a fluid description of ever-shifting meanings of key words used in this research text
agency - Agency is one's ability to act independently with conscious intention. Within poststructuralist perspectives, agency is contained by discourse. In other words, one is always acting from within the discourses that inscribe one's subjectivity (in the poststructural sense of subjectivity). The more powerful the discourse in one's individual body and the dominant culture, the more difficult it is to act outside of it. According to McKenzie (2007), agency can be achieved through interdiscursivity, an exposure to discourses outside the dominant ones, or those previously inscribed in one's body. Yet given the power of discourse to limit what is doable or conceivable, simply having access to a different discourse does not mean that humans can easily take it up as one's own (Barron, D., 1995). The effect of discourse on other-than-human persons is not addressed within this dissertation.
ancient ways of knowing – These 'ways' have not only been highly valued and used by sages, prophets and seers of many cultures across the world for thousands of years (Walter & Fridman, 2004), they have also been central to the survival and growth of past and present civilizations (Abram, 1996; Harner, 1988; Harvey & Wallis, 2007). They enable, at least to some degree, researching through rather than just about (Nolan, 2005) the porous connection between humans and the more-than-human world (see Abram, 1996) and are based on the assumption that earth is able to "reciprocate, relate and engage" (Harvey, 2006a, p. 83). Since they exist outside of the cognitive/rational/intellectual (Bai, 2001, 2003, 2009; Behnsen, personal communication, August, 2007), and are often not explainable in rational terms, ancient ways of knowing are frequently marginalized and seldom (explicitly) used in Western academic contexts (for an exception, see Braud & Anderson, 1998; Dillard, 2006a, 2006b). These ways of knowing and the knowledge they produce are sometimes alluded to by phrases such as low status knowledge (Bowers, 1997) or "shadow knowledge" (Abram in Abram & Jardine, 2000, p. 176). In other instances they are more directly named as "shamanic" knowledge (Wallis, 1999), "derived knowledge" (Smith, 1998), or "revealed knowledge " (Castellano, 2002, p. 24). In some instances these ways of knowing are assumed to be spiritual in origin (Aboriginal Elder, personal communication, July, 2007; Castellano, 2002).
Ancient ways of knowing require engaging different forms of consciousness than is normally used in cognitive thought, and require a quieting of, and sometimes even disengaging, the cognitive mind. Since ancient ways of knowing are more about the perceptual than the conceptual (Bai, 2001), they are much more easily comprehended through experience than explanation (see re-animated embodied perception below). Underlying all of these ways of knowing, however, is an understanding that the world is both physical/material and psychic/spiritual (Berry & Tucker, 2006), and that shifts in energy can prompt access to ancient ways of knowing, and thus to information, insight, and ideas that are not readily available through one's intellect alone.
Methods include (but are far from limited to) various forms of meditation (e.g. Bai, 2001), dowsing (e.g. Conway, 2001; Graves, 1989), dream knowledge (e.g. Bernard, 2007; Castellano, 2002), dialogic reading (see below), telepathic (e.g. Sheldrake, 2003) or similar forms of non-verbal, non-physical communication (e.g. Buhner, 2006; Montgomery, 2008; Smith, 2004, 2006), and shamanic journeying (e.g. Harner & Doore, 1987; Harvey, 2003, 2006a; Walter & Fridman, 2004).They can also include the arts (e.g. Bai, 2003; Lipsett, 2001, 2002), singing (e.g. McDade, 1992, 1999, www.carolynmcdademusic.com), and simple, quiet attention, often in the presence of music or the more-than-human world. Those working in the area of transpersonal psychology sometimes refer to this kind of knowing as psychospiritual (Clements, Ettling, Jennett & Shields, 1998).
animist ontology– an animist ontology, as I understand and engage it, assumes non-human Others, or persons such as trees, birds, rocks, clouds, rivers, etc. not only possess self-consciousness and intentionality (i.e. agency), but are able to "communicate intelligently and deliberately" (Harvey, 2006a, p. 187; see also, Smith, 2004, 2006; Montgomery, 2008). It is an ontological position that that assumes the universe is "psychic-spiritual"and "physical-material" (Berry & Tucker, 2006, p. 57), where humans and non-human Others exist as energy bodies appearing in physical forms (Capra, 1975/1991; Greene, 1999; McMaster & Greene, 2003; Montgomery, 2008). In the case of spiritual animism (Taylor, 2009), animists assume everything is imbued with spirit or soul (see also, Blain, Ezzy & Harvey, 2004). These ideas have often been discussed by environmental philosophers and others using language fitting with the social and academic contexts in which they were writing (e.g. outdoor educators often talk about "connection to the earth"; Bai, 2009, uses the phrase "philosophical animism"; Evernden, 1993, uses "fields of care"). As Plumwood (2002) notes, speaking directly of communication with other species would often provoke ridicule or self-doubt (see also, Jensen, 2004). In the context of this dissertation, I often refer to animate Earth and porosity (see below) interchangeably to denote the energetic and spiritual interconnectedness of all. Risking being accused of essentializing, in some instances, I use the phrase"ecological self".
