by Eve Hicks (SMN)
This year’s Continental Meeting of the SMN marked the 25th anniversary of the first such meeting that was organised in Switzerland by Kevin Ashbridge. Since then some 14 different countries have hosted this event, which over the years has become as much an experience as a conference. So it is a joy to be able to report that this year was no exception. Paul Kieniewicz and his wife Amber Poole generously invited participants to their home, Sichów House as the location for the event. Apart from being a stunning location, Sichów House and Library is an idyllic setting for the Continental Meeting as it is bursting with a history that has shaped the lives of so many. And was it because we knew much of that history is personally relevant to Paul that participants felt part of an adventure in discovery from the second he met us at Kraków airport. After quick introductions and an opportunity to park luggage in the bus, we were treated to an afternoon guided tour of Kraków in full sunlight. Then after a quick coffee and Polish cake stop we were taken by our private coach to Sichów House some 60 miles or so southeast of Kraków.
Built originally as a manor house and home to the Potocki and Radziwill families, Sichów House and Library is now run as a retreat and education centre. The welcome dinner on our first night set a high bar for quality catering in the Polish tradition that was maintained throughout our stay. And the catering staff even appeared happy when told the difficult diets they were expected to cater for!
Lectures picked up from topics arising in last year’s Continental Meeting in Rome, and were focused around the main theme of Shaping Influences. David Lorimer opened the conference by lighting a candle and saying a few words in memory of Tony Pritchett who had recently died. A long-standing much-loved friend and devotee of the Scientific and Medical Network, Tony was scheduled to be part of the group and will be greatly missed.
As is usual for the SMN conferences, the programme included daily optional meditation or movement before a traditional breakfast and into the first session by 9.15. Ruth Jones gave the opening lecture on “Foreshoring”. This was entirely new to most participants and it was explained that it was essentially an experiential session. Ruth explained the nature of working with our dreams in a collective and social manner, known as Social Dreaming. We were asked to be open in the way we shared our dreams past or present as they came to us and to engage in a free association. The task was to bring forward a collective consciousness with absolutely no references to egos. And it was also rather important that there would be no psychological or cognitive references. Rather than ask or answer specific questions, the idea and point of the exercise was to receive information from higher consciousness. Chairs were arranged around the available area broadly centred on the middle of the room in circles and we sat and shared dreams and associations as they came to us. Dreams initially appeared random with dinosaurs, dogs, fire, breath of life, caves, light and darkness, all mentioned in the dreams we shared. But as the session progressed key themes emerged and we all agreed as Ruth drew the session together back into the ordinary that the themes coming forward were fear and trust, learning and healing, defence mechanisms and respect. To say we expanded the circle of world compassion may be an exaggeration, but I think we all agreed the relatively short session gave us a valuable insight into how Social Dreaming can be a shaping influence, in our case by developing a shared consciousness view of current tragic events around the world.
Paul Kieniewicz gave the next talk, titled “The Science of the Field” and this continued the shaping influence theme by putting science around what we understand by aura. It is known that life forms have a stable geometry, established soon after cell division and the two key questions being asked are firstly how do certain organisms know to regenerate specific organs, limbs etc and secondly, what is it that directs certain cells to begin the healing process. Early discoveries of how fields could be used to move material led researchers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to suggest that perhaps they were also responsible in some way for cell growth and development. Paul gave a detailed history of the research in this area leading to discussions on this biological field, now known as the Morphogenetic Field. Electromagnetism, sound, Electric/Electrodynamic are all considered possible candidates for explaining this field. Paul then gave a detailed explanation of early 20th century pioneers in the area including Bose’s work showing how slime moulds learn (now believed to be via electricity) and Gurvitsch’s work on mitogenetic radiation and bio-photons. More recently, Burr’s work in the mid 20th Century measured the electromagnetic field and applied it both to salamander eggs and women’s menstrual cycle and cancer diagnosis. He established that a change in the field always preceded physical growth. Unfortunately however, the discovery of DNA made the area unfashionable until quite recently. 21st Century research is now picking up the theme and taking it onto the next stage. Zhao, for example looks at how electric fields around a wound direct molecules to the work so that healing and regeneration are promoted by the electric field. Examples were given of work on morphogenetic fields as applied to how a frog’s eggs develop eyes, nose mouth etc as well as applications for cancer treatment and regenerative biology.
In summary, Paul’s talk demonstrated that all living entities have an associated morphogenetic field that contains the pattern for the plant or animal. The healing process also involves the morphogenetic field, which can be mapped as a set of voltage differences. Taking the work into PSI and remote healing suggests that the field may act across large distances, either through interaction with the Earth’s field (discussed later by John Kapp) or by a nonlocal agency (covered later by Phoebe Wyss).
