Co-Evolutionary Culturing

Composting power-over culture from the inside out

Our podcast

What if... there is a richer conversation you could be having with life - your own and that of the wider Earth community?
What if...
the way we are currently trying to fix things is making things worse?
What is Earth up to? And how might we listen to their dreaming?

We want to have the largest conversations possible with you, at the crossroads of deep time, the future and the now. We invite you into this space for consciousness shifting spells of dismantling the power-over culture from the inside out. Join us, in tracking the scent of inner-led change out into the wildish world, remembering that we are earth, not just troubled guests on this planet. There, at the wellspring, where the hooves of creatures have pressed their hieroglyphics into mud, we will listen to Earth’s Dreaming in the sound of water over rock and then gather to speak what we’ve heard at the emergent edge of the unknown. We invite you into the ritual practice that is co-evolutionary culturing.

You might listen to this podcast out in a wildish place, along a river, or in a meadow or forest or, you might be surrounded by human creations and/or creatures and get curious about how we too, are nature.

In whichever ecosystem you find yourself, we invite you to fully give your attention to the music, words, images, sensations and feelings that might arise while listening to the podcast. Please do not drive, do dishes or other business while listening, as we are inviting a different kind of consciousness to emerge. The consciousness you might experience after watching a sunset, or listening to the black bird’s evensong. We invite you to imagine we were sitting together in circle out of doors. You might even call in a group of human creatures to listen to the podcast together and then to speak in a sharing circle afterwards about what is moving in you in response.

In listening in as we prepare for the podcast, we ask ourselves, how do we de-center the human in a podcast? What ritual technologies help us to shift consciousness? What kinds of conversations might innoculate an inner-led transformation?

Inner-led change supports us to source our actions to support life and bring about change from expanded dimensions of consciousness, rather than creating them from the very same consciousness that created the problem.

"For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house"
Audre Lorde

Our podcast is about preparing the ground and planting the seeds of new consciousness and cultures that expand beyond the binary of Human and Nature, Mind and Matter, Inner and Outer. We are not looking to mend the modern paradigm, our intention is much more audacious! We want to help it die and compost and therefore, transform, and we too alongside it. Earth’s evolution has been crafted through continuous cycles of rupture and repair. What if this current cycle of rupture (collapse) is part of the larger pattern that is Earth’s knowing? What if there is no “problem” to be solved?

I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
Dawna Markova

Our cyclical offerings will be gently tethered to the celtic wheel of the year since we 3 hosts share celtic ancestry and have spent years following the wisdom and depth of these cycles. Attuning ourselves to the natural rhythms of death, decay, rebirth, flowering and fruiting that are manifest in the wheel of the year, we are decolonizing the gregorian calendar and re-membering ourselves within an ancient knowing that is embedded within the land and the reciprocal relationship with the humans who are part of it. It is both a ritual and a practical step towards listening to the older voices, the other than human voices and the wisdom of Earth, before we make decisions or plans. We hope it will ignite these same cyclical flames of deep listening within you (and your groups, organisations and communities too).

About us:

We are tending to the dismantling of the power-over culture as it lives within each of us, (and the groups, communities and movements we are part of), as well as calling in risky conversations at the crossroads of deep time and our current turbulent times, the known and the unknown - to question the things we take for granted and trouble our learned way of perceiving the world.

We are  leaning in to the emergent edge of this rupture that is the 6th mass extinction, and listening for the ways Earth might be dreaming through us in these times. We are ritual midwives for Mystery, Seers and visionaries, soft bellied humans engaged in the very real daily grit and grind of becoming more and more resourced and healing our collective trauma in a time of cataclysm. We are listening to the larger story told by the web of the other-than-human world and thereby de-centering the human narrative.


Co-Evolutionary Culturing: composting power-over culture from the inside out.

Welcome to our co-evolutionary pot of fermentation and composting, ritual and wonder! We want to have the largest conversations possible with you, at the crossroads of deep time, the future and the now. We invite you into this space for consciousness shifting spells to compost power-over culture from the inside out. We are leaning in to the edge of this present-time rupture that is the 6th mass extinction, and listening for the ways Earth might be dreaming through us in these times. Listening to the larger story, told by the web of the other-than-human world and thereby de-centering the human narrative so that our ways forward are sourced from wellsprings of wisdom, well beyond the limitations of the strategic-mind. Join us in tracking the scent of inner-led change out into the wildish world, remembering that we are earth, “not just troubled guests on this planet” (David Whyte). There at the wellspring, where the hieroglyphics of the hooves of creatures are pressed into the mud, we will listen to Earth’s Dreaming in the sound of water over rock. We will gather and speak what we’ve heard at the emergent edge of the unknown. We invite you into the ritual practice that is co-evolutionary culturing.

A note about how to listen in: You might listen to this podcast out in a wildish place, along a river, or in a meadow, forest, park or your garden. You might choose to listen whilst in your home, workplace or community, in the good company of other human creatures. In whichever ecosystem you find yourself, we invite you to give your full attention to the music, words, images, sensations and feelings that might arise while listening to the podcast. Please do not drive, do dishes or other business while listening, as we are inviting a different kind of consciousness to emerge. Thankyou x


Welcome to our first podcast, in which we dive into the heart of Starter Culture and all the ways in which we expand consciousness beyond power-over culture into human wholeness and the other-than-human. We talk about the necessary death of the modern paradigm and the grief and fear it brings with it, the ways we might decolonize at depth and at scale, and the necessity of inner work for outer change for a possible future cultural renewal.

Watch the video conversation here:

Episode 1 - Show notes

Episode 1: Introducing Starter Culture and our Podcast!

