What is Terra Religata?
Terra Religata is the title of my experimental documentary film under production. It is also the name of the international collaborative project that emerged from my encounter with the majestic Whole of Nature while working on this film.
Loosely translated from the Latin, Terra Religata means ”Earth Reconnected”. The word religata literally means “bound back”, as in the case of something being reconnected to its original context.
Most of the nature photography you see on this site consists of stills from my coming film Terra Religata.
Beside all this, Terra Religata is also a vision of a state where mankind coexist harmoniously in balanced interrelation with the Earth as a living whole.
This state appears to be far away in our own day of escalating climate chaos and mass extinction of species, totalitarian mass surveillance and growing fascism, global neoliberal oppression, systematized consumerism and conformity-inducing mass culture, self-centeredness and increasingly superficial social relationships.
What is the root of the crisis on Earth?
Is there a common denominator behind the many faces of devastation? A Gordian knot where all the strings of the tangled mess come together?
Terra Religata is an international activistic and creative collaborative project exploring the paths back to a world in balance.
In this regard, Terra Religata shares fundamental values and purpose with a broad spectrum of activists and social revolutionaries. What distinguishes Terra Religata is the all-pervasive focus of the project on initiating constructive change from local to global levels through multiple kinds of deep reconnection.
Terra Religata is based on what I call ”Reconnection Activism” – various forms of activity that share a consciously articulated emphasis on creating situations that enable personal experiences of deep reconnection between people, as well as between humankind and the nature that gives us life.
This, today far too rare, direct, personal experience of deep reconnection can be made possible in many ways and by multiple means that move our hearts; especially film, visual arts, music, transformative encounters, and the liberating power of the written and spoken word.
The objective of Terra Religata is to explore these opportunities, and then to use them as means to create emotionally transformative situations that give people a direct, personal experience of deep reconnection, to thereby make way for the healing of a civilization headed for disaster.
I went through such a personal transformation myself, standing behind the film camera in the wilderness of Idaho. For that reason I know that it can change a life.
Everything you read here has been born from that personal experience.
In my own life, I have found that today’s mass culture stands in opposition to this kind of inner transformation by making us distracted, fragmented and too shallow to be able to engage, to emphathize and to express honest solidarity.
As many who have struggled know, this counterforce is actively directed against all who strive to shake up the status quo of the perverse equilibrium, with all of its benefits that have been secured for the self-proclaimed power elite.
The purpose of Terra Religata is to form a wave of resistance against this destructive mass culture and the order that it preserves to make deep and lasting system transformation impossible.
This wave will arise from meaningful encounters among already struggling activists as well as people of every kind that simply have HAD ENOUGH of the madness on Earth that prevents justice, peace and ecological balance.
The philosophical starting point of Terra Religata was my insight that the root of most (or all?) evil things is the breaching (or denial ) of the relationship between things and their proper context.
This breach is effected in many different senses of the word, and the consequences express themselves in myriad ways. Some of these are condemned as crimes. Others are commonly praised as deeds of greatness.
Let me give you some clarifying examples:
Socioeconomic oppression – caused by the hierarchical order where a small number of parts of society as a body parasitize on the remaining parts of the same body; a totally unsustainable (albeit normalized) state of affairs that can only be perpetuated by justifying that the body is fragmented and some parts are allowed to live while others perish. As a consequence of this mutilation – the isolation of parts from the mutual whole – the accelerating decay of civilization is allowed to progress along its present trajectory towards total collapse. This fact is confimed by previous collapses under similar circumstances throughout a period of 5,000 years.
Increasing climate chaos – caused by mankind’s actions motivated by the belief that one’s own existence benefits from living as if short-sighted human needs are more important than the Earth’s need to maintain the capacity to self-regulate its own thermostat, and thereby sustain the conditions that make human life possible. Before we knew that the combustion of fossil fuels is causing climate change we acted blindly. Today we know better – but our mainstream culture keeps operating based on the faulty notion that we are superior to, and thereby separated from nature. An existential separation that now threatens to eradicate untold numbers of species – including our own.
Increasingly superficial interpersonal interactions – including the commercialization and fragmentation of language itself through scattered bursts of electronic communication; a false but tempting consolation for our deepening alienation caused by the hollowing feeling of disconnection. This process is fueled by the culture that separates people from the meaningful and healing experience of intimacy – among individuals, as well as between people and the nature that gives them life.
Wars of aggression, racism, sexism, and religious and sexual discrimination – all of them caused by the separation of groups that should be able to find ways to coexist within a mutually enriching diversity.
Many more examples could have been given, small or great – from the family unit and the immediate community to global and historical levels of scale.
The crucial insight is this: Behind each of these faces of devastation you find a single common denominator.
This Gordian knot is the fragmentation of the whole. For that reason, the way back to wholeness in these differing circumstances is also one and the same, and it begins with the healing of our understanding, as the philosopher Spinoza once said.
The healing of our culture can only begin
with the healing of our own way of seeing how we and all things are interconnected, and thereby also how we ought to live our lives.
A person that experieces his or her own part icipation in the Earth as a living body doesn’t want to live as a parasite on a dying host.
Likewise, if you experience your own oneness with all life, you don’t want to undermine the conditions necessary for that life to continue – or deny that these conditions are also essential for your own survival.
The combined crisis on Earth is so far progressed that we have to go to the core of the problems, here and now. And when we go deep enough, we find that the root is one and the same.
Together we can swat many flies with a single well-directed blow (as we say in Sweden), if we together maintain our focus on what is really at the core of our rapidly converging system failures.
This root of evil is our emotional and existential separation from mankind and nature as a living whole.
This separation comes into expression through hierarchical thinking, emotional frigidy, oppression and the rape of the living body of the Earth.
We therefore need to create circumstances where more and more people can experience deeply rewarding forms of participation, community and reverence for life, and this in ways that lead to deep transformation on the personal level. A lasting change whereby individuals are transformed from being passive or active parts of a fundamentally dysfunctional system, to being invaluable and unique parts of a new world where culture no longer is defined in opposition to nature, and where humans live together in dynamical unity enriched by endless diversity.
Individuals that experience their own deep and meaningful part icipation in a process of change are also deeply motivated to keep acting – no matter the effort it takes – to make sure that this change takes root, grows and finally bears fruit. Personal satisfaction and this drive have become one.
This is the key to effective activism.
And the kind of activism we need the most today is that which brings us and our culture back to a state of harmony through functioning relationships, as well as by maintaining the life-sustaining ecological relationships of the Earth as a living whole.
This kind of activism is what I call Reconnection Activism – regardless of where and how it comes into expression.
To be able to hit Goliath like David with our sling stone at the weakest point, we need to retain the right kind of awareness and focus on restoring the broken whole. The weakest point of the monstrous present order is where the apparent invulnerability of the beast can no longer be sustained to fool the world that all resistance is futile.
And when that spell is finally broken, the walls will collapse.
This turning point is the goal of Terra Religata.
I will develop these thoughts in my blog The Relentless Wave.
How will you become a part of Terra Religata as a project?
We can all become Reconnection Activists.
Maybe you have already chosen this path, in small ways or great. If you are already part of this wave, or want to get involved in this work, get in touch and tell me a little about yourself!
Terra Religata will become what we together make possible, here and now.
A simple contribution you can make is to spread terra-religata.org and my blog as rings on the water of your own network. You can also make a valuable contribution and take part in the dialogue by commenting my blog posts.
Arrange a lecture or workshop in applied systems thinking in your community, or for your working group or organization.
Read more about Reconnection Activism – forms of collaboration to restore the broken whole.