Elle McSharry talks to us this week in the Healing Earth, Healing Self Forum about how your consciousness interacts with nature’s, and how to engage in this interaction in your own life. I love her interweaving of indigenous wisdom with the questions we all may be asking. I hope you’ll try the simple, attainable practice she suggests.
Humans are facing a big problem. The symptoms of that problem are everywhere; fracking, deforestation, water pollution, acidification of oceans, drying aquifers, whale-killing sonar, income inequality, social inequity, mountaintop removal, oil drilling in the arctic, pesticides, species extinction…and if all of that wasn’t enough, climate change.
Of course the list above isn’t exhaustive. I could go on detailing what amounts to a typical evening news hour.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless to make a difference in the face of it all.
And even though we hear a lot about these symptoms, we rarely hear about the big problem itself, or their root cause; that they’re a reflection of a consciousness that assumes it’s separate from nature.
Yet typical of this and all ‘big problems’, it comes with a big opportunity if we allow ourselves to open to new possibilities.
One such opening happened for me years ago when my whole world-view was turned on its head. I was fortunate at that time to read a book titled Look to the Mountain by a Native American educator and author, Gregory Cajete. Mr. Cajete’s book describes traditional Native American ways of knowing, and in it he shares how traditional ceremony serves to keep both the natural world and humans in balance.
Even though this resonated deeply with me and intuitively it made sense, my linear mind just couldn’t make sense of it. How could it be that by doing ceremony people could keep their relationship with things like the weather in balance?
And then it hit me. The ceremonies work not because doing a ceremony causes a Newtonian cause and effect result, but because ceremonies reflect consciousness.
To put it another way, a society that understands its connection to all life would never undermine its own survival by ignoring blatant warning signs of imbalance, as modern western culture has. The consciousness that produces ceremonies that affirm integrity with the natural world can’t simultaneously assume dominion over it.
The traditional ceremonies reflect an intimacy with, and knowledge of, the web of life. They also ensure action steps that are sourced from a place of relationship. And most critically, they provide a way for this intimacy and knowledge to be passed down to the next generation.
In contrast, the consciousness that produces something like climate change assumes both dominion over nature, and separation from it. This consciousness has lost intimacy with the web of life.
When I finally identified this, I began to ask questions. For those of us who are called to healing, how do we begin to repair the damage done? What can I, one person, do to make a difference? Where can I look in my own Irish-Italian heritage for clues to this original knowledge that, I too, am part of the web of life?
I’ve learned that many answers arise in posing the questions themselves, and that as my questions go deeper, the answers get clearer. The plants and animals, the powers of the directions and all the elements are here for us. They’re waiting to share wild wisdom if we only take time to ask and listen.
For those of us called to the transformational work of repairing our relationship to each other and the earth, some of the answers can be found in educational and ceremonial experiences that seek too restore integrity with the natural world. I’m inspired to share what I’ve learned so that those of us who feel the need to heal have ways to do so.
A very simple ceremony you can do to strengthen your relationship to the earth is to take five minutes each day to acknowledge and give thanks for the elements that sustain you; water, air, fire and earth. Remember their sacredness when you drink your first glass of water for the day, take a deep breath, feel the warmth of the sun, and the ground beneath your feet.
Taking time each day to honor your relationship to what is sacred can begin to return you to an original state of wholeness, connection, appreciation and gratitude. Doing this with children or your family creates a context in which knowledge about these sacred relationships is shared between generations, and inspires their continuation.
To know wholeness is to celebrate the glorious gift of being embodied. It’s to honor our relationship to all life and heal the wounded vulnerability of our collective soul. To care for body and soul is to embrace the wild. And to embrace the wild is to reclaim narratives of communion, not dominion.
Communion is the ancient story of transformation. It’s attunement to the greater cycles of all life. In that story, and through those of us who tell it, the earth has the chance to live and die…and live again.
Elle is a coach, mentor, and educator who supports leaders and healers in bringing their visions into being. To learn more about Elle and her work, The Way of the Dreaming Body, visit her website at www.ellemcsharry.com.