards the end of our second Temazcal (sweat lodge), I was overcome with a sense of rebirth and fatherhood at the same time. In those ecstatic moments, I experienced a strong felt sense of what it might be like to actually be the father of a child, which was both unsettling in the enormity of the responsibility, and empowering in the newfound level of comfort with that possible reality in the coming chapters of my life.
Integration. Integration. Integration.
This is the section I will likely continue adding to as more insights develop through reflections from others.
I love how we are constantly weaving webs of creation with our choices, such that each thought and word and action may inform what can emerges next. In hindsight, receiving this incantation informed my main Pagamentos exploration, which activated a series of beautiful moments that I then shaped in a particular way because of these new ideas and awarenesses.
“Our lives are not our own. we are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”
— Sonmi-451, Wachowski sisters’ Cloud Atlas
During one meditation on the retreat, I received one of the more profound visions of my life. An eye appeared in my visual field, morphed into a childlike eye, a motherlike eye, a loverlike eye, an grandmotherlike eye, and then proceeded to show me the birth of my child and his coming of age, which included some darker periods. I interpreted the child as symbolizing humanity and the darkness as a warning sign and reflection of where we we currently are. I invited this Eye of God into the womb of my heart as a seed that I committed to nurturing with each breath. A seed of life — my life, the life I will create, life on Earth, life in the Universe. A reminder of God within and the fractal womb that is all.
I want to redirect any remaining womanizing energy towards serving women and nature as a devotional and creative act of service (woman-izing -> woman-rising” ? it’s a work in progress 😂). I want to feel more intimacy, not through casual sex but truth telling. I want to transmute feelings of jealousy into compersion. I want to create more beauty in the world through writing, art, music, bridgework. I want to take responsible stewardship of my consumption habits, word choices, labor and investment decisions, while learning more about nature in order to come into right relationship with her, and share that wisdom outwords. I want to walk a path of beauty. I want to learn how to find belonging in myself and love myself more fully as a revolutionary act. I want to help people see the systems we participate in more clearly and find their power to use their voice and resources to change the rules of the game. I want to create a more reciprocal relationship with indigenous communities (which to date has been more arms length and transactional) that have provided me tremendous support on my path. Please share opportunities!
Aboriginal Australian scholar Tyson Yunkaport in Sand Talk offers:
“The role of the custodial species is to sustain creation. Future life on this planet depends on humans being able to perceive and be custodians of patterns of creation again.”
In the coming times, I am making it a priority to learn how to do this well. Please share with me teachers, stories, art, music. On environmental stewardship and land-based spiritual traditions (especially Judaism — a deeply earth-based shamanic tradition at its roots), as well as men’s work and systems thinking.
As cherries on top to the sexual themes of the retreat, we participated in a fire purification ritual to cleans our ties to past partners. This required remembering every sexual experience we’ve ever had, speaking their names into the fire and consciously “cutting the chords” we have created with them through exchanging powerful sexual energy, which has accumulated in our backpacks and is holding us back in life.
We also visited a local medicine man named Don Alejandro (aka the “Egg Man”) who performs cleansing rituals involving eggs. Upon reading me, he told me that two people from my past had performed spells to put me inside of a bottle, and that was preventing abundance and love from flowing into my life. For the next eight nights I would need to take a special bath and rub eggs over my body to vacuum out the negative energy, with special attention to my genital area (a preventive measure — as he sensed something harmful might happen there in the future if I did not cleanse soon).
In light of all the insights I had throughout the week, it seemed fitting that there were physical things to cleanse related to sex and relationships. I took the doctor’s orders seriously, visited the Egg Man for a checkup right before my departing flight, and to my delight and was pronounced clean and free from the bottles!
Finally, as the dust of the retreat settles and I find myself in a place of transition once again, I’m noticing the natural inclination to go go go on all the new ideas that surfaced, as they tend to do when I enter a contemplative space. It’s so tempting to race to pour all of myself into these visions. Where does this Messianic energy, white savior mentality and colonizer urgency come from? Is there a connection between workaholism and distracting myself from being with myself? Is seeking validation for my contributions related to some of the aforementioned patterns in the relationship department? How can I interrupt them? What unconscious qualities am I projecting onto these obsessions? How can I tell if excitement around a new project is from a place of anxiety or authenticity? How can I regularly remember to slow down and come back to my center? What is really mine to do in this time?
I commit to living the questions.
Thank you Great Spirit for this life. For your grace and patience and guidance. For these teachers and teachings. For the opportunity to experience ever greater love, joy, freedom. For reminding us that we are nature. For helping me remember my true nature. I’m grateful for all of my life experiences because they brought me to this moment. I have compassion for myself through all of it.
Special thank you to Vivien Vilela and Oscar Matzuwa for opening their home and facilitating this healing experience, and Duavico Chaparro and co for leading my first Pagamentos 💙𐂂🔥🕯🙏🏼 🇲🇽
Pamparios! (“Thanks to God!” / Wixárika)
Wani wachiyelo! (“I want to live!” / Lakota)
So alegria! (“Only joy!” / Portuguese)
Aho mitakuye oyasin! (“All my relations!” / Lakota)
Andrew serves as an initiator, bridge weaver, and thought leader at the intersections of ethical technology, systems change, impact investing & personal development.