#213 Solstice Dreaming: 3 podcasters gather round the Dark-Nights fire: Della Duncan, Nathalie Nahai and Manda Scott
This is the fourth year of our now-traditional Winter Solstice podcast get-together in which Nathalie Nahai, Della Duncan and I sit around our virtual dark-nights fire to reflect on the podcasting year just gone and explore what has changed for us since the last time the seeds of new beginnings were grounded in the heart of what has passed. This is becoming one of the highlights of my podcasting year – a chance to range far and wide and deep in the company of two women whose podcasts never fail to touch me deeply, and whose opinions on life, the universe and everything are always inspiring and enlightening.
Della Z Duncan is a Renegade Economist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a co-host of the Upstream Podcast, a Right Livelihood Coach, a faculty member at the California Institute of Integral Studies, a Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics, a founding member of the California Doughnut Economics Coalition, and the designer and co-facilitator of the Cultivating Regenerative Livelihood Course at Gaia Education.
Nathalie Nahai is an author, keynote speaker and host of the Nathalie Nahai in Conversation podcast enquires into our relationship with one another, with technology and with the living world. She’s author of the international best-sellers Webs Of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion and, more recently, Business Unusual: Values, Uncertainty and the Psychology of Brand Resilience which has been described as “One of the defining business books of our times”. She’s a consultant, artist and the founder of Flourishing Futures Salon, a project that offers curated gastronomical gatherings that explore how we can thrive in times of turbulence and change.
Before we head into the conversation, I want to invite you to our transformative online course, Dreaming Your Year Awake, which takes place on Sunday the 7th of January. This is your chance really to delve deeply into the year just gone, and look ahead at how you want to shape your attention and intention for the year that’s coming. After all the outward connection of the holiday season, this is a time to go inwards, to be kind to ourselves, to explore all that we can be and want to be. This, too, is part of our Accidental Gods tradition and we have people who’ve come year after year to give themselves the gift of time and space and the company of people who share the journey. So please do come along, we would love to share this time with you. I’ve put a link in the show notes and it’s also on the website here.
And now, People of the Podcast, please welcome Della Duncan, co-host of the Upstream podcast and Nathalie Nahai, host of the Nathalie Nahai podcast, and me.
Poem: The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Theory: Two Loop Theory by Meg Wheatley and Deborah Frieze
Conversation: Marxism & Buddhism with Breht O’Shea on the Upstream Podcast
Conversation: A Marxist Perspective on Elections with August Nimtz on the Upstream Podcast
Conversation: Beyond the Clock with Jenny Odell on the Upstream Podcast
Organization: California Doughnut Economics Coalition
Pre-order Any Human Power (Manda’s forthcoming novel)
Manda: Hey people, welcome to Accidental Gods. To the podcast where we still believe that another world is possible and that if we all work together, there is time to create a future that we would be proud to leave to the generations that come after us. I’m Manda Scott, your guide and fellow traveller on this journey into possibility, and this is the fourth year of our now traditional Winter Solstice podcast get together, in which Nathalie Nahai, Della Duncan and I sit around our virtual Dark Nights fire to reflect on the podcasting year just gone. And to explore what’s changed for each of us since the last time the seeds of new beginnings were grounded in the heart of all that has passed. This is becoming one of the highlights of my podcasting year. A chance to range far and wide and deep, in the company of two women whose podcasts always touch me deeply and whose opinions on life, the universe and everything are always inspiring and thought provoking and enlightening.
Della : And in case they’re new to you, Della Duncan is a renegade economist based in the San Francisco Bay area. She’s a co-host of the Upstream podcast, a Right Livelihood Coach, a faculty member at the California Institute of Integral Studies, a senior fellow at the London School of Economics, a founding member of the California Doughnut Economics Coalition that you’ll hear a bit more about in the podcast. And the designer and co-facilitator of the Cultivating Regenerative Livelihood Course at Gaia Education. Nathalie Nahai’s background in human behaviour, web design and the arts offers a unique vantage point from which to examine the complex challenges we face today. Her best selling book, Webs of Influence; The Psychology of Online Persuasion, has been adopted as the go to manual by business leaders and universities alike. And her new book, Business Unusual; Values, uncertainty, and the Psychology of Brand Resilience, has been described as one of the defining business books of our time. She’s a behavioural science advisor and host of Nathalie Nahai In Conversation. And Natalie helps clients including Google, Accenture, Unilever and Harvard Business Review to ethically apply behavioural science principles to enhance their business. She’s also the founder of Flourishing Futures Salon, a project that offers curated gastronomical gatherings that explore how we can thrive in these times of turbulence and change.
Manda: And then, before we head into the conversation, I want to invite you to Dreaming Your Year Awake, which takes place on Sunday the 7th of January. This is our chance really to delve deeply into the year that’s gone and look ahead at how we want to shape our attention and intention for the year that’s coming. After all the outward connectedness of the holiday season, this is a time to go inwards, to be kind to ourselves, to explore all that we can be and that we want to be. And this too, is part of our Accidental Gods tradition. We have people now who’ve come year after year to give themselves the gift of time and space, and the company of others who share the journey. So please do come along. We really would enjoy sharing this time with you. I’ve put a link in the show notes and it’s also on the website accidentalgods.life under the Gatherings tab. And now, people of the podcast, Please welcome Della Duncan of the Upstream Podcast and Nathalie Nahai, host of Nathalie Nahai In Conversation. And me. As we reflect on the year that’s gone, and bring each other gifts for the year ahead.
Della : All right. Well, welcome. So good to be in conversation with you, too. And happy December Solstice. Let us start with some introductions. Is this our third year that we’ve been doing this together?
Nathalie: I think so.
Della : So who are you in this moment as we join together today? It is our fourth.
Manda: Yeah, it’s definitely a tradition by now.
Della : It is a tradition. So a solstice tradition. The three of us gathering. Let us begin with our introductions and also a little of our year in review. So what has happened for you on your podcast and in your life? What highlights, what themes and perhaps what insights? So Manda can I turn to you first?
Manda: Thank you. Yes. All right. So I’m Manda Scott, I’m host of the Accidental Gods podcast and also a novelist. And this year has been the year of editing for me. So we’re recording at the beginning of December and I handed in at 10.30 yesterday morning, having written 40,000 words since October 15th. So it’s been a really big burn. I used to write historical novels, this is a novel of trying to take where we are and where we are is a changing space. It’s two and a half years writing this novel, and the world has changed a lot since then. When I first started writing in ’21, it was set in 2023, which was the far distant future. And by the time it comes out, it’ll be, you know, an alternative history. So there’s nothing one can do about that. But it’s been a really interesting experience of trying to write a way forward that works, to a future that we would be proud to leave behind. Because it’s hard. I’ve been realising, getting all the nuts and bolts of the things that all three of us talk about in our podcasts, and I have been listening manically to podcasts, bringing in ideas, talking to people. How to weave all those together in a coherent narrative that doesn’t just talk to our echo chamber. But talks to, you know, the people who still seem to think that business as usual is an option. It has been interesting.
Manda: So I think for me, the big themes of the year have been the understanding of how fast we’re heading for the cliff, much faster than I thought. Of seeing tipping points happen that I didn’t think would happen in my lifetime and they just rolled past this year. Of realising how close we are to the edge of AI. We had the Eliezer Yudkowsky podcast on Bankless back in April, but then we had Mo Gawdat on, um, what is it? Diary of a CEO. And then Mustafa Suleyman on the centre for Humane Technology’s Your Undivided Attention. And then all of that, you know, Biden producing an executive order of 800 pages. That. When I started writing, I had a few friends on the fringes of tech going AI is going to be an issue, guys. And we were going, oh, really? Okay. And now it’s here. So that’s been big. And personally, I had Covid, I lost a couple of months to Covid and my dog died in January and I am obsessively looking for a puppy. So there’s a bit of me that’s still planning ahead for the world, where it’ll be worth having a puppy and it’ll survive and all of that sort of stuff. And the rest of me is looking at a world where modernity is in breakdown and I have no idea what replaces it. So that’s me. Thank you. Over to Nathalie, I guess.
