Sunday, 16 June 2019

Mending The World

The knowledge that everything is sacred is the context within which everything I see is framed, the song that accompanies every sound that reaches my ear. It is the sensuality of taste and scent and the delight in my touch. It is why my heart thrums with love for the wild, for all of life.

I am sacred, you are sacred; he, she, we are sacred.

And they.... they are sacred too, but in a world where everything is sacred there is no they. Only US.

The divided state, the transition from 'we' to 'us and them' - 'othering' - is the fundamental blockage to remembering who we are.

As soon as there is 'them' there is loss of connection, and it is connection, that sense of being part of something greater than our individual selves, that is the most potent pathway to healing all that is broken in our world.

In truth - it IS the healing of what is broken. Finding our connection with and respect for the other-than-human world would immediately bring about the mending of our world. If we began to think, speak and act from the place of experiencing our indivisibility from all of sacred, sentient life there would be radical and rapid change on our planet.

Recognising that all of the interwoven, interdependent, living, breathing, sighing Earth is ensouled, is one being, is all we need. At the moment we are her lost soul parts, wondering around having forgotten where we belong. Thrashing about in our loss of connection to our real selves, in pain, destructively kicking out against ourselves, we are destroying the healthful balance of Earth's greater body. We must remember ourselves home, literally re-member ourselves back into Earth's community. 

WE are Earth
We ARE Earth
We are EARTH

It doesn't matter which way you say it, we need to get busy, clean up the mess we've been making and get on with living in the congruent bliss of right relationship with all of ourselves. For that is what is on the other side of this terrible disconnection: Connection.  Community. Love. And all the heart-full richness and beauty that those things bring.


Except that it isn't. The broken connection is now centuries old and we have mostly now forgotten how to listen to the wisdom of the land.

The flame at the heart of this relationship needs to be re-kindled. How do we begin?

By stepping out of complexity and into simplicity. Out of the reductionist, mechanical view of ourselves and our 'environment' and into a profoundly simple truth. That everything is made up of the same stuff. Everything is connected. Everything is containing of and contained in Spirit. The Divine.

If we have been acting as if we have forgotten, then now we simply need to act as if we remember.

Re-introduce ourselves to life.


I understand that this seems exceptionally simple from where I'm standing and that perhaps this is not the case for you. So let's just take the first step.

Decide which side of the fence you'd like to be on... Do you want to live on a living planet?

If you want to chose life, you must chose all of life.  From the smallest bug to the largest mountain, we need each other.

Sing with us.

Sing a song of love, for all that you see, for all that is contained within the world that you perceive as beauty and feel to be alive.

No matter who you are, no matter where you are, this is a first step that is attainable for all of us. It needs no special skills, no talent in music, the tune can be tuneless and the words are a litany of love for what is in front of you. They change with the seasons, with the light, with your heart.

The Land is listening.

And she loves songs.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

The Generosity of Bluebells

It's that day, the one when even though the sun is hidden behind clouds, the air is still warm. Spring's dress of bluebells and stitchwort has a haze of perfume rising from every flower and each bird not atop some nestlings is hurling notes into the air, hoping to catch something magnificent to bring home. It's a good day for a picnic.

Fergus had tucked his pastry safely into his belly before I'd finished rummaging through the basket for my phone and we began a search for the collective noun for bluebells.

I offered 'an insanity of bluebells', a madness, their intensity quite overwhelming.  A few sniffs more and I was sure it must be 'a sensuality of bluebells' or perhaps 'an opulence' or  even 'an epiphany'. Their scent fills me with some kind of wild deliciousness, I can't contain myself or restrain my desire to run about barefoot from one patch to the next taking deep  sniffing breaths. I become a child, or a honey bee, or perhaps I become the me that has not been trained by society to 'behave'. I cannot behave in any way other than as one utterly drunk on love in the presence of bluebells.

Fergus, so much less prone to being toppled by flowers, proclaimed them 'a generosity of bluebells' - and there we stayed, among the generosity of bluebells.

In our very visually obsessed culture it's easy to forget the smells of things, but smell, like all our senses, can feed our souls deeply. In fact there is some fascinating research that suggests that people who for whatever reason cannot smell are significantly more likely to suffer from depression than those who can. It makes perfect sense to me - we are fed by all our senses, we need beauty all-ways in order to be as deeply nourished as we can be. Without it we suffer.

Next time you see a flower, go and press your nose close and breathe in deeply.
I hope for your sake that it's a bluebell, for to me there is no smell more beautiful.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Imagine inhabitation


The act of inhabiting.