Inner-led change: The term inner-led change is the long-overdue reuniting of ‘outer’ change work (which recognises and challenges harmful societal structures and tries to build alternatives) with ‘inner’ change work (which supports us to; explore our own entanglement in the power-over culture perpetuating these harmful societal structures; cultivate healthier relationships with ourselves, each other and other-than-humans; and to co-create the healthy, transformative and just cultures our hearts long for - and which our current social and ecological crises demand). More Info:

Power-over culture: When we say power-over culture, we mean the current modern paradigm of control and consumerism that is based on a disbalance of power in relation to those that have and those who do not, as well as historical realities of racism, genocide, colonialism, violence, oppression, ecocide and resource extraction that the current culture is based upon.

Death: When we speak of death, we are talking about both the physical reality of death, but also the psycho-spiritual reality of death as essential to transformation and renewal. Every change in our personal and collective system requires a letting go, and releasing, a dying of the old way.

24:03 When I, Sara, say we can’t point to anything that is human made that is not soaked in the modern paradigm, I am of course speaking of things we use within the modern paradigm. Those things made of and with connection to Earth Community and in the sacred and traditional ways or vision and dream-led ways are absolutely birthed by and steeped in another kind of consciousness than the modern paradigm.

On Woundology and Trauma:

We mentioned the work of these folks in the podcast:

Bayo Akomolafe:

Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti

Drumming: deep down percussion loop from Garageband

Cover art: Lauren Forrester:

How to be in touch with us:

Starter Culture Website: 

Podbean website:

Shareable Link:

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We’d love to hear from you!

Transcript of Podcast Episode 1 (click here to expand)

Sara McFarland 0:00  

Hi, everyone, we're really happy to be with you here in the interwebs, the virtual portal of zoom. Or, if you're listening on one of the other platforms to the podcast, we greet you. This is our very, very first inaugural Starter Culture podcast episode. And we're really excited and a little bit nervous. And happy to drop in with you today. My name is Sara McFarland. And I'm here with Claire Milne, who is the co-founder of Starter Culture. And,  I'm so excited to be together to just have this time to, yeah, to really introduce Starter Culture into the world. I know that it's been around for a while, but it feels like this is kind of renewal rebirth moment is you know, happening at this time of year as the, as the spring is, is gathering, the sap is flowing, and the buds are, you know, swelling, that there's this this rebirth, renewal feeling at Starter Culture. So, and part of it's this podcast, right, of what's getting born into the world. I'd love to just invite you to share with me and share with us, because I'm just joining Starter Culture, you know, officially about a month ago now. Yeah, I'd love to invite you to just share with us. Who is Starter Culture? Who is this creature that is Starter Culture?

Claire Milne  1:26  

Thank you. It's Yeah, wonderful to be here having this conversation. And yeah, it feels like it is a kind of, there's a an iteration of rebirth happening in you and others kind of jumping or fully in now. So I kind of feel like whenever I speak of, you know what, what it is who it is that starter is a starter culture is. There's something of a kind of constant process of iteration and reiteration and emergence. So I kind of, I'm curious to see what words will come as to what's happening right now. And I love that that is how we work, you know, so emergently and honouring of what's been but you know, what's now and what's becoming. So, how to explain a little, share a little of what Starter Culture is and where it's come from, and what it's becoming? I always find it helpful actually, to start with a sharing of kind of its roots. Because somehow, it kind of gives the most tangible way of understanding the creature that starts culture is. So the roots of Starter Culture really well, the tangible roots, at least are those that in that there were three of us three co founders, myself and Eva Schoenfeld and Joe Hamilton, who, who ended up in a conversation or in a meeting together, each of us with about 20 years of experience in working in social and environmental change in a variety of ways. And found ourselves with a shared kind of passion and kind of concern really around how much the inner dimension of the change that we're involved in was neglected and the absolute cost of that, you know, just looking at these, you know, hundreds of 1000s, millions of people so passionate about bringing about change in the world about being part of co-creating something different that really honours, what you know, our hearts kind of can feel has to be possible. And yet, just what an uphill struggle that seems to be and really landing. And it seems to be so largely because we find it so hard to turn towards this inner dimension, that for whatever reasons that I'm sure we will dive into at some point, whether today or another time, gets neglected. And you know, and that's not just within social environmental change, of course, it's within our mainstream culture, more generally. So that's how started culture kind of started out. And then we decided to carry out this kind of what we've called our Cups of Tea Process. And so the Cups of Tea Process was across 14 countries, and we had like over 250 cups of tea conversations to kind of really find out how is it for those those social and environmental change practitioners, makers changemakers? How is it to try and integrate an inner dimension? Like how is that for you? What What, what are the challenges you face in that? What are the needs and the opportunities? And that's in a way when when we come to what the current iteration of Starter Culture is, it's so fed by those, you know, some 250 conversations that pointed to many, many things. But there were two things that they kind of most obviously pointed to that felt like they were the real core, the kind of underbelly of what what I guess it is to be integrating this inner dimension into our lives and social environmental change. And one of those was lack of funding. And recognising how hard it is to get funding to actually give the time and get the support that's needed around integrating this in a dimension to allow changemaking to really flourish. And, yeah, to take it seriously and not just keep skipping over what we all know is, is problematic. And then the second thread is really just seeing how, in a way, all parts, all threads within the conversations ultimately kind of dug deep down into the roots of what we could call power-over culture and the reality that, that it's this consciousness that we've all been kind of acultured into, that we could call power-over culture that seems to be running the show. And that ultimately, if you look at any given problem, I would suggest we were likely to find power-over culture at its heart. And so in a way, you could say that Starter Culture is a kind of a collective endeavour adventure experiment, to shift consciousness beyond power-over culture, and to do that within ourselves. And to do that, kind of, amongst ourselves and other humans and just as importantly, to be birthing into a consciousness that goes well beyond human-centrism, and recognises our more than human reality. And that we're not just individuals, that we are inherently part of a wider web of life. So, So yeah, there's different iterations, but they all have the parts kind of all the parts lead to this dismantling of power-over culture. And recognising that you know, how much we've internalised it, how much it lives in us, no matter how dedicated we are, to transforming oppression and oppressive systems, it has to live inside us because we've been cultured into that. So there's startup culture is dedicated to that inquiry at various levels of scale, individual, group, other-than-human of how have we internalized power-over culture, how do we dismantle it, and then make space thereby for something new to be birthed through us that isn't from the strategic mind? That is a product of power over culture, but that is listening deeply, deeply, deeply. From the emptiness to Earth's dreaming to mystery to something that mind it couldn't fathom on its own.

