“What would the world become if we envisioned our common human purpose as an artistic purpose? How can we make the world more beautiful and more alive? How do we be of service to what wants to be? What would our society look like if we engaged the world with reverence?” ~ Charles Eisenstein
In this epic conversation, Charles illuminates how the most impactful things to change the world have come from the realm of art. He relays the perspectives of indigenous people, how art and beauty is intertwined with their life, and provides the groundwork for listeners to re-imagine what life might look like (in terms of relationships, where we live and more).
Join our sangha of modern day myth-makers, visionaries, seekers and seers to invoke the magical, open to the source of the miraculous, unfold your own personal myth, and contribute to the collective weaving of a new cultural mythology to serve the planet and renchant our world at this extraordinary time.
Learn about zoning in a permaculture garden or food forest.
Maddy and Tim Harland from Permaculture Magazine show you around their wild forest garden, established in 1991. Learn how with good zoning you can establish a thriving, productive, edible landscape full of useful, medicinal and edible trees and plants, and create a wildlife habitat that is teaming with biodiversity at the same time.
Take a look at the veggie beds and multi-stacked greenhouse, explore the diverse flower meadows that bring in pollinators for the forest garden, immerse yourself in the choice of fruit and nut trees and see the bees in the apiary. All of these zones are combined to grow an extensive variety of healthy trees and plants in a space that looks far bigger than it really is!
For more details about the no dig plot and what the Harland’s are growing see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmVZh.
For a huge source of free information on permaculture, and how to live more self-reliant, healthy and earth-friendly lifestyles, visit: https://www.permaculture.co.uk.
For books on permaculture and forest gardening: https://shop.permaculture.co.uk/books.
The global Pachamama Alliance community came together with Co-founders Lynne and Bill Twist and Zach Bush MD, as part of the Resilience and Possibility in These Times conversation series looking at how humanity can come out of the pandemic and actually bring forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on this planet.
Dr. Zach is a renowned, multi-disciplinary physician, and an internationally recognized educator on the microbiome as it relates to human health, soil health, food systems, and a regenerative future. He founded the non-profit Farmer’s Footprint to promote regenerative agriculture, and his ongoing efforts are providing a path for consumers, farmers, and mega-industries to work together for a healthy future for people and planet.
As the fever of day calms towards twilight
May all that is strained in us come to ease.
We pray for all who suffered violence today,
May an unexpected serenity surprise them.
For those who risk their lives each day for peace,
May their hearts glimpse providence at the heart of history.
That those who make riches from violence and war
Might hear in their dreams the cries of the lost.
That we might see through our fear of each other
A new vision to heal our fatal attraction to aggression.
That those who enjoy the privilege of peace
Might not forget their tormented brothers and sisters.
That the wolf might lie down with the lamb,
That our swords be beaten into ploughshares
And no hurt or harm be done
Anywhere along the holy mountain.
John O’Donohue, Irish poet and philosopher
From his book, Benedictus
Holy Cross Church – Kenmare, Ireland
Photo: © Ann Cahill
It is not a coincidence that we speak about ‘earthing’ or grounding ourselves to establish or maintain a sense of stability or a still centre in our frenetic modern world. Often on completing a meditation practice, we ground ourselves by visualising our ‘roots’ going deep into the Earth to echo the lotus plant, a symbol of spiritual elevation, with its flower above water and its roots deep in the mud of the pond, spanning three physical mediums.
Connecting with nature can be a deeply healing experience. It can stimulate positive experiences, make us happier people, bond a group together, and prompt a shift in worldview, from separation to integration. I remember once walking on the South Downs in England one sunny day and becoming aware that everything in the landscape was infused with sparkling, dancing energy. It emanated from every blade of grass, every stone, the sky, the clouds and even the lone figure walking (me!). I became strongly aware that the landscape and myself were made of the same essence behind the forms and that I was part of a greater unity. It was blissful.
