Mother Earth seeping into the mainstream
Even though half of all freshwater fish are now extinct and we have lost three billion birds in the last 50 years (National Audubon Society), there is some hopeful news in this week of Earth Day observances.
One hopeful sign is how human interdependence with nature is seeping into the mainstream.
An episode of “Heartland” on Netflix depicts young adult Ty Borden having a transformative encounter with a wolf. Ty and his vet mentor Scott crash in a prop plane in an isolated place in the snow-covered mountains. Ty builds a fire to keep them warm, signal rescue parties and ward off the howling beasties that frighten him as night descends. As he lies awake with pain and fear, a threatening looking wolf with teeth bared, makes its way up to the fire. Later, after the rescue, we learn from Ty that the wolf at first scared him but, as it turns out, the wolf stayed all night watching over them to protect them. Ty mentions that the wolf loomed now as a teacher.
Still, Ty would awaken in a sweat with the frightening wolf in his dreams coming too close. His Native American veterinarian friend Scott tells him to go out into the woods and leave an offering of tobacco to thank Wolf for protecting them. As he does this a wolf appears nearby, no longer with teeth bared. Ty has learned to embrace frightening images in his dreams and they will become positive parts of his psyche. He also adopts a friendlier attitude toward wolves and, we might assume, toward the wild in general.
Another hopeful sign regards physicist Rupert Sheldrake’s long held theory that the sun is conscious. As Matthew Fox discussed this week in his “Daily Meditations,” Sheldrake’s theory made it into the serious scientific publication, The Journal of Consciousness Studies (Vol. 28, No. 3-4, 2021). This theory posits that all things in nature have consciousness. The sun may also use its awareness to communicate with the rest of the solar system and even perhaps with other solar systems. This is similar to other theories of nature’s behavior, for example, there is now ample evidence that trees communicate through their roots and branches with other trees. (cf. Wohlleben, Peter, “The Hidden Life of Trees,” 2015).
Finally, Robin Landsong (robinlandsong.com), who was abducted at the age of eight, drugged, flown to Africa and horribly abused there for years, was finally taken under the wing of some loving African mothers. A medicine man (or woman) healed her of her trauma by singing “medicine songs” to her. She now has a practice in medicine song where she finds that trauma often has generational roots going back, she says, many generations. This is native wisdom surfacing in our time as their awareness of the impact of their decisions (viz., “the sins of the fathers…”), affecting seven generations emerges in a woman’s song in Philadelphia, Pa.
As we learn, and come to experience such things ourselves, our reverence and therefore our sense of the sacred extends to Mother Earth and to all the universe. Matthew Fox quotes cultural historian Thomas Berry as citing a sense of the sacred as the key element for humans to address and solve the climate crisis. Solving the climate crisis then will require a shift on our consciousness.
Bill O’Brien is a consciousness coach and shamanic practitioner. He and his wife Linda have lived in Shepherdstown since 2005. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.