Earth Changes, Our Limiting Beliefs & Interconnectedness
I first learned about "earth changes" in college, when I began exploring my Cherokee ancestry. I went out west and learned how to build a sweatlodge (inipi) and the elders who led the inipi spoke about earth changes. When I returned home, I decided to go on a vision quest (hanblecha), guided by my teacher, Caocoochee, a man I had met at a gathering in West Virginia that explored different spiritual traditions. I studied with him and became a member of the Whirling Rainbow Lodge for many years. Besides honoring the changing seasons with the inipi ceremony and supporting folks on hanblecha, we also learned survival skills. We learned how to identify wild animals by their tracks and their scat. We learned how to forage for wild food and how to build debris shelters. I met one of my first herbal medicine teachers, Leenie Hobbie and studied wild plant food and medicine with both her and Jeanne Rose for 3 years. All of these skills were supposed to prepare us for the changes coming. Around this time, I also spent a summer working on an organic farm, where I truly got to experience how "we are all related". I saw firsthand how the weather - the sun, moon, rain and wind all affect our food, as well as the insects and fungi - both the beneficials and the parasites. We raised bees to pollinate our fruit trees, and we depended on the earthworms to fix nitrogen in our soil. A great appreciation is cultivated by living in harmony with Nature. You realize that She gives us everything we need to survive. But, I also learned during that time, how out of touch most people were with Nature. How separated they were - without appreciation for how their behaviors and actions affected the world around them. Today we are experiencing the culmination of our ignorance and disconnection from "Mother Nature". People who believe human actions do not affect climate change are living with blinders on, and, unfortunately, it's hurting all of us. When we live in a bubble, we are able to ignore the suffering of our neighbors and excuse ourselves from doing anything to change our own behaviors. But, when we understand that we are all connected - not just as human beings, but as part of nature - then we take greater care not to disturb our natural environment. It makes perfect sense that if we kill an entire species, the species that depend on that species for life will also be affected. If we continue to pollute the ocean, the species that live there will suffer (including the fish some people depend on for life). When we drill into the earth for oil or frack for natural gas, we must have some affect on the earth. If we cut all the trees down on a plot of land, we're going to affect the homes for wildlife, the air temperature which is no longer shaded, and the makeup of the gases in the environment (nothing there to absorb CO2 gases). These are just behaviors that many people take for granted. Then there are more extreme behaviors like a group of kids setting off fireworks in the woods and starting a fire that ends up burning for days, destroying thousands of trees and animals' lives and creating smoke and ash causing sickness in humans, evacuations and loss of homes. Jon Kabat-Zinn explains our interconnectedness in his book on mindfulness, "Full Catastrophe Living", which details the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program used in Medical centers worldwide. In a chapter called appropriately, "Glimpses of Wholeness, Delusions of Separateness", he says, "While we are whole ourselves as individual beings, we are also part of a larger whole, interconnected through our family and our friends and acquaintances to the larger society and, ultimately, to the whole of humanity and life on the planet. Beyond the ways in which we can perceive through our senses and through our emotions that we are connected with the world, there are also the countless ways in which our being is intimately woven into the larger patterns and cycles of nature that we only know about through science and through thinking (although even here, indigenous peoples always knew and respected these aspects of interconnectedness in their own ways as natural laws). To mention just a few, we depend on the ozone layer in the atmosphere to protect us from lethal ultraviolet radiation; we depend on the rain forests and oceans to recycle the oxygen we breathe; we depend on a relatively stable carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere to buffer global temperature changes. In fact, one scientific view, known as the Gaia hypothesis, is that the earth as a whole behaves as one single self-regulating living organism, given the name Gaia after the Greek goddess of the earth. This hypothesis affirms a view based on strong scientific evidence and reasoning that was, in essence, also held by all traditional cultures and peoples, a world in which all life, including human life, is interconnected and interdependent - and that interconnectedness and interdependence extends to the very earth itself." There's a fascinating movie that beautifully illustrates our interconnectedness called, "The Queen of Trees". Using groundbreaking micro and macro photography, it details the intimate relationship between the fig tree and the wasp. "The wasp and the fig depend on each other for survival. Without the wasp, the tree could not pollinate its flowers and produce seeds. Without the fig, the wasp would have nowhere to lay its eggs." (produced by BBC). The movie captures the complex relationship between the fig tree, the wasp and the many other creatures from ants to elephants that depend on the fig tree for shelter and food. Everything in Nature is to intricately connected that breaking any link in her web can lead to catastrophe for a single species and eventually the planet. However, as we cultivate mindfulness in our own lives, we can become aware of our limiting beliefs that disconnect us from each other and cause us to see ourselves as separate from the web of life. Again, as Jon Kabat-Zinn explains, "The ability to perceive interconnectedness and wholenss in addition to separateness and fragmentation can be cultivated through mindfulness practice." The future of our planet, as well as our own survival depend upon us awakening this connection, cultivating it and being more mindful about how we live in harmony with Turtle Island. Namaste.