To inhabit.

According to The Oxford English Dictionary 'to inhabit' means "(of a person, animal, or group) live in or occupy (a place or environment)". The place or environment obviously being 'habitat'- "the natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism."

This is my habitat.
This is where I'm happy. It's the very specific few square yards in which I invest huge amounts of time and huge amounts of love. It's where I belong and where I want to stay. I am very well aware that I'm ridiculously lucky to be able to live here.

This is where 'my' water is. The water to whom I listen, the one I sing with and pray with, the one I ask for help and to whom I offer my word-spells.  I firmly believe that words ARE spells, that we co-create the world around us via the stories we tell about it which are informed by lens through which we view it, and that lens is created to a very great degree through the commentary offered by our internal 'narrator'. We tend to see the narrator as an emanation of the ego, a voice which is typically very critical and who's narration is 'all about me'. 

I don't think it has to be this way. There are adults the world over who are waking up to a world in which there are two kinds of humans -  those who believe that everything is sacred,  and those who believe that everything is there to be used - a resource over which we have dominion, and realising that they have a choice as to which kind to be. 

"Imagine the technologies that would be invented by a culture of inhabitation, that is, a sustainable culture, that is, a culture planning on being in the same place for 10,000 years. That culture would create technologies that enhance the landscape...that would decompose afterwards into components that help, not poison, the soil. The technologies would remind human inhabitants of their place in this landscape. The technologies would promote leisure, not production. The technologies would not be bombs and factory conveyor belts but perhaps stories, songs, and dances..."

Derrick Jensen - Endgame Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilisation.

When I look around my garden I'm often reminded of my GrandPop. He loved gardening and grew all the fruit and vegetables that my mother and her family ate growing up. He was a Celt, deeply in love with his land and his history and created for me a world in which everything was alive and everything was worthy of respect. He taught me that we have an obligation - he called it 'noblesse oblige' - that as caretakers, those with the power to effect change in the lives of others, we have the responsibility to take care. Everything must be tended by those who had the capacity to do so. Especially if those we were taking care of didn't really have the capacity to take care of themselves within a situation that we had created for them. Everyone - no matter what they were made of - had the right to thrive.

Our imagination is powerful. We have, to a great degree, created the world in which we now live through that power of imagination: We've built buildings, invented plumbing, harnessed electricity, created motor vehicles, mobile phones, computers, stock markets and through all of that also have accidentally created a world full of inequalities in which many suffer and few thrive. And now, because of all those things we've imagined, and because of a failure of imagination to include every kind of life in our imaginings, we have the Sixth Mass Extinction and climate change.

Imagine if we inhabited our world always remembering that it is inhabited by many other kinds of life and that all of them are indivisibly interwoven in a web of interconnected interdependence.

Imagine if we inhabited our world with an eye always to the future - to the life opportunities our actions will give to, or take from, those who come after us.

We cannot allow our imaginations to fail us now.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Earth Ceremonies for Change

On Sunday some friends and I gathered to create a ceremony of love for Water -

We wanted to show our love and appreciation for water with an offering of beauty. We brought her ourselves, our songs, our drums, flowers and prayers, and we stood in the freezing cold and offered these things to Her - in her shape as the River Exe and in her shape within all of life, in all of us.

We asked her to send a message through all waters, in support of the aims of Extinction Rebellion - for me this it is in particular the aims as they relate to taking necessary action on the climate and ecological emergency. .  We must reduce carbon emissions and halt biodiversity loss and we need our Government to stand up and take the lead on this. Businesses are clearly either not going to, or are not acting fast enough, and as individuals we don't have the power that either the corporations or the Government do to effect the fast change that is so urgently needed.

We asked that we may remember who we really are - children of Earth, indivisibly interwoven with all of Life, one among many; precious, sacred, necessary and beautiful. All-ways.

That's me with the flag and my friend Annee Bury with the bottle of water, she collected water from the Exe and poured into it a small amount of water that has been gathered from places all around the world, in ceremonies like this one, celebrating our love for our Earth, and for water. These photos were taken by Christa Mackinnon, our third co-creatrix in this ceremony.

We were joined by a swan, who arrived as the circle gathered, walked to the middle to inspect our basket of flowers (perhaps hoping for a picnic?) and the wandered off again, keeping us close as we moved to the bridge and back again, his presence feeling like a blessing and an acknowledgement of our consanguinity with all of Life.

