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TL:CCA Transformative Learning: Centre for Community Activism

4th Spirit Matters Gathering - Honouring Indigenous Worlds

August 24-26, 2012     OISE, University of Toronto
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Honoring Indigenous Worlds: Visionary Learning Under the Fifth Sun
Fourth Spirit Matters Gathering

Sponsored by the Transformative Learning Centre
In Collaboration With
The Indigenous Education Network



In this pivotal year [1] a 4th Spirit Matters gathering builds on those previous. In 2004, wisdom leaders from many traditions met in councils and dialogue circles to talk about humans reconnecting with the Earth in the Great Work. In 2007, leaders and elders from many peoples met as One Earth Community; Sharing our Stories. Twenty-eight elders, educators and youth from the Americas, Africa and Ireland, traveled the sacred sites of that island together in 2008. They did ceremonies and spoke together deeply in circle around healing colonization and rekindling indigenous spirit intergenerationally. In the years since that there have been multiple youth-elder circles with peoples from all four directions meeting in and around Toronto. By 2010, the 3rd Spirit Matters explored the theme Hearing and Listening: Youth and Elders in the Web of Life with more music, art and interconnected activism than ever before.

The Mayan Prophecy of the Fifth Sun

During the first decade of the Twentieth First Century there has been an increased apocalyptic speculation that the world will come to an end in 2012. These doomsday prophecies are frequently attributed to a calendar known as the Mayan Calendar. Contemporary Mayan People take serious issue with the speculations that their Mayan Calendar spells the end of the world on December 22, 2012. Carlos Barrios is a Mayan elder and Ajq'ij (ceremonial priest and spiritual guide) of the Eagle Clan who explored the different Mayan calendars with nearly 600 traditional Mayan elders.

 He says:

 "Anthropologists visit the temple sites and read the inscriptions and make up stories about the Maya, but they do not read the signs correctly. It's just their imagination. Other people write about prophecy in the name of the Maya. They say that the world will end in December 21, 2012. The Mayan elders are angry with this. The world will not end. It will be transformed."

 In the Mayan Calendar there is discussion of different Suns in an interstellar context. It is to be noted that the Mayan Calendar’s comprehension of time, seasons, and cycles has proven itself to be vast and highly sophisticated. Carlos Barrios maintains that;

"We are no longer in the World of the Fourth Sun, but we are not yet in the World of the Fifth Sun. This is the time in-between, the time of transition. As we pass through transition there is a colossal, global convergence of environmental destruction, social chaos, war, and ongoing Earth Changes.”

He continues: "Humanity will continue, but in a different way. Material structures will change. From this we will have the opportunity to be more human. We are living in the most important era of the Mayan calendars and prophecies. All the prophecies of the world, all the traditions are converging now. There is no time for games. The spiritual ideal of this era is action."

At sunrise on December 21, 2012 for the first time in 26,000 years the Sun rises to cross the galactic equator with the Earth aligning itself with the center of our galaxy, at the intersection of the Milky Way and the plane of the ecliptic. This cosmic cross is considered to be an embodiment of the Sacred Tree, The Tree of Life, a tree remembered in all the world's spiritual traditions.

In reflecting on our present historical transition Carlos Barrios ponders:

"Just now the dark side is very strong, and very clear about what they want. They have their vision and their priorities clearly held, and also their hierarchy. They are working in many ways so that we will be unable to connect with the spiral Fifth World in 2012. The dark power of the declining Fourth World cannot be destroyed or overpowered. It's too strong and clear for that, and that is the wrong strategy. The dark can only be transformed when confronted with simplicity and open-heartedness. This is what leads to unity, a key concept for the World of the Fifth Sun.” Human beings need to come together in support of life and light.


Finding Your Heart: Exploring The Depths of Indigenous Wisdoms for Guidance

Several years ago the Mohawk Elder Diane Longboat gave a teaching at the Transformative Learning Centre where she said that the importance of Indigenous Wisdoms will become crucial in the visionary
transformative work of the 21st Century with the advent of the Fifth Sun. At this crucial time, indigenous leaders were open to sharing their knowledge with peoples of all four directions. It is fundamentally important that we come to appreciate and honor indigenous worlds for the Earth-based wisdoms that they continue to hold in spite of the deep orders of degradations visited on them as a result of western cultural arrogance. What Barrios emphasizes is that no one tradition or knowledge base holds the answer for what will guide us through this transition. He says; “It is not important what tradition, your heart will tell you, but it must have great roots."

The Great Roots we explore together in this fourth Spirit Matters are from “soil, soul and society”[2] around the planet.  The 4th Spirit Matters gathering is the harvesting of wisdoms from the last decade of our deepening relationships with indigenous peoples and with our own indigeneity as members of Earth community. In focusing on those who have kept sacred, the awareness, knowledge, practices and values that preserve life and light as Earth beings, we prepare for the Fifth Sun.

Awareness from the primal to evolving human consciousness (and the healing of dissociated consciousness necessary for that movement) will be fostered experientially and not just discussed in this particular gathering. Knowledge leaders and young co-creators from many indigenous peoples will speak, sing, paint, dance and share what they know in multi-modal ways. Practices to prepare us as elders, to give us courage and to keep us balanced, healthy and connected in social action are core to this gathering. Circles that foster warm presence, equity, speaking from the heart, and respect will continue to be our main way of meeting. In previous Spirit Matters gatherings, this has led to all of us working as an integral group. In the same way that the consciousness of individuals is an emergent phenomena from the co-ordination of activities of millions of sensitive cells in the body, we consider the "organ" of consciousness for an integral group to be co-ordinated combined consciousness of their members, in all its co-creative power. There will be quiet sacred spaces and room for Spirit in how we talk, eat and play together. Respect for the Earth and all our relations, and other core indigenous values of gratitude, affection, truthfulness, and reciprocity will guide all aspects of our process.

[1] 2012, in the prophecies of the Mayans and other indigenous people, is a transitional time when old structures and ways will fall apart and a transformed human cultural story will emerge under a new astronomical configuration, the era of the Fifth Sun.

[2] Soil, Soul and Society are what Satish Kumar in an earlier Spirit Matters gathering as the new trinity for the transformative era.


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