animate Earth (also other-than-human persons, more-than-human world, non-human Others, non-human persons, and nature) - Within the context of this dissertation, animate Earth refers to that which is not human. 'Animate Earth' (as I use it in this dissertation) engages an animist ontology and assumes that the more-than-human-world (Abram, 1996) or other-than-human persons (Harvey, 2006a, 2006b) not only possess self-consciousness and intentionality, but are able to "communicate intelligently and deliberately" (Harvey, 2006a, p. 187). In other words, animate Earth consists of communicating subjects who are active participants in this inquiry, rather than simply objects of, or a context for the study. It also assumes that the more-than-human (as well as the human) world is made up of spiritual beings and energy bodies, not just independent physical forms (Montgomery, 2008; Smith, 2004).
Given the limitations of language, and of the English language in particular, it has taken me a long time to settle on a phrase to express what, in earlier drafts, I often referred to as Land. In the context of this dissertation, versions of the phrase "more-than-human world", "non-human Others " and "other-than", or "non-human-persons" are both useful and problematic. Although they do risk reinscribing humans and human attributes at the centre as the normative comparative measure against which all Others are assessed (see Fawcett, 2000; Haraway, 2004b; Plumwood, 2002), my intent in using them is to acknowledge the more-than-human world (which includes not only other animals, but also cloud-persons, rock-persons etc.) as actively relational and possessing such attributes as "sentience, volition, memory and speech" (Hallowell, 1960, p. 42). The particular phrase "other-than-human persons" is based on an ontology that does not assume a "hierarchical dissimilarity exists between categories of being – divinity, humanity, and nature" (Morrison, 2000, p. 25, drawing on Hallowell, 1960). In other words, other-than-human persons have their own form of consciousness (Montgomery, 2008). Recognizing it is a highly contested term with a complex history (Evernden, 2002; Merchant, 1980), I limit my use of the word nature primarily to instances where I am problematizing the word, referring it in the context of another's writing, or addressing the socially constructed binary between the human and more-than-human world (see for example, Plumwood, 2002).
dialogic method(ology)and reading practices– Supported by ancient ways of knowing and re-animated perception (see Bai, 2009), a dialogic method(ology) includes methods such as dowsing, artistic practices (Lipsett, 2001, 2002), shamanic forms of knowledge acquisition, dreams, and quiet attention. A dialogic method(ology) enables a response to numerous calls for the production of research across the socially constructed human/nature divide. It requires researching not just about, but through ancient ways of knowing – ways that are often difficult to comprehend outside an ontology that assumes the universe is made up of energy (as in quantum theory) and/or is imbued with spirit (as in spiritual animism). It provides a methodology and attendant methods to research through re-animated consciousness (Bai, 2009). A dialogic methodology, which emphasizes listening as much as thinking, may just provide the "cracks in consent" (marino, 1997, p. 17) necessary to access the different ways of thinking (epistemologies) and being (ontologies) so often called for by environmental educators. It can open spaces to access insights from "else/where and other/wise" (O'Riley, 2003, p. 51; see also, Braud & Anderson, 1998; Harner & Doore, 1987; Harvey, 2006a, 2006b; Montgomery, 2008; Smith, 2006, 2006).
discourse (cultural narrative)
- In the context of poststructuralism, discourses are socially constituted belief systems inscribed in bodies through everyday language, action (Davies, 2000a; Weedon, 2004), and physical spaces (Pillow, 2000; Probyn, 2003). They produce subjectivities, (ability to enact particular ways of being, speaking and acting), and affect individual agency, (a person’s ability to act independently). Discourse often determines what is thinkable and unthinkable (Britzman, 1995), possible and impossible (Kumashiro, 2004). As St. Pierre (2000) and many others note, speaking, thinking (or acting) outside available discourses "remain[s] unintelligible, outside the realm of possibility" (p. 485). The limitations of discourse are particularly powerful when they are deeply inscribed, either through the dominant cultural narratives in one's particular cultural and geographical location, and/or through one’s individual history(ies). Naming the discourse and its effects is often helpful, but frequently not enough.
