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Ethan Teed, Seminary of the Wild Earth Guide

" Interconnection with more than human others and with the anima mundi, the soul of the world, helps us to understand our own journey in a larger, more expansive, frame. We need to remember the wisdom of our ancestors and fall in love with the world again. We only tend to protect what we love, and the world desperately needs our love and protection now."

Brief Bio. Triage Emergency Care Nurse turning EcoSpirituality Guide. Celtic mystic, workshop leader, Forest Bathing guide, tender of a walking lavender labyrinth on his land called Anam Cara Fields in Bellingham WA.

Tell us a bit about who you are and how you came to this work.

My name is Ethan Teed. I came to this work through my love of Mother Earth, and all her creations, and through my grief at the devastation humanity has wrought upon her. I believe that we must remember to live in awe and wonder of what is all around us, to be truly present to the sacramental nature of our world, and to live in a relationship of reciprocity with all more than human others. As Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us, “The Earth is not just our environment. We are the Earth and the Earth is us. We have always been one with the Earth. What we most need to do is hear the sound of the Earth crying.”

I was raised in the Christian tradition. From a very early age, I became disillusioned with the church due to the obvious contradictions between Jesus’s teachings and some of the concurrent messages of division and superiority that were presented. It was only decades later that I was able to understand the form of Christianity I was raised in is what I would now refer to as imperialized, patriarchal, and dominator-based religion. While I spent many years avoiding organized religion, I continued to deepen my relationship to the natural world. Eventually, I was encouraged to read a book by John Philip Newell, ‘The Rebirthing of God,’ which introduced me to the Celtic Christian tradition. This was my Ah-Ha moment, and I began a journey that continues today. I am heavily influenced by the cosmologies of the Celts, Indigenous traditions, Buddhism, the Christian Mystics, and creation-based spirituality in all forms. Ultimately, this led to me attending an in-person offering by Victoria Loorz on the release of her book, ‘Church of the Wild.’ To quote from the Tao Te Ching, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” I registered for Seminary of the Wild Earth a month later.

In addition to completing the Seminary of the Wild Earth, I have undertaken training on The Work That Reconnects Spiral and leading ritual and ceremony through Joanna Macy’s The Work That Reconnects organization. I have completed an EcoSpirituality Leaders program through The BTS Center, which included training on forest bathing/nature therapy. I am an engaged member of the Multifaith Network for Climate Justice and the Stillpoint at Beckside spiritual community, where I also facilitate a variety of spiritual offerings. I am the co-founder and co-facilitator of the Universal Sailing Men’s Group in my local community, exploring the journey towards embodying the mature, healthy, divine masculine. Most recently, my wife and I have begun hosting spiritual offerings on our land, Anam Cara Fields, where we spent the past two years creating one of the only walking lavender labyrinths in the world. Alongside my engagement in spirituality and studies, I am a husband and a father of four young adults.

What are the lands that raised you, and how has your own connection with the natural world influenced your path?

I spent the first thirty plus years of my life reveling in the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, on the ancestral lands of the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Nations. For the past 16 years, I've called Bellingham, Washington home, on the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish Peoples, specifically the Lummi and Nooksack Nations. I continually rekindle my awe and wonder of the natural world in the North Cascades mountains, the Salish Sea, and the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest.

All my life, I have felt most at home, content, connected, and at peace in the forests, the mountains, the wild places at-large. This relationship with the natural world has led to a deeply grounded spirituality rooted in creation and the sacramental nature of our world. To paraphrase John Philip Newell, my cathedral is the earth, sea and sky. In addition, my ancestors come from the lands of the Norse and the Celts. I have spent many years studying their collective cosmologies, mythologies, stories, and practices. Knowing where I come from has been a key component of my own journey and my sense of belonging in the world. Over the past two years, and certainly through my Seminary of the Wild Earth cohort, I have deepened my relationship to my particular place, the land I am blessed to tend with my wife. What I have learned is that the world yearns for relationship with us.

