Natality: Relationality

The Paradigm of Natality opens possibilities for new beginnings.  In practising Natality, we midwife hope by bringing to light an alternative way of being.  Natality has eight cornerstones. In this section, we explore relationality.

Relationality with land and all beings involves nondual participation in the world.  Reciprocal relationality with nature maintains balance and harmony.  Relationality, particularly empathy, disrupts necrophilia’s systems of dominance.

The paradigm shirt to Natality disrupts necrophilia’s dualistic notion that humans are separate from and superior to nature, an ideology that legitimizes the brutal domination of nature and ‘others’ in order to advance capitalism’s interests. In contrast, Natality offers a nondual and ecocentric assumption that humans are nature and are interdependent with all beings in the web of life – in communitas.

Charlene Spretnak (b.1946 in Pittsburgh), a social critic and US Green Party activist, demonstrates in Relational Reality (2011) that relationality is springing up in all areas of science and culture, all over the world, to disrupt the mechanistic assumptions of modernity. She insists that “all entities in the natural world, including us, are thoroughly relational beings of great complexity, who are both composed of and nested within contextual networks of dynamic and reciprocal relationships” (p.4).  Spretnak contributes to the theoretical framework of Natality by assuring us that a paradigm shift is already underway, and that the assumptions of mechanistic science and dualistic philosophy are slowly being replaced by a science of relationality. She assures that unitive experience is not only possible; it deepens connectedness to nature and contributes to flourishing.

Industry cannot provide a ‘way out’ of the current climate crisis because it is interlocked with capitalism and patriarchy.  We must look to the emerging sciences of relationality.  The re-union with nature is restoring health and wellbeing after our relationship to the natural world was severed.  Relationship with nature emancipates us from the restrictions imposed by modern, industrialized society and frees us to experience the relational reality of our selves and all beings.

Natals are born into a welcoming and nurturing web of relationships without which we could not survive, and which in turn it becomes our duty to sustain. Others are not the “they” from whom we must defend ourselves, but the “we” who share the world.

17IMAGE_CommunityRelationality is the renaissance of our sense of participation in a sacred world. Spretnak’s theory is remarkably similar to Owen Barfield’s philosophy of the evolution of consciousness: “humanity enters into a conscious relationship and partnership with life, seeking not to control and dominate [nature] but to relate to, serve and protect it with insight, compassion and wisdom (Barfield, 1957, p.146). According to Barfield, humans cannot return to a nondualistic way of thinking; however we can consciously choose to experience “a new level of unity” recreated through the “systematic use of imagination” to integrate conscious and unconscious aspects of nature and self.  We remember to think symbolically by valuing imagination “as a mode of perception that brings knowledge…a way of knowing won through a total relationship” that unifies the whole being (Baring & Cashford, 1991, p.676f).

We look to the post-anthropocentric theories, particularly Karen Barad’s Agential Realism to further explore relationality. Barad theorizes that the world is composed of phenomena that are “the ontological inseparability of intra-acting agencies.”  Phenomena are not collections of humans and nonhumans; they are the condition of possibility of all beings, not merely as concepts, but in their materiality. Entanglements occur when beings “emerge through and as part of their entangled intra-relating” (Barad, Meeting ix).  Natals are intrinsically entangled with all beings through intra-activity.

Leanne Simpson might use the phrase “all my relations” to articulate what Karen Barad frames as the entanglement of matter and meaning.  Indigenous peoples participate in a reciprocal relationship with the land in order to live in balance and harmony with the land and all their relations who inhabit the land.  The gifts of the land are received with gratitude and harvested ethically in consideration of future generations. Gifting ceremonies, such as potlatches and feasting the ancestors, enact the reciprocal relationship with nature,

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Cultura de Natalidad, a culture of Natality, celebrates imagination and creativity in the work of many artists and scholars. Just follow the links.

18ICON_kokopelliStories  Sedna and Inuit rituals for reciprocity
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Future links

  • communitas – the meaning of community
  •  intra-active becoming and agential realism (Barad)

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