There are many ways in which we can connect with nature and experience the intelligence and inter-connected web of our beautiful planet Earth. Working together in groups is especially fertile ground as not only does it bring a greater connectivity with nature, it also can enhance the group’s sense of identity. We do not always have to initiate formal group sessions either. Cooking a meal over an open fire, playing music together with household objects as percussion instruments, making art from local materials, sleeping under the stars, or swimming in wild water can all engender this kind of awareness. If the group is to be together for four weeks, creating a small but biodiverse salad garden is another technique. Gardening opens our awareness to the changing elements, microclimates, the quality of water, the seasons, the local wildlife and the process of growth. There is little more miraculous than growing food from seed, and to appreciate the pattern inherent in the form and be an agent of its fulfilment by good husbandry. Planting seeds can also be a deeply symbolic act as we can plant our intentions as individuals or as a group as we sow.
Breathing With Nature
Another technique for a group to share is to go out individually and silently into a natural area, agreeing to meet again in about 20 minutes. Treat it like a meditation and encourage everyone to slow down and be silent. As you walk, sense what you are drawn to. When you are attracted to a plant or tree, ask for permission to visit it. If you do not feel invited, move on. If you feel you have permission, sit with the plant and explore it with your five senses. Breathe with the plant, exchanging gases. Imagine how the plant is providing you with oxygen and you are providing the plant with carbon dioxide. Both of you need each other. Visualise symbiosis. Imagine how long this planet’s ecosystems has depended on this exchange of gases. When you have finished, express your gratitude to the plant or tree and the natural area. When you gather together again, ask the group to share their experiences and how it felt. There is no need to interpret, explain or compare experiences. Just share them without judgment. Thank each other for doing this activity together.
The Biotime or ‘Phenomenal’ Diary
Max Lindegger, the ecovillage designer and permaculture specialist, told me a story about the farmers in Northern Thailand. “One muggy afternoon, I expected it to rain any minute. I noted that our farmer was watering his vegetable seedlings. “Why bother?” crossed my mind, “Nature will do it very soon!” Next door the farmer lit the stubble. I wondered why? “It would rain soon anyway and kill the fire!” But it did not rain! How did the farmers know?” Tang, one of our students told me the following: “Because farmers observe all the time and have done so for many years (and many generations) they note even slight changes. Ants will leave the soil, looking for higher ground and even shifting their eggs before heavy rain. A few hours before rain, insects will be attracted by light. Farmers make use of these phenomena, and set lights on ponds to attract insects to where fish can eat them. Farmers will listen to the sound of crickets as their sound changes when it is about to rain. Frogs will start to ‘sing’ before the rain arrives. When the seedpods of Tamarind curl up tight and are crunchy, cold weather is not far away. Earthworms will rise to the surface and often die and this is an indicator of cold weather coming.
“‘Phenomenal’ calendars have been part of many cultures. I remember a story from Native Americans that described ‘the time to plant corn is when the size of oak leaves is equal to the size of a squirrel’s ear’. This is more accurate information than a planting date as it is likely to relate to soil moisture and soil temperature.
“Many of these observations can be scientifically proven but some may simply be beyond science. Before the Tsunami of 26th December 2004 hit a small isolated island, the local Shong people left for higher and safe ground. None died. When asked how they knew a disaster was about to hit, their response was simply, ‘Our ancestors told us.’”
It is useful to note the subtle changes in the natural world around us and it deepens our connection as well as provides a useful record in a world of changing climate. Acquire a book with blank pages (enough to have at least half or a whole page for every day of the year). Start on January 1 and write the day (but not the year) in its allocated place. Then simply start a diary of biological events. This can be when a species of migrating birds like swallows arrive or leave, when you see your first favourite wildflower, when a specific fruit tree come into leaf, when your poultry lays the first egg of the year, or when the fish begin to spawn… Allocate a colour for each year and make a key at the beginning. That way you can identify what year relates to each entry and begin to make annual comparisons on seasonal changes. You will be surprised by the results.
This article is an excerpt from the Worldview Key, a collection of articles collated in the book ‘The Song of the Earth — A Synthesis of the Scientific and Spiritual Worldviews’, offer background material to the curriculum of the Worldview dimension of both Gaia Education’s face-to-face Ecovillage Design Education programmes and our online Design for Sustainability programmes.
