Indigenous people have warned of an environmental crisis ever since they first saw how the European colonisers interacted with the natural world. The indigenous perspective is highly localised, identifying complex minutia in the local environmental system rather than at a global level. But this network of localised expertise traverses (or at least once traversed) the entire planet. On innumerable localised occasions indigenous people have pleaded that certain trees not be chopped down, certain rocks not be moved, a certain mountain not be mined, or certain swamps or waterholes not be disturbed. Each time they warned that if those things happen, the system would be out of balance and negative consequences such as sickness, drought or catastrophe would follow. And each time Europeans dismissed these concerns as superstitions, and proceeded as they wished. In my work with Australian Aboriginal People I have lost count of the times I have been taken to places and told things like: “there used to be an important waterhole here, but it’s all dried up now”, “there used to be a sacred tree here but they chopped it down to build a house”, “there used to be an ancestral rock but they used it as road base”, and so on. And this is just one person working with a few groups of indigenous people in Australia.
Across the world these kind of events have happened literally thousands of times. Again and again the pleas for protection have been ignored. For hundreds of years. And much longer if we count the same kinds of actions occurring in Europe since the Roman Empire imposed Christianity on the tribal groups of that continent. And it continues to this day, either without any attention paid at all to the indigenous voice, or more recently in some countries after a scientific study establishes that the “environmental impact” feared by the indigenous people could be mitigated. But such environmental impact assessments are always looking at a very narrow picture, not the bigger system with which waterhole X, tree Y or rock Z are connected. And in any event, the indigenous people aren’t simply talking about “environmental impacts”. They are talking about impacts on the delicate multidimensional (ie energetic and spiritual) ecosystem of the planet.
So what can the vast majority of us, who have become disconnected from the intimate relationship with our immediate environment and its fine energetic subtleties and interrelationships do to restore the balance? There are many ways in which we can reconnect, re-learn and become more at home in our environment. This includes learning about our local ecosystem. Do we even know the trees and animals that surround us, those that are ancestral and those that are introduced? Do we know where our rain water goes, what creeks and brooks surround us and how they are related? Do we know how the lay of the land was before roads and houses were put on top of it? These are all questions that can improve our awareness and thus relationship with our environment. But they are still far from the depth of connection indigenous people have with the land.
One way to get closer to that, even if we are living in fully urban environments, is to re-learn how to tune into the energetic nature of the world. Indigenous people have long known that all of life is energetic. All plants, animals and different locations in our environment have their own energies that connect them with each other and with us. This is an ancient understanding, that we have lost and now need re-acquire and incorporate into our new, modern perspective. To develop our awareness of these subtle energetic connections we need to start by becoming familiar with our own energy body. There are many ways to do this, be it Tai Chi, Qui Gong or a range of mindfulness practices focused on connecting with our own energy meridians and points (“chakras”). Once we can feel our own energy, we can extend our awareness to the energies of the plants and animals around us. Then we can take it to the next level by connecting with the non-physical consciousnesses that surround us, including in the natural world.
When we do this we will discover that it is not only the physical world that is in trouble, but that in fact there is a lot of suffering and illness among the extraphysical inhabitants of our planet. Healing this is intimately linked to us healing the planet. So learning about how we can use our energies to support and heal sick extraphysical consciousnesses has never been more important. It is one of many small but incredibly significant contributions every one of us can make to healing our planet and ensuring a viable future for humanity. Relating to non-physical consciousness used to be common practice among indigenous communities, but has been marginalised and ridiculed, first by Christianity and then by science. Yet it is an important aspect of our humanity and a crucial piece in our collective and planetary healing. And this is great news, because it is something we can all learn, which means every one of us can make an empowered contribution to this healing and to addressing the environmental crisis we are facing.