Della : Yeah, Nathalie, what about you?
Nathalie: So. This year has been a turbulent year, and it started out in quite a ceremonial space in a way. I was down in Embercombe, reconnecting with nature after what had been a very intensive time. And one of the things that I’ve really noticed in an embodied way, more than just in a theoretical way, is quite how entangled everything is. And it’s a funny, well, not funny as in ha ha, but funny as in curious, to watch the ways in which decisions that feel far away impact us in very close quarters. So, for instance, all of the technology disruptions, AI. I Know quite a lot of people who at the beginning of this year were laying off employees and outsourcing their functions to ChatGPT, and that was in its earlier iteration, never mind the things it can do now. Companies changing their tactics, firing staff, people realising that actually if they’re going to get anywhere, there needs to be a greater sense of collaboration and community resilience. There’s just been a lot of change, certainly in the kind of fields that I’m working in, that have pointed towards, depending on the perspective: an opening up of the fact that things are different and they’re not going back. And on the flip side, this kind of helplessness of, well **** if it’s this bad, we’re just going to double down on whatever we were doing before and just pretend it’s not happening. And so there’s this really curious thing where there’s this turbocharging of people coming together. I went to the Planet Local summit in Bristol a few months ago, which was one of the most extraordinarily uplifting gathering of people that I have ever encountered.
Della : And it was so vital and and joyful and robust, and it made visible communities of people who are doing work in complementary spaces, I suppose, in different parts of the world, and realising that there is a huge movement with very many different faces working tirelessly. And I’m going to include within that practices for rest, so modelling, not just like the burnout culture. But working and modelling tirelessly with conviction and all of the other stuff that’s around, to create lived realities of what we need to do in order for the future to be different. In order for these combinations of factors, you know, to be lived. And so I’ve kind of gone on this sort of weird journey where I feel like I’m very much straddling what I still feel are kind of two separate worlds, although obviously they’re not. In a recent conversation with Jo Confino, he was saying, but they’re not separate, this is also part of the shift we have to make. Which I completely get, but it’s quite hard to do practically, between, let’s say, the kind of corporate, extractive, exponential growth ( quote unquote, because we can’t grow exponentially) but that side of things. And the other side, which is kind of a human scale, human paced reckoning with who it is that we want to be as a species. Like these existential questions stepping into a quality of presence that is harder and harder to access when we’re completely plugged into our devices.
Della : So it’s kind of like straddling these two worlds of the system as it is now, you know, I still have to pay my bills and my mortgage. And also the other side, which is okay, I’m going to hold my forming music nights, and I’m going to gather with my friends, and I’m going to paint in my studio, and my phone is going to be off, and I’m going to sing music, and I’m going to go spend some time in the forest. And be able to hold both and. Because it’s also that. It’s like, how do you chart a path forward when you have to find a way to live in this complex, fractured world? And I think there’s something in there around deepening one’s roots or practice, certainly with relationships. Community building is huge. That I think has been a real lived somatic revelation to me this year, of this is what it feels like to actually build resilience with other people to come together and come away feeling connected and recharged, in the face of unthinkable questions from AI to ecological disruption to, you know, do we have a future? Yeah. And the guests on the podcast have reflected that. But I don’t want to eat up too much more time. So Della, I’d love to ask you the same question. What’s your year looked like in terms of peaks and troughs and everything in between?
Della : Well, first, just to celebrate everything happening for you two. And as you’re sharing, I’m thinking of a metaphor of our livelihood, gardens and the soil being our resilience and self care. So I’m happy to hear of the singing and the painting and the puppy that’s soon to come into your life. So all the ways that we’re resourcing ourselves. And something you said Nathalie around community, doing it together. I’m thinking of that Audre Lorde quote about, you know, there is no liberation without community. So just hearing that, to do this work in connection and relationship. So happy to hear of what’s going on for you two. For me, it’s been a very full year on the podcast. I wrote down all of the conversations that we had had this year. And I say we because I am a co-host along with Robert Raymond. So just want to acknowledge and appreciate him. And yeah, I was just feeling a lot of gratitude for everyone who was willing to come onto the show, and our listeners and folks, just really feeling gratitude for the community that is that is part of the upstream podcast. And our ecosystem of podcasts around social change. And a few themes. One of them has been really a learning; the podcast can be a learning experience. So learning about Marxism and Communism and revolutionary left theory has been really fascinating.
Della : We’ve also gotten to have a few more light-hearted and fun conversations around beer, and the story of the Anchor Steam Brewing Company. The political economy of jazz, as well as this model coming out of Japan called half farmer, half X. So just these beautiful, light hearted, fun conversations, as well as many very deep and very grief filled conversations on what’s happening in the world. So we got to cover Stop Cop City, for example. And then we’re currently doing a series on Palestine. So it’s that balancing of evergreen and learning. We also had a conversation on capitalist realism, for example, on the text What Is To Be Done by Lenin? So it’s like deep learning, but then also trying to be current and present with what’s happening in the world and to honour that pain, and move through that together in a way that is like, what can we learn from what’s happening right now and how can we contribute? So I’d say those are some some elements of the year in review. And with that, I’m going to hand over to you, Nathalie, for our ritual of asking our beautiful questions.
Nathalie: Thanks, Della. That was very concise. So the question that I’d like to offer back to you, and I’m sure you’re familiar with this by now, is what do you sense or imagine is going on in the global human psyche at this moment as we gather?
Della : Hmm’hmm. Yeah. When I think of this question, I think of in Buddhism, which I know is a theme for our podcast, this concept of the ultimate dimension. This kind of fabric or layer that we’re all connected to, should we tap into it. And when I feel into the global psyche, what I feel is that it is lonely. Meaning none of us are tapping into it a lot or often, or as deeply as we could. I’m grateful for the teachings and the practices, the meditations that have taught me or informed me about the global psyche and how I may tap into it. And as I say that too, I reflect on how we have much more medicine ceremonies in the Bay area where I am. You know, mushrooms, psychedelics, etc. so maybe there are more people tapping into the global psyche. However, it just feels like there is this collective fog or numbing. And I know social media has been a theme for us, AI has been mentioned. So for me, I think of the global psyche as either forgotten or folks aren’t accessing it as much as we could, and it would be of benefit to us right now. And when I tap into it, the phrase of this year for me or the invitation has been: rest in presence, radiate love. Rest in presence, radiate love. That came through for me at the beginning of this year. So when I tap into the global psyche, I feel that sense of being held and connected in the web of life, and I am more able to rest in presence and radiate love. So thank you for that question.
Nathalie: That’s beautiful. Manda how do you begin to answer that question right now?
Manda: I think on a similar level, I would be surprised if we weren’t all on a similar level, but I think one of the things that feels different to this time last year for me is this what Della just said about connecting into the web of life. And what I’ve noticed with the people who come on the Dreaming workshops and the Accidental Gods workshops is, and perhaps this is because this is what I’m putting out in the world. But ten years ago, people were asking questions about their own lives. How can I find the perfect job? How can I find the perfect partner? Where do I live? And now they’re asking, how do I connect to the web and how do I find that place? And this is a phrase that I got from Della when we were at Schumacher together, is that place where the world’s greatest need and my heart’s deepest joy interact? Where does my heart’s deepest joy meet the world’s greatest need? And people are really seeking that and then seeking that connection to the web of life. And there is a level at which that feels stronger to me. And when I connect into the web, insofar as I understand how to do that, it feels vibrantly shimmering. It was a very interesting part when I had Covid and I was basically unconscious for a while, I was doing work that I had never done before.