If discourse is conceived of as energy (see Goswami, 1993), then shifting the discourse may not be as difficult as one might think. Energy work can take many different forms, but is often based on the assumption that discourses are embedded in the body at the cellular and/or energetic level and can thus be changed through processes that shift familiar and often limiting 'beliefs' energetically (Lipton, 2005; Njio, 2006; Njio & Yuen, 2006). This idea has been difficult to think and talk about within my local context, however, since it requires moving beyond many dominant assumptions of Western culture generally, and the medical field specifically (Hufford, 2003). Drawing on energetic principles from martial arts and quantum physics, together ancient knowledge and current understandings in physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, and psychology (Yuen, 2007), discourses, even powerful ones, can be changed much more quickly than one might imagine. Although the language used may be different, the principals behind such techniques are familiar to Indigenous peoples. They are often referred to as "energy healing" in the context of modern science (Jonas & Crawford, 2003), and hold great potential for education and the shifts in consciousness that are often suggested to be fundamental to sustainability.
ecological self – expression of an ecological self (or ecological identity/subjectivity), as I use and theorize it in this dissertation, is the part of the human self that is open to porosity and can communicate across the socially constructed human/nature divide. In the context of dominant Western culture, this particular aspect of being human is mostly unacknowledged, constrained by deeply inscribed cultural narratives which police boundaries between humans and and the more-than-human world (see Merchant, 1980; Plumwood, 2002; Stuckey, 2008; Whitehouse, 2000). It also creates boundaries around what gets to count as knowledge and what constitute legitimate ways of producing it (see Bowers, 1997; Shiva, 2000; Harvey, 2006b). The ecological self, as I understand and use it in this dissertation, is that of an animist.
In claiming an animist, or ecological self, I ride the tension between more modernist understandings of identity and poststructural notions of subjectivity. From the ontological standpoint of this dissertation, a porous ecological, or animist self is basic to being human; it is cultural overlays that have limited its exploration and expression.
identity/subjectivity - I move across the boundaries of these two words to name what I believe are two very useful concepts which are, for the most part, inseparable. The 'slashed' term identity/subjectivity, as used in this dissertation, refers to the discursively constituted notions of who and what one can be, layered onto one's identity, which is what Buddists may refer to as one's "true nature" (Kabat-Zinn, 2006), and others speak of as the "true" or "higher" self (Njio, 2006; Njio & Yuen, 2006) – that part of oneself which may be beyond (or below) cultural inscription. From a poststructural perspective, human subjectivity is constituted through discourses written in/on the body though speech, action and physical spaces (Pillow, 2000; Probyn, 2003). Under the assumptions of poststructuralism, there is no such thing as a 'true' self. One's subjectivity is entirely a social construction. From the perspective of an animist ontology as I use it here, the two are merged.
non-human persons, non-human Others - see animate Earth.
pendulum dowsing - Pendulum (and other) dowsing methods are a way of receiving and transmitting information (Eason, 2005). Pendulum dowsing poses a particularly puzzling scientific conundrum, since it is still not clear how and why the pendulum works (British Society of Dowsers, 2007; Conway, 2001; Eason, 2005; Graves, 1989). Some suggest it allows communication with spirit (as a First Nations science scholar told me "what else could it be?"), while others suggest that "there is some correlation between the dowsing reaction and changes in magnetic flux when dowsing on site" (British Society of Dowsers, 2007). This latter explanation becomes problematic in contexts where the pendulum works far from the site in question. Because it does not fit 'normal' ways of understanding the world, it is often dismissed by lay people and scientists alike (Graves, 1989). As Graves explains: "We still do not know how the pendulum works: you can choose your own explanation and it will still work – if you let it" (p. 113).
