We packed the kids into the car at 4am, terribly nervous at driving into the face of unknown fire fronts, blocked roads, possibly a tortuous death, but prepared to risk it to make it to somewhere on the other side of this inferno. On New Year’s Eve we prepared to defend our home from ember attacks, with garden hoses and buckets of water. We had no power, no phone or internet service, and no idea of what was coming our way … we were in between Moruya and Batemans Bay:
We’ve been living with very heavy smoke for weeks, so low visibility had become the norm. I had digested the previous loss of some favoured forests and places, although i hadn’t properly grieved them yet. I still haven’t. When i return from my evacuation, i’m going to have to.
But in the meantime, i need to hear the voice of the muses, as they sing the song of the earth, as it cries. Hear something ecomythic, which matches the fear our kids are going to experience, as they awaken to the Australia – and the world – we have made for them. Something that gets beyond the sexiness of the flames:
… and integrates the death they leave behind them:
But really, nothing can prepare them. I try to weave a fine line between informing my kids about the world they will inherit and making sure i don’t scare the living daylights out of them. I turned my ‘prepper/survivalist’ tendencies towards helping to build community resilience rather than retreating to a bush bunker/treehouse combo. In the same way, i turned my Zen monkishness away from dreams of a mountain hideaway to an active life in my community, leading meditation circles and integrating evolutionary adaptations into everyday life. I sing about the apocalyptic times we are hurtling towards as well as about the joy of being in the body, as a self-aware primate on a beautiful planet. I try to integrate what i know from my specific area of expertise – the symbolic life of human consciousness in the context of our relationship with nature – into modern life for anyone who will listen. It’s not very lucrative, but … here we go again.
The Apocalypse, in mythic terms, is both an end time and an experience of revelation; an awakening. For Christians, it involved a rapture in their God’s company. I’ve written before that the term apocalypse now should be seen as something more rational, an actual degradation of our earth in physical terms, an unfolding of the logic of capitalism; while the truly ‘mythic’ leap of faith today is taken by those who still believe in the profiteering dream of unending growth. For the ecological apocalypse we are now witnessing to carry its truest meaning, it must lead to an awakening of the human spirit to the true meaning and value of our beautiful, rare planetary jewel of a home.
And for this to occur, it’s the song of the Muses that has to come through now: those transcendent ladies of the night, whose voices embody earth spirit, whose intelligence is celestial in nature, who flow with the fractal dance of the cosmos even while they stand with those who fight injustice. What do they sing now?
I’ve been praying to hear their words ever since i moved to the coast. I felt their influence directly in every song i’ve composed since, starting with my ode to the salty spirits of the ocean. The Muses love with abandon, they embrace everything, and in their embrace the petty greeds, hatreds and ignorance of the human ego are melted away. The way of the future, they sing, is falling back in love with the earth.
Seek your way through the clutter of human confusion, they advise, to that place where the spirit of life courses through your veins, rises up your spine, emanates from your DNA and passes along the sacred path from generation to generation, from the ancestors to the children: be a part of the transmission as it is embodied in human consciousness.
The Muses sing: fight for the earth, nourish your home, tackle injustice, be the warrior who stands for what is right on the playing field of life. Demand better of those who are responsible for making decisions about how the purse of your nation is spent; make sure they care for the frail, the elderly, the children and our home. Hold them accountable if they don’t. And they don’t.
Calm the mind and focus your anger.
Love your kindred spirits, your families, your home, your breath. Hold onto whatever you hold sacred and dear but be prepared to let it all go. Face death with poise. Prepare your soul to transform into another dimension of loving embrace for life as you enter another plane. Appreciate the little drops of water as dew bedecks the grasses and rain runs along the leaves. Be in awe of the power of nature, the fury of fire, the stellar force of our sun behind and within it, the explosions of volcanoes, the surge of the tides, the subtle draw of lunar magnetism, your sense of your body rising and falling with every breath, the twitching of nerves, the relaxation following a good stretch, the way mist rises from tea in the morning.
Love aimlessly but fight with determination. Meditate upon what gifts have been bestowed upon you, take nothing for granted, but don’t let your thankfulness make you complacent with what can be transformed into something better. Glow from within. Remember your dreams. Stay in touch with friends and remain generous with colleagues. Inspire those around you. Connect with the spirit of life within and without. Walk in peace while you can. Be prepared for anything. Love.
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