Is Scientism the Secularist’s New Religion?

Have folks replaced traditional religion with an unquestioning faith in the doctrine they call “Science?”

Anne Mason, Thea Mason and Drake Mason-Koehler discuss.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Anne:                           00:01                Okay. Here we are again with Drake on the East coast. Thea down in Southern California, me, Anne, up here in Northern California. And last time we got together we talked about organized religion. And again, I want to just briefly preface this dialogue just like all the others with an explanation of why we’re doing this. It’s, it’s really just an examination. It’s asking questions. It is an attempt to find perhaps new language for a growing, ever expanding consciousness as we––as I understand––are moving into a new age. And so here we are again. We spoke about organized religion last time and while I have a great deal of respect for the practice of organized religion, all that it offers, a foundation of morality and a guideline for growing, positive living. I also see some downsides to it. And what we discussed last time was the tendency sometimes to get stuck in a fixed set of beliefs which don’t then promote continued examination and looking at things from a new perspective, which then in turn doesn’t support learning. And for us to expand our consciousness, for us to continue moving forward and grow, we need to keep learning. And so following that, I’d like to discuss just briefly in this brief conversation what I see as a kind of new secularist religion called “Scientism.” And it’s a term that is being bandied about more and more these days. It’s a distinction between actual science––which is a method of observation and measurement and theory based on those observations and measurements and experiments––versus a doctrine. And before we started recording, Drake and I were talking a little bit about my experience––and I think we’ve all had this experience where, whether it’s climate change, whether it’s medicine,vaccines or really any area where science has brought us to an understanding and a practice and a theory––I’m finding that when people challenge those theories, whether it’s in social media, online debates, or in person, often, even if I, for example, provide studies that challenge the consensus, the response will be “It’s science. Don’t you understand science?” Do either of you have this experience?

Drake:                          03:48                Yeah. Something that came up for me when you were talking, Anne, was the way that people appeal, not so much to the method of science, but to science as some sort of credible, accepted institution. Right? That things need to be peer reviewed and pass through a certain number of tests or examinations before they are accepted as, you know, science. And in thinking of what it means to challenge that practice––because really if one’s going to have faith in a methodology, it seems to me that you need to actually examine what that method is taking for granted. Like what, what a certain type of methodology is taking for granted. And something that I’ve been learning over this past year, as my education has continued, is that every single science has its presuppositions that it has to take for granted. I wouldn’t pretend to know anything very complex about any of these sciences like biology or physics or chemistry but I do know that, or I think I know, that for example, biology takes the existence of life for granted, right? Like it goes back to very basic presuppositions that it has to assume that, or the science can’t work. And I think there’s other suppositions that kind of weave themselves into the method of science.

Drake:                          05:33                And if those aren’t examined then I think science can result in wrong conclusions. Like, I think of like if you’re, if you’re trying to draw two parallel lines and it’s a little bit off in the beginning,, then a mile down the road, it’s going to be way, way off. Well and something I thought of that I learned about last semester was a guy named William Harvey in England who basically figured out that the blood was a system of circulation. You know, he figured out that the blood, that the heart pumps the blood through, you know, that it passes around the lungs. Then it goes to the other, you know, different ventricles of the heart, goes through the entire body and then circulates back to be re oxygenated. And he figured that out by questioning the established doctrine of the time, which was Galenism. And because Galen said no, the heart does this specific function only and that was it––and that was the accepted thinking in the universities––and Harvey started cutting open, he started dissecting animals and going, actually that doesn’t make sense. Like he had to question the method of actually, the method of the practice of the anatomical science at the time to make this breakthrough. And so it seems like that should still apply.

Thea:                            06:52                And we could then take that same gesture or standpoint of not just going with what you’re given. It’s that you have to continuously be testing and making observation about your practice of religion, your practice of science or the method of science.

Anne:                           07:15                Drake just left us for a moment. Okay. He’s back.

Thea:                            07:24                So I was just saying that it seems like that’s the same sort of point that we were talking about––organized religion––is that, stay awake! Stay awake and pay attention that you don’t hand over your own seeing to another. And in terms of the practice of science and observation, that has to continue, you know, recognizing this is a presupposition, this is where we’re starting from, but that’s not the whole totality of whatever it is we’re observing or studying because you’re given this presupposition to start from.

Anne:                           08:01                Yes, absolutely. I agree. I try to constantly question. But even within those sciences, which are founded on a presupposition, I’m seeing a dangerous lack of critical thinking when people are working with these theories, discussing these theories. Let me go on a little bit of a tangent. There is a lawn sign I have been seeing a lot up here––I don’t know if you guys have something similar down there––which makes a few, there’s a few statements. I find it absurd. It seems like a virtue signaling type of thing, but it says something like “women’s rights are human rights,” “black lives matter,” “love is love,” whatever that means. And “science is real.” And “science is real.” What does that mean? And so, you know, that’s what I’m, I’m focused on right now. It’s beyond the fact that Drake, what you’re saying is, is absolutely true. We need to constantly question even the foundations of our working theories. Otherwise we’re going to get stuck in a more and more narrow framework of theory. So we have to constantly question even its foundation, re-examine it. But beyond that, we have to recognize that science itself is simply a method. It is not a truth. I don’t really even know how to get my head around saying something like, “science is real.” I don’t understand it when people say to me––in response to me challenging germ theory even, right? We are developing a new understanding of our immune system and the human microbiome, virome, and the fact that the environment of our body is a huge factor in terms of whether or not one person contracts a disease versus another person who is exposed to the same virus or bacteria. Right? So that is is shifting, that is growing, that is expanding. We’re developing a new understanding of this. When I present this information or present studies that demonstrate, that challenge, the idea that, “Oh, it’s just the germ that makes someone sick,” someone will say “It’s science. Don’t you get science?” Without even having to discuss the argument.

Drake:                          11:40                Well that’s funny, for it seems like they’re not even, they’re not even discussing the science then. Because the science, science is just a chain of reasoning within a certain set of parameters. Like, to do science is to reason your way with certain parameters that, you know, at least in modern science, that you’ve set for yourself and to the conclusion that follows. So, when you’re talking about these lawn signs that are saying “science is real,” that sounds to me like putting a sign in your lawn that says, you know, “logic is real.” Like absolutely, logic is real. But logic can be wrong. You can have, you can have conclusions that are logically true, but if your premises are wrong, the logic is false. Like, so same thing. A chain of reasoning is real. Yes, definitely real. But it can still be wrong.

Thea:                            12:29                Well the combination of statements on the sign is curious to me. What does science have to do with, you know, rights of human beings having the right to be, and be safe, you know? But it also then leads to that thought that that’s really just that “science is real” is a belief. So it is now outside of the scope of logic or reason. Saying, “science is real” is like, that sounds like a doctrine.

Drake:                          13:00                Not science.

Anne:                           13:00                Yeah, and I don’t remember now what, I think there was a climate change statement on that one too. Right? So, you know, and that’s where I’m––for the sake of time we won’t get too much into it––but that’s where I am wanting to explore what I do see as kind of a new religion. So Scientism often––it includes the doomsday prophecy of climate change, right? I’m not on any level suggesting that the climate isn’t changing. But whereas peak oil theory was Scientism’s doomsday theory prophecy in the naughts, right? The two thousands. Now it seems like it’s, “Ah! Climate change! We’ve got to change our ways!” It’s kind of, it’s the new religion’s Apocalyptic prophecy and warning. So we’ve got that going on. And then we also have this very fixed set of beliefs that…what I am seeing you know, I see the priests of Scientism––and not saying the good ones, the good scientists, the good doctors are always examining, are always questioning––but I am seeing people grant authority over themselves. I think they are giving the authority to doctors, to scientists, to the experts to tell them what is and what isn’t, what they should and shouldn’t do.

Thea:                            14:58                Creating a reality there.

Anne:                           14:59                In a similar way that the downside of organized religion, I think, handed that over to the priest. So we’re coming up to 15 minutes and I know Drake has to get going, but I think this is something to examine. I think that for all of the secularists’ focus on rejection of organized religion, to me it seems as if they simply replaced it with a new religion.

Drake:                          15:40                New authority. Right?

Anne:                           15:43                It’s a new authority. So that’s what it is, Drake. It’s a new authority. Whereas God and the priests are not their authority. Science as a God, almost? And the priests of that Scientism is the authority? Is that right?

Drake:                          16:08                I wonder. Yeah. It’s like, it’s just, it seems very comforting to me to think of people who don’t screw up. You know, like I didn’t grow up in organized religion so I didn’t, I guess I didn’t grow up with a conception that there’s always someone watching out for me doing the exact right thing––of a God figure or a priest figure. But a lot of people that I speak to, just lately, talk about science as if it’s some group of people somewhere who don’t mess up. And that’s appealing, right? Like that’s nice to think that there might be people that don’t mess up, but it’s not true.

Thea:                            16:46                Well, because it’s taking it from the religious realm, where there was faith involved and the unseen––to the realm of “it’s reason and logic and that is above all what we can trust. And it’s real.” So it’s interesting because we do believe in reason and logic and those are good. But like you said, Drake, if the beginning realm that the reason follows is off, then you have something that’s false and now you have people believing it, or saying “it’s real” in particular arenas.

Anne:                           17:25                Or simply if we missed something in our observations, that we then finally pick up, well that’s going to change the working theory and that’s going to change the entire model. Right?

Thea:                            17:39                Can I say one more quick thing? The thing that always––and science is not my practice, I mean observation is though, so I guess in one way it is––the thing that has always blown my mind learning the scientific method was that you could only test that which you could conceive of. And so everything is limited there in terms of creating theories and working theories. It’s only based upon what you already know or think you know, and that right there is like, what?

Anne:                           18:15                Right. Your own reality. It’s only based on the reality that you can observe at that moment. And as we all know, even from the time, like we said in the last one, from the time you’re five years old to the time you’re seventy five years old, our consciousness, our perceptions, our realities change. We perceive more, differently. Right? So the same goes every day. So anyway, let’s get going and pick this up I think next time, as we’re kind of formulating the discussion for next time.

Thea:                            18:50                Sounds good. Thanks so much guys. Nice to see you.

Drake:                          18:53                Alright.

Anne:                           18:53                Alright, let me, let me stop recording. You too.

Featured post

Does Organized Religion Move Us Forward?

Anne Mason and Thea Mason –– — with Drake Mason-Koehler

How does consciousness grow if we subscribe to a fixed set of beliefs?

Anne Mason, Thea Mason and Drake Mason-Koehler examine and discuss.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Anne:                           00:00                Okay. Hello there. We’ve got Drake from the East Coast. Thea down in SoCal. Me up here in Northern Cal. We’re going to try to make this quite a short one because Drake has to leave. So I want to start this out by talking just a little bit about why we’re doing these, this series of discussions, Thea and I often talk like this all the time anyway as do Drake and I when we have a chance to be together and we thought it would be a good idea to just share it with others who might be having some of the same streams of thought or questions and want to join in to the discussion. The tagline on the website, on the Sacred Osiris website is: Into the Age of the Fifth Sun, and that refers to the Mayan calendar, the Mayan elder prophecies that we are in transition and moving into a new age, which corresponds to many other prophecies of ancient texts and religions.

Anne:                           01:15                Even astrologically moving out of the age of Pisces into the age of Aquarius. So I perceive us––of course, we hopefully are always moving forward in consciousness. Hopefully we are always growing and developing and expanding our consciousness. Evolving. But if we are between ages, marked ages, this transition is likely even more dramatic. And perhaps we could use even a little bit more attention and effort as we, as we find new language to express this transition and perhaps new conceptions and new consciousness that we may be emerging into. So, so it’s a dialogue and it’s, it’s just a lot of questions and obviously we don’t have the answers and obviously we have some opinions. But the topic I wanted to talk about is organized religion.

Anne:                           02:29                And I say that having a lot of respect for the practice of organized religion but not subscribing to one particular set of beliefs that have, has been initiated by someone else or organized by someone else, but rather kind of an amalgam of my own study and practice and sense and faith and belief. And 49 years of life experience. So the question I guess, or my, my issue with organized religion as relates to what I just said is that––and let me back up for one second. Something I love about Anthroposophy, Waldorf teaching is the, the approach to teaching the approach to answering questions, especially when the child is young. You know, “Why is the sky blue?” Rather than answer with an explanation of the way light reflects, refracts off molecules in the air. One might say, “I wonder?”

Thea:                            03:46                As opposed to answering with a finite sort of dead answer that stops the questioning.

Anne:                           03:55                That stops the wonder. Right? I think the idea in Waldorf teaching is to just let it keep going in one way or another. Right? Whether it’s as the children are older and you are having a discussion that takes you down many pads or not, but if we answer anything with, with just like a hard and fast fact, well, that’s done, right?

Drake:                          04:25                Yep. Interesting. I remember having a discussion in class this week that left me feeling sort of unsettled. And it’s funny that you’re mentioning Waldorf because Waldorf education has been on my mind a lot this week––because my verse, I think it was my verse in fourth grade, came back to my mind: To wonder at beauty, stand guard over truth. Look up to the noble, resolve in the good. And I think that was the first line that we would say everyday when we, when we left class…When I was getting kind of embroiled in the deep that, you know, the intellectual details of something. I’m getting stressed out about it. You know, I can’t figure out this, this one little thing. And I was like, well, how about I wonder at the beauty of it? Let me just look at––of this mathematical proposition or whatever it was and just kind of sit in that. And sure enough, I understood it a little bit later. Once I stopped the frenzied, you know, logic because it can, you know, when you’re trying to figure out a problem, you can get very stuck and not see what you’re missing or what presupposition you missed.

Drake:                          05:35                And Anne, when you’re talking about different ages or people switching the way that they think about things, what came to my mind was presuppositions. Because if you want to have a mode of thought or a doctrine that’s going to allow you to evolve, it seems important that it would be a motive thought or a doctrine or philosophy or whatever it is that urges you to examine the presuppositions of the philosophy itself or the doctrine itself. And maybe that’s what organized religion doesn’t do. Maybe that’s something it really explicitly doesn’t do––is urge you to question why you’d be associated with that particular organized religion. And that’s supposition on my part, I don’t have evidence to back that up right now. I don’t have a lot of life experience with a particular organized religion, but just from my reading of different texts, that seems something that perhaps the actual teachers, you know, like, like Buddha or Krishna from the Bhagavad Gita, Christ. I think they do, they do urge people to actually think about things. But then the customs or laws laid down after those teachers by other people who embrace those religions maybe don’t as much.

Thea:                            07:12                It makes me think a little bit, Drake as you say, that like that the teachers themselves were teaching, one of it was to maintain interest in things and questions. That space of wonder. And what seems to be one of the things that people in general, one of the places where we get tripped up is that wanting to claim something entirely or, or be secure. I wonder if it comes from a sense of wanting to be secure in some finite existence that the wondering stops. Like it’s a failing of humans. Maybe not a failing, but it’s a habit. It’s not necessarily what the teachings are at all. Right? That the teachings and that thread, stream of wisdom isn’t finite like that, but that’s what we’ll do to it––like hanging on to the image of it rather than penetrating to the essence of it.

