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Re-Visioning the Earth: A Guide to Opening the Healing Channels Between Mind and Nature Paperback – October 23, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
Devereux's focus, in his informative and instructional book, is on our minds rather than on nature, because he believes nature has more power to help us than we have to help it. He calls for an end to the dangerous estrangement we've imposed on the land and for a move toward seeing ourselves as a part of the Earth. Although not an archaist , he does believe in investigating the mindset of ancient peoples and their relationship with the Earth to see how this might usefully be translated to contemporary times. The goal in this brand of "ecopsychology" is to heighten our awareness of our sense of place and then utilize the resulting benefits. He says, "We are now conceptually placed at random in a model of the universe whose center we cannot see and whose periphery we do not know: we are indeed lost in space." We've lost our direct contact with nature and with ourselves in the process. We filter the natural landscape through our urbanized eyes and negate its meaning?its power to heal. Devereux explores the spiritual history of place through such things as maps, pilgrimages and sacred places. He provides experiments at the end of each chapter to help readers incorporate these new-old perceptions into their daily lives. Devereux, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and member of the Society for Scientific Exploration, believes that we see the natural landscape as merely a spoke in the wheel we call Earth instead of as the wheel itself. Unless we see it as the wheel, Devereux says, it will be us, not the Earth, that stops turning.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Back Cover
Contrary to popular belief, it is not the earth that needs to be saved, it is humankind. The earth has geological ages to recover from us; it is our survival on the planet that demands attention. In this unique and groundbreaking book, Paul Devereux has written a practical guide to using the power and energy of nature to heal ourselves - emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Combining the most recent research on intelligence and perception with the wisdom and insight of ancient traditions, Devereux uses the techniques of modern science as well as traditional lifeways to create hands-on exercises that will reestablish our harmony with the natural world. Seamlessly blending science, philosophy, and psychology, Re-Visioning the Earth creates a new paradigm for living with, not just on, the earth.
Top customer reviews
Devereux offers much insight into mending modern humankind's alienation from Mother Nature. His introduction focuses on a brief history of our modern outlook, and offers a healthy critique of the Western scientific worldview and the way it has shaped our minds and our relationship with the natural world. However, he is not anti-science, having been well-trained in the scientific method. He currently serves as a research fellow with the International Consciousness Research Laboratories (ICRL) group at Princeton University.
He has also spent decades studying topics viewed as somewhat "fringe" by the mainstream scientific community, including ancient and traditional spiritual practices, the anthropology and archaeology of consciousness, sacred sites and landscapes, psi phenomena, and what are loosely termed "earth mysteries". He's somewhat of a rarity in my experience as a reader: a rational scientist who is not a materialist. This book reflects the special quality of his outlook, which is rooted in, but not limited by, rational thinking.
His introduction is the densest part of the book, but well worth the effort. He briefly defines and discusses ecopsychology and deep ecology, and then discusses the nature of human perception and how cultures condition individuals' picture of reality. According to him, each culture's world-view is only one of many possible world views, and that of the Western world has come to be based on materialistic science. That viewpoint has brought us great material advantages, but it denies the legitimacy of other worldviews, many of which have much of value to offer us.
Our greatest limitation is that our worldview denies the validity of data gathered via altered states of consciousness. Most Westerners dwell constantly in what Devereux terms the monophasic state, which is ego-based, materialistic, and logical (or strives to be). People in other cultures can move with much more ease between different sorts of states, depending on the cues they receive from the environment or their interior selves. These other states, although not respected in our culture, have served over millennia as avenues to wisdom, meaning, and connection with the universal web of being. By denying the legitimacy of altered states, we have walled ourselves off from our greatest source of healing.
Devereux goes on to present five chapters, each organized around a central theme, that are designed to open our minds to ways we can tap into the healing power of our world. At the end of each chapter he offers activities to bring the concepts to life. "Centering" explores ancient ways of establishing a center from which to ground oneself. The author discusses architectural and ritual means throughout history that were used to create geographical and personal centers in different cultures. Through an experience of a center, and of an axis running through that center, we can root ourselves firmly on the earth as well as open doors between this world and other worlds or other states of consciousness.
In "Placing," Devereux writes about feeling a "sense of place" within a landscape. Sadly, places all over the planet are starting to have a similar look, due to the spread of a dominant market-based culture and its mass-produced buildings and products. Western culture tends to see the land and its creatures in terms of economic utility. But we need to start seeing the land as living, as having a soul. We do this by looking at our surroundings with mythic consciousness. Devereux examines this sort of awareness in ancient cultures, as well as in current societies where people still live close to the land.
"Journeying" considers moving through the world with opened awareness. Devereux writes of "taking the soul for a walk," which involves "carrying the center of one's being, the portable `here,' along through nature." He discusses three principle types of journeying: walking with heightened awareness, pilgrimage, and the vision quest.
"Mapping" challenges the saying "the map is not the territory." Drawing from David Turnbull's book "Maps are Territories," Devereux shows how maps define the way we perceive the Earth. If you doubt that, then consider the mass-produced globes we see in every classroom, which have the northern hemisphere atop the southern. Why are they made this way? The mapmaking industry arose in Europe, and took on European values. No one in the First World wants to be on the bottom, with the metaphoric stigma that entails. Devereux discusses how ancient maps were made, how mythic consciousness figured into them, and how we can make maps for ourselves that re-draw our relationships with our surroundings. (A good example of a mythic map is that of the Hundred Acre Wood in A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh.)