Sara McFarland  7:22  

Thank you so much. I'm feeling so inspired and so nourished, like yes, this is why I am with Starter Culture

Claire Milne  7:30  

Well, maybe now is a good moment like I kind of feel like there hasn't been time in our working together to hear that from you. So if you feel like, I feel like that would be a really beautiful contribution if you feel to share, what is it that called you in to Starter Culture, other than my loud howl, but yeah, I'd love to hear

Sara McFarland  7:53  

Well, essentially, exactly that. That exquisite stretch, that holographic stretch between the tender human heart and inner work and you know, ways of coming more and more to know ourselves and unearth forgotten or repressed aspects of ourselves, integrate those aspects, remember ourselves as more-than-human and in the other-than-human web of life. And that the stretch, the reach of that into right, and that in and of itself that work in and of itself with if we have that lens is  this shifting of consciousness that can, that could, if we're lucky, you know, birth something new in the future. Which is yet to be seen, what will happen. We don't know what's up with, with the collapse. What did Vanessa Andreotti...  I was just listening to something on YouTube from her about hospicing modernity where she said, you know, we're facing the death of everything we know and love. And how to stand in that place of horror and loss and grief and beauty and love and say yes to the transforming-with and for me, Starter Culture is a possible way of being exactly in that place. In that place of, we can't do this alone, right, we need to build community to heal the the civilization trauma of separation, weaving community together, and including with other-than-humans, and also doing this work. For me, that's just the, it was like a clarion call of what I myself was feeling mystery calling me into the world and into my life and into my work and Starter Culture was like here! Here's a home for that work. Come join us. Yeah, so it just felt like it was ultimately because you know, the residents of, of your howl with mystery's call, you know, of how I'm supposed to show up in the world and the gifts I'm to bring just felt so resonant that I could do that, I could fulfil mystery's invitation or call to me, within the liberating structure of Starter Culture, because of its dedication to shifting consciousness. Yeah.

Claire Milne  10:45  

Yeah, thank you. So I always find it so expansive to kind of receive other people's relationships with Starter Culture and what it is that particularly resonates? Because somehow it expands Starter Culture, even the alignment's already there, it's like, yeah, it just got a bit bigger, bit brighter, bit bigger. Yeah. And what you just ended with there around the kind of shifting or expanding consciousness, it feels like more and more, they're the kind of boots that Starter Culture is realising that it's filling. And it's kind of, you know, such deep blessings and gratitude to elder, our elder Joanna Macy, who kind of framed this you know, just how the the piece around shifting consciousness is so you know, is key to being able to deliver on the other ways of going about change that are, you know, outer focused. And, and it feels like Starter Culture's contribution is to really make this tangible. You know, what, what is it? What does this shift in consciousness, this expanding consciousness, what does that look and feel like, and what is it and what is it not? And what are the costs of not attending to it? And what's possible when we do? And, and yeah, it's almost like it's opening that Pandora's box of ways of expanding consciousness, so that we can go beyond that, which has created the pickle that we find ourselves in and really naming without compromise, that if we don't do that, if we don't commit ourselves to expanding beyond the consciousness that created the reality we're in now, then we cannot create something different, we can only keep replicating the same mistakes in different form. And I'm sure we all know it, through trying to change aspects of ourselves that unless we get to the real core, and the consciousness that's created the problem, maybe it's an addiction, or whatever, or pattern or behaviour we don't want to be doing. It just finds its way into another kind of Yeah, rivulet have its way with us. And so yeah, there's something of that that kind of expanding consciousness shifting consciousness that feels really important. It's interesting, I'm noticing my language here, because for me, actually expanding consciousness somehow feels like it's really true to what Starter Culture kind of is about. In that it's, it's not about making something wrong and saying, Don't do that. It's saying, Oh, this is where we are like, welcome to the reality of what it is to be human right now, but we need to expand beyond that. And we can't get rid of what we've got, but by other than by kind of helping dismantle it so that we can expand into something else that is impossible to know from this place.

Sara McFarland  13:24  

Yeah, that's making me think of what I was hearing when I was out on my walk today around you know, composting, the process of composting, which we talk, which is the title of this, the tagline of this podcast, right? Composting power-over culture from the inside out. I was thinking about how, or I was listening to how composting is the engine, the heat that happens in the compost pile is like the engine of transformation. And that it's not that it's, in fact, the very, the very material that dies, and is composted into, eaten by worms and mycelial filaments and all the aphids and all the creatures that are in there, as well as the heat of it, are actually transforming it into something that's nourishing and able to grow the seeds of the of the future.

Claire Milne  14:22  

Yeah, and I'm remembering that when you named that part of the the heat, the transformative energy of of composting, the other thing you said and I wrote it down because I loved it was, death is the invisible heart of renewal. And I was just like, yes. And there's something of like, when you and I and you know, other Starter Culture family are talking about, you know, the need to support this cultural death. It feels so natural and easy. And then it's like, suddenly there's a kind of a moment of like, oh, you know, that that isn't a conversation that everyone is always engaged in and, and yeah, so just recognising how for us that is so integral, you know. Leaning into and really embracing the reality of death, not just of our immediate loved ones, which is obviously a really, really important part of living in these times and growing into an expanded consciousness, but beyond that going into going into what is it actually to recognise that, that these times seem to be longing for us to not fight to keep them, to fight to upstand them, but actually to support them to die and, and that to us does feel like quite a natural part of our conversation. But I'm also aware that that isn't a natural part of a conversation for a lot of people, I guess sort of our work yeah, part of our work is to normalise it, to kind of make that kind of something that is just rolls off our tongue.

