Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Changing times....

These days certainly are days of change....
Last week my job at the churchyard came to an end. The end of the season.... And for the last 2 weeks I watched migratory birds gather in ever larger groups. Swallows are as good as gone as are many other, smaller birds. And the last 2 weeks the air was filled with the calls of cranes and geese, the highlight being the last thursday at the churchyard. Flight after flight (I counted 7 separate flights) of geese passed overhead, reminding me of the flights of bombers I used to see while watching ww2-documentaries. How appropriate for these days..... An omen of things to come??

And last monday I started helping out with the potato harvest again. The difference in jobs could not have been more, apart from the fact that they are both outside.
The weather changed quite abruptly once more, too. First the wind changed last week and started blowing from a northwestern direction, sweeping in chilly air. These days we have grey skies with more rain, but this time the water feels cold...

The goal is to be done with the harvest before moosehuntingseason is upon us, which will start october 12th. It'll be a hectic time and this year's harvest is teaching me 2 new lessons regarding farmership; that it isn't always sunshine and that one has to act according to the weather. This year most likely no happy, sunny 7-17 workdays, but cold, windy working hours whenever the weather permits it, including evenings and weekends.
That will leave me with a few weeks after the harvest to get our garden ready before winter sets in. I have a strange feeling that it'll be a hard one this year.....

I have also begun with the hunters course. That will not be easy. The speed is quite high, the subject not really familiar and the language not my own. We will blast through a 375 page book in 13 evenings, which include a visit to a butcher and a gunstore. If I manage that I am sure I will manage any other education/course in Swedish. So this course is not only to become a licensed hunter, but also a test of language skills.

Another change that will be happening soon is the farewell of a family member. We have decided to look for a better home for Rex. It turns out that we are simply not the best home for him. He needs a pack to thrive in, an "owner" that has the time, the energy and the knowledge to take care of him and above all he needs something to do; a job. Rex is a sleddog and he really needs to be able to be one too. Something we simply can not give him. And as a result he is jumpy, overactive, frustrated and bored. With the matching damages to items and flesh. Ours mainly.
It'll be a very painful episode, but we do believe it is for his best.... All we do now is holding him back...

We have been thinking about a lot of changes which would have a tremendous impact on all our lives. One of the main issues was do we stay or do we relocate?
As it turns out our lives here are not really getting anywhere. We can not get a decent job to pay for our existence and we have no options regarding taking care of ourselves either. Also the possibilities to start some sort of company growing food or plants have been cut short, due to a lack of cooperation from the people in question. In other words no job and no land.... At least not in the place we call home.

Is it all doom and gloom then??
Well.... no.... Despite, or maybe because of, the issues we (and I) have been facing lately my wife (and daughters for that matter) made it perfectly clear that it is about time I stopped neglecting myself, putting off fun things to do, because of financial reasons and that I really needed to go out and have some R&R on my own.... So I will be visiting the weekend woodsman in november and that is settled by now. No more excuses accepted.
A few days without family out in the Finnish woods.....

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A very true message....

This video is spread through facebook, but I just had to share it here too...

I already love this man.
Made my eyes fill with tears.... No, cry.
Made me want to give him a hug...
SHARE!! Spread the word!!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Horses and woodsmoke.....

..... with a dash of scouts, woods and outdooroveranopenfire-prepared food to make a tasty recipe....

Last weekend was one dedicated to the outdoors.
First on the agenda was a visit to the "skogens dag" or "day for the woods"; a manifestation with all sorts of organisations and companies with ties to the forest. Forestingcompanies, scoutinggroups, enviromental organisations, authorities etc. A very noticeable contribution was made by a number of attendants using real horsepower! At least 4 different ones showing both Ardenners and Nord svenskar or north Swedish. The latter is less massive.

Sheer power!! Immense muscles and immense hoofs, luckily blessed with a gentle character.

Later that day I was given the opportunity to try and "work" with a horse! I was allowed to steer a wagon, whilst the owner was sitting beside me, holding on to a pair of backup reigns. Of course the horse was very gentle and well accustomed to the task ahead, but still. Handling an animal in such a way was completely new to me!
And I must admit that, despite the terror a horse would instill on me many years ago, ever since I got over that fear I am starting to develop a real.... well love is a strong word, but heartfelt interest in these animals. I like being near them, feeling their warm skin, the muscles underneath and the look you get from those big, brown eyes, which I'm quite sure, see and understand more than we know or would like to know.
Before I hopped on the wagon I went to the horse, let him smell me, and hear my voice. Properly introducing oneself is important to me.... and probably to them too.

Handling such a wagon and horse for the first time I really wondered why the heck we started to use cars, if not for the sheer convenience of it. This was feeling good!
One of the other participants, the one with the horse further up this post, had written a book about this kind of work with horses, complete with illustrated step by step explanations and one of the copies switched owners. These people are planning on having a course of this coming autumn and you can guess what we were thinking... right? ;)

 Our oldest daughter was attending with her scoutgroup and they had erected a camp with shelters and an obstaclecourse. They had had a great time, since they were being joined by a nearby, yet to them unknown scoutgroup and they shared the experience.
You can see her sleeping place under the green tarp where the grey/green bedroll is lying.
The reflectoroven was on the other scout group's firepit.
And of course there was handwork and- craft too, albeit only one person. Yet she made wonderful things like wreaths/garlands out of all sorts of coniferous twigs or mosses, decorated with whatever the forest gave her and combined in very tasteful and harmonious ways.

Our stay there was being cut short, because of lack of time.
After our visit to the skogens dag we went on to our next "assignment"; a double pass at the charcoalkiln. We had planned to spend the afternoon, evening and night there from 14:00 till 06:00. And most of us were looking forward to it... except our son. He wasn't feeling much for it, but we made him come anyway. We'd share the evening with some friends/acquaintances there, prepare some campfirefood and just have a good time. Weather was playing along nicely so far, even if the forecast predicted a bit of rain. So I went there first with some of my stuff, so at least one of us would be on time and my wife would pick up whatever we might need for our stay there
A bit of a downer was the fact that we had to use undried wood on the fire, since the dried wood had been used up due to mismanagement of the supply and uncooperative weather. A lot of smoke was the result, but the evening went by free of mosquitos!

