I’ve been explaining this phrase “earthwidetribe” to a few people in person and realized I hadn’t made it explicit here!

It came to me when I was researching PocaHAUNTus–shapeshifting history into Herstory. I was researching the Algonquin language base of tribes, which is huge!, & something really stood out for me at that time. The Powhatan Alliance, about 34 tribes totalling roughly 14,000 people, gathered together under Powhatan (chief dreamer) Wahunsenacawh in the early 1600’s (which was a major political shift from tribes living side by side, but that’s another story…).  This paramount chief was Pocahontas’ father.  I love that.  An instance in HIStory when a man is referenced by a woman!  Anyhoo, what I was struck by was the freedom inherent to women & particularly within intimate relationships at that time, at least as I discovered in my reading.  Apparently a woman could choose to leave a relationship just as readily as a man could, which is not to say that either would come and go lightly, but the freedom to change was there.  Yet the children wouldn’t suffer because they were part of the whole tribe.

The reason this was significant to me was that I had announced to anyone who knew me, & was listening, that I intended to have a child, god/dess-willing.  So people started asking me, “Do you want it enough to do it on your own, without the father?” Never occurred to me. So much of my own journey of discovery & healing has been overcoming this limiting idea that I didn’t have one steady father figure growing up. I’ve been learning to embrace the blessing that I have had so many! But that took me decades, so I wouldn’t want my child to not have an engaged father figure. So I said, no, I wouldn’t consider that. But I also have not seen successful marriage, so I’m not expecting that either.

When I read that the Powhatan people, in their innate tribal structure, prioritized the support of the children over the longevity of the parental relationships, that made sense to me. These are OUR children, our people, our tribe. But of course, these days we don’t live tribally. Or do we? So I thought, ok, when I get into relationship with a man & I’m clear about what’s on the cooker for me, I can be clear that what I want is an engaged father for our child. Perhaps we will have that fairytale vision of a marriage til-death-do-us-part, but I’m not counting on it. What I am counting on is a man who is clear enough in himself to be available for, & supportive of, a new life entering the world through my body.  Whatever becomes of our relationship, the child would not suffer. Instead of the commitment being to one another, it’s to the creation we co-create.

But then I thought, somewhat discouraged, I don’t have a tribe.  Almost immediately I corrected myself.  Girl, you so do have a tribe! It’s just that it’s not locationally based–it’s earth-wide!  Ok, I thought, well then how would I, or we as a family, access it? And since I was about to embark on a return to the land that partially made me, the USA, it seemed a perfect opportunity to take this perspective, this idea, with me as I traveled. As I travel now.

What I’ve seen so far is that the majority of people who take me in & care for me are not even blood relations. Beyond that, they have their own extended tribes who may or may not be blood-related to them, their local tribe. So when I drop into a tribal contact locally, I am also embraced by their extended local tribe & my own sense of a tribal net widens farther. Proportionately my gratitude deepens.

Here’s a video of me connecting with part of my Phoenix tribe, which used to be Pennsylvania-based. Aunt Sheila & Aunt Maureen adopted me into their family when my mom married their older brother Jay when I was 10.  Kelly is Maureen’s daughter & now has a 12 year old daughter of her own whom I only just met this week, having left the US 15 years ago.

Yoga with some of the Phoenix tribe from Melissa Billington on Vimeo.

And that fantastic photo at the start is from the same day. ALL PAWS IN!!

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8 thoughts on “earthwidetribe”

  1. Hi Melissa.. I appreciate you writing this very much. “Apparently a woman could choose to leave a relationship just as readily as a man could, which is not to say that either would come and go lightly, but the freedom to change was there. Yet the children wouldn’t suffer because they were part of the whole tribe.”” What I am counting on is a man who is clear enough in himself to be available for, & supportive of, a new life entering the world through my body. Whatever becomes of our relationship, the child would not suffer. Instead of the commitment being to one another, it’s to the creation we co-create.”

