Interview with David Tacey

[This interview was conducted by William Holbrook over email between July and September 2018.]

David Tacey is a distinguished public intellectual and Emeritus Professor at La Trobe University who has written widely on mental health, spirituality, and gender.

William Holbrook co-edits sugarcane.

Mia Boe, Terra Nullius (2020)

WH: How might the study of the humanities be involved in the “resacralisation” of the secular world?  

DT: That’s an easy one to answer. All great Australian art is spiritual, and that is true of art in all countries. Indeed, the “greatness” of any artwork relates directly to its ability to reveal something of the spiritual life, whether of individuals, communities, or creation itself.  

The study of the humanities might be involved in resacralisation if those who speak for the arts, — I mean, lecturers, teachers, gallery directors, arts commentators — actually paid more attention to the art they are supposedly interpreting.  Our greatest artists are all spiritual in their work and conscious intentions. If we think of Patrick White, David Malouf, Tim Winton in the novel, or Judith Wright, Gwen Harwood or Les Murray in poetry, or Peter Sculthorpe or Ross Edwards in musical composition, they are all spiritual artists. Yet they are not taught or represented this way in lectures, seminars, critical essays or reviews.  There is a gap between art critics and artists, a kind of culture war of sorts. Les Murray tried to declare war by refusing to allow the University of Sydney to teach his poetry, because he felt they were desacralising it in the usual academic manner.  He lost that case, because anything that is published is in the public domain and can be taught by universities.  It seems there is no legal way in which artists can insist that the sacred element of their work is honoured and respected. 

Artists throughout Australia are distraught at what “teaching” does to their artwork. This is an eloquent statement from our most important living composer, Ross Edwards:   

The phenomenon of desacralization, of taking things at surface value and overlooking or suppressing our awareness of their inherent mystery is, I believe, a fairly recent one which is not sustainable. I also feel instinctively that we’re living in a time where more and more people are longing for a sense of renewal, and the return of some kind of cosmic spring which will help us view nature with a cleansed perception. These are the things that motivate my music. 

– Ross Edwards, 2014

What influence did growing up in Alice Springs, alongside Aboriginal communities, have on your ideas of the sacred, and of re-sacralisation?

When I first arrived in Alice Springs, in 1966, I was very much under the influence of my Christian parents and upbringing, and saw Aboriginal people as undeveloped and culturally deprived. But as I spent more time with them and got to know them, especially some of the elders, I reversed my earlier point of view. It was my society that was culturally deprived, and Aboriginal people were far more sophisticated than us in cultural and especially spiritual terms. This shocked me, as racial prejudices ran deep in my family and community, and I had to counter them by my individual efforts and experiences. What impressed me most of the Aboriginal people I met was that they had a permeability to the sacred, by which I mean the “veils” between this world and the ancestors and the dead were thin, and in certain rituals and ceremonies, they seemed non-existent. This struck me as the single most important realisation I had had in my life, and continues to be so to this day. 

My parents and others thought I was romanticising and idealising Aboriginal people — they were more taken by the squalor and disarray of the town camps. I noticed the squalor, of course, but after getting to know Aboriginal people quite deeply found a wellspring of spiritual life that I had never seen in people in my own society. It was as if I learned about religion from my society, but spirituality from Aboriginal people, and doubt I would have become as preoccupied with spirituality, and spent so many years researching and writing on this topic, had I not lived alongside Aboriginal communities. Some conversations with elders totally changed my life and turned it around. For the first time I became aware of a completely different way of viewing reality. 

Could you explain the Aboriginal concept of dadirri, and why you think it’s important? And what do you think of politically correct refusals to engage with such concepts, and with Aboriginal spirituality generally (on the grounds that any engagement would be culturally appropriative and, therefore, so the argument usually runs, implicitly racist).

In remote parts of Australia, Aboriginal elders talk of giving the non-indigenous majority a gift.  It seems like odd logic for the culturally dispossessed to want to give a gift to their erstwhile oppressors.  But there is good sense in this.  In the Top End of the Northern Territory, the gift is called dadirri, which means deep listening to place.  Deep listening connects people to the spirit of place, and Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr says that her people at Daly River have been practising the art of dadirri for tens of thousands of years.  It is quite possibly the world’s oldest meditative and contemplative practice.  

