We use language that is gesturing towards the future our hearts know is possible. We consciously choose to use a poetics in our language that is non-linear, holographic and emergent. We intend our words to be a spell-casting and consciousness expanding that evokes the kind of relational consciousness we are speaking about. Our intention is that our words are in fact a starter culture for composting power-over culture. Sometimes, this language can be confusing or strange or difficult to understand by the strategic mind. We ask for your patience and curiosity and invite you into the poetics of your own heart to be in conversation with us, if only imaginally. 

We are using the terms activists, change-makers and inner-led practitioners  interchangeably to refer to anyone engaged in activities intending towards creating a more life-affirming and just world. We hope you will see yourself in this. 

Civilisation Trauma



Drama Triangle

Expanding Conciousness

Healing and Wholing and Self-Healing

Human Exceptionalism

Human as Interspecies

Inner-led Change

Life-Affirming World

Other than/more than Human


Power-over Culture

Rupture and Repair

Social Engagement part of the nervous system



Wild Reciprocity

Wise and Well Ancestors


This term is an attempt to frame our civilisation as a traumatizing force that is both a result of, and perpetuates, trauma. That is, the power-over culture that has developed overtime as ‘civilisation’ is, in and of itself, traumatizing. The core trauma is what Vanessa Machado de Oliveira* calls “separability”, which is the notion that we humans are separate from (and usually superior to) Earth Community, which is Earth herself and all beings upon and within her - including humans.

This civilization trauma causes behaviours that are inherently based on fight, flight or freeze and creates conditions of violence, exploitation and selfishness between us humans and the more-than-human world. Tautologically, the concept of ‘the individual’ is produced by a civilisation that is dependent upon us continuing to believe in the separate self, which in turn further perpetuates the illusion of separation from Earth Community.

Whether conscious of it or not, most of us are identified, to some extent, with this belief that we are an ‘individual’, somehow separate from Earth and others. It is this illusion of separation that leads to Capitalism's stranglehold, for example: our compelling need to buy and own things in order to feel complete or even, survive, and/or a sense of being in competition with one another and only looking out for our own (or our family’s/nation’s etc) interests.

It is Civilisation Traum that perpetuates the so-called ‘drama triangle’, in which we continuously attempt to get our needs met from a place of presuming lack (so called ‘scarcity consciousness’), by unconsciously identifying as victim, persecutor or rescuer.

Civilisation Trauma is the cause of, and synonymous with our collective pain body. Systemic injustice - and all the myriad ways power-over culture leads to us marginalising, oppressing and abusing certain people, identities, groups, species and ways of being and feeling, is the manifestation of our collective pain body. When our nervous system freezes in response to fear, Life’s inherently regenerative force gets trapped in our (pain) bodies where it stagnates and becomes distorted. It is largely behaviours driven by power-over culture that lead to this fear-based freeze response in us.

Co-liberation from systemic injustice therefore requires us to heal and transform our individual and collective pain bodies since this is where Civilisation Trauma and power-over culture lives on through us and our groups.

For more on Civilisation Trauma check out our Design Principle here.

* Vanessa Machado de Oliveira is the author of the seminal book, Hospicing Modernity.

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let’s work together.” Lila Watson, Aboriginal elder and activist.

Co-liberation points to the reality that freedom from the atrocities of power-over culture is not something we can achieve for ourselves or for others. We are each entangled in ‘an inescapable network of mutuality’ as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. says. Meaning “nobody's free until everybody's free.” (civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer).

Co-liberation is another way of saying ‘composting power-over culture’. That is, rewilding our psyches beyond the strangleholds of power-over to more and more experience the freshness of each entangled moment without being beholden to the cultural conditioning that leads us to believe in the illusion of separability; an illusion that leads to the atrocities of white supremacy, racism, sexism, ableism, gender normativity, extractivism and so much more.


The following is from the glossary of Racial Equity tools

Source: The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), “Glossary.”

Source: Eric Ritskes, “What Is Decolonization and Why Does It Matter?

"Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle is a model of interpersonal roles derived from transactional analysis. This is a psychoanalytic theory and practice develop[ed by Eric Berne in the 1950’s that focuses on how people relate with each other… [It] explains the interdependence of the commonly adopted roles of ‘victim’, ‘rescuer’, ‘persecutor’, which for many people are learned in childhood through the workings of their family dynamics. The model is not static and … people … can ‘switch’ positions: a victim can become a persecutor and a rescuer can become a victim [for example].

