Bake the Damn Cake: Owning Up to and Mitigating Our Traditions’ Trauma Histories by Chris Ash

Christy at the beach

“We have learned that trauma is not just an event
that took place sometime in the past;
it is also the imprint left by that experience
on mind, brain, and body.
This imprint has ongoing consequences
for how the human organism
manages to survive in the present.”
— Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

While I’m not a trauma therapist, I work in a field in which I regularly support people who have experienced trauma. Sometimes I’m accompanying a recent survivor of assault at the emergency room for a rape kit, speaking warmly, offering compassion, providing distraction. Other times, I’m holding space over the phone while a fifty-something year old survivor tearfully discloses, for the first time in her life, the things done to her during childhood. Recent or old, those experiences shape us and our responses to them, even those that might not serve our health, are efforts to protect ourselves, to avoid pain, and to seek an elusive sense of safety.

“Trauma isn’t what happened to us.
Trauma is what happened inside us as a result of what happened to us.”
— Gabor Mate, in his presentation “Addressing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Trauma”
during the Healing Trauma Summit

Our attempts to resolve trauma, to escape it, may be labeled dysfunctional and may not, ultimately, serve our highest good. They are, however, the actions of someone who wants to feel secure, who wants to feel loved.

My desire to understand trauma and trauma recovery serves my professional development as well as my personal journey, and learning more about the how trauma relates to the body has proven helpful in both of these areas of my life. I’m not a mental health clinician — I’m a crisis advocate and consent educator. But the process, as I understand it, is something like this: Continue reading “Bake the Damn Cake: Owning Up to and Mitigating Our Traditions’ Trauma Histories by Chris Ash”

The Whence of the Isms of (the) U(nited)S(tates)… by Marcia Mount Shoop

Thus, when enemies or friends
Are seen to act improperly,
Be calm and call to mind
That everything arises from conditions.
-Shantideva, Bodhicharyāvatāra

Marcia headshotThe early Indian teacher, Shantideva, calls humanity to a deeper exploration of the people and situations we encounter. While it may sound simple, his invitation can be very difficult for American mentalities. He is asking us to look at something more complicated than the individual who acts; he is pointing us toward the causes and conditions that give rise to every person, to every situation, to every moment. Continue reading “The Whence of the Isms of (the) U(nited)S(tates)… by Marcia Mount Shoop”

The Danger of the Patriarchal Domination Mindset: Can We Do Anything About It? by Thea Iberall

The Danger of the Patriarchal Domination Mindset: Can We Do Anything About It? By Thea Iberall The Swallow and the Nightingale

At the confluence of misogyny, prejudice, homophobia, religious intolerance, environmental destruction, and violence is the patriarchy. We all know this and talk about it here from our own perspectives. I come as a scientist and writer. I have a love of history and science as well as a skill at simplifying complicated things. I abhor what some people are doing to our planet and the arrogance with which they do it. Unfortunately, because we want the stuff they are manufacturing, because there are too many of us, and because we are letting them do it, they do it with our blessings. I want to help change this situation with a novel I’ve been working on for almost 15 years.

In the year 2000, I sat in a dinghy in the caldera of the active underwater volcano at Santorini helping my geologist sister count the bubbles coming from below us. The experiment was part of my father’s research into the origins of life. I had had the seed for a novel thirteen years earlier when I heard Mimi Fariña sing The Swallow Song, talking with her about her deceased husband Richard Fariña and how lost his music has become. I began developing ideas, learning about the nightingale connection and discovering a 12th century Sufi master’s epic allegory about god. Sitting in that dinghy, everything coalesced: the story of how western civilization went off course. My book of contextual poems, The Sanctuary of Artemis, explores the roots of Western patriarchal culture and tells some of it. The novel would have a backdrop of a world collapsing as ornithologist Dr. Deborah Wright is unwittingly guided by the Sufi to figure out why the Capistrano swallows are dying. It would include an underlying history of an egalitarian world lost when this volcano erupted in 1628 BC. Richard Farina’s song would be playing throughout the pages.  Continue reading “The Danger of the Patriarchal Domination Mindset: Can We Do Anything About It? by Thea Iberall”

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