Naming a dream: is it spiritual adaptation?

Still seeking a better response to the climate crisis

In fairy stories, often the hero/ine forgets the purpose of their quest, and a chance event reminds them. This happened to me recently: I was on a Zoom call about Deep Adaptation, and suddenly an American woman asked, “Does ritual fit into all this?” Some deep part of me awoke.

Words like sacred, ritual, spiritual, mean a lot to me, but I rarely use them, because so many people find them alarming. That Zoom call revived a deep longing in me, which I want to explore in this blog. In essence, my dream is of a fusion between two paths which very few people seem willing or able to combine.

One of these paths is climate adaptation. Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation approach has been crucial for me in facing into the climate crisis and related upheavals (food shortages and lots more). For me, Deep Adaptation means a fundamental, systemic reinvention of our way of living, based on rising levels of turbulence and uncertainty. Jem urges us to go into the emotional impacts first, so that we can then explore practical responses coherently, without denial. Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects has helped me a lot with this.

The second path is spiritual, what I see as my soul’s journey. Life often feels alarming and bewildering to me, so I regularly ask my soul why it chose for us to be here now, and what are we called to do and be? You can see more about all this at one of my websites:

Although both paths are vital to me, I often feel they are separate and parallel. Sharing my path with groups is a big source of support and insight, and it has proved hard to find or gather groups who combine these two. I started a monthly group in Bridport, and never had more than three-four people. The weekend retreat I co-led at Hilfield Friary was a rare and satisfying example of a group which did combine them: see details here.

Why is this so hard? One reason is that the networks of people I can share either path with are small, geographically scattered, so most group sessions are online. After three years of mostly online groups, I’m becoming allergic to them: the Hilfield weekend confirmed for me how much deeper and fuller in-person gatherings can be.

It seems I’m looking for a Vesica Piscis – the small overlap area between two circles or networks, which are both small and scattered anyway. One reason for this blog is to invite any of you who share my dream to contact me, and we can gather a circle, in person or online.

You may be wondering, surely this combination of paths has been explored? From my research, I’d say yes and no. The field of spiritual ecology kind of explores it (e.g. in the excellent anthology edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee), but in a philosophical way. Practices, processes, networks which combine them, I haven’t found. If you have, let me know!

It seems that pioneering has been one of my specialities for many years: so I’m familiar with this sense of having few kindred spirits who also feel a need which I believe is urgent and growing. I’m carrying my dream, and sharing it with you, remembering that in fairy stories, magic happens, and dreams are fulfilled in surprising ways.