We live in an infinitely benevolent, ever loving, universe …. but a very, very strange humanly (dis)organized world!
After all, a world where a tiny virus weighing a microgram can upset the world economy in a few weeks is either inhabited by a very, very clever virus…or then is really inhabited by an extremely strange group of people.
So now that the tsunami is on us, we need to ask: OK, what now? Have we started learning the lesson?
Major economic interest groups in our societies are already speaking of when the growth will pick up again. It is sad to say but it has to be stated clearly: they are the blind leading the blind of which a great avatar spoke 2000 years ago.
The same Jesus also spoke against material accumulation, and the abundance to which he alluded in his teaching referred to the inner wealth we each already have in us. In other words, we simply need to discover what he called the Kingdom of Heaven, i.e., that infinite abundance of good – of peace, of joy, of healing abilities, of forgiveness and generosity, of strength and so many other qualities – we already possess as daughters and sons of the Divine, of the Source.
This is not theory. Simple living today is a demand made upon many of us on the spiritual path. Personally, I have been living it for many years. I only had a second-hand Mini Morris for 18 months when in my twenties and have been a joyful cyclist for 75 years. I have never ever owned a television and consider myself very well informed on world affairs. I have been an ultra-modest consumer for my whole life, and it has enabled me to use my money in ways I considered more useful and which brought me much greater joy. As a matter of fact, simple living is the demand on any world citizen in a world where half the population lives on less than $2.50 a day and 24,000 people (of which 8,500 are children) die of hunger every day.
Compare this with the Covid statistics which have us trembling simply because we readers of this blog are probably not even remotely menaced by hunger, albeit there are far fewer people dying of the virus than those dying of hunger.
If I do not follow my personal rule of not normally mentioning myself in this blog, it is simply because for me simple living has been such a source of peace and joy for well over 60 years. One of the very first spiritual callings made upon anyone on a spiritual quest is not: “Do you closely follow your teacher’s advice?” but “Are you in your lifestyle a good world citizen?”
That is a highly spiritual question.
Let us live it.
A Blessing for Simplicity
In the whirl and swirl of our modern world, I bless myself in my ability to step aside, stop, and enjoy the greatest gift of all – the infinite simplicity and riches of Your Presence.
May I learn to prune my life of all its useless trappings and activities and simplify it down to its essentials, that I may have the time, energy and desire to hold on to what really matters: listening to You and serving my neighbour who also happens to be myself in disguise.
May I drop the hectic and impossible challenge of keeping up with the Joneses, the latest news, the latest book “I just must read,” and the latest fashion of this or that. May they just fall by their own weight, and may I stand in the simple elegance of one who has discovered the fundamental truth that the Kingdom of God is simply that place of sublime beauty inside us where there never entered a single unessential presence or thought, where reigns but the feeling of God happening within.
I bless my fellow humans that they may discover the healing peace of uncluttered lives, the healing simplicity of an existence guided by one single and only desire: to love more, to serve more faithfully and hence to rejoice more constantly.
from 365 Blessings to Heal Myself and the World
Thank you to our friends at The Gentle Art of Blessing for sharing.
Photo by Sheldon Thompson on Unsplash
“A growing body of research points to the beneficial effects that exposure to the natural world has on health, reducing stress and promoting healing. Now, policymakers, employers, and healthcare providers are increasingly considering the human need for nature in how they plan and operate.
“How long does it take to get a dose of nature high enough to make people say they feel healthy and have a strong sense of well-being?
“Precisely 120 minutes.
“Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive functioning.
“Peter H. Kahn, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington who has worked on these issues for decades, is encouraged by the new focus on the subject but concerned that the growing interest in more contact with nature relies too much on only experiencing it visually. “That’s important, but an impoverished view of what it means to interact with the natural world,” he said. “We need to deepen the forms of interaction with nature and make it more immersive.”
“However this growing field might be defined, it is gaining momentum…. “There is an awakening underway today to many of the values of nature and the risks and costs of its loss,” says one researcher.”
Read the full story by Jim Robbins, author of The Wonder of Birds: What they Tell Us about the World, Ourselves and a Better Future….
