This deep time ritual allows us to see the Great Turning within a larger time frame, including that of a human being of the 7th Generation in the future, roughly two centuries from the present. It takes seriously the words of eminent radiologist Sister Rosalie Bertell: “Every being who will ever live on Earth is here now. Where? In our gonads and in our ovaries and in our DNA.”
This practice serves well as the sole experiential component of a short workshop or gathering.
Have people sit in pairs facing each other silently and oriented in the same directional axis, as in E-W or N-S. Those facing in one direction, say West, identify as their present-day self. Those in front of them who are facing the opposite direction, say East, will identify as a human of the seventh generation in the future. These roles are not interchangeable, and are to be determined swiftly and clearly. Be sure all know what role they’re in.
The guide explains we need to grant two assumptions for the purpose of this ritual. One is that there will be humans living on Earth two hundred years from now—even if you have come to believe otherwise. Ask that they grant that assumption for the time of this exercise.
The second assumption is that the future ones have a cultural memory of what is happening in our time of the early 21st century—whether it is carried by universities or storytellers. This is a significant assumption in that it indicates humans are not all scattered in caves but living in life-sustaining communities—because the Industrial Growth Society clearly can’t last another 200 years.
The guide further explains that in order to meet across two centuries, we go to a “point outside of time.” We travel there by the power of our intention and our moral imagination, and by sounding together—long and strong– the seed syllable Ah, which stands for all that has not yet been spoken.
When we reach the point-outside-of-time, you present-day people choose to see the person before you as a human of the seventh generation. And you future ones know that the person before you lives in the year _____. You have something to say to them and to ask; this will be spoken in my voice and taken as coming directly through your own heart-mind. You present-day one will then answer out loud, while the future one listens in silence.
Questions from the Future. The guide then speaks for the future humans and does so three different times. Allow at least five minutes for the present-day humans to respond to the first question, three minutes or so for the next two. After the first two responses, the guide invites the future ones to silently acknowledge what they have heard, then to take their leave, and walk to an empty place in front of another present-day being. Now everyone is facing a new person.
The guide is encouraged to speak these three successive questions in her own words, rather than just reading them. Here the term “ancestor’ is not limited to the family tree but applies to all people of preceding generations
1. Ancestor, I greet you. It’s so amazing to see your face, because all my life I have heard stories from teachers and grandparents about the time you are living. Some of the things I’ve heard I find hard to believe, so I’d like to check it out with you. They say that in your time there are a few people richer than the richest ancient kings, while billions of people are without enough food or shelter or clean water. They tell us that in your time bombs are being made that can blow up whole cities. We know about that, but they say you know about it too, right when the bombs are being made. They tell us that whole species of animal and plant brothers and sisters are going extinct. We know about that, too, because gone is gone. But they tell us you know about that while it’s happening. Is that true? And if it is true, what’s that like for you?
Allow at least five minutes for the present-day humans to respond. Then invite the future ones to silently acknowledge what they have heard, then to take their leave, and walk to an empty place in front of another present-day being. Now everyone is facing a new person.
2. Ancestor, I greet you. When we in our generation find water we can drink and soil that’s safe to grow food, it is thanks to the work you and your friends are doing on our behalf. It must be hard for you, especially at the beginning, standing up for beings you haven’t met and will never meet. So I want to ask you this question: What inspired you to start on this path? And what were the first steps you took?
Allow three minutes or so for the present-day humans to respond. And once again invite the future ones to acknowledge what they have heard, take their leave, and move to a new place in front of yet another present-day being.
3. Ancestor, I greet you. We know you did not stop with those first steps. There are stories and songs about what you and your friends are doing to leave us a livable world. What they don’t tell us, and what I would really like to know, is where you find the strength to do this. Where do you find the power to keep on going for the sake of life, despite all the obstacles and discouragements? Can you tell me?
Future humans respond. After the present-day persons have answered the third question, the future ones do not leave, but stay right there and respond to an invitation spoken by the guide:
Now, you of the 7th generation, it is your turn to talk. You have been listening to three ancestors speak of their experience of Great Turning. As you listened, thoughts and feelings arose in you. Now is your chance to speak them. What is in your heart to say to the one before you? Very soon this person will be returning right into the midst of that darkness and travail. What words do you have for him or her?
The guide tells the present-day ones to just listen now, without speaking.
Closing the ritual: The guide then brings the ritual to a close by inviting the people to thank each other silently, and then to return to real time by once again sounding the seed syllable Ah.
And on the way back to real time, as we sound the Ah, you who spoke for the 7th generation can shake off that role. For the truth is, you belong to the Great Turning too.
With this particular practice, the processing of it can be almost as rewarding as the ritual itself. The guide can ask, “Are there any reflections you would like to share with the whole group?” and encourage those who speak up to identify the role they played.