A Council of all Beings in Scarborough, Cape Town

As the Work that Reconnects gathers momentum in the Western Cape of South Africa with the work of various facilitators responding to the imperious calling of our Mother Earth, one of the novel events that happened last year was this Council of All Beings celebrated in Scarborough, a village of the Cape Town municipality that has coined itself “Conservation Village” many years ago. Some “Scarborites” and residents from neighbouring suburbs embodied some of the more-than-human-species that have been inhabiting the area, in natural connectedness, for thousands or millions of years!

Us humans were given the opportunity to experience collective invocations to prepare the Council space for this interspecies experience, one which I believe to be documented for the first time in South Africa, and was facilitated by Joanna Tomkins and Simric Yarrow. Firstly, it involved grounding practices and invocations to prepare the Council space and secondly a short vision quest in nature to receive our individual callings. A couple of Seals and a couple of Ants, Fungi, Tree, Moth, Bee, Millipede and Tortoise asked to be represented. We then put recycled materials to use – some of which were sourced at the SEG recycling depot – into creative masks that would help to embody these Beings and drop out of our proud human masquerade to humbly channel their concerns.

We experienced that when we make a deliberate effort to “become” these Beings the enormity of the “Great Unravelling” – as the Work that Reconnects calls it – feels more real and frightening. Yet, at the same time, to experience our interbeing with more-than-human species with such closeness, and to acknowledge the communality of our feelings with other humans felt like an honour and a true honouring.

We hope to see regular Councils spring up in the country to consolidate these interspecies bridges. Through them we can give voice to the unspoken and the unheard, bringing more consciousness to our lives and creating a positive container for the Great Turning.

After ritualistically relinquishing our Council of All Beings identities, we shared our feelings in a circle as humans once again, listening deeply to each other, more prepared to step back into the harsh reality of the “Great Turning”, as custodians of Gaia.

Hereunder are two reviews we received after the Council. The beautiful pictures were taken by Isabeau Kamil. Thank you.

“Although I was very curious and drawn to the workshop, when I read the description I also felt that it was a little bit outside of my comfort zone, just because it sounded as though it had a theatre element and I am not a natural performer or public speaker. 

The workshop was sensitively and gently facilitated, I do think it helped that the space was neutral and there was a lightheartedness and recognition that people may have felt a little silly at times and that it was totally fine.

I found the experience powerful. I personally got a lot more into this than I expected to, on the one level I enjoyed getting into character and looking at things from the point of view of another being for a change, I found it surprisingly easy and I think it is good for us to expand ourselves at times. I also found that the experience stayed with me and resonated on a spiritual level as well.

I feel that there was an authenticity to this workshop and I really appreciated that it didn’t seem elitist in any way and that the goal was open-ended and felt collective and not purely individual. It definitely flipped a switch where some magic can occur and I feel like this way of looking at things is perfectly timed and very much needed in the world at the moment. 

Definitely eye-opening for me, and I thought that each section led into the next perfectly.”

Zoe Mafham, Participant

The Council of All Beings practice has the power to give valuable perspective and deepen our compassion for the other living beings that we share the planet with.

Stepping out of our own persona, and empathically embodying the experience of another creature allows us to shift out of the modern day human-centered paradigm and deeply understand the impact our actions are having on our wild relatives.

This more direct way of understanding is sorely missing in most mainstream academic education systems. I think the Council of All Beings practice could really help ignite care and heart centered environmental activism.”

Anna Kent, Participant

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