The next two talks, by Amber Poole and Natalie Tobert, have strong supporting links as both investigate how our past influences our lives today.
Amber was the first and her talk on “Hidden Histories” gave a robust phenomenological review of concealed connections between identical behaviours, personal traits and attitudes witnessed over successive centuries, even where whole generations have been wiped out as in the holocaust. Paul Kieniewicz’s family was used as an example to illustrate the trans-generational repetitions. Going back as far as his great-great-grandfather Amber used photos, detailed personal knowledge and where possible written records to demonstrate how deaths, credits, personality traits and habits all repeated and survived. And it felt particularly appropriate to be hearing such qualitative evidence, so relevant to the central theme, in Sichów House where Paul’s family have a personal history and pictures remain as supporting evidence. It was pointed out that Paul’s family is just one example of many hundreds of families and that there are consequent influences on all those even remotely involved. Amber suggested that these influences have led towards excessive patriotism, nationalism and the passion for promoting Christianity seen in Poland today. Finally, reviewing the whole picture, Amber demonstrated how reviewing the past in the spirit of discovering the truth about what actually happened in order to gain a full understanding the observed patterns is an essential part for the mental health and well being of the individuals.
Heads were buzzing as we ate lunch before some of us set off to Krzyżtopór Castle, Iwaniska some 30 miles away. This early Baroque ruin is an impressive and indulgent fortress with some curious features appearing in the original building including cellars adorned with mirrors to house stallions and an enormous aquarium as a crystal ceiling above the great dining hall! After dinner, the evening was taken up with a musical entertainment of Polish ballads given by Janusz Grzesz, who had been trained in both music and theatre.
Natalie Tobert opened lectures on the Saturday with a presentation that overlapped strongly with the need for understanding patterns in recovery from mental health conditions. However, Natalie gave a wider and more general focus through richly detailed reports of various individuals, including herself, who had written about the means by which they came to uncover the traumas earlier generations had tried to deny and hide. There was a web of hidden towns revealing Pograms decades before the Nazis. She then presented a list of all possible explanations of how the unsolicited memories could possibly be transmitted before moving on to consider the practical impact on our mental health. The verifiable data invites us to question the diagnostic labels of psychiatry, chemical imbalances and diseases of the brain. It was noted that we appear to be at a turning point with a profound change in psychiatry imminent. Increasingly questions are arising challenging the old methods used in the west to treat psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and the importance of contextual experiences fully acknowledged. She then compared the silence of some specialists to poor communication within silos of academia and the outspoken assumptions of psychiatry. Drawing to a close, Natalie concluded by presenting her proposition that some people formally diagnosed with a mental health problem, may be involuntarily accessing their hidden histories, and trying to bring them into the present. It is time for a Cultural U-turn in institutional understanding of these matters.
Phoebe Wyss’ talk came next under the heading “The Gods Within: Cosmic Archetypes from an Astrological Perspective” and turned back to a theme that had arisen earlier namely the influence of non-local agencies. Phoebe started by discussing the nested hierarchy of minds from the cosmic, galactic and solar minds into the family and our personal minds at the centre. She pointed out that although it is good for our egos to remember that our ideas come from the cosmos, that does not remove our individual responsibility, as we remain free being one part of the whole. And the more conscious we are, the more we are able to exercise our freedom. Science is now showing signs of attempting to integrate the different minds within the overall hierarchy by understanding them better and there were references to the whole subject by psychologists such as Jung and Hillman. Astrology as a discipline bridges the gap between the inner and outer minds. It is possible to explain and see synchronicity between astrological archetypes and world events. Phoebe presented the zodiac matrix and briefly reviewed it’s geometry and levels of influence. The Virgo archetypal field was used to demonstrate personality traits as well as both levels and sources of influence. She then looked at expressions of the Capricorn archetype and showed how our personal minds reflect the cosmic patterning that acts as a structure governing how we think of things. Richard Tarnas’ 30-year study of correlations between the cyclic movements of the planets and events in human history matches historical events with astrological events and planetary cycles. Correlations were not linear but far more complex. Phoebe then looked at the current world situation referring to strong influences between 2008 and 2020 from Uranus (change) and Saturn (hardship and poverty). She closed by reminding us that nothing is predetermined and astrology is only probabilities and possibilities arising from influences of varying strengths. Breakdowns make space for the new and can become breakthroughs. At the end of the day, we are all co-creating together.
