Becoming children of the earth again

(This post was produced through automatic writing. My personal belief is that the source of this lies outside of me, but obviously I have no way to check this, so feel free to read this as me giving my opinion on things in a somewhat unusual format, speaking from the perspective of the gods. What matters ultimately is whether the contents of this resonates with you or not. )

I want to tell you a story.

There used to be a time when humanity did not yet pretend that they were the rulers of the universe. When you were still small children who had just learned to play with tools.

It was during that time that you became self-aware of yourself in a way that many other creatures are not: you started to see the world around you as something you could master, a puzzle you could try to figure out in order to improve your living conditions.

At first this was just an innocent little game: try to seed some seeds and come back the next year to see if it had made a difference. But quickly enough, you began to see that it indeed made a difference, and you increased your experimenting and became more pro-active, no longer seeing this as a game, but as a serious business.

It is at this point that the gods began to take note. For we became aware of the potential consequences this would have, as your relationship to the world around you began to change.

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And so we reached out to you. We sent some messengers to communicate with you. Both to help you on your way, but also as a precaution to make sure that you would not disturb the balance too much. And we taught you to work in accordance with nature, honoring the plants that gave you food. It is no coincidence that many of the early creation myths speak precisely of this: of how the gods had created the people by teaching them how to feed themselves. For that is indeed the moment when you became humanity, and not just a type of animal that happens to celebrate very elaborate rituals and wears clothes.

Let me make clear what I mean when I use the word animal here. I use it in the sense of a living being that has a place within the web of life, and has a body that can move of its own accord. Under that definition, you are animals. This is not something that distinguishes you in a positive or a negative way.

Except that you began to think of yourself as different. Even with our guidance, you began to see the world around you as something that was there mostly for your benefit. And that worried us.

For even among peoples who celebrated the earth as a sacred place, and animals as brothers and sisters, there was this sense that your species was different. Maybe not better, but still different. And this had the risk that it could develop in a way of thinking where you would consider yourself as so different that you would stop your efforts of communicating with the world around you, and start to rely only on the resources of your own intellect, and no longer come to us for guidance. And thereby, think that you no longer needed us and that the world around you was there especially for you, and was there to feed you and be subservient to your kind.

Our fears came true. The worst happened: as you began to understand the world in which you live in a more and more mechanical way, the thought of it as sentient and capable of deep thought and emotion became more and more alien to you. And so a group among you stopped your communication altogether. And you all know where that has brought you, for that group of people is the one that eventually birthed you.

And so we worry. For your current way of living has the potential to destroy the earth, if you do not start changing your ways real fast.

But we are still here, and we still want to help. For we still believe that it is not yet too late, and the mess you have made can still be cleaned up.

And so I have a question to each of you. On whose side are you? What is more important to you: Your own personal comfort and survival, or the survival of your kind and of this planet?

I hope you have given the second answer. If so, I have an invitation for you. I am the Earth. I am your mother. I am the one who feeds you. Will you work with me? Will you allow me to teach you ways of seeing differently, of respecting your fellow creatures? Will you allow me to help you to become just an animal again, and to regain the connectedness that you have lost?

A new year’s message from the Earth.

To my children.

I dearly love you and I would like to wish you all the best for the coming year. May you find joy and love and happiness, and may all your wishes be fulfilled.

With that out of the way, there are a few other things I would like to remind you of as well.

Firstly, that you are my children. I am the one who has given you life, and I am the one who feeds you every day. I do this because I love you. But I would like to remind you that you are not my only children. It is not fair if you claim all of my gifts for yourself, and leave next to nothing for your non-human siblings.

Second, you are my children, and so it is my responsibility to help you grow up to become responsible adults. And this I do because I love you. And I will continue to do so even when you continue to ignore my many calls to you. Why have you stopped listening when I speak to you? As your mother, I am concerned for your well-being. It is your own needs that you ignore if you do not pay attention to what I have to say.

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And also, you are my children. Can we celebrate this new year together, as a family? I invite you to have a party that you will never forget.

Go outside and call out to the world. Tell it that you love it. Allow it to share in your happiness or even in your sorrow. Stop limiting yourself by living in a purely human world. You are so much more than that. This year, if you make a new years resolution, let that be it: promise yourself that you will learn to listen, and that you will love your brothers and sisters. All of them. That includes yourself, but also the weeds on your front porch. They are part of me. They are part of you. Step into the new year together.

