In its most simplest terms the world around us holds the human, and non-human. The non-human includes everything from the tinniest micro-organism to the largest mammal, tree, rock, land, seen and unseen, spirit and energy, etc. This world of the non-human relies so much on what 'we' do to that world, how we treat it, how we care for it, embrace it, use it, help nourish it....and in turn our care, or lack of care, in turn affects the human. The relationship between the two has for many, many years been one of take more than we need and show very little respect and gratitude for that relationship. One could state that we have sought only to nourish and prosper the human at the expensive of all other life.
If we turn to indigenous teachings the non-human world around us has Spirit, has as much right to be here on this planet as we do......and for all indigenous teachings the non-human world is family - brothers and sisters which are treated with great respect, honour and gratitude. Teachings that are gifted to the young so they understand the meaning and relationship between the human and non-human, thus allowing those youngsters to learn deep respect and gratitude for all that Mother Earth provides.
Now take a look at the teachings you yourself have had as a youngster - how many of you were taught the deep relationship between the plants and animals that give their lives so that we can survive....and how were you taught to honour that relationship? For many a trip to the supermarket, buying the meat or vegetables needed that week was as much 'honouring' as you ever gave the food. For some, perhaps you were brought up to tend a vegetable patch, or raised chickens therefore having a deeper respect of the nurturing required to provide that sustenance we need to survive. BUT in Western society the deep respect needed to be given to the land, the plants, the animals just is not there.
Then look at how we as a human race have pillaged, raped and abused the land in which we live. I remember standing on the top of the Rio Tinto mining fields in Spain some 25 years ago and being completely dumbstruck that so much devastation can be carried out and we call this progress!! The mining waters flowing into local rivers were severely acidic - new species of algae were the only things alive in these waters. And I clearly remember having to run for cover when a rain shower came over as the rain was extremely acidic, burning holes through even the toughest Gore-tex jacket. We were responsible for doing this damage, damage that is totally irreversible......our need for the newest phones, newest gadgets all demand minerals....minerals that can only be found by deep drilling and excavating the depths of the earth. Just to give you an idea of scale, 25 years ago looking down into the pit of the excavation, our guide was full of glee exclaiming that the depth of the excavation was now taller that the Eiffel Tower.
Another example is the total desecration of ancient woodland sites along the route of the planned HS2......in order for the London commuter to gain an extra 20 mins of life at the other end; forests, habitats, and ecological life destroyed in a matter of days to provide something that can never be repaired in our lifetimes. Most of these ancient woodland sites have become torn in two.....so once where wildlife sought refuge and roamed freely our now met with a physical barrier to that open space.
So who has the voice for the non-human? Who stands up in this human world and shouts for the non-human? A few humans do and are seen by big corporations and Governments as meddlers, standing in the way of progress and big pound signs!! The big corporations and Governments only see the human world, and the non-human as something to be controlled for their gain, and only in this life not for the future detriment of the generations to come through.
If we take a look at how humans have become so disconnected to the non-human world one can immediately see that our religions, technology and even the advent of the alphabet (writing) can be to blame. Religions had the ability, going back hundreds of years, to eradicate the non-human religions (Pagan, Celtic belief systems), as they saw these religions as interfering with their dogma and how they needed to control the masses. An educated catholic/christian cleric sent to the Amazon jungle to convert the 'wild' men and woman who lived as part of the land were seen to be too wild...they needed to be cleansed and converted, and tamed!!
There are countless historical documents and knowledge of how the dogma of religious beliefs changed the way in which the local person who knew the land, the seasons, the plants, the Spirits of the land, were taught this was evil and only one God prevailed. Witch hunting raged through the world.....people were not allowed to have and practice the old beliefs, the old ways of knowing; if you did you were drowned, hung, burned.
Persecution over the years drove a lot of our pagan beliefs underground, so people have learnt through generations to fear the non-human world around them. The forests, a place that shelters us and feeds us, were seen as dark, frightening places. How many of you today are frightful of the woods? Would you go and sit in the woods on your own? Or how about at night....would you sit and connect in with the plants and trees at night by just sitting there being at one with the forest?