    One thing that I want to say is that for my three children, two of whom were born to one father, one of whom was born to another father, my separation from both of their fathers has had a massive effect on them. My parents separating had a massive effect on me. A human being is conceived and created energetically, spiritually, physically, emotionally between two people, one male, one female; one sperm, one egg. As human beings our entire biological identity and development is based on there being two sources of life and living energy, two parents, not one. As children, our parents are like the kings and queens of our kingdoms. We incorporate them into the very structure of our beings. If they separate, our very identities are compromised. Our parents are the earth from which our own bodies are created. There is so much more to say about this and it moves through every aspect of the fabric of our existence. It is a wise and rare woman who is able to inhabit a true tribal family structure of which members step in to to co-parent her child or children should she separate from the biological father. She would need to have established deep relationships a long time before her child was born or at least formally enlist the co-parents prior to the child being born so that they were present for all aspects of the child’s life subsequent to his or her birth. Perhaps polygamy is a model that suits this or a matriarchal society where men do not compete to be fathers of children or claim ownership of the children that were born to women they had made love to, but were willing to be fathers to any children of this earth. Same for the women and the mothers of the children of this earth. I guess this leads to a whole other way of living which would be about collaboration, sharing, prosperity consciousness and much more. Much love to you and thank you for your writing. xx

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply so personally Juliet! This line towards the end of what you wrote stood out for me the most: “I guess this leads to a whole other way of living which would be about collaboration, sharing, prosperity consciousness and much more.” I guess so–thanks for mirroring it so clearly!
      Are we not all on this planet together? Seems to me we suffer more when we separate. Our children are our future. Our children are not mine or yours alone, but a product of all of us. Of necessity we organize ourselves into families, often not blood-related ones. My mom was married (and divorced) 3 times by the time I was 16. Sure, this was a challenge for me & it’s taken me years to glean all the goodness from these challenges, yet I wouldn’t trade it either. It was what it was. My mother made the best decisions she knew how to make & I was subject to those decisions until I was old enough to make my own. And at 16 I did just that. At the same time that I hope & intend to create a somewhat different dynamic for my child, I am who I am because of where I’ve been. I learned mediation (as well as meditation), I gained a wider tribal network from the families of 3 fathers instead of only one, I became responsible for myself early on, & the life-long feeling I’ve had of being on the fringe, on the outside, has enabled me to see more clearly inside.
      There is so much here, so much even in your one sentence, that we could speak to & shift our living to. Some of these shifts are much more recent to me–what does it really look/feel like to live collaboratively & from a place of perfection or abundance? Perhaps this leads us into another post :)…

    2. Another thought that arose for me when reading your writing Juliet was from PocaHAUNTus when I quoted the Cheyenne saying, “A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground.” And later I said, “Women, pick your hearts up off the ground.” I feel that is where we are. Until we women say “thus far & no farther” I don’t see the world changing to support women, children, & the earth the holds us. Apparently the Dalai Lama said something like western woman (wearing cowgirl boots?!) will be the one to save the world. It’s time for the lasso of truth of Wonder Woman!

  2. Melissa- As I continue to explore more places on the earth, it becomes clear to me that there can be no best way to live (or raise a child). There is only the way that you are living it in each moment. Period. There are also no guarantees, no matter how well you prepare. Because you, Melissa, are nomadic by nature, you are more familiar with change than most. It seems to me that your progeny would have similar characteristics and relish the joy of not knowing what’s next! The fact is, none of us knows. We’re great at thinking we do – assuming that if we do THIS, we can expect THAT – that we need to DO something, so we feel accomplished.

    I didn’t have children. How do I know this was the right thing? Because I don’t have children. For me, my experience has come down to seeing love. A deep connection to a community/tribe is a beautiful expression of sharing and modeling love. The more obvious examples of love, the better. If you get love from two parents, perfect. If you don’t, perfect. There is more than enough love to go around, surrounding us in every moment. To recognize its vastness can be overwhelming. Once you do, it’s pretty difficult to miss.

    I’ve missed it, though. I spent years trying to do the right things, avoiding circumstances that would hurt me and pushing for what I thought would reward me. There was a lot of yearning for contentment, peace – long lasting, unconditional love and satisfaction. Giving it. Receiving it. Living it. And it was there, but I was too busy looking for it to notice.