Manda: I was meeting whatever we call the entities that connect with us, that I had never met. Who were inviting me to open in ways that I had never been open before. And it’s been really transformative. And it feels as if when we step into that space and say, I am here, we’re being met now much more strongly than before. And I don’t know if that’s because I am in a different place or because the web is in a different place. But on one side that feels really alive and potent and connected. And then on the other hand I meet up quite often with a group of us who all teach shamanic stuff, and we meet up once every six weeks or so on zoom, and we are beginning to feel, or I am beginning to feel, and they are saying yes with me, who knows. That there is that which is fed by our absolute loving life, the moment by moment being in love with the divine and allowing that to flow through us, and compassion and connection all feed that. And there is that which is fed by grief and fear and despair. And I was really struck by something somebody said in one of Della’s podcasts, that the capitalist system is the commodification of grief. And that it’s accelerating.
Manda: You know, it is running for the cliff edge in a way that I think this is psychopathy in action. And so there is something that is fed by that, and there is something that is fed by the compassion. And each of them ratchets up and at some point that tension cannot be held. And so I think for me, exactly what Nathalie was saying, and I think Della as well. It behoves those of us who want to connect, to connect with everything that we possibly have in order to balance out the disconnect. And a final thing, the other thing that has really struck me, talking to Alnoor Ladha and Lynne Murphy; the concept of moving from a trauma culture, which I would suggest is the commodification of grief, to an initiation culture. And that that process is ongoing and is again unfolding for each of us. And I can feel that happening. I have no idea where it goes, but the trauma culture, there are parts of all of us that will want to hang on to it, because it’s what’s known. And how do we get our claws out of that and move it through? But it feels like that’s much more in process than it was this time last year. So I think the global human psyche is in transition, is the short answer. Over to you, Nathalie. How do you answer your own question?
Nathalie: I always find this bit really tricky. It’s so much easier to be asking the questions. So someone that I spoke with recently in conversation, we were talking about how human beings are like a constellation or democracy of selves. There’s all these different selves or aspects within us that constellate to create some kind of dynamic form, that over a span of a life constitutes our sense of dynamic identity, let’s say. And I think that, given that life is sort of fractal in form, you know, that you kind of scale up and you see similar patterns to when you scale down. The way that I would begin to answer that question about the global human psyche is that, again, if we’re thinking about it as a constellation of factors, there’s so much inner tension, conflict, reckoning. And my feeling is, and it goes to your point about trauma and initiation, is that we’re at this moment where it’s becoming impossible, even for those who are lucky enough to be in, well, lucky/unlucky enough to be in industrialised countries where we have greater protection for the time being from the worst effects of climate devastation or ecological disruption. Even for those of us in those countries, it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore the fear, the horror of what we’re doing, the horror of what’s coming if we don’t change course. And I think there’s something that I’m noticing with people I’m speaking with, and obviously it’s kind of like a self-selecting group. There is the grief, but beneath that there’s a deep yearning. There’s a sense of longing and loss and wanting for life and I think that’s where I’m most interested in tapping into, because among all of the different elements that constitute the global human psyche, which is entirely enmeshed within the natural living world because we’re just an expression of it, the question becomes, well, how do we find a way to bring all of those parts around the table? Within ourselves and then within those of us who are populating the earth at this moment. And if you’re in interested in ancestral work, those that came before and those to come up.
Nathalie: So there’s a lot of ways that you can start to weave. But I think that’s that’s the key thing I think in this moment is that there is beginning to be a reckoning with the fragmentation of our species wide psyche, the harm we’re inflicting upon ourselves and upon others. The longing for there to be something different and hopefully, increasingly, a willingness to crack open and allow ourselves to feel. And I don’t think it’s happening everywhere all at once. I think for those of us who have the luxury to have these conversations from the safety of our homes, you know, it’s easy to talk about it if we’re just feeling the emotional ripples and not actually yet physically having to deal with precarity. But there is this invitation to really be present with what’s happening. And Della, to your point about the the presence that you mentioned; of being able to really plug in to that, go deeper beneath the waves and keep going down, until you reach the rock which is the bedrock of life, which is hopefully love, even though there’s a lot of complexity. So that’s how I begin to answer it. Um, yeah. And that beauty is one of the ways that we find to reckon with the things that we find unbearable. So, over to you.
Manda: Della? You or me?
Della : Yeah, I’ll go ahead. I’m just reflecting on a quote: I want to know if you can see the beauty, even though it’s not pretty every day.
Manda: Who said that?
Della : I think it might be Rumi, but I’ll have to double check that. But just thank you for for bringing that in. So the question that I would love to ask the three of us right now is around going upstream. So when you feel into your grief and what’s happening in the world, what is it that’s breaking your heart right now? And when you go upstream from that heartbreak or that grief, anger, sadness, despair, overwhelm, what are the root causes that are there? What do you see as the root causes? So, Nathalie, maybe I’ll ask you first, what is it that when you’re feeling into the global psyche or what’s happening in the world right now, what is it that breaks your heart? And what happens or what do you see when you go upstream?
Nathalie: This is going to be a bit of a weird answer, I think, just because of what I’ve ingested the last few days. I managed to catch the short clip of Elon Musk saying to his customers, you know, ‘go fuck yourselves’. And I was like, okay, this is one of the symptoms of a global story that has reached a point at which people can acquire so much power from such wounded places, that they’re acting out their their deepest griefs and wounds on a global stage, which impacts the lives of literally millions if not billions of people. And as I was watching this, and it’s weird because I think in the last year my sense around people has shifted. I don’t know what’s happened, but I’m kind of much more into their felt sense versus what I hear them saying. And often there’s a big mismatch between what’s said and the presence of what they’re carrying, whether it’s their body language or the tone of their voice or the anger that’s emanating from them. And I watched this and honestly, my feeling was there’s just this sense of sadness. Just a sense of sadness. I thought, I wonder how many people who are in positions of extraordinary power are feeling completely cut off from the world. And this could be complete projection, but I wonder, this question came up. And who don’t have a sense of belonging and who, perhaps from that sense of dislocation and alienation, feel that they have no other choice but to earn their rightful place let’s say, by proving themselves, by dominating nature and others and the rest of it.
Nathalie: And the amount of pain that one can witness at that level and that’s then propagated to others, that’s something that I’ve been really somehow kind of taken a bit off guard by. Which is the fact that there are so many people who are perpetuating harms, who themselves are suffering a lot. And it’s easy to say that when I’m not at the whim of their decisions, you know, if I’d been fired from Twitter when it was still Twitter, I would probably feel quite differently. So again, you know, just naming the context. So there’s that, which is the pain that is at the root of the people who are causing the most harm and feeling compassion for that. And then going upstream, the question that I come to time and again is, well is this kind of reckoning with suffering in whatever form it might be, is it just the name of the game, you know? Is it part of the system in which embodied incarnate life, that’s part of it, it’s unavoidable. And I’m not a Buddhist, but I do like a lot of the tenets that are carried by Buddhist people that I’ve met, this idea that you have a choice, whether you experience pain as suffering. The way that we relate to it changes how we experience it.
Nathalie: And so I think at some level, I don’t know how deeply because I’m not in pain right now, but on some level, conceptually, hopefully, I’ve got my mind accustomed to this idea of to be alive is to also include the experience of pain, and that’s part of it. And then to go one step beyond that, or one step upstream from that, which is that if we’re lucky enough to live lives where we have love and we can express ourselves, and we can write books and we can learn, and we can talk to people and we can come together. That, that kind of the linchpin of the beauty; is it worth the pain and the suffering just to have the opportunity to be alive in this moment? And for now, my answer is a resounding yes. But so there’s also this question of how do we frame the ways in which we deal with what’s happening in the world right now? And I think we need reasons to be here, and reasons to long and reasons to love and reasons to go through what’s going to be an increasingly turbulent experience. So for me, beauty is the root. And I think for different people it’s different things. But yeah, that’s quite a long answer. I hope that wasn’t too long. Um, yeah. Manda do you want to go back on that one?