Pendulums can help one access intuitive powers that, in Western contexts, people are frequently taught not to trust (Eason, 2005, p. 1; Redden, personal communication, Nov. 2007). Learning to use the pendulum is like learning another language. The pendulum is primarily used to answer yes and no questions, but a skilled dowser can develop a complex set of symbols with various meanings. Answers received can be deceiving however, particularly given the limitations of language (Eason, 2005) and associated risks of misinterpretation of an answer, together with the inconsistency of human intentions when using the dowser, and the possibility of interruptions from unintended "energy fields" of various sorts. Using a pendulum effectively is an acquired skill, and like shamanic journeying (Harner & Doore, 1987) is accessible to those who can move beyond Western epistemological assumptions and have the self-discipline to learn it and practice (Conway, 2001; Eason, 2005). I was taught that when using a dowser, I was in communication with "the all-that-is", or a universal spirit energy that worked together with my own intuitive knowing. It was by engaging this combination of energy, intuition and intellect that much of this dissertation was created.
porosity - often spoken of in connection with rock, the Oxford English Dictionary (Simpson, 2007) refers to porosity as the "small spaces in a material through which liquid or air may pass" (n.p.). In the context of the discourses of cognitive imperialism (Battiste, 1998), "methodological atheism" (Ezzy, 2004, p. 118), and the privileging of Western (mostly scientific) ways of knowing, the word porosity became a very useful metaphor to describe the ontological and epistemological places I was exploring, and is used throughout this dissertation.The word came to me as I began working on my largest collage, meLand, and has provided language to describe the intimate interconnectedness, at an energetic level, of all parts of the universe.
Finally, toward the end of the dissertation creation process, I was more able to find (and speak) the word(s) I sometimes use to replace it (depending on the audience). To me, in the context of this work, porosity refers to an epistemology and ontology that assumes: 1. releasing the hold of the rational mind enables access to trans-rational ways of knowing (Astin, 2002) and wisdom that comes from beyond human cognition (see ancient ways of knowing and shamanism); 2. the universe is both "psychic-spiritual" and "physical-material" (Berry & Tucker, 2006, p. 57), where the physical-material itself is made up of energy (Greene, 1999; McMaster & Greene, 2003); and 3. that energy itself may be harnessed to initiate change.
A focus on re-animating one's perception (Bai, 2009) through ancient ways of knowing supports access to knowledge from both those worlds, noting that which is often dismissed or 'explained away' as mere chance. What this means in practice is that in many instances where the common practice is to attribute insights to the human intellect, there may be much more at play. Porosity then, is an expression of spiritual animism.
poststructuralism – For me, poststructural means "posting" structures for viewing and investigation; in other words, making structures, or structuring processes visible in order to enable seeing what frames one's seeing and notice ways in which possible meanings are constrained. Poststructuralism has become an invaluable epistemological tool, yet it seldom addresses issues at the level of ontology.
My analysis is particularly feminist in its poststructural orientation because of its activist agenda. My aim in using poststructural deconstruction is to expose inequities, oppressions and exclusions in order to initiate change (Davies, 2000a; St. Pierre & Pillow, 2000). It helps make visible the processes which (re)inscribe dominant discourses and subjectivities. As such it is also particularly useful for interrogating that which is assumed normal and which exerts a tremendous amount of power over understandings of what is doable, speakable, understandable, believable, and ultimately, possible. Most significantly for this work, poststructural analysis can also be turned back on itself (St. Pierre, 2000) to show ways in which its own work maintains particular assumptions and oppressions (i.e. anthropocentrism). I see poststructuralism as an epistemological tool which, depending on the degree to which it can turn back on itself (St. Pierre & Pillow, 2000) to make visible its own inscription in the privileging of the human intellect and role in reinscribing normative human/nature binaries, can both enhance and inhibit the expression of ecological self. Poststructural analysis provides epistemological insights, but is unhelpful at the level of ontology. It can help describe how dominance is produced, but does not provide, for me at least, adequate explanations of 'being' in the world. Nor does it adequately address ways of changing powerfully inscribed discourses.
re-animated perception – is the means through which much of this dissertation was conceived and created, and can enable access to an animist ontology, and I give credit to Heesoon Bai (2003, 2009) for introducing me to the concept and aspects of the practice. Researching through animated awareness, or perception, means not only changing "the content of our perception, but the very modality of perception" itself (Bai, 2009; see also, Clements, Ettling, Jenett & Shields, 1998).
As I have come to understand, experience, and engage with it, re-animated, or re-animated (embodied) perception can be achieved through attending to ways of knowing which access that which is often beyond conceptual reasoned consciousness. Although often referred to as 'intuition,' animated perception includes a more deliberate crossing of epistemological (and sometimes ontological) boundaries to access knowledge beyond rationality (Astin, 2002). This access is often supported by ancient ways of knowing and enables one to obtain insights which are often difficult to acquire through the intellect alone (see Braud & Anderson, 1998). As in ancient ways of knowing, purity of intention is important in accessing and 'accurately' interpreting knowledge.
