Mama-earth is sacred. She is alive, a non-human person. Everything on the earth is alive. From rocks to trees to rivers and mountains. This is the animistic world-view.
In one way she is our mother. She feeds us and nurtures us, As my teacher says, ‘may her back always rise up to meet our footsteps’. In another way we are cells in a larger organism. We cannot survive and flourish without the survival of the earth and yet we go through our days acting as if we could. We have turned away our faces from our Mother, to accept, even revel in the cold and cruel reality of our separation. This is also a separation from self, and we are suffering for it. Our children suffer from nature deficit disorder while we indifferently tear down football fields per second of forest, destroy whole mountains with mining, stir up earthquakes with fracking and watch our oceans choke on plastic waste. We are more like a cancer than anything else.
Perhaps it’s hard for us humans to understand the true nature of the earth because we’ve been taught that the only life worthy of merit, even recognition, looks like a human, and we’ve had hundreds of years of this paradigm of life as a hierarchy, with us at the top and animals and plants at the bottom.
My mom’s generation (the boomers) believe that technology is our salvation. Faced with our environmental crisis, they say, ‘no matter what happens our science will save us’, with religious fervour. The sentiment stuns me. Can it really be so hard to see? We are of the earth. That fact is logical, scientific and inescapable. To me, it’s a relief.
The earth will save us.
When I stand in nature, in the silence with all the ears listening and all the eyes watching, I sometimes get this funny feeling that I’ll try to describe.
It’s like a memory, or a multitude of memories all tied in together with feelings of comfort, warmth out of the snow, a respite or a cabin on a mountain with a fire burning, a warm cloak to ward against the cold, smells of soil and rock and trees growing, a feeling of being inside a forest or inside a tree or a cave. It’s like coming home. At the same time I get a sense of a power that is mammoth, indescribably vast, far-reaching and ancient – of secrets and hidden knowledge, of ways to be with the power, in the sense of being a part of it or taking one’s place in the course of it. It’s familiar yet elusive. Wild and menacing and yet not ‘other’.
These moments rarely happen in the city. I find it really difficult to connect with the natural world here. Even though the city is part of it all, I guess I’ve done my fair share of communing with it. The mountains call to me. Yet, since starting on the shamanistic path I do take way more walks than I used to, and if I hold my head up and look straight forward, rather than looking down at the sidewalk like a lot of city-folk do, I can reach my heart out to the trees and bushes that I pass and say hello. When I do this I notice a shift in my perception, a reminder of All That Is, that we are not alone, that the plants and rocks and trees are Beings. They are alive and there, waiting for us to return.
WE MISS YOU is a social campaign and digital art installation that deals with our relationship to earth. I love it to bits.
Check out the website too. Leave them a comment at the end!
So, you think saying hello to a tree is weird do ya?
Well – I challenge you!
It does feel funny at first, and you’ll worry about people watching you too probably. It takes practice like anything else. The more you do it, the more you’ll get the hang of it. Just remember, trees and plants are non-human persons, deserving of our attention and respect, just like any human person. You’d be surprised at how a walk alone can suddenly feel like a walk in a crowd.
Do you hug your trees? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below! Let’s hang.