Cultural Butterfly

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The “empire” colonial culture is dying. We’re in liminal space.

I’ve also been dying on the inner level. It’s time for a new way.


For a long time I have felt like I was dying at a deep inner level. I’ve been wondering, “Am I complete here for this lifetime? Is it time for me to go on?” I keep feeling deep tears that I can’t cry, along with some strong internal shaking and “wiggling” to the extent that sometimes I can’t function normally.


This experience has been interspersed with times of feeling very much alive and well, deep joy, inspired, and engaged, along with times of just feeling “flat” with zero energy or motivation. I experience these very different states back and forth, and sometimes simultaneously. That can be confusing and challenging, and that’s normal, natural, and necessary as part of a transition/transformation process.


Over the past 20+ years I’ve faced and navigated this kind of existential life-and-death question and experience several other times. I’m not afraid of it, just more curious, staying present with it, and not trying to “fix” it.


My sense is that I’m feeling deep grief for all the ways that I, and all of us, have been out of integrity and alignment with the Earth and all the other beings. For 6,000 years, we have all been living an “empire” colonial cultural paradigm of “compete, conquer, control, and dominate”. That culture destroys instead of nourishes life.


I know now that my inner “empire” colonial culture paradigm is dying. That’s the good news because it’s way past time for it to die! In fact, looking back, I have been deeply “ill at ease” all my life with living in a world with this paradigm, in spite of (or actually because of) being in an environment with many privileges.


This clarity helps immensely! It gives me new purpose for gratefully staying in this body and being in service by going through this transformational process with as much consciousness and integrity as I can. I believe this is part of my soul’s mission or agenda for this lifetime.


However, I can tell you that this dying process is not easy! It’s hugely uncomfortable, to say the least. The body and ego-mind have sometimes gone into fear as they feel the loss of the old structures, their “known world”, even though those old structures weren’t healthy, life-enhancing or allowing for my real thriving. That doesn’t matter. The body-mind system reacts to the loss of “certainty”, the “known world”.


The huge uncertainties accompanying these losses can give the body and ego-mind some strong desires and can trigger a scrambling for the “certainty” of something, anything, the known”, just in order to try to survive, even if those “certainties” are not really healthy or life-giving. It helps me to keep remembering what’s actually dying here.


Although I’m describing my personal experience, you’ve probably noticed that we’re all going through the same process on a collective level as well, right?


My personal process has been prompted by the strong “calling” I’ve felt as part of moving into my new home last year. This includes being in right relationship with the land based on the indigenous wisdom of our relationship with the Earth, as well as some form of regenerative farming/gardening (e.g. permaculture).


I finally realize that I can’t put this new “calling” on top of, or into, my old colonial “Pusher/Striver/Driver” mindset. Trying to create new life from that extractive, consumptive, controlling paradigm isn’t possible, which means letting my inner “infrastructure” of beliefs die.


I’m being called to let go of the illusion that I can grab on to another dream, a “call”, and pursue it like I’ve done before using the same old paradigm of pushing, striving, and driving and not really transforming the consciousness from which I’m functioning. Another illusion down the tubes!


And I’ll tell you, leaving what feels like the safety and security of the collective consciousness paradigm can be scary! It brings up our deep-seated fears of not surviving if we’re isolated or exiled from the “tribe.”

It takes no small amount courage to go through this passage, and yet the pain and deadness of not doing it is even worse. The more I see and face this passage and the more I own my participation in it, the more I feel centered, grounded, alive, and real. To me, this is a rite of passage, an initiation into fuller human “beingness” in right relationship with the Earth and all other beings.


The world is looking like increasing chaos, confusion, uncertainty, and worse. However, as we leave the paradigm we’ve known for so many years, instead of framing it as trying to “manage uncertainty or chaos”, let’s reframe it differently in order to be in authentic power and right relationship with ourselves and our world.


I appreciate the way Martin Shaw says it in Navigating The Mysteries:

“What if we reframed “living with uncertainty” to “navigating mystery”? Navigating mystery humbles us, reminds us with every step that we don’t know everything, are not, in fact, the masters of all. We have to set out into those mysteries, even with the uncertainty. Especially with the uncertainty . . .”


This is a chance for all of us to let go of our collective beliefs and illusions that we can have certainty and that we “should” have certainty based on our external actions and “control.”


In my experience, being in liminal space makes this letting go more possible. Father Richard Rohr, Founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation says:

"Liminal spaces are...where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That's a good space where genuine newness can begin. Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible…This is the sacred space where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed. If we don't encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy." (From May 18, 2022 Modern Elder Academy Wisdom Well post Liminality, Lineage, and Legacy”).


So I’ve been wondering several things.

How do I (and we, collectively) honor and make good use of this liminal space and time of mystery in order to:

  • hospice the death of the old paradigm (in myself and in the collective) with clarity and compassion?

  • midwife the birth of the new emerging paradigm (in myself and in the collective) with reverence and gratitude?


The way that brought us here goes no further. All the breakdowns in our world are not just a “speed bump”. It is becoming, and needs to be, a whole new, different way. It’s encouraging for me to remember what Ilya Prigogine, the Nobel Laureate said about coherence:

“When a complex system is far from equilibrium,

small islands of coherence in a sea of chaos

have the capacity to shift

the entire system to a higher order.”


Since each of us is not a “drop in the ocean”, each of us is the ocean in a drop, we each contain all that essence. That means whatever consciousness each one of us has will affect the whole. Inner coherence is a more potent, powerfully creative energy than the fragmented energy of chaos, fear, and confusion. If we are in a group of coherent people with similar intentions, the synergy of “two or more gathered together” amplifies that power.


From my perspective, it’s time for deeper surrender to Spirit/Source, forgiveness, coherence, and right relationships. That’s my journey now. If you’re having any similar thoughts, feelings, experiences, or questions, I’d welcome hearing from you at elaine@culturalbutterflyproject.com.






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