Samantha Sweetwater | The Earth Misses Us
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The Earth Misses Us

The Earth Misses Us

The Earth Misses Us: Unfurling the Natural Intelligence of Our Souls  

“Soul is fundamentally a biological concept, defined as the primary organizing, sustaining, and guiding principle of a living being.  Soulcraft is the skill needed in shaping the human soul toward its fulfillment and unity with the entire universe.  The universe and the human soul find their fulfillment in each other.”  ~Tomas Berry

What Shapes Us?

Human beings are a young species.  Yet, in a blip of an evolutionary second, We have become the keystone species on planet earth, radically impacting the ecosphere and fundamentally shaping the future for All of Life.  What, in turn, shapes us?  Despite our homocentric worldview, our lives are undeniably nested within a larger biosphere and shaped by a biological intelligence that is greater than our comprehension.  Perhaps we are actually Earth’s own prayer for herself?  Perhaps, whispering within in the Book of Nature, is the larger story of our human potential?  Perhaps this is a story of soul.  Perhaps we are slowly finding our way home to the mature capacity within our souls and to our larger destiny of co-creation with All of Life?

Bill Plotkin asks, “If Earth is romancing us for her own purposes — the way the nectar lust of bees serves the desires of flowers — what wild child, what honey, will we create from this joining?”  In his course syllabus for Romancing the World he proposes,  “Great visions and essential enactments of human potential emerge from that mysterious place where the taproots of soul intertwine with the dreams of Earth and cosmos.  How might we find the wild trail toward this source of world-transforming revelation and visionary action?”  This paper walks the wild trail, unpacking what it is to fall deeply in love with our place in the world, why it matters that we become soul initiated adults in a predominantly adolescent culture that has largely separated itself from nature, and how we might source world transforming revelation and visionary action through both the peak experiences of soulcraft and through the more pervasive and subtle initiations of the ordinary.   This paper is a both/and.  In it, I embrace the critical invitation to return to the wild as a method of soul shaping self discovery, as offered by Bill Plotkin and many of his contemporaries.  I also propose an entirely different, and more feminine, aspect of soulcraft – the shaping that happens in through the challenging and beautiful testing of the daily life-in-life.   

Falling in love.

“The earth misses us.” ~Tom Ward

In order to engage a true romance, one has to get to know the beloved.  It’s easy to fall in love with the nature in theory.  What’s not to love?  Nature is never our of alignment with herself.  And, she’s quite a beauty.  It’s easy to love “the wild” while hiking through pristine scenery with a bottle of water, a hearty lunch, good boots and a camera.  It’s easy to love nature from the deck of a whale boat or from the vantage point of a chosen vacation to one of the world’s Natural Heritage parks.  But, this is a ghettoized fantasy that actually perpetuates our separation with the deeper intelligence of our partner.  We live predominantly in urban ghettos with little daily connection to the larger logic of the wild.

Nature is unruly.  That’s why we left her. 

 Here’s a little history.  In the last two centuries, we’ve unmoored from place.  Following dreams of progress, we’ve migrated from the hills, dales and valleys of our ancestors into orderly concrete wildernesses – cities and suburbs built for industrial efficiency, corporate comfort and commodity culture.  In the process, we’ve mined, logged or mono-cropped many of the places that used to bring us home.  In 1790, farmers made up 90% of the U.S. labor force.  In 2012, less than 1% of the population listed their occupation as farming, while approximately 2% lived on farms.  Industrialization and population growth turned us from the soul feeding, albeit dirty and difficult, work of tending the forests, fields, animals and waters to the soul killing work of toiling for money to make a profit to “get by” or “get ahead.”  We’ve left farms and forests in favor of neat living, layered convenience, the thrall of commerce, the hum of concentrated social life, and the fast freedom of travel.  We wanted room to grow, to spread our wings, to know ourselves in the images of our own dreams.  We wanted things to be easy, convenient and shiny.  We wanted a way of life where we would no longer get dirty and tired, or risk our bodies in the toil of work.  This, we have achieved, and more.  But, at what cost?  We have lost our connection to the earth and her cycles.  We have lost continuity in our intimacy with nature.  