And then we have technology and technological advancement.....how many of you as children played in the garden or local woods where you grew up, built dens, played in streams, fished for small fry or made swings across rivers? And for those children time didn't exist......you were free in nature, imagination roamed free. I grew up in the 1970s and I remember during this time picking the beautiful wildflowers along the hedgerows, taking them home, pressing them, displaying them in a scrap book and finding everything about the plant I picked. I learnt the folklore, the whole ecology of the plants I was picking. Okay so the advent of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in the early 1980s stops us from doing just that now, but we have cameras, we have books (still) so we can still learn.....and the best way to learn is to physically get out there and see for ourselves.
Children and adults today want everything instantly. The thought of growing your own veg takes time and effort, why can't I just click a button and have that veg delivered to my door?! Even the beautiful flowers that decorate someone's garden - for some they haven't got the time to sow seeds, watch that seedling grow into something that can be added to the garden that you have tended, you have nourished and in turn it has nourished you.
Carl Jung in the 1950s mentioned that for humans to connect back into the non-human world (into nature) we all need to have a small plot of land that we can manage and use to provide veg and flowers, to be part of a small community working together to provide for that community, to work less hours per week so we have more time to be in nature, and to have less time allocated to technology. This was in the 1950s and yet today 2021 we haven't learned.
Mother Earth is telling us we are too late, the animal and plant kingdom is becoming smaller and smaller on a planet that should be able to sustain all life. Our greed is leaving a world behind us that our children and their children will suffer to nourish and look after, due to our destructive behaviour.
In order to help sustain all life there has to be balance.....and the one thing that the human needs to understand is we are no more important than the bee, the cockroach, the Californian Redwood, the Oak, the sacred waters, the sacred land! Everything matters on this planet and we need to be taught how to honour, respect and be grateful for everything she provides.
For us adults it means we need to be more mindful of what we do in our lives. Can we become less attached to the 'things' that we actually don't need? Can we change small areas of our lives so we have a better relationship with the Earth? Using less plastic yes is one way, but it is such a tiny, tiny piece of the bigger jigsaw of what we as individuals need to do. AND if we wait for Governments to change policy so you are made to change your ways then it becomes too late. We all have the actions of our ancestors on our shoulders so we need to use this life on this Earth to help make amends and provide a planet that all life can survive.
And for the children.......teach them the ecology of their own back garden. Grow seeds, get them barefoot in the soil, allow them to tend and grow their own food, work together as families to support one another. There is nothing geeky or nerdish about knowing the trees in your area, or the birds flying overhead. If our children don't have an appreciation for the non-human then our planet is doomed.
As an environmentalist who loves every minute I spend outdoors, I feel deeply honoured and grateful that through my life I have met and been taught by amazing men and women. Some were just people who adored nature and taught me the ecology of where I lived, others taught me to look and see deeper, to feel the deep connection between myself and the other. All these teachings I bring to you all as teacher, mentor and guide. Through my Animal Assisted Therapy I allow people to interact with my birds of prey to allow that deep connection with the natural world to take shape - to allow connection with an other, with the non-human to help heal. I work deeply with the forest environment too, taking people out to feel that wonderful connection, to actually stand still and be able to feel safe, and feel part of the forest for some is breathtaking and full of 'awe'.
We need to retrain our way of being here on Mother Earth. We need to turn to the indigenous elders for support and advice and bring their way of life back into our bones, into remembering how we once connected and knew the Earth and all the non-human life that exists on her. We need to have that deep connection with the Earth that will also allow us to know the nature within us too.
For more information on talks, workshops, therapy sessions with the birds and in the forest please have a look at the website www.flyinginnature.co.uk.
As we come out of lockdown the general narrative that is being pushed is for us humans to return back to normal...everything revolves around what we want to do. But what about the non-human world that for over a year has had a break from the human interaction? What of them.....who will be a voice for them?? How do they want us back in their lives.....
Thank you for reading.....lets all be more mindful of what we need to do as we come out of lockdown....there is no returning back to normal.....this is the chance to build something new.