What is the meaning of these changes taking place deep within the Earth, and how will they affect us? For a Sahel pastoralist whose herds have died and whose children are starving, or a climate refugee who has given their life savings to a Libyan people smuggler, the physical reality of the climate crisis means flight and survival; similarly if your house is burning or flooded. This is the reality of the landscape we are entering, the chaos of the coming years. And yet there are shifts taking place to the body of the Earth—changes that are not just loss of species and biodiversity, but a shift that is as fundamental as climate catastrophe. The difficulty is that we have neither the language nor images to describe such changes. We lost the language long ago, and the images belong mainly to a symbolic realm we can no longer read or understand. And our collective disbelief in this symbolic world has created a fog, a shadow that has grown over the centuries, making it increasingly difficult to see.
There was a time when we all lived in accordance with the ancient rhythms of the Earth, the time of the seasons and the stars. Everything was seen as symbolic, our outer life reflected the patterns of soul, not only in ceremonies but all aspects of life—cooking and weaving, dancing and hunting. Today we no longer know how our individual life forms part of a living whole, we no longer have a center or foundation. Yet the ancient rhythm of creation still exists within our body and our psyche, within every breath, even if it has been buried and almost forgotten.
With all the primal changes taking place around us it is important to remember what is unchanging, the sacred nature of creation and how the heart can sing in praise and thanksgiving. And how the tents of lovers are still present on the land, holding the threads of love that connect together this evolving mystery.
This morning, as I walk in the first light, the hills have an orange glow from the unrisen sun. The only sound is the egrets squawking in the wetlands. The apples in the orchard beside the road are already turning red, while the sliver of a silver moon is still in the sky. This experience makes sense, simple, elemental. In these moments, when the landscape is my only companion, I know that just as the rising sun and the apples in the orchard speak of seasons and cycles, so too does the Earth Herself. For so many lifetimes I have walked together with Her, listened to Her, watched the sun slip over the hills, turn orange in the sky. Her song belongs to the present moment, but speaks to both the past and the future.
Today, when so many other stories swirl around us it is hard to know what is real. Stories that underlie so much of our present culture—like the myth that more is better, or even the “big lie” of constant economic growth—are just fantasies. That is why it is so important that we each find a story that speaks to us, not conspiracy theories, or nostalgic dreams, but a living story that reconnects us. For me, walking in the pre-dawn light I feel connected. Not just to the trees and the nearby wetlands but also to elemental forces and the heartbeat of the Earth. I am part of a world where a flower that lives for a day belongs to the same pattern as the migrations of birds, the geese flying south, and the spiral movement of galaxies.
Prayer also connects me, to the silence, to the heart, to the love that flows through all things. More and more I am drawn to these connections to sustain me, like roots reaching deep into the inner worlds, finding a nourishment so lacking in today’s world. Maybe this is just what happens when one gets older, and distractions and desires no longer grip one’s attention, or maybe this is how it always was when all of our actions were prayers, when the worlds met and sang together.
I try to let the Earth and my heart speak to me, tell me Its story, how the threads of creation are being rewoven into a new pattern. How a consciousness of oneness is a part of this shift, enabling the unity inherent within all of life to become known in a new way, its connections sing together and our own interbeing become more visible. This evolving pattern will include the suffering of the coming years, but also hope and joy and love and an opening between the worlds. A reawakening of magic. And always there is the question of what part humanity will play in this transformation, this turning? And here there is no clarity. Many people are asleep, living the dreams or nightmares of the collective, the “consumers” of our culture. Nowadays they spend many hours each day watching their screens, often caught in the toxic thought-forms we call social media. They do not even know that this is the end of an era, although their children may be suffering from eco-anxiety.
It is easy to see the forces of denial and repression, the power dynamics of this dying world. Those who want to continue with extraction and exploitation, who know of nothing but greed and money. This is the same drive that was witnessed centuries ago by the Native Americans,
This love of possessions is a disease with them. They claim this mother of ours, the earth, for their own and fence their neighbors away; they deface the earth with their buildings and refuse…. The white man’s desire for material possessions and power has blinded him to the pain he has caused Mother Earth.
And yet there are also those who are not so blinded, who know that there is another way to be. They fear for the future, do not want to sleepwalk into a deepening wasteland or hothouse Earth. Maybe they have heard the cry of the Earth and their hearts are open to grief and love. They feel called to work for a future seven generations or more, restoring Her wild beauty. How these opposing forces play out in the coming years and decades will speak to our shared journey and the way the future is written.
And the Earth Herself? What does She know of these struggles, of these dramas? Does She only think in terms of millennia? Of all species that have existed on Earth, 99.9 percent are already extinct. Many of them perished in five cataclysmic events. In the most recent mass extinction, 65 million years ago, 75 percent of species perished, while the largest mass extinction event happened around 250 million years ago, when perhaps 95 percent of all species went extinct.
In the last two hundred millennia humanity has become an important part of Her story, even if we have been here so briefly. We are a part of Her awakening, but is it written that we should continue together for millennia more? I do believe that this is a pivotal moment in our shared journey and also that the future has not yet been written. And that if we only think in terms of degrees of warming, we are continuing to see through the blinkers of science and reason, and so are missing an opportunity. Whether the temperature rises 1.50, 2.00, or 3.00 degrees Celsius will have a dramatic, even cataclysmic effect, but when human consciousness first awoke on this Earth another dimension was present, a doorway between the worlds was opened, and that also needs our attention.
And this story needs to be told, even if only a few are able to hear it. Sadly we have censored so much of this journey, just as when the early Christians ruthlessly burned the libraries and teachings of the pagan world. I have walked between the worlds for more than three decades and have been shown how the energy structure of the Earth is changing, and how we can be part of Its transformation. And yet as I write these words my heart feels the sadness of opportunities lost and doors closing. I know that without the participation of human consciousness a certain vibration in the Earth’s transformation will be missing.
I recognize that each of us has to find our own way to participate in this work, and the most direct path is through our love for the Earth. She is a living being who needs our love, just as she needs our care and attention. And I believe in small things with great love—the simple acts of loving kindness towards each other and the Earth that help this greatest power flow where it is needed. But I also think that we need to open our awareness to this inner dimension of Earth change, return to the knowing of our ancestors and relearn the language of the Earth both in the soil that our hands can feel and the soul that our spirit touches.
We need to recognize that this is the end of an era, that our dreams of material prosperity are over. They have cost the Earth too much and our children and grandchildren will have to grow old in this wreckage. But we can also begin to sense this primal shift that belongs to the seasons of the world soul. To sense a spark of a new beginning, a spring following winter. And that those whose hearts are open can become part of a prayer that speaks to the Earth, that welcomes what is being born within Her. Then each of us in our small way can midwife these changes, so that the spark of human consciousness can be present within them.
When our consciousness first awoke thousands of years ago, a door between the worlds was opened. Another doorway is now opening, part of the mystery of the Earth and the cosmos. If we can be present on this threshold—awake in our hearts and prayers, as well as our grief and tears—our journey together with the Earth will hold this spark, this promise, this new beginning. We can be part of new connections being formed from deep within the Earth into the cosmos, new patterns of oneness connecting us all together. Or we can remain trying to de-escalate a climate crisis already spinning out of control, without fully understanding the forces involved. We may have begun to sense that the Earth is a living being some now call Gaia, but the spirit within Her is still obscured, Her magical nature hidden. And we can only walk together into a living future if we honor and respect these qualities, this essential part of Her. She is not only rivers and mountains and trees, but a spirit that runs through all things, a spirit that is going through its own metamorphosis.