Many years ago I found myself living at a house where I saw the potential to have a small urban garden. Within that potential something awoke in me that had been laying deeply dormant. What awoke was a seed of consciousness that was beginning to crack open. That seed eventually became a great passion that bloomed into what I would later refer to as Veriditas or the “Greening of my Mind”, after a term coined by Hildegard of Bingham an 11th Century mystic and visionary.
During that time I started to read voraciously about anything to do with plants, organic gardening, natural medicine, herbology, ecology, natural resources, sustainability regenerative design and environmentalism. I felt a thirst to become informed about the ecological state of the world and the biosphere as a whole. When I stared to understand more deeply some of the problems that were unfolding worldwide I felt myself almost plummeting into a state of grief for the planet, the people, the ecosystem, the animals, the oceans, the future generations…When all the information I took in was complied into a broader understanding of what was happening globally the projections for the health of the planet and people seemed stunningly dire to me.
Looking back I remember experiencing a strange sensation of being fully cognizant that I was about to enter a dark night of the soul. I felt conscious on a soul level to what was happening, to what my own destiny was asking me to under go. I felt guided by some force to grieve this whole mess, consciously. It was as though the archetype of Persephone was somehow courting me and bidding me to undertake a journey, down into the underworld. I decided to do it - to fully enter into it. My peculiar upbringing and karma had prepared me for this, and I was ready and willing to go.
I went into an conscious state of full-fledged grieving for my home, my planet, my Mother - Earth that is. I felt I needed to fully face the feelings that were being triggered in me as I took in the reality of the environmental destruction that was going down. I read about habitat loss, deforestation, pollution, soil erosion, ocean acidification, industrialized agriculture, carbon emissions, genetic engineering, strip mining, clear cutting, global warming (now called climate change) and all the rest (this was before there was even such a thing as fracking)…I cried, a lot.
I needed to feel it all deeply. I felt someone should. I felt called to bare witness to the madness. I went willingly, eyes and heart wide open - into this dark night of the soul…I was grieving for all the countless fragile life forms, the future generations and the degradation of the planetary ecosystem as a whole.
Many years later, a light started to dawn again inside me after that many years long, dark night of the soul. I felt like I was crawling up from out of the underground, I could see the filtered light beckoning me back up and out.
A crystal clear message came to me, from inside my own heart and soul, it arose. “You are done grieving this one now.” A voice so clearly from inside me said “You must change the patterns of your brain and in turn, your way of looking at the world. You will be forever ineffectual if you continue to grieve beyond this measure. It’s time to let the sadness dissipate and for your love of life and beauty to grow.”
It was from that point that I decided to see if I could cultivate a life of creativity and meaning while taking into account everything I had learned and grieved along the way. I wanted to see if it was possible to create a life of conscious design in responsiveness to what had been unearthed inside me and in recognition of the plight of our shared environmental reality.
During those years of dreaming into my life of conscious design I often would sit in contemplation and ask myself “Now that I know what I know - How am I to live my life”? How are any of us to live our lives now, with the knowledge of the damage we are creating in the environment ? Should I just continue on my life path as though I didn’t know or that it was somehow not my responsibility? I questioned it all deeply. Should I go live in a tipi? Should I give away all my possessions…and then where exactly would I go?
I looked to my spiritual practice, to yoga and to the Great Wisdom traditions to help heal the inner turmoil.
I came to see how on the Ultimate plane of reality everything was exactly the way is should be, and yet also recognized that on the relative plane things were mighty f’d up! Could both things be simultaneously true?
I found it interesting that many of the worlds ancient religions and indigenous traditions had prophesied these times as being marked by strife, and environmental cataclysm.
It may sound strange, but knowing this gave me a certain sense of ease. In the sense that perhaps there was a greater hand at play and that these things move in cosmic cycles, through greats epochs and epic eras of time. The ancient Vedic scriptures of India say that this is the time of the Kali Yuga The densest, darkest time before the dawning of the light of the next Satya Yuga or Golden Age. I learned that even in the darkest times there is always a shimmering thread of light that runs through, it illuminates the way
to the next Golden Age.
I started to see and rediscover of all the goodness, hope and brilliant possibility alive in the world. I created a self guided, multi-faceted practice with the direct intention of re-patterning my own brain. I decided it was time to let my life affirming natural essence come fully back to the fore. I started to actively envision a life and a world of my most beautiful imaginings. I took Mahatma Gandhi’s famous words “Be the change you wish to see in the world” deeply to heart. I decided I would create a life of conscious design to see if I could positively effect the world with my own small seemingly insignificant little life. My guiding question became: “How can I best serve humanity, all of life, the future generations and Mother Earth?”