And for those among you for who this is not a happy time, know this: you are loved. My love for you is unconditional. If the human world sometimes turns their back on you, then come to me. Hug a tree, or roll through the grass. Feel the gentle caresses of a stream or lake or sea. Look at the birds flying overhead, and listen to their song. They sing for you. Sing back, and join the chorus.

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Child of the earth, I love you. May the coming year be a good one for you. May you prosper.

Blessings from your mother.

Life through the eyes of a tree: leaves

(This is the third and final part of ‘life through the eyes of a tree. The previous parts, the heart and roots can be reached by clicking on the respective links.)

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Imagine freedom, dancing in the wind, a life spent as pure breath, lived on the wings of song.

What do you see when you look at the sky? Is it what science tells you – a place where nothing happens, just some molecules spread out thinly, or is it a place of wonder? Even with human senses, you can perceive some of its miracles: just think of the wonders of sound. And your cell-phone may have convinced you of just how much information that ’empty’ sky can carry.

Now, imagine that you could be just that, that your life could be spent simply as an antenna listening to these songs, helping them get carried along, shouting out and adding your own voice to the concerto. Imagine, being a leaf of a tree.

Who ever told you that trees do not have ears, that they do not have eyes? They do, they just do not see in the same way as us.. Every leaf is a living organism on its own. It breathes, it has a heartbeat. And it hears the whispers of the wind, because it dances along with it. It hears the subtle vibrations of birdsong, and responds to them with tears of joy.

Imagine having not one, but thousands of these little ears at your disposal. Like pixels on a screen, they form a reflection of the vibrations of the sky. Then this picture is enriched by the rays of the sun and the way they hit the leaves.

But how can the tree even use this information if it does not have a central nervous system, if it does not have a brain? The mistake you are making here is thinking that the tree is operating as a separate organism. The tree is forest, and its brain is the entire forest. The tree is just the tentacle that speaks with the sky.

The tree is the dancer, that performs a ballet with the wind every day. The audience is the entire forest. Connected by underground fungi, the earth itself becomes aware of the love song high above.

And then, at some point, the coming of winter is announced, and the theatre closes for its winter recess. But not just like that. One final show will take place. And this time the leaves are not merely listening. This time, they are the messenger. They shout out their appreciation with a dazzling display of colour. Going out with a bang, they call that.

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I repeat my suggestion. Imagine being a leaf. Imagine living a life that consists of nothing but dancing with your surroundings, of being part of the most magnificent painting of the planet. Pure expression.

To then end your life in the womb of mother earth, dreaming of another year, of a rebirth where you yourself will be the foundation for the next generation. Alive through others. Listening to the concertos that you used to be a part of yourself. Rejoicing in the memories of song.

 

Winter Solstice: Rebirthing Hope

The darkest days of the year are upon us, and we are eagerly awaiting the return of the light. Time then, for a reflection of what that light means for us.

Why do we fear the darkness? Is it that we are afraid to be alone with our thoughts? Or is it that we fear the monsters lurking in the shadows? The cold days certainly force us inside, invite us to spend time in seclusion and contemplation.

At the same time, we could also see this time as a time of opportunity: as we gather around our hearth-fire, this could be a time to be closer to our family and to spend time with our friends. A time to find a different kind of warmth, to remember that we are not alone.

Since the beginning of time, light has played an important role in the imagination of mankind. Somehow, it connects us to our source, and we feel lost in its absence. In winter there is the artificial replacement of man-made light, but it is not really an adequate replacement for the light of the sun.

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Could that be because winter makes us feel vulnerable? Despite all the layers of clothing which we put on, we are confronted with a power greater than our own, one which all our technological advances cannot protect us from: the wild that is lurking outside our windows. A whispering that begs us to remember who we really are: creatures from this planet. An insistent howling of spirit, shattering our soul with the words

‘You are not separate from us’.

Let us then not forget this thought when we will soon celebrate the return of the light, and we begin to contemplate the time when we will be able to return outside. For we should not allow the light to obscure that which was made so visible by the darkness: that hidden wildness that we refuse to see all too often.

And so I would invite you to join me in the following simple Mid-Winter ritual: On the evening of midwinter, under the light of the full moon, let us light a candle together. You can either do this before your altar (in a darkened room), or outdoors.

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Before you light the candle, say the following simple prayer:

Spirits of the Wild,
Tonight, I hear You,
Tonight, I see You,
Tonight, we form one community, one planet.

Take a moment to sense how you are no longer alone, but standing at the center of a circle, surrounded by your local spirit-community.

