What creatures are we tonight
half-lost under starlight
barely knowing the way
footpad after footpad
over the long dry grasses
undulations of flank, or thigh?

from Lost Poem by David Brooks

One of the greatest conceits of humans is that consciousness does not exist past our fingertips. We have become so self-referential and self-enclosed that it seems we believe we are not part of the land, not part of the earth. How else can you explain the maniacal damage we are causing to our one and only home?

If we could develop the capacity to listen deeply to the very earth beneath our feet we may still hear the voices of the world. Or we may realise that we are still animals with vast souls that still reach out to the world around us. As David Brooks writes above, we could travel to other places, not physically, but psychically, to become animals again, to become of “flank, or thigh”, as we move through the long grasses. We could listen to our dreams, and the images and voices they contain. We could become entranced by mythical stories that contain knowledge in a form that can move us. We can remember our magical selves.

The current climate scientific debate shows us the inadequacy of rationalist science to move people. It has as much appeal as a wet, thick brown blanket, weighing us down with facts, figures and graphs. Perhaps we would do better with storytellers and a mythical intelligence to help us construct new ideas, and a new story of our place in this world – a story that can hold us in these difficult times.

Martin Shaw, mythologist and storyteller, has written “we could develop some manners to the world. Manners to the earth, stars and animal powers.” Isn’t that a radical concept? To do this, we would need to allow for consciousness to exist in the non-human world, and we would need to become attuned to story, magic, and myth.

It seems we are living in dark times. And so we need to craft a dark wisdom, and become familiar with soil, depth and dark places. This is the necessary work of soul by allowing authenticity to grow from deep within us, and from the earth. As we approach autumn (fall) in the southern hemisphere it seems appropriate to venture into the realm of dark and shadow. Light can only come from a dark place.