Most people, in an urban context, have made people their go-to “place” of refuge.  Not so long ago, we were a primarily rural people, a people more connected to the mountains, trees, shadows, waterways and microclimates of our lands, more attuned to the yearly arc of planting, growing, harvest and Winter’s raw decent, more familiar with the realities of death and birth, more acquainted with the stars.  We (mostly) grew our own food, gathered our own water, dealt with our own waste and built our own homes out of materials obtained close to home.  We refined our flow in the rivers, found our elevation in the mountains, our grounding in the rich darkness of soil, and our satisfaction in the hard work of our hands, the raising of our children and the gradual development of character.  We were more connected to the art and inevitability of knowing ourselves slowly through place.  We knew nature through ordinary acts and daily experience.  This shaped our experience of ourselves.  Now, we have become adept at finding ourselves in the mirrors of culture, of people, of technology.  But, it seems that when we leave the land, we loose some essential connection to the greater patterns of life itself and to our own souls.  On the other side of this arc of separation, the more-than-human world – in crisis and beauty – calls us home.  We are learning to fall (literally) in love, again.  We are finding ways to return to a more authentic and engaged intimacy with Nature, a love that touches and is touched, a love that knows Earth as “an other self,” a love that honestly meets the dirty, shadowy, muddy, uncontrollable reflection she offers us when we fully engage all her faces and phases, a love that is curious, willing to be changed, and altogether interested in deeper collaboration.  The key is in soul.

Go down.

“If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence, we would rise up rooted, like trees.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

You can not transcend into soul.  While the spiritual journey takes us upwards and outwards into the fundamental unity of things, the soul journey takes us downwards, into differentiation and individuation.  Soul is spirit in matter: specific and altogether here.  “Soul shows us how we, as individuals, are different (in a community affirming way) from everybody else.”   In order to truly know your own soul, you have to be willing to drop control.  To engage soulcraft as a set of practices, you have to be willing to descend into the underworld, to go below the level of everyday awareness into the subconscious, the uncontrolledness of nature and death.   To engage soulcraft in the ordinary, you have to give in to the annihilating power of serving the earth, or the other.  Either way, there is no way around it; in order to enter into an authentic dialogue with soul, you have to get dirty.  

If you are willing to go there, you risk the security of your neatly ordered life, even as you open to the possibility of fully becoming the image at the center of your own soul.  “Nature gives birth to your soul – and that of all other animals and plants on the planet.  Your ego, on the other hand, is not born directly of nature, but rather from the matrix of culture-language-family.  Soul initiation is often described as a second birth.”  Soul initiation invites the possibility of being radically transformed while falling in love – both with ourselves and with our place in the world – as we discover and embody the ways in which we are most specifically and beautifully designed to serve life.   Additionally, soul initiation requires that we take responsibility for our place in the nature of things.  This can be deeply confronting.  

As we live through this passage, our psychospiritual center of gravity shifts from egocentricity to ecocentricity and soulcentricity.  Bill Plotkin offers a key distinction between soul encounter and soul initiation.  Soul encounter is an experience of the mysterious image you were born with, while soul initiation is the developmental transition from psychological adolescence to true adulthood.”  The goal of soulcraft is not simply to have an experience, but to  reshape the ego in the image of soul.  As soulcentric human beings our job is to engage in a long dance through which we a.) embody our innate soul intelligence and b.) become a mature adults capable of inspired, responsive and sustained offering of our gifts to the world.  This is the romance of which he speaks – one in which the kiss of soul is fully expressed in a two way dialogue between a person’s life and work and the calling of the world.  

This soul initiated human is known by a variety of names.  This is the “hybrid human” Will Taegle speaks of, the human who knows the deeper coherency and meaning of her life through her relationship with the more-than-human world and is “capable of integrating the wild heart with the best of civilization.”  Such people behave differently – collaborating with nature, spirit, the human community and the more-than-human community in innovative (or ancient or integral), compassionate and world shaping ways.  “By deepening our identification with all life forms, with ecosystems, and with the planet herself, we begin to discover within us what deep ecologist Arne Naess calls the “ecological self” or what James Hillman calls “a psyche the size of the earth” – the broader and deeper self that is a natural member of the more-than-human community.”

