By Julie Spangler
On a lovely spring day in the early days of the Findhorn community in Northern Scotland, sometime around 1970, a visitor handy in the ways of the bulldozer was helping clear the land for the construction of the community's new building to house their printing endeavors. It was an innocent enough task as these things go, but as this earth moving was taking place, Peter Caddy, founder of Findhorn, received an emergency phone call. On the other end of the line was his friend and colleague Ogilvy Crombe — ROC to his friends — calling from Edinburgh where he lived. "What are you doing?!?" he asked in his soft Scottish accent. "I have an apartment full of angry nature spirits carrying suitcases saying they are leaving your community. They say that you have broken your promises of cooperation."
Now Peter was puzzled. The work at Findhorn was all about cooperation with nature and with the subtle beings who work with tending plants among other things. As far as he was concerned, he had done nothing to offend them. Peter did mention the bulldozer, however. That was the culprit. It turns out that while it is recognized by the nature spirits that humans do at times need to clear land, it is how we do it that is important to them. ROC told Peter that clearing the land is okay as long as it is done in love and in partnership with the beings who live and work there. The bulldozer is a tool which can be used with love and do no harm. But alerting the beings who live on that land is important. Why? So those associated with the plant can begin to withdraw the energetic patterns they work with to allow the removal to be done in harmony with the land.
Working the land with love and communicating with the spirits attending it has been a key note of the work at Findhorn. In using the bulldozer, the visitor had not been instructed to inform the nature spirits that this activity was planned so it came as a shock to them when this monster came along and began tearing up their homes. To them, the bulldozer had no life and thus it was not visible to them until it began to impose itself into their domain.
Nature clears land all of the time through storms, fires, floods, etc.... The difference is that a natural event is part of the world of these subtle beings and they can see it coming and prepare themselves; in fact they can work with it. Human tools are not visible to them and cannot be anticipated without the humans themselves being in communion with the land.
Peter apologized through ROC, promising that the humans would behave better in the future if the nature spirits would come back home. And in fact it became protocol at the community that whenever any changes were planned for the land, respect for the lives living there would be offered through communicating what was to happen, when, and why.
Human tools abound in our world. Technologies currently exist which would be considered miracles 1000 years ago. Even 100 years ago, many were unimagined. Dick Tracy's wrist phone, once a cartoon character's silliness is now a reality. Communications are fast and global. Robots are doing work people used to do, and artificial intelligence is becoming a reality. It seems that whatever a human can imagine we can create. We are more and more detached from the land we depend on and rarely is the intent communicated to the land or the subtle forces associated with it.
This point was brought home to me last week when I saw a video of a farmer, part of an agribusiness, plowing his vast fields by sitting in his office in front of multiple screens monitoring the work of his huge automated combines! Amazing! So much back-breaking work which used to be done by human hands is being done by these robotic semi-intelligent machines. What a labor saver! And yet, I found myself feeling chilled by the sight.
How easy it is to disconnect from the land, treating it as a tool rather than as a living partner in growing food for life. It used to be that a farmer was directly on the land, feet and hands in the soil, out in the weather, feeding the land in order to grow healthy crops. Often there was love of that land entwined with the hopes for fruitful harvest. But one doesn't need to work the land with hand tools in order to treat it with love.
How does this relate to the farmer with the combines on screens? He could be operating those machines unconsciously, allowing them to cut and chew the land without any awareness of how cut off from the land he is. Or he could be seeing those machines as extensions of himself as he loves his land, opening the soil to receive the love with the seeds. The machines could also be seen as part of a living team with their own cooperative intelligence. People often name their machines, giving recognition to the partnership that is offered. In this way, humanity can maintain a communion with the land, with Gaia, and still create new miracles of technology, miracles of connection and participation rather than of disconnection and alienation.
To me, that is one aspect of Gaianeering. Staying in touch with the life all around us, natural or man made, and engaging in partnership through love and communication no matter what work we are doing. We can harvest plants and still be honoring them, full of gratitude for what they are giving us, for the sustenance, for the tools to create and build and for the capacity thrive on the earth. And in return we give back our love, our energy and intent, our knowledge of how to enhance the environment, how to nurture, how to consciously partner.
At our upcoming Gaineering conference, from July 28-30, we will focus on the pioneering work of forming partnerships with the multiple dimensions of Earth’s living ecologies. There’s still time to join us. Click here for more information and to register.