By night fall had picked up and we heard a thunderstorm rolling in. Not much later we were getting drenched. Rain just poured down, the wind picked up and it got real chilly fast. We were really happy to have a roof over our heads and a fire crackling in front of us. This lasted for a few hours and I realised that getting caught out in the open under these conditions the situation would very quickly become quite uncomfortable. Pouring rain, wind and darkness do not make easy living out in the woods.
In the meantime my son was really getting bored and Rex misbehaved himself, snatching a piece of sausage out of our youngest daughter's hand, trying to do the same thing with a cinnamonbun with one of our friends, sticking his head into a frying pan after preparing meal and licking it, while it was in no way presented to him and begging for food or treats all the time, whilst all the time trotting back and forth, pushing his presence onto us and trying my patience....
By now our son had made it perfectly clear that he had no wish to stay overnight and forcing him would do nothing to add to a harmonious atmosphere....

Letting my uncooperative and bored son stay at home, alone all night together with a quite misbehaving and restless young dog with the possibility of more thunderstorms coming in...... Not on this dad's watch! So the "stronger sex" went home....
As we drove home, he glanced at me sideways and said:"Sorry. I know I ruined the whole family sleepover."
And yes, I was quite disappointed. I had loved to spend the night in the wind shelter together with the girls. I was also disappointed, because he could not or would not bring himself to adapt. A teenage-thing perhaps. Yet on the other hand I was also pleased with the fact that he does stand up for himself, even when he knows he will disappoint someone, like his parents, and not be forced into doing something he really does not want to do. He showed stamina and a strong will. And that's a good thing in my books.

Ohh and Bee, in case you still wonder why my son never is in one of the pictures....
Here he is!

The sunday was spent relatively easy and slow; washing up the things we used to make dinner, airing out the sleeping bags and pillows, washing clothes..... The vague smell of woodsmoke hanging around for just a tad longer.

The greening of the self by Joanne Macy

I came across another great article and thought I'd share it with you all....

Something important is happening in our world that you are not going to read about in the newspapers. I consider it the most fascinating and hopeful development of our time, and it is one of the reasons I am so glad to be alive today. It has to do with what is occurring to the notion of the self.
The self is the metaphoric construct of identity and agency, the hypothetical piece of turf on which we construct our strategies for survival, the notion around which we focus our instincts for self-preservation, our needs for self-approval, and the boundaries of our self-interest. Something is shifting here.

Widening our self-interest

The conventional notion of the self with which we have been raised and to which we have been conditioned by mainstream culture is being undermined. What Alan Watts called "the skin-encapsulated ego" and Gregory Bateson referred to as "the epistemological error of Occidental civilization' is being unhinged, peeled off. It is being replaced by wider constructs of identity and self-interest-by what you might call the ecological self or the eco-self, co-extensive with other beings and the life of our planet. It is what I will call "the greening of the self.'
At a recent lecture on a college campus, I gave the students examples of activities which are currently being undertaken in defense of life on Earth-actions in which people risk their comfort and even their lives to protect other species. In the Chipko, or tree-hugging, movement in north India, for example, villagers fight the deforestation of their remaining woodlands. On the open seas, Greenpeace activists are intervening to protect marine mammals from slaughter. After that talk, I received a letter from a student I'll call Michael. He wrote:I think of the tree-huggers hugging my trunk, blocking the chain saws with their bodies. I feel their fingers digging into my bark to stop the steel and let me breathe. I hear the bodhisattvas in their rubber boats as they put themselves between the harpoons and me, so I can escape to the depths of the sea. I give thanks for your life and mine, and for life itself. I give thanks for realizing that I too have the powers of the tree-huggers and the bodhisattvas.
What is striking about Michael's words is the shift in identification. Michael is able to extend his sense of self to encompass the self of the tree and of the whale. Tree and whale are no longer removed, separate, disposable objects pertaining to a world "out there"; they are intrinsic to his own vitality. Through the power of his caring, his experience of self is expanded far beyond that skin-encapsulated ego. I quote Michael's words not because they are unusual, but to the contrary, because they express a desire and a capacity that is being released from the prison-cell of old constructs of self This desire and capacity are arising in more and more people today as, out of deep concern for what is happening to our world, they begin to speak and act on its behalf.
Among those who are shedding these old constructs of self, like old skin or a confining shell, is john Seed, director of the Rainforest Information Center in Australia. One day we were walking through the rainforest in New South Wales, where he has his office, and I asked him, 'You talk about the struggle against the lumbering interests and politicians to save the remaining rainforest in Australia. How do you deal with the despair?'
He replied, 'I try to remember that it's not me, john Seed, trying to protect the rainforest. Rather, I am part of the rainforest protecting itself. I am that part of the rainforest recently emerged into human thinking." This is what I mean by the greening of the self. It involves a combining of the mystical with the practical and the pragmatic, transcending separateness, alienation, and fragmentation. It is a shift that Seed himself calls "a spiritual change,' generating a sense of profound interconnectedness with all life.
This is hardly new to our species. In the past poets and mystics have been speaking and writing about these ideas, but not people on the barricades agitating for social change. Now the sense of an encompassing self, that deep identity with the wider reaches of life, is a motivation for action. It is a source of courage that helps us stand up to the powers that are still, through force of inertia, working for the destruction of our world. This expanded sense of self serves to empower effective action.
When you look at what is happening to our world-and it is hard to look at what's happening to our water, our air, our trees, our fellow species-it becomes clear that unless you have some roots in a spiritual practice that holds life sacred and encourages joyful communion with all your fellow beings, facing the enormous challenges ahead becomes nearly impossible.