Some say this gift is extraordinarily generous, and indeed it is.  But there is a cultural politics attached to it. If we accept their gift, their future is more secure than it currently is, because we would then respect their pact with the land and claims on it. To accept the gift is to become reciprocally bound. The gift is given in the hope that it would release a new spirituality in the recipients, which would cause them to respect the life-world of the indigenous and act with greater compassion. But the non-indigenous majority are bemused, either don’t know about the gift, don’t want to know, or adopt a hands-off approach, and Australia’s cultural development is arrested.  The Aboriginal people are compelling the secular society to become more spiritual, which might please a few artists and sensitive folk, but the official consciousness of the nation rejects it.  This brings despair to Aboriginal tribal elders; at least, to the ones I have met in outback Australia. I might put the conundrum this way: giving us the gift we will not accept is their last chance at dignity and survival. 

In his book The Gift, French sociologist Marcel Mauss throws light on the strategic diplomacy of gift-giving. Basing his studies on the cultures of French Polynesia, he argues that gifts “are in theory voluntary, disinterested and spontaneous, but are in fact obligatory and interested”. He claims that the act of giving creates a social bond with an obligation to reciprocate on the part of the recipient.  And Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr confirms this. When questioned about the gift, she said, “the gift comes with obligations”.  I have interviewed her several times about dadirri, and there was a dadirri conference held recently in Alice Springs, which is my home town. I have not spoken to her directly about political correctness, but it has always struck me that it is a roadblock to her goals and aspirations. 

Political correctness is a righteous and self-justifying ideology, well established in government, law, media and education. It claims that any interest in Aboriginal cultures is guilty of theft and spiritual appropriation. It finds almost any dialogue or exchange offensive, because all white people want is to steal what they find attractive in these cultures and leave them depleted.  Suspicion, self-loathing and hatred of our own culture has come to this. A conquering colonial culture soaked in shame for historical appropriation of the land and destruction of indigenous cultures has not, let us say, worked through its own problems. It has not been able to broker a treaty with the indigenous and, as such, it has become paralysed by its own guilt. It doesn’t know what to do, where to turn. 

Politically correct ideology has arisen from cloistered, inner city campuses that have little or no relationship with indigenous communities and do not know what elders are calling for. The ideology is a product of materialism and has vested interests in protecting itself from spirituality. It began as an attempt to defend the interests of marginalised groups, but when it comes to Aboriginal cultures, it backfires and subverts the indigenous desire to bring both sides together on spiritual ground. Thus, while parading as a concerted attempt to protect endangered cultures from further exploitation, it actually participates in their tragic demise. 

On the other side of the cultural spectrum, we have the New Age spiritual movement, which is in a hungry, consuming mood. Any talk of a spiritual gift is irresistible and attracts immediate attention. Political correctness and New Age consumerism are two aspects of the one cultural pathology which makes Aboriginal reconciliation difficult or impossible. The impulse in the New Age is not to befriend the indigenous or encourage dialogue, but to become the indigenous by identifying with them. This is sometimes called the “new feralism” and represents a disenchantment with the West so profound that some want to shed their identity and become what the West once reviled and denigrated. A series of books by American writers has described, or perhaps indulged, the new feralism, portraying the Aboriginal people as a hearty meal upon which the spiritually bereft can feed. Having perhaps exhausted the spiritual possibilities of their own native American cultures they now travel to Australia to fill up on the Aboriginal Dreaming. 

A National Geographic writer, Harvey Arden, tells the story of how a “hard-bitten journalist’s soul was smitten by the spiritual notion of the Dreamtime”. Arden set out to collect Dreaming stories that he could devour and make his own, but the indigenous people of north-western Australia were not keen to give away their heritage to such a person. The first Aboriginal person whom Arden encountered said: “Get your own Dreaming. Don’t take ours”. One critic remarked that Arden was “burnt by a demand for reciprocity”, a demand he had not anticipated. Such grasping, parasitic behaviour is not liked by indigenous cultures, who see this as the new colonialism. The indigenous will only give the gift if they sense sensitivity to and awareness of their own plight. They will only give if the recipient will give back.  

Jordan Peterson — whom The New York Times has called “the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now” — is also a Jungian and a loud enemy of political correctness. Where does your own critique of political correctness depart from Peterson’s (if at all)? 

