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  • Writer's pictureJaime Howell

My House Stands on Stolen Land

Updated: Jun 24


The Great Turning alive in Aotearoa New Zealand 

by Jaime Howell.



I heard the call to share a story of how the work of the Great Turning is taking root around the planet. My given name is Jaime, I am  a beingness living life in male form, with white skin and the many privileges that come with the packaging. Perhaps my energies have peaked and a journey begun towards the setting sun, I hear it in the song of these grey whiskers and hard earned folds that mark my skin, less answers more love for the questions. I take a rough refuge in the wild beauty that grows from facing darkness, being defeated and yet through the sensitivity of bruises, the hardening of scars, a mysterious something beating stronger, the aspiration despite the challenges of being human to love with clear seeing. 


Recently I wrote a poem, but in reflection I realise the poem is writing me. It is titled “My House Stands on Stolen Land.”  I will share it with you here after sharing something of how it came to be that the Centre for the Great Turning is taking root here in this land of the long white cloud, New Zealand.


I grew up in middle England, the hub of the industrial revolution. The midlands are famed for the iron works, the smelting, the fires that brought into existence the steam engine and a host of other machines that furnished the British empire and the industrial revolution, it is a fitting start. My grandparents seen in a black and white photo carry the marks of a second world war. An un-eldered passageway into a kind of adulthood that lives behind lace curtains, “we dont talk about that kind of thing.” Moving down the line my father is pictured in his early twenties. His eyes gleam of future becomings, perched on the boot of a American Cadillac, this is Wolverhampton England home of the mini not the Cadillac and he is a guitarist in a band and is posturing well to embody the promises of increasing leisure time and economic prosperity arriving in rock’n’ roll of the sixties.


Fast forward a few decades all of them have passed. I look back at this time as mysterious. I cannot say what exactly boarded the plane, but something brought about a leap of existence into the ways of New Zealand, perhaps some kind of juvenile bodhicitta compass knowing towards wholeness?


I was carried in a living myth brought about by Johnathon Livingston Seagull. Fresh faced, as green as the landscape I was about to pedal. On my bike I carried rock climbing shoes, a kite, too many books and a guitar. I did not know it so well, but there is one more thing I am carrying….an awkward, heavy heartache and shame for the brute force and ignorance of my ancestors who in their lusty greed stole from the indigenous Maori people in the name of a twisted image of progress.


Swirl and whizz forward another 28 years. Jaime is 50 years around the sun. A blaze of synchronicities, heart breaks and golden threads. A decade school teaching using Paula Friere's model of empowerment to inspire country kids, then out of  the straight lines of the school system and into the circles around the fire, the stars and stories and poems of ceremony and in the form of a contemporary rites of passage guide and later director. 


Another chapter, another decade finds a life as a  lay monk at a Wangapeka Retreat centre, a humble yet potent meditation centre perched on the hill overlooking green valleys and waterways in top of the South Island NZ. It was here the news of the Great Turning came, first through Joanna’s books,  ‘Worlds as Lover, World as Self,; and later through ‘Thinking like a Mountain,’ and finally into the Work that Reconnects. A process began weaving together threads, an out of the ground dreaming for a curriculum of human wholeness. I created residential retreats predominately for young adults aged 18-40 that ranged from one week to to 3 months, a green dharma vision of helping young folks live a deep in their bones sense of belonging to the living earth. 


With the help of a few supporters we wove together many practices offered in the Work that Reconnects with Open Floor conscious dance, with the rituals and initiations of the rites of passage work. 


I am older now and looking back it was exciting and hard, fitting all that energy into a business as usual system and so inevitably there was a burning out, a falling short, a necessary collapse. Of course I was naive, ambitious, set on fire by Joanna and the story of a Great Turning coming,


More moons, more suns and something arises out of the ashes….A registered charitable trust called the “Centre for the Great Turning.” It’s vision, (rolling with the work of Bill Plotkin and the Animas Valley) is to create and support the causes and conditions that enable the growth and unfolding of ‘True Adulthood.’ Courses, retreats and adventures in the direction of maturing the ego into wholesomeness, into service and the capacities to dance well in the face of the not knowing.