Drake:                          08:20                Yeah. Or just, I mean, and that seems to be simply like staying in your comfort zone, right? And that doesn’t have to be something that is totally seen as negative. Like, yeah, all of us humans are going to do that, want to stay in our comfort zones, but if we can understand that it applies intellectually or religiously or spiritually as well. Because I feel like we, at least personally, I don’t often think about it applying to those areas as well. Like, oh, you know, I wanna stay in my comfort zone in terms of I don’t know, how hard I’m working at something or some other aspect of my life that’s maybe more external and easier to examine and I might not realize, “Oh, wow! It might also be my natural tendency to stay in my comfort zone religiously or spiritually” or whatever these other aspects of, of life that are less tangible.

Anne:                           09:17                Yeah. I mean, humans have this kind of dichotomous relationship with change and the unknown. So we are drawn to it because we are curious and we have an innate need to grow, as do all beings. But it’s scary too. So we like to find answers that we can rest upon, I’d imagine. Right? I really like your point, Drake, that probably the original teachings and teachers we’re conveying a truth and spirit to others who then took that and fixed it. I mean, when I say fixed, put it in a fixed organization that can be handed down and worked with as a framework, always difficult to do. So I guess, since I don’t practice an organized religion either and my main experience is with Catholicism, but I didn’t get that deeply involved in it. I can’t speak to the tenets of all the different religions. I do agree that a foundation of morality is critical to a society, a family, a religion, anyone. Right? But those can be principles that are not challenging to understand. But when we get into pedantic details, even of…I was having a conversation with someone whose religion does not subscribe to a belief in reincarnation. And the first thing that I think I remember him saying is we don’t believe in reincarnation. Right? And so that, that just saying, “we don’t believe,” to me that’s problematic because, I mean, I’m not a collective. I work with people and I need people, and I I learn from people, and I also share some beliefs with people, but I don’t like saying “we believe.” I believe. So far, too. I believe, so far. Best I can ascertain. Here’s what seems to make sense to me. Sorry, go ahead.

Drake:                          12:50                Well, yeah, that’s just what jumped to my mind when you said, “we don’t believe,” for some reason, I thought of the “royal we,” how a lot of a lot of literature when kings are speaking, from like older times, they use the “royal we” and it like is it from themselves? And I was like, oh, well, obviously, royalty, authority. You know, like if you’re saying “we don’t believe,” it’s like this credence of authority that you’re like interweaving with your opinion. Your opinion is the authority, and an authority kind of seems like something that’s less likely to be questioned.

Anne:                           13:23                Well, yeah, right. Also, you know what I think of though? I think of the Borg from Star Trek, right? The collective, hive mind, “we believe.” Right? Anyway. But back to that topic, for example, reincarnation. Look, I don’t know. For sure. To me, there’s enough evidence out there and certainly enough has been passed on through the hermetic traditions by many that I respect to suggest that reincarnation is something. Does exist. However, as I pointed out to my friend, maybe the ultimate goal is to stop cycling. Perhaps the goal is to stop reincarnating. Perhaps, perhaps that’s the goal for humanity. Perhaps that’s the goal for each individual soul––if you subscribe to that belief that there’s a soul––and perhaps it was interpreted somewhere along the way that because the goal is to not cycle, it doesn’t exist. But, but doesn’t want one need to leave room for the possibility that it does? Doesn’t one need to leave room for the possibility that there is something contained in every religion––every current modern religion being practiced, and every ancient religion that we have learned about, and every future one going forward––that there is some, some piece of the puzzle there that cannot be ruled out?

Thea:                            15:17                What it draws to my mind a bit is there’s certain stories––and I know Drake can relate and probably you––that I like to reread every few years, even novels or whatever, to come back to a story. And every time I read it, as I live more life, I see more in the story that was always there, but I couldn’t, I didn’t have the experience within myself to reflect it and see it. And so it makes me think a little bit of the teachings of these different lines, these different religions, that that’s why there has to be a continuous study and penetration of the wisdom that’s passed to us. Because if we take it at face value, we see it in the way we saw something when we were five or ten or fifteen or twenty five or whatever it is. Instead of allowing it to just continue to work on us and for us to work with it in that expanding depth of anything that’s true or you know, that has that seed in it.

Drake:                          16:36                That’s funny. That makes me think a couple people last night were talking about a certain Homer translator that is disliked in my dorm. And part of the reason for that, and this is debatable, is that part of her philosophy of translating is that when Homer repeats these epithets that he did because it was an oral poem and he was remembering he needed to remember what came between. So he would have these easily repeatable lines “dawn with rose red fingertips” or the “wine dark sea”, like things that he would draw on––the sea, it’s the wine dark sea. Dawn, it was this dawn. But this one translator, she translates it completely differently every single time, because she wants the reader in English to be struck with the image as if it was a new image every single time. So she’s giving different words to it.

Drake:                          17:33                And I think I, I get, I think I understand why she’s doing that because it’s more impactful for the reader. But the flip side is it seems like that takes some of the work of the person reading the book away, right? You really try, you can read it and get something different out of that image or be struck by that image, equally, if you’re actively (inaudible) every single time in one of them lesions. And so this seems to get into, like, if you’re going back and rereading a text, whether it’s a religious text or some other thing that’s helping guide your morality or your spirituality or anything it takes effort to read it differently, right? Like it naturally happens if you let years, if years go by and then you go back and read a book you’re probably gonna get something out of it just cause you’ve changed as a person in that time. But if you’re, if you’re a practicer of a religion and you’re doing it every single day or every week or something like that, it’s hard. Like, it’s hard to read the same things over and over again and have it, you know, hit you like have it really stir something in you every single time. Like it seems to be a difficulty of prayers too. Like if you have a prayer you repeat, it’s a really good practice and I, and I admire it. But to feel it every single time instead of having it be habit. And maybe, maybe the habit’s not bad as well, but it came up when I was hearing you guys talk about that.

Anne:                           19:04                Yeah, and that’s also why the, the curriculum, the Waldorf curriculum, there’s, there’s a new verse every year for the growing, the changing consciousness of the child to say. A new prayer. Right? So we’re going to wrap this up so that Drake, you can go on to practice and we can make this shorter for people as well. I think that something that’s always been very helpful to me is, I mean, this is not a new concept. That’s why comparative religion, comparative religious studies is something that people do in university. I hope they still do. I don’t know. But I think that doing whatever one can, to stimulate thought and reconsideration so that we can continue looking at things from a slightly new perspective, a fresh perspective, whether it’s engaging with new people, other people reading the texts of other religions that are different than the one that you practice, and allowing for possibility. To me that would temper the problem that I have with a strict dogmatic practice that organized religion often becomes. And dead. A deadened one, I found that with Catholicism, and I’m sure that that was my experience with it. And it’s not many people’s, because I know some Catholics who blow my mind with their connection to so many dimensions of realms and spirit and God and faith. Like blow me away. So it’s not Catholicism that is the problem, but certainly how I came to it or how it was introduced to me or the priest that was heading things up, I guess. Butso anyway, I guess that’s the conclusion for now and we can continue this discussion in another, we can continue this dialogue in another discussion. Thanks guys.

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Can We Be Our Own Priests?

Anne Mason and Thea Mason –– — with returning guest Drake Mason-Koehler

What does a priest provide that we can’t provide ourselves?

Sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason discuss––with returning guest Drake Mason-Koehler.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Anne:                           00:01                Okay. Here we are again, we’re going to dive into some possibly controversial topics. I want to ask the question, can we be our own priests?

Drake:                          00:18                Yeah. Remembering what we were talking about last time where we, we sort of discussed different spiritual paths that people might have, whether they, I believe in God, whether they don’t believe in God whether they’re agnostic and whatever they’re sort of moral guidelines or a spiritual path might be. And coming back to this question of whether we could be our own priest, I feel like that leads me to think about what are the things that I would want a priest to do. ‘Cause I’ve never been a part of an organized religion. I’ve never had a priest. I’ve gone to church a couple of times, I’ve talked with a couple different priests, and it seems like a very important thing is that you would confide, right? And I know that that’s different in Christianity depending on whether you’re Protestant or Catholic in terms of things that confession and stuff like that. But that kind of leads to this difficulty of building up a relationship with yourself where you actually confide things or dialogue about things with yourself, whatever that would look like. Would it be a journal? Would it be a prayer? Would it be a conversation with a loved one? I feel like these are all different spaces that you could sort of hold that confidence with.

Anne:                           01:45                So in that’s the context of a counselor almost. Right? So a priest serves as a counselor and a guide to people. And we all need that sometimes. The reason the question comes up for me is that I have a difficulty with the idea of a middleman between me and my source. And maybe I have it wrong. Maybe the priest doesn’t get in the way of that. I don’t know. But Drake has gotten me reading The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky, and I’m only about halfway through. Drake has read it and there’s a particular chapter that came to mind when we were talking about this before we started recording. Drake, could you describe it briefly?

Drake:                          02:59                Yeah. Well, we were talking about about The Grand Inquisitor (chapter), and I remember I first read that book in high school and then re-read it recently. And it’s pretty life changing. But I do remember that chapter where one of the brothers presents a poem to his younger brother. And in the poem––it’s set in the Inquisition in Spain where many heretics have been burnt––and Jesus appears. And the Inquisitor instead of celebrating or kneeling down or anything like that, sends Jesus off to prison. And then comes down later, I think it’s later that evening, to interrogate him and tell him how in refusing the temptations of the devil––which is in I think Matthew and Luke section four or something like that––how they damned mankind to be free and who they choose to worship, to have freedom of conscience and have to try to be their own conscience. And he, the Inquisitor talks about how the church has stepped in to be that authority and to be what he thinks Jesus couldn’t be. Keep in mind, I mean I have to keep in mind this is all Dostoevsky’s view of the church. But what the Inquisitor lists off that he thinks that the church has provided for people, that Jesus refused to give, is miracle, mystery and authority. And so I feel like in Anne’s question of, “Can we be our own priests?”, well then we have to ask like, is that necessary? Like do we want the authority of a priest? Do we want miracle to come from, cause that’s another thing when you’re talking about, you know, not wanting a priest. I feel like, I mean I know human beings can be incredible, but I don’t look at them as exalted in that way. And I feel like that’s something that rubs me the wrong way. If someone was to tell me I needed a priest to have a relationship with God, I’d be like, well, I know he’s studied the text more than I have, but what makes what makes them special?

Thea:                            04:54                We’re all creations of the, out of some divine.

Anne:                           04:58                Right. If we all have a divine spark in us, if we are all God’s children, why should one have more authority over that relationship than another?

Thea:                            05:14                And I mean, and that’s wherewe were talking a little bit about the priest or whatever the Holy person is in a tradition that they do provide that quality of being a wise person, an elder or some sort of a guide like we just spoke of. And then there’s also that these are people who are dedicating their lives to this practice of this religion, of this tradition. And so therefore they’re giving their time and energy and efforts in a daily practice that maybe strengthens…The reason I’m saying this is because when you were saying that, it’s like, yeah, do they have a direct line to God? Is it like their channel’s a little clearer? And maybe that is what it is a little bit. Maybe their channel and frequency is tuned in a little bit more clearly, and in a stronger path to it because it’s been practiced.

Anne:                           06:30                Well, and because they are devoting themselves to that. Right? Whereas we’re raising kids, we’re doing the work in the worldly world that is not giving us that time or allowing that, allowing us to become as learned first off in that way so that we have so many resources to draw upon, but also that we are not spending as much time in prayer, in meditation, and perhaps in direct connection with source.

Thea:                            07:05                I mean that’s a question. That’s a possibility.

Drake:                          07:09                I think at least on the moral side of things. And in speaking to that sort of like need for authority, like if we do have a need for authority, because it seems especially like today, it seems a big claim to say that people have a need for religious authority. It’s like you can just look around and be like, plenty of people don’t seem to have that need. Right? But it seems fair to say that we at least have some sort of tendency to want to, to look to a moral authority when it comes to things. And we might want to escape it. But we so often, like at least I know I so often want to appeal to something, to be able to judge actions. To be able to look at myself, you know, have I treated these people right? Like what am I going to compare that to? And when you’re talking about people who’ve dedicated their life to something, it seems like that’s an easy way to, to feel trust. Like this person is going to hopefully tell me the right thing to do. They’ve dedicated their life to being able to tell me the right thing to do.

Anne:                           08:10                Yeah, yeah. They’ve been studying this so much. They intimately understand it. They have dissected it, they have contemplated it.

Thea:                            08:19                And they’ve observed, right? And had experience. And seen others.

Drake:                          08:25                Well, people are busy, right? Like, yeah, it’s hard. It’s hard to be able to do your whole day at work or do whatever it is you’re doing. Take care of your kids and then check in with yourself and be like, you know, how am I holding up to this moral standard? That’s a whole extra level of work to do and trust in yourself. That’s difficult.

Thea:                            08:44                And that takes us a little bit too, and I don’t know if I segue too much right here, but the need of, what was it you said? Magic, mystery, authority? Miracle, mystery and authority. But that we were talking about a little bit in terms of this idea of being our own priest or priestess is having ritual, having a practice of some sort that brings us back to that space of reflection or meditation or whatever it is. Something that is part of our daily rhythm that brings us to a space of that observation really, or contemplation in some way. And I was saying that that’s what, you know, Hatha yoga came out as, I mean that’s a practice for the householder to attain self-realization. You know, because you are busy with life works of managing a household and children and all of that. But then ritual, magic, when you were saying the need for a moral authority, that, I mean our sense of that checking in with ourselves, but also, I mean, we look at our world, we have a need for mystery and miracle, you know, that is huge. And we see it in people’s excitement of tech, technological advances. We see it in all sorts of these things that show a little bit of mystery that we go Ooh. And miracle. Okay. So anyway, I went all over.

Drake:                          10:42                So that’s a funny thing looking at the, at the modern world, like I mean, so few of the people that I know are a part of organized religion, and I know they’re still so many people that are and have that as a part of their daily life. But it seems like generally, or in many cases, we don’t want the miracle, mystery and authority all in the same place. Like we still want those things, but to have them all in one figure, it seems like, I mean, so when you’re talking about us being our own priests, it brings back the conversation to like, well would I want a priest to do that if I was going to have a priest, I don’t know.

Anne:                           11:33                Well so correct me if I’m wrong. I think where you’re going is that so the miracle and mystery, well we can perceive certainly the mystery, right? We can perceive that there is the mystery, and we might be able to bear witness to the miracle. Right? But do we also then want to answer the question? Do we want to then appeal to our own authority in making sense of all of it? Is that kind of what you’re saying?

Drake:                          12:06                Right. Yeah. Cause I mean that, that at times that seems impossible. Right? To, you know, at the end of the day, come back and have yourself as the authority.

Thea:                            12:20                Yeah. Well, I wonder if there’s something else in that authority is that that’s a thread to community and not being alone. When there is an authority and you, if there are many that link to an authority figure in some way, that builds community.

Drake:                          12:43                Right. I feel like elders that I’ve known, you know who I’m thinking of. But like they can be that figure in a community to some extent. I mean in a different way, but still someone that another young person and I can look to and, and go, you know, we’re going to be reverent to this person because look how much he’s lived and look what he has to say. Let’s listen. Because if we’re both doing that, it’s somehow affirming both of us, both of our experience in the moment, right? Like if we’re both, we’re both hushing down when this older man is talking or we’re both, you know, offering to help this older person. Like it’s a shared reverence that shows we’re both kind of on the same wavelength.