Sara McFarland  15:45  

And there we're pointing, pointing to the first example of how we expand consciousness, right? It's like, let's think about death. Can we think about death in a, in a different way? Can we invite the truth of the way it is, right now, you know, we are in the middle of or the beginning of a sixth mass extinction, and our own death and the death of those we love and the death of everything we know, is happening. Right? And that we don't like scramble and try and save what we can, but that we turn towards and, and help along. You know, I mean, my prayer, really my deepest prayer is to, I know that violence and destruction are part of life, you know, volcanoes and earthquakes are, are part of life. And yet, you know, the soft belly human of me hopes so much that there'll be as little violence as possible in this transition and knows, you know, creatures in their death throes who are fighting death often do a lot of damage. So that's a little side note, I guess, but, but to really lovingly turn towards the death and dying as, as the invisible heart of renewal, we can't have one without the other. We can't have the new life without letting the old life die. We know that from from initiation practices and stories and journeys, we know that from myths, we know that from looking at cultures over time, at species and renewal of earth over time, the way that destruction and, and regeneration are how the earth evolves.

Claire milne  17:28  

Gosh, it's such a just when you spoke then of you know, this reality of how when creatures are dying, often, sometimes often, there is a kind of violent fight that can actually cause a lot of pain and suffering to others around them when in that dying process. I was just so kind of struck and so sobered by by that, like, it's like, yeah, that that's what's happening on a collective scale, right now, you know, we're kicking and screaming, and, and turning to our addictions to absent ourselves, so we don't have to kind of admit to the reality of our situation that we are in this cultural death process. And that doesn't mean that there isn't something beyond it, it's almost like unless we allow ourselves to turn towards the reality of death. And that that might, that inevitably isn't going to be entirely smooth, and it is going to involve a degree of suffering. Unless we tend towards that, then it's almost like it is impossible to be truly birthing something different. And so we're kind of blocked, it's kind of like, you know, there's a blocking to the, the actual extent of what's possible, because if there's resistance to what actually is, and how can we possibly, you know, create something different. So yeah, I'm, I'm really with that. And, you know, as is often the case, in our conversations is that for me, there's this interweave between, when we're looking at this at an individual level, and we're thinking about what does this mean for me as an individual and my friends and loved ones around me and, you know, activists and changemakers at an individual level, you know, and that that in itself is quite confronting to be like, how do I dismantle you know, like, how this culture is showing up in me because I'm going to dismantle, if we're going to dismantle power-over culture, then I have to start with what's going on in me and how I'm living. And how do we do that in our groups and in our organisations and in our, in our movements? Because that, to me, feels like it's I know, from, I suppose living it through Starter Culture, it's this realisation of how ingrained actually this power-over culture is within our organisations and how so much we perceive that their future depends on a perpetuation of that of elements of that power-over culture. And you know, in in our conversations, often there's a kind of like process where there's a part of me hanging on to like, no, no, no, but we have to keep that bit, like I couldn't possibly kind of go and do that in organisations because that's just too much or something and then you're very always very skillfully, kind of like, Ah that might be power-over culture showing up in you, Claire? With so much love, and gratefully received. It's just such a rich dance to kind of be like, Do you know what, our groups and our organisations and our movements also need to support power-over culture in them to die, and that that's a scary process, because most of us are entangled in financial realities that feels like if we are to truly honour that, then that kind of lifeline will be cut, you know, that if we were to say to our funder, for example, that, Oh, actually, we need to entirely reinvent ourselves, we need to take a year off and do something completely different, or whatever it is that it looks like, I'm just making this up. But we believe and we project that we would lose our funding, or whatever your version of that is, if you're in a group, or an organisation. It's like, you know, if I, if I change radically how I'm doing what I'm doing, and then nobody will come to my programmes, if I really step into my truth that is outside of power, you know, beyond power-over culture, then it will be too radical, and nobody will come or whatever your version is. It's like, oh, no, but that's exactly what needs to change. Because again, just as much as unless we dismantle power over in ourselves as individuals, unless we dismantle it in the collective in our groups and movements and organisations, then we are just part of perpetuating it.

Sara McFarland 21:27  

That's great. There's a couple things here that are just really delicious verses, I'm really getting kind of a lived, embodied feeling of inner lead, what we mean by inner lead change, from what you're just saying. That it's inner-led, to dismantle the power over culture that we need to start with it in ourselves. And, and within our organisations like that, we don't look over there. But that we look within first, and I'm feeling the rub of like, oh, right, and there was just something in there also about privilege, and oppression and white supremacy, and this piece around. There's one way of doing this work, where we're looking at it and separating ourselves from it, and making like judgments about the modern paradigm or the power-over culture. And there's a way of kind of, therefore keeping ourselves safe from it and distancing from it, judging it, because, of course, it's wrong, you know. But there's something also about uhuh, and there's this kind of insidious privilege in there in terms of how let's see how I want to say this. The kind of the cult of the individual, right, one of the markers of, of power-over culture is the cult of the individual, that I can have my own little house and my own little world and my own little vacations and my own little dreams. And I can kind of ignore everybody else. And I have the capacity to do that I can have my own swimming pool, I don't have to go to the public swimming pool, you know, whatever. And so it's like, are we willing to be messy and, and dirty and with another, with each other and include ourselves in like, Oh, here's how I'm complicit, not in the shaming way. As we know, shame is a tool of the, of the power-over culture of the consciousness of that's gotten us into this situation. But as an inclusionary way to return from separation, we are neither separating ourselves as victims of something and nor as perpetrators, but to see uh huh, how are we all part of the warp and weft? And, boy, is that difficult. You know, how do we how do we change consciousness within the consciousness because everything is soaked in this consciousness. It's in our culture, like, I was thinking about that, too. It's like, where do you can't really point to anything that's human made, that's outside of the consciousness of power over culture. And I think that's why what's so radical about Starter Culture also, is that we point to the other than human because the other than human, the wild ones, you know, the herons and the egrets and the cranes that are flying overhead outside of my window. They're carrying and embodying a consciousness that is other than the power-over culture, right? It's they're beholden to the biology and the warp and weft of Earth community and Earth consciousness. And that, for me is one of the most important and beautiful pieces about Starter Culture is that our commitment is to centre other than human centre, mystery centre, Earth's Dreaming, not a human's Dreaming, even as beautiful as our human dreams are.