It is worth revisiting the distinction between a spiritual path and a soul path.  It is possible to grow and transform through a spiritual path, but the journey of spirit alone may or may not be supportive of fully coming into life.  I personally am frequently called upon to mentor people who are deeply connected with a personal experience of spirit, yet who shirk the soul-shaping challenges of relationship with and responsively to life.  Such people have cultivated a spiritual sub-self that is ultimately designed to keep them safe from the pain, messiness and risk of life.  This sub-self is an extension of the protector/controller ego matrix.  It is ultimately removed from life, and so somewhat immune to the maturation process of fully embodying the soul’s potential.  In contrast, walking a soulcentric path is about walking deeper into and with life – being shaped, being changed, being needed, being here.  It’s a risk.  Nothing is guaranteed.  Yet, the soul path is the only path to becoming the kind of mature humans we will need to be in order for our little keystone species to co-create a viable future for all of life. 

Having a “psyche the size of the earth” does not come about through the path of comfort, or the default passages of graduation, marriage, promotion and retirement.  To open in this way, you have to place yourself wholly and vulnerably in relationship to something much larger than yourself – the very intelligence of life itself.  This will shape you in ways you can not imagine and likely would not choose, if it were up to your ego to do so.  “The ordinary state of ego consciousness must be temporarily dissolved or radically shifted because the uninitiated ego is the primary obstacle to the conscious experience of soul.” 

Romancing the Non-Ordinary

In March of 2013, I spent a week Romancing the World with Bill Plotkin and Geneen Haugen at Esalen.  Our soulcraft work that week was a blending of intentional nature wandering, circle work, poetic listening, trance dancing, expressive arts, and self-created ceremony. The tone with which the instructors approached the space was muted, almost somnambulant, as though we were entering into a space of dreams.  In this reverent and dreamy tone, our little circle of humans slowed down to the pace of listening, opening our taproots to the ecofield of Esalen to receive.  What struck me about the experience was that it was altogether experiential.  While Bill and Geneens’ lectures were brilliant, they were not designed to dazzle us, or fill us with new information.  Instead, our class times served to open the doorways of poetic wonder and a deep contact with the subconscious and superconscious aspects of the wild and of our wild selves, dissolving regular ego consciousness.  Bill and Geneen created a frame for entering the unruly wilderness and enrolled our minds in focused willingness to surrender the mind while wandering in states of reverence and heightened attention.   The primary classroom during that time was not the indoor space, but the cliff edges, beaches, gardens and rugged canyon above the Esalen property.  During that week of Romance with the Wild, I had three distinct soul encounters that have shaped every choice I have made since. 

Entering the underworld 

Up until that week, I had always perceived various ceremonial or mythically based “entrances into the underworld” as a bit contrived – romantic and well intentioned bows to the subconscious and to the deathforce, but nothing palpable or truly life impacting.  That changed in the canyon above the cliff.  

Over the course of the first few days we were directed into focused wandering, following a progression of deepening intimacy for our wilderness teacher.  We were invited to track our intuition and our senses to areas on the land that attracted us (or were particularly aversive and therefore interesting).  Esalen is nested precariously on a west facing cliff above the powerful and mysterious mid-California Pacific.  Her workshop spaces, residences and gardens all fit within a narrow strip of land between the jagged hills above and a 30 foot rock cliff tumbles down to the sea.  A creek, whose waters sing to humans and non-humans alike as they tumble to their source, bisects the the property and cuts a narrow canyon up far into the hills.  It was in this very canyon a few years ago that the founder of Esalen met his death, crushed by a falling boulder while sitting to meditate.  I found myself continuously drawn to the dark, narrow chasm.  During each consecutive wander, I went deeper into the canyon with my senses fully awake, with my sense of wonder fully intact, and a focused commitment to remain empty enough to meet that wild place on its own terms.  

On the third day, our focus was to go beyond the first place of rest, the place where we had already gone repeatedly to make acquaintance with our chosen wild teacher, to ask for entrance into the underworld.  The doorway defined itself, as if by magic.  I paused to be still, to just feel the power of this portal, to be with my fear, and to ask permission from the land and it’s devas into the underworld secrets of the canyon.  As I passed the doorway, a jagged fallen log defining a bridge over boulders in the creek, my heart began to beat .  Shortly after crossing that threshold, the terrain became even more jumbled and filled with underbrush and fallen wood from above.  I struggled on.  Suddenly, I stopped dead.  In front of me, a battlefield – old growth redwoods shattered and strewn in haphazard angles, rubble, bare earth, layers of debris, the creek flowing chaotically over virgin territory.  A recent landslide had completely decimated the regular harmony of the forest.  This was no human created war zone.  This was nature at her destructive best.  