Finally, "Dreaming" leads us into the fertile, shadowy world beyond the rational ego mind. Devereux addresses nighttime dreaming, including lucid dreaming, as ways to connect with the larger circle of life around us. But he also addresses how people living from their mythic consciousness draw on a relationship with the dream world throughout their waking hours. He calls this waking experience of the dream world the waking dreamstate, or the imaginal state. It is through this state that legends, music, rituals of worship, and mythic maps come into being. In our culture, this state is quite familiar to poets, artists, and spiritual travelers. It is this faculty that builds relationship between humans, the land and the spirit world.
For Devereux, the waking dream state is key to restoring wholeness to the Western psyche. Rather than being the result of delusion or illness, it is a mode of consciousness that unveils a hidden reality. He proposes that ecopsychology set about developing tools to allow more people to learn how to access it. He writes
"The very word "paradise" comes from ancient Iran--"pairi-daeza," a walled garden. . . The Iranian paradise garden symbolizes the Earth in all its levels, from material to the celestial Earth. . .Paradise. . .is located in the human mind, or, to put a different spin on that, it is not a physical place but a realm accessible only through the portals of human consciousness."
Re-Visioning the Earth will not appeal to strict rationalists and reductionists, nor to those who want a quick and easy read. Devereux demands attention and patience from his readers. But if you love the earth, and have an open mind, plus a willingness to explore new ways of seeing, then you will probably gain much from reading this book.
Paul Devereux has written a book that is not so much about the natural world and spiritual aspects of the Earth as a distinct entity (Mother Earth, Gaia, etc.) but is more focused on helping the reader understand one's own connections to the Earth through developments and applications of ecopsychology, deep ecology, and environmental psychology. It is not the method or worldview of the indigenous cultures, but the cutting edge of western science, as he notes in his introduction, "The Planet Without, the world WIthin" and in his chapter on "The Healing Earth versus 'Healing the Earth'." This is not a book for people trying to engage in nature worship or environmental activism as it is for people who are trying to better understand and heal themselves through engaged consciousness with the Self through engagement with the Earth.
Each Chapter leads the reader through the concepts which Devereux has developed over decades of work in consciousness studies such as the famous "Dragon Project" where volunteers slept at archaeological sites and experimented with dreaming. In each chapter, Devereux gives the reader the concepts and examples from around the world, and then provides a section called "Experiential."
1. "Centering: The Ancient Art of Being Here" indicates that we are all, in our own selves, at the crossroads of the seven directions: the four cardinal points, up and down, all meet in us. This locates us as our own nexus in the universe. The "Experiential" portion has exercises in "Being Here," "Getting Your Bearings," and "Drawing the Circle."
2. "Placing: Location and Dislocation: Knowing Our Place" connects us to special sites, not only in space, but in time, going back to prehistory and ancient monuments such as Stonehenge and certain times of the day when such work has special efficacy (dawn and dusk). This helps the reader find his or her own special place in the landscape to begin to work towards a deeper connection to one's self and the Earth. The "Experiential" portion looks at "Monumenteering" (prehistoric megalithic sites), "Let's Go to your Place," "Entering the Twilight Zone (or Roaming in the Gloaming), and "Finding Your Warp Factor" (states of consciousness).
3. "Journeying: Healthy Outdoor Exercise for the Soul" gets us to move around through the landscape, using the ideas of pilgrimage (moving sequentially through sites to an ultimate sacred destination) and vision questing (engaging with the spiritual/natural world at a sacred location). The "Experiential" section has the reader practice "Learning to Walk," "A Stroll Down Memory Lane," "If You Go Down to the Woods Today...," and "Medicine Walk." Devereux carefully steers the way around cultural misappropriation of Native American culture but shows how one can use many of the same underlying principles to better connect with the natural world.
4. "Mapping: Move Over Mercator (Finding Our Place in the World)" explores wayfinding and mapping both the external world, but more to the point, the cognitive states of the mind in connection to natural sites, including western cultural foundations, the ancestors, and the Otherworld (aspects of what some traditions call "pathworking" and some call "neoshamanism"). The "Experiential" section focuses on building wayfinding and exploration into one's consciousness and practice, through the exercises "Home Ground," "Life Line," "Mapping the Territory," "Orienteering," "A Personal Compass," "Blind Man's Buff," "Haptic Mapping" (connecting with place through body reactions, such as the involuntary muscular reactions used in dowsing), and "Space in Your Face."
5. "Dreaming: Soul-to-Soul with Anima Mundi" is the final chapter, finally connecting all the previous pieces and providing some real applications Devereux developed from his time with the Dragon Project. This chapter focuses on the work one can do through dreamwork that connects one to Place and the Earth, and how to interpret/understand what happens in such work. The "Experiential" section supplies a range of methods to try: "Temple Sleep," "Calling the Spirits," "Nature the Dream-Maker," "Bark with a Bite," "Rock On," "Listening to Mother," "The Vasudeva Crossing," and "Living the Dreamtime." Lucid Dreaming is part of the program.
This book is highly recommended as a great beginning for people who are comfortable with the psychological models of mainstream society, who wish to explore their psychology, spirituality and connections to Nature using practical exercises. Praxis makes perfect!
If you want medicine, read this book. If you want to have fun as you learn, I recommend Dorothy Atala Toy’s book "We Are Not Alone: A Complete Guide to Interdimensional Cooperation." Same subject matter, but much more enjoyable.