With the support of some elders and friends, I am developing a curriculum of retreats that attend to the life stages, building residential courses that support young adults and slightly older folks who are moving through struggles toward the awakening clarity that they were put on this earth with a gift that the world is hungry to know.

  

Dancing in and out and through all this is a love for mythopoetic. Inspired by Rilke, Rumi, Whyte, Oliver, Bly, Shaw and many more. Like you reading this, I know the necessity of the arts as a way to uplift, inspire, praise and grieve. No one can speak of the mystery but in the well worn clothes of myth, song and firelight a heart is aroused and something deep and meaningful is re-membered.


The poem I am about to share with you emerged from the ground of of this life adventure unfolding. I am painfully aware my house lives in stolen land but I am not stolen here. The lines are in the poems stand in the centre of wild longing.


I speak because the “goddess is writing it large on the wall…” The years of appreicing self to meditation reveal and in time appreciate the “song lines of intelligent trauma…” and the possibility of a wound becoming gift. Elders live in all of us. I am speaking from them when I invite the spirit of the lizard. Yes something has happened in this land that requires atonement and yes we all belong. I am older than fire and the poem is a contemporary homage to our true nature. The poem ends with life in a yurt medicine wheel, “round walls, flowers and sage burning, prayers for the ones who straighten the bent…” I know no other pertinent prayer that “We, this rambunctious adolescent tribe, remember who we are.”


Here is the audio version as well as the written poem.






My House Stand on Stolen Land By Jaime Howell


When I open my eyes I see endless beginnings of ancestors pouring through the senses 

bringing forth a world, this world, now

A tongue that speaks tales from bellies and whales, through all the forms

The Goddess is writing it large up on the earth

In this time of no time 

we stand on the temenos of deep time

A river running fast

All shall weep in the harvest of grief 

as we come into the feast of truth


I speak from a colonised mind

A body carrying scars

Grooves worn in and deep 

Songlines of intelligent trauma

When iron birds fly and talking wires spy

The ancestors said these times would come


Intrusions and legislations 

stripping bare the wisdom cloaks of deep listening nations

Manipulations of greed 

laws that bleed

Indifferent to skin colour and the bones of your dead

We cannot see where it ends 

we cannot heal what has not been said

And it is still happening

So I sit here trembling

It is easier not to look

Into this sticky web of all my relations who took

Why do I not know the stories 


5 ft 8 inches of blood and bone, 

and that’s not all of me hungry for home

Why why why do I not know the story 


I speak for lizard

For the lichens fidelity to creation

we have been in this for millions together  

algae speaking to fungi

Muscle to bone

Beating hearts of ancestor stone

Swirling galaxies 

Finding homes

Closer than hands and feet 

In this dance of paradoxes we meet

Making gold in shadows old

The land the land! speaks in the untold

Alchemies of the human soul

We belong together

In truth We have never been apart

a beautiful calamity, a discordant harmony 

resolved in the heart 


Fertility lives in the moist feeling culture of once mountain now valley

descending

A place betwixt and between 

Forest and village

Both and gravity and grace

A Prodigious pivot point for the human race


Now we call them in

Now I dare to remember

Breathing in 

Injustice aho

Ten a que

grief, aho

rage, Aho

disbelief, insult, arrogance, greed, the death defying trade in innocence for a world of things  

Aho


My house stands on stolen land

But I am not stolen here

The walls are thin and speaking

The floor earthen and round

In each direction stands a constellation

An intimation of wholeness

petalled flowers, incense burning with good intents

A prayer for the ones who straighten the bent

Behind all appearances 

all faiths

An ever fresh springtime of truth

May we The rambunctious adolescent tribe remember who we are !

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