The drama triangle does not map directly onto activist dynamics since the position of the ‘victim’ in particular was intended to suggest someone who is, in psychological terms, choosing to take the victim position in an interaction, even if the ‘choice’ is made subconsciously. This is obviously not the same as being the actual victim of an oppression or marginalisation, one that is subject of activism. And nor is it inevitable that experiencing oppression or marginalisation necessarily turns us into a victim; one of the problems with rescuers is their tendency to push people into a victim role they do not wish to occupy.” 

Source: Anthea Lawson, The Entangled Activist

When we talk about ‘expanding consciousness’ we are referring to the process  of revealing ways of being and experiencing life that we have marginalised and are therefore unaware of - which, alongside shadow work, includes experiencing  ourselves as an entangled interdependent part of the wider web of Life - rather  than exclusively as an individual human being.  

Expanding consciousness is often understood to be an exclusively upwards and  outwards movement towards transcendence i.e. connecting to the oneness of  all life in the universe, often depicted as spirit, the divine or God. We also include  its neglected mirror image, the downward and inward dimension that Thomas  Berry calls inscendence. This dimension of consciousness connects us with the  unique and wild part in each of us (what we call soul) that is in conversation with  the invisible realms of the wild soul of Earth.  

Inner-led change is about supporting us to expand into these more-than-human  realms of consciousness so that our change-making is informed by our deep  listening to that which is way beyond the limits of our hyper-individualistic human  centric strategic-minds. 

The practice and path of cultivating resilience and resources that is essentially healing to our system. It is an approach to responding to these times of civilisation trauma that is based on our essential un-brokenness, rather than our woundedness. This is not to erase the horrors, but rather to help us weave a basket larger than what has happened to us within which we can be held and heal- be that in community, in therapy, in nature and also with ourselves.

Self-healing is an invitation into radical loving self-responsibility for the cultivation of our resources and capacities to love ourselves, care for ourselves. Self-healing also includes finding therapists, friends, courses and external resources to give us the relational care and healing we need as and from our adultness and not from the wounded children of us.

This is the behavioral expression of the above mentioned Civilisation Trauma and the experience of oneself as separate and individual. The viewpoint of humans being more “special” than other species and having more “right” to the use of “natural resources” than others. And that our needs are more important than, say, the needs of river, mountain, prairie etc. Even, that no other creatures or beings have consciousness and are mere objects. Ouch.

The term interspecies simply points to the reality that we humans are not separate as individuals or as a species - we exist interdependently with all other species as an integral part of the wider web of Life. Part of the root of Modernity is what Vanessa Machado de Oleveira calls “Separability”. Interspecies points to the wholeness and resource, rather than the wound.

See our web page “What is Inner-led Change

We use this term to point to generative cycles of rupture and repair as well as participating in the creative life energy of our imaginations. We include death, composting, rot, destruction and even collapse as part of a life-affirming stance. We are Earth and part of nature, which includes volcanic eruptions and our dying, which serve to make way for life to spring again.

Our wild allies including rivers, rocks, and other things normally considered inanimate objects. In our experience and that of humans for 99% of our existence, we understand the others to be neither inanimate nor objects, but rather subjects with agency and consciousness. When we use the terms ‘more than human’, ‘world’ and ‘whole earth community’ - we  are referring to both human beings and those beings that are ‘not human’. 

Beyond reacting against the way it is because “what we resist persists”. Stepping away from those tools of activism that lead to burnout and repetition of power-over culture. Decentering the human narrative. Expanding our attention beyond the power-over culture and practices of government and organisations means creating alternatives that give them less power over us. Post-activist is not non-activist, it means not centring the problem as a way of addressing it, which would result in replicating the problem through the same power-over consciousness that created it. With thanks to Bayo Akomolafe for his fierce presencing of post-activism.

The current power dynamic of consumerist capitalist culture that is based on violence, oppression, extraction, colonisation, supremacy and human-centrism. Karpman’s ‘drama triangle’, as described above, is a simple way of describing how power-over culture plays out in modernity and is internalised within almost all our relating.