Thea:                            13:27                And that’s one of the things that I think is so important. And I think maybe that’s one of the things that comes out of the need for something outside of ourselves. Is that sense of togetherness that we feel with others when we are having something shared, something profound that we share.

Anne:                           13:51                Well so makes me think of a couple of things. Number oneI suppose this might seem obvious, but the priest is channeling, presumably channeling communication with God, connection to source and representing in some ways. A representative. The priest is a representative in the same way, you know, you might say parents are also representative to the child of the divine. We are an earthly manifestation to channel that perhaps. And speaking to your point, Thea, and yours, Drake, that, together we all revere, rightfully revere our elders, first of all. Our elders and those who have experienced and become wise. And so even in revering them, they do become elevated, right? And so…go ahead.

Drake:                          15:13                Well, right. And in that sense, they seem like a representative too, right? Like if someone has made it to 80 years old and they look happy, they’re healthy. And they’re talking about, you know, whatever it is, some experience or you know, they’re telling their grandchild that was the wrong thing to do. And explaining something to them. It seems that they’re representative of living a good moral life. Right? And I’m sure there’s immoral old people…

Thea:                            15:43                Well, not all old people are wise. I mean, not all old people shine.

Drake:                          15:50                Well and not for everyone would you hush your voice as they, when they start talking, because you have some sort of reverence., And I feel like with many, many elderly people, that’s my initial reaction because they at least seem like a representative of that. So when Anne’s talking about the priest being a representatives and parents being representative, like you were thinking about parents also as a representative of wisdom, too. Right?

Thea:                            16:16                And that’s what I was saying––or is it the same thing really like that not necessarily only that vessel of communication from the divine or the source, but the wisdom that comes through experience and observation, but from my experience so far in the moments where I feel like I’m exercising wisdom, when other things fall away and what’s left is that wisdom or that experience or that compassion of truth, when the other things fall away, that to me there is something in that that that is a channeling of what is good and true and, and is. Regardless.

Drake:                          17:05                Well, it’s like, I mean to look, I feel to look at something similar to that in a different way is like, it’s almost just like giving different things different weight, right? Like seeing what’s really most important or what’s truly relevant. Right. The other things falling away and being left with a single thing in a given moment, in any given moment that this is the most relevant thing right now. Even being in any dire situation and your wisdom or your past experience is telling you, okay, this is exactly what we need to do right now. And nothing else is important. It’s kind of going to one thing by itself all of a sudden.

Anne:                           17:41                Well and so I would like to not go a whole lot longer this time. So I also am hearing that the priest serves as one we can dialogue our experiences with. So that we can find some objectivity to our subjective experiences. And I explained, one of the reasons that I felt that having a priest, having a middleman there to me is problematic––the other reason ismaybe this is too long a conversation right now, but going back to The Grand Inquisitor the Grand Inquisitor who was actually also the Cardinal, right? The Cardinal, the Bishop? We find out later as he relates to Jesus that actually about 800 years ago they started working with the other guy, right? And they are basically, they are, they are working with Satan. And, and the people are none the wiser. So having a priest in that capacity, in that role––it is ripe for corruption. Right? So, you know, maybe this is something to explore beyond this conversation, but so I see ideally now, and I understand even better ideally why we have a priest outside of us to help us dialogue and relate to our source. But I do see some problems with it. We have all seen the corruption around us and how that power and authority can be and has been misused.

Drake:                          19:47                Right. And I feel like that that highlights again, looking for ways to be your own authority because you can follow, you can, you know, through every chain of like of authority, you can find someone for this authority to be accountable to and someone for this authority to be accountable to and so on forever. And it’s never going to be infallible, right? No person is going to be infallable. Right? So it seems like, I don’t know, I feel like my takeaway right now is that I’m my best shot in some ways.

Thea:                            20:21                Well, I think so. I mean, even when we have someone who we revere, we can hear that, but then we still have to be coming to our own process.

Drake:                          20:34                It’s hard though. It’s hard to revere someone and not sort of fall into a blindness regarding their faults.

Thea:                            20:40                Well, we have a tendency to that. But I think if, I mean, when I think of the teachers I have who are doing it well, they don’t allow people to put them up there and worship them. You know, they remember and remind of their humanity and failings. Not that they have to lay their failings out, but there is, it takes a real something to not let people worship you if you’re doing some powerful work. And so I think in that, in ourselves as people who are looking towards having elders and wise leaders among us, we have to remember that we still have to bring it into our own process. I mean we’re talking about, at the end of the day, that part of the practice of becoming our best self and being of service to the world in a right way is to be able to have that checking in. And strengthening that, that compass, I guess, of ourself, of our own priesthood, priestliness.

Anne:                           21:54                And perhaps to remember that it’s a relationship that we are required to participate in fully, at least equally with any authority that we have granted. And so that we have to continually be checking them and making sure that they are also doing the work to deserve that authority.

Thea:                            22:24                Right. That we don’t hand it over blindly.

Anne:                           22:27                Yeah. Or get lazy after we’ve handed it over consciously, but then over time it’s very easy to get lazy. So, I’m not sure what we’ve concluded on this one, but it was a good exploration.

Thea:                            22:47                Well, it is. And I think that the one other thing I’d love to add to it though is that in order for us to be our own guides and authorities or then even in equal relationship to those that can offer that to us, is to have those spaces just being in nature too. Because we were talking a little bit, and I won’t go into it, but talking about creating places of worship or places that are Holy, and nature is one of those that we all have. To make an effort when we’re living in cities to be in that because it gives us that sense of connection, like a direct line. I mean, that’s my experience of it anyway. You know, and it charges that, it strengthens that current in us as people.

Anne:                           23:47                Yes, it is very grounding. It is the grounding, I think.

Thea:                            23:51                And uplifting. It’s grounding. I mean, it’s the whole thing. It’s like we become clearer to be able to perceive what is there.

Anne:                           24:00                Truth. Truth. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, I like that. Okay. Let’s end on that. I mean, you know, you can’t go wrong with advising that people spend more time in nature. That is, there is the quiet, there is the reverence automatically or just laid out there for us. Right? It is creation.

Thea:                            24:25                Creation. Observation. I mean, when I think of the things I want to practice more, it’s that, that quiet observation and I mean, observing anything in its natural state is a good exercise.

Anne:                           24:40                Yeah. It’s a good reference point. Going back to references, right? Drake, it’s resetting in nature and seeing this unadulterated creation gives us some perspective to bring back into our manmade world to check it, to see if it kind of stands up to truth.

Drake:                          25:06                Right. And when you were talking about representatives too, right? Like in nature, if you can look at a natural, any little scene, right? Like a little pocket of trees in a brook somewhere, it’s kind of in a harmony, right? So you can, you can look at it as representative of things. Yeah. It does seem like nature seems to work.

Thea:                            25:27                It does seem to work!

Drake:                          25:29                When left to its own devices. So when you were talking about priests as representatives, and then we were talking about elders as representatives, to just kind of look at these things as examples or exemplary of something good that we might want to emulate, that seems like a path that it can take as well.

Anne:                           25:45                Yes, what, and that, that nature and being there in nature and witnessing all of that perfection we can see that pattern and want to find that particular beautiful, perfect pattern in at least the ideals of those that we grant authority to?

Thea:                            26:17                And even then in relationship, right? In the dynamics of relationship and the way relating is happening, those dynamics of nature, the balance. Am I losing something here? Maybe?

Anne:                           26:31                We’re just, we’re just getting very abstract here, but yeah. Okay. All right. All right. Let’s cut it here and we’ll continue this dialogue in another one at some point. Thanks you guys.

Thea:                            26:45                Thanks. Love you.

Anne:                           26:46                Hold on one sec. Love you. Hang on one minute.

Featured post

Let’s Talk About God

Anne Mason and Thea Mason –– — with special guest Drake Mason-Koehler

To move beyond the limited options of agnostic spirituality, atheism, or fundamentalist religion––we need to talk about it. And before we can talk about it, we need to think about it.

Sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason discuss––with new guest Drake Mason-Koehler.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Anne:                           00:01                Okay. Here we are with a new guest Drake Mason-Koehler, my nephew, first and foremost Thea’s son. He’s home on break and he’s going to join the discussion. We’ve been having chats, discussions as we always do about some of the subjects that we’ve been talking about. And today we’re going to talk about God. And we’ve had a few discussions about this already, so we’re going to try to kind of just hit a couple of the points and go from there. I have lamented to these guys that––I live up in the Bay area in California and I don’t think people talk enough about God. I think that God, discussions about God, is met kind of with derision and suspicion. There is an atheist tendency up here and an emphasis on secularism that I think is throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Anne:                           01:10                And I say this as someone who has gone through myriad perspectives and explorations and examinations. I was not raised in any particular clear tradition really. And I’ve come to my own faith very experientially. And as anyone who is familiar with Anthroposophy––I’m a homeschooler who follows a Waldorf Anthroposophic curriculum and Drake was raised in the Waldorf schools, Thea teaches in the Waldorf schools––we understand that religion, from the Anthroposophic perspective, all religions are valid and are a manifestation and expression of the consciousness of the time, the evolution of humanity. And no religion is regarded as––even the ancient myths––they’re not regarded as fables or misunderstandings, but an understanding of our connection to our source at the time. So that being said you know, both Drake and Thea brought some interesting points up. Drake, can you talk a little about your experience being raised in Southern California?

Drake:                          02:37                Yeah. Well, and this is because we’ve spoken about this a couple of times now. Just recalling that when you, initially were talking about the atheism that you’ve run into up in the Bay area, just in your experience, my immediate sort of complement to that growing up in Southern California ––and although I went to a school where we learned old Testament myths or old Testament stories in third grade, along with all the Greek and Norse and other myths that were part of the curriculum––I still have grown up with so much agnosticism and not even just agnosticism, but spiritual tendencies in the adults around me and gradually in many of my peers as well. And not that I think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but when it comes to discussions about God, I think that that led me to not even really start thinking about God until just towards the end of high school. And more lately.

Anne:                           03:45                Can I interrupt you just so that you can make it clear? I think what you’re saying is when you, when you talk about this kind of agnostic spiritualism or spirituality, sorry, you’re referring to a kind of nebulous spirituality that doesn’t follow any, certainly any organized religion or firm tradition. Yeah?

Drake:                          04:11                I feel like I’ve run into a lot of that. And then also a lot of, “well, I just don’t know. And I’m also not really interested in having a discussion about what I don’t know or what I do know.” So it’s kind of maybe, I don’t know what the, what the split would look like in terms of people who are going, you know, “I’m spiritual. This is my belief which is kind of hard to put your finger on exactly what it is. But they might, you know, hold it very precious and that might be very good for them. But I think the emphasis of my point would be that there hasn’t really been much on either end of the spectrum. I haven’t known a lot of people who are very religious and I haven’t known a lot of people who are very clear cut in their atheism. It’s all been somewhere in between. And the majority of that in between has also seen an unwillingness to stop and talk about it or to think about it because I think the thinking about before the talking about it. So, yeah, that was, that’s kind of where I came into this discussion.

Thea:                            05:10                And that came after also you articulating that we grew up in the Midwest where there were a lot of very fundamental religions around us. And while that was around us, we didn’t grow up with that in our home. Ours was sort of a nondescript sense of God and faith, but not any clear delineated path within that I guess.

Anne:                           05:35                Yes. We were raised by liberal academics so who were as you point out, I’ll let you speak to this, but I think who were, as many people from that generation, turned off to the hypocrisy of the organized religion that they had grown up around or even with.

Thea:                            06:02                Like, like a lack of breathing within it. I think, you know, I mean, and that was mirrored in a lot of aspects of the culture, too. I mean, the religious aspect kind of, and the structure and strictures of life in this country. I mean, just thinking of the social changes that were occurring in the fifties, sixties, you know, so all of that was a reflection of all of it in a way, too. And so there was this pushing away from that hard and fast structure and form because of the many injustices that were seen and condoned by religious practices one way or another. And that’s throughout all of history.

Drake:                          06:47                I remember, Anne, yesterday you were talking a little bit about sort of pendulum swings, like going all the way to the other end of an extreme. So wherever you might grow up you might go the other way, like both of you guys growing up in the Midwest and then coming out to California where it’s a very different consciousness than what you grew up in when it comes to spirituality and God. And my follow up thought to that has been, well, what if you grow up where it’s all agnostic? What if you grow up where there’s no, you’re not at any extreme to swing from. Right? You don’t have that, like, trajectory to go look for. Right? ‘Cause I think, needless to say, we live in a world where, you know, if you’re so blessed that you have the opportunity to, to go to college or to go and work in our world you get to forge your own path and you’re talking about this kind of like forging your own religion or your own outlook on religion or spirituality, whatever that might be.

Anne:                           07:51                Okay. We had a little technical difficulty. So Drake, would you just start from, you were talking about, you know, for those of us who are blessed to forge our own path I mean blessed to go to college, to forge our own path, that allows us to…go ahead.

Drake:                          08:09                Well, I was thinking even just looking back at the beginning of this discussion, you said your approach to religion or spirituality has been very experiential, right? Like throughout your life, it’s changed or you’ve done work with it based on your own experiences and what you’ve read, who you’ve talked to and where you’ve been. And I think similar for you. So those are kind of like individual trajectories that you guys have had and you’ve been able to come out from your upbringing growing up in a more religious place, a different type of environment, and then sort of forge your own way. So it almost, it seems like that upbringing gave you a momentum, and I know it wasn’t like, you didn’t grow up like super strict Catholic or anything like that. Also people don’t have to escape it, like they don’t have to swing away from it, but it seems like when it comes to coming to your own understanding of something or your own beliefs where do you get that movement that would make you want to establish beliefs in the first place? Is it just life happening to you that makes you want to, “okay, I need to figure out, you know, what I believe is right and wrong? How I think about children, marriage, grief, like all these other things and scriptures and religion has a lot to say on that. And it’s not necessarily all you need to be followed, but there’s a lot of good in it too.

Thea:                            09:34                Yeah. Well I don’t know if my thought quite follows precisely. I mean it still is in there, but it gives me a picture of, you know, he was speaking about the pendulum, that swinging and you were talking about earlier the streams. And with that pendulum swing you have this momentum kind of like you’re shot out of something, you know, so you have this force carrying you one way or another. And then I was thinking that when there’s this sort of work that’s coming from your individual experiences, it’s a little bit more like picking up a shovel and digging, and you don’t want to be too far from the stream ’cause you still need the current if you’re trying to create a channel. But it just gave me the picture, ’cause today we went for a walk and it rained a lot last night. So this path was just flooded and there were so many streams flowing. And I’m just thinking that sometimes to forge a new stream, you know, you do have to pick up a shovel for a bit and then it can kind of be filled in and have some of that carrying from, not the pendulum, but just from the movement of the stream itself. So that you can kind of, I don’t know, it’s not quite there, but a picture that came with that.