The ecological self

The greening of the self . . .is happening. It is happening in the arising of the ecological self. And it is happening because of three converging developments. First, the conventional small self, or ego-self is being impinged upon by the psychological and spiritual effects we are suffering from facing the dangers of mass annihilation. The second thing working to dismantle the ego-self is a way of seeing that has arisen out of science itself. It is called the systems view, stemming from general systems theory or cybernetics. From this perspective, life is seen as dynamically composed of selforganizing systems, patterns that are sustained in and by their relationships. The third force is the resurgence in our time of nondualistic spiritualities. Here I am speaking from my own experience with Buddhism, but it is also happening in other faith systems and religions, such as "creation spirituality" in Christianity. These developments are impinging on the self in ways that are undermining it, or helping it to break out of its boundaries and old definitions. Instead of egoself, we witness the emergence of an eco-self.
The move to a wider ecological sense of self is in large part a function of the dangers that are threatening to overwhelm us. Given nuclear proliferation and the progressive destruction of our biosphere, polls show that people today are aware that the world, as they know it, may come to an end. I am convinced that this loss of certainty that there will be a future is the pivotal psychological reality of our time. The fact that it is not talked about very much makes it all the more pivotal, because nothing is more preoccupying or energy-draining than that which we repress.
Why do I claim that this erodes the old sense of self? Because once we stop denying the crises of our time and let ourselves experience the depth of our own responses to the pain of our world whether it is the burning of the Amazon rainforest, the famines of Africa, or the homeless in our own cities the grief or anger or fear we experience cannot be reduced to concerns for our own individual skin.
We are capable of suffering with our world, and that is the true meaning of compassion. It enables us to recognize our profound interconnectedness with all beings. Don't ever apologize for crying for the trees burning in the Amazon or over the waters polluted from mines in the Rockies. Don't apologize for the sorrow, grief, and rage you feel. It is a measure of your humanity and your maturity. It is a measure of your open heart, and as your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal. That is what is happening as we see people honestly confronting the sorrows of our time. And it is an adaptive response.

Defining our place in the order of things

The crisis that threatens our planet, whether seen from its military, ecological, or social aspect, derives from a dysfunctional and pathological notion of the self. It derives from a mistake about our place in the order of things. It is a delusion that the self is so separate and fragile that we must delineate and defend its boundaries, that it is so small and so needy that we must endlessly acquire and endlessly consume, and that it is so aloof that as individuals, corporations, nation-states, or species, we can be immune to what we do to other beings.
This view of human nature is not new, of course. Many have felt the imperative to extend self-interest to embrace the whole. What is notable in our situation is that this extension of identity can come not through an effort to be noble or good or altruistic, but simply to be present and own our pain.
The self is a metaphor. We can decide to limit it to our skin, our person, our family, our organization, or our species. We can select its boundaries in objective reality. As the systems theorists see it, our consciousness illuminates a small arc in the wider currents and loops of knowing that interconnect us. It is just as plausible to conceive of mind as coexistent with these larger circuits, the entire 'pattern that connects,' as Bateson said.
Do not think that to broaden the construct of self this way involves an eclipse of one's distinctiveness. Do not think that you will lose your identity like a drop in the ocean merging into the oneness of Brahma. From the systems perspective this interaction, creating larger wholes and patterns, allows for and even requires diversity. You become more yourself. Integration and differentiation go hand in hand.

Dismantling the ego-self, creating the eco-self

The third factor that is aiding in the dismantling of the ego-self and the creation of the eco-self is the resurgence of nondualistic spiritualities. Buddhism is distinctive in the clarity and sophistication with which it deals with the constructs and the dynamics of self. In much the same way as systems theory does, Buddhism undermines categorical distinctions between self and other and belies the concept of a continuous, self-existent entity. It then goes farther than systems theory in showing the pathogenic character of any reifications of the self It goes farther still in offering methods for transcending these difficulties and healing this suffering. What the Buddha woke up to under the Bodhi tree was the paticca samuppada, the dependent co-arising of phenomena, in which you cannot isolate a separate, continuous self. We think, "What do we do with the self, this clamorous 'l' always wanting attention, always wanting its goodies? Do we crucify it, sacrifice it, mortify it, punish it, or do we make it noble?" Upon awaking we realize, 'Oh, it just isn't there.' It's a convention,just a convenient convention. When you take it too seriously, when you suppose that it is something enduring which you have to defend and promote, it becomes the foundation of delusion, the motive behind our attachments and our aversions.
For a beautiful illustration of a deviation-amplifying feedback loop, consider Yama holding the wheel of life. There are the domains, the various realms of beings, and at the center of that wheel of suffering are three figures: the snake, the rooster and the pig-delusion, greed and aversion-and they just chase each other around and around. The linchpin is the notion of our self, the notion that we ha veto protect that self or punish it or do something with it.
One of the things I like best about the green self, the ecological self that is arising in our time, is that it is making moral exhortation irrelevant Sermonizing is both boring and ineffective. This is pointed out by Ame Naess, the Norwegian philosopher who coined the phrase deep ecology. This great systems view of the world helps us recognize our imbeddedness in nature, overcomes our alienation from the rest of creation, and changes the way we can experience our self through an ever-widening process of identification.
An excerpt from World as Lover, World as Self, Joanna Macy, 1991.

