Seattle Permaculture Guild
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Once upon a time, there was a land of swamps and songs, of huge trees and birds, of lands and water in such infinite variations as to boggle the mind. The land was abundant with life, and sang with each damp, sweet sunrise.
And as time went on the land gave birth to, and called to itself, many variations of humans. Some lived in huts, some lived in forts, some awoke in fragrant gardens, some awoke in chains. As humans are wont to do, they make mistakes, some small mistakes, some huge. And as human pride finds such difficulty acknowledging wrongs and stopping them, oh my how the mistakes begin to flourish and diversify as many seedlings under the sun. Some of the humans became dwarves, some became wizards, some became monsters. And they all liked to dance and go swimming, they all had hopes and dreams, they all liked to sit down at the end of a long day, or make love under the cypress. They all ate crawfish, except those who were allergic....
And time marched on.
The beginning of this story truly starts at a quite remarkable moment in this land of marshes. Varmint-like humans had gone to town on earth-shaping, as it was their latest new 'thing to do'. Happily they had bulldozed and dredged and pushed-over and probed until they could see nothing but their own nauseatingly dysfuctional handiwork all around them. What had started off as some middle earthling's high school prank had turned into a world of hardness and garbage. And, as if the joke wasn't enough, their own sarcastic language permeated the air: "Did you hear? Martha Stewart handtowels are on sale at Walmart and I'm going over to stand in line as soon as that show 'Plastic Surgery' is over", until the darn things actually started to Believe it.
And the Earth lay below them, not so much distressed as much as thoroughly exasperated. Until, that is, something strange was felt coming through the air.
Some say the banshee was caused by the meeting of too many carbon particulates with a warm atmosphere, some say it was caused by white ride-the-short-bus cowboys and the buttons they like to push. Some say we were just shit out of luck because one sunny morning a butterfly in the amazon decided to beat it's wings backwards...
Whatever the reason, the banshee, the storm, definitely hit. And she, like a toddler in a tantrum egged on by high-strung parents, whirled and screamed and whirled and screamed until she could whirl and scream no more. And all the garbage that the varmints had been tinkering with spew and flew and fell and flopped. The levees and the poisons and the palaces and the trinkets pierced into the earth like a thousand broken dreams. And the marsh's humans, whether they be genie or junkie, they were pierced as well. And all of their precious hopes and dreams, loves and longings, and even the sanity of their own minds, wavered precariously, as though that too could float away in the deluge of the storm.
The Earth felt the pain of them all, and with a great broiling breath that has rarely been stirred in this land for generations upon generations, she let out a wail that grew in waves over and over the land. Some folks were at dinner safely away from the storm, some were listening to the radio as they worked, some were shopping or at bustops or at a picnic with friends. Their breath stopped, they looked to the horizon, for the great wailing went straight into their hearts with an intensity that nearly knocked them over.
And what did these people Do? Most went back to work, or finished their shopping. Others shuffled their feet and looked at the ground. But for some, no matter how hard they tried to live their lives, the sound of suffering had entered their hearts and they could not sleep soundly.
So, with a shake of their fists to the sky they said "Fine! I'll go." and they packed their bags and headed towards the land of the bayous.
Somehow their steps led them to each other. And somehow when they looked into each other's eyes the aching in their hearts was allowed to be real, and allowed to be washed away.
They stood in the puddles of the dried-out flood, looking at each other, looking around them at the preciousness of lost dreams, of human lives, of the living. They had heard the call, and they began to work.
They fed the survivors wiht their dreams. They gave sweet, clean waters of hope. They brought laughter, they brought release of tears. They moved mountains with their faith, and they built temples with their prayers.
And they had no fucking clue what they were doing.
All they knew was that *something* was possible and it was pouring through them, through their breath and their sweat and their hands. Pouring through them like fire from the center of the Earth. And they were beginning to change, to speak a new language.
It was simple really, the work and the love happened because the humans had space for each other, space in their hearts. And there is no potion more magical for growing new kinds of humans than the precious nourishment of space in a friend's heart.
They had no way to contain, to define, to guide the *something* that was growing within their circle. And so the magic gurgled out of them happily, carving its own course. It came out in stories and songs and games, in teases and tickles, in work in the morning they could hardly wait to get started on. And it worked. And at night they would gather and recieve nourishment from one another. They would go to a grove within which burned a fire they all grew to know as Sister.
As this was happening, the oaks pushed forth again, the critters returned to their wallows, and the gators to their slow gaping. Those humans who had suffered so much under the banshee's lashes, they felt their skin, felt their faces and their hands, their loved ones, and breathed a sigh of relief that they were still here, still human in all their diverse forms and still had so much love to give.
Piece by piece so many things became possible. The humans returned, the elves and the angels and the warriors. And the self-proclaimed royalty followed on their heels, yipping at any nourishment they could gain for their sad, spoiled hearts. "We'll build palaces!", they said to each other.
But the neighbors who had weathered the storm had a secret inside and laughed at the foolish well-to-do. The survivors knew what it was like for in one moment all of the power structures, all the mistakes, all the meaninglessness, for it to fall away. They had swum out of their houses and known that human is human, that human is flesh and blood and bone, and that they are all equal. They all cry for their loved ones and sing upon finding safety. They all wake up in the morning and reach out for what is sacred to them.
And, most importantly the neighbors knew that all the chatter that says otherwise, its just so much garbage floating in the flood....That even without the water's urgency, all of the mistruths can fall away at the clap of the hand. We just stop believing in it, and know instead that we are all equally, beautifully human.
Back at the grove, the new kinds of humans were chewing this over like cud every night. Breathing in goodness and breathing out beauty. We are all here equal and we love and support each other, and, and, this is a hell of a lot of fun.
Until, again, something shifted.
Noone knows why it happened. It was a coincidence some say. It was a conspiracy, say others. A gathering of demons, maybe even from a house white as snow, didn't like the new language, the new human, and found a way to stop it subtly.
What happened is that a new name unleashed a new set of rules. This is not so peculiar, names are always loaded with unspoken rules, we know. What was strange is that in this group, this group that was so close to something new, people believed the new rules.
Many didn't at first. Who would think that a new name, a set of words, would ever undo a fire, a grove, a spacious heart, a loving tongue? Who whould ever think that a name makes it's own rules, it's own power and meaning?
But in this case it did. The namers didn't know about the magic, and so they didn't live that magic, and thus their rules didn't make space for the magic to continue.
The rules stated "Some of us have more power than others". It was old-world thinking. It was the way of hardness and garbage. It wasn't the way of the grove at all. In the grove everyone had different power, different but equal. And they looked into each other's eyes to see and develop the power that lay there. They had known arguments, of course, differences of thought, but not hierarchies of Power, that was ridiculous. Because the fire and the flood say that it's not so at all.
But there it was. First one person's laughter is silenced, and hearts harden. Then another person leaves, afraid for their own heart, and the nourishment they had recieved from each other weakens, but does not break.
Slowly, subtly something began to fall apart, to change. It may have been an inevitable change, some say. Homes were still being rebuilt, a community was being nurtured, but it wasn't the grove anymore. It wasn't joy that breaks bounds and holds space for each other's hearts. And people began to scratch their heads and speak that the new human they were birthing may not come to be.
And maybe, if that's possible, maybe the grove was just a dream, maybe the earth's cry that brought us was just a delusion as well. And doubt goes deeper than the enemy's sword ever can.
What if hardness and garbage is what the 'real world' is about anyway, and we're all just here because we don't know what to do with ourselves in that reality?
Is there a river of magic coursing it's way through us or isn't there?