The XR Solemn Intention Statement reads as follows: 
"Let's remember our love for this beautiful planet that feeds, nourishes and sustains us. 
Let's remember our love for the whole of humanity in all corners of the world. 
Let's recollect our sincere desire to protect all this, for ourselves, for all living beings, and for generations to come
As we act today, may we find the courage to bring a sense of peace, love and appreciation to everyone we encounter, to ever word we speak and to every action we make. We are here for all of us."

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Animist Monday

Every aspect of my life is founded on the unshakeable belief in the sacredness of everything. I am, in the old-fashioned sense of the word - an animist.

 I wrote that and then wondered what I meant by 'the old-fashioned sense of the word'. It seems to me that there is an idea or a feeling amongst those who would perhaps describe themselves as Animist now (and I'm delighted to say that number is growing) that only the 'natural' world has Spirit - human creations do not; cars don't, houses don't, businesses don't. But to my mind, in order to be authentically animist, we need to concur with the notion that everything is made up of the same stuff, everything is connected, everything is containing of and contained in Spirit. Everything.

Wikipedia gives this rather lovely definition of what it is to be an animist - "Animism is the religious belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. Potentially, animism perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork and perhaps even words—as animated and alive." Amen to that! So I guess I'm an animist in the modern sense of the word too! 

When we perceive that the world is alive, every last bit of it, then we start to live in a constant conversation - a reciprocity between ourselves and everything that is not ourselves, understanding that 'they' all have their needs, their place, their ways of being which may or may not be harmonious with our own. 

So what is the conversation you would like to have - for example - with your job, your house, your garden? What about your conversation with money? Or the one with the food you eat? 

That's nettle and wild garlic soup thickened with lentils. I give back my gratitude and a song when I pick the nettles and wild garlic, having asked if it's ok to do so. The lentils are organic and from Europe, so I hope they were farmed kindly, but I don't know, so I offer them a blessing and of course my gratitude for their life sustaining presence in my bowl.

If you're talking to your house, are you going to stand there an complain about how ugly the paint is, or how horrible the neighbours are... or are you going to thank it most gratefully for keeping the rain off you as you sleep, for keeping you warm, protecting you from the elements, giving you a place to be, to call home, however humble or imperfect? 

If you're talking to your breakfast, does it matter if it was covered in chemicals and transported half way round the world to get to you? Do you need to apologise to your food for the way it has been treated? A conversation with our own bellies can be a life changing experience, beginning with gratitude for there being anything at all on the plate. 

How might a few moments in an animist mindset change your relationship to literally everything? 

This morning my lovely Treesister sister Tracy Shefras sent me this poem, she had been speaking with a Holly Tree and received these words -  

Be like a child
No Goal No Destination
Simply Present
No Agenda
Life will unfold itself
Into Spectacular Everyday Living
Surely it can’t get any better than That
Finding the Extraordinary in
A mop and bucket
A pair of garden shears
A bowl full of washing up
Surely the Mystery is veiled in The Mundane
The Rote
The Habitual
The Magnificent Present
No need to search for Anything
It's all right under your nose
Have fun just living Daily
Take a moment to gather the required Tools
To Perform
Your Own Personal
Height of Living
Quench Yourself First

There is so much beauty in engaging with the 'more than human world' ( a term created by David Abram I think), so much to gain, so very little to loose.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Grief is a Doorway

It's 3:23 in the morning and I'm awake because my great great grandchildren won't let me sleep, My great great grandchildren ask me in dreams; "what did you do while the planet was plundered? what did you do when the earth was unraveling?"—Drew Dellinger

"An apprenticeship with sorrow offers us the chance to build our capacity to stay present when the intense feelings of grief arise. Through meaningful rituals, a community of friends, some time in benevolent solitude, and effective practices that help us stretch into our bigger selves, we are offered the opportunity to develop a living relationship with loss. We can recover a faith in grief that recognizes that grief is not here to take us hostage, but instead to reshape us in some fundamental way, to help us become our mature selves, capable of living in the creative tension between grief and gratitude. In so doing, our hearts are ripened and made available for the great work of loving our lives and this astonishing world. It is an act of soul activism." The Wild Edge of Sorrow, Francis Weller

For many the only sane reaction to the news (or the 'not news', as so many broadcasters and newspapers are steadfastly refusing to report on it) of the 6th mass extinction and global heating/climate change - is grief.  I have always referred to grief as "the left hand of love" - for we do not grieve what we do not love.