Friday, September 4, 2015

the ecosexual awakening - Charles Eisenstein

A great article I found on Charles Eisenstein's blog;http://charleseisenstein.net/

I hesitate to start an essay with definitions as if I could compel you with force of logic to accept conclusions that follow irrefutably from premises. Nor would that be very sexy: an imposition rather than a seduction. Defining terms contributes to the delusion that our disagreements arise from imprecise language, when actually our precision might exclude the erotic heart of the issue: the inchoate, the qualitative, the mysterious. Especially when we are talking about sex, any definition seems to make it less than what it is.
Nonetheless: What is sex?
The release of normal boundaries to share ones self with another.
A temporary merger of individuals into ecstatic union.
Sharing of the essence of self, each acquiring some of the other, and creating a third thing.
The physical enactment of the urge toward union.
A mutual, intimate relationship of giving and receiving.
Ecosexuality is a philosophy that maps something of these definitions onto the human relationship with (the rest of) nature. Let’s play with some of them, starting with the intimate relationship of giving and receiving.
For a moment, enter into the mythic mind that sees the cosmos as alive and intelligent on every level. In that frame, it is obvious that the earth wants to give to humanity. I say this with no small trepidation, knowing the damage that religious teachings of entitlement to Earth’s “resources” have done, and knowing as well the equivalent entitlement that science has assumed in viewing the material world as lacking any inherent intelligence, purpose, or sentience: as a bunch of stuff to be used instrumentally for our own ends. I am drawing from a different well: the primal gratitude of hunter-gatherers in awe of the bounty of nature, which they saw as a gift. How could it be otherwise? We did not earn the soil. We did not earn the water. We did not earn the sun, the air, the trees. Their workings and origins are utterly mysterious. We did not earn them, make them, or design them, so they must have come to us as a gift.
The problem today isn’t just that we take nature “for granted.” A grant after all is a kind of a gift. The problem is that we don’t see it as a gift, but as something just there. The natural response to receiving a gift is gratitude, which awakens the desire to give in turn. As Lewis Hyde puts it, gifts work as agents of transformation, and gratitude is “the labor the soul undertakes to effect the transformation after the gift has been received… until the gift has truly ripened inside of us and can be passed along.”i
While “primitive” cultures may indeed have sought to give return gifts to the earth, we have quite nearly forgotten to do so. Our ideology blinds us: how can a purposeless ball of stuff, an impersonal melee of forces and particles, “give” anything? The rational person at best embraces the idea of a living, giving planet as a poetic metaphor, but not as a fundamental truth.
Yet the apparent givingness of the earth is hard to ignore. It once extended even to the requisites for industry. Think of the “gushers” in the early days of oil exploration. It was as if the ground were bursting with the desire to pour forth the gift of oil. The raw materials for industry were easily obtained. How different from the violently extractive mining and drilling operations of today: blasting away entire mountaintops to get the coal, forcing huge blasts of water deep underground to break the shale and get the gas, pumping enormous volumes of seawater underground to get the oil. It seems the earth is not giving her gifts so freely anymore. She is being forced, coerced, raped, tortured.
Of course, a traditional rational materialist would say that these verbs cannot apply at all to something without sentience; they are metaphorical projections of human feelings onto inanimate matter. Earth cannot suffer, they would say, any more than a brick or rock could, because it lacks a central nervous system. Putting ourselves atop a hierarchy of being that values the welfare of humans first, animals next, and trees, rocks, soil, and water not at all, they would conclude that nature doesn’t matter outside its use to us humans. The environmentalist argument that we must stop climate change or we will all perish buys in to that logic, neglecting to affirm the value of Earth in and of itself. It is all about ourselves. No wonder we have been raping the planet instead of making love to it.
The lover does not say, “I care about you because without you, who would do my laundry?” Love is for who the beloved is, in and of themselves. To have a beloved then, one must see their “is-ness.” Our ideology has blinded us to the beingness of the planet and to most of what lives in it and on it. To love Earth, we must see it as a subject not an object. Objectification of women, some say, is a key prerequisite for rape. The same must be true of the planet.
What would it be to cease objectifying the earth? We would have to see it no longer as an object, but as a subject, an “I.” Perhaps it is less of a stretch today, thirty years after the Gaia theory was developed, to believe that Earth is a living being (and not just “like” a living being as James Lovelock says).ii It is another thing entirely to invest the planet with the full regalia of subjectivity: sentience, intelligence, consciousness, purpose, and an inner life. Even more audacious would it be to ascribe these qualities not just to the planet, but to the cosmos too and everything in it down to the smallest atom. Yet most human beings who ever lived, whom we call primitive, would have affirmed this without question. Today, we are happy to entertain such ideas as pretty poetic fancies, but any earnest proposal that matter bears intelligence is dismissed as arrant fantasy or pseudo-science. What do theories alleging the authenticity of morphic fields, water memory, UFOs, human-plant communication, psi abilities, and of crop circles have in common? All of them imply that humans are not the sole repositories of intelligent purpose. They call into question man’s status as the Cartesian lords and possessors of nature. Could this, and not any deficiency of evidence, be the reason why such phenomena are excluded from scientific orthodoxy?
We can no more love what we see as a purposeless, random agglomeration of generic particles than we can love an objectified person. The transition into the ecosexual age therefore involves a revivification of matter, a resacralization, a restoration of nature’s status as a coequal subject. To do so has long seemed to contradict the basic teachings of science, which seeks to identify invariant, impersonal laws of nature according to which all matter behaves. Those who couldn’t reconcile those laws with their sense of a purposive, living universe had no choice but to relegate those properties to a non-material realm called “spirit.” Sadly, in so doing they were complicit in the desacralization of matter.
Surrender to dead materialism, or abandon materiality for an otherworldly realm of spirit? Today we have a way out of this dilemma, as the Newtonian universe of deterministic forces operating on generic masses against an objective backdrop falls apart, opening the door to a material world that has the properties once relegated to the spiritual. I speak not only of the accumulation of paradigm-breaking observations mentioned above, but also to the fundamental crisis at the heart of physics, nearly ninety years old now but just as relevant today as ever. Just as physics approached its Shangri-La of reducing all phenomena to few deterministic forces operating on a handful of subatomic particles, it foundered on the totally unforeseen and unmovable rock of quantum indeterminacy. Knowing the totality of forces acting on an electron or any other particle, we cannot predict its behavior except probabilistically. One goes here, the next goes there – why? The scientist, trying to preserve matter-as-object, says, “It is random.” The pantheist says, “Because each electron makes its own choice.” She says, in effect, “All the world is a subject, just like I am.” Herein lies the crucial difference in perception underlying any falling in love with the material world.
