Healing Ourselves, Healing the Land

Like so many sensitive people I know, I’ve struggled this year with feeling anxious and filled with grief.  Sometimes I even feel afraid at an animal level, like every muscle in my body is tensing, ready to flee.  We live in troubled times.  We feel, at a subconscious level, the threat to our species’ survival as our climate changes, yet we continue the patterns of behavior that accelerate the threat.  We notice that our kin – human, animal, and plant – suffer, and yet our society keeps generating policies that increase the suffering.  There is a bones-deep exhaustion and awareness that we’re in a marathon of facing fear and loss and pain.

What do we do about it?  Well, we vote.  We volunteer.  We march.  We build local community.

And we sink into tree-energy.  And we sink into stone-energy.

bristle cone pine tree with sunlight coming through branches

Ancient Bristlecone Pine in the White Mountains, California (by Kimberly Kirner)

When the world pushes us to speed up, when we feel frantic, when our heart races and we breathe shallowly – we need to remember our more distant ancestral past and sink into it.  Not our ancestors a few thousand years ago.  Not our ancestors in the days of cave art and hunting wild game.  Our ancestors when we were wild game, and then back… back… back…  When we were trees.  Back… back… back… when we were stones.

Trees and stones have a strength, a persistence, an immutable presence.  They offer slow living, their wise messages reverberating like a low, long chant.  Even their deaths are a sort of slowly fading-away until they become one with that which feeds their kin.  Today, I brought the human world’s pain and fear to a tree, sitting against its truck, closing my eyes, feeling its rough bark against my back.  Bringing our collective pain like an offering to mix with its fallen leaves and compost.  And in return, it spoke to me: ““There are ancestors of grace.  There are people alive now who walk in grace.  There is a future world that is filled with grace.  Hold the vision.  Hold the space.  From death will come life.  From destruction and collapse will come harmony and peace.”

And tonight, I brought the human world’s pain and fear to a stone, holding its solidity in my hands, the candlelight glistening off its beautiful smooth surface.  Stones are special beings.  They shift things through their very being-ness.  A stone’s magic is in its inherent qualities, its essence – the sort of sound or pulse it makes in the symphony of life.  I brought our collective pain to a stone, and to the Spirits I Serve.  And slowed my breathing.  Slowed my heartbeat.  Opened to listening.  And then…

“Consider that Eden wasn’t humanity’s past, but its future.  The Earth has her plans.”

What if our vision of an idealized past is our collective vision for a post-collapse future?  What if a state of grace and divine connection is not a state we fell from, but a state we are rising to?  What if we’re at a precipice of becoming venerable nature spirit-gods, but we’re still in our infancy?

We might not make it.  But we maybe we will.  It doesn’t make the suffering we’re causing each other and the other beings of Earth any less.  But perhaps we can choose hope.  We can choose to sink into the slow rhythm of trees and stones.  Sinking down into our deep ancestry, and perhaps opening to our future.

Hold the vision.  Hold the space.  The Earth has her plans.

About the Author

I'm Kimberly Kirner, a Druid (in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids). My spirituality is focused first on serving the nature spirits of this lovely being we call Earth. I'm a professor of cultural anthropology by profession, specializing in environmental and medical anthropology. I started this blog to collect my thoughts and experiences that arise from my spiritual and creative (rather than professional) practice. I wanted a space, a time, to move differently in the world (and with a different group of people): to balance between an analytical approach and an intuitive one. For me, Druidry is about expanding our capacity to connect and communicate with the non-human world, deepening our commitment to justice for all beings, and re-enchanting the world so that we heal the brokenness and discord that exists between humans and our home. In many ways, my Druidic practice is a path toward walking between the worlds - of waking and dreaming, of the world as it is and the world as it could be. It is an attempt to love all beings through service, study, and art. I am not always great at it, but it's the commitment and perseverance that counts.

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