Tuiscint na TalúnWisdom of the Land
What is Tuiscint na Talún?
Tuiscint na Talún can translate to ‘wisdom of the land’ from Gaelic. It is a philosophy that calls us to listen the wisdom the land herself possesses. But how can we even begin doing that from our current societal position of cultural impoverishment? To this end, Tuiscint na Talún is an education and research project focused on exploring ways that we can reckon with and challenge coloniality and whiteness in Ireland. Only through that process can we begin to revitalise our ancestral lifeways and cosmologies that were attuned to the land. Tuiscint na Talún encompasses creative and scholarly approaches that jointly seek to cultivate an earthly value system towards intergenerational collective liberation. The task is to find ways of navigating away from harmful modern/colonial thought processes and structures, and remember the ways of attuning our senses to the land through ancestral wisdom. This means recognising the land itself as the most fundamental teacher in our lives, and actively seeking out the lessons it can share with us in a relationship based on reciprocity. ‘Land’ here is meant in a holistic way, encompassing all of existence: the physical Earth, animals, plants, rocks, humans, bacteria, fungi, water, wind, gravity, sound, fire, dreams, and everything else that emerges from it.
We strongly believe that the knowledges that need to be (re)created for futures without coloniality and the colonial way of being need to be regenerated through communal and socially engaged processes. We provide pedagogical spaces to explore radical ideas around land and ancestral revitalisation. This requires, in part, picking apart some of the deeply buried obstacles that must be confronted as part of that process such as whiteness and the assumptions and ways of relating to each other and the earth that stem from it.
In Western colonial (white) culture, ‘nature’ is seen to be out there beyond society, away from humans, as something to be managed and controlled for resources, development, or conservation. Breaking down this illusion that we are somehow separate from ‘nature’, or the land, is a critical task at this historical juncture for us as a species as we face the growing material realities of our own extinction driven by the unsustainability of our sociopolitical present. Climate breakdown and the global pandemic of COVID-19 have made the deep instability of modern life ever more apparent, with both of these processes resulting from modern society’s estrangement from the land. Conversely, as our ancestors’ lifeways were inherently more ‘sustainable’ than ours, establishing a reconnective relationship with them may serve us well as a creative process for re-establishing the communal and communicative relationships that once existed between people and the living world. This is not to seek a return to an imagined past, but to imagine the beyond. We seek to build from ancestral wisdoms and fuse them with contemporary liberatory knowledges in order to shape a society based on values such as: reciprocity, respect, solidarity, and listening. Thus one of our aims is to explore what and how we can learn from the land herself as a wise and ancient being that our ancestors were intimately attuned to, and that has lived through many cataclysms before. What can it teach us in this time of interlocking crises, and how can our ancestral lifeways illuminate pathways to deeper corporeal understandings of the cosmos than what we currently live in modern society?
Acknowledging Indigenous teachers
The approaches taken by Tuiscint na Talún owe to Indigenous peoples around the planet who, through academic research, activism, art, and cultural work, have articulated the imperative for decolonising our minds and re-centring indigenous values and cultural practices wherever we are, no matter how deeply buried they may be from our lived realities. This is our attempt at re-membering, re-centring and living those values and practices.
Offerings, focus and projects
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We have a Facebook group that is free to join for anyone interested in or doing work around decolonising, Irish colonialisms, deconstructing whiteness, the land, spirituality, ancestral knowledges and wisdoms, folklore etc in Ireland. People outside of Ireland are very much welcome – we’d love to hear from you and your experiences too.