On some level we all have the perception of a living universe; it is innate to us. That is why we still fall in love with the world, despite the overlay of received beliefs that obscure its subjective beingness, and systems of social control that bewitch or frighten us into ignoring it. Society as we know it could not function if very many people lived in the ongoing realization of the subjectivity of all beings, because this realization entails a respect and reverence for all life that is flagrantly incompatible with our political, economic, and social systems. It is incompatible with prisons, with mines, with road-building, with borders, with military strikes, with the whole military-medical-educational-prison-political-industrial complex. From the perspective of reverence for all beings, the whole of modern civilization is intolerable.
The crisis in the physics of world-as-object that began with quantum mechanics has escalated and spread throughout the sciences. For example, the study of complex systems reveals that structure, organization, and even beauty need not originate with a designer, organizer, or artist, but are autochthonous properties of non-linear dynamic systems. This is true not just in physics but even in mathematics: go look at a Mandelbrot Set zoom video and gasp in awe as you realize that no artist conceived its infinite, gorgeous complexity, its order within order within order. All of it is merely revealed by calculation. Reality is just like that. Or we might say, sacredness does not come from the outside. It is inherent in matter. It is as the “primitives” knew: The universe is intelligent through and through.iii
A further scientific reflection of the ecosexual awakening can be seen in biology, in which the self-other distinction supposedly demarcated by genetic boundaries is succumbing to observations of widespread gene sharing, endosymbiosis, and biological genetic engineering. Though these phenomena have gained increasing acceptance in recent years after decades of languishing in the margins, their full ramifications have yet to be appreciated because what they are telling us is very radical: the living world does not consist of discrete, separate, competing selves. Not only do prokaryotes (bacteria) exchange DNA with each other all the time (in a kind of non-reproductive, but self-altering, sexual intercourse) but plants and animals, including human beings, are part of this genetic sharing as well through the medium of viruses, whose DNA can be taken up by their hosts.iv According to the founder of endosymbiotic theory, Lynn Margulis, this is the main source of genetic novelty and the engine of macroevolution.v Finally, far from being inviolable kernels of self, genes are more the tools than the masters of organisms, which turn them on and off or even cut, graft, and shuffle them to meet their needs.vi In other words, the environment is not a separate container for the genetic self; each is part of the other. Yes, there is a boundary, but it is a fluid, permeable boundary, and the self is the product of the relationship. Normally, we make the self primary, and see relationships as links between separate selves. In the ecosexual view though, perhaps it is more as Deleuze would have it: the difference, the relationship, is what generates being. We are not beings having relationships; we are nexi in a matrix of relationships. As much as we form relationships, relationships form us.
Like it or not, resist it or not, we are already ecosexual and even cosmosexual beings. We are in life, and life is in us. We are in the universe, and the universe is in us. Sex, maybe, is the ecstatic experience of that truth, the temporary release of those ever-shifting, already-fluid, permeable boundaries between self and other.
Humanity’s Coming-of-Age
Whatever scientific and philosophical awakening might be happening, our civilization is certainly not living accordingly in its practical relationship to the planet. Built on old paradigms, our economy and technology embody and enforce earth-as-object. Immersed in this society, we individuals are nearly helpless in our complicity with the world-destroying machine.
On a practical personal and collective level, then, how do we make love to nature? Our genital organs are useful only for making love to that small but important piece of nature that takes human form. What does ecosexuality mean practically, for technology, economy, politics, and human relationships? Are we merely to walk through the same lives looking out through new eyes? No. Ecosexuality is not just a philosophy; it is a way of relating. , In the realm of technology, for example, ecosexuality entails a metamorphosis of present technological power relationships with the earth into a new, cocreative mode of technology.
In a relationship, the narcissist asks, “How can I mine this relationship for my own benefit?” The lover asks, “How can I use my gifts to contribute to us.” Exploitative technology asks, “How can we extract as much as possible from the land, for our own ends?” Ecosexual technology asks, “How can we create greater wealth and harmony for people and land both?” Or, since the land wants to give, we might ask, “What is the dream of the land?” and on a planetary level, “What is the dream of Earth?”
Consider a second practical example: economics. Today it is possible, even usual, to profit from activities that pollute the biosphere and harm other beings. An economy in love with Earth would not allow that: perhaps taxation would shift onto pollution and resource extraction, so that the best business decision would be identical to the best ecological decision. Rather than sacrificing the bottom line to implement zero-waste manufacturing, the company that succeeded in doing so would enhance the bottom line.
This approach, akin to the valuing of ecosystem services, has its limits: some things are beyond price. Therefore another realm to bring into alignment with love of the planet is law: rights of nature and the criminalization of ecocide to translate reverence for nature into practical social systems. Both of these ideasarise from the imperative that our species grow up and stop acting like little children, that we take responsibility as full members of the planetary ecosystem.
If we have not received Earth’s gifts with gratitude, if we have become so used to them that we keep taking more, obliviously, perhaps we might excuse ourselves by saying that we didn’t know any better. There is a kind of innocence about the belief that Earth has no limit to what she can give. It is the innocence of a child, taking from its mother. It is not up to the child to set limits on what she receives from the parent; it is up to the parent to set them, so that the child can eventually internalize them.
It might seem that Earth has been an over-indulgent parent, giving and giving past its capacity and letting its youngest child trample all over it, to the point where its own survival is in doubt. On the other hand, perhaps Earth is wiser than we know, and this is the normal maturation process for an intelligent species such as ours. Either way, it is clear that we are finally hitting some limits. Our childlike innocence is coming, painfully, to an end, as we face the consequences of our despoliation of the earth and the necessity of no longer taking at will.