It is widely acknowledged that there are a number of stages to the process of grief. The first of these is denial - which is where the majority seem to be right now. Perhaps the thinking is "if we ignore it, it might go away", because we don't want it to be true. Ever fibre of our being wants our world to be full of all the beauty there has ever been; all the diversity, all the colours the flavours the different kinds of beingness - all those who are currently dying at a rate of 150 to 200 every single day. It seems inconceivable that one day we might wake up to a world where there are no Polar Bears, Gorillas, Sea Turtles, Orangutans,  Snow Leopards, or Tasmanian Tigers - oh no, wait, there are no Tasmanian Tigers, they've gone. A world where the intricately woven web of life is broken. A world that is so radically changed that it cannot support the lives of those with whom we are consanguine, and it cannot support our lives. A world of famine, and flood. Desertification and starvation.

After denial comes anger. "ANGER is the deepest form of compassion, for another, for the world, for the self, for a life, for the body, for a family and for all our ideals, all vulnerable and all, possibly about to be hurt. Stripped of physical imprisonment and violent reaction, anger is the purest form of care, the internal living flame of anger always illuminates what we belong to, what we wish to protect and what we are willing to hazard ourselves for. What we usually call anger is only what is left of its essence when we are overwhelmed by its accompanying vulnerability, when it reaches the lost surface of our mind or our body’s incapacity to hold it, or when it touches the limits of our understanding. What we name as anger is actually only the incoherent physical incapacity to sustain this deep form of care in our outer daily life; the unwillingness to be large enough and generous enough to hold what we love helplessly in our bodies or our mind with the clarity and breadth of our whole being.

What we have named as anger on the surface is the violent outer response to our own inner powerlessness, a powerlessness connected to such a profound sense of rawness and care that it can find no proper outer body or identity or voice, or way of life to hold it. What we call anger is often simply the unwillingness to live the full measure of our fears or of our not knowing... in the face of simply being alive and loving those with whom we live.

Our anger breaks to the surface most often through our feeling there is something profoundly wrong with this powerlessness and vulnerability… Anger in its pure state is the measure of the way we are implicated in the world and made vulnerable through love in all its specifics.

Anger truly felt at its center is the essential living flame of being fully alive and fully here; it is a quality to be followed to its source, to be prized, to be tended, and an invitation to finding a way to bring that source fully into the world through making the mind clearer and more generous, the heart more compassionate and the body larger and strong enough to hold it. What we call anger on the surface only serves to define its true underlying quality by being a complete but absolute mirror-opposite of its true internal essence." David Whyte on Anger, from his wonderful book 'Consolations'. 

The original model for the stages of grief comes from the work of Elisabeth  K├╝bler-Ross and David Kessler and was specific to the grief felt by someone who loves someone who is dying or is themselves dying. In this model anger is followed by bargaining, depression and acceptance - these pre-suppose that the final outcome is unavoidable and acceptance, therefore, is the only sane destination. As this model relates to our grief for our Earth and for the lives of other Earth-dwellers, ourselves and our descendants - the outcome is not necessarily certain, and at the same time completely, unavoidably, definitely certain. We will all die - there's no getting round it. The Earth will die one day. BUT, we're not dead yet, and now, although the diagnosis is bad and the prognosis is not much better, what's happening is not yet a terminal diagnosis. We haven't been given a date to organise our funerals by, we've been given an opportunity to carry on and become very ill, very fast, or change our ways now and have a future which might include an ease-full old age.

So out of anger - righteous, heartful anger - needs to come the bargaining that finds it's expression in action. Action right now. Actions that change the way we live, not only on a personal scale but on a national and international scale. We, the humans, have the power to make a difference to how the next century looks for all of life on earth. But we must do it now.  Or get used to the idea of depression, followed by acceptance, followed by death for the majority of us, and sooner rather than later.

We have everything to gain and nothing to lose but our sense of powerlessness.

Related Poem Content Details

In a dark time, the eye begins to see, 
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;   
I hear my echo in the echoing wood— 
A lord of nature weeping to a tree. 
I live between the heron and the wren,   
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den. 

What’s madness but nobility of soul 
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!   
I know the purity of pure despair, 
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.   
That place among the rocks—is it a cave,   
Or winding path? The edge is what I have. 

A steady storm of correspondences! 
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,   
And in broad day the midnight come again!   
A man goes far to find out what he is— 
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,   
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light. 

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.   
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,   
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I? 
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.   
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,   
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.