The top-down authority of "analytical over embodied," "brain over body," and "intellect over instinct" is the bias at the root of our humancentric society, and has led to the cascading economic and environmental crises we face today. For millennia our social conditioning has worked overtime, keeping rigid boundaries in place between intellectual knowledge and the co-creation of our body's own intelligence. Human beings possess both head and heart knowledge equally and for good reason, and we need a balance, or weaving between the two, to flourish and thrive. And yet, here we are, immersed in a world based on compartmentalization and the machine model - false beliefs that disrupt a healthy sense of self-identity and the functioning of community. Radical Wholeness is a monumental survey on how this “dysfunction of division” came to be, and the beliefs and practices we can recover in today’s world to reclaim our bodies, our sensory knowing, and our “ordinary grace of being.”
Radical Wholeness is focused on what authentic "wholeness" can look like, how we have been desensitized to it, and what we can do to reclaim this sensitivity in ourselves and others. Drawing on the timelessness of tribal worldviews, mystery religions and other animist traditions, Shepherd delves into the pronounced difference between Indigenous Knowledge (IK) and Western Mind. Remembering our "bodyworld," resting with our stillpoint, recovering our "holosapience" or ecocentric abilities, and partnering with the sentient world attunes us to the whole, which is the ancient way of knowing common to all Ancestral Traditions. Also, accessing the holistic nature of intelligence found throughout Earth Community and the Cosmos, links us to deeper levels of intraconnection that allow for synchronicity and "magical" events to occur.
Shepherd charts how the binary themes in western thinking have expanded and become normalized over the centuries, and acknowledges the patriarchal theory of "head = masculinity" and "body = femininity." He describes this dynamic as a "heinous, ludicrous cultural imbalance." As an extension to this, and what could have been included in Radical Wholeness I think, is that from the beginning western thinking has been a male-dominated process, translating not only into oppressive gender bias toward women and the LGBQT2 community, but more deadly notions of dominance and hierarchy. During the Enlightenment-Humanist epoch and the spread of Euro-Empire worldwide, western science entrenched the ascendancy of empirical knowledge and white male heteronormativity by developing "race theory" as justification for the slavery and genocide of millions of BIPOC. Including this important fact in the conversation makes the link clearer over time to our responsibility as social justice activists today, and the importance of dismantling the patriarchy and the intersectional oppressions.
"The white male European Colonizer considered himself lucid, rational and forward-thinking, in stark contrast to Indigenous peoples, the African Diaspora and Turtle Island First Nations (the Colonized), who were considered 'less than,' in a 'primitive state' (i.e. having heart or body knowledge) and 'impulsive, superstitious, childlike and savage.' These toxic stereotypes and false perspectives have been in place for centuries, and still are, in racist and unprogressive circles. It cannot be stressed enough that the entire panoply of emphases on the cerebral and 'living in the head' arise primarily from the white, male European elite, and these fantasies have been the deadly driving force behind racism and white supremacy. And as BIPOC have been attacked and oppressed, so has the natural world! In every sphere today (including academics), the social justice conversation needs to happen, as white folks everywhere wake up to the unearned privilege we hold, interrogate Empire, decolonize, and question the very structures of our civilization." (Ancient Spirit Rising)
Our central conundrum and challenge today (!) is how to reject the brutal linear patriarchal logic of the western world, as we continue to find new ways to decentralize our thinking and decolonize from Empire. Instead of blindly accepting the fragmented life we have known, that places the abstract and embodied in opposition, the time has come to embrace the genius of the body, natural magic and Ancient Mind, and integrate these aspects into a harmonious whole. Highly recommended for ongoing study and practice, Radical Wholeness is a truly revolutionary book ~!!
Pegi Eyers is the author of Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community, an award-winning book that explores strategies for neurodecolonization, social justice, ethnocultural identity, building land-emergent community & resilience in times of massive change.