Claire Milne 25:00  

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, gosh, there's so much and what you've just said, it's like, you know, for me, that last piece you've just finished on, it's like, yeah, it's there's something of that kind of real humility that goes with this journey of recognising that, the kind of integral to power-over culture is this belief that we can predict and control and, and that turning towards and expanding into more than human consciousness and, and, you know, and our ally ship and you know, with the whole earth community. It's like, therein lies the way forward. And it can't, it can't exist without it, because it, it is a reality. It's almost like it's not, it's the choices choice, it's like, oh, okay, unless we lean into this and expand into this reality, it's not going to work. You know, and the same goes for, like, you know, when we're thinking of all of the polarity within the human dimension, you know, and the, the oppression and the marginalisation and the inequality and injustice, it's like, that's not, you know, turning towards that, and learning how to collaborate across difference. That's not kind of an optional extra, it's integral, it's like, it is an integral part of life happening. It's like, there's no contesting it, you know, it's it is life, it exists. And it is the beauty of the expansive love that we will live as, you know, and so yeah, so absolutely. And for me, I kind of feel like there's a double edge within the funding kind of piece that we were, you know, we're working a lot with around, you know, really dedicating ourselves to finding ways to make more funding available for inner-led change, partly, or largely, because we recognise that it really, really sucks and it's not okay for us that it's the you know, that to be able to get support around the work that we're talking about is, is a privilege, and that unless in the world that the market economy that we sadly live in currently, unless you can afford it, it's unlikely that you're going to get the support needed for a lot of what we're speaking of, you know, and we don't want that to be the reality, I'm really committed to doing everything we can to transform that, you know, there's, there's a reality that so much of what gets understood to be inner work actually is born of the same consciousness that has created those inequalities of power-over culture. And so a lot of what you were speaking in, and that kind of that need to splash around in this mess together and not kind of feed the separation with like, you know, some of us are broken, and some aren't, and, you know, and shaming each other for not getting it right, in the ways that we communicate, it's like, yeah, really landing into the kind of as Bayo Akomolafe would say, it's like, you know, the trauma is, is the collective waters that we're currently swimming, you know, and, and we can't kind of it was just not true to kind of imply that there are those that are broken and need fixing. And some of us don't, and who are you? It's like, No, we're all there. And if you're, if it's not awaken in you yet, that's because it's not awaken you. Yeah, you know, it's like trauma lives in all of us, it has to because we share the same collective histories and, you know, if we track each of us track ourselves back, our lineages are going to be a mix of oppression and oppressing and so that lives in us and yeah, so there's something in this that feels so important to kind of just really recognise the complexity of power and privilege within this within, as we keep kind of presencing, within the kind of the creative tension of of leaning into birthing into a consciousness beyond that which we are birthing it from.

Sara McFarland 28:41  

Way. I just want to make space for that just a moment here because that was...

yeah, how do you talk about everything all at once? And and both say yes to it, you know, how to, how to live fully alive and how to die beautifully and how to offer our gifts and do the justice and equality work and, you know, be active in terms of living a diverse and other-than-human honouring Life, in the human community as well. And at the same time, and do our inner work, and at the same time, you know, have this kind of meta perspective of, "here's what we're really up to, we're really up to participating in this dying, that's happening". And, and the hope there of, or the trust, or the faith in Earth's cyclical death, rebirth, capacity of renewal and evolution, and, and not knowing if humans are going to be part of the future evolution. You know, we have to say yes to this without any guarantees of anything. Yeah, I keep finding myself in that place of like, oh, those parts of me, you know, that are scared or that don't want to say yes, or that pull back, or that want to blame or push away. Because it's, it's, you know, it's big. It's really, really big.

Claire Milne  1:20  

It's really big. And, and it's, there's something of the this reality of, you know, through one lens, the conversation that we're having right now, and everything we're pointing to is such a privilege, you know, to have the time and the space and the resources to be dedicating ourselves to this conversation is such a privilege. And there's something and so of course, it's like, there's always going to be the parts of us and the voices that are saying, how on earth can you be attending to this, when there are people dying, and they're suffering? And, you know, yeah, and it's like, it's both and and I guess the point we're trying to make, and what we're trying to live through Starter Culture is the reality, that it has to be both and that yes, of course, the kind of firefighting actions that are in the immediacy of, you know, people in so much pain and suffering right now, those kind of more sticking plaster approaches that are kind of just trying to, like, alleviate the suffering right now are so essential. And we're just trying to prise open that kind of, that window to say, and if that's coming from, you could say victim, persecutor rescuer consciousness, you know, whereby we're just trying to rescue and we're not, you know, actually inquiring into what parts of us are jumping in there. And we're not having a longer view, you know, and we're not kind of feeling into the collective well being, and we're just attuning to something micro, then then we're missing something. So you know, it's both and more. It's like..

Sara McFarland  2:54  

Here's a second way I'm hearing that Starter Culture is committed to and encouraging of ways of dismantling power over culture from within is the shift of consciousness that happens or the expansion of consciousness that happens when we hold non-binary truths, when we say yes to holding all the perspectives, whether they're all the perspectives within us, right of all the voices of ourselves, or all the perspectives of the people at the table, or all the perspectives of the creatures, when we  let go of this the relative or perceived safety of a position of a binary position of right and wrong or knowing what's going on and we're able to expand into both/and more consciousness right, then then there is defacto a consciousness transformation that happens, a way that that modern paradigm is or power-over culture is composted within us. And therefore, our ways of being in the world are arising from that kind of a consciousness, which invites that in other people automatically, or invites them to be in reaction against it!