Photo: Nature Valley, South Africa by redcharlie on Unsplash
Findhorn Ecovillage is one of the most comprehensively developed ecovillages anywhere, which is why we’ve been called ‘the mother of all ecovillages’. We have evolved a holistic, integrated community model incorporating many ecological, social, cultural, economic and spiritual elements, such as numerous shared buildings including a Community Centre that serves meals twice a day; a performing arts centre and visual arts centre; eco-housing of many different types (for example — attached, detached, mobile, straw, recycled); extensive gardens and a large food growing area; our own wind farm that produces roughly the amount of electricity we use; an on-site biological sewage treatment system; our own sustainably harvested woodland; a centralised woodchip boiler that distributes heat to more than a dozen community buildings; a carpool, shop and much more. We also have land and buildings elsewhere that render our range of resources even more comprehensive — Cluny Hill, five miles away (a 100-room late Victorian building that was once a hotel and spa) and a retreat house on the mystical west coast Isle of Iona. On the island of Erraid, next to Iona, we have a satellite community of a dozen or so members as well as workshop and guest facilities. A fleet of shuttle buses transports members and guests between these locations.
Work is love in action
I believe that shared meals are the single most important ‘ritual’ in the daily life of almost all intentional communities. Certainly, at Findhorn, our community meals (available twice daily) are central to the culture and a critical component of the social glue. Of course, there is something powerfully symbolic about sharing a meal, both with members of one’s ‘tribe’ and with guests. I am no anthropologist but I would guess that ‘breaking bread’ holds this value (and has forever done so) for almost every cultural group, anywhere in the world. Our kitchen staff dream up and produce fabulous meals in our Community Centre. The food is vegetarian and the ingredients are, as much as we can make them, fresh, organic, local and seasonal. There are always dairy-free, gluten-free and sugar-free alternatives. It fills me with pride in my community to be reminded at every meal, just how much trouble we take to cater for diversity, to meet the needs of every individual, and in this way, demonstrate inclusivity and caring for each other. Our community meals are prepared with love — the kitchen crews demonstrate our key ethos, work is love in action, every single shift. In Findhorn, we believe that human values such as love and connection, and spiritual values such as the unity of everything, are more important than things material, particularly the accumulation of material things. In contemporary society, there is a burgeoning phenomenon called the ‘sharing economy’ or ‘collaborative consumption’. One value of sharing is people connecting — it builds social capital; it brings people together; it makes people happier. A sustainable society is also one in which we choose positive behaviours that make us feel happier, more connected and more disposed to help others. At Findhorn we already do a lot of this kind of sharing. We collectively own land, numerous community buildings and facilities. Many community members, myself included, are able to live in smaller dwellings because we share communal facilities such as laundry, guest rooms, office and workshop space.
Our cultural life is a key ingredient of the community glue here, along with our spirituality and ecological concerns and practices. These three lifestyle strains are separate and distinct but also blend together beautifully to help build community and strengthen relationships. Cultural life in Findhorn can be as full and rich as one wishes it to be. Most creative activities occur on campus. We’re a community that loves to dance and we enjoy regular sessions, classes and workshops in many dance forms, for example, 5 Rhythms, Contact Improvisation, Sacred Dance, Traditional Scottish dancing, Biodanza, Trance Dance and Disco. All of these forms are celebrations of life, love and the joy of being human. The purpose is to enjoy dancing together in a non-competitive way, to learn that it is possible for everyone to dance together, to feel self-confident in a group that is supportive rather than critical and to be able to feel in contact with the Earth, spirit and each other through the different qualities of each dance. It is also used as a tool to channel healing energy for the dancers and for the rest of the planet.
This is an excerpt from the ‘Ecovillages Around the World’ book, which showcases 20 best practice designs from ecovillages around the world. It features well-established ecovillages such as Findhorn in Scotland, Auroville in India and newer initiatives such as Hua Tao in China. This book highlights the unique features of each project and their solutions to the global social and environmental challenges that confront us.
Photo: Whisky Barrel Homes at Findhorn Ecovillage by Graham Meltzer