Manda: I’d love to. Yeah. I’ve written myself so many notes, things that arose while you were speaking. Because going upstream for me this year has also meant going backwards along the timelines, and my ancestral lines. In the work that I work with we have ancestors of our blood lineage and ancestors of our spirit lineage. And what happens when I explore back a bit? One of the things that really shifted for me this year, two things came together. One was something Jill Stein said, and I can’t remember exactly what she said, but it made me understand that every human being alive on the planet, actually everything on the planet, was once hydrogen. And not only do we go back along an evolutionary line that takes us to being hydrogen molecules, but all the way along the billions of years, the ancestors of the ancestors of the ancestors all survived long enough to produce the next in line. And the odds against that are vanishingly small. What are the chances that the three of us made it? That all of our ancestors, for tens of thousands of millions of generations back, survived long enough to produce something that survived long enough to produce something that survived long enough eventually to produce our parents, who survived long enough to produce us. It’s vanishingly small. And so being the inheritor of that lineage feels like everybody, even Musk, is that.
Manda: And then I’ve really been thinking hard about the initiation culture and the trauma culture and what happened. And I read a book sometime earlier in the year, God knows. Civilised to Death by Christopher Ryan. And one of the core takeaways for me in that one was the understanding that the agricultural, we call it revolution, as if it were progress, was a schism and it was not a voluntary schism. It was a default action taken under extreme duress, and nobody wanted to do it. One of the key phrases that really stands out for me in that book was him expressing the fact that good innovations, Beaker technology, or the ability to carve a hand-axe differently spread very fast right across the Fertile Crescent, which is where most humanity was at that point. The agriculture spread, and I quote directly, at the speed of an old man in carpet slippers. We did not want to do it. And even in Britain. We know from Graeber and Wengrow that agriculture came, you know, about 5000 B.C. and a couple of generations we went, oh, yeah, we could plant stuff and harvest it. And no, we don’t like doing this. This is very bad. No. And we went back to foraging hazelnuts for many generations, several centuries until it just didn’t work.
Manda: And at that point, things had changed. A huge lake of 144,000km² in North America that was meltwater had burst its banks, tipped all this fresh, cold water and changed the planetary climate. And so the Fertile Crescent that had been massively abundant became less, and we had lost the skills of being forager hunters. We’d lost the nomadic skills, we had no choice. And we’d also, in forager hunter terms, apparently women had came into puberty at about age 18, and they had about one child every seven years. Then we settled down a wee bit, and we were beginning to have one child every 2 to 3 years, and we’d lost the capacity to be who we were. And so agriculture this now ‘we own land’, now we take land, now we have to defend our land. The psychopathy that goes with it was not voluntary and was not progress. And yet we, the inheritors of that. Have created a system that elevates the psychopaths and disempowers everybody else. And I come back to that that rupture. How do we heal that rupture? How do we heal the trauma? Because I had a conversation with Rachel Donald of the amazing Planet Critical podcast recently, and she very strongly said, even if Musk suddenly decided to take on board everything that we believe he would be destroyed by the people who don’t believe that. He would cease to have the power that he has.
Manda: It’s the system. The people make the system. But the system is inexorable. And how do we create a new system that doesn’t elevate the psychopaths? So I go upstream and I look at a broken system that broke about 10,000 years ago. That has been elevating psychopaths; the Romans were capitalists. They had a fiat currency on which they charged interest. The whole of the Boudiccan revolt happened because Seneca tried to get take back 26 million sesterces in loans, with interest, to people who had no idea what coins were really. You know, we’ll give you this money and you can pay us back, and we want tax and we’ll have the same stuff we’ve just given you. And you’re like, oh, okay, that’s fine, here, you want a bag of your silver back, have your bag of silver back. And then somebody turns up with a big club at the door going, oh we want the rest now. Pardon? No, no, we’ll take your children then. Sorry. They’re slaves. It was the colonialisation. And it wasn’t that the Romans invented this, they were they were traumatised too.
Manda: So how do we heal thousands upon thousands of years, yet acknowledge that we have Evolution from hydrogen, in which we were an integral part of the web of life and 300,000 years of human evolution. We were an integral part of the web of life. So I go upstream to that schism. We have a system that is the inheritor of that schism. And I question and I wonder and I explore and I try to think, how do we heal that? Because we can play whac-a-mole with the individual bits, but actually it’s that schism that we need to heal. And so I think for me, the big question is What are we here for? Because it’s not just to pay bills and die. We all know we are not here just to pay bills and die. And yet we live in a system where he who pays the biggest bills wins. Musk is Musk because he can buy himself anything he wants, including a rocket to Mars. How do we shift to a different value set in a time frame that will work? So I look up upstream and that’s where I get to. So Della, it’s your question. What happens with you when you look upstream?
Della : Just so enjoying listening to both of you. And thank you for the different ways that you took that question. The map that I’ve come to from all of the folks that I’ve gotten to ask this question of, is we have the social and ecological political challenges of our time. We go upstream, the first stop upstream, we find supremacies. So power over thinking; white supremacy, capitalist supremacy, patriarchal supremacy, human supremacy over nature. And more recently and into the next year, I’m going to be more exploring Christian supremacy.
Manda: Brave woman.
Della : Moving upstream from supremacy, I find separation from. Because in order to have power over, we need to be separate from. And so going upstream from that, it’s really that concept of ourself, whether it’s that small, isolated, rugged, individualistic sense of self or remembering ourselves to the web of life and a more ecological sense of self. And so then from that source point, we go back downstream and we have, you know, connection and solidarity and power with, instead of power over. And then ideally ecological and social thriving or well-being for people on the planet. But this year, one metaphor that’s come to me strongly in framing that differently, comes from a quote that I heard from Marianne Williamson. Which is this idea that when we feel or believe that we are a wave in the ocean, we are small and afraid of all the other waves, of being trampled and pummelled, and we have to resource ourselves and build walls and arm ourselves and all of that. But when we see ourselves as a wave of the ocean, we feel deeply interconnected and deeply powerful. So I’ve been reflecting on that and actually spending time with the ocean and watching waves and just, you know, studying what does it mean to be a wave in the ocean and be a wave of the ocean. And just dropping that question in my life, like, when am I feeling that? And whenever I’m feeling the scarcity or precariousness or anger or othering judgement, it’s usually a wave in the ocean instead of a wave of the ocean.
Della : And a related anecdote or story that has also helped with that; Ram Dass, who I’ve mentioned before in previous years, a great teacher. He was once talking to his father and his father said: why do you give away all your teachings, your CDs, your recordings? You just give it away. You know, you’re not very capitalistic. You know you’re not making money. There’s some money to be made here and you’re not accessing it. And Ram Dass turns to his father and he says, hey, remember that case, because his father was a lawyer, he said remember that case that you did for uncle Bob? You you didn’t charge him an arm and a leg, did you? And he said, no, of course that’s uncle Bob. Why would I extort or, you know, charge uncle Bob? And Ram Dass turns to him and says, well, that’s my problem. Everyone is my family. And that is wave of the ocean. And so it is when we think we can extort or extract or other or profit from anyone in the web of life, then we are the wave in the ocean. And when we feel that everyone is family and that we are deeply connected in this web of life, then we are a wave of the ocean. So that that’s where I’ve come to, more so, in this journey upstream. Anything you want to add, either of you? Before we move to our next question.