Claire Milne  4:22  

Beautiful, beautiful. Yeah, I mean, as you're speaking that I'm I'm just feeling the kind of the point of what I'd call a transmission of like, when we are brave enough to kind of and resourced enough to allow all of what's here to actually exist all of the different parts, even when they can feel like they're in competition with each other or contrast to each other. It's like just that process of allowing the wholeness of life to exist, is expanding into a consciousness beyond power-over because we're no longer trying to control it and have it from that position of perceived safety that is ours. And I kind of see it a lot actually, in various different group contexts where, when difference arises, how often, you know, conflict can come in and it can become so heated. And there's this sort of curiosity from an outside perspective of like, wow, why is this so heated, you know, this, this kind of what it feels like so much is at stake, because there's some different perspectives showing up. And just realising how much that kind of experience of difference, different perspectives and different needs, can tap into the parts of us that believe that that means I don't belong. And that means I'm going to get exiled. And it's, it's this kind of either or scarcity consciousness that we've part of power-over culture is both part of and a result of power-over culture, that, that kind of creates this kind of mainly unconscious terror that, you know, that it's me or you, we can't both exist, you know, and that, again, like you just so beautifully spoke, it's like, in this kind of allowing our state of being to play host to the kind of the infinite multitude of parts and voices and realities, that in itself is beyond power-over culture. And it sounds simple, but actually, you know, it's a, it can be a gruelling process that can take time to really allow, it's like we're trying to rework in atrophied muscle, you know, that that kind of atrophied muscle that is conditioned to either/or, as opposed to just being a vessel to allow what's happening to arise within us.

Sara McFarland  6:43  

Way, yeah, I'm thinking of like, an ecosystem, you know, an ecosystem is, everybody's all participating all at the same time. And they're all in their eco niche, they're all in their capacity of giving and receiving, they're all in their capacity of, of being with another. And, of course, there are times of, you know, one species might swell. And there would be a devastation, a more devastating effect on the ecosystem. But there's that checks and balances, right? There's that, then the die back or there's stress on the entire system, and the whole ecosystem responds, maybe each part of the ecosystem is responding differently, and how that's such an exquisite... for me right now, just really feeling the, the lived metaphor of that both inner and outer of the truth of that capacity, to imaginally, gosh, our imagination and the imaginal is such an important is also one of the really powerful- this seems to be my job in the podcast, it is to be like, Oh, look, there's another there's another aspect that Starter Culture is offering!-  practice, and talk about atrophied muscles, you know, practice of the imaginal, that we that we invite the imaginal capacity, not as escapism, right, but as ways of listening with the heart to the other than human voices or ways of imagining what, what our minds don't think is possible, or that our hearts as you mentioned earlier, you know, do. There's some way of the imagination being a bridge builder, or a world shifter or shaper, traveller. And what an essential what an essential ingredient in expansion of consciousness.

Claire Milne 9:01  

Yeah, and as you speak, that it's like, just reminds me of how, you know, this, this kind of term imagination, it's kind of a mysterious word in itself. And, you know, for us, it's, it's not about the strategic mind, it's not about kind of, you know, imagining with the strategic mind, it's the art and skill of emptying out so that we can receive from the more than human consciousness so that we, we are a vessel for the whole and how its dream coming, you know, the future into being. And that's a very different thing to kind of imagining in a way that's like, I'm just going to imagine the future I would like, and that, you know, that which is you know, there's nothing wrong with that, but it's a much narrower realm of, you know, it opens a much narrower realm of possibility and it's very unlikely that it's going to go beyond the power-over consciousness and culture, whereas, you know, when we do the work, which is what you know what started culture is about this expansion of consciousness when we do the work, that we are genuinely able to empty out, not an idea of emptying out, but a really genuinely emptying out that we can be the space in which life is emerging, then something else comes through. And then deep imagination reveals itself to us. And we're taken by utter surprise, and, you know, yeah, it's a left field kind of response. And so, yeah, something of you know that, like you say that being integral to what Starter Culture is about. And to be able to do that we really need to, talking about atrophied muscles, we need to lean into these other windows and ways of knowing, you know, it's not just the strategic mind. And you know, this is massive for both of us, I know, it's like, it's, you know, we're not just saying other people need to do this has been huge work for us, because we both have very sharp strategic minds. But yeah, what is it to like, lean into, you know, the felt sense of the body and what moves through the body and what moves through the heart as feelings, and what moves through the wider whole as as the deep imagination, so it's like, without all of those kind of faculties of being, then ironically, the emptying out can't happen.

Sara McFarland  11:21  

Gorgeous, I want to pick up this word emptying out, because you've said it a few times in the last moments. And I want to unpack that a little bit. Because that feels important to say here, I mean, several things. And please correct me or add to what I say, but that it's not about getting rid of a part of ourselves, right? I mean, I know, you know, this, but that's not about emptying out, it's not about getting rid of parts of ourselves, or suppressing or denying or throwing out or any of those things. It's a it's more of a, well, I would say two things, right? And again, add what I've missed. One is our capacity to dis-identify, or identify-with the largest, most expansive part of ourselves. The most compassionate, curious, big, loving, part of ourselves, and dis-identify with the parts of ourselves that are in the wounding are the protective strategies, right? So for me, that's one aspect of the, the emptying out is like, Can I expand into the biggest stretches of me? Which, of course, doesn't really ever end, it just kind of moves into ecosystem. But that place that, you know, can I expand to that place where I become ecosystem? That's how I think of it. And the other thing is, can I integrate, love, welcome home the previously exiled or suppressed parts of myself to, to acknowledge ways that I'm conditioned and part of the power-over culture, ways of trauma and wounding, you know, all the other parts, that are the ones that tend to react with power-over culture habits or strategies or, yeah, that's enough. And, and choose to align ourselves with more mythic, more other-than-human more resourced parts of ourselves.