Anne:                           10:51                Well so drawing both on our conversation from yesterday and what you just, you both just said. So we talked a little bit about the fact that like, for example, especially the last couple of generations in this country, given the nature of the economy and the world more and more often people leave the places they grew up in, leave the traditions, the families intermarry, live abroad, live on the other side of the country. Meet, mingle and marry people who have come from widely different backgrounds. And so one is exposed to many different streams and traditions. At the same time, like Drake brings up scripture and these traditions that have come up throughout humanity’s development, understanding and need to figure out ways, codes guidelines and guideposts, those are also valuable. And the flip side of us all moving away and finding new streams is, the downside is that we also sometimes lose and abandon that which came before us. So I think that we kind of concluded when we were talking yesterday that what we’re starting to realize is that there needs to be––so we’re, we’re entering the age of Aquarius. I think I brought up the fact that, you know, as I see it, each epoch is about 2000 years long. And so we’ve come to that end of our current form of Christianity––do we need, I mean, I’m talking about in the Western tradition because we’ve all grown up in the Western tradition, so that’s all I can really speak to, right? So is what we’re seeing around us is that indicating a need to create a new stream, a new path that perhaps for the first time in recent human history is informed by our individualism as equally, if not more than our group…What’s, what’s the word I’m looking for, Drake?

Drake:                          13:53                I don’t know. Like our need for community or something like that?

Anne:                           13:57                Well, you know, we need, we need community, right? But, well, Thea and I had done a talk a while back on claiming our authority and we emphasized the fact that––certainly for us, we see the need to we have lived and, and strived to, be our own authority, rather than look to the experts, rather than look to the doctors the lawyers, the teachers, the priests. Not that that means we reject what they have to offer, but I will put my authority above them all in my final decisions about anything. And I think that this, there is a lot of that, there is a lot of that impulse in people and they’re finding that groove in different ways. Maybe one of them is simply and embrace of atheism, because they are rejecting everything that came before them. Because they’re saying, no, that didn’t work. But perhaps what needs to happen is we need to find something that doesn’t then throw the baby out with the bath water. Because we are spiritual beans, which I will say again only for my own personal, my own experience, but I believe we are spiritual beings or we have a spiritual impulse, a spirituality and we do need to speak to that. And materialism, reductivist materialism, doesn’t answer that need in us.

Thea:                            15:48                Well it doesn’t hold the space for that mystery that is always present in some way. But I’d like to go back just a moment, ’cause I think there was something you said yesterday in our conversation that was really important to distinguish when we’re talking about this sort of age of coming into this individual sense of seeing. I want to find a better way to say it. It is reclaiming our authority or claiming our authority, but also really the honoring of our own seeing is part of that. But what you said yesterday, was there’s a difference between individualism that is just self-serving and sort of narcissistic, as opposed to a group of individuals coming together––I mean maybe you want to say it––as opposed to a group of people who are all thinking the same or don’t have their own responsibility of self quite there. But when everyone is an individual and their work has been done through themselves to come to where they are, there’s more power in that group of people working together towards a shared goal than there is in a group of people following someone with a somewhat shared goal.

Anne:                           17:13                So, basically that, you know, there’s a difference between a group of individuals bringing their own unique skills, talents, perspectives, experience to the table toward a, a shared goal––the evolution of humanity, let’s say that––versus a collective of group think that is following one idea and path. And so I think the way we concluded, and we want to wrap it up just to keep this short, but we want to keep this going, I think, this is a good start. I think what we determined perhaps is that there’s gotta be, there has to be another path now. And so, you know, there’s, there’s a path beyond just the choices of atheism, fundamental religion, nebulous, agnostic, spirituality. Something else maybe needs to emerge and be formed. And new language must be found for a new, experiential understanding of God, or our connection to source, whatever that is for you. And the way to do that is to start talking about it more.

Thea:                            18:28                Thinking about it.

Anne:                           18:29                Well exactly. Like Drake says, you have to first want to even think about it before you can want to start talking about it.

Thea:                            18:36                Well, and then that’s where the conversations come ’cause you have to show up, you have to show up for the––now I’m thinking of baseball––show up for the game. You know, you have to be able to stand at the plate and be like, yeah, let’s bring this discussion up. Let’s bring this topic.

Drake:                          18:50                Yeah, ’cause I was going to say, if you don’t––and it can be totally reasonable to not want to be thinking about these things at certain times. But if you’re not wanting to think about it and people start, you know, asking you questions, pointed questions about your beliefs or what you think and presenting you with what they think and all of that. It can feel like an attack or sort of like a barrage of something coming in at you. And if you haven’t even wanted to start thinking about it, I mean it’s going to feel weird. It feels like people are trying to get you to think like them. Which is I think why discussions about this stuff can be like…it’s so vulnerable. It’s so vulnerable for people to say what they believe or that they don’t know what they believe and they’re like, it feels like it’s a difficult thing to get past that before you say, I want to figure out something for myself, whatever that might be. Because when you were talking about materialists, I mean, I feel like, there’s so many different types of people and there’s so much out there in terms of what people have thought about these things. Like, I know there are ancient authors that I haven’t read yet that don’t believe in God, but have a system of morals and ways of thinking about things that is beautiful and can totally work for someone to read and think about and be inspired and not necessarily adopted as a sort of creed, but to feed into their own understanding of what their work in the world is. So it’s like, yeah, starting to think about it.

Thea:                            20:27                Yeah, and if this ties in just a little bit. Yesterday we had briefly spoken about this, which led to that reflection you had about the normalcy of leaving one’s, place of birth and upbringing. And that came after us speaking about Arjuna and his quest towards his seeing…

Anne:                           20:52                For anyone who doesn’t know what you’re referring to. Arjuna from the Mahabharata epic tale of ancient India, right. As Krishna’s talking to him too, right?

Drake:                          21:04                Yeah. He’s about to, if I recall correctly, I think he’s about to fight his own family, he’s about to fight, you know, half of his family members and he’s like, how, how am I supposed to reconcile myself to this? Then I was remembering from, I think it’s Matthew in the Bible where Jesus says that he’s coming to take, you know, son from father and daughter from mother or something along those lines.

Thea:                            21:30                So those pictures of having to let go of that which is familiar, to forge one’s own path with honor and truth and dignity. And that is, you know, there’s a part that’s necessary to throw off these things so you can see what’s sort of left standing. And I feel like maybe that’s what epoch we are stepping into now. It’s like, what, what’s left standing? What is there, something that we can really protect and nurture and grow for humanity from this point? And what is that relationship with God, source, a structure of morals.

Drake:                          22:12                Well also all these situations that we keep bringing up, it seems like there’s something to do with, when you run into like, contradictions, like very irreconcilable things like Arjuna having to fight his family and wanting to be a virtuous person. Those seem to be impossible to reconcile those two things. So it’s like, what does he do in that situation? And whether you want to do exactly what he does is beside the point, but just getting to see what other people do in these stories? And if that leads to conversation too, with other people like, “Oh, what did they do when they ran into a super sticky moral scenario? Where did they turn? How did they get through it in a way that they thought benefited themselves and others?

Thea:                            23:01                Where the seemingly obvious gentle, compassionate route is actually the cowardly, unhonorable or dishonorable route. Not to not have compassion. That’s not what I’m trying to say, but what seems to be a general kindness may not truly be a kindness.

Anne:                           23:20                Absolutely. And, and the only way to really kind of push through those kind of black and white choices, and push through to, to understand, embrace the complexity, but still take action, one has to examine and explore that. And I think what Drake has brought up to some degree speaks to the fact that we should not throw all of that out in forging our new path, but take that, benefit from everyone’s experience from history, humanity’s experience. Take it, examine it, discuss it, discard, try it, try something different. And then form something new. Correct?

Drake:                          24:17                Yeah. I mean, it just seems like we’re going to have to take action, no matter what. Right? We can’t just hide in our rooms forever. We’re going to have to go do things. And so it seems like it might help us make better decisions as opposed to just going, “I don’t know.” ‘Cause if you just say, “I don’t know,” you’re going to find yourself in situations where you have to do things, anyway. So, at least trying to know might…

Anne:                           24:48                Because you can sit in your room or you can sit in your community, and you can say it’s all good and you know, and decide to not make a decision toward judgment, which leads to action. But if you do that, the world is going to eventually exert its influence on you and you’re going to have to then react. So let’s get out in front of it. Let’s start talking about this more in a new way and find some new language and new concepts to examine and discuss and go from there.

Thea:                            25:31                And I would even just say maybe they’re not new concepts, right? But maybe we do need to find a new language so that those old concepts that are probably timeless and ever present just need to be understood and digested and reused in a way that we can understand now more easily.

Anne:                           25:54                Because truth is eternal, right? So truth is eternal, but our consciousness is ever changing. And so we need to develop some new understandings, I think, in order to incorporate those truths and most beautifully, powerfully, and positively manifest them going forward into this new age. Into the Age of the Fifth Sun. So let’s wrap this up. It’s getting too long, but let’s keep going. Okay? All right. Thanks you guys.

Thea:                            26:35                Thanks. Bye.

Anne:                           26:35                Let me stop recording. Bye.

Featured post

Allowing Grief

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

To support one who is grieving, simply allow them to be––to be a mess, to be demolished, to be in grief. And to not be the same person you knew them to be before the grief. Because they are not––and they never will be again. And if you are the one grieving, honor yourself and your loss by allowing that in yourself.

Grief “veterans” sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason discuss.

Anne’s article describing her personal experience with loss and grief was written and published a few years after the death of their parents in 2002, 11 days apart. It was recently republished again this year in Grief Digest Magazine, entitled Responding to Life.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Anne:                           00:01                Okay. So Thea and I are going to talk a little bit more about grief. We feel we’re still, we’re feeling that thread still of grief and we were just reflecting in a conversation we were just having on the fact that it’s probably partly the season. Our father had passed at the end of October and then our mother, 11––I never remember 11, 13 days later, whatever it was in the early November…

Thea:                            00:32                Eleven.

Anne:                           00:32                Eleven days. And one thing I wanted to qualify is that the reason that I think we’re talking about this as if we have a great deal of experience with kind of intense grief is that part of it was the experience of caretaking our parents from brain illness and injury over the course of some years. So it was very, very intense, you know, when people lose the brains, basically, that’s an intense process of caretaking. And then it happening when we were a lot younger.

Thea:                            01:20                It’s almost at 20 years, I mean we’re going toward 20 years now.

Anne:                           01:27                And then, and then happening within the space of two weeks. So that was just all intense, very intense and very magnified. So that’s partly why we are wanting to convey what helped. We were just reflecting on the fact that if it happened now, of course it would still be intense, but not as intense. So, we want to talk a little bit about what helped us during that time practically. And I was reflecting with Thea on the fact that one of the things I did during that, especially that first year after it all happened and I was going through the motions of life and work and dealing with the estate and all of these things, I started drinking cream in my coffee where I had drunk black coffee before that. But just to, to get out of bed and go to work, which was like, felt like it required sometimes superhuman capacity. I started drinking cream in my coffee. I started taking baths again. And I had lived in London, years before where everybody takes baths and I had gone back to taking showers here in the States. But I started taking baths, because it felt more nurturing. It was softer. It was gentler. I started doing yoga a little bit, and as Thea can vouch for, I’m not a yoga person, but I started doing yoga in the mornings. I had this funky VHS tape that I had inherited from Thea or something, and I would do this 20 minute yoga thing in the morning and it nurtured me. It helped me. I also look back on that time and realize, you know, I cocooned a lot and it’s kind of against my nature, to be so insular, you know, I’m pretty out there, but I was alone a lot. I wanted to be alone a lot. And I drank a lot. I wept a lot. I cried a lot. And, and I remember at the time, friends, people close to me, kind of trying to encourage me to get out of that, “Come on, you know, this isn’t you!” and being kind of at odds with that, like, “Oh, this is not me. What, what’s going on? What am I doing here? What am I doing?” And I wish I had had the sense that I knew best and the sense to just allow that process to happen without trying to force anything.

Thea:                            04:34                Well if I can chime in to that. This reminds me of the thought I had had when we were chatting a little bit ago was that it wasn’t you. And like we touched on last time, that there is that darkened space that we go into and we do–– allowing, allowing for that darkened space and time to occur like a cocoon. We do come out something else. We become something else. We develop, we grow, we change. But I just wanted to remark, because I don’t think I’ve thought of it this way before, was that when someone that we love and make connections with in this life leaves this world, the world is altered and therefore those that are closely tied to that person do truly change because they fill the space differently to be able to continue. And you know, when it is a connection that is like one of those of loved people in our lives, it does alter us and we do become something not ourselves while we’re in transformation. And I think even just stating that if that, if that knowledge was more apparent for those people who are supporting the grieving people that they will be different, and it’s not really a helpful thing to convey.

Thea:                            06:04                You’re not yourself. No shit, you know? You won’t be, you know, I will be picking up different threads of myself, but I’m weaving a new fabric. While I’m in this cocoon. You know, we are changing. So if there’s a little more intelligence about that process for people who are going through grief maybe or those that are going through it, our own knowledge that we’re going to be different and allowing for that without the guilt game of I’m not being myself for these people in my life. I don’t know if I’ve gone too far astray, but I think that’s what you’re speaking to. Wishing you had known that, you know best like listening to that inner voice again that is asking you to do something different, you know, is, is really valuable.

Anne:                           06:55                Yes, it’s definitely valuable. And it’s, and it’s good to talk to other people who have been through it as we did, you know, over time. I also went to a grief counselor. First time I had really done any therapy or any kind of thing like that, and it was helpful for sure, to have that validated. I think that’s an important thing to point out to others too though, who are there to try to, or those were trying to hold it for someone else. Trying to support someone who’s going through the grieving process. W.

Thea:                            07:33                Which is really a hard position.

Anne:                           07:36                It is. And I’ve read about this recently too, where people don’t know what to say. They don’t know what to do. People who have not been there really don’t know. And I think it’s important to just let those folks know that I think that all anyone is…You know, when you’re grieving that deeply. And one other thing I wanted to point out is like, you know, a friend had communicated recently about it, who had lost her son recently and that, as I said to her, I can’t even touch that, right? That’s, that’s many layers beyond. But what I can say is I, I just, you know, I just send you my love, you know, I give you my love and, and I grieve for you and with you, right? You know, you can say, I’m sorry for your loss or whatever, but you know, I always, I found all that platitudinal stuff kind of like, just, just be real. And just to know that that person, honor that person by allowing them to just be going through that phase that you’re describing, their transformation. They are not going to be what you know, they’re not going to be what you are used to, and they’re probably never going to be that again.

Thea:                            09:18                That’s huge.

Anne:                           09:20                So to, to accept that and encourage them in that rather than make them feel as if they’re doing something wrong. Right?

Thea:                            09:30                Right. Yeah. I think what you’re speaking to also, and I, you know, when I look back at people in my life when they’ve been going through their own grief and it’s like, you know, we don’t want to say “I’m sorry for your loss” while you are, is, depending on the nature of your relationship is a little bit like “I’m here and I can relate and I’m here.” But we can’t, there’s not much else. There’s not much else we can really offer.

Anne:                           10:02                Yeah, we can’t. That’s the thing. We can’t fix it. We can’t give them anything. We can just hold that space for them to just be and to be demolished too. We can hold the space for them to be demolished. To be all over the floor. To be a mess. Let them be a mess. You know? And that’s what you and I spoke about a little bit too. It’s like, you had used the word, I don’t think you said this in the video, but you said, there was a part of you that, because the fabric of reality had torn open…

Thea:                            10:42                Or altered.