Manda: Um, Nathalie, over to you first, because I’m organising ideas, but there seemed to me a lot of stuff in there. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff in all we’ve said about everything.
Nathalie: I think for me, hearing you talk about the recognition of those around us as kin, as family, as uncle Bob, as something which is profoundly powerful and also at the same time living with that and living within a reality that is shot through with having to make ends meet. And it’s that question of how do we really connect with and feel that sense of presence, of being one with the ocean and holding lightly that sense of wave ness? Maybe that’s the thing. Maybe it’s a question of, okay, for now, this is me doing X, me doing Y, but I’m rooted in something deeper that then shows up in these different spaces; a certain quality. I’m very curious about how those things dance together, because in this moment, I think they’re called to by a great many of us who can’t just make the large life changes that maybe we’d like to. So it’s that, it’s kind of how do we find those courages to hold both and not lose sight of the being the wave of the ocean. Seeing things lightly, I think. Manda what are you going to add to Della’s beautiful poetic answer to that question?
Manda: Well, possibly, I don’t know. Because it took me to a lot of places. I was listening today to one of Della’s podcasts with a gentleman who was both Marxist and Buddhist, which was a really interesting bringing together of two arms of philosophy and welding them into one. And we get to how do we bring this essence of the difference between a wave in the ocean and a wave of the ocean, into our reality? Because I think it’s really easy for it to be an idea and living it is really hard. And living it for me insofar as I can, and I have an extraordinarily privileged lifestyle, because I get to sit here and write books, which is the best thing the world has ever done. And then I get to make podcasts, which is the second best thing the world has ever done. And I get to, you know, walk up the hill. And at the moment my level of privilege is huge and I turn that inwards in an attempt to be available for the web of life in whatever way it wants to express. And I have a really profoundly deep felt sense that the way forward is in us evolving consciously to the point where everyone can do that. And then I spoke to Rachel Donald in a podcast that will be out before this is out. And then I listened to the gentlemen on Della’s podcast.
Manda: And both of them were absolutely adamant that there needs to be a violent wing in order that the pacifist wing can make difference. And it breaks my head in very big ways, of that’s the old paradigm, guys. That is not being a wave of the ocean. And I can hear the arguments and they’re perfectly logical. And I can see exactly where you’re coming from, and I can see exactly where it goes. And I think where it goes is off the edge of the cliff. So I love that metaphor, and I get to it is urgent now that we find ways to make that real for people. Because for most of the people I bump up against in my everyday life, it’s not even on their radar, never mind becoming real. And even the people who want it to be real, it’s an idea that’s somewhere out here. It’s not an embodied reality of this is how I live my life. What’s the actual practical, how do we make that happen? I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for that. It just arose. Yes you’re right. And this is urgent now, this is really urgent. So it wasn’t probably as poetic as you were hoping Nathalie. We need Conscious Evolution and we need it yesterday.
Nathalie: But I think also it points towards something very tangible. And again, this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Both of you have talked about being in service to life and to the flourishing of life. And I think one of the things that I hear a lot spoken about, obviously about community and the rest of it, is these ideas about what we can do or these ideas about how we might be able to be. And the practical realities might be something like bartering, sharing your resources, meeting up on a regular basis without your phone so that you feel that you’re in community with people. Making space for grief, being in ceremony, shopping at the local food store that supports community assisted agriculture. If that’s something that’s available to you. I think there are lots of small, practical things that don’t require huge behavioural shifts that are the forebears. Is that the word even? Like it’s the wave before the swell. The ripples that then emerge into something else, because they are ways in which to tap into a different kind of power. Like at the Full Moon music nights, the gathering and the singing together always leads to someone sharing something that was heavy on their heart. And when they leave the evening, we all feel better for having shared a variety of different feelings without having to fix anything. That’s modelling a different system.
Nathalie: It’s not the kind of ‘your ill let’s fix it’. I think there are lots of small, practical, tangible things we can do and things that we need to ward against. For example, I was interviewing Brett Scott, who wrote this book called Cloud Money, talking about resisting the cashless society, because we need to have options. And if you suddenly create a system in which everyone is forced into digital channels; a friend of mine wants to go to a punk music night, this is in Barcelona Last week. They denied him entry! In a punk music night. They said, well, you have to use your phone to scan the QR code. He’s like, but this is a punk music night! You do realise the legacy and the culture?So it’s these acts of resistance while living into those qualities that you want to see in the world, but you have to start from a small, localised space, and if you do that, then big changes can happen. Because then it feels possible. And I think that’s the big thing, it’s how does the small action connect to a felt sense of what it could be like, and that sense of empowerment with, that then has an impact on our imaginaries? To be able to conceive of a bigger system and a bigger system that is connected to those specific ways of living. So I think starting small is one of the ways in which we can do that.
Manda: And then, Della, have you got a response to a response? But have you got anything else that you wanted to say? Because I think that this has taken us in a really generative conversation. So just there.
Della : Well, what I was going to share was knowing where we’re headed, in your question of theory of change, I think it feels natural coming after the upstream question. Because you’re right, Manda, that when you go upstream and you get this root cause understanding you can’t just stay there. You have to then go back downstream and enact the changes that Nathalie is saying. But also Manda, you’re like, how do we actually do this? So I think that’s actually like a natural journey.
Manda: Shall I ask my question now then? I’ll ask you first.
Della : Yeah, yeah. Go ahead and ask your question. I think they’re connected.
Manda: Because you’re segueing into it. Alrighty. So the question that I’ve evolved quite recently on my podcast, just because I think asking questions is a political act and there are times when this needs to be asked. So my question is how long do you think we’ve got? And what is your theory of change? So Della, let’s come straight back to you with that question.
Della : Great. Yes. So two questions, right. How long do we think we got and then what is my Theory of Change. The first question, I immediately hear Martin Shaw saying, when we claim doom over Earth, when we claim that Earth is doomed, it’s like we’ve walked out of the movie 15 minutes early. And we could weave our grief to something other than that. We could weave it to possibility. And one of the greatest insights from this year on the podcast came from Jenny O’Dell, author of How to Do Nothing and Saving Time. And in that she invited this other way of thinking about time. She exposed to me the ways that we think time is linear and that it’s marching in a particular direction. Like climate change parts per million is just going up and we all see that graph of the exponential curve. There’s so many exponential curves that I have really become aware that I see in my mind. And she gave this invitation to say, you know, let’s say you have a conversation with a friend tomorrow. You could absolutely plan what do I want to say? What is it that feels important? How do I feel going into it? But when you’re in that conversation, anything could happen. That person could be really receptive. They could be resistant. You could come to somewhere else. It could change directions, it could implode, it could connect. Like you have no idea. And so the idea that we think we have a sense of what’s happening, um, but to weave our grief to possibility is to entertain ‘it might not go that way’. And in fact, it could be otherwise. So to be open to uncertainty and to the unexpected. And this also came for me through Charles Eisenstein wrote an essay recently saying, could Israel-Palestine be the fulcrum that turns the whole world towards decolonisation and peace and harmony? And I was like, whoa! Because again, I was seeing a march of progress that was just horrible, right? And like, what if? What would bravery, courage and a total shift in what’s happening look and feel like? So that’s my sense for that question, how long do I think we’ve got, kind of dodging the question in a way.
Della : And then the second question is theory of change. And this is where I want to weave it back to the conversation we were just having. So, this learning from this year around communism and Marxism and revolutionary left theory. And again, I want to just say some gratitude for Breht O’Shea, who you mentioned earlier, and Alyson Escalante, his podcast host. Yeah, this idea of violence and revolutionary left theory.