Light the fire. See how it creates a circle of golden light. Its rays cast a circle of peace, a place where the separation between the human and non-human world ceases to exist. Sit here for a while, simply taking in the light, leaving aside your everyday human worries.

Listen, be open to any message from the wild.

Finally, make an offering to the world. While looking at the candle, visualize a light emanating from your heart, and state aloud how you will contribute in the coming year to making this world a better place. For we are the world, and the sun is reborn each year within each of us.

Name one concrete action, and make a vow to the spirit-community gathered around you that you will follow up on your promise before the end of January.

Together, let us rebirth the sun. (And remember that it shines for more than just the human population of this planet.)

Finish by blowing out the candle and speaking this modified version of the traditional ending of a druid ritual:

As the fire dies down, may it be relit in the world.
May the fire of hope be reborn tonight.

See how the light spreads out around you, and how the seeds of a new year have been planted.  Give thanks to the spirits for accompanying you tonight.

Life through the eyes of a tree: roots

Before reading this, make yourself comfortable. Snuggle up in a blanket or feel the warm rays of the sun caressing your skin, depending on what the seasons are like where you live. Then, close your eyes and join me on another journey in the wonderful world of tree consciousness.

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Imagine darkness. Not a threatening darkness, but a soft, caring, nourishing darkness. One that shows you the way rather than confusing you. All you want is to discover more, to merge with it, to be carried by it. And so you slowly expand your senses in an embrace of this nourishing darkness.

And you feel its whispers. You hear them vibrate within you. And you notice how you are not blind anymore, even though you have no eyes to see. For the soft vibrating somehow translates in a tree-dimensional image of the world around you. Slowly, other senses begin to add to that: an almost magnetic pull to go to certain areas, and to avoid others.

You sense how, if you expand yourself just a little bit more in a downward direction, you will be rewarded. There will be conversation, there will be friendship, there will be sharing. And so you stretch… and stretch.. …and very carefully, you make yourself longer, until you hit a pool of emotions. A trickle of water, a source of life. It invites you to come even closer, and you hear it whisper memories of mountain streams, of long journeys through the earth: of time spent within the body of a plant.

Then, as if in response, you feel the larger organism of which you are a part, stir and chant to you. Echoes of sunlight reach you, reach through, and start their own conversation with the droplet of water you just discovered. A journey begins, a dance, a sharing: as the water elemental attached to the stream discovers new paths and rises up through the root that you are, up into the tree. Along the way, memories are exchanged, allowing the tree to share in the magic of the thunderstorm. In return, letting the elemental rest for a while within a leaf, for a moment of sunbathing before being released out into the air. The tree breathes.

On the out-breath, a wave of gratitude comes back, reaching down into the roots. This time, a ray of sunlight floods down, dancing, reverberating through the roots of the trees. Continuing the conversation with the earth. Darkness infused with light, with laughter, with joy. For a split second, everything is illuminated, and the shape of mother earth revealed. And you rest safely within her lap, knowing that she will always nourish you, lead you to where the stories are to be found, guide you to where the richest conversations can happen.

And you crawl on, ever expanding, always reaching out, connected to the sun even though you are living your life within the embrace of darkness.

Rooted in love, you feel content.

(This post is the second in a series. The first one can be found here. )

Life through the eyes of a tree: the heart

This is the first in a series of posts that tries to look at the world from the perspective of a tree.

To begin, I would like you to visualize the following. Go to a place in the forest that you feel closely connected to, and see yourself sitting there, with your back resting against a huge chestnut tree. It is autumn. Right in front of you, you notice one of its fruits, the prickly skin protecting the chestnuts from those that want to eat them before they are ripe.

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And you begin to wonder about that. Why the protective measures? Why does the tree not simply give away its fruits, but does feel the need to protect them?

And so you ask the tree if it will help you understand. In response, you feel your perspective changing, and it feels as if your body is slowly being absorbed inside the tree-body, and you become ‘the tree’. At first, that feels restrictive. You even panic slightly for a moment. What if you are not going to get out of here again? What if you are going to be a prisoner in here forever?

But then you relax. And slowly you begin to let go of your human senses, and you start to breathe with the tree. You listen to the sound of your heartbeat, and how it pumps the blood through your body. Relaxing further, you focus on that for a while.

As you do so, you feel your perspective expanding. You are walking around the forest again. Not in your human skin, but as a kind of expansion of the tree body. You see how you are attached to it through a kind of umbilical cord. And you realize that that cord does in no way restrict you, but instead, gives you freedom. For it takes care of all your material needs: as long as the tree is there, you are assured of nourishment, because the tree freely provides these for you.