Anne:                           10:42                Altered. There was a tear in it. (You Said), “It didn’t fit, it no longer fit. Your life didn’t quite fit anymore.” So that’s something that we become aware of more in any heightened state, I think.

Thea:                            11:03                Right. That you’re actually growing into a new way of being. When there has been an alteration to the reality you’ve been engaging with. So allowing for that growth and that shift and that discomfort. Kind of like if you have a new pair of shoes, they take a bit to wear into the shape of your foot, right? Or your, when you get used to a good pair of jeans. At first they didn’t feel so good, but that takes a little bit of time and then you fit them right and they, you fit them and they fit you. But it all takes a little discomfort for awhile.

Anne:                           11:43                Or more than that though I would say. I mean, I like your, your clothing analogy––as anyone knows, Thea’s style and her clothes and her relationship to clothes, it’s appropriate. For me on the other hand, like when we were talking about the mess and, and being demolished on the floor––I think also give yourself a break. And give anyone who’s going through this a break to, to really screw up too in a way. Like make some, make some big mistakes.

Thea:                            12:22                Which I think we all, we all did.

Anne:                           12:25                We all did, you know, and it was challenging and hard. But also it’s like we had to break some things. In order to then allow that new thing to form. We had to break it down. Say that again.

Thea:                            12:47                A new emergence, like of oneself. Out of it. To break down ideas that we had about ourselves that were held, I mean, in our situation, it being our parents, that’s a different dynamic than a friend or a lover or a child. So different things we had to break down to free ourselves even.

Anne:                           13:10                Yeah. I put it as, you know, we went a little crazy and that was okay. Because we only went so crazy. We kept things going, but we went a little crazy. And then we came back from the crazy.

Thea:                            13:32                The edges, I call it the edges. A little bit. Because we weren’t out of our heads, I mean, we weren’t disconnected with what we were doing. We were really pretty aware of the choices we were making in most of those moments. They were big but we, we pushed past our edges maybe that we had kept ourselves in before. And I, you know, I think what you said just about that, that initial time of intense grief, it’s like finding whatever it is that is some sort of ritual for you––cream in your coffee, baths, walks, talks, whatever––those little things that can hold so much power. Lighting a candle, you know, I mean, I’m just giving little things, making your, you know, whatever. I’m like thinking like my shoe rack, little things that I could make really neat and orderly that brought me joy because everything felt…

Anne:                           14:32                And tethering, right? It was a tethering, so whatever, you know, finding your little rituals of tethering. To tether you while you also are flailing at the same time through that.

Thea:                            14:48                And one more thing. I don’t know if this ties anything in, but I think there’s those, those pictures that when you’re sharing of your sort of cocooning, and I was saying a little bit of that spiraling inward because you tend to be more outward and I, I don’t think I’ve put this together quite yet until now. I tend to be a little more inward in many ways and I think in that period I was so busy teaching and practicing, I kind of did the opposite.

Anne:                           15:19                And parenting. Yeah, you did.

Thea:                            15:19                I went out a little bit more than I normally would be. So that’s curious. I don’t think I’d seen that until now.

Anne:                           15:30                Yeah, which pushed this other side of you like this, this other side of me. And brought us to the wholeness that we are now! I joke!

Thea:                            15:41                As we go through new challenges and edge pushing. My God.

Anne:                           15:49                Absolutely. Absolutely. As we’re, yeah. As we are both going through other changes, and we’ve also just reflected on the fact that having gone through that intensity in our earlier years and, and then becoming accustomed to cycles and cycles of grief does inform you to become accustomed to all cycles and that they do move and they’re waves, and it moves in and out. And if you just kind of tether yourself while you get through that, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Thea:                            16:23                Yeah. Thanks.

Anne:                           16:25                There we go. As nonlinear is all that was. Hopefully that’s, that’s something and something. And Happy holidays to all the grieving people out there, because I know this brings it up as it does the winter and all of that. Right? So, all right.

Thea:                            16:46                Absolutely. Take care.

Anne:                           16:47                You too. All right. Bye.

Thea:                            16:50                Bye.

Featured post

Coping with Grief and Loss

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

Grief can seem indescribably unbearable. But it gets easier, we promise. And it can transform and give birth to something positive––and widen, deepen and enrich our capacity and wisdom as we move through life.

Sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason speak from experience.

Anne’s article describing her personal experience with loss and grief was written and published a few years after the death of their parents in 2002, 11 days apart. It was recently republished again this year in Grief Digest Magazine, entitled Responding to Life.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Anne:                           00:00                Okay, we’re recording. Okay. So we’re going to talk about grief today. And to inform anyone listening. Thea and I both, and our sisters, lost both of our parents at the end of 2002 after they both suffered pretty horrific, devastating brain injuries and illnesses. Our mother from brain cancer at the young age of 52, and our father from a brain injury following other health problems at the age of 62. So that was pretty intense as anyone can imagine. Tt was not just the loss, but also the years leading to the loss and how excruciating that was to witness.

Thea:                            01:07                And the 11 days apart, you know, and the, the compact “pow” of the loss.

Anne:                           01:10                Yeah. It was. And, you know, I was Mom’s primary caretaker. She was not remarried. Thea, she already had a family. So she also had a young child and she was flying back, taking care of things as well. Then my dad’s secondary caretaker. So it was just, it was so intense, right? As anyone who’s gone through loss understands. And so we’ve been talking about this and I’ll post a link to the article too that by chance I discovered––there was an article I had written really not long after they died, but then I kind of held onto it and submitted it for publication a few years later. So it was published about a decade ago and it was just recently republished this year. So the first thing I think we would like to talk about is to acknowledge for anyone who is suffering and in grief grieving, going through the grieving process, that we get it so much and that it is an experience that one cannot really convey or describe really, unless you’ve stepped through that door. And we’re aware of the fact that the world does not see or acknowledge what you are going through as you are walking through your day to day life, trying to just cope with an unbearable, indescribable pain. You know, I mean, it makes me want to cry when I’m––I don’t know why I’m in touch with it recently. And that is the weird thing about grief, it is always there, but it gets much more manageable and it transforms and there’s a beauty. There is as much beauty to the pain as there is the pain, I think over time, you know? And so yeah, you know, a couple of friends of mine have just suffered very close losses. So that’s been a topic we were just talking about.

Anne:                           03:44                Ricky Gervais’ After Life––it’s a new Netflix series and it’s remarkable. It’s extraordinary. His comprehension, his understanding of grief and his ability to portray it. It’s very good. I highly recommend it. So, I think what we want to talk about a little bit right now is, and let’s look at our time. As we had been talking about even in last week’s conversation, which we entitled Responding to Change and many other of our conversations have been kind of in keeping with this theme of our responses to what life presents, right, and how impactful it is. How our response to what comes obviously significantly influences our life’s experience. And others’, you know, in this case with grief, others’ response to what we are going through is also impactful. And that article I wrote about touched on how the lack of our society’s observance of grief, of what people are going through. There is as I had written in the article, there’s a short period of time where your loss is formally acknowledged, but maybe it’s our busy world, our busy society, our busy everyday hectic pace. I’m not sure what it is. I also think there’s something unhealthy in the way we cope. I think there is some times a sense of putting on a face. I think there’s a sense of kind of faking it––that we, that we should, you know, just appear as if things are okay.

Thea:                            06:10                If it doesn’t interrupt your thought too much, I think there’s something that I’m seeing when we’re articulating it is––your article says so eloquently really how you’re given this space and time, brief period of time where it’s acknowledged and then it kind of just slips away, but you’re still holding it. And that’s really the time where the burden gets heavier. And because the shock, depending on what grief stages or how it comes to someone, you know, ours was, I can speak from that experience. That was, it was just so intense. And, and because it was so intense for us, I felt like, you know, everything was blown apart, all of our reality in a certain way. So, so taking us to our knees that the only thing that could come through was grace. Like it carried us through the horrificness of it in a way. And then after the shocking part sort of starts to wear off, that’s when the new stages of that grief start to come in, in a more thunderous way in a sense. And what I’m seeing in this though is like, different cultures have different observances. You know, maybe you wear black for a year or whatever it is because it really does take that length of time. And our culture–we don’t do that so much in any real way.

Thea:                            07:48                But what I’m seeing is that we have the observance for this short period, and then you have the funeral or the celebration of life or whatever it is, but it’s like boom, boom, boom. And it’s like the meaning again is getting lost and it’s the image rather than the essence. Even the advice that you’re given through grief counselors to not make any big changes, which you speak to really well in the article, but it’s again, it’s like it gets lost. The words, the meaning, the intent, the impulse that’s sound gets distorted. And then it’s like you’re standing in nothingness.

Anne:                           08:31                It’s, you know I remember how I worded it and I don’t want to repeat exactly how I worded it, but basically it’s cautioning us, right? To not be reactive. To not be reactionary, maybe is a better way of putting it. But in so doing, it’s kind of throwing the baby out with the bath water. So yes, we should not, it’s helpful in life to not react impulsively without thought, without care. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respond. Right? And that we shouldn’t act upon the process that we’re going through that we shouldn’t act upon some of the instincts or the awarenesses or changes that it’s bringing up in us. Right? So that’s one thing I think that it goes hand in hand with the way the culture observes our loss as well. It’s true that we have to get on with it. Right? And, you know, I remember in the midst of it, and I have since kind of lamented how challenging it is with a death. So the person who’s been caretaking experiencing incredible loss after they’re already exhausted from the caretaking, and then they’ve got to do all this other stuff after the death, all the legal stuff, all of the you know, the estate situation.

Thea:                            10:21                The business part.

Anne:                           10:26                The business of it. But, there is also something necessary in that because it keeps you moving, you know, and there is a tethering there, as unpleasant as it is, so that you don’t kind of go off the deep end. Not to say that one doesn’t at times go off the deep end. And I would say I, you know, those first couple of years were almost debilitating. Right? I mean, it was just, you know, I drank a lot, you know, and I sheltered myself a lot. I did go through the motions and I did what I absolutely had to do. But other than that, you know, it was, it was rough as you know.

Thea:                            11:16                And I know that too. You know, I think so much of the way grief comes to us or what we’re given through it–– knowing that I had a child to take care of, it minimized the spaces I could even go into. So they kind of came in a softer current over years because I had a living proof purpose that I had to keep going for. Right? And that changes things.

Anne:                           11:46                Yeah. Totally. You couldn’t, you couldn’t fall down. Right? And so that also means that probably it may have lingered longer. Your process may have just been elongated you know, but who’s to say? Right? Cause it’s still, I mean, there are still times, once in a great while, I will like, I’ll weep. Right?

Thea:                            12:11                I know. Yeah.

Anne:                           12:11                But also you know, on the flip side, for anyone going through it, God, I mean, as devastating and difficult as it’s been, I’m grateful to them for the gift that they gave us in that. I would not be who I am. I would not be the mother I am. I would not be…There’s so much that it deepened in our experience, right, to have gone through that. So there’s some good stuff that comes from it, you know, with all of life’s, you know I mean it’s cliche again, but the deeper the suffering, the deeper the experience, the deeper the wisdom I think.

Thea:                            13:13                Right. And that goes, we spoke just for a moment beforehand is like, yeah, as, we love more, as we grieve more and feel the depths and breadths, and all the angles and spaces of feeling––I mean these are the things that make us really human. It allows, I mean, I feel for myself, it’s allowed me to become a bigger person, more able to meet more people where they are. The more experiences I have, the wisdom, right? The more that there is a reflection within me to another, the more we share, the more we connect, the more we serve our purpose being here on Earth.

Anne:                           14:00                Oh gosh. And it reminds me of a comment a friend made on my Facebook page when I had just posted that this article got republished. And she had lost her mom. And she said, you know, it makes one aware, it’s a reminder that we don’t ever know what anyone else is going through as they’re walking through. Right? And so when you’ve gone through this yourself, it brings an awareness to you always that there are many layers there in everyone. It brings a compassion to I think one’s interactions with everyone and any one, because you start to reveal or you start to realize that so much more may be happening, has happened. You have not walked in their shoes. And that we really, this life, there are few that escape, you know, sorrow and pain in this life. And so just that awareness and compassion brings such a dimension to our relationships, our regard for people and the world really.

Thea:                            15:19                Because within sorrow, I mean, I want to say healthy sorrow, because there’s tragedy that is like, there feels like a wrongness in, you know, an injustice. But there’s, when there’s the healthy sorrow, I feel like within that is a real big seed of what’s beautiful. You know, it brings us to that which is––beauty, you know, love.

Anne:                           15:50                It’s a sweet sorrow. It’s a sweet sorrow. And it’s like having gone through that experience, going through this kind of experience and similar experiences, it definitely, like, it reveals that layer to existence. And we probably should start looking to wrap it up soon, and I’ll only touch on this now, but I mean, beyond the deepening, I mean, it’s, you know, I discovered my faith through that process too. And when I say that, I’m not saying a particular, an organized religion or denomination or, you know, and as I’ve said to people who I’ve gotten into discussions about this with, it’s like I feel that it’s much larger than any one particular organized set of beliefs, but a kind of you know, an all encompassing understanding connection to my source, connection to the divine, connection to other realms. And it’s, you know, it’s been a gradual process for me really since the deaths of my parents. And it’s been an organic, beautiful thing too. And one that feels very experiential. I remember a friend of mine who a German friend of mine who, who lives here in California where it’s really, people don’t talk a lot about God and faith here, in the Bay area, we’re in the Bay area. There’s almost a disdain for that. Right? And he had remarked that it has really struck him how I didn’t, I don’t have this from having been raised in it, you know, ’cause we were raised kind of half assed Catholic…

Thea:                            18:07                But I would say my experience was there was a sense of intelligence and divinity, the acknowledgement of God in our life even though it wasn’t through any direct channel or picture. But that picture that there is, there’s meaning and purpose and God.

Anne:                           18:33                Yeah. An understanding of there being more than we are seeing. Yeah. Right. More than is visible. I agree. But, he was remarking that, you know, that it came to me through experience in this way as opposed to where it’s come through for him and through practice. But anyway, you know, I won’t get off on a tangent, but there’s something so beautifully rich in the experience. Go ahead.

Thea:                            19:09                Well, I want to say, I don’t think it’s quite a tangent, but I think it will be a thread to come back to that we explore a little bit more because I want to reiterate again in our dialogues that we’re sharing together here. These are our reflections from our experiences and our understanding of those experiences and the way we then choose to engage with our life and the world and the people in our lives. And it’s not so much about is someone testing, has this been proven? This is through our own experience, which I think, what I want to wrap it into a little bit is––losing, having our parents move on at our young age, which felt very young at the time I think removed, I think I said this, I remember feeling it when, when it was going on, just that when they were gone, there was no longer any image of a guidance or you know, mother, father, between myself and God. So my relationship to whatever I call God, source, whatever, became even more clear and tangible for me because there was nothing in between it. I didn’t have anything separating it. And I think what that has brought to me through my own journey and you, is what I perceive is a gift and for me to do something with. So it’s, it’s like, it’s allowed me to develop that capacity more and more and more to listen to myself, to listen to what I Intuit or instinctively respond to. You know, trusting oneself because knowing oneself is more than just me. Like that there’s wisdom that moves through and shows itself to me through my experiences. So, yeah.