Why do you believe a practice of spiritual connection with the earth is important for our time?

To quote Thomas Berry, “We are talking only to ourselves. We are not talking to the rivers, we are not listening to the wind and stars. We have broken the great conversation. By breaking that conversation, we have shattered the universe.” We have forgotten what our ancestors knew, regardless of place or culture, that we are only one part of an interconnected, sacramental world. They understood that the key to living a life of wholeness involved living in right relationship with the rest of creation. Interconnection with more than human others and with the anima mundi, the soul of the world, helps us to understand our own journey in a larger, more expansive, frame. We need to remember the wisdom of our ancestors and fall in love with the world again. We only tend to protect what we love, and the world desperately needs our love and protection now.

In your experience, what are some of the barriers or challenges individuals or communities face in developing a deeper connection with nature?

Our contemporary Western society has forgotten how to live in reciprocity with the world itself and with more than human others. Instead of remembering the wisdom of the ancient mythologies and archetypes, we live under the pseudo-myths of separateness, consumerism, materialism, and ‘winning.’ We live in a culture of distraction, glued to our electronic devices which constantly bombard us with more pseudo-myths. We are conditioned to operate at a frenetic pace that leaves little room for true presence. We need to remember to SLOW DOWN and be present to the world around us. A large part of the reason we have forgotten how to live in reciprocity is the lack of true elders among us. As Robert Bly notes in his book, ‘Sibling Society,’ we are living in a culture of adolescents. We have few examples of true elders, that are whole, healthy adult models. We are called to journey into becoming those elders…to live into becoming whole, healthy, mature examples of the divine masculine and divine feminine.

What practices (big or small) can help heal our disconnection from the natural world?

I would suggest that the common thread in all practices for reestablishing relationships with the world and more than human others is simply presence, the gift of our time and our focus while in the natural world. When we offer our presence, we begin to note the beauty in all that surrounds us, and we feel gratitude for the world’s abundance. This reciprocity of gratitude bonds our souls with the soul of the world in communion. As Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer we ever utter is ‘thank you’, that will suffice.” Offering our presence in silence, without distraction, is also key. Silence is a form of both reverence and renewal, by allowing space for Mystery to come to us, by making ourselves present and receptive to hearing the voices of more than human others. David Abram writes, “Only by frequenting the silence, again and again, can our ears begin to remember the many voices that inhabit that silence.” Mother Teresa also noted, “Silence of the heart is necessary so you can hear God everywhere – in the closing of the door, in the person who needs you, in the birds that sing, in the flowers, in the animals.” As we deepen our presence and foster new relationships with the natural world, we rekindle our sense of belonging to the world and our more than human kin. We must return to our inheritance of belonging to this world and dispel our illusions of separateness. We are inseparable from the rest of the sacramental world. Henry David Thoreau echoes this, “Beneath differences of language and history, a common understanding is present; the universe is a living system emerging as a fresh creation in every moment. We are an inseparable part of this regenerative process.” Without a sense of belonging, we are unable to bestow our unique gifts, what Michael Meade calls our individual genius, back to the world. Listening to the Self within, the call in our soul, to manifest our unique gift in the world, is perhaps our greatest calling. We need to remember how to listen, how to live into our wholeness, and how to say ‘YES’ to that call.

What are you looking forward to offering as a guide in Seminary of the Wild Earth?

Seminary of the Wild Earth is such an amazing community and I consider myself blessed to be invited back as a guide. I found the community to be a place of refugia for all of us. Refugia means small pockets of safety where life endures; physically, emotionally, or spiritually. This is a community of people walking the same wild edges, peering over the same thresholds, occupying the same liminal spaces. I consider it an honor to be a part of each person’s journey. I particularly look forward to developing relationships with those of you in my den group. This is a place of refugia, a container to be held, mirrored, and witnessed as you deepen into the call of your soul and deepen into relationship with the world itself. I am so excited and honored to share in each of your journeys.

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