When we talk about ‘rupture and repair’ we are referring to the transformativeness potential of conflict. The processes of ‘rupture’ and ‘repair’ are part of the Life-Death-Life cycle that Earth renews herself through. It is through rupture - a volcano eruption, tidal wave, earthquake, forest fire - that evolutionary leaps and symbiotic relationships are forged. Mitochondria, placentas, oxygen breathing organisms, lichen, all arose through the stress of rupture and the inherent impulses towards repair and creativity. The problem is when the system does not have time to regenerate because the level of rupture is constant or too large. When we apprentice to Earth’s capacity for creative transformation through repair after rupture, we learn about these historic times from a very different perspective. We must pause when rupture is present, and give space for repair to happen - refraining from forcing it in a particular direction. We cannot control repair, we can only hold the intention and create the conditions for its happening. Otherwise, we will only repeat the previous ways of being and knowing and the opportunity for imaginal leaps in consciousness and creative never before seen creatures will never be born. Can we be both patient and deeply present for the repair that can holistically emerge after rupture?

See our own approach to Rupture and Repair within our organisation for more.

Our central nervous system is made up of two parts - the sympathetic (fight or flight)  dimension and parasympathetic (rest and digest/ regenerate) dimension. When our nervous system is healthy we are able to move effortlessly between sympathetic and parasympathetic states of being - action and rest. In recent years experts have discovered that the parasympathetic part of our nervous system contains what we can  call our ‘social engagement system’ - that is, the capacity to emotionally attune and be relational. Civilisation trauma means that most of us in Modernity spend much of our time stuck in the sympathetic state of fight or flight, without access to the emotional attunement that resides in the parasympathetic part of our nervous system. Emotional attunement is the antidote to power-over culture - and this is why healing and transforming trauma sits at the heart of composting power-over culture.

Soulcraft practices inherently evoke inner-led change at the threshold of; the inner and the outer; the human and Other than human, and activate the composting of power-over culture from the inside-out. They support us to more fully and consciously become who we uniquely are within the wider web of Life and to listen to the ways we authentically must respond to what is happening in the world, as a manifestation of  our very particular way of loving the world. This is what the world is longing for through each and every one of us.

Soulcraft is a term coined by Bill Plotkin, whose first book is of this name.
In order to grow this soul-embodied way of being in the world, Bill suggests three main categories of soulcrafting practices: 

  • Practices for leaving home /becoming an emotionally healthy adult
  • Pathways to soul encounter (when our soul reveals its very particular mythic flavour to us)
  • Cultivating a soulful relationship with life

These three categories of practice are foundational to all programs, events and mentoring Starter Culture offers such that our intention is to support participants to discover their Soul in the world and the unique gifts they were born to cultivate, craft and share. 

The place where the essence of all things is in conversation and co-creation. In common vernacular, the underworld is often conflated with trauma and seen as a place of suffering, depression, addiction and torment. In our experience and understanding, the underworld is a place of magic, mystery and soul - which in its inclusion of Life’s everythingness includes, yet goes well beyond trauma and suffering. Yes, there are difficult passages on the road to alchemising our sacred gifts, alongside  ecstasy, eros, beauty and power. The underworld is a place where our own Soul, our essence, is in relationship with the essence of all beings - human and other than human, in Kairos’ time out of time. There we might speak with the gods, or the spirit of a tree or stone, as a person rather than an object. Slipping across the threshold to the underworld is a shifting of consciousness that when ritually and intentionally practiced through drumming, singing, wandering in wildish places, dream and other practices, holds the age-old keys to the deep cultural transformation being demanded by these momentous times.

The relational give and take between humans and other than humans and the wild. The beyond-civilisation conversation that happens between the human spirit and the Holy in the Wild. Offerings from human hands, heart, voice to feed Earth and Life, and which feeds us. 

Those ancestors who have “done their work” and are able to support us in our healing of intergenerational trauma, as well as in our generating of abundance and well being in this life. These are the ancestors we want to cultivate direct relationship with - because they are also able to support and heal those ancestors who were not able to do this work and thereby reside as ‘hungry ghosts’ perpetuating the ancestral trauma we are here to heal and transform. It’s important that we call in the support of these wise and well ancestors whilst also holding healthy boundaries in relation to these hungry ghosts.  For more on ancestral healing and cultivating relationship with our wise and well ancestors.

See for more.

Woundology refers to identifying ourselves almost exclusively through the story of our wounding and its resulting magnetic pull as it hoodwinks us into allowing it to take the centre-stage of our lives.  If we do not tend our own inner children that are still waiting to receive the love and care they didn’t receive, or had bad things happen to them, they will tyrannize our lives and our relationships with others.

Full Glossary List