Della : This has been something that I’ve been working with and the podcast has been working with through our conversations. And one way this has come through is August Nymptz, who we interviewed about the Marxist perspective on elections. He just made clear the connection between the state and capitalism and how if we, in the US particularly, just have two parties, will we ever vote our way to systems change? And unless we change the systemic structure and particularly the state, neoliberal capitalism will continue to erode the gains that we think we’ve won. Such as reproductive health care for, you know, like Roe v Wade in the United States, but also for what’s happening where you are Manda, in the UK. The eroding of your health care, the NHS system. So it’s like we could have these wins, but if there isn’t a change on that systemic state level, these wins will not be codified into something more secure. So that’s why revolutionary left theory has been helpful.
Della : And really seeing Electoralism or even the new economy movement such as co-ops and things like that as not enough for the systemic change needed. So I think that’s part of it. And then in terms of the violence question and really that conversation with Breht O’Shea is still working on me. But the kind of insider thought there is the violence that the planet is feeling and oppressed peoples in the global South, and also people of colour, women as well, that is violence. So just seeing that structural violence as violence, and what does self-defence mean and look like? And how do we do it in more of an aikido way? Or a calling people in versus calling people out? But I do think this transition to a post-capitalist future is going to take a lot more exercising of self and peer accountability, and that doesn’t necessarily need to be forced, but sometimes it can be. So that’s where I come when I think about that question. Is we will have our nos, but as Gopaldi and anyone said to me, it’s not just holding actions or nos, there’s also a need for a pushing back, a changing. It’s not just a static no, a passive no. It’s a pushing. So that’s a that’s a part of the theory of change that I’m working with lately. So I’ll see if either of you want to add anything. And then of course, Nathalie, we’d love to hear your thoughts. How long do we have? And what is your theory of change you’re working with?
Della : So when I heard you ask the question earlier, Manda in a podcast with the lady who does the Roundtree.
Manda: Sophia Parker.
Nathalie: A very compelling conversation. When I heard you ask that question, I was walking down my corridor and out loud said to myself, how much time do we have for what? And it was a sense of, ah, for what? And it could be how much time do we have, the first place my mind goes is until we’re dead. And it’s like, okay, no, but wait, hold on. Is that as imaginative as I can get? And I didn’t come to an answer because I thought there were so many questions held within the question. And there is something about possibility and about, Della, you also mentioned, you know, the holding space for something different to happen. Like the Israel-Palestine conflict, which is horrific and one of a number of awful and horrific experiences that people have experienced ever since our species has been alive, I’m sure. I mean, it’s part of our being alive, although hopefully we can evolve beyond it. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but let’s see. But the point that I was coming to when I was thinking about time for what? There’s two things, really that I want to point to. One of them was something that really struck me in a conversation between Jo Confino and Brother Pháp Hũu, who is the abbot of Plum Village, Zen abbot. I’ll mention that first they run a podcast called The Way Out is In, and they were interviewing Joanna Macy.
Nathalie: That’s one thing I wanted to say. The other one was about something else, about presence in small ways. So I’ll come back to that. But the thing that really struck me on this podcast, as I was walking through on a very sunny afternoon in my neighbourhood. And coming into a square, and I was watching kids playing, as people do in Spain, it was bright and sunny, kids playing, parents having a cheeky beer, some tapas, a nice sense of vitality and life. And as I walk into the square, I’m listening to Joanna saying something along the lines of imagine that you were, and again this is within the Buddhist cosmology, imagine that you were somewhere in the cosmos, consciousness, knowing that the earth and its peoples human kin. I’m paraphrasing here, but knowing that the Earth was going through this extraordinary time of transition. And you don’t know if you’re going to be the midwives for birth of something new or the Doulas of a death. And I was thinking, well. As someone who does not want to have my own children, I don’t like the idea of giving birth and being pregnant, it terrifies me. And also, there’s other ways I want to be creative. But as someone who’s seen other people go through that initiation in and of itself, life and death are dancing together at this knife edge.
Nathalie: And she was describing this, and I was thinking about all of the things that are happening in the world and the sense of contraction. It’s like a labour and the contractions are painful and there is bloodshed and there is horror and there is pain, and there’s also potentially room for initiation. And we don’t yet know how this is going to unfold. And I don’t want to say resolve, because that feels very final. And I don’t think it is final. It’s more like a flow than a hard stop. But she was saying, you know, if you knew that this planet was in transition, wouldn’t you want to come back and bear witness to and be present with this moment in time and with those who need your help? And she wasn’t saying it from the Christian saviour archetypal ‘I’m going to come in here and do it my way’. It was more a sense of ‘let me be with you together. Let’s bear witness and be present’. And I shed tears literally walking into the square, seeing life as it was and hearing her say that. And I thought, God, we just don’t know. We don’t know. And that really went to my heart. And then in a small way, this came up recently when I had what I was expecting to be quite a fraught conversation, a negotiation.
Nathalie: And I went to this meeting and before I left the house, I caught myself and I turned to my partner and I said, you know what? Just imagine if this goes so much better than we could possibly have hoped for. If it’s completely surprising, if it entirely undoes any assumptions, what if something amazing happened and we don’t know what it’s going to be? And so I held that in my mind, and I was like, we’re going to stand here and we’re going to just think into that, and we’re just going to go and see what happens. And I don’t like negotiations. I go in quite defensive. That’s kind of, I guess, a relic of how I’ve been raised. And we went and the conversation was extraordinary and unexpected, and new connections were made in the most remarkable ways within the first few sentences. And this was like a financial negotiation! We were talking about regenerative agriculture. We were talking about retreats up in the mountain. I was like, how?
Manda: Different energy.
Nathalie: Yeah, totally different energy. And so to the point around systems change or theory of change. I’m always mindful and I do have this schism within me and it’s an interesting kind of dynamic to dance between, because it’s quite tense at times. On the one hand, I have the lived experience of what it is when you show up to something with a different quality of presence, knowing that you could be entirely surprised by something extraordinary. And at the same time, I know that horrors happen. Sometimes they’re completely arbitrary, non-personal. And this is also the nature of the reality in which we exist. And so it’s kind of holding those things together. But I think the theory of change that I’ve most been struck by this year when I’ve interviewed, and this will come out in the new season of the podcast. People like Patricia Miguel Viveros, who’s working in Mexico with women who’ve who’ve experienced extraordinary traumas, and she’s dancing them back into relationship with their bodies and with nature. Extraordinary work. Or people like Michael Schumann, who in the States is talking all about local economies. He’s managed to change laws to help people to crowdfund local Start-Ups. Or people like Darcia Narvaez, who talks about the evolved nest. So neurobiologically the impacts of creating cultures that support children, that you see much more present in global southern countries and cultures. So there’s there’s all these pockets and theories of change that together create a constellated effect of what we can do when we bring our hearts and minds together. Um, and so I am hopeful. I am hopeful.
Della : And Manda before you began, one thing that Natalie mentioned that, that brought something up in me from your podcast with Sophia, is the Meg Wheatley two loop theory, right? The idea of the midwife or the person laying something to rest. And whether that’s separate or both-and. So I don’t know, Manda if you could just share that, since that was part of your conversation that resonated with something that Natalie was saying.
Manda: Well if was resonating with you, you share it. Go with it, stay with it. It’s fine. Go.
Della : Yes. So in your conversation with Sophia, she brought up Meg Wheatley and two loop theory, which is this idea that instead of is the system dying or is something being born? She framed it as both loops are happening simultaneously at the same time. So just two realities present in the same time.