The ecosexual awakening is a direct response to hitting these limits, the waning age of abundance and the ending of our civilization’s childlike relationship to the Earth. . We face the necessity of treating Earth not as a mother – a boundless provider of all we need and want – but as a lover, with whom we give and receive in equal measure. Well, maybe not “equal” – how could we ever give to the planet as much as we receive from it? What is important is that our society always consider Earth’s well-being in its choices, that our giving and receiving are in balance. And the prerequisite for this is to see the subjectivity of the planet, which industrial civilization is awakening to just as it dawns on a child that other people have feelings too; that they are “selves” just as I am.
To treat Earth as a lover rather than a mother requires that our species transition into adulthood. The very fact that we are, as a civilization, falling in love with the planet indicates that this transition is nigh. Falling in love is a major landmark in the life of an adolescent; it is a new kind of love relationship in which one desires to give something to one’s sweetheart and maybe, in time, to create something together, like a family. (Of course, it is also a very ancient relationship. When I speak of “we” here, I am referring to civilization, and especially industrial civilization.)
The rise of the environmental movement marked industrial civilization’s falling in love with Earth. Of course there were environmentalists before the 1960s, but they called themselves “conservationists,” still viewing nature as something subordinate to man. It wasn’t until the 1960s, with books like Silent Spring, that the environmental movement erupted into mass consciousness, and it was a movement of love. Rachel Carson’s description of the thinning of raptor eggshells didn’t incite fear in the reader, but grief. It wasn’t, “What will happen to us if those birds die?” It appealed most strongly to love, and awakened it in millions.
Further catalyzing the ecosexual awakening were the first photographs of Earth taken from outer space. First appearing in 1972, they pierced our hearts with our planet’s breathtaking beauty and seeming fragility. For many it was the first time they’d seen the planet without borders drawn on it. An even more profound consequence of these photos is that they compelled us to relate to Earth as a distinct, integral being; before then, it had always environed us, contained us. Having never seen it from the outside, it could not be an object of the lover’s love. For us to relate to Earth as lover we needed an external vantage point from which the planet could become the object of adoration.
Significantly, this moment came at and through the furthest extreme of separation from nature human beings had ever contrived: encapsulation in a metal shell a hundred thousand miles away in outer space. With space travel, it would seem, the conquest of nature was complete, humanity had ascended finally into the non-earthly realm: the first step, it was believed, into a future of space colonies, artificial worlds, and the ultimate replacement of every gift of nature with synthetic substitutes, even synthetic bodies. Ironically, the age of space travel launched something of the opposite, quickening our realization of – not our independence – but our total dependency on the planet; not of a destiny of separation from nature, but our need to reintegrate with it; not of our right to dominate the earth, but our sacred duty to love and protect it. A beautiful moment it was indeed in humanity’s coming of age.
Another hallmark of the adolescent passage into adulthood is the coming-of-age ordeal. Human beings instinctively understand its necessity, which is why these ordeals are common in societies that do not suppress such instincts. Employing physical isolation, visionary plants, fasting, intense pain, and other methods, the ordeal is designed to rupture the child’s identity and unconscious beliefs, so that he or she might step into a larger identity as a full member of the tribe. Lacking such ceremonies (or left with mere vestiges like Bar Mitzvahs and baptisms, which might have originated in simulated drowning to induce ego death), young people haphazardly create their own hazing rituals, seek to “obliterate” themselves with alcohol and drugs, and challenge the boundaries of the world with senselessly risky behavior. Whether or not such efforts are successful, eventually life itself will provide us the necessary ordeal; until it happens we do not feel like true adults, but only like children playing grown-up, well into our twenties or even our thirties. The more insulated we are from life’s most shattering experiences, the longer this period lasts, which is perhaps why it seems to last longer in the affluent. Until it is complete, mature love is impossible.
Today, humanity (by which I mean the dominant civilization) is collectively undergoing just such an ordeal, a breakdown in our systems of meaning and collective identity. We used to know who we were: the lords and possessors of nature, ascending one technology after another toward independence from nature. Today, as technology fails to live up to its promise to bring us to Utopia, as the story that robotics will bring an age of leisure, that medicine will conquer disease, that social engineering will eliminate poverty and crime, that political science will eliminate war and injustice, that technology in general will make the world a healthier, more beautiful place and that the science of life will make us into happier and happier people falls apart around us, as our most cherished certitudes about humanity’s progress are revealed as nothing but ideology, we don’t know what to believe anymore, what to trust, or who we are.
On a personal and social level, the crumbling of the outward expression of the old stories is painful: the crumbling of institutions like marriage, education, justice, health care, and money. Beyond the privation this ordeal brings, there is also a bewilderment, an existential crisis. It is a pregnant space to be in, a sacred space. On the personal level, it might be the time after a relationship has ended, and not just a relationship but a whole kind of relationship. It might be when you lose your job and not just a job, but the hope of ever getting that kind of job or as “good” a job again. It could happen via a health crisis, and not just an illness but one that the doctors cannot fix and may even deny exists. Whatever it is, it is when normal is gone and isn’t coming back. For a time we might hope it will come back or pretend it will come back, just as our elites lead us in pretending that the heady days of high economic growth are coming back, or the days of cheap and carefree fossil fuels, but sooner or later we surrender.
It is from this empty space, this sacred “space between stories,” that a new identity is born. This kind of transition happens many times in life, not just upon the first entry into adulthood.,Adulthood is not a uniform condition but comprises many stages of being, each of which involve a shift of identity and a breakthrough into a larger self. Humanity, though, is a young species, taking its first step into adulthood.
In the space between stories, we don’t know how to navigate. The ways in which we once related to the world are no longer sufficient to the challenges we face, whether as individuals or as a species. Eventually, a new story is born to guide us, to provide meaning again, to give us a narrative structure that tells us who we are, where we are going, what is important, what is right, and how the world works. The new story follows and reinforces a new state of being.