Take some time to explore the forest from this new perspective. You are truly part of it now: for the tree not only shares its resources with you, but also its senses. Translated in a way you understand, that feels as if you have suddenly developed an ability for a kind telepathic communication: where before, the forest was a silent place, now it seems almost loud, as if multiple choirs are singing at the same time.

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It is hard to describe what it is exactly that you hear, and the word hearing isn’t exactly right either, for that would be a too one-dimensional way of describing it. For the ‘hearing’ that the tree provides you with, doesn’t happen with your ears alone, but engages all of your senses at the same time: you see it as a wave of colours, as an alphabet of perfume, interwoven with an ocean of sound. It is a language that is way more complex and rich than human language: it is as if every instant you engage with it, you receive treasure chests full of rich impressions, and whole stories download into your brain, instantly, complete with sounds, impressions, as if you were their protagonist.

As you walk through the forest, you realize that you are not simply visiting: in this moment, you ARE the forest.

Then you think back of what originally brought on this reverie, and you turn your attention back to where you came from, kneeling next to the tree to examine one of the chestnut burrs more closely. You admire the cosy little nest that they form around the seeds. You pick it up. And in that moment, you become it. Your mind links to the chestnuts, and you feel/hear/see the burr whisper to you in the colourful language of the forest: I will keep you safe until it is time for you to get born. I will pour all of my love into you, so that you get the best possible chance of survival.

And in that moment, you feel held and loved, not only by the burr, not only by the tree, but by the forest as a whole. You know that, whatever happens next, whether you manage to become a tree, or whether you become squirrel food, you are here, part of this family, part of this community. How you develop and where you end up growing roots will decide in which way you grow up, and what your experiences will be like, but you trust like you have never trusted before. You are part of the web of life. It breathes through you. And you are an immortal part of it.

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At that moment, you sense that it is time to go, and you feel yourself being sucked back into the tree, and then, after a few moments, find yourself back in your own body. And you hear the tree whisper ‘Did that answer your question?’

We are used to perceiving the world as human beings, locked into our own head, with our perspective limited to what our eyes can see, and where our legs can carry us. This visualization gives you a bit of a sense of just how limited that view is. For how can we know what the world is like when seen through senses that we do not possess ourselves? Next time you go to the forest, I invite you to try if you can repeat this exercise: go to a tree, and take time to introduce yourself: explain who you are, and what the world looks like for you. Then, ask if it would be willing to let you share in its perspective. If you receive a positive vibe, sit down with your back to the tree, close your eyes and let yourself be sucked in…

An invitation to die

What is personhood? It is a separation that allows us to develop a personal point of view that is not directed by those around us. It is deliberately blocking out the fact that the universe already knows everything in order to have a chance at deeper understanding by learning these truths through experience.

Some of that learning hurts, and some of that brings the most intense joy imaginable. That is what we call being alive: being fully immersed in it in a way that brings us face to face with its realities every single moment of our existence.

To die then means to become more and less at the same time. Our detachment to this particular time and place, to this little heap of flesh falls away from us. It makes us lose ourselves in the sense that any definition of who we were that was based in material considerations is no longer applicable. It is something that many humans suffer with a great deal: isn’t who we are the same as what we do, what we own, what we achieved in this lifetime? What will be left when all of this falls away from us? Who is the real us behind the mask?

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It is a question that many of us are afraid to pose, for fear of what the answer might be. For who knows really who they are themselves? As we rush through life, too busy to ever allow ourselves time to live it, it seems that what we do is the only thing that matters. Isn’t standing still the same as dying? Isn’t it a sign of giving up, of having lost our way in life?

This is a fear that is put inside us by modern society, where productivity is the scale on which the value of a human life is valued. And because we have been taught to think that way, we have also begun to see other life forms as less than ourselves. We see them as less economically active, and hence as less of a valued participant in the cycle of life, all the while forgetting that we owe our life to them, and that we wouldn’t even be here if they hadn’t been allowing us to use and abuse them for our own purposes.

It is hard then to confront the moment all of that posing will fall away from us. That is understandable. But.. maybe we can find another way? You know… why postpone death until our physical body dies? Why not do it now, or at least start contemplating what it would be like?

Once we start doing so, we realize just how much active dying is actually a way of becoming, of growing into ourselves, of stopping to put limits on how much we have to give. Of stopping to measure the monetary value of everything that we do, and everything that is given to us. If we choose to step past that boundary now, and remember that we are not separate, and have never been separate, then suddenly so much becomes possible.

When will you start dying?

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