At this point, overwhelmed by the joy and warmth of the sun and the beauty of our surroundings, there was a collective desire expressed to move outside for our next talk given by John Kapp: “The Evidence for an A-field and Cosmic Internet”. And so we reconvened outside to review and discuss the fundamental question addressed in this session, namely how the matter in living organisms is organised and controlled. John started with a full discussion around key definitions including a field, as a wave of energy vibrating at various frequencies such as sound, waves, gravity or brain waves and diathetics being the study of how matter is controlled His null hypothesis was that consciousness is the primary ground of all being because each elemental particle has a charge and spin giving it an intrinsic relationship. The A-field is the outermost field or cosmic mind as discussed in Phoebe Wyss’ talk above. Attention then turned to morphogenetic fields at the cellular level including DNA influences and morphic fields, which are more general and include behaviour and habit. John explained that the problem is that these A field transmissions cannot be detected by any man made electrical measuring device, so its existence is generally rejected as superstition by mainstream science. Evidence suggests the A-field is the natural explanation of how psi effects work. John concluded by saying these matters should all now be accepted and formally studied as a branch of science, and not relegated to the supernatural realm.
The optional excursion after lunch was a trip to Sandomierz, a city with a history dating back to the Stone Age that still manages to maintain its medieval charm. Our after dinner treat for Saturday was a poetry and music evening in the tradition of salons throughout the great houses in Poland. Katherine Darton warmed us up by treating us to Bach’s Partita in A minor on the flute. We then had poems short and long and of all sorts. There was even a Polish tongue twister that made us giggle!
David Lorimer took the first slot on the final day pulling together themes explored to date with an impressive summary of what various researchers have found on the many influences that currently shape both our individual and our collective identity. His lecture covered a wide and comprehensive volume of material from both individual and a shared perspective. David explained to us various researchers’ conclusions on matters such as the range of different possible outcomes of the interesting times in which we live, views on the levels and ethics of shaping influence, cultural and gender metaphors. Gradually, our eyes were opened to the evolution of consciousness and degrees of human culture and we were reminded of a recurring central theme of the SMN.
For the final two lecture slots, Piotr Skubała and Dr. Maciej Morlewski turned away from what might be referred to as a macro vision covered so far and refocused our attention inwards into ourselves by considering a micro view. Under the title “Humans as Holobionts: our Relationship with Nature”, Piotr Skubała gave us a fascinating presentation on the various bacteria and other microbes that colonise our bodies.
Complete with detailed pictures and graphic eyebrow raising explanations, facts and numbers Piotr took us into a new world, totally invisible to our human eyes that existed within us all. We were shown that what we had previously thought of as innocent belly buttons and armpits are actually more like “rain forests” for bacteria. Looking at the body as a whole, all together, some 100 trillion microbial symbionts (the name given to human microbiota) live quietly around and inside us and endow us with crucial traits. It seems they are fundamental to nearly all aspects of our lives including our form, function, fitness, behaviour and even our sociability. Today, there is an unmistakable transformation happening in the way that life is generally comprehended. Humans, animals and plants are no longer viewed as autonomous entities, but rather as “holobionts”, composed of the host plus its symbiotic microbes.
The final lecture given by Dr Maciej Morlewski drew the conference to a close rather well. Drawing from his experiences in practicing medicine for over 30 years Maciej’s talk: “Aspects of Life Conditions on Earth in Relation to Awareness of Mind, in the Light of Buddhist teachings” explained how our egos fill the gap in our earthly understanding of shaping influences. Maciej showed us how the world we inhabit is a kind of container designed for sentient beings including human beings. Although it allows for sensing, feeling and understanding reality, it also causes an ever-stronger bondage to habitual perceptions and reactions. The ego was the starting point for the creation of an ego, which creates the perception of the self as a separate person that strives to gain food, territorial rights and even unnecessary defence/attack situations. He finished with a happily optimistic bright conclusion namely the final reality of unlimited and unconditioned love and wisdom. Something we all felt personally by this stage.
Kurozwęki Palace and Rytwiany Monastery were the locations for the final day’s optional outing. And the evening meal was an open fire BBQ and buffet salad. And the sun shone throughout our stay with barely any hint of wind or rain. I think we were all inspired and moved by this conference. Quite apart from the breadth, depth and relevance of all the lecture topics, the warm generosity of our hosts, and the beautiful location it was a delight as always to share experiences with members who all demonstrate a desire to truly listen as well as talk. In such ways are new ideas discovered. And long may the Continental Meeting continue. Here’s to the next 25 years!