The seasons turn and Summer passes. Here on the coast Summer is a time for fog, with the sun often breaking through by mid-morning. Sometimes the fog returns by the evening, or in the early hours of the morning. Without the fog the stars are again visible, worlds beyond ours, the Milky Way stretching across the sky. I do not know the names of the constellations, but the billions of stars speak to me as they have to humanity over the centuries. A magnificent vastness, which sadly the many sources of light pollution have now made less accessible, less part of our nightly panorama. The night sky is vanishing, with 80 percent of Americans, and one-third of humanity, no longer able to see the Milky Way. We can no longer so easily see our place in this immense expanse.
The sky, the world of heaven and the gods, used to speak of omens. Our microcosmic world was echoed in the macrocosm. Shooting stars meant good luck, while a blood moon was a time for special prayers. I know nothing of omens, and little of how our fate may be determined by the stars. But I do sense that the patterns of interconnection that belong to our world do not stop at the surface, but reach into space. That just as we are discovering the interdependence of our ecosystem, so is our planet part of a vast unfolding pattern. That is why I love to stand outside in the evening looking to the heavens, sensing this infinite expanse of beauty and meaning.
Witnessing the climate catastrophe unfold around us, each week, sometimes each day, bringing a new example of extremes—of heatwaves and floods and ice sheets melting—we are becoming aware of the fragile web of interconnections that belong to our living Earth. And we are belatedly recognizing how humanity has created this crisis. Maybe we are beginning to take some responsibility, even as young people are crying out for climate justice, recognizing how the world’s poorest and lowest carbon-emitting countries are suffering the most from climate change.
But watching the billions of stars in the Milky Way for a moment I step back from the immediacy of this crisis which holds so much of my attention, causes such daily grief. I wonder if there is a different dimension that sees these Earth changes as part of a vaster cosmic pattern. Astronomy may be telling us more and more about the movement of the stars, about dark matter, black holes, and how galaxies merge. But with the censored awareness of science they say little about what these vistas mean to the soul or the soul of the world. We are no longer surrounded by the world of the gods, but rather celestial bodies made of hydrogen and helium.
When Skywoman fell to Earth heaven and earth were connected. Our human lives were part of a cosmos of sacred meaning. Gods and goddesses spoke to us. Our soul, the world soul, and the stars, microcosm and macrocosm were not separate. When I was first shown the archetypal changes happening to the Earth, the image of the future that came to me was a child with stars in its eyes. This image has stayed with me for over thirty years, even as our world has become darker and more toxic. It reminds me that the Earth has her own story, which belongs to humanity but also to dimensions beyond our present understanding. Our journey together with the Earth is taking us through the debris of a civilization causing ecocide, but also reconnecting us with patterns long forgotten, with myths and sacred meaning lost from our rational minds, a landscape which includes the heavens.
The Earth is changing and we are a part of these changes. Many of the changes to her biosphere we have created with our arrogance and exploitation. We have lost the understanding of the old ways, still held by some Indigenous Peoples, who understood the patterns of the natural world and how they are woven together with sacred meaning. The Earth is crying out for us to return, to reconnect and remember. There is a knowing beneath the surface of our increasingly fractured civilization that we need in order to journey together into a living future, a journey that sustains the more-than-human world of which we are a part. But while we cannot go back to the past, both humanity and the Earth have changed too much over the centuries, we are limited in our understanding of the future—reason and science see only a fragment of this present shift that reaches deep into the spiritual body of the Earth.
The night sky tells another story, places only our imagination can reach. It can take us away from the hubris that we are at the center of the stage, the main actor. There are so many patterns of cosmic meaning, for example those that connect together the spiral of a sunflower with the spiral of a galaxy, and the Neolithic spiral carvings on stone. The Earth is part of a vast story that science tells us began over thirteen billion years ago with the Big Bang, when from a single infinitely hot and dense spot the cosmos was born. But this story only speaks of the physical universe, not the inner worlds of light and love that belong to the soul. Nor the archetypal energies that underlie creation and which used to be imaged as gods. These worlds are woven together with the physical, symbols and signs speak to their existence. If we are to embrace the sacred nature of creation, we need to expand our consciousness to include the unseen worlds—those that shamans, seers and mystics have long known existed. The present shift in Earth consciousness is multidimensional, and the stars have always spoken of these other realities.
Naturally most people are focused on the immediacy of the climate crisis, especially as it begins to impact our present day lives. When it rains without ceasing for months and rivers flood their banks what matters is keeping your family dry and fed. But there have always been those whose destiny was to hold the threads between the worlds, to read the signs and keep connected to the sacred meaning underlying outer events. Thich Nhat Hanh called these events “bells of mindfulness” that draw our attention back to the Earth and our essential interbeing. As we walk with awareness, in grief and love, our soul may hear a story deeper than our mind.
And part of this story is that something within the Earth is shifting in relation to the cosmos. People may have fantasies of space travel, voyages to Mars. But this is more significant, belonging to the Earth as a living being within a living cosmos. And how patterns are realigning. The child with stars in its eyes carries a message of both how the archetypal structure of the Earth is changing, but also how that shift belongs to patterns that include the stars. How a different note is being added to the song of creation, a note that resonates far across the cosmos.