I started to symbolically envision my life as a mandala. I imagined it as an artistic creation of abundance and sustenance, love and community and connection. I imagined there would be many threads and colors that would weave together to create a wholesome life of balance and beauty. The petals of the mandala were all the things I loved and wanted to follow with my passion: Yoga, sacred drumming, relationship, organic gardening, cooking, permaculture, ceremony, family, artistry, aromatic alchemy, natural building, beekeeping, community and regenerative design. I wanted to heed the call of what inspired me and what I personally felt the word and culture needed, and would need ever more greatly in the future.
I cast a prayer out from the deepest recesses of my being - “To be in Service to the Highest Good, for the Greatest Benefit of ALL.” Why not try?!
This became my rolling mantra and my sincerest heartfelt wish.
I modeled my life after the ancient Priestess cultures that I studied as part of my self guided education. I apprenticed myself to powerful mentors and teachers and was initiated at times by others and at times by myself, into the Great Wisdom traditions and Mystery Schools of Embodied Divinity. I spent time in active daydreaming and contemplative focus basking in the inner sanctum of my heart, and in deep listening to the musings of my own dharma.
I knew I was on an endless quest to create a life designed with symbolic insight, informed by an intuitive archetypal architecture. I felt strongly that my life should be lived - from the inside - out.
I was guided to take the slow road, the unbeaten track, the winding route less traveled…There was no fast lane or short cuts here, I was traveling with turtle medicine on the meandering tortoise path.
Early on, I saw that the honeybee would be at the very center of this mandalic world view symbolically, mythically and literally. I knew from what I was learning that we were soon to be entering a crucial era where the health and plight of the honeybee would become central - to my own life and the life of many. The honeybee represented so many things to me - the beauty of creation and pollination, sustenance, sweetness, powerful medicine, ritual symbology, ancient mythology, and sacred practice. The honeybee was deeply tied into the history or more succinctly “herstory” of the ancient practice of Sacred Drumming, as it was the Bee Priestesses of the ancient world that were stewards of both the bees and the sacred drum. The honeybee was one of the great allies to the people of the ancient Goddess cultures. I knew from my studies of permaculture and gardening that the bees would soon be remembered and honored once again for the life affirming fertility and abundance they bring.
Now, so many years later I have followed my passions and dharma deeply in service of the healing of my own heart and the world. It has been my wish that my life's work would somehow be added to the Great regeneration of Nature, to the empowerment of healthy culture and to the love and well-being of my human tribe and family.
I often feel like I am faltering and "failing" in the worldly sense. I still grapple with a feeling like I’m walking on the edge of a precipice, balanced on the knife edge of instinctual survival mode while trying to navigate things like creating a viable livelihood in an outmoded economy and within a culture that glorifies individual achievement and economic prowess over the health of the collective commons and societal upliftment.
I’ve come to realize through the journey, that I have an almost equal and deep love, for both Nature and culture. In my heart of hearts I see the two married together, like a lover and beloved, embedded and at play in a glorious dance and reverent love affair that deeply cares for and honors the other. After all, every last scrap of this crazy culture takes his ingredients from the fertile belly of the earth and is born from the body of Nature - Our Mother, and isn’t it through art and culture that our very humanity is nurtured?
So I ask you - How should we live and create lives now? Now that we find ourselves at a collective crossroads of culture and in the crosshairs of ever more unhinged Nature?
We need to individually and collectively re-imagine a new way of living together on this glorious earth. Does anyone out there know the way? I do know that as our technological capacities continue to grow we must open our hearts and minds to deepen our understanding of the wisdom ways left by our ancestors and be humbly guided by living indigenous cultures.
I do believe we should continue to dream a beautiful dream of our most benevolent imaginings with thoughts of the highest good for all and take action to make it so.
No one but no one, knows what the future will bring. In the meantime, it will be helpful to stay positively anchored to the true present moment in all it’s stunning simplicity, and deeply tethered to our breath and our communities where we can find and create them. We should hold out all faith that the evolutionary impulse and the greatest power of life in the form of Love will guide us through the changes as we cycle back around to the next Golden Age.
One day, perhaps not too far off, we will come together in harmony within the recognition that we are but One living planetary ecosystem, human family and infinite Cosmology, animated by the Great Mystery, yet again...