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The Almanac is a blog from Don Elzer
Don Elzer is a biosemiotician, essayist, philosopher, artist, innovator and novelist from British Columbia. He is a pragmatist who has spent much of his life developing concepts that link deep ecology to mainstream culture and then putting them into practice. He is best known for his investigative research, his early promotion of permaculture and his ongoing work that links rural communities and First Nations to a local eco-economy. He is also known as one of world’s first modern wildcrafters, creating a style of visual art made of natural material. Today, much of his time is spent at his wild tea plantation called the Wildcraft Forest where he can be found wildcrafting tea blends and potions.
The Imagination of Place
By Don Elzer
I’m re-thinking my ideas about what an ecosystem is. Perhaps an ecosystem is far beyond what science can explain and even beyond the realm of “shadow biodiversity”. Perhaps “human imagination” should be included within what an ecosystem is? Perhaps human imagination is a force of nature that needs to be considered within all things?
Everyday humans imagine protecting places, restoring them, and destroying them – and we have the ability to deliver our will from whatever we imagine. So in order to protect our ecosystems we must imagine protecting our planet and not destroying it - and this means changing ourselves, particularly our wants and our greed.
Human imagination must be incorporated into stewardship actions and environmental planning – everywhere.
The core threat to our planet is directly linked to industrialized resource extraction and in places like Canada it’s hard to imagine how we would survive if we didn’t sell our natural resources.
Perhaps we’ll say that once we run out of those resources that we will use our intelligence, learning and smarts?
Well if we are so smart, why are we selling all of our natural resources?
Industrial resource extraction will never stop instantly, but we must begin to imagine an economy and a world that lessens its dependence on this model of growth and development. And Canada in particular needs to do this. For years governments have promised to diversify local economies through revenues made from natural resource extraction and these promises have seldom been kept.
We need to build an economy that is less reliant on extraction and we must embrace the urgency to do so. Govern as though the resources are gone. The dangers of relying on natural resources are all around us yet we treat the planet as though it was infinite.
Today we are a melting pot of various cultures and beliefs. So far we have failed to articulate a spiritual connection between ourselves and nature and one that crosses over into various religious perspectives. Judean-Christian ideals hold the underpinnings that form support for our modern western civilization, and within it, is a belief that heaven exists somewhere other than here.
We have created a dominant spirituality that is based on the Earth being disposable.
A culture of ascension to heaven, or escape, drives our approach to choice-making – and it emerges in all devices constructed by our modern society. Our need to explore space to discover other places and beings may be to satisfy a scientific desire to ascend to a better place. Tourism might be all about going to where the grass is greener, to escape from our reality, even if it is for just a short time.
This faith in a heavenly afterlife runs deep within civilization and its religions – no matter how bad things get, there is always hope that we can go to that better place. Fears associated with the end of days motivates our need to be saved by something greater than ourselves and for the most part, holds the idea that we will depend on this “something” to rescue us from ourselves. So the logic becomes - it’s the end of days, why should we save the planet – we won’t be here?
The indigenous cultures of this planet have always been challenged with this idea of “heaven” being someplace else. The Western idea is that this greater place can’t be seen; and you can only get there if you follow the rules; trust certain people, and believe it all to be without question - true.
“God says so; you’ll find out after you die – but only if you’re good”.
Indigenous people met this idea with some skepticism. To them, the Earth is heaven and not taking care of her would cause her to die, and there would be no other place to go.
The human imagination is vast and presents us with great opportunities, but as individuals we need to find our inner steward, so that we may save this planet. I invite you to participate in our Wildcraft Forest Learning Programs so that we may share conversations like this, in the forest, so that natural world can tell its story.
A Solstice Prayer
Every Solstice Moon I write a prayer, this year I peaced one together from ancient writings that I love so much. I hope you enjoy it. Have a wondrous Solstice Moon and Merry Christmas.
O Great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds and whose breath gives life to the entire world, please hear me!
I am small and weak and I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever wonderous of the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things that you have taught me.
Let me carry with me the knowing of your existence in every waking moment and in my dreams.
Make my spirit carry the wonder of your spirit and give thanks to all that you have blessed me with.
I have been blessed by the flesh from the Earth;
I have been blessed by the blood from the dew and from the Sun;
I have been blessed by the eyes from the bottomless sea;
I have been blessed by the bones from stone;
I have been blessed by the reason born from the mobility of Angels and from clouds;
I have been blessed by the veins and hair from the grass of the Earth;
I have been blessed by your spirit, which through the wind has provided me with my spirit.
Please protect me and let me walk as the peaceful warrior and in the beauty of the loved ones that have touched my spirit and give me the wisdom and patience to cherish and protect them with great strength.
Let me lead others to the path of peace and understanding, let all of us live together as brothers and sisters – protecting and loving Mother Earth.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater then my sister or brother, but to challenge my greatest obstacle - myself.
Forgive me and help me understand how to forgive myself and others.
Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes,
So when life fades, as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you with my heart full of love and without shame.
All My Relations!