At first I thought Jordan Peterson was a breath of fresh air in the stale corridors of academic culture. Like Peterson, I have been exasperated and enraged by the ways in which political correctness has “taken over” the university system — and much else besides, not just the universities. It is like a disease that has spread through the body of education, turning culture around. Instead of the pursuit of knowledge, which ought to be encouraged, we now have the pursuit of ideologies of various kinds, and the witch-hunts that go along with the imperative to conform to the entrenched ideologies. So in that regard, I was a big fan of his work earlier, and loved the way he was unsettling the stale values and fixed opinions of academia.

But when I saw what he wanted to change political correctness with, I changed my mind. Ironically, his solution to the world’s problems is as rigidly inflexible as the political correctness he denounces. His 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is a terrible book, which takes us back in time, long before the fluidity and relativity of the postmodern period. So his response to political correctness is an attempt to impose an archaic morality and set of values which is no real solution at all. Now I don’t know which I despise more: political correctness or Jordan Peterson. 

I think his characterisation of the postmodern as “chaos” and “disorder” is as reactionary as one could get, and, as I’ve said in some of my books, I don’t like or trust the reactionary mentality. It is always sneaking around hoping to impose some panacea which is really only a mental prison with a lot of questionable “absolutes”. It is hard to get away from this fantasy of moral or cultural absolutes, and although political correctness likes to see itself as part of postmodern fluidity, it is again moral absolutes that have snuck around the back door. Peterson thinks of himself as some kind of messianic figure who has “come down from above” to set lost and bewildered humanity back on its right course. I really think he suffers from a messiah complex of some kind.

I was at first pleased that he was reintroducing Jung into the cultural and social debate, since Jung was unfairly sent to perdition by the Freudians and others who disliked his work. But on closer inspection, he was not Jungian at all. Or rather, he was, but of the wrong kind. Over the last hundred years a number of reactionaries have turned to Jung to bolster or support their own system of ideas and beliefs. Robert Bly, leader of the reactionary men’s movement, is one of them. The problem with these reactionary Jungians is twofold: they don’t know Jung well enough, and they misuse his theory of archetypes. There is a saying at the Jung Institute in Zurich where I used to give summer courses: “A little Jung is worse than none at all”. This is true, because Jung is a vast area, and some people just skim read a couple of books, but there are over 30 dense volumes of his writing, and it takes quite a commitment to work through them all. Jung changes his mind across his long career, and if one has only read a little, one has no idea how or why he changed his mind.

The issue of archetypes is central to this worldwide misreading of Jung. Today many read them as “stereotypes”, and they are hated by progressives, who are moving into increasing fluidity and less structure, and adored by conservatives, who imagine Jung provides some “scientific” justification for stereotypal and conformist behaviour. In his thinking, Jung was a psychological structuralist, and he believed there were structures in the conscious and the unconscious. But what reactionaries fail to see or understand is that Jung felt these structures had to be fought against, and not merely adopted as models for living or rules for life. Jung believed that this was the central anguish of individuality, which he valued far more than “archetypes”.

Life was a battleground for Jung, a fight with and against archetypes so that the person could arrive at his or her individuality. Individuation was his goal, and one could say that conformity to archetypes was pretty much the opposite of individuation. But the reactionaries do not want to know about this side of his work: they take the archetypes at surface value and run with them. They then say, if society gets chaotic, we simply need to open the treasure chest of archetypes and, one by one, lay them out so that people can live by them.

Another problem with this approach to Jung is that it misreads the nature of his archetypes. They are not fixed immutably in time and space, but change with the changing conditions of the environment. They are relatively stable up to a point, but if and when society changes, the archetypes change with it. One of his major insights expresses this as a paradox: “All true things must change and only that which changes remains true” (Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis (1955-1956), Collected Works, Vol. 14, par. 503). Contrary to popular opinion, archetypes are not fixed templates which individuals must conform to. They are structures of the psyche which must be reckoned with, and can and do influence one’s style, but if they take over our individuality Jung counts this as a serious loss of individuality. He may look like a conformist at the surface, but deeper down he is a champion of democracy and liberty.