For quite a few minutes, I simply could not move.  Then I realized, I had arrived in the underworld.  So, I got quiet to listen.  The forest’s message for me:  “You are an agent of of destruction.  You are death.  Do not fear death.”  Heart pounding, I gathered this harvest and headed back.

Asking for a soul image  

On day four, we began the day with a deep trance movement journey, working with our hands with clay.  Moving with dreamlike music and our eyes closed, we let our hands define a shape that would, in some way, be reflective of the soul.  Again, my skepticism was overcome when, on the other side of the journey, every person in the circle had created an entirely different object which, upon sharing, was clearly a reflection of something central to their own essence.  My object was a small, delicate walled, fluted bowl, resembling an abstract version of a lotus.  Looking at it, I felt an immense tenderness for myself, for the way in which it is a part of my essence to steward beauty, regardless of it’s functionality, and how, at the same time, I continuously work to shape that beauty for practical means – for holding what is invisible or necessary for the healing of the world.  

We were then invited to take these shapes into the wild to give them back to the land in sacrifice as an request to receive some essential image of our soul.  As I walked down the path to the bridge across the creek on my way up to the canyon, two perfect, tiny spider glistening with sun-spun rainbows caught my eye.  Instinctively, I bowed to them, also showing them my bowl.  I walked on – up the canyon.

Midway up the canyon, I received a clear impulse to pause.  I sat down on a boulder by the creek and looked up.  To my great surprise, every single tree was webbed together with tiny strands of light.  From the leaves next to the creek into the highest overstory of redwood heights, I could see the work of the spiders, connecting every living thing in a magical, subtle, spectral meshwork of light.  Looking down, I discovered that, somehow during my walk, two webs had made their way into my little bowl, connecting one edge of it’s mouth to the other.  Webkeeper.  With deep gratitude and quiet in my heart, I placed the bowl into the stream, staying just long enough to watch it dissolve in the flow.

Edge Walking  

On the last day of the intensive, we were invited to attend to edges.  The exercise was to wander a physical edge of the land while simultaneously making ourselves available to other edges: edges of thought, edges of awareness, edges of feelings, images or sensations that we would normally push out of focus.  I found myself walking along Highway 1, skirting the edge of the cliff in mixed fog and sun for miles. 

Upon returning from that journey, we were surprised with a group exercise.  We were placed in groups of three.  One person was to share her deepest dreams – the seeds of visionary action and world transforming revelation waiting just below the edge of consciousness – while one person played the role of the critic and the other played the role of supporter – a very confronting and highly revealing exercise!  I was shocked to discover that, just on the edge of my consciousness, was a fully formed concept called “Family 3.0.”  The concept of Family 3.0 describes an emergent model of family rising in the wake of divorce culture and our unmooring from traditional homelands, a way of thinking about and engaging family that embraces blended family, soul family and our reindigenation with the places we call home.   The exercise of bringing this out in a sharing group, being tested by “the critic” then drawn out by the “supporter” was immensely clarifying and elevating.  I was particularly moved by the way in which having to defend my tender vision to a person playing the role of a critic was strengthening and fortifying of my vision, my clarity and my confidence.  This vision of Family 3.0 has become my life. 