    Earthwidetribe. It’s all encompassing – big and small at the same time. It makes me feel closer to truth. It allows more opportunity for love to flow from different generations and backgrounds. But what circumstance is best for raising a child? Every circumstance. How you see life, and how willing you are to be lived by it, is all that really matters.

  3. I know I can love and be a father to children who are not mine.
    In fact wanting to be with someone I know who has children is part of my attraction to her. If she didn’t have children my desire to be with her would be less.
    I know that I can also play a strong part in children’s lives even if I have no desire to be in that woman’s life anymore than just be a friend.
    In fact I like and want to be part of many children’s lives, being fatherly to them.

  4. Hi Melissa,

    These are my thoughts, based on my hopes and philosophies around raising my own child, and my experiences of a child. I think that a child can flourish in all sorts of families, whether they be based around man and a woman, a gay couple, a single parent, or a tribe! What I think is important is to create an environment that is stable and consistent (e.g. routines and relationships), and full of empathy and connection.

    My husband and I got married with the hope and desire to be together for the rest of our lives, but also the knowledge that may not be the case. It’s hard work. We’ve been together nine years now, and both of us have changed a lot in that time – who knows what the next ten years will bring. Our commitment to each other is not to be married forever, but to contribute to each other’s happiness, and to raise a happy and secure child together. We know that our happiness may one day mean being apart. I would be incredibly sad if we split up (of course!), but I feel sure that we could continue to provide support for each other, and a stable and loving environment for our son. So when you say “But I also have not seen successful marriage, so I’m not expecting that either” I wonder if you determine success as “forever”? Sometimes a marriage that lasts ten years is a success. My parents are still married (40 something years) and I am not sure that I would consider their marriage a success. Sure, it’s been long and loving, but it’s also been full of deceit, abuse, and co-dependency. In terms of raising me to be a happy and well adjusted adult, their marriage certainly failed as my 20s filled with therapy and self destructive behaviour can attest!

    So, I do think that a child can be raised by a tribe, as long as that tribe includes one stable and secure ‘parental’ or primary relationship. I think that a child having a sense of connection to a place, whether that be one physical home or something else like the Maori pa, is important too. The only biological family truly involved in my son’s life are my mother and my sister – the rest are my close friends who he calls his aunts and uncles. These people are rocks in my life, and have now become part of my son’s.

    Sarah x

  5. You’re an inspiration, Melissa. Speaking of which, I feel a little Ram Dass coming on …

    “I stop at a Shell station, and the man starts to wash my windshield and put in gas. I’ve got an old Buick, a 1938 limousine, and I live in it, and I’m driving around … I look at the Shell serviceman and of course he is somebody Central Casting sent over – right? – to give me gas and wash my windshield. He is playing like he’s a Shell serviceman. He and I are both from Central Casting. We meet, right there. At that moment he’s washing my windshield and I look at him and say, ‘How’s the show going, man?’ … But of course you don’t say it that way, you just … be there.

    “… And so he finishes and he starts talking about old cars, and then about how during this meat strike he carried turkeys in a car just like this back in 1929, or ’39, rather, into New York City and sold them down the market. After we’ve been going at this for a while and I’m just signing my credit card slip, he says, ‘Would you like to see my car?’ ‘O.K.’ I get out and go see his car. It’s a Mercedes and we look at that and talk about Mercedes. He says, ‘Say, I’d really like to have you meet my wife.’ ‘O.K.’ So we go upstairs – his wife lives upstairs – and we sit down with his wife. She says, ‘Would you like to stay for lunch?’ ‘Sure.’ So I stay for lunch and pretty soon his son comes home from college and we’re all settling in, and we’ve all got our feet up and we’re all home.

    “I realise, this is my home. Where am I? Am I going to say, ‘Well, I gotta go home?’ How did I define what that concept is all about? Here I am and here we are. We’re here again. We’re all here. Behind the Shell man and the weirdo in the Buick, here we are.”

    From ‘The Only Dance There Is’

  6. Wow! As my bleary eyes navigate my phone on an overnight Greyhound bus ride, I’m delighted to read so many heartful thoughts/writings. Thank you!

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