Claire Milne  13:47  

Yeah, beautiful. I love that you've initiated a kind of unpacking of this term. And there's probably a billion terms that we could do this all kind of quite quite helpfully. But yeah, just to kind of embellish on that, I guess, a riff off that. Yeah, absolutely. Everything you've said, and I guess the the layer that I would then bring in, it's almost like what you're naming to me kind of is almost it's that kind of the, it's, it's rebuilding that muscle to be the witness. And, it's not enough to have an idea of the witness and watch, it's like we actually need to viscerally experience those parts and you know, and be embodied in those parts. And the more we're on that journey, the more we see, and because, you know, there can be this idea that the more we're on the journey, the less will show up because we've kind of transformed more but it's like no, no. The more we're on the journey, the more shows up and  it just gets kind of harder and harder to kind of digest because they're more and more exiled, for good reason. So yes, to kind of what I would call almost that kind of observer witness place of that, you know, the kind of wild allyship to these parts that we've marginalised, that our culture our power-over culture has conditioned us to marginalise and the kind of welcoming them back home. And then for me that the other layer of emptying out, which feels like it's almost like a yeah, it goes hand in hand, in a way with what's necessary is, this kind of embodied kind of visceral, experiencing ourselves as the space within which everything is arising, you know, and by everything, I mean everything. And so it's a, it's not, again, there's the concept of that. And I know that within a lot of kind of esoteric traditions that you know, that that is the mantra. And yet, it's a very different thing to actually viscerally in your, in our being almost skin shed these, these layers that kind of make me feel like just the individual self, so that there is a visceral melting in a way and skin shedding that then allows me to experience myself as the ecosystem you speak of. You know, that as Indra's Net, you know, that really is the whole, in which these different parts and voices and ideas are arising. So that there's not an identification with this kind of this shape of a being, and then we've become a vessel through which, you know, something surprising from the deep imagination can visit us and gift us with the humility to know that by virtue of living in this fleshy human dimension, I have an ego and I'm not going to ever get rid of that. And shouldn't, no, that's not the aim. But there's something of remembering that, you know, this emptying out process isn't about becoming fully enlightened, it's, you know, because as long as I'm here this dimension, then I'm not enlightened. And I have an ego that's going to colour and filter kind of what arises through that deep imagination, which, you know, again, so both/and.

Sara McFarland  16:57  

Yeah, both/and, and a body, you know, and this kind of this earth being that we are, you know, that again, it's not all just conceptual head, but there's this squishy, human animal body, that we are, we are in this earthly way. And also the reality of the earthly body, the shape, the colour, the size, the ability, the, you know, all of these ways of making difference, bad or wrong that power-over culture does and reifies and makes is, you know. It's not about saying, like, all you have to do is empty out, and then everything's fine, like, there's no such thing as racism, and there's no such thing.... No, again, it's both/and, you know, how do we how do we hold the knowing that the experience of being in the body you're in, has a huge, makes a huge difference for how you are in the, the human world and the power-over culture that we're in. And, again, to circle back, you know, that's where it's about, not the individual. That's where inner-led change of the individual meets the collective. That part of the work of inner-led change is to own one's power and privilege or be in relationship with the way one is, with power and privilege if that one's experience. Although, we all have power and privilege in some sphere, in some way of being, if we have experiences of marginalisation, you know, all the ways that we are in this human experience is also something that needs to be both metabolised as an individual but also actively shifted and changed just like you were saying, in the collective.

Claire Milne  19:03  

Absolutely, yeah, thank you again, I feel like what you're bringing there kind of yeah, really brings me into sort of sobering moment of it's, for me, there's this kind of dual kind of reality of the the exhilaration of the possibility of transformation and you know, what it is to lean into everything we're speaking of and how exhilarating that you know that transformation is. And, the reality that a precursor to the actual exhilaration of transformation often is, you know, a humbling painful process that is leaning into the reality of what it is to be in this fleshy body, whatever in our particular existence is the kind of the challenge you know that we've been here born into this lifetime to alchemize. You know, just really recognising that you know that, that our wounds are our greatest gifts if we are able and we are lucky enough to be given the support to to alchemize them and you know, as you speak of the body and the reality of the body, it's like, as you know, it's like for me I live have lived for 25 years with a chronic health condition. That means that living in this body isn't that easy for me. And a lot of the time, I'm in a lot of pain and difficulty and, and so I want to include that as a kind of like, I suppose just to include that, you know, we both you and I both have our own versions of kind of what it is to really struggle and to, you know, to know that everything we're speaking of comes with great challenge, and that life is a balance in that way. And yeah, body is portal is what you know, really is a helpful reminder to me that, you know, what is happening is is a portal to the transformation and the never ending spiral and being able to embrace the difficulty that can often precede death is part of life.

Sara McFarland 20:59  

Yeah. And so that's, of course, reminding me of one of our other threads is, you know, how we talk about, and we're probably coming to the end of our time here. So, I don't know how deep we want to go into this, but just recognising also, this thread of wound, and, and trauma and that we hold this a little bit differently than lots of folks and that there's this kind of, just like you were saying, you know, as portal. And, that the gift is laid in the same crucible as the wounding so that we're not proponents of, you know, woundology. At the same time, that we're also not ignoring the suffering, that's very real. There's healing to be done, trauma work to be done on the healing level. And there's alchemizing that is beyond healing of the wound, that becomes a Sacred Path of one's deepest and greatest gifts, that one's here to give.