Could the story of Lover Earth be that new story for civilization? Returned from our journey of separation, we rejoin the tribe – the tribe of all life on Earth, the tribe of the living planet – and seek to contribute to the wellbeing of all. Initially, this contribution might be primarily to heal the damage wrought over the past centuries: to reverse climate change, rebuild the soil, heal the waters, green the deserts, and restore the forests. These are surely the first projects of the divine marriage between nature and a newly initiated humanity. Individuals who have already had an ecosexual awakening are creating the template for that marriage already.
The Ends and Means of Ecosexuality
Having explored what ecosexuality is in relation to nature, we might also turn it back upon ourselves and ask what it means to bring an ecosexual consciousness into human relationships, and in particular into environmental activism.
Ecosexuality appeals, like Rachel Carson did, to love not shame. It does not attempt to force us into acts that simulate what someone who loves this earth might do. Leveraging shame, guilt, fear, and self-interest to induce politicians, corporations, or anyone else to adopt environmentally friendly policies is tantamount to an attempt to turn the rape of the earth back onto its perpetrators. Maybe rape is too strong a word, but to try to force love, or at least the motions of love, is certainly on the rape spectrum.
To force simulated love, you might say, “Adopt sustainable practices and you will get PR benefits that help the bottom line.” You might say, “Stop driving that SUV or you will be partly to blame for the warming of the atmosphere.” You might imply that whoever “goes vegan” has reason to love and approve of themselves as a good person. Not only are these tactics coercive, they are also ineffective in the long run. The long-term result of environmentalist guilting and shaming is either (1) that their targets get defensive, harden their positions, and dismiss the very real dangers that environmentalists describe as the sanctimonious ravings of alarmists with an “agenda,” or (2) that their targets adopt enough green practices to let themselves off the hook, and do nothing more because, after all, “I recycle and I voted for Obama.” When we wield shame as a weapon to coerce change, the result will be people trying to find ways to approve of themselves and alleviate the shame. This, and not genuine love of Earth, will be their primary motive.
What does the ecosexual do instead, to spread love of Earth around the world? She seduces. She makes an eco-erotic offering that cannot be refused. She displays the beauty of the planet and its creatures and appeals to the biophilia that lives within all of us ecosexual beings. Approaching the polluter CEO or politician or sports hunter, she knows, “The same love of Earth that I feel lives within you as well.” Knowing that, she seeks to liberate it so that all may join in the love-in.
After all, how did you yourself become an environmentalist? Was it because of the financial advantages of medicines that might be obtained from the rainforests? Was it because of fear of the economic losses due to climate change? Or was it, perhaps, through beauty and grief? If we want to create more environmentalists, this is the language we must speak, a language of love, not of hate. We will not be frightened into sustainability. Fear changes nothing very deep; it is still all about me (us). A real change would be a change in perception, a change in relation; a real change would be to fall in love with Earth and everything on it.
Much of the political discourse around climate change and the environment puts the blame on the greed, rapacity, and turpitude of the corporations and their allies, and activism becomes a campaign to arouse indignation and hate. But honestly: is it really that the CEOs, politicians, and PR flacks are bad people? Or could it be that they are enacting the roles given them by a system and a mythology, and that you too, in their circumstances, would do much as they do?vii
When I read a story about, say, Monsanto lobbying the EU to make seed saving illegal, I feel an upwelling of hatred and judgment, accompanied by mental caricatures of heartless executives seeking, like the bad guy in a James Bond movie, to dominate and destroy. Significantly, in most Bond movies and in action movies generally, the master villain has to be portrayed as deranged. Only then can the good-versus-evil trope operate – a real human being is complicated, believing himself to be doing good even as he does evil, justified by some story however self-serving or nonsensical it may seem from the outside. The villain must be made into someone “different from me” in order to open the floodgates of hate and generate the emotional payoff of self-righteousness.
Beneath that upwelling of hate and judgment is pain. Next time you feel outraged and appalled at some incomprehensible evil-doer, feel into the quality of the pain underneath it. For me, it is a feeling of helplessness, of being crushed by enormous, implacable powers; it is a feeling of alienation from the whole universe. It is a kind of loneliness, signaling an need to connect, to unite.
Marshal Rosenberg has said, “A judgment is the tragic expression of an unmet need.”viii Writhing in the pain of separation, we project it onto the Other, perpetrating the same alienation we feel within in a forlorn and tragic attempt to escape it. And so the cycle goes: a “war on evil” that never ends. How can we transcend it? To fight our judcgmentality and separation with self-judgment and self-rejection is just more of the same. It is the same mentality that fights weeds with pesticides and then the resulting super-weeds with super-pesticides in an endless, life-consuming war of control, when maybe the weeds are a symptom: of depleted soil, of monoculture, etc. We too have grown in depleted cultural soil: depleted of the deep nourishment of connection to the land and life and people and stories around us. As well, we are cast into a monoculture, a world where matter is standardized into commodities and relationships standardized into transactions, laws, job descriptions, grades, and bureaucratic categories. Alienated in a million ways from the livingness, sentience, and sacredness of all beings – alienated, that is, from the qualities of self that unite us with other – of course we hurt and rage, all against something so ubiquitous we cannot know what it is or distinguish it from life itself. We can heal that alienation by making love: by enacting all the ways and means of experiencing the other as self.
The lovemaking that ecosexuality encompasses is personal and interpersonal, and it is also political, economic, and global. To reclaim gift from money, to reclaim matter from commodity, to reclaim eros from patriarchy, to reclaim justice from punishment, to reclaim childhood from schooling, to reclaim nature from “resources”  all are expressions of ecosexuality. Here are some concrete examples:
– Restorative justice processes that bring perpetrator and victim together to listen to each other, see each other’s humanity, and open the possibility of forgiveness and voluntary amends-making.
– Permaculture practices that start with a long acquaintance with the land in order to understand the needs and gifts that are natural to it and the human communities around it.
– Economic policies like universal basic income that trust people’s inborn desire to work, create, and contribute to something larger than themselves.
– Consensus-based political structures that value the perspective of outlier individuals.
– Nonviolent activist tactics that are an offering to authority to respond in a non-ordinary way (e.g. that see the police as not really wanting to be violent.)