Watching from the edge of the world one can see the patterns that belong to our human destiny. We can look back and see how a magical awareness of the land and its many inhabitants that belonged to our earlier consciousness was lost, and how patterns of conquest and control spread. And how in the last centuries we created a world of machines, a monster destroying the fragile web of life, exploiting both humans and the natural world. And even as we became aware of its effect on the ecosystem, we became so addicted to our dream of progress that we seem unable to stop this self-destruction. The seminal book, Limits to Growth, published in 1972, clearly describes how “the earth’s interlocking resources—the global system of nature in which we all live—probably cannot support present rates of economic and population growth … even with advanced technology.” But its message was quickly dismissed as the story of constant economic growth became our dominant myth. And in the last decades, even as growing scientific evidence reveals how we are triggering tipping points and feed-back loops, we still increase our carbon emissions, continue cutting down old-growth forests for cattle or palm oil plantations. Governments and corporations show little indication that they are prepared to take the radical steps needed to stop this catastrophe, yet if we carry on with business as usual a 2o Celsius increase could happen within the next couple of decades.
But between the worlds another story is being told, not just the senseless destruction of our common home. There are primal changes happening not just to our ecosystem, but to how the worlds are woven together and what this means both for humanity and the Earth. We are witnessing a moment in our shared destiny that reaches back millennia, long before our recorded history. And which will impact this destiny for centuries, even millennia to come. That is why it is so important that we witness this shift, sense the changes taking place deep beneath our feet, forces that belong to the end of an era constellating around us. When human consciousness was first awakened it wove a new thread into the story of the Earth, an awareness of Her beauty and magical nature. And now the child with stars in her eyes speaks to me of a different level of awareness that can be born.
Walking through the wasteland of the coming years will be hard, and many young people today already sense this. There is no nostalgic return, especially as the impact of rising temperatures increases. We will have to pay for our abuse of the Earth. But in these podcasts I am suggesting that there is another story being told that also needs our attention, our mindfulness. If we only focus on carbon emissions and rising temperatures, we are remaining within the same censored consciousness that has cut us off from a magical Earth. Particle physics tells us what yogis have long known: that there is a direct relationship between consciousness and the energy structure of matter. We are interconnected in ways that we are only beginning to understand. This is why the Earth needs our awareness not just to halt the ecocide, but to help midwife its transformation.
Watching the night sky, the stars that are now visible after the Summer fog has passed, there are many seasons changing around me. Late Summer is turning into Fall, the last tomatoes and squash to be picked from the garden, the apples waiting to be harvested, if the crows leave any uneaten. Then there is the knowing that we are at the end of an era, in the death spiral of a civilization. It may take decades for it to finally die, but there is a basic truth that it is simply unsustainable. Our story of eternal economic growth and material abundance is over, even if collectively we remain addicted. How we transition to a new way of being with each other and the Earth is uncertain. When the last Roman legions left England, towns were soon abandoned as people reverted to subsistence farming for centuries. The light of civilization seemed lost, and the constant warfare and brutality of the local lords dominated the land.
Hopefully this time between eras, this bardo, will not be so brutal, but there will be a time of radical insecurity, until maybe in two centuries or more a new civilization may emerge, quite different to now. It will not be known by its monuments, but by its qualities of compassion and kindness, a deep knowing of the oneness that binds us together. And also by its ways of working with the land. It too will have its dark side, but it will no longer exploit the Earth. That is a pain and a suffering humanity will not want to repeat. Some knowledge will be passed down to the future, while new knowledge will be revealed. Each era has its own quality of knowing.
Whether the hardness of the coming years—climate crisis, famine, refugees, possible social collapse—was a choice we made, or we were driven by forces we could no longer control, is unsure. Did we have to walk to the edge of extinction before we turned back to the living land, to a life-sustaining rather than life-depleting way of being? Did we have to forget the sacred nature of creation, before we remembered? Hopefully our grandchildren’s grandchildren will look back with compassion and understanding, as the forests regrow and the wild places return.
In this series of podcasts I have also suggested that there is another dimension to these Earth changes, which belongs to the spiritual nature of the Earth, how She is transforming. A new note is present in the axis of love that runs through creation, a celebration of life’s oneness. And the Earth is crying out that we remember Her sacred nature, so that we can participate, so that the spark of our consciousness can help awaken the light within matter, what the alchemists called the lumen naturae. We are at a pivotal time in the journey of the Earth. Her magical nature has lain dormant for centuries, Her spiritual body has been hidden. The centers of power that run through the land, which used to be marked by stone circles, sacred mountains, temples, have been forgotten. Our collective consciousness has erased these memories, along with ancient libraries that were burned, spiritual teachings lost.
My sense is that if we are attentive, listening with an open heart, we will be able to participate, as we did thousands of years ago when we helped the Earth awaken with the sacred names of creation. The Earth is waiting for us to be present, to be at the place where the worlds come together, where new threads are being woven into her spiritual as well as physical body. Our love for the Earth is what is most essential, and will help both to heal and transform. The heart holds the deepest secrets of being human, the connections between different levels of reality, as well as our direct connection to the Divine—how we are all One Being, infinite and eternal.
Through our love, and acts that reflect this love, we can help the Earth to realign, reawaken, even if we do not fully understand this mystery. Our heart and the heart of the world are not separate, but can sing together. And this song does not just belong to our human experience, but can reach deep into the cosmos, resonate among the stars. For now we have to walk carefully, attentive to our damaged ecosystem as we relearn the language of the sacred, its signs and symbols. We have to learn again how to watch the seasons of the land and the world soul. And we can sense how heaven and earth are connected, how the patterns of the stars and the web of life mirror each other in ways we can feel, even if our minds cannot grasp. We live in a minor spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, the Orion Arm, about 26,000 light-years from the center of the galaxy. And the simple image of a child with stars in its eyes speaks to a living future in which we belong to this expanding universe. Watching the night sky I see the pale white glow of our galaxy stretching across the sky, our home amongst billions of worlds.