Integration

Much has happened in my life since that week at Esalen.  Nothing, of course, has played out as I might have imagined.  But that time strengthened something I call the “prayer for my life.”  It solidified a set of primary images at the center of my soul, images I continued to presence, unfurl and hone with my primary soulcrafting practices of dance, pipe ceremony, medicine ceremony and reverent connection with nature, and with mindfulness in my daily life.  No doubt, the ecofield has responded.  Thirteen months later, I now live at Seven Seeds Farm, a 40 acre, biodynamic, organic permaculture market garden and seed farm in Southern Oregon.  (I was willing to let go of – or destroy – my previous life in the Bay Area.)  Our property is a nexus point of human and nature meeting, a farm surrounded on three sides by wild public lands.  We are on the North slope at the base of Grey Back Mountain, historically a central ceremony site for vision quest and other rights of passage for multiple tribes native to these lands.  We grow vegetables and perennial fruit crops for market and for homesteading and over 150 varieties of organic, open-pollinated, bioregionally adapted seed.  In addition to human residents, we have a large flock of sheep, six goats, chickens, ducks, one pig, four cats, two dogs and an uncountable host of devaas and nature spirits.  I spend large portions of my days working the farm, getting to know the land, the plants, the water, the animals, the soil, the climate, the rhythms and intelligences that surround me.  My partner, Don Tipping, is a regional superstar of whole systems permaculture farming and seed saving.  He has two boys, Wali, 11, and Jasper, 7.  I am a part time co-parent to these boys – an obvious manifestation of Family 3.0.  As Webweaver, I also work to support the field of emotional well being, prayer, ceremony, soulcraft and community cohesion for our little pool of interns and residents and the neighborhood at large.

All of this sounds idyllic – a dream come true.  It is.  It’s a perfect, non-linear manifestation of an extraordinary opportunity to live into these images at the center of my soul.  And, it’s kicking my butt. 

“The passage between any two life stages amounts to a psychospiritual trauma, a death and re-birth experience.  There’s both a loss and a gain – for the community as well as the individual.  The individual acquires new eligibilities and relationships, but leaves behind old comforts and joys and a familiar world.  The community gains a mature member but suffers a diminishment in the cherished qualities that the less ripened person had conferred upon family and community.”

I’m profoundly in the middle of this passage.  Everything around me is in support.  Everything clearly reflects the image at the center of my soul.  When I check in with my deep inner compass, I know this life is home, a foundation for everything I am and will still become.  Why, then, do I feel crazy, angry and uncontrollably sad on difficult days, and, at best, defocused and scattered on good days?  Oh, yes…  I’m in the middle of a death and birth experience.  

The transition between one phase and another can be profoundly disorienting, destabilizing and uncomfortable.  Work, relationships and daily practices that were once satisfying and centering feel hollow and meaningless.  The new place of comfort, inspiration and coherency is yet unknown.  At this point, there are two choices: go wandering or lean in.  If you choose to wander in the depths of untouched wilderness, you may receive a profound experience of your soul’s truth in the reflections of the more-than-human and the strength, courage and will to apply it to your life.  If you choose to lean in, you may discover how to source your wilderness in the everyday ordinary and to carry your gifts into the simple magic of daily life.

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Peach trees & our composting toilet at sunset.

Courting the Wild Ordinary

I’d like to make a distinction between peak experience and core experience.  Many of the deeper initiations in life are subtle, continuous processes – raising kids, tending gardens, starting, growing and sustaining a business, co-creating a vibrant partnership, maintaining long term community, hospicing our old ones. They are not peak experiences in the way we commonly seek them.  Rather, they are essential and time bound experiences that shape our characters and our souls.  They shape us over time through qualities and capacities like persistence, courage, consistency, humility, kindness, being witness, time depth, integrity, sustained interest, forgiveness, willingness, surrender, service to others, cultivating self care while maintaining intimacy, and giving unconditionally over the long arc of time as an authentic expression of love for specific people, places and beings.  

While I’ve been blessed to live a magical life full of deeply meaningful peak experiences and have cultivated powerful opportunities to share my soul’s gifts with the world through my work, I have had a sneaking suspicion, growing over the last five years, that the life I’ve led up to this point is just the beginning of what I am able to give and of what I can truly hold.  I’ve had the sensation of riding on an old image that has grown pale.  I have known intuitively that the answer to this sensation could not be found in the restoration of that image, but in the emergence of something new.  So, I’ve been seeking a deeper, more sustained initiatory container for my work and relationships. 

It seems I have found it.  I’ve come down into the soul shaping container of a real-life farm and family, inclusive of all the hard work, blessings and challenges of growing vegetables, animals and humans in a truly harmonious way.  The farm is a living system.  To meet it fully and daily with my heart, mind and hands is a bigger stretch than I could have imagined.  Our blended family is in the process reorganizing and redefining itself, inclusive of all the bumps and bruises and mixed feelings implicit in the breakup of a previous marriage and business partnership that used to run the farm.  There is much to serve, to tend, to steward and to heal in this field.  