– Educational philosophies like Montessori and free schooling that respect children’s innate desire to learn, without a regime of conditional approval, coercion, and “behavior management.”.
All of these start with the appreciation of a person, group, ecosystem, or other being as a unique and interconnected self, and then act on that appreciation. It is the action of love to make more love.
And it is the action of fear to create more fear. Believing as we seem to that the problem in the world is evil (or whatever label we give to the Other), no wonder we act as if the solution were to conquer. Every political cause becomes a fight, a campaign, a struggle, a battle – military metaphors all. We seek to win the war against corporate greed. Let’s be wary of this mentality, if for no other reason than its complete congruence with the war against nature, against the wild, against the wolves and the weeds and the mosquitoes and the germs and all the other alienated parts of this living earth that is in truth the extension of our own selves. Well, I said “if for no other reason,” but let me offer another reason: it isn’t sexy. It holds us apart. As Jung famously said of Eros, “Where love reigns, there is no will to power; and where the will to power is paramount, love is lacking.”ix
The ecosexual seeks to move toward reunion with all the lost and alienated parts of himself, human or otherwise. Everything inside mirrors something outside; the urge to wholeness, therefore, is enacted through relationship. A relationship in which the core being of each party affects the other, in which there is a melting of certain boundaries of self, is a kind of sexual relationship. The judgementality I was speaking of, whose essence is, “I would not do as you did, were I you” – i.e. you and I are fundamentally different, separate – is not erotic. It does not dissolve boundaries; it enforces them.
None of this is to imply that there is never a time to discriminate, never a time to fight, never a time to enforce boundaries, and never a time to enact what Jung would call the masculine principle of Logos. We are sexual beings, but we are notonly sexual beings. In our culture, though, our sexual nature is suppressed, channeled into the margins, or given partial or superficial expression to neuter its revolutionary potential.
It is this revolutionary potential that makes ecosexuality, and indeed all liberated sexuality, a threat to a patriarchal, control-based society and to any culture that treats people or nature as mere objects. Authoritarian regimes are nearly unanimous in their restrictive sexual morality. Pure eros cares nothing for hierarchies, propriety, or convention. It obliterates rules, plans, calendars, and clocks, compelling us through the exigency of desire to come to the present moment, to seek union, now. Our society, rather than suppress eros outright, diverts it into inconsequential realms, for example via pornography: a power that could upend the social order is instead incinerated in front of the computer screen. In a similar way, our biophilia, our desire to love and serve and protect the earth, is diverted onto feel-good environmental campaigns that, while doubtless worthy on their own merits, merely palliate a few of the worst abuses while a thousand others proceed unchecked. What if, instead, we used the power of eros to create community where there is now alienation, wholeness where there is now separation, abundance where there is now scarcity? What if we used the power of eros to inspire action where there is now apathy, wisdom where there is now ignorance, service where there is now greed?
Given the manifest failure of the War on Evil, there is no other way.
According to Joseph Campbell, the religious lore of India names five degrees of love, of which the highest is not divine love, not universal love, but illicit, passionate, erotic love, “breaking in upon the order of one’s dutiful life in virtue as a devastating storm.”x That doesn’t sound very much like a good thing, but when we consider how duty and virtue encode so many of the mores, conventions, and conceptions of prudence by which, in our timid abidance, we are destroying the planet, the illicit becomes more attractive.
What outrageous things might we do, intoxicated by the passionate love of nature? What security might we throw to the wind? What risks might we be willing to take in service of the beloved? It is certain that if everybody plays it safe, if everybody waits for someone else to take the first step, then our civilization is doomed. Appeals to fear are not enough to change our behavior. They might have a temporary effect, but implicit in them is the message, “Make your decisions based on fear,” and usually, decisions based on fear translate into the very things that are ruining what we love. That is not revolutionary at all. Far more powerful it would be, to rechannel the power of desire toward its true object: to draw closer to all we have Othered, to awaken within us the deep passion for all that is free, in love, and alive.
The ecosexual awakening extends erotic love – the expansion of self to include what was other – to new realms. Whether alienated parts of our own psyche, or people once written off, judged, patronized, or condemned, or indeed the non-human living world of plants, animals, ecosystems, and that which science has called non-living – the rivers and mountains and planet itself – all evoke a longing in our hearts to reunite.
Hyde, Lewis. “The Gift Must Always Move.” Coevolution Quarterly, No. 55, Fall 1982. pp. 10-30. Quote is from page 11. This article summarizes some of the main ideas from Hyde’s classic book, The Gift.
In The Revenge of Gaia, Lovelock writes, “You will notice I am continuing to use the metaphor of ‘the living Earth’ for Gaia; but do not assume that I am thinking of the Earth as alive in a sentient way, or even alive like an animal or a bacterium. . . . It has never been more than metaphor—an aide pensée, no more serious than the thoughts of a sailor who refers to his ship as ‘she.’” (p. 16)
iiiCertainly most complexity theorists would hesitate to draw such a conclusion, but that chaos theory has profound philosophical consequences did not escape the foremost pioneer of the field, Nobel chemist Ilya Prigogine. See Prigogine, Ilya and Isabelle Stengers. Order out of Chaos.
ivThe DNA itself may not be only from viruses: see, for example, David R. Riley, Karsten B. Sieber et al., “Bacteria-Human Somatic Cell Lateral Gene Transfer Is Enriched in Cancer Samples”, doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003107, 9(6): e1003107, PLoS Comput Biol, 20 Jun 2013. Typically, such discoveries are dismissed as curious anomalies.
vFor a concise lay presentation of Margulis’ thought, read Margulis, Lynn, and Dorion Sagan, Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species, Perseus Books Group, 2002.
viFor a richly referenced account of recent findings on these topics by a prominent academic scientist, see James Shapiro’s Evolution: A View from the 21st Century (FT Press, 2011)
viiHere I am referring to the social psychological theory of Situationism (as distinct from the 60’s political movement), elucidated in: Hanson, Jon D. and Yosifon, David G., “The Situational Character: A Critical Realist Perspective on the Human Animal” (October 17, 2006). Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 93, No. 1, 2004
viiiRosenberg elaborates this proposition in his classic Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Second Edition. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press, 2003.
ixJung, Carl. “The Problem of the Attitude-type,” Collected Works vol. 7, par. 78.
xCampbell, Joseph. Myths to Live By. Viking Press, 1972. p. 152