Claire Milne  22:13  

Yeah, I feel it's almost inevitable that we will have a session exploring kind of core to sacred wound alchemizing. And I wonder, before we do kind of draw to a close, do you want to just say a little bit about what you mean by woundology, because I'm just aware, it might be a term that some people aren't that well, lots of people might not be familiar with? 

Sara McFarland 22:32  

Yeah, sure. The way I understand it is, there can be a way that we are so identified with the wound or wounding that we've experienced, that it becomes kind of the central focus around which we revolve. And it becomes almost a religion, you know, a ritual practice of devotion, or, or one way that I talk about it is the tyranny of the trauma, the way that it tyrannizes our lives and is a unidirectional gravitational surface, you know, like, pulls all of our energy into its, its grasp, so that we are stuck revolving around it. And, while there's wisdom, in and healing within wound work that's necessary, we want to liberate ourselves from that gravitational pull. That that can keep us spinning in a in a cycle of reiterating or regurgitating, the wounding of the modern paradigm in the victim perpetrator the rescuer circle cycle triangle, and cycling around and around through through those roles.

Caire Milne  24:03  

Yeah, thank you. Yeah, I mean, hearing you in the way you're explaining it, it's reminding me that Yeah, I mean, one key piece there is that, you know, this culture of woundology, it's like it shines the light on the paradox of trauma, in that, you know trauma does have this kind of function inherently within it, that when trauma shows up in our system, it makes us become fixated on it, you know, and it's part of its nature. And yet, expanding consciousness and transforming trauma, or we could call it awakening, or we could call it liberation or Co-liberation. It's like, the paradox is, can we wake up in that moment and not get fixated, even though the very nature of trauma and suffering is to get fixated and at a very neurobiological level. And so it's like, it's that kind of the impossible possible, you know, impossible mission that is the transformation and is not just a kind of waking up at the individual level, but actually is the key to co-liberation beyond the paradigm we're living in, that makes that kind of paradox of consciousness a reality. You know, it's like, so yeah, so I mean, gosh, we're, we're diving deep right here at the end. This a much bigger conversation, the paradox of trauma and, yeah, karmic imprints, it's like, yeah, we'll get stuck into that another time. Give it more space.

Sara McFarland  25:37  

well, I think all of our, all the threads we've been weaving have been quite, quite meaty, we, I think we could dive into each one of them. And I'm really grateful that we've touched on these because they're such essential, essential threads in Starter Culture's, fabric of how we go about doing what we're doing, which is supporting expansion of consciousness, beyond the power-over culture, or composting, power-over culture, igniting that heat and that fire of transformation. And, centering the other than human, you know, shifting consciousness, also into the, the expansion of the other-than-human in the ecosystem. So all of these elements that we've been speaking of are so for me, are so essential in the, in the fabric of that, like, the core of what we're up to.

Claire Milne 26:33  

Yeah, absolutely. And it kind of feels like, by way of bringing this to a close, it's kind of, oh, you know, in terms of what we're hoping for this podcast, it's like, you know, and for Starter Culture, more generally, it's like, we're really wanting to create an experience that really goes beyond just being a talking shop. We don't want to kind of... just for you to just come in and listen to us kind of have a ramble on, even though to some extent, that's what this introductory one is. But we're definitely paving the way for something that's, that's far more experiential, and that really centres, you know, a kind of more-than-human ritual approach to, to the expansion of consciousness that we're speaking of that we see as a really key kind of tool that we all need in our tool belts, whether it's for that sort of transformation, dismantling of power-over culture, within ourselves as individuals and changemakers. And that we bring back to our groups and our organisations as inspiration, kind of to how can we transform at a collective level as well as within me? And how can I in my group, and in my collective kind of take these tools back and kind of inspire and infuse. So there's something of us constantly pulsing in and out of this kind of, yeah, the dismantling of power-over culture, at the individual level, and at the group level, and the organisational and movement and cultural level. And really expanding into more than human consciousness, so that we're not kind of limiting the possibilities and the support and the, you know, the web of support to the human and to the individual. It's like, it's so much bigger. So that's our hope. We have no idea how we're gonna do it. That's our kind of approach is, working with emergence and as we say, emptying out to be able to see what life wants to move through us and offer.

Sara McFarland  28:30  

Beautifully said. Yeah, really beautifully said thank you. Yeah, offering the experience, the experiential practice of expansion of consciousness, that's what we are aiming for, in with this podcast. And when we do speak, have more talky kinds of podcasts, that the speaking hopefully is coming from a place in us that's not so... so it's more imaginal and less structured in the modern paradigm less strategic and, and is a kind of earthquake, cracking of the walls of the house of modernity, so that we can get out. Go outside, into the wild world. Get out of the house!

Claire Milne  29:27  

Yeah. So yeah, I mean, my heart is welling up with gratitude for just yeah, for you Sara for the conversation and kind of, I guess the, the love that, that births in my life and my heart and that it allows me an opportunity to grow and expand and have these kind of expansive conversations that I become more than me, and you know, who I started the conversation as. And an extension of that would be just, gosh, what gratitude for yeah, the kind of the the challenge that has led to me being in a position that I'm hopefully able to offer some, some kind of words and gifts in the world that can be a source of support to others. And so giving gratitude to my challenges and to the difficulty that that kind of yeah makes room for the the earthquake of transformation. Yeah.

Sara McFarland

I’m so grateful to you for giving me a place as Death Doula for the Great Dying to do my work. And the image that i received when I was listening in was, I am grateful for the molehills out on the meadow. And in each molehill today, this black, dark, loamy, sandy earth, in each molehill was a little snail shell, a mini snail shell. And I just had this image of, ah, there is something coming up out of the depths and this little spiral life within, like a seed.

Claire Milne

Very slow life, in it’s cocoon.

Sara McFarland

Thank you my dear

Claire Milne

Thank you and thank you everyone who is listening out there. We’d love to hear any feedback you want to share and that you’ll join us again.

Sara McFarland

Thank you so much for you, dear Claire, and thank you for listening, all of you.

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