Anne:                           21:14                Absolutely. Thanks for making that distinction. Thanks for making that distinction. Yeah. It’s, once again, it’s you know, I’d made this comment recently, but there is some knowledge, there is, there is information that sometimes cannot be transferred through language or books or teaching, but only through experience. Right? It’s when the veil drops, you know, or when we walk through a door. So anyway, it’s an exclusive club. So anyone who has experienced it, welcome to it and promise it gets better and there’s so much richness to the experience that one can be in and does become quite grateful for. And we’ll probably touch on this more next time.

Thea:                            22:09                I think we should. And I just, there’s one more thing now I have to say that as you say that there’s more richness. I feel a little bit like it is that experience, because at first through it, things become more dull and it’s kind of like you’re going into a cocoon a bit and the veils wrap around you. And then when you pull yourself back through that, the world is more vibrant again. It changes. But you do go through a darkness.

Anne:                           22:40                You do, you do. And so do not expect all of a sudden, “Oh you know…” There is a deadening and a darkness to it at first, but you have to go through that to come out to a brighter light.

Thea:                            22:54                Yeah. Well thank you so much. I look forward to us talking more about it ’cause there’s so, so many other spaces within it for us to, you know, think about it as the culture of how to alter and change and support or develop new ways or old ways to honor the grieving process when each individual goes through it. So it can be a transformative space that’s recognized and really honored.

Anne:                           23:26                Yes, I agree. All right, we’ll think on that.

Thea:                            23:30                Thank you.

Anne:                           23:31                All right, one sec. Bye.

Featured post

Responding to Change

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

Our response to challenge and change is informed by our perspective––are we part of an infinitely complex, purposeful design or is our existence merely accidental?

Sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason examine and discuss. Holiday style and in person:)

TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Anne:                                         00:00                       Recording to the cloud. So we’re doing this a little differently this time because Thea’s here, we’re hanging out, and we’re very relaxed here in a circle of redwoods. So what we’ve been talking about is how we respond to change, responding to change, responding to challenges, obstacles that life presents us with and recognizing that something helpful to inform one’s experience in reacting to change is to recognize that this is either intended to be a school or there’s certainly opportunities to learn and grow from these experiences and that it makes it much easier to move through without resistance, as much resistance––or to move through with more grace, to move through with a focus on understanding the experience as much as one can and moving through it rather than resisting it or dwelling…

Thea:                                         01:30                       And even moving with it while it moves through, I think, is something as opposed to resisting, but to be able to see when there are these obstacles or challenges that come into our lives that are pushing us into areas that are more uncomfortable or unknown, how to sort of listen to the signals, listen to the current that’s moving with you and use the current to continue your movement wherever it is your goals are or…destinies as opposed to trying to turn around in the current, as opposed to pushing past it. I don’t know. I’m losing the analogy.

Anne:                                         02:28                       No, I agree. I mean…

Thea:                                         02:30                       …Which allows for a bit more harmonious, enjoyable moving down…

Anne:                                         02:35                       You also have the opportunity in that then to find your true path. I mean, it rarely looks exactly like you thought it was going to look like, right? And so to be open to the possibility that you’re being redirected in ultimately a positive way, if you can just kind of work with it, you know?

Thea:                                         03:05                       Right. That what comes to you is of a good nature and you are to find ways to work with it. To continue your becoming.

Anne:                                         03:17                       Yeah. Right. And even the things that come to you of a bad nature, we can speculate that that will assist our growing as well. Depending on how we respond to it, and identify and recognize it.

Thea:                                         03:29                       Well that’s what I’m saying––how we respond to it I think is what makes it good or bad, more than it may be. That’s what I’m just wondering. It’s like everything that comes up is there to show you something. Now it may be that you veer a little bit away out of that sector, you know, maybe it shows itself so you can go, “Oh, I need to reroute a little bit like this.” But that everything that comes is of a nature that is there for you to see and to utilize it, is basically what you’re saying.

Anne:                                         04:03                       Absolutely. I mean, I don’t think we’re here by accident. Let’s put it that way. Or you can choose to, you know, live that way. Good luck. You know, if you think that this is just an accident, I don’t know, whatever works for people. But it certainly resonates much more for me and makes much more sense to me that there is a purpose to it because whatever I observe around me demonstrates that there’s a perfect purpose to everything, you know, to the interaction of, you know, these trees to the earth, to the earth to us, us to the trees and all. It’s a pretty perfect design. So the idea that we’re some accidental blip in it sounds ridiculous, but anyway.

Thea:                                         04:54                       Sounds just preposterous.

Anne:                                         04:54                       It’s like the most make-believe fairy tale, right? That doesn’t make sense. That sounds like fiction. Anyway, we’re getting off on a tangent.

Thea:                                         05:08                       A little bit. So it started with, how did we start this, finding grace in the movements and change of life.

Anne:                                         05:16                       How we respond to change, basically, and what can help us, what can inform us?

Thea:                                         05:22                       And we can take that to an analogy of birth a bit. I mean it’s a little bit like, here comes the next phase. It’s uncomfortable and difficult and scary, cause you don’t know. It’s, I think, what did I say last conversation we had was it’s unbelievable, the space that you’re being asked to go into. You don’t have a reference for it. You don’t have anything you can liken to it. And then still the only way through it is to unfold a little more.

Anne:                                         06:00                       Well the only way through it is forward. That’s the main thing.

Thea:                                         06:04                       Forward. But the forward comes with a pushing. There is a pushing, right? And there is a contracting, but simultaneously there’s an opening, there’s a letting go in the contracting. So you’re having both those forces at the same time, practically. Right? This and this. The gloves, sorry.

Anne:                                         06:27                       No the light’s moving. It’s a pretty light, but it’s kind of like…can’t see us at all.

Thea:                                         06:31                       Blinding?

Anne:                                         06:35                       Oh, look what happens there. When I do that and move it slightly. Let’s see.

Anne:                                         06:40                       This is to continue on from where we were because we started building on this.

Thea:                                         06:47                       And we wanted to clarify and explore a little bit more what we were discussing about when something comes. That essentially the nature of reality, what comes to us, what thoughts, what challenges, whatever it is, is good. And that doesn’t, it’s not, or maybe it is the same as “It’s all good man,” because it is, but there is distinction.

Anne:                                         07:18                       So my point was like, I’m loathe to get into, you know, relativity because I think that can go astray so quickly, but like we were touching on in the discussion sometimes yesterday. I sense, I’m eager to get beyond the duality, too. Like, there’s more to it, there’s more dimension here. And so I think you talking about then accepting that the ultimate nature of reality is good. Well, and is God right?

Thea:                                         07:52                       And is God. And so that that comes, is good. And it’s in how we meet that which comes, that determines our experiences of good or bad, but the good is there as the foundation of it. And so do, do we struggle with it? Do we rail against it? Do we look at what it’s asking us to bring, to show, which then allows the good to come. I mean, I don’t know, I felt like I was more clear about it a little bit ago, but there’s, there’s like the layers of it as they come to us. It’s like the underneath current, that which is existing all the time. That is good.

Anne:                                         08:45                       And that’s what I feel like it relates to the whole point of me saying, you know, I don’t believe we’re accidental. You know, the idea of us being accidental, of there not being an infinitely complex plan at work or design at work seems absurd––I think if you’re walking through life fairly aware.

Thea:                                         09:07                       I mean, and then if we even think of just an ultimate-ish plan being the macro of the microcosms that we’re living in every moment, I mean.

Anne:                                         09:18                       It all contributes, it’s all part of it. Existing on so many levels and layers within ourselves, within our stages of development, of humanity’s development, within every and all. It’s complex. But I suppose what it comes down to is, you know, I think probably it’s looking at it one way or the other. It’s either that this is by design and therefore purposeful. Every moment is an opportunity to act with purpose.

Thea:                                         09:54                       True. Yeah, I think that’s huge. That’s liberating. That’s empowering. That’s everything really. Because if all those things, I mean, and I’m even talking like the little thoughts, you know––and we’ve shared this living and knowing each other for so long––you know, if you’re leaving the house and there’s that little blip that says check, check if the whatever, the window’s closed or the fire’s off or grab your keys or grab a hat. Those times that we don’t listen to those little things, we then look back and go, Oh, I did know. I’m taking that as the thread of all of it because it’s there.

Anne:                                         10:44                       It’s intelligence. There’s an intelligence there.

Thea:                                         10:44                       There’s an intelligence and intelligibility. It’s there for us to pay attention to or to ignore, and that sort of sets our route.

Anne:                                         10:53                       And so getting back to moving through challenges, meeting challenges, how we face our obstacles and move through life. That is what sets the tone. That is what informs the way we do it.

Thea:                                         11:12                       Yeah. And is it purposeful? Is it meaningful? That depends on what we choose, like how we’re able to perceive it because it is, we’re either aware of it or we’re not.

Anne:                                         11:26                       Right. And probably learning and growing either way. Right? Hopefully. Sometimes we can get pretty stuck.

Thea:                                         11:38                       And God, I mean, It’s like even those getting stuck, Oh, we were likening this to an analogy of birth later on in our conversation. We didn’t get there yet, but even that, right? Is there some something that getting stuck for a moment and then you find a new route through it, but you have to sometimes surrender then to that being stuck. I am stuck, and then something else can move or you can get back into the movement or be picked up by the movement.

Anne:                                         12:12                       Well because you know, a theme that has come up in other discussions I’ve had recently is just that everything is moving, and so it’s when we try to when we put on this pretense of it being static, it makes the whole thing way harder, right? It’s always moving. So we just have to––I mean this sounds, it always gets down to the platitudinal, trite cliches.

Thea:                                         12:50                       Well there’s truth in those.

Anne:                                         12:50                       Yes, they’re here for a reason, but that’s the “going with the flow.” And you know, I don’t mean it in that way.

Thea:                                         12:58                       Well, here’s the thing though, as you were saying, being static, being without movement, that’s what creates the static and what earlier in some conversation we were having, I was thinking that’s part of––oh, talking about the birth or the moving through obstacles, the unfolding or the shucking off of that which is staticky. Like those little pieces that aren’t in the flow. The more we let go of those with less and less of our own resistance to them being let go, the freer we are in that flow, the more strong the current is and the clearer it is, whatever it is, however, moving.

Anne:                                         13:42                       Totally. Well that’s also you know, it’s casting away expectation of what one thought it was going to be, look like, or whatever. That’s one thing, is being able to do that quickly. It makes you get through things a lot more quickly and more easily I think with less resistance. But also, it strikes me to then bring up the fact, the importance of then what foundational principles are you holding onto? Because we have to hold on to something, right? To get us through whatever it is. So what is the foundational principle that allows you to just with grace, with dignity, with courage, with faith, faith, faith. That’s the biggest part of it, right? With faith. So are those? Those are the foundational principles, right?

Thea:                                         14:39                       Like every religion has these tenets, ways of being that you hold onto. And so those are the framework. Those are the structure. That’s like the bones of it all for everything else to work around.

Anne:                                         14:57                       Exactly. But you know, the words can stop losing their meaning. Right. And that’s the problem with organized religion.

Thea:                                         15:06                       And that’s why there are aspects that we’ve had conversations about. It’s like we’re in a time of developing a new language. Language is constantly moving because things start to mean different things when they lose their, their root to the meanings. So sometimes we have to find ways to revitalize those meanings. And even maybe it’s just bringing the depth and breadth of these things to go with the flow. I mean all these phrases. They’re all in it.

Anne:                                         15:45                       The Tao, yeah. I think we should cut it.

Thea:                                         15:58                       I think it’s done. I think it’s done. Yeah. Well, there might be more thoughts that come up.

Anne:                                         16:03                       There may be! All right. See ya folks.

Featured post

The Case for Home Birth

by Anne Mason

Two hours after our daughter’s birth.

Both my kids were born at home. People have often remarked on the courage I must have had to have made that choice. It wasn’t courage––it was a desire for a comfortable, supportive birth environment I knew was the best bet for my kids and me to avoid unnecessary trauma and intervention. There are times when medical intervention is necessary, but most of the time, the medical system itself and its medicalized birth practices create the issues which lead to intervention in the first place.

Our bodies are designed to give birth. Fit, healthy women in most cases should be able to deliver their babies naturally––if only they are allowed to. I was 37 years old with my first pregnancy and 40 with my second. My husband and I eschewed all the tests and screenings recommended for “a woman my age,” as we were committed to bringing our children into the world, regardless of what abnormalities or issues such screenings might suggest. And we were blessed with two wonderfully healthy children born without complication or intervention.

I remember being questioned about our choice to birth at home when I was pregnant with our eldest. Well-intended friends pointed to historical maternal and infant mortality rates as an argument for hospital birth. A closer look at the history, however, largely implicates hospitals and doctors in the staggeringly high maternal mortality rates from puerperal fever in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries––in which it was common practice for the medical profession to examine pregnant women and deliver babies after performing autopsies, WITHOUT WASHING THEIR HANDS. As Suzanne Humphries, MD and Roman Bystrianyk emphasize in their landmark book “Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History,” puerperal fever’s massive maternal death toll profoundly impacted the fabric of society. It is no wonder this tragic and largely avoidable episode in recent human history influences our fears surrounding childbirth.

Poverty, lack of sanitation, lack of nutrition and poor standard of living during that time period also contributed to overall mortality rates, life expectancy and birth outcomes. When determining the risks of childbirth in this day and age in the US and other developed nations, it’s critical to examine our history and whether those risk factors still apply. Further, it is paramount that we look at the actual statistics involving home birth here in the US. Among low-risk women, planned home births result in low rates of interventions without an increase in adverse outcomes for mothers and babies.

It is becoming common knowledge that the US medicalized birth practices are a factor in the United States’ increasing maternal mortality rates. The only developed country with an increase, the US maternal mortality rate has more than doubled from 1991 to 2014. Earlier this year, Harvard Business Review cited these statistics and more in its piece The Rising U.S. Maternal Mortality Rate Demands Action from Employers and advocated for non-hospital birth options for low-risk pregnancies.

Furthermore, the medical system in the US is the cause of so many deaths that researchers from Johns Hopkins wrote an open letter to the CDC to request that CDC change its record collection criteria to accurately inform the public of this alarming statistic. With medical errors being the 3rd leading cause of death in our country, the hospital hardly seems a sensible environment for a healthy expectant mother to deliver her healthy baby into. On the contrary, the mother and baby would seem at less risk of fatal complications in the safety of their own home, attended to by trained midwives.

Beyond the health and safety of the mother and child, there are many more reasons to deliver at home. In the privacy of her own home, the mother is allowed to labor at her own pace. She can labor in the comfort and quiet of her own bedroom, bathtub or birth tub. While her midwives monitor her and the baby’s vitals throughout, they are unobtrusive and respectful, and they accommodate her timing, not theirs. She is not surrounded by or attached to any machines and monitors, and she is able to move her body freely.

Without intervention or epidural, labor proceeds naturally, as baby and mother coordinate their rhythm and contractions to bring the birth. The midwives do not pressure the mother to take Pitocin to induce labor. She is allowed to proceed as her body and her baby’s body dictates.