Our farm is a green gem, a highly diversified agricological and human system that is a bioregional hub for education in permaculture, biodynamic, Holistic Rangeland Management, sustainable forestry and seed saving, and a frequent host to sweat lodge ceremonies, medicine ceremonies, Dancing Freedom and enthusiastic soulcrafters.  We sometimes call our integrated system “evolutionary farming,” as it synergizes a multiplicity of ancient and emergent techniques for co-creating a thriving ecology that also produces a surplus of food, seed and education resources while hosting two businesses with sufficient robustness to generate a modest profit.  Many view Seven Seeds as the model for how to create a thriving whole system for growing food in harmony with people and the land.  It is wild ordinariness at its best – a place where we daily practice deep, attentive, humble relationship with nature as we enact the ancient dance of cultivating, harvesting and sharing food, fiber, timber, medicine while stewarding our watershed, our forests, our children and the sacred in all of life. 

And, it’s imperfect.  Things needs fixing.  Everything needs tending.  Systems fall apart. Animals get out.  Overwatering, underwatering, mildew, rot, pests and carelessness kill crops.  Better communication is always needed.  We are frequently stretched beyond the maximum of our time, energy, attention and heart to sustain right relationship with ourselves, the little community that lives on and stewards the land, and the larger community flows in and out of our gates as we maintain and build on the farm.  (In addition to our family of four, we have three farm interns, another small family, and other seasonal residents who bring their hands and their dreams to the land.  Additionally, upwards of a thousand visitors flow through our gates annually.)  

The farm and the children humble me daily.  Here at Seven Seeds, I am cultivating a vibrant relationship with the ordinary and making space for who I am becoming in the daily dance of our work and relationships.   My soul has chosen this, just as surely as this ecofield has chosen me, as the crucible for becoming fully embodied in the next stage of my soul’s initiation.

Stage Shift

In Bill Plotkin’s terms, I am in the middle of a passage between early and late adulthood.  This does not mean that I was uninitiated before.  It means that the stage of initiation is different.  In the previous stage, “the Apprentice at the Wellspring”, the primary task was to “learn the delivery systems for embodying soul in culture.”  The gift was “visionary action and inspiration.”  The psychospiritual center of gravity was “cultural depth.”  For context, here is Bill Plotkin’s map of the Eight Soulcentric Stages of Human Development: 

I can more than relate to Plotkin’s description of soul initiated early adulthood.  The stage definition perfectly describes the last eighteen years of my life in which I have danced the path of the Webweaver as a visionary actor and inspire-er.  Quite literally, I have spent the last many years weaving a network of leadership in community through the transformational and healing power of dance.  Through Dancing Freedom, the business I created to offer my soul’s gifts to the world, I learned how to work with people, how to inspire a movement, how to run a small business with a social mission, how to share a message, and how to manage a community.  I have  passionately and successfully apprenticed to the image at the center of my soul.  But, the delivery system no longer feels in step with the new person slowly birthing from within.  At forty two, it has become clear that this was a soulcentric expression of Young Adulthood.

I am now moving into Late Adulthood, the phase of life called “the Artisan in the Wild Orchard.”  In this next phase, the primary task is “manifesting innovative delivery systems for soulwork.”  The gift is “seeds of cultural renaissance.”  The psychospiritual center of gravity is “giveaway as art form.”  I can’t say that I’m fully “there.”  I’m verging on this new stage.  Sometimes I feel like I can hardly see in the dark.  The work of integrating the soul encounters experienced at Esalen is now unfolding in my life at Seven Seeds Farm, in an ecofield that perfectly matches (and challenges) the shape and tone of the prayer I have made for my life, evoking some new delivery system for seeds of cultural renaissance.  Webweaver.  It is fitting that I am doing this while actually growing, harvesting and selling seed.

The Missing Piece

Living on the farm has shown an aspect of soulcraft that Plotkin overlooks – the initiating powers of working with the Earth with one’s hands over time and of raising children.  This is the feminine side of soulcraft.  In evolutionary perspective, these are the fundamental relationships human beings have with the wild.  Our lives are fundamentally entwined with the intelligent taming of nature to grow and harvest food and the compassionate shaping of our children’s psyche’s as we daily engage their wild spirits.   Civilization rests on the backs of farmers and mothers.  

