"Spirits of good children lived in that tree waiting to be born. On ordinary days, young women who desired children came to sit under its shade." Chinua Achebe
How deeply are human beings entwined with the natural world? Bespoke wisdom, a vision from the wild, or an offering from my ancestral Clan Mothers, an epiphany came to me in the trance state between sleeping and waking. This fantastical manifesto, an ontology inspired by our most ancient beginnings, extends past the far reaches of modern environmental theory and gives us much to contemplate, as we continue to be humbled by the Great Mystery.
OUR SOULS LIVE IN THE EARTH
AND THE EARTH LIVES IN OUR SOULS
WHAT IF it was proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that your soul is eternal? That your soul is a unique and sacred spark, a blessed part of the Divine Mystery that animates your inner life from birth to death, and beyond? AND WHAT IF it was proven that your soul is on a continuous forward journey? AND WHAT IF PROOF EXISTS that between lifetimes your soul resides IN the landscape and IN the various features, elements and creatures in the natural world? THAT IN FACT, the natural environment serves as a vessel, or holding place for your spirit?
AND KNOWING THIS TO BE TRUE, believing beyond a doubt that the continuum of your soul depends on this eco-resting place, how can we allow the destruction of the natural world to continue? The contamination created by conveniences and technologies, the pollution dumped into the water systems, earth and air, the forests logged, the animals harvested, the earth’s body stripped by mining, the replacement of wild nature with highways, fences, factories and cities all pose a real and terrible danger to our personal destiny. After our physical death, where the Great Mystery will place our spirit cannot be predicted. (Unless we have exceptional training and have willed it so. Making personal decisions affecting the process of being born into death used to be a given in Indigenous societies.)
Therefore the reckless and thoughtless damage to the environment on every level MUST BE STOPPED! It goes far beyond the adage of "We are All Related." We now know that without access to the undisturbed natural places on this beautiful planet that have been provided for our soul's rest and return, our spirits will surely and completely disappear. Contrary to the modern worldview, humans are not meant to exist in close proximity to technology, concrete cities and the built environment, but thrive in the truest sense ONLY in the embrace of the green and natural world.
As we co-existed peacefully with the Earth for millennia, we must expand once again into our true nature and potential as fully-realized human beings. To survive in both body and soul, we must acknowledge our vital reciprocal relationship with nature, and embrace our true human role as keepers and protectors of Earth Community.
Examples of the Eco-Soul dynamic are found in earth-connected and Indigenous societies worldwide, in oral tradition, myth, and even contemporary film-making. Based on Yolngu Matha Indigenous Knowledge and filmed in the Ganalbingu language, the Australian award-winning movie Ten Canoes is a dazzling and accurate portrayal of a pre-contact hunter-gatherer society deeply bonded to the natural world in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. During the course of the movie, the storytelling in their oral tradition reveals that the souls of their people continue to live in a particular wetland - or billabong - between lives, and that the pregnant women of the tribe go there to coax a soul into their belly.
Sourced from the ancient folklore of Europe and elsewhere, James Frazer stated in The Golden Bough that the spirits of the dead reside in the trees, awaiting rebirth. The Indigenous peoples of Lithuania, Greece, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Britain, Africa, Indonesia, and the Americas worshipped the trees as sacred beings with in-dwelling souls, and protected them from harm. Depending on the culture, trees can be the abode of spirits, gods, ancestors, or souls waiting to be born.
Pegi Eyers is the author of Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community, an award-winning book that explores social justice, nature spirituality, the ancestral arts, and resilience in times of massive change.
Available from Stone Circle Press or Amazon.