[permaculture] The Human Volition's Condition

Tommy Tolson healinghawk at earthlink.net
Wed Jun 13 15:07:58 EDT 2007

Sharon Wegsheider, et. al., took a look at the human organism and found 
the Whole Person comprised of six recognizable "human potentials:" the 
social, the emotional, the spiritual, the physical, the mental, and the 
volitional potentials.  She talks about these potentials in her book, 
/Second Chance/.  The volitional potential is the human choicemaker, 
blending input from all the other potentials into choices for the entire 

Core shamanism, which I've studied and practiced since 1994, names the 
volitional potential by a rather quaint term - the soul.  It's the part 
of humans that chooses relations and how to apprehend and nurture those 
relations and the subject of a book on its own weight.  European shamans 
were pretty much eliminated in the Inquisition.  If you can imagine 
eight centuries of public executions of primarily women by 
brown-cassocked Franciscan monks, that was the Inquisition.  Western 
culture has not yet begun to address healing this wound to western 
culture's collective and individual volition. I pretty much feel like I 
dreamed the Inquisition and no one else did, yet I am almost constantly 
confronted with the wounded volition in my life, public and private.  
Part of it is that my practice attracts this to me, I suppose, but it's 
not just in my practice.  It's in people who vote for people who oppress 
them, and who vote for measures that oppress others.  Wounded volitions 
seem to jump out at me from every corner of my wounded society.

Wounded people wound the land; in order, I suppose, to attain congruency 
with the interior landscape.  We are the land.  The only division is by 
means of a human abstraction which contradicts natural reality, the 
reality beneath all others.  Nature is autonomous, independent of human 
abstraction and expectation.  Practicing Permaculture, it seems to me, 
means healing the human volitional potential in order to heal the land, 
and/or in concert with healing the land.  Working the land does heal us, 
as I observed in my work in community gardens in Houston, but then we 
still need developmental work on our volition.  This is such a slippery 
slope.  People defend their wounded volition as if it were a treasure 
that will ultimately save them.  The denial systems built around this 
wound leave me in awe.  Humans are such magnificent creatures!   I 
understand the desire, the need, to maintain integrity.  Denial's 
amorphous stories accomplish this when nothing else is available. 

The volitional is the political.  I met virtually no one in my years of 
working with the Greens in the US who did not carry a huge wound on 
their volition.  Teaching newcomers to work within consensus process 
entailed, in many instances, addressing this wound so that they got 
comfortable with the idea of being the primary choicemaker in their own 
lives and so we could get on with the business of choosing group 
policy.  Some of it, too, involved acquainting the mental potential with 
the tasks of the process.

As I recall, George H.W. Bush, when head of the CIA, destabilized the 
government of Australia, a friendly democracy, when it appeared that 
public opinion was leading Australia to withdraw from Vietnam.  
Australia, once the most egalitarian country on Earth, got a 
conservative government out of this CIA intervention which remains in 
power, I think, and the US wags Australia into every war our monster boy 
tycoons start.  This CIA action wounded the volitions of every 
politically conscious Australian at the time, it seems to me.  This 
happened in the Nixon administration, long ago.  But many of us, US and 
Australian, still carry the wounds of the Inquisition on our volitions.  
This newer wound complicates matters.   I feel guilty of this 
manifestation of dominion by my government without honor, I personally 
apologize to the people of Australia, and I am willing to make what 
amends I can.

So this consideration of the wounded volition plays into the practice of 
Permaculture, to me.   Working the land's creatures is working the 
land.   The soul is that white light in each of us that is One which 
Wilco sings about in a song I hear on the radio in my car driving around 
Austin.  As a shamanic practitioner (my tradition taught that it's an 
error of ego to call myself a shaman, though others do) with a 
Permaculture design certificate, I work the land's creatures, its 
humans.  Unrealistically, I suppose, I expect wounded volitions to 
accept the public part of my work.  This was even moreso earlier on.  We 
teach what we most need to learn, I think, and that's certainly been 
true for me. 

If you don't understand me, you're not alone.  Living in the question, I 
often don't understand myself to any significant degree.  But if you 
choose to seek to silence me, there's a problem.  I also hold a MFA in 
Writing and Consciousness from New College of California in San 
Francisco and know the power of words used as weapons, with or without 
precision.  Truth is as strong, and as ambiguous and undefinable as 
love.  But love is what heals us, and what heals the land.  I choose 
love and forgiveness.

Tommy Tolson
Austin, TX

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