ZEGG Forum: a glimpse of the future

Charles Eisenstein refers to it as ‘the story of separation’. heart-208223_960_720It’s an old story we all know and have lived. It began with a patriarchy that emerged several millennia ago, and beliefs around ownership and control that lead to a scarcity mentality that persists today in everything we do. This belief in limited resources fuels the mentality of jealousy, of toxic shame, disconnection, competition. If there is more for you, it means there is less for me.

But if you are lucky, there will come a moment in your life where you will see a flicker of hope and light. A sparkle in the eyes of a stranger perhaps, the words of Rumi, the bliss of silent meditation, or some other chance exposure to the infinite realms of love and intimacy. And suddenly you feel it: possibility. Eisenstein says that ‘once you have that experience, it lives inside of you, and it makes the old normal no longer even tolerable’.

And now you find yourself on a new path. One lined with compassion, abundance, connection, celebration. But that’s not all. You soon begin to find courage in your vulnerability, you start showing up in ever deeper layers of authenticity. And then you start to see them. Your shadows. The darkness is beginning to emerge, and it’s tumultuous, ugly, scary, and shameful, and what if the others find out? Will I still have a place to call home in this family, this community, in society at large?

I just spent three days with over thirty people, most of whom I had never met before. We came together with the intention to learn a technology called ZEGG forum. This method was developed in the 1970s with a goal of building community, creating cohesion and trust, and freeing ourselves from violence.

Over the course of just three days, our circle dove deep into the realms of our darkest fears, our deepest prayers, our most insurmountable blocks. We grieved together, cried together, laughed together, sang together. We comforted each other, we saw each other. Facilitator Kelly Bryson told us we weren’t there to heal, we were there to bring our shadows into the light. We gathered and shared in order to collectively tap into the universal, archetypal emotions and experiences of our lives. Our hearts collectively opened.

The retreat may have ended, but our story continues. Our story of separation is only a narrative. We will continue to join together, here and around the world, gathering momentum, with a common goal of re-writing our story. Reconnecting with each other, with nature, with love. The Forum is happening in our neighbourhoods, in our communities, and in healing biotopes like Tamera, around the world. A force field of love and abundance that is going to change everything.

We leave our retreat feeling stronger, reassured, and reconnected. This brief glimpse into the future renews both our faith and our resolve to keep doing the work.

 

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72 words for love

The English language has a single word for it: love. My ancestors have a single model for it: monogamy. And despite the poetic notion that we marry for love, marriage has historically been inextricably woven into a cloth designed to be worn by owners – of money, land, and women.faith-christian-bible-verse-love

In elementary school, I was once told that a boy in my home town was the illegitimate child of a famous music celebrity. Thus, I was taught that a child conceived beyond the strict confines of a state-sanctioned monogamous marriage was not legal. Not valid. Not wanted. Shameful. We’d whisper the story of this dark truth amongst ourselves in school hallways, despite not understanding why we used hushed tones. We whispered because our parents whispered.

Fortunately, humanity has not always lived with such narrow values. As many of us are seeking “new” possibilities, others are coming forth to share world views of love that give great hope.

The Awansa Ta’pish nation, for example, has 72 words for love. They have 14 love relationships, the a’ukota pash’ele. The ‘illegitimate’ child I mentioned , if born into such a nation, might have been raised in an extended loving family. The parents would have been fully honoured for their loving companionship. Mom would have never been called a ‘single mother’ since many cared together for children, according to scholar Kim Tallbear.

I believe that polyamory isn’t a ‘new paradigm’ per se, but rather a ‘remembering’. And this path of remembrance is hard work. Each lesson dismantled, each shaming unlearned, slowly, at times very painfully. The damage has been caused by centuries of harmful practices and thus is epigenetically imprinted in us – in essence, we are born broken. The healing of love and the return to erotic innocence thus goes beyond individuals: we are healing ourselves, and also our ancestors. Tallbear adds that ethical non-monogamy is not just about self-actualization and healing oppression, but that it has implications in the “broader context of community, of extended relations and of our obligations to the Earth”.

This is no small task. The Awansa elders spend considerable time and energy teaching the 14 love relationships, because reportedly only by experiencing them can one become a “complete human being”. Courageous communities around the globe are committing to this deep healing work in the realms of love, eros and spirituality. Film-maker and Tamera love school apprentice, John Wolfstone, explains we need deep study “because we’ve been wrongly trained and traumatically ripped from community for six millennia”. There is a deeply misguided world view, he argues, “that we are separate from everything else”, a belief that has led us to compete for resources and live in fear.

As this ‘remembrance’ takes place, we are slowly discovering how to connect in deeply with our extended communities. We are embracing the many ways we can share love, and developing a language to fully honour the diverse ways in which love is experienced.

In English, there is only one word for ‘love’. Perhaps one day we will see, the only thing there is really one of, is us. We. Are. One.