The Naming of Gatherings
~ Amy Lenzo, Editor, Winter 1999 - 2000

The name Gatherings came from a brainstorming session that seemed to go on for weeks, and was finally chosen because it best suggested the sense of community and warmth that we wanted to convey. To us, this title evoked a vision of gathering together around a virtual ‘campfire’, an image we have often used to describe the space we create in our dialogue with each other. We gather around the fire of our interaction together to share our different types of knowledge, our stories and questions, our fears and our wisdom. We gather in order to further a conversation, an ongoing exploration into the basis and terms of an 'ecological' psychology; a psychology that understands the human psyche in its relation to the earth and its inter-dependence with all that lives.

The name Gatherings also conjures up images of natural energy flows- gathering mature seeds in order to sow them in Spring, and gathering the harvest that sustains life over the long Winter. Many groups have used the word Gatherings to describe their rituals of coming together- Amerindian First Nations, Wiccans, and Celtic peoples, as well as more recent ‘Rainbow’ tribes; we are all the descendants of hunter-gatherers. The ritual of our Gatherings is informed by all these historic meetings, but our version utilises a brand new form- the Internet, a medium that allows a whole new kind of gathering, with its simultaneous expanses and limitations across space and time. Our hope is to use this technology thoughtfully in order to creative a meaningful dialogue in the present, with relevance for the future.

Here are some of the other ideas for names we came up with while imagining this e-zine and the types of exploration we hope it will foster:

Temenos ~ the name for the alchemical container, or vessel in which change occurs

Biota ~ all the life (animals, plants, fungi, microbes) that exists within the ecosphere

Ecosphere ~ the scientific word for all biota and the interconnected 'non-living' elements, like soil, rocks, air and water.


Wild Heart

"A Psyche the Size of the Earth" (taken from the title of an article by James Hillman)

"Perfection All Around Us" (a quote from Robert Greenway's introduction to his piece in Rozak's 'EcoPsychology').
[Note: the acronym for this title, ‘PAU’, is the word for 'gone' or 'over' in Hawaiian... which I thought was particularly apt, as the ‘perfection all around us’ now is in danger of being 'over' if we don't recognise it and take action to protect it...]

"Green Shit" (the title of one of Gary Snyder's poems :-)

Ecotone ~ In fact, if it hadn’t already been taken, ‘Ecotone’ would probably be the name for this e-zine. (See Robin van Tine’s poem Ecotone Shaman) We liked it because it is the term for "the interface where interactions between creatures of adjacent ecosystems interconnect". Like all liminal spaces, an ecotone is a place of great richness and interaction, a place where new relationships form. New solutions to the problems of living life on Earth arise in ecotones; new species evolve there.

From a Shamanic perspective, liminality, or the space that traverses the boundaries between places, is an important doorway through which the shaman can enter adjoining realms, and bring back new ways of being into this world. In other words, Shamans inhabit spiritual ecotones.

EcoPsychology can be imagined as such an adventure - travelling through and between different realms of being in order to gain new perspectives and insights which might lead to creative solutions to the problems that face us now.

It is our hope that this site, and the Gatherings that happen within it, can reflect the wildness, volatility, expansiveness, and newness of this emerging field. We want to challenge ourselves and each other to think deeper about the questions and problems that face us today; to take the time to listen to each other, and explore new views and solutions together without resorting to dogma or falling back on unexamined prejudice. We want to acknowledge our fears for the future, without succumbing to them; to go forth honestly with humility, and search out understandings that include us all. Thus, our design here is to bring together a true variety of our collective modes of knowing, in the service of exploring the basis and language of a psychology informed by our relationship with the natural world.

My thanks to contributions for this piece from the writings of John Scull, Robert Greenway, & Robin Van Tine.

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