Ironically, both progressives and conservatives make this same mistake. Feminists, for instance, hated Jung when they began to read him, as they saw his archetypes as further examples of patriarchal oppression and regimentation. Feminists wanted to kill off father Jung to achieve the freedom they sought — not realising he was also in search of freedom, not by getting rid of archetypes, but by becoming conscious of them as hidden forces in our lives. The more conscious we could become of them the more we had a chance to attain true freedom. Jordan Peterson has attracted a lot of men who like to think there is a stable basis to masculinity. So, out come the Jungian “archetypes”, to help men feel stable in their lives. It is a magician’s trick, and Jung would have despised this misuse of his theories.

The problem with Jung is that he is not his best advocate: he writes in a prolix, long-winded style, can take ages to get to the point, and even when he gets there he often fails to nail it. Unlike Freud, who was a great stylist, efficient and easy to read, Jung is a turgid and dense writer, and by the time readers wade through the verbal sludge, they don’t really know what he stands for or what he has been saying. Jung recognised this as a major failing of his work, but did very little to remedy it. The books which are most readable are his popular works, Man and His Symbols, and the memoir, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. But these are designed for the masses and are not his theoretical works.

What is sad, if not tragic, about Jung is that his most vocal, popular supporters always get him wrong. It is little wonder that he remains at the edges of respectability and is often placed in the completely unacceptable category. The true Jungians, who are often quite obscure and little known, always groan as yet another popular advocate comes along, as they know in advance it will be a mess, and merely add to the confusion about him.

I have to say you defy easy political categorization. Is there a kind of red (progressive) as well as blue (conservative) political colouring to your work? 

I suppose you could say this, but in relation to the issues that interest me, there is no affiliation with either left or right. I am not a political conservative, and mostly my politics is progressive and left wing, but in some areas I critique the left and find them particularly unhelpful with regard to Aboriginal issues. The left are hopeless at spirituality; they see it as a fantasy or illusion, and that is because the left springs from atheist and materialist roots. If they would read the early work of the Frankfurt School, such as Horkheimer, Adorno and Benjamin, they might discover that progressive politics can benefit from a sympathetic engagement with religious thought. The left put up a masquerade when it comes to Aboriginal people: they pretend to respect it, but really they don’t, and the respect is a charade.

On the other hand, the right support religion, but only the brands of it that seem to encourage its own conservative and reactionary agenda.  In this regard I am against the right, because my own belief is that religious orthodoxies need breaking down and deconstructing. In this sense my religious taste is close to Derrida’s: he respects mystery and spirit but despises traditions that turn their representations of spirit into absolutes. 

You wrote in The Edge of the Sacred that “Australia requires a social ego, which requires and admits the other, yet which also recognises the claims of the past, of tradition, and of order.” In which direction do you think Australian society has moved since you wrote the book: have we moved towards more openness or more closure, more change or more stability? 

Alfred Adler has a term for those who try to prop society up by holding defensive structures against the tides of change. He calls it the “masculine protest”, meaning that a muscular, masculine energy is used to “protest” against the supposed laxness or moral fluidity of the social climate. Donald Trump is the epitome of Adler’s masculine protest in American politics, and Jordan Peterson is doing the same thing in psychology and life-coaching. I would not be surprised if they got together, to admire each other’s popular success and narcissism. Both are delusional about their ability to “make society great again” by imposing reactionary structures on “liquid modernity” as Zygmunt Bauman put it. 

But what I wrote in my 1995 book, Edge of the Sacred, I still uphold. Society, like human personality, is a kind of balancing act between openness and closure, change and stability, revolution and tradition. The pendulum swings from one extreme to the other. The decade in which I grew up, and which had a profound and lasting impact on me, the 1960s, was a decade of perpetual revolution, and although this seemed exhilarating at the time, it could not last. The human psyche demands change and it also demands stability at the same time. The psyche is a battle between change and stability, and society reflects this in its own way.

People often say I am hard to categorise, and they ask am I a conservative or a progressive? Well, the answer is that I am neither. I don’t like being boxed in these imprisoning categories. Although politics is roughly structured along these lines, and university culture likewise, the fact is that many people do not fit comfortably into the conservative or progressive box. The problem with conservatives is that they stifle change, and that means they stifle life. They are often religious and read the Bible as a rule book that still applies to society today, which is quite ludicrous if one thinks about it. Conservatives deny the fact that traditions seek to be reborn, and demand new life. Picasso once said that tradition is having a baby, not wearing your father’s hat. Conservatives wear their fathers’ hats and think they are conserving their tradition. They are not conserving anything; in fact, they are hastening the demise of their tradition by not allowing it to grow and change. They mistake convention for tradition.