Manda: Yeah. Because that’s the point of the question. Is how long do you think we’ve got, and to what is not defined. That’s why I asked that question. What’s really interesting is where that takes people. Because we do live in this moment that is exactly a death and a birth. The earth, you know, people talk about saving the earth, and everybody says the earth will continue. We may achieve the extinction of 95% of all life if we really work at it and we’re doing quite well at the moment. And it’s not going to be the the hairless pink bipeds that keep going. It’ll be, you know, the amoebas in the bottom of the Marianas Trench that take over and some of the life in the soil and things like that. But, you know, the earth will keep going. Something will evolve. But I keep coming back to we’re in a complex system, not a complicated one. And Robin Wall Kimmerer has a beautiful quote, and I can’t remember the exact detail, but it’s something like time is not a straight line, time is a drop in a pool, and the ripples are moving out and we have no idea moment to moment. I think one of the great harms of the schism that I was talking about is that we got locked into linear cause and effect, even when the linear cause and effect was I offend the psychopath God, and the psychopath God smites me, it’s still a linear cause and effect.
Manda: Whereas when we are connected to the web of life, all we need to do is ask, what do you want of me? And let the broader web worry about the cause and effect, and I just do what I’m asked to do to the best of my ability. I show up and I am what only I can be in the best way that I can be. And that’s all that is required of me. And it removes a huge amount of responsibility of I have to work out why I’m doing this and where it’s going, because you can’t know. Exactly as Della said, you have no way. You can plan as much as you like. I was talking to someone who runs a business podcast, a beautiful woman called Julia Sherbakov. And she said, you know, the thing everybody in business knows is that the moment you finish your business plan, it’s obsolete. Even if it was not fiction to start with. And largely it is fiction. And yet everybody does it and everybody pretends it’s not fiction. But that’s not the way the world is. Why have you got your five year plan? There is no chance at all, even if we weren’t heading for a meta crisis, that five years from now everything will be in stasis. As Breht said and all of the Buddhists that you guys have talked to have said, change is the only constant. And we live in a complex system. Unpredictability is a given and we don’t know what happens.
Manda: I had a conversation with Indy Johar that just touched me so deeply on so many levels, and he was talking about Inter becoming at the emergent edge. To step beyond interbeing, of consciously stepping to the very edge of our system and creating newness and not knowing. I was at lunch today with a couple of friends who I love dearly, and we were having exactly this conversation, and I was realising, even with people that I engage with a lot: how do we step beyond the ‘But what happens if x?’ No x is in the old system, Let’s assume that x isn’t a thing anymore. What happens if we give a building autonomy, and then it interacts as an autonomous being with the community around it? What happens? We don’t know. But it’s going to be different than a building being a block of stuff that is basically a rent seeking system that takes money out of people and pushes it to the people who don’t need it. We don’t know. So I think the unknowing, for me. My theory of change is we don’t know. But I think what we can know is what are the values that underpin a future that we would be proud to have left behind? And they are compassion, all the things that you guys have talked about; connectedness, being of the ocean, not in the ocean; being heart open, being vulnerable, being prepared to risk vulnerability in strange situations without the guarantee that it won’t be weaponized and turned against us.
Manda: Because we do live in a system that has learned how to weaponize other people’s vulnerabilities very well. And it’s very painful. But how can we take that risk again and again? Because in that risking, I loved Nathalie, what you said about when people come to your evenings and events and somebody shares something that is breaking their heart, and then everybody knows that it’s okay to share that, and it’s okay to be heartbroken. And if the grief is balanced with love, I think then it’s okay to grieve, because there is a return path. I was working a little bit with Sophie Banks on trauma becomes locked in our bodies if we don’t have a return path to a sense of connectedness and connection to each other and ourselves in the web of life. And if we can give each other these little micro return paths, then the trauma that is otherwise damaging becomes a learning experience. And we can flow with it. So that’s my theory of change: show up, be vulnerable, be connected. Don’t expect that we know everything, but be prepared to be the living edge of the inter becoming emergent change and then dance with whatever happens. Because time is not linear. Exactly as you said. So does anybody have anything that they want to say with that? Or shall we move on?
Nathalie: That’s a wonderful place to land I think.
Manda: You’re looking thoughtful.
Nathalie: No, just enjoying you. Enjoying this.
Manda: I’m enjoying all of you. So. Okay, we had our other question, which was what do you bring as gifts to the table? So, Della, it’s a while since you spoke. What do you bring as gifts to our traditional table now?
Della : One gift. Bayo Akomolafe said, what if this were not the time of enlightenment, but a time of endarkenment? So I wanted to bring that phrase in ‘Endarkenment’ particularly for you Manda. I thought you’d love that phrase. We’re heading into the dark nights and whether that’s literally for those of us in the northern hemisphere and the December solstice being the darkest, or more of a metaphorical endarkenment. What would it mean to, as we’re all sharing, to tap into the world’s pain and to do that together. You don’t have to do that work alone. You can be in ritual or ceremony or in sacred space to do that. But I do think our work that reconnects, or our grief rituals, really will serve us in this time and can allow us to move. To transform our grief, anger, sadness and despair into inspired, collaborative action. So a time of Endarkenment is one offering coming again from Bioaccumulate. I want to say the quote that I shared earlier, but correctly attribute it. So it’s actually Ariah Mountain Dreamer from a beautiful poem called The Invitation. And the quote is, ‘I want to know if you can see the beauty even when it’s not pretty. Every day I want to know if you can see the beauty and source your life from its presence’. So that would be the offering, particularly for you, Nathalie, who brought in beauty many times through your shares. So may we all tap into beauty, wherever we find it, wherever we can presence it.
Della : Then the other kind of gift for the next year in the California or the doughnut economics model has been another kind of theory of change, in terms of changing the goal of the system. Kate Raworth and the doughnut economics team are really doing this work all over the world. And this past year, I’ve gotten a real strong yes and encouragement from the universe to bring the doughnut more into form. And so myself and a few other volunteers collective, we founded the California Doughnut Economics Coalition, and we just got a large grant that, to be really honest, we didn’t even seek out. It really came to us. I mean, this is the universe saying, yes, continue this work. This feels good and important. So in the next year, we’re doing the work to become a non-profit, actually a worker self directed non-profit, you know, using sociocracy, pay equality, things like that, but also hiring for many positions, so offering many different plans for different people’s livelihood gardens. So I feel very grateful to have gotten to do that work with this group and do this work very slowly and intentionally, really living in alignment with the new economy principles and practices and then giving that gift in 2024. You know, to California but of course, as part of a larger movement to really change the goal of our economic systems to well-being for people on the planet. So that’s another gift for this year.
Manda: Gosh. Thank you. Yay, profusion of gifts.
Nathalie: It’s a stocking filler. You got like all of these amazing things.
Manda: So Natalie, what would you bring to the table?
Nathalie: So a few things. One thing that was so enriching for me this year that I think would be amazing for people to check out if they want to, is the Planet Local Summit, run in collaboration with Local Futures, which was established by Helena Norberg-hodge. Check out those different projects. Absolutely extraordinary. And I think the videos from the summit are now on YouTube. So if you feel even remotely interested, people like Bayo Akomolafe, Michael Shuman, Garcia, they were all there. Jeremy Lent was there, actually Charles Eisenstein, Rupert Read, Iain Mcgilchrist, Ros Watts. I mean, it was a who’s who of extraordinary people and a lot of unsung heroes as well, who were there with generosity and, you know, vim and vigour. So definitely check those out. The other thing that I think that I mentioned earlier, that had a big impact on me was this interview. So The Way Out Is In podcast and the episode was number 12. It was Grief and Joy on a planet in crisis; Joanna Macy on The Best Time to Be Alive. So check that out. And then when I was spending more time in London two years ago, up until present day, I set up kind of a friends salon called Flourishing Futures Salon, which is just an intimate, curated dinner of about eight people in a house. And it’s become something which has increasingly been like tapping me on the shoulder. So anyway, I’ve decided to take it live and make it available to more folks, and it explores what it means to flourish in a time of turbulence and change, and aims to bring people from different disciplines together physically, in a room, in a gastronomical gathering over great wine, to dialogue in a facilitated, robust and hopefully life affirming way. So if that strikes your fancy, that’s ffsalons.com. Yeah, those are my gifts for this year. Manda how about you? What are your gifts?