Family members or chosen friends are the only other people in the home, quietly and respectfully on-hand to support the laboring mother and whatever she may need at the time. A hushed reverence pervades the scene. And when the baby arrives, he or she is welcomed into the quiet, warm room, surrounded only by loving family, friends and trusted midwives the mother has gotten to know well over the course of her pregnancy.

Newborn baby and mother remain together in the comfort of their bed, while over the next couple of hours the midwives gently monitor, record birth stats and care for the mother (one of my midwives even brought me a plate of scrambled eggs after the birth of our daughter, as she felt I needed the protein). Once they determine all is well, they pack up their oxygen and equipment, hug the new mother, kiss the new baby and go home, only to return the next day and beyond to continue post-partum monitoring and care.

Mother and baby, big brother and father fall asleep in the comfort of their own beds. What a lovely way to welcome this new member of the family. And what a lovely way to come into the world.

Featured post

The Blessings of Home Birth

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

What better entry into the world than the loving sanctuary of one’s family home? The medicalization of birth in the US may account for its alarmingly high infant and maternal mortality rates––so let’s take a closer look when evaluating which environment poses the bigger risk.

Home Birth “veterans” and sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason examine and discuss.

**NOTE TO VIEWER/LISTENER: Anne read from a few online articles she had printed out right before their chat, but the print outs didn’t display a few things properly, and she guessed at source and date of a couple. The piece she thought was from Harvard Medical Review was actually from Harvard Business Review (link below), and the NPR piece on the Johns Hopkins study was from May 2016 (link below as well.)

We’ve included a few additional links as well, in order to help anyone get started in doing their own research about the risks and benefits of natural home birth vs medicalized hospital births. The transcript to the video can be found below the links:


New Studies Confirm Safety of Home Birth With Midwives in the U.S.

To lower maternal and infant mortality rates, we need more midwives

American Babies Are Less Likely to Survive Their First Year Than Babies in Other Rich Countries

The Rising U.S. Maternal Mortality Rate Demands Action from Employers

Medical Errors Are No. 3 Cause Of U.S Deaths, Researchers Say


TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Anne:                                         00:01                       Hey Thea.

Thea:                                         00:02                       Hey there, Anne.

Anne:                                         00:05                       So we decided we want to talk about home birth this episode, and it follows on a friend is coming up to having her third child and has decided to do a home birth. And we were talking about it, and given that you had all of your boys at home, your healthy boys at home, and I had both my kids at home, and our mother had our youngest at home, we have some experience with that and thought it related to a lot of the other discussions we’ve had about empowerment, authority, autonomy, self responsibility and more. (That’s A loud, long train horn!)

Thea:                                         01:09                       You know, it all depends on the personality, I think, of the train driver. They vary. Sometimes it’s like “HONNNNNK!”

Anne:                                         01:19                       And what kind of day they’re having! So, just to start out with a couple of thoughts, and we’ll go from there. A lot of times I’ll be in a group of women or be talking to women about birth, and having had a home birth, and those that haven’t had that experience will often say, “Oh, how brave. You’re so brave.” (Wow. That guy is really agro!) So yeah, they’ll say, “Oh, you’re so brave.” And I always say, “No trust me, I think you’re the brave one.” The women who manage to have uncomplicated births without intervention, according to the plan that they had set forth when they came into the hospital––I can’t really even imagine having that experience. How much harder you would be to have had you know, as gentle a birth as birth can be.

Thea:                                         02:30                       Right? Yeah. I mean, as birth is this place of absolutely power and vulnerability at the same time, and to be in a situation that you aren’t even really comfortable or quite relaxed. I can’t even fathom.

Anne:                                         02:52                       I mean, any woman who’s gone through this knows––you’re in a different state of mind.

Thea:                                         03:01                       If you’re allowed to be. And I wonder about that too. I mean, I think, I don’t know, I haven’t done it in the hospital. And I wonder if women who have given birth in hospitals have had varying experiences of being in that altered state. Or not.

Anne:                                         03:18                       Or if they have to always kind of be on in order to say no or to watch what’s going on––I mean, just alone, so, you know obviously complications can happen in any situation, right? But first off most midwives are incredibly experienced at delivering babies, actually delivering them, not C-sections, but actually delivering them. And delivering them in a number of different circumstances. I mean, my son for example, the cord was wrapped around his head as happens In think in like a quarter of births. Right? My midwife who delivered our daughter, helped me deliver our daughter, she worked in the back countries of Amish land, right? She delivered twins, she delivered breech babies. She could do anything, you know? And it was wonderful to be in the hands of someone so beautifully experienced, no matter what came up. And of course, midwives, they bring the oxygen, they have a lot of things at their disposal right here at the house. And they have relationships with doctors at hospitals so that if you need to transfer, you can go there. But. Provided it goes just the normal course, you’re in your own home, you’re in your own bed or bathtub or whatever you choose. You are able to go at your own pace. You don’t have to speed it up or, or either say no constantly to Pitocin or finally accept taking Pitocin to stimulate your contractions in order to get things moving because the hospital won’t allow you to be there for longer than a couple of days, et cetera. Right? So many things. And on top of it, you don’t have to worry about people coming and checking, taking blood, all the things, who knows. I mean, I have no idea what it’s like ’cause I’ve not done it except for having watched documentaries on the difference between those types of births. But you know, you don’t need to be hooked up to machines. You don’t have the constant intrusion of people coming in and out. And more. So it just facilitates the birth experience happening healthily and smoothly.

Thea:                                         05:53                       It does. As so many pieces of literature about the space of birth liken it to love making in a way, too. Because anything that requires a space of settling in, relaxing, letting down, opening up––t’s a very intimate experience. And picturing love making in the hospital, they don’t go so well together, you know. So I think that’s one picture. And another thing that was sparking in my mind while you were laying out those examples is––being a midwife, which is “with woman”, is “with them, is much like being a parent, knowing when to intervene and when to stay back and allow the process to simply occur. And you’re frankly allowing that space to be there. We’re doing that as parents for our children. Sometimes failing, sometimes being right on point. We’re doing that as teachers. Anything that is a guiding post requires that ability to know when to intervene and when to sit back to let the wisdom of the process have its place. And that’s what gets lost in the hospital, right? Because since we have all these things to check, we do. So that’s one part.

Anne:                                         07:31                       Agreed. I remember even as a child being able to hold my youngest sister in my arms before she was even, you know, washed off and like insisting on that. I remember insisting that I wanted to. And mom was on the bean bag in our family room. It was an extraordinarily different experience than she had had with her previous three births with me and our other sister, she had had them in one hospital and had just pretty bad experiences being forced to inducebeing kept away from her child at length and more. I remember then with you, she tried a different hospital hoping that would be better. Not at all. And finally went to the next obvious choice, which was not even legal in the state at the time.

Thea:                                         08:39                       I don’t know if it is yet. It wasn’t even 20 years ago.

Anne:                                         08:42                       Right, where we grew up. Right. So I guess what I’d like to do, I think you had articulated this, maybe you want to say it again about just inverting…

Thea:                                         08:55                       Well I’ve had those conversations with people too who’ve said how courageous to do it at home and my feeling quite the same as you. That, “No.” And then I was thinking that it’s really about taking that image, that picture of what birth is and it’s become inverted. It’s slipped through the wormhole to the other side, you know, the images of what’s courageous, and what’s comforting and safe, you know? And I think that there’s a lot of movement of that, at least in the communities that we live in, of people recognizing that birth needs to be re looked at to be redone, to be safe. And to be non medicalized to give families the best start. You know, I think one of the big parts of it being so medicalized is that it seems to create distance when there should be connection right off the bat, you know? And it’s hard enough. I mean, that’s the part that boggles my mind. It’s hard enough, just the actual physical laboring of it. And then really the weeks after of the care, I mean, it’s amazing what we do.

Anne:                                         10:24                       Well, it’s, I mean, let’s go further. It’s not just, yes, the actual physical laboring, but I’ve never experienced anything like it. Right? And having done it we all, most women I think would agree you get to a point and I guess that that’s around transition, but you get to a point where you cannot imagine going further. It is unbearable. Right? And it’s hard to describe. It’s not a pain like, like a wound. It’s the most unpleasant discomfort I’ve ever had. That goes beyond pain, but it’s not sharp pain.

Thea:                                         11:21                       I would even call it more, I mean, I know we all have our different colorings of it and I think that that’s such an interesting idea we’ve talked about even in another conversation––about what we identify as pain and how we articulate it and how we hold it in our understanding. But it’s more like “unbelievable.” It’s going to a space that is unbelievable. And there is required a complete surrender into what is unbelievable.

Anne:                                         11:54                       Yes, yes. And a courage, I mean, and I, I remember…

Thea:                                         12:02                       Your first birth? I remember it, too.

Anne:                                         12:04                       Well, the first birth you remember because, and I’ll say to the viewer, this is after Thea’s third birth, third home birth, and she has her youngest in a sling having been born seven weeks before. And she’s there in my little apartment, you know, helping me along. And me in my heady way and crazy trippy way that birth sends you into not realizing that I was as close as I was, just somehow thinking that it was just getting, I was just getting more, more pathetically weak and unable to, to deal with it. And I remember you just marveling that I was still talking about it instead of just going into myself. Right? And then the second time Thea got there 15 minutes after the delivery of my daughter. And I remember at the point where my midwife was saying she’s, because of course the midwives arethey’re checking all the time. They’re monitoring the heart rate of the baby, yours, everything. Right? And intimately, and frequently. They’re right there. And she said, “Okay, you know, if they don’t come out,”––we weren’t sure, boy or girl––”they don’t come out in the next one or doesn’t start coming out, we’re going to have you change your position.” And in that moment, and she told me why, because her heart rate was, not coming up as quickly as it should. And I remember thinking, “Okay,” and all I could think of was that scene from Braveheart where Mel Gibson’s character’s be being disemboweled and he shouts “Freedom!” And I think to myself, because it’s based on a true story, I thought to myself, “If somebody could do that and shout ‘Freedom!”, I can do this and I can get her out.” And I did. Right? So it’s like we all go through all these different processes. (Laughter).

Thea:                                         14:25                       (Laughter) Wow!

Anne:                                         14:25                       But doing that, or as we were talking about earlier knowing very deep down that something has to be.You’re in touch with what’s going on there with your child. And I’ve heard so many stories from so many women who have said, whether it’s the doctor or the midwife or anybody saying no, you know, you’re not far, or you’ve still got a while…And the woman is just like, “No, I know they need to come out, and not only do they need to come out, I need to transfer because they need to come out now.” And the mother gets in touch with an instinct in her that she’s never had before. That that puts her authority over her child above all else. And in home birth in, in my experience and mind, really allows that to happen in a much more conducive way, I guess. Pardon me. Than the hospital, medicalized births.

Thea:                                         15:42                       Yeah. A total different framework. Can we pause for one quick second?

Anne:                                         15:50                       Yeah. As I get a drink of water so I don’t hack all over the place. Hold on. Yeah. Okay. So we just got off on a tangent, but I want to point out a couple of things to folks who are looking at this and are interested in the idea of home birth but are concerned about the risks. So this came out this last year or so (NOTE: IT WAS ACTUALLY MAY 2016) ––a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins medicine says medical errors should rank as the third leading cause of death in the United States. And that’s I have a feeling that’s probably even higher, you know, because that’s really what’s, what’s attributed to medical errors. And our experience you know, extensive experience in the hospitals taking care of our parents suggests to me that there are a lot of things, a lot of dots that are not connected where intervention causes more complications that lead to death as well.

Thea:                                         16:52                       And unnecessary interventions and even mis and ill communicated Interventions. So much of it I think is like the whole system is so big that the communication channels are not connected and cohesive and things get missed, or whatever.

Anne:                                         17:13                       Absolutely. It’s become quite dehumanized, you know, and you don’t want to really bring a child into such an dehumanised system to give them a good start, you know? And it’s not to say that there aren’t some hospitals with some really great teams and great departments that really––and I know there’s a movement to revamp that too, and to give women more options of even like water births in hospitals and try to create an environment that’s a little closer to a birth center. So I know that consciousness is there, but you could also just do it at home, you know? So then here’s another I think this was like Harvard Medical Review. (NOTE: IT WAS ACTUALLY HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW.) I don’t have it printed out where it is, but “Rising US maternal mortality rate demands action from employers,” and it goes in to say “The US maternal mortality rate has more than doubled from 10.3 per 100,000 live births in 1991 to 23.8 in 2014. Over 700 women a year die of complications related to pregnancy each year in the United States. And two thirds of those deaths are preventable. 50,000 women suffer from life threatening complications of pregnancy. A report from the Commonwealth Fund released in December found American women have the greatest risk of dying from pregnancy complications among 11 high income countries.” Wow. And then another one I think this was CBS News. Yeah, and I think this is, let’s see. This was a 2013 story, but “US has highest first day infant mortality out of industrialized world, group reports. About 11,300 newborns die within 24 hours of their birth in the U S each year, 50% more first day deaths than all other industrialized countries combined. I mean…

Anne:                                         19:33                       So, the other thing I want to bring up, and I don’t have all the data in front of me, but if you really, if you look into the history of midwifery and then the involvement ofthe movement toward surgeons getting involved in birth. I mean, because since time immemorial, really women have been…

Thea:                                         20:10                       The carriers of birth. The holders.

Anne:                                         20:13                       Yeah. The midwives have always been women. Until really the last couple hundred years. I imagine, I mean, it seemed like an easy gig. Right? And, you know, and they’re also, there’s good intention behind it too, because there were complications and there were complications for lots of reasons that don’t actually apply anymore.

Thea:                                         20:38                       Sanitation, cleanliness, poverty.

Anne:                                         20:39                       Absolutely. Not to mention––okay. Well then, then let’s get into this. So it’s like a little known tidbit that should be discussed a lot more in our history books when we’re looking at childbirth infant mortality infectious disease and more. But there was an epidemic of puerperal fever1700’s and on through the 1800s and the advent and during the real explosion of the industrialized revolution where surgeons were not washing their hands. And there was this, you know, it was like a progressive idea that washing hands is helpful in the medical field. There seemed to be a resistance to washing one’s hands. And so you would have the doctors, the surgeons leaving the corpse and death and going straight over to deliver babies. And that resulted in this huge epidemic of maternal mortality. It was this epidemic of puerperal fever. And that really didn’t start changing on an institutionalized level until the forties, the 1940s, where that became implemented as a rule that you have to wash your hands before helping deliver a baby. So it’s the implications of that are staggering. And it’s its own conversation or book really where you have to consider how that impacted the society, the societal fabric. You had hundreds of thousands of women dying in childbirth. So you had this staggering number of orphans resulting from that right around the time of the industrial revolution, which led to, you know, families without mothers child labor…

Thea:                                         23:07                       The misery of a time. The children. Yeah. That’s amazing.

Anne:                                         23:11                       Oh my God. When the women aren’t around to manage things on a whole, widespread level. So you had that and, and what was the other thing we were talking about? We’re just talking about like even just the birth practices of you know, the earlier part of last century, I mean, Twilight, chloroform, forceps, all those interventions…

Thea:                                         23:42                       Vacuum.