Likewise, progressives are parodies of progress, not champions of change. Progress often means killing off the father and throwing out his hat, but that is simply Oedipal rage against the past, and not progress at all. Progressives throw out too much and have short memories. What I do not like about progressives is that they imagine that religion is finished, out of date, and we need not think about it any longer. They bequeath religion to the political right, and the right mess it up. They do not appreciate that religion, like any tradition, needs to grow and change, so keep it tightly controlled in limited forms. The true role of progressives ought to be to allow religion to have a baby, in Picasso’s terms, but they would not know the first thing about this, or how to do it.

Over the last few decades, we have seen Australia lurch more and more to the right. Toward the end of his life, Malcolm Fraser withdrew his membership of the Australian Liberal Party because he said he could no longer recognise it as “liberal”. It was for him far too rigid and opposed to change. If one of the great leaders of the Liberals felt this, then I take this as a serious indictment of the conservatives in this country. John Howard started this reactionary movement in response to the creative leadership of Paul Keating. After Howard, Tony Abbott took the Liberal Party to the far right, and then Malcolm Turnbull danced between far right, centre right, and empty showmanship. To me, one of the most important things in Australia is the Aboriginal issue and reconciliation between indigenous people and the colonisers who invaded and stole their land. It is tragic how this keeps falling off the political agenda, as if it does not matter. In the model of the Australian Republic that Turnbull supported in 1999, Aboriginal reconciliation did not appear as a major item on the agenda. Consequently, I, like many Australians, voted for the status quo, because the new model was not good enough. 

How do you regard the Uluru Statement from the Heart? Could its call for Makaratta — “the coming together after a struggle” — represent the kind of balance between closure and openness you argued for in Edge of the Sacred?

In terms of combined, Australia-wide action from all Aboriginal peoples, the recent Uluru Statement has added complexity and depth to the call for a treaty. The Statement makes it clear that any such treaty-making and constitutional change must start from a spiritual base. It stresses that Aboriginal sovereignty “is a spiritual notion”. “How could it be otherwise?” it asks; “That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?” This political statement, meant to encourage serious constitutional and social reform announces at the outset that no reform, reconciliation or change can take place unless the spiritual nature of the indigenous peoples is understood as the first premise. This is a spiritual people addressing a secular nation about the “sacred link” that remains as the base of Aboriginal reality. This makes the spiritual political; it can no longer be tucked away as a side issue, or treated disrespectfully as a quaint, archaic and irrelevant factor in the political process. The Uluru Statement is momentous insofar as it throws down the challenge to majority Australia: spirituality must come out of the closet into the full light of day. Majority Australia will not like this or understand it, but it must be so.

The Statement introduces a new term into national discourse: “We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history”. Makarrata, a Yolngu word, has been proposed as an alternative name for the treaty process. But “Makarrata is much more than just a synonym for treaty. It is a complex Yolngu word describing a process of conflict resolution, peacemaking and justice”. Aboriginal elder Merrikiyawuy Ganambarr-Stubbs says it means “peace after a dispute”. She continues: “It can be a negotiation of peace, or a negotiation and an agreement where both parties agree to one thing so that there is no dispute or no other bad feeling”. It is politics but more than politics; it is a holistic process dealing with the emotional, historical and spiritual aspects of the negotiation. This is politics the indigenous way, which has a lot to teach majority Australia about how to include human feeling and spirit in administrative and legal processes.

How do you think sacralising the world might encourage a respect for our natural environment? And what has non-Aboriginal Australia to learn from Aboriginal cultures is this regard? Were you encouraged by Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si? These questions, of course, take on a new urgency in a warming climate. 

We speak of an “environmental crisis”, but to some extent it is misnamed. It is a crisis of human consciousness, and we have damaged and degraded the environment by inflicting our own distortions upon it.  If we want to find the roots of the environmental crisis, we need look no further than ourselves. Our present form of consciousness is clearly unsustainable. The environmental crisis is a wakeup call telling us that how we live can no longer be supported. Ever since the intellectual enlightenment and the industrial revolution, we have experienced an ever-narrowing sense of human identity that has led to increasing alienation from the natural world. Western humanity has seen itself as existing outside nature, apart from nature, and removed from the organic processes of the world. Industrialisation and urbanisation removed people from the land and took them into artificially manufactured environments in which it was possible to believe that humanity was no longer part of nature.

