This piece was written in the soft days of late last Summer, when for a while my attention was taken away from the difficulties and divisiveness of our increasingly fractured world, to a place where love runs through all things, where its softness and beauty is always present. I was reminded of an awareness I was given two decades ago, of how there is a new note in the axis of love, which belongs to the next step in our shared journey. This is connected to the spiritual shift that underlies our present time of global change.
A NEW NOTE IN THE AXIS OF LOVE
It is late Summer and the roses are still in bloom, yellow and orange, while the tomatoes are ripening, turning red in our small garden. Not so many this year, but enough to taste the sweetness that seems to come only from being home grown, and then there will be some still green to make chutney for the winter. This is not the vibrant beauty of Spring, awakening Earth, buds opening, so many colors coming to life. It is a softer, more mellow beauty, the young speckled fawns grown, the days hot after the fog burns away. But always there is this sense of love that comes with the beauty, like the gentle caress of a lover, feeling surrounded by colors. Especially in the evening when I am drawn towards silence and prayer, the garden touches me with love’s softness.
Recently, reading writings from two decades ago, I find a chapter on the axis of love, that spinning center of divine love present at creation’s core. In those days my eyes were very open inwardly and I could see clearly on the spiritual plane—a place of pure being and light. I saw the changes waiting to happen, changes that belong to the transformation of the spiritual body of the Earth. I saw a new note being woven into the axis of love that runs through all things, present in every grain of sand, every drop of rain, every laugh, every tear. I saw this axis of love coming alive in a new way. In those days my consciousness was not caught in the darkening of the present time, in all the dramas of divisiveness and war and climate crisis. I was immersed in the rivers of light that flow in the inner worlds, and that is how I could see these spiritual changes, this shift in the axis of love.
So much was given in those days when I could see so clearly the spiritual body of the Earth. Just as we each have a spiritual body—mapped out for example in the Indian chakra system—so too does the Earth have a spiritual body. This used to be mapped out in the ley lines, whose intersections were often marked by stone circles, later temples or cathedrals, or the position of sacred mountains, places that belong to the axis of the Earth, for example Maunakea in Hawaii, that is said to connect native Hawaiians to the cosmos. Or the Altai Mountains in Siberia, considered to be one of the entrances to the mystical land of Shambala. During this time I was shown how the spiritual body of the Earth was transforming, beginning to spin at a new vibration.
Now, watching from the edge of the world, I see more of the difficulties of the present time, its darkening days. But as the soft light of a late Summer evening tells me a story of the Earth’s beauty, and the sweet tomatoes in my garden speak to me of its gifts, I am drawn back to this new note of love. Sadly love is a language that most of us have forgotten. We think of love as a warm fuzzy feeling, a sense of caring, or a passionate embrace. We seek for it in a mother or lover. But love is the primal energy behind all of of existence, which is born from an outpouring of divine love, the cosmos flowing through space. Love is life alive with beauty and wonder, reflecting the bond or link of love that connects creation with the Creator.
And part of this time of transition, of this space between stories, is that the axis of love has a new note that celebrates divine oneness. We may sense this shift in a growing awareness of the interconnections of life, how the world around us is a web of interdependence—for example how birds and bees pollinate flowers, which I experience in my garden in the hummingbirds drinking nectar and the bees buzzing amidst the lavender plants. But tracing these patterns back there is a quality of divine love now helping us to see this more clearly, to see with the eyes of oneness rather than separation. A Sufi poet, using the image of applying kohl, an ancient eye cosmetic, expresses this quality of consciousness: “God daubed his eyes with the kohl of the light of divine oneness.”
Sadly, collectively we are still very caught in the story of separation, a story which allows us to pollute and desecrate the natural world without fully realizing how we are attacking our own self, our own body. But even science is waking up to the patterns of interconnection that belong to the web of life. And this is just a stepping stone into an evolving consciousness that is awakening to oneness.
Surrounded by the colors and beauty of late Summer I can feel this quality of love alive in my heart, a place where we are all at the axis of the world. There is no need to travel to a sacred mountain, because each heart is the center, a place where love flows into the world. It is here that lover and Beloved are most directly connected, a Beloved who is the Source of all love, and is present in every cell of creation, every breath. And when our heart is awakened by the touch of its Beloved, it sings the song of its divine nature. It is present in praise and thanksgiving, celebrating life’s divine nature to which it belongs.
The work of the lovers of God has always been to keep this axis of love pure and protected, so that the world spins on it without distortion, so that divine love flows into creation. Through our prayers, our practices, and the openness of our heart, we are present at the axis of love. Our love for God, the love between lover and Beloved, sings along it. In this way we live it in this world.
The lover looks after the axis of love in the world through the simplicity of her devotions, through keeping her heart pure and the attention of the heart turned towards God while she lives her everyday life. How we live the love affair that is creation is unique to each of us. No two ways of love are the same. But every lover lives the same axis of love. It is alive in our hearts, present in each and every breath. And when we remember our Beloved, it sings within us, nourishing life in the most hidden and wonderful ways.
