By Leon Lewis
Each of us, whether we are aware of it or not, has a unique, sacred Earth calling via which we discover, assimilate and express aspects of Earth’s legacy that we have come to explore, both individually and collectively. Life is offering each of us the opportunity to rediscover our original promise that was made on a soul level. This calling and the power to bring it forth, is available for each of us to explore by paying conscious attention to the relationship we have with our environment and the messages we receive from it.
Having lived in Southern Africa for all of this lifetime, my attention has to a considerable extent been focused on the Earth legacy of this part of the world. Ever since I can remember I have had a deep respect for the First Peoples of our planet and the magical aspects of their relationship with the environment. An alternative term to describe these First Peoples might be ‘the people of nature’.
Many correlations between groupings around the world can be found within the context of the expression of Earth wisdom. There are also distinct differences, specific to each particular group, which define their unique contribution to the tapestry of our human experience. The correlations unite and bond not only all of the World’s First Peoples around the common aspects of their wisdom and legacy, but also incorporate the peoples of contemporary society – who might be described as ‘the people of technology’. Some, from within this context, have been exploring the various indigenous legacies, from the ancient as well as the contemporary viewpoint.
If we regard Mother Earth as a living being and teacher, then it stands to reason that we acknowledge her many ways of communicating to each living entity its encoded purpose, which has been held in safe keeping, to be released as and when the time is right. The earth is guardian to a fragile and exquisite legacy that records the sum total of all experience since her primordial beginnings; a legacy which each of us has helped to create and which contains many clues that we left for ourselves as markers along life’s ancient road. These serve as stepping stones to greater awareness, to be gathered up as ‘pieces of the puzzle’ and put together to create a more expanded picture.
As we grow in the profound realization that we are here to seek and become the harmony between heaven and earth – between the world of energy and matter, or between masculine and feminine aspects – we discover a simple truth, namely that the five elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Ether have to be in balance within our lives. We establish this balance through the medium of all of our relationships.
The First People of Southern Africa lived in harmony with the elements for thousands of years. Their descendants generally refer to themselves by the collective names of “Bushmen” or “San”. As with many of the First Nations upon our planet, who nowadays mostly constitute minority groups in the lands of their origins, the cultural traditions of the Bushmen are greatly threatened. Dispossessed of most of the land that nurtured their forefathers for countless generations, and destabilized as a result of westernization, the few Bushmen groups who have to some extent remained connected to the natural ways of their ancestors struggle to thrive. Most have moved off the land, to nearby towns and villages, and have thus become assimilated into relatively westernized communities. Some still remember the old ways, but many have forgotten.
In times gone by, their respect for the land equaled their respect for the Great Spiritual source, and it was understood by all that Spirit lives in everything. The spirit within sang in worship of the trees, the sky, the wind, the animals, fire and rain. They were a nation of great story-tellers, hunters, rainmakers and healers. Each individual had a sacred calling, a special gift. One person could see into the future, another could communicate with the spiritual realms and ancestors; some could communicate with the animals and, through this communion of souls, hunt food for the people. There were those who were gifted in the magical ways of the trance dance, in which the Shaman would experience entry into spiritual dimensions and from this perspective assist in healing the sick. Sometimes the healer would ‘become’ the animal by assuming particular qualities of its being. This special gift, sometimes referred to as ‘shape shifting’, has often been depicted in the numerous examples of Bushman rock art to be found throughout Southern Africa, as therianthropic beings (part human, part animal). Still others were blessed with intuitive knowledge about herbs and plant medicines.
These gifts were all understood to have come from the spiritual realms and were intended to maintain the ‘love connection’ they had with the Creator. The healing dance – the dance of the ancient consciousness of the land – has always been the dance of community, the dance that invokes the life-giving legacy of nature. Thus it was that the First Peoples of Southern Africa lived in peace with Mother Earth, sharing all that they had with one another. Their love connection – the simple communion with the animal and plant spirits, the sun, the moon, the stars and the ancestors – was their natural way to balance and share energy in order to live in harmony with all life everywhere. They always understood this essential interconnectedness of all life – that one member of the group is diminished by the lack of the other.
It is the Oneness of all of life which forms a common thread and establishes a bridge, from the spiritual perspective, between individuals and between countries – beyond borders and boundaries. If this Oneness is held as the common guiding principle in all that we do, think and say, it has the power to help us unite more deeply within our search for harmony, truth and light.
In order to embrace Oneness as inhabitants of Mother Earth, we are now challenged to recall the ancient memory, which is beyond language. The experience of the First Peoples suggests to us that collective memory be accessed via the feeling nature, by consciously acknowledging our pain and our joy (past and present), and then expressing this primal experience in symbolic ways that are meaningful to us. The sum total of a multi-dimensional inner journey of this nature is too vast and too intricate to be effectively conveyed between people solely by means of the intellect. If communicated via the heart and heart connections, we might authentically share with each other and with Spirit, who it is that we are.
The shared results of this re-awakening, sensed in the energies and feelings that form part of the experience (including feelings of love), have the power to bring about an acknowledgement in each individual of the fundamental nature of being human upon our planet – ‘god-man, god-woman’, with the potential for conscious awareness, within the context of the microcosmic and macrocosmic aspects of our universe.
As we recognise the significance and power of sacred sites associated with the ancients, we have the opportunity to honour these places as pilgrims. Furthermore, we are encouraged to become re-acquainted with natural medicines and to revive our intrinsic respect for natural law, thus regaining the knowledge that is necessary to thrive and live in harmony with the land.
As we remember, we release ourselves from time – from ‘the beginning and the end’ – and return to our essence. Resonating more harmoniously with the song of Mother Earth, we become more familiar with the intimate dance of relationship with our higher and lower nature, as well as with others around us. In honoring the Oneness of humanity, nature and Spirit, we begin to radiate creative vitality and the wisdom of the ages, which has always been our birthright.