When you ask an Indigenous grandmother “What could possibly go right?”, you better brace yourself

Weyakpa Najin Win (Pat McCabe, Woman Stands Shining) is a Diné (Navajo) mother, grandmother, activist, artist, writer, ceremonial leader, and international speaker.

I’ve shared her talks before, because she has changed the way I look at the world, and fed my hope for different possibilities, around climate and justice.

In this talk, she speaks with Vicki Robin, who hosts the podcast What Could Possibly Go Right for the Post-Carbon Institute, and the things she shared, specifically, about the role of men, in this world, gave me such a deep pause, I really wanted to revisit it, write it down word for word, and share it widely.

She also speaks to the recent headline-making residential schools revelations and police violence against black bodies as moments of co-witnessing – where some people suddenly wake up to a story that has been playing out, in another community, and recognize it for the horror that it is, and it creates an impetus to take bigger risks in relationship and generosity.

You can listen to this wherever you listen to your podcasts, or watch the conversation unfold here.

Here are some of her words, in abbreviated form, from this podcast, in response to the question:

“With all that seems to be going awry, what are we not seeing, that could guide us to a better way for humans to inhabit this Earth?”

“I’ve been rooting for the collapse of modern world paradigm for a long time! For indigenous peoples, the modern world paradigm is what came to believe it had the right to overcome all other paradigms, and attempted and still attempts to do so by force, economic or other kinds of force. That was the experience of indigenous peoples all over this Earth. So why wouldn’t I be rooting for the collapse of that mentality and that destructive force?

“We have already lost worlds, we have already had to begin again. We have stories about how humanity came to survive some of these Losing of Worlds, allies who helped us be able to begin again. So here we are at the brink of another loss. In this disposable society, I don’t intend to say, ‘oh lost another world, no big deal’. It’s a big deal. But it helps me to have that framework as I look at our situation.”

“Every single living being on this Mother Earth gets to have a seat on the sacred hoop and has a perfect design to uphold. That we get to have a seat on that sacred hoop, amongst all our relations, is an incredible honour and gift. And so, we must also have a perfect design for thriving life. Do we know what it is?”

“The lesson of these other lost worlds is: we get to do whatever we want to do here. Anything that we can dream up to do, we just do it. We’ve been ‘getting away with that.’ Although the consequences have been building, we’re running up against a natural boundary. We might get to do what we dream up to do, but then we might not then get to live on this Earth. That’s a heck of a boundary. But every single thing we do, in this closed and interconnected system, every single action we take affects every other being. Sooner or later. Heck of a set-up – to be here on this Mother Earth, and to be given absolute free will and having to notice that your actions affect others.”

Can we fully allow in the truth that everything we do affects every other. And can we fully allow in the truth that if anybody is suffering, we’re going to suffer, that I can’t be well if you’re not well?

Weyakpa Najin Win

“This might feel daunting, but to use all your ingenuity, intelligence, curiosity, and creativity – all of these things that are so inherent to human beings, (as my Clan Grandfather said ‘holy earth surface walkers, dazzled by creation, coming upon temptation”) to harmonize and to channel those impulses into beauty, celebration, praise, spiritual life, deep and beautiful ways to love and to acknowledge each other, animals, plants, everything around, has led us as human beings into some extraordinarily beautiful places and modern world paradigm doesn’t have much experience with this, and it’s devastating. This is such a magical, mysterious, fantastical creation that we have been set in, if we only knew! If we could only open our capacity to participate in ways that aren’t harmful to anybody or anything, what an amazing gift of life we could have. (And some of us have known, and are attempting to carry forward, even in the face of a paradigm that sees things in a different way.)”

So, How do we live through this time?

“I want to uphold the honour of being human being to the best of my ability. To keep expressing gratitude for the deep gift that life is, and honour and respect for all the other living beings around me.

“People always want to know ‘what do we do?’ Part of the answer is to realize we are operating out of a story. The story we’re living in now, the story we have accepted, and been embedded in, is a story, and it is leading to death. My spirit helpers always tell me, you can have it anyway you want us, you’re in a free will construct. (And right now you want white supremacy and credit scores? Of all the options, this is it?! And we call ourselves the pinnacle of evolution?) First, let’s realize the modern world paradigm is a choice, from its foundation to its evolution, all the human systems of governance, economics, health, education, they were all created without putting life at the centre, as if we couldn’t understand the idea of interbeing, as if everything was for human beings exclusively. But as it turns out, we actually need some other beings!”

“My spirit helpers said, rather than telling a new story, you’d be better off going back and retelling the old story, and if you do that, you will automatically change the trajectory into the future.

“So I’m learning, what does it mean to retell the old story. Modern world paradigm has been the only game in town, but it’s actually just one way of being human.”

How does that masculine and feminine play into this?

“I was told — ‘you think you know what masculine is, but you don’t. And you think you know what feminine is, but you don’t. All you know is how those two energetics behave when you plug them in to a power-over paradigm. But if you plug them into a different paradigm, they behave in a completely different way.’

“One of the greatest untapped human resources that we have yet to see come to our aid is the Sacred Masculine. And that is, I believe, because, in the power-over paradigm, might makes right. You have to overcome another in order to have what you need. So it’s highly competitive, it’s not conducive to collaboration or co-operation, and men will dominate in such a system where brute force is really the currency. As long as that is the only playing field humanity thinks it has to enact being human in, the men have been going for it, doing what they can to win at that game, in order to live. So we equate that paradigm with men. But men are not the patriarchy. The paradigm is the patriarchy. We don’t even know who men are, because we have been pointing our fingers at them, saying you’re the problem, and it looks that way, but if we can have the willingness to separate the men from the paradigm, we don’t know what they’re capable of, when they step into their perfect design for thriving life, as holy earth surface walkers. I’m very excited at this prospect.

“I can tell you one thing that will happen: when they step into that place, there is going to be a level of safety that we have not known for sometime, because they’re stepping out of the violent paradigm, so we have to create something that has an opportunity to not be violent in that way. When you put that sexuality and masculine eros in a power-over paradigm, well, you get what we have. It’s frightening, right? So, men themselves are afraid of their own eros. Because given that it’s such a prominent part of their way, as a generalization, I have to believe that it’s part of their perfect design for thriving life and should be honoured and respected by all of us. How do we get to that point? I don’t know. But once that happens, I feel like this safety factor is going to open up the feminine eros in ways we have not seen in thousands of years, when she can really be free to do what she knows how to do, what she was made to do! And many cultures have really benefited from the medicine of her sexual and sensuous travels, basically… to travel to other dimensions, off-planet, to bless, to bless the whole planet at once, but also to receive information… but that has not been able to be present.. So, how will the Earth respond to such safety from our kind, of the masculine stepping fully into Sacred Masculine. Because right now, even Earth herself has to have something of a defensive posture.

“So, all possibilities humming in the air.”


I looked up eros in the dictionary – sexual or erotic love, it said, or “the sum of life-preserving instincts that are manifested as impulses to gratify basic needs, as sublimated impulses, and as impulses to protect and preserve the body and mind” – and I thought, oh my gosh, it’s another word for the Life Force. You can see the “erotic” nature of it in the garden, when the bees are wiggling their way deep down into the flowers and being all tickled with pollen and getting drunk on the delightfulness of it… Imagine that energy, in men, not sublimated in order to protect themselves in a violent system, but devoted to the service of Life, instead of their own (or their commander’s) combat and survival?

here’s to all the possibilities humming in the air.

Connect with Pat McCabe Website: http://www.patmccabe.net Facebook: facebook.com/womanstandsshining

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