But this alienation from nature was not just the legacy of a shift from land to factories and cities; it was also the legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The religion that dominated the West for sixteen hundred years was strongly patriarchal, and emerged in a climate of acute hostility to the pre-patriarchal, matrifocal religions which regarded nature as sacred and the source of life. With the rise of patriarchal religions, the worship of nature and the organic world was demonised as idolatry and paganism. At the same time, the feminine was demonised, as is evident in the construction of Eve as the source of original sin and the perpetrator of humanity’s fall from grace. Throughout the age of Christendom, the feminine was demonised in a kind of unholy trinity: earth, woman and sexuality. Ever since, all three have been suffering the traumas of patriarchy and having to fight an ongoing battle to be acknowledged and respected.

The medieval historian Lynn White argued that Christianity is the most anthropocentric religion the world has ever seen. The Judeo-Christian command to “subdue” the earth and have “dominion” over the animals and all creation has effectively licensed humanity to treat the earth with disrespect and use and abuse its resources. Some ecologists argue that Christianity not only established a dualism of man versus nature but insisted that it is God’s will that humanity exploit nature for its own ends.  Given this, it is ironic that three popes, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and most recently Francis, have implored the world to undergo an ecological conversion, because Christianity itself is in dire need of such a conversion.  What Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, did not do, and this omission is inexcusable, is grapple with the issues involved in the resacralisation of nature, after his tradition had spent centuries trying to desacralise it. 

Early Christian evangelists went through the forests of Europe with a cross in one hand, and an axe in the other, to chop down the sacred groves that they considered pagan, heathen and unholy.  The charge against paganism was that it seemed to worship nature, and not God in heaven. Even at its greenest hue, Christianity can only manage reverence to nature because God in heaven made it. But any affection for nature has been regarded as suspect until proven otherwise. St Francis of Assisi was declared the patron saint of ecology by John Paul II, but almost everyone forgets that even he was scrutinised by the church and only narrowly avoided a heresy trial, according to his biographer St Bonaventure. Several of the followers of St Francis were put to death at the stake for heresy.  

To suddenly represent Christianity as “green” with this history is to have a short or confused memory. I expected to see an apology in Francis’ encyclical to those many ancient peoples whose beliefs and cultures were crushed because they were claimed to be satanic, and our own Aboriginal peoples were among them.  But the encyclical is silent on this issue, which to me makes it less honest and significant as a document. In some ways, it is too little, too late.  The great ecologists of recent times, such as David Suzuki, Rachel Carson and James Lovelock have been saying for decades that we have to resacralise our relations to the natural world, and this is the spiritual key to true ecological conversion. 

Here in Australia the Aboriginal peoples are surely the exemplary example of an ecologically sound attitude to the natural world based on sacred principles.  Politicians and media commentators pay lip-service to the “special relationship” to the land that is integral to Aboriginal cultures, but fail to grasp the real message: unless the non-indigenous have experienced a psycho-spiritual connection to environment they — we — will not learn to respect the bond between land and indigenous inhabitants, or between land and ourselves.  In his moving Apology to Indigenous Peoples, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that Aboriginal peoples are “the oldest continuing cultures in human history”. He did not, however, point out that their survival and longevity is due to the spiritual pact with the world that they call the Dreaming. The Dreaming, which is a difficult concept for Westerners to grasp, because it is not rational or easily understood, is a sacred concept about the interconnectedness of all things. 

Spirit binds us to earth and makes it sacred, and if the earth is not sacred it doesn’t matter, and matter doesn’t matter. It follows that no ecological revolution can take place without an activation of spirit. This is what the Popes get right, but whether these patriarchs can bring it about without honouring the earth as feminine is problematical. The study of civilisations shows that every ecological vision arose out of a deeply felt cosmology, and without this cosmology the ecological vision would have collapsed. Ecology has to come to us from within, from a consciousness transformed by spirit, and not be imposed from outside authorities. This is why I am concerned for our future, because we are going about ecology the wrong way. So far most appeals are to our conscience, not to the structure of our consciousness. We need to re-enchant the world and rediscover its sacredness. Once we experience its sacredness, we will act differently toward it.