Sometimes associated with psychospiritual or transpersonal knowing (see Braud & Anderson, 1998), animated perception is an ability accessible to most, if not all humans, but is often not deliberately practiced and developed in Western cultures. The ongoing privileging of the intellect in schooling and research, together with an emphasizing of the conceptual over the perceptual (Bai, 2001, 2009), has made it difficult to attend to animated embodied perception and associated ways of knowing. Yet this attending may be the most important task of environmental education (Bai, 2009).
research/representation- I speak of research and representation as a singular concept since how one can represent research determines, in part, how one can know, what one can know, and who can produce knowledge (Nolan, 2005, 2007). The twinning of research/representation also impacts what can be considered legitimate research. For instance, if the hypertext was not an available and permitted form of representation, it would be much more difficult to include insights from animate Earth in the research production and enable spaces for those voices to come through in reading. The many spaces-in-between created through music, images, together with the momentary pauses between one link and the next, all create small spaces for listening. It is in these spaces that the intellect can become quiet, allowing opportunities for some of the many voices of animate Earth to be heard. Without these spaces, the cognitive rational mind, which is generally highly active when reading phonetic texts, leaves little room for listening to that which comes from a different level of consciousness (Bai, 2003, 2009). Thus research representations that do not encourage these pauses are often complicit in maintaining the human as the only contributor to research/representation, and in doing so, perpetuate not only the silencing of non-human Others, but also the ways of knowing that support attending to those voices. In other words, in the privileging of the intellect and not allowing for or supporting pauses in the 'reader's' engagement with a textual representations of research, non-human contributors to research texts of all sorts continue to be marginalized.
Research representation also engages particular ways of knowing. As Dunlop (2002) puts it, "the act" and I would add, form, "of narration becomes a way of knowing" (p. 25). For instance, creation of collage and hypertext offers spaces for my body to be part of the production of knowledge in a way that linear prose does not. Finally, as a reader, the energy of the piece, as well as the juxtapositioning of potentially dichotomous ideas side-by-side, make it difficult to let reason be one's only guide in meaning-making.
shamanism - shamanism, as it is used in this dissertation, is a practice – a way of accessing information that comes from beyond the human intellect. Ultimately, there is no final metanarrative nor definition of shamanism; its practices vary immensely. Various forms of Shamanism have been practiced worldwide in many different cultural contexts. Shamanism emphasizes communicative engagement with the natural world, which includes non-human persons (Harvey & Wallis, 2007) or spirits (Behnsen, 2006; Wallis, 2000; see also, Montgomery, 2008). Despite loss through missionization (Drury, 1989 in Wallis, 2000), and marginalization through colonialization (Harvey & Wallis, 2007), modernity (Harvey & Wallis, 2007), shamanophobia (Harner, 1988; Wallis, 1999; Walter & Fridman, 2004), and challenges of cultural appropriation (Montgomery, 2008), many different forms of shamanic knowing are still actively practiced in Indigenous communities as well as more Westernized cultures. Although no label need be placed on those who engage in communication with the non-human, in some instances this engagement is referred to as shamanic practice (see Harpignies, 2007; Montgomery, 2008); furthermore, those who practice shamanism outside of traditional cultural contexts are sometimes referred to as neo-shamans (see Harvey & Wallis, 2007; Wallis, 1999).
spirit - next to porosity, spirit is perhaps the most indefinable term in this glossary (although all the terms herein are porous and shifting). When I refer to the word spirit in the context of this dissertation, I am talking specifically about sources of information beyond the human (see shamanism and ancient ways of knowing, above). I also deliberately use the word spirit because of what I feel is the importance of reclaiming the word in the context of the academy generally (see Astin, 2002, 2004), environmental education more specifically (e.g. Beringer, 2006), and more in discussion of research methodologies, methods and representation in particular (see Dillard, 2006a, 2006b; Hurtado, 2003; Shahjahan, 2005; Ezzy, 2004). Intentionally engaging the many forms of spirit as research 'partner' disrupts the privileged place of humans as sole participants in meaning-making endeavours (Haraway, 2004b), calls the privileged place of rationality into question, opens up the possibility of engaging animate Earth as an active research partner, and most significantly, opens up meanings that may be otherwise impossible to imagine (see Laszlo, 2008).
"Oh living land, whose spirit singing sang the hills." (McDade, 1999)