Anne:                                         23:42                       They look at that now and they realize how many deaths and complications that caused. Right? So I think that if anyone is remotely interested in the empowering and healthy experience of delivering your child at home, I would recommend, you know, a cursory examination of the real history of that. And why we have gotten so afraid of childbirth’s dangers and what those dangers really are now and how those factors can be controlled or what of those factors even apply anymore.

Thea:                                         24:31                       Right. And, and what it would mean, really in a vast way, if as large portions of our communities started to really bring it back to the home space, what would that do to our communities in a broad and far seeing line? What ways would that change our initial bonding with our children and therefore our relationship and dynamics of parenting? I mean the relationship aspect goes on and on and on and trickles. If we can minimize those pivotal, intrinsic to who we become and what we work with traumas, as we come into the world. Because we all have our traumas to work through. And if in this basic, deep realm of entering the earth, if there’s love and warmth and safety filling us and feeding us as the parent and as the baby coming in, what would that do to our world? As opposed to the fear and tension and separation we experience.

Anne:                                         25:45                       Absolutely. And traumas. I mean, just the interventions that are practiced as routine in the US birth practicesis traumatic. On first day of life, second day of life, you know. Just iimagine what it could be like for a human being to enter this realm and be laying there in one’s mother’s arms, in the warm and dimly lit room, quiet, surrounded only by loving family and friends.

Thea:                                         26:42                       Reverent.

Anne:                                         26:42                       Loving midwives. Because by the way, for anyone also wondering, the midwife always brings an assist, another midwife, they assist each other. There’s always two of them. What a difference would that make to our world if that’s how we all came into the world, right? So, so think about that. You know, we’re, we’re up on time. Maybe we’ll talk more about this.

Thea:                                         27:10                       Yeah, there are so many angles and, and colorings of this dialogue that really play out into all of the things we think about. Really.

Anne:                                         27:20                       It reverberates, right? So, hey, so if you want to give your child the right start? Let’s start at birth. Let’s start at birth.

Thea:                                         27:33                       Yeah, let’s start at birth. Thanks. Great. Talk to you later.

Anne:                                         27:38                       See you later. Okay. Let me end this again.

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Joyful Union of Work and Play

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

We can find play––and joy––in work. And the chores we give our children can develop a capacity to approach work with the fullness of being.

Sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason examine and discuss.

Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:00                       Okay. All right. Here we are. Take 17.

Thea:                                         00:06                       Hi, Anne!

Anne:                                         00:09                       Hi, Thea. Okay. So if I can just get my words together. So we’re going to talk today, a kind of continuation on last week’s where we were talking about the importance of children’s chores––and how necessary it is for children to participate in the family’s survival, operation and more and how that very much aids in their development, their sense of purpose self-esteem and wards off feelings of depression and angst. So, so we decided, you know, it was not a really long conversation and we thought we would continue on with maybe identifying some concrete examples of the types of chores and tasks that we can assign to our children, but specifically…

Thea:                                         01:09                       Sorry, I need to just speak to my child…

Anne:                                         01:10                       Okay. Let me, let me pause it for one second.

Thea:                                         01:14                       Okay. Sorry. All right. Please don’t eat that, which is dinner right there…

Anne:                                         01:21                       Okay. So we’re recording again. So part of what we hit on was the fact that it seems, and from our perspective perhaps as women, but it seems that the world that we live in, the modern world here in the States––I live in the suburbs, you live in a small city––does not provide as many natural opportunities and tasks for masculine activities. In the same way it does female activities. And by that we’re talking about, you know, the difference in––certainly between people and different temperaments, but also between girls and boys. Girls, you know, the type of household chores we have all the time. There’s never, never in short supply––doing the dishes, sweeping the floor, vacuuming, tidying, making things pretty. Even some of the yard work seems to resonate perhaps, maybe more with my daughter than it does my son. And when I was stretching to figure out, well, what is it that, that my son really resonates with? It’s chopping wood. It’s, it’s getting the firewood to build, building a fire. Though my daughter is pretty pro at that too. It’s, it’s digging. I remember, you know, how he really got into helping my husband taking apart the deck to then repurpose the wood. And fixing things. And it then led me to thinking about, well this house that we built in our backyard, I wrote about this in an article I just wrote about for his third grade year, Waldorf curriculum is building your own shelter. And we built a six by six by six by six foot A-frame wooden house in our backyard.

Anne:                                         03:37                       Something I never imagined I had the capacity to do, and we did it mainly without power tools except when we really needed my husband’s help here and there. Right? And that was extraordinary. And so one of the things I wanted to, to share was this book, a couple of these books that the Christopherus Curriculum––Donna Simmons writes, does this extraordinary curriculum, Waldorf curriculum that’s designed for homeschoolers, multi-age homeschoolers. And she had recommended Lester Walker’s Housebuilding for Children, written in like 1977 or something. And Lester Walker’s Carpentry for Children, you know, it was around the same era. And we followed these his plans in here. And I mean, this is, you know, that’s the house we basically, we built and it just, it goes through showing, you know, building the walls putting the roof in.

Anne:                                         04:47                       And there’s so much, obviously that’s incorporated into that, you know, just from a homeschooler’s perspective––algebra, geometry and more. Right? But anyways, so we had wanted to come up with a prescription for the boys more specifically because it didn’t seem as apparent in this, in this urbanized world that we’re living in. And I thought back to another project that my son had done with my husband, which was a bookshelf. I needed a bookshelf, and I needed one fast. And I’m particular about what will fit in the house. Not that my taste is so high end, but it’s just, you know, I just needed a, a particular kind of height and a compactness for the space. And they took these two old dressers, wooden dressers, and repurposed them and reconfigured them and then built some shelves into it and built a bookshelf. And how wonderful that is. I mean, I walk by it every day, several times a day. My son sees this useful manifestation of his creative force..

Thea:                                         06:07                       Will forces.

Anne:                                         06:10                       Yeah. And that I needed, that he provided. And so that was the suggestion I wanted to give anyone listening and who’s been thinking about this themselves. You know, no matter how small an apartment one has, how no or little yard or back deck, patio or whatever someone has, you can build a bookshelf. You can build a small bookshelf in that. You can build a small table, you can build a spice rack, you can build a cabinet and that is so terribly satisfying, and there’s so much learning going on in so many levels when that’s happening. But I think that that, that kind of task is something that is important to give to your son. Or daughter. I mean, I am so pleased that I, know the basics of building a house now from building this house. I feel so competent. I do as a almost 49 year old having learned this just a couple of years ago. And this is following on our father who was not so inclined that way. And you know, I mean his version of a shed, I mean, we loved him so dearly and he was so great at so many things, but not this.

Thea:                                         07:41                       But he did make the effort, which…

Anne:                                         07:44                       Well, he made the effort, which may not have been the greatest example because his version of the shed, I don’t know if you remember, but was like basically buying a few pieces of plywood and leaning it kind of up against the back wall of the garage, nailing it together and slapping some paint on it. It was a shelter, but I think that kind of thing was left with me and I probably didn’t feel all that competent in my abilities to do something as well as we did these couple years ago with just some good plans. Right? So I highly recommend Lester Walker’s books. Again,  Carpentry for Children, Housebuilding for Children, they’re used books. I can’t find books like this anymore. This, this was written back in the 70s when kids had more time. And time to fill up with purposeful activities like this.

Thea:                                         08:54                       With their own problem solving and skill building, yeah. So with those ideas, I think we can also just weave into that cause I think there’s a lot of room for those sort of projects if we are willing to take the time to fill out the little spaces in our life where it might be a different habit than what would be convenient to get this thing that you need for something, but to them slow down and allow an opportunity for your child or children to make that which you need out of maybe something you already have around or you know, repurposed things or getting the materials. So it’s just a slower pace to give those opportunities to our children, I think. Is another window to look through regarding that topic.

Anne:                                         09:49                       Yeah. I absolutely agree, which makes me of course, think about even the slower pace of growing our own food. Right? Whether you’re doing it in a window box garden or a small garden bed or a community garden or your own backyard, that has been infinitely rewarding for me in understanding many layers I think of just even this existence and making connections. I mean, it strikes me that now that we don’t have a lot of people growing their own food and I know there’s a movement back towards that, but we lose touch with just the process and just the process of life and the miracle of life. Just the fact of taking the seed and planting it in the ground and watering it and with the sun and the nutrients in the soil.

Thea:                                         10:59                       And caring for it, nurturing it too, or allowing it to have its time to do its own. I mean all the analogies for life are in…Isn’t that Thoreau? The seed? What is the quote? I can’t think of…whatever. Life, eternity in a… I’m mixing things up.

Anne:                                         11:26                       But yes, that is. I mean, the miracle of life. I mean, it’s occurred to me, it’s not just that, but health and wellness. You know, a farmer understands that the soil is critical to the health of the plant and that without amending the soil and nourishing the soil over and over again, there’s nothing for that plant. No matter what you do to it, it’s not going to thrive. And so, you know, so gardening alone, yes, brings so many understandings essential understandings back to us, right? A spice garden even, right? Just a tiny little one. Yeah. Or like you said, or the process of building the small table, a small bookshelf. To know what goes into that Is, you know, all, all that is of value in that is hard to even put in a language. And you know, when we’re so used to a world where you can get online and order it with a button now and it’s delivered to your door in two days.

Thea:                                         12:43                       Well there’s something too, just that picture of taking, you know, what’s in your hand and scanning over it. Like you run by it and you don’t really notice it. And then when we slow down a little bit and we stand in that space of––what’s in your hand and you just start to see all that it is, where did the wood that you’re using grow, what was the, you know, what was the journey of that which you’re holding to become that which you’re holding? And that’s, you know, that’s not so much the pace of the world around us. So it’s the real choice to come into that, to slow down, to have appreciation for that, the becoming of each thing that has become, or is becoming.

Anne:                                         13:35                       Absolutely. if we don’t stay in touch with that, we lose touch with everything. I mean, as you’re, as you’re talking, I kind of feel like maybe all this seems like a given intellectually, but I can attest to having been transformed by putting it into practice. You know, I grew up very heady and abstract, you know, and unlike you, I didn’t, I never knitted or cared at all to do macrame or handwork or crochet, or anything like that.

Thea:                                         14:13                       I remember. I know. I’ve watched you go through all of these things.

New Speaker:                      14:19                       And I was forced to by my own choice to homeschool my children using a Waldorf curriculum, which appealed to me for a variety of reasons that resonated very deeply in me, but you know, all of that I kind of dreaded really. And as I have come to each one of those subjects or new learnings, it’s been remarkable how, I mean, I say this, I can’t say it enough. It’s like exponentially transformed me. It has––my spirit, my being, my senses, my awarenesses, my connections have woken up like exponentially, right? Just in knitting, learning to knit. And understanding what goes into then everything that I have that’s knit/knitted. Understanding, as basic as this sounds, but I mean, making yarn, you know, learning to make yarn, the wool that comes from the sheep and beyond, beyond, beyond. Right? But we’re such a society and culture here of immediate ready-made consumption that, you know, the true prescription, I think for reconnection fulfillment, reward that is all here in front of us to appreciate is to get back down to those basics. And not just for a weekend camping, but to start to incorporate that into our lives and recognize how critical that is in order to keep us whole.

Thea:                                         16:21                       And tethered to that force of creation, really. To not be adrift and lost in the darkness.

Anne:                                         16:31                       Yes, yes. Especially for those times of challenge and struggle. Yeah, that aids me, that has aided me in how I have gotten through challenging times in my life, having gone back to those basics and exercised so much more of me, myself. It’s all very hard to quantify and talk about. It’s not tangible. Right?

Thea:                                         17:00                       I don’t know. I mean, I wonder about the tangibility, but I think it’s also, there’s something in there that is the reminder that we are creators ourselves and so that is remembered and recalled and exercised––it is then recognized through all of the weavings of what’s around us.

Anne:                                         17:25                       When it’s exercised on a daily basis. Right? And so, so that brings us back to this with the children’s chores and children’s work and children’s tasks. Our own chores and tasks, our own, as you brought up in the last one, cooking our own food and not going and buying it made or made and ready to heat up. There is so much that we have lost in embracing that sort of convenience.

Thea:                                         18:00                       Yeah. I mean it goes into every facet, really, of what’s necessary for us to live. You know, we think about the way we’ve––I mean this could be a quite the discussion just going from being such community people, you know, where you washed the clothes at the creek or where you, you know, harvest the food or the water, all of these things that our culture is so removed from. And I think what part of that has done––and we were touching upon this for a moment before we started this conversation––those things that are, and there is, there can be drudgery in those monotonous necessities. We know this. And there can also be a lot of joy and camaraderie and space to daydream, space to create ideas. And I think that in that there’s somewhere that the joy of work and that work is play in a certain way that those are two sides of the same coin I think essentially. But we have pretty successfully in our culture seemed to separate them in so many views when I look. That work is something separate than play, and work is to be something that we minimize and want less of so that we can have our relaxation or recreation. But really, if we have the time to come into our work in such a way with our fullness of being, there’s joy there. And within that comes that element of play, which is what allows us to be human, really, and to relate to others. I mean, you know, I work, I work five days a week outside of my home and so I, every week I sort of think, gosh, there would be a better rhythm if I didn’t have to go out to work five days a week, but did four, so that when I’m doing my home work, my housework, I have the space and time to fill that capacity with more joy. To do these tasks with more joy because there’s a little more time to fill them out.

Anne:                                         20:40                       There’s more room, right?

Thea:                                         20:41                       More room, because you know everything is about balance. I love my work that I go to, but I need to balance that with the work that’s essential for just maintenance of life. And it’s always trying to find how to live into the, the work of life with joy, you know? And so that’s what we want to be able to give our children experiences of. That work can be joyful, playful, all of those things. We want them to exercise it and create avenues for those experiences to be there for them to step into those capacities as they come into different challenges and workspaces of life.

Anne:                                         21:24                       Yes. And to have that experience that even in a a task that might seem even drudgery there is in that there is discovery to be had. So to have the experience of discovery, which becomes joyful and leads to the next. And so it keeps us always sparked. It can help keep us sparked, inspired and interested in just everyday living, if we’re allowed to see it through that way. Right? And merge, as you’re saying––and I’d like to discuss, maybe examine this more in the next one, but––work and play as you said, it’s kind of two sides to the same coin. Rather than being so separate, where one is resisted and the other so indulged in.

Thea:                                         22:19                       And then the other thing I had the thought to share, you know, especially for our children and these ideas, if people are working to exercise to find new spaces to give their children these experiences or spaces for these experiences or activities. They’re not always going to be like, “Sweet, thanks!” You know, that’s our job just to hold the line and continue to invite someone to pick up this new way of being. This new way to find meaning and purpose in what is needed in a house.

Anne:                                         23:08                       Yeah. And what I will say, and I, I don’t know how much time, I think we’re pretty far over. I didn’t watch when we started. But a key I think to it is doing it a little bit alongside at first. That really gets a momentum going and then you can kind of leave them to go at it once they’re engaged and involved, so.

Thea:                                         23:30                       So there’s more to discuss here. I mean, it’s a pretty broad and deep idea, I think, that continues to deepen the further we follow it and its ramifications. What we see in the world and what we’re looking to see developed more of. So thank you, Anne.

Anne:                                         23:55                       Thank you. All right, well ’til next time. Hang on a second.

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