Manda: Well I, at some point very soon I’m going to send you both a copy of the book. Probably an unbound book proof, an advanced reading copy. Definitely. I had hoped to have it by now. I was going to hold one up and go look, book! But not quite yet. And similar to della, I wanted to offer you, because we are all in the Northern hemisphere, and actually the Longest Sun is an important solstice too, and people in the southern hemisphere are doing that. And I have a recording that I made at our summer solstice, so people listening are in the southern hemisphere. I can send a link to you guys, you can put it on your various things, because it feels to me really important, really important that as we connect to the web of life, that we connect to the land that we’re on. So I wanted to give for you guys, I wanted to light you a virtual fire for you to sit with at the darkest night. Because part of the ritual of sitting with a flame as the nights are darkest, goes back beyond time immemorial. It goes back to the point where we learned how to sit with a flame, and possibly even before that. The the passage tombs in Ireland, one of the virtual things I would love to give you guys, is the chance to go into the passage tomb.
Manda: Have either of you been? No? Pre Palaeolithic I think. Certainly many thousands of years ago these stone structures were built that are still watertight. In Ireland. And it’s a bit like an igloo except you go in quite a long tunnel and then there’s the dome and it has a light box that is oriented to the rising of the winter solstice sun. And for three days either side of the winter solstice, provided it’s not cloudy, the light, they replicate it because it’s booked up for about 30 years in advance for people. It takes six people in there. But they replicate it and the light comes across and it starts like it’s a hair line of light and it gradually gets wider, and then it goes away again to be a hairline. And you’re in a womb like structure. You’re in absolute darkness with the stone all around you and the earth beneath. And then this light comes in and broadens and narrows again. And it’s even when you know it’s electric light and it’s not anywhere near the winter solstice, it’s an extraordinary and moving and visceral experience of connectedness to the earth and the fire and to everything that matters. So I wanted to give you that sense and a little lit fire.
Manda: And as you were talking…I did a podcast recently with a gentleman called Hugo Spowers, who has set up a company called Riversimple Movement, and they’re making hydrogen cell cars. They want to make personal transport not involve rare earths and and certainly not fossil fuels. However, for me, the most exciting thing that he’s done and I’m thinking of Della and your things that you’re setting up. He set up the future Guardian governance model. Is this something that you both know about?
Nathalie: I’ve heard of it.
Manda: So they have investors and they’re very keen to have lots more investors, if any of you know anyone who’d like to invest in personal transport in ways that isn’t going to kill things, send them that way. But the investors have no voting power. Instead, there is a board that is consisted of six incorporated companies, each of which has one member and one is for the investors and one speaks for the workers, and one speaks for the supply chain. So now their supply chain is all working on how can we produce, say, the catalytic converter for the hydrogen cell in a way that we take it back and we recharge it and we send it back to you, rather than we want you to use it and throw it away. One speaks for the local community and one speaks for the environment, local and global.
Manda: And in the book, when I’ve stolen this and imported it wholesale and credited them, I’ve also created a seventh one that speaks for the generations yet unborn. And each of those. So the investors do still have a say, but they’re one voice in 6 or 7 and it completely transforms. And I wake up sometimes and I think imagine if every company on the planet incorporated like that tomorrow, which they could do. Imagine being a worker in a company where you know that you have someone who speaks for you on the board, and you have the right of recall. If that person is not actually representing what you need them to do, you bring them back and you send someone else. And the local environment and the local community and the supply chain and the customers. I think it would transform everything. So I just wanted to offer the understanding of that. It exists and it’s happening and it’s another model of how do we change the world that we live in in a practical way. So I offer that to. So thank you. Thank you guys. I think we’re heading towards the end. And actually it didn’t go on as long as I thought. Are their closing things that either of you want to say or even other questions that you want to ask? Natalie, what’s arising for you?
Nathalie: I’m just really grateful that we get to have this chat, you know, together once a year. Learn things, share things, open up, and make visible some of the the areas that are beautiful and joyful and there’s change. It’s very easy to get trampled into a sense of helplessness. And I think part of the potential of this moment, which is huge, is to keep shining a light on all of those things that are extraordinary, that can open up new possibilities. So that’s where I am right now in our conversation. And just massive thanks to you both for being here and talking so generously. It’s just wonderful. It’s a gift.
Manda: Thank you. And Della. What’s arising for you?
Della : Yeah, I’m returning to the to the wave metaphor and. And something Natalie brought up around it felt like diversity and unity, you know, or soul and spirit, where we have a lot of shared views and even shared guests. Like I saw Max Aisle, on your podcast Manda, on the green transition. And Nathalie, we got to interview Brett Scott as well. And then a lot of folks that you mentioned in the Planet Local Summit, we both have gotten to speak with. And of course, Joanna macy being such a mentor and guide. And so that that kind of unity and yet diversity in terms of what are the questions that are alive for each of us? What are the insights that have impacted us? Where we are in the world, like our experience, our locations. I’m just appreciating the diversity and unity of each of us and where we are in the world and feeling gratitude for that. And I think, yeah, that in the metaphor of the ocean, it’d be like the wave is the expression of the individuality, the uniqueness, maybe the soul. But when you go under the water and I’m reminded and you even brought this up, you went under the water, you took us to the rocks which you said were love. When I go under the water scuba diving or snorkelling, there’s such a peace, there’s a presence, there’s a calmness, no matter how choppy and wavy things are above. And so yeah, just returning again to that resting and presence and radiating love and could be in conversation with you both and sitting around the fire together, metaphorical, virtual, etc. for a long time. So wishing you well on the solstice and beyond and all of your listeners, all of everyone listening. May this conversation be of benefit to the web of life.
Nathalie: Here here!
Manda: Yay! Thank you, thank you. And the one thing I wanted to give you both that I didn’t include there was puppy breath. Puppy breath is the best scent. It’s just magic. And if you could bottle it and give it to everybody, the world would be peaceful within minutes. So I’m just sending you puppy breath as well, because it’s very special and it doesn’t last very long. And it’s just grand. So there we go.
Manda: And that’s it for another week and for this year’s three way conversation around the fire. There’s a meditation, which we did separately, which will follow on from this. So if you’re driving or operating heavy machinery or any of those things, please wait and listen to it when you have time for yourself. When you can switch off all the lights, light a candle if you want to, and sit with the dark of the dark nights and that sense of reflectiveness and going inwards. Because, as Nathalie said, the way out is in. And we have a link to that podcast too in the show notes. So huge thanks to Nathalie and Della for another regenerative, regenerating, inspiring, thought provoking and heartwarming conversation. I so enjoy the chance to catch up with people who really get it, where we can share ideas and explore where they lead to. Say the things that we don’t get to say in our other podcasts and just hang out.
Manda: It’s fun. And in the few hours since we recorded that, I now have a link for the book Any Human Power, the novel that I had been talking about in this podcast since the summer solstice of 2021. So two and a half years. I will put that link also in the show notes. It’s due for release 16th of May next year, but you can pre-order it and the link tree takes you to various places. So head off and find that too.
Manda: And that apart, we will be back next week with another conversation. Huge thanks this week to Caro C, not only for the music at the head and foot, but also for the production. Thanks to Anne Thomas for the transcripts. Thanks to Faith Tilleray for the website and all of the conversations that keep us moving forward. And as ever, an enormous thanks to you for joining us around our solstice fire. And if you know of anybody else who wants to reflect on the way the year has gone and look ahead to the way the year could be. Send them this link and remind them about Dreaming Your Year Awake on the 7th of January. And that’s it for now. See you next week. Thank you and goodbye.
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