In working every day within an Evolutionary Farming system, I have come to realize is that you don’t need to go into the wilderness to contact true wildness.  All you need to do is to be in a seasonal and attentive relationship with a garden of any size – to work with your own hands and sweat with the weeds, the soil, the weather, the pests, the compost, and the magnificent variety and intelligence of plants – to discover a perfect, and very humbling mirror for your own soul.  This mirror is so humbling, in fact, that I believe most people overlook it because it is too confronting to bear.  For, it reveals the slowness of truly great things.  It shows us how deep work requires patience, diligence, attention to detail, simplicity, and a developed ability to respond to factors beyond one’s own control.  Life on a biodynamic permaculture farm teaches that everything is nature, that everything has wildness within it, that everything is interrelated with and at effect of the largest patterns and cycles of our cosmos, and that the foundational human gesture is to dance with this wildness as we tend and harvest the resources necessary to feed ourselves.  The irony of our romantic ideas about wildness and wilderness is that they come from a place that is so far separated from this primary relationship.  When we seek our way back to soul (only) through wandering in untouched wilderness, we miss the opportunity to co-create with soul-in-nature by tending healthy living systems in our own yards, neighborhoods and watersheds.  There is innate wildness in all healthy living systems.  So, as you working to co-create a healthy living system, you literally become a part and parcel of the soul-in-action of that system.  Our cultivation, if it is in balance, is always a dance with the uncontrolledness of life-in-life. 

The same is true for raising children.  They are born in full embodiment of their soul essence.  Supporting the emergence of that essence in a healthy, well socialized, developing human is the most humbling, challenging and rewarding initiation any adult ever goes through.  Children can not be controlled, only guided.  To engage a developing human is to engage a force of nature.  We tend to overlook this when we talk about transformation, perhaps, again, because it is so fundamental as to be nearly invisible.  Perhaps because it is primarily the work of women, and less an act of self assertion than of self sacrificed.  To sacrifice means to make sacred.  Parenting is an ultimate service to the nature in the human.  

Conclusions

The earth misses us.  She misses our hands in her soil, our sweat, our blood, our song.  She misses the grounded, awake and engaged people we become when we unfurl our lives as natural expressions of our souls.  She misses the co-creative pulse of our love-in-action as we co-steward of life.   She remembers what it is to trust us.  She wants us to return to that sacred covenant of trust.

Living in alignment with soul and with the wild-in-all is a pathway through which we can craft ourselves more coherently as the beings the Earth designed us to be.  We can rest, root and fly here.  We can traverse the arc of a mature human life in harmony with All of Our Relations.  We can more profoundly embody the image at the center of each of our souls, satisfying the deep inner knowing that we come to this life with a larger purpose.  And through this, each one of us can, in our own way, engage in a the larger evolutionary process in which each of our lives play a part.  

Bibliography

Abram, D. (2010). Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology.  New York: Vintage Books.

Growing a Nation Website: Historical Timeline – Farmers & the Land.  Retreived April 24, 2014 from  http://www.agclassroom.org/gan/timeline/farmers_land.htm

Plotkin, B. (2008).  Nature and the Human Soul.  Novato, California: New World Library.

Plotkin, B. Nature and the Human Soul Website.  Retrieved May 12, 2014 from http://www.natureandthehumansoul.com/newbook/diagrams.htm

Plotkin, B. (2003).  Soulcraft.  Novato, California: New World Library. 

Prechtel, M. (2012).  An Unlikely Peace at Chuchumaquic.  Berkeley, California:  North Atlantic Books.

Taegel, W. (March, 2012) Lecture: The Wisdom Factor: Sacred Leadership for a Planet in Transition.  Dancing Deer Ranch, Texas.

Taegel, W.  March 15, 2014. NATURE BIRTHS HUMAN HYBRIDS: You May Be One.  http://earthtribe.com/nature-births-human-hybrids-you-may-be-one/ 

United States Environmental Prtection Agency Website: Ag 101 Demographics.  Retrieved April 24, 2014 from http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/ag101/demographics.html

Wikipedia: Keystone Species. Retrieved April 28, 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_species.

 

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