Everything in life is a lover waiting for its Beloved. Just as love draws human lovers together, it draws everything back to union. If there were no love holding creation together, everything would fall apart. Every molecule is a part of a play of love and longing that hides and reveals love’s face. We fulfill our part in this love affair in the simplest of ways—through relating to others with love, through cooking or cleaning with love, through living our daily life with remembrance and awareness, which for the Sufi is the awareness of the heart.
As well as oneness, there is another quality central to this new note of love, which is how it embraces, includes, the physical. Each era has its own quality of divine revelation. The note of love in the previous era helped point us towards a monotheistic divinity beyond our physical world. A transcendent God was the gift of the patriarchal era, which was marked by a perception of duality: earth and heaven, matter and spirit. Spiritual practices and teachings worked within the context of this understanding, guiding us further and further away from the material world and instinctual life, which was sometimes described as a fallen, sinful place. Knowledge about the physical world was left to the discoveries of science. But now our hearts are being turned back to the physical world and the wonder of divine presence. We need to reaffirm the sacredness of the Earth we can see and touch, and how it is all part of one living divine Being. And love will help us to see what our minds have forgotten.
Including the physical is central to how we walk into the new era—not just from an ecological perspective, though this drastically needs our attention, but also spiritually, the reunion of spirit and matter. This returns us to the wisdom of Indigenous Peoples but in a new way, a path as yet undiscovered. Listening to the Earth, both inwardly and outwardly, we can become more in tune with the shifts that are taking place in this living being. And learning to listen with love and an open heart is central to relearning the language of the Earth. Love can teach us more quickly than textbooks, because it can also awaken our own deeper knowing.
There is for example an ancient alchemical secret about the physical world and the light hidden in matter. While the Christian Church looked for light in the heavens, the alchemists sought the light hidden within matter. They understood that there was a sacred essence in the fabric of creation, which through their experiments and imagination they worked to release. Today we cannot afford to follow the footsteps of the patriarchal Church Fathers and seek only a transcendent light, look only towards heaven, a world after we die. We need to know about the light hidden in matter and understand the magic of creation that it reveals. A living world around us here.
There is magic and mystery in the Earth waiting to be revealed, to be awakened. I can give a simple example from my own experience. A few years ago I was walking a trail near to my home when I was was taken back in time, to how things were in the early days before this present cloud of forgetfulness came, and I suddenly realized that in those days the path told you where it was going. I had read about Aboriginal dreamtime and how songlines guided Indigenous Peoples across the Outback. But I never realized that a path could actually speak to you and tell you where it is going. A path carries all of its journey with it, the landscape it follows, the trees that accompany it, the streams it might cross. And when the land is alive it can tell you of this journey, and how to travel it.
This is just one example of how an awakened Earth can speak to us, if we are receptive and able to listen. If the light within matter is able to shine and reveal what is hidden. Sadly as the world became identified as a place in which the Divine is absent, a solely physical reality divorced from the spiritual realm, we veiled ourself from its magical nature. This magic then gradually receded, it became hidden and then lost. A plant will no longer tell most of us of its healing properties, or its poisonous nature. There was the time when we all spoke the same language, not just the animals and the birds, but the plants and the trees. Until we became isolated from the world around us.
The physical world needs now to be realigned with its own energy source, with the life force that is within it. And the quickest way is through love. And because the axis of love is present within every cell of creation, through love we can help the world to sing again, for its magic to come alive. Once we step outside the patterns of our own insularity, and our conditioning that love is only a personal experience, we can acknowledge that the love within our hearts belongs to all of life. Then we can begin to participate in this work. As I have mentioned, love flows in mysterious ways, to where it is needed, to where the sorrow of the Earth calls to it. To where Earth magic can break through the fog of our forgetfulness and once again speak to us.
These are all stories of a living Earth long forgotten by our rational selves, and a Western history of spirituality divorced from the physical world. We may know about the magnetic axis of the Earth, but not its spiritual axis, the axis mundi, its cosmic axis. The place where the inner and outer worlds meet. Sufis have always known about the axis of love, which belongs to Its spiritual body, how this keeps the worlds aligned. They work within the core of creation, bringing love and light where it is needed. Although the outer world demands so much of our daily attention, it can be helpful to remember these other dimensions, particularly at this present time of transition and possible transformation. And how the heart and its prayers can participate in this work. To recognize or remember how we are a part of the spiritual body of the Earth, interconnected on different levels.
Silence and love have many hidden qualities. They can be a refuge from the demands of outer life, but also a place where the worlds come together. Through love we can speak the inner language of life, share its secrets. We can be at the place where the book of life is being written. We can either see life solely through the eyes of the ego, which tells its story of unfulfilled desires, insecurity, and patterns of self-protection, or we can recognize that another story is being told in which our individual self is part of the whole of creation. This interconnected living wonder is visible in the spider’s web sparkling with early morning dew, and the full moon rising through the trees. It is present all around, even the sounds of cars passing on the road does not disturb. These soft Summer days and nights speak in so many voices. The chipmunk seems no longer frightened when I walk nearby, no longer darts quickly into the rocks. I am just grateful that for a while the noise and troubles of the world seem far away.