Taking a long break, as I have been, to fully immerse in nature in a way that I never quite can in the maelstrom of ‘ordinary’ domestic suburban life, I thank my lucky stars…or my intuition…that I brought Sharon Blackie’s third book ‘The Enchanted Life: Unlocking the Magic of the Everyday’ along for company. This deep-dive into a perspective which feels just so resonant with my own, whilst surrounded by water, mountains, birdsong, both sunshine and high winds (in equal proportion) and an easy rhythm announced, each day, by the burst of sun over snow-capped peak, has allowed me to unfasten my everyday corsets and really go where she leads in what feels like a conversation over her tellingly life-worn kitchen table. Ironic in light of its title, I seem to have had to pull back from my “everyday” to give this read my fullest attention, thus gain a steady foothold on the deeper exercises suggested in its compellingly readable pages.
The first of her books “If Women Rose Rooted” left a powerful mark on me, about three years ago, and it was in recommending that to a friend, recently, that I was reminded to move on to her almost autobiographical work of fiction , ‘The Long Delirious Burning Blue’. I’ve yet to write-up my Goodreads review…but I will, once this one is finished, as they’ve all helped to catalyse important shifts and new-found clarities, especially when it comes to feeling into where we long to settle down for the next phase of our lives (though we don’t seem to have a clue where that is…its a feeling, so far, not yet a manifest, three-dimensional place). Exactly as Sharon describes, I seem to have been searching for such a place all my life…and I know I will recognise it when I “see” it.
So yes, I’m finding Sharon’s work very resonant indeed, not least in terms of how she relates to her surroundings. My very potent relationships with “places” (of all kinds…) have informed and conducted the tempo and rhythms of my life…to a very high degree; leaving me baffled when so many others seem to be verging on indifferent to where they “happen” to live.
So much of what I have to say, spiralling out of the heart exercises in Sharon’s books, will come later, in other posts. What I want to observe, here, is how Jung crops up a great deal in her books (Sharon is a psychologist…as well as a weaver of stories) and, indeed, he is everywhere on my path, including the Myers-Briggs personality type material, though I have never taken the time to plunge his work too deeply, in its own right. I get the sense that he tripped upon some things that were very important for us to start exploring at the point in time (or, evolution) that he was at large. Its as though we are only just starting to unpackage perspectives he started playing around with, right here and now, where we currently are in our evolutionary process…and, as you will have gathered, I regard pretty much everything through “evolutionary” eyes. Human beings are (very far) from static and his material seems to have gained in relevancy over the century since it was first shared, if I am gauging it accurately, second-hand through writers such as Sharon Blackie.
I feel Sharon’s work which, in her words, “sits at the interface of psychology, mythology and ecology”, could almost be summarised as a well-timed rescue rope thrown out to those of us who are most sensitive (or who are ready to become so…again). She reminds us that we are intrinsically connected to this great big planet that we live on, including all of its other life forms, and that it is the almost all-pervasive belief in “disconnect” from these things that is our most pernicious and devastating modern-day trait. Her approach to life, indeed her very bag of tools, including teaching us how to reconnect with “our native myths, fairy tales and folk traditions”, never felt more essential or priority.
Any individual who is prepared to help others explore their “lost” sensitivity as a gift for getting to know and experience the sentient world all around them, as an extension of self, gets my vote. This is the direction I have been heading myself for the last few years; coming to regard my sensory foibles as evolutionary gifts. Yes, challenging ones to have in the present day paradigm, where nature, and other people/animals, are treated as “separate” and our planet as “commodity”…making for such an abrasive experience, for those of us who feel, and directly experience, them as otherwise that we seem to be struggling, not thriving. Yet with our sensitivities as some sort of clue as to how interconnected our world really is, the world doesn’t have to be so…
Back to the evolutionary context in which I (can’t help but) regard all things, I have refered to Dr Carl Johan Calleman, who is a physicist turned Mayan expert, many times in this space. His books, especially ‘The Nine Waves of Creation: Quantum Physics, Hollographic Evolution and the Destiny of Humanity’, not only “speak” to me but perfectly sync with a version of reality that my sensitivities have always unfailingly enabled me to be attuned to, even before I had any logical grasp of the reason why. Those latest new “waves” of evolution that he talks about having “activated” over the course of the last two to three decades (in very quick succession) are quite visceral to me; I sensed them before he even told me what they were after I chanced upon his books. Looked at in the context of evolutionary “waves” occurring globally, triggered by some sort of cosmic impulse, the emergence of an increasingly sensitivity first wave of attuned souls, at this time, makes obvious sense to me; there have never been so many sensitives on this planet. Of course, we know them as Highly Sensitive types (as per the work of Elaine Aron), introverts (Myers-Briggs), autistics including Asperger’s, synesthetes, empaths, those with so many “allergies” to modern life they can hardly function, or a whole host of chronically unfathomable modern “illnesses”…the list goes on. Put simply, I suspect we are meant to become more sensitive…this is no mere foible or flaw in our design, this is a cosmic plan.
I am fairly confident that Dr Calleman, to whom I have spoken (but not recently) would consider Jung to be a very early ‘”attunee” to the 8th wave (which became more generally established in the global consciousness from the late 80s onwards…I wonder if Jung had a surge of new followers around then…) and also a precursor, or bridge, to the 9th wave that we are currently in. The twentieth century threw up several such personalities…Einstein is another, and it fascinates me that both are considered to have been on the autistic spectrum. Like ever-hopeful and somewhat compelled scatterers of seeds in a less than receptive soil, these maverick personalities, with their “odd” yet groundbreaking ideas (Tesla is yet another) were like souls of some future era, a back-to-the-future telegram to ourselves, urging that we look at things differently, more sensitively, and outside of the box…
Calleman’s work makes compelling reading and essential background to understanding (as I feel I do, Sharon too..) how important (re)acquiring sensitivity is to our evolutionary imperative, or we will surely flounder in (or from…) this current state of sensory obtuseness. Thus, the more we notice, explore and embrace, not pathologise or medicate into oblivion, these extra-sensitivities, the more promising our collective prospects. The phrase “just in time” springs to mind…
If Sharon Blackie and Dr Calleman have one thing strikingly in common its that they both talk about trees. For the latter, its the cosmic tree of life; an ever-present impulse delivered by, and attaching us to, our universe. For Sharon Blackie, you just know its going to be more personal-seeming than that; to do with choosing to live where the wind makes music through leaves, or not if that’s not “your place” right now (some of her most potent experiences were lived-out on the tree-barren Isle of Lewis). Really, these relationships are one and the same thing, made manifest in different dimensions and at a different scale. You know how it is, when you stand next to a very immense tree, so tall that you almost failed to notice it was there (as I wrote about just recently). Yet they are both as “real” and intrinsic to our earth-connected lives as each other; they cannot be just ignored or commodised to oblivion; nor cut down, replaced, ignored.
And if there’s another tree I feel is so relevant here; yet another angle on the same topic (time to get our microspcopes out) its the “tree” of synapses that go to make up the human nervous system. This brings me back round to the fundamental issue of how we seem to be wandering right off the evolutionary path on our current trajectory; making it all about the pruning, the conventionalising, of ourselves to some sort of culturally accepted “norm”….like we are naught but topiary in a pristine man-made, man-owned, man-controlled, garden (the kind where weed killer would be abundantly used). One of my readers, Cathy Tea, shared a post, just the other day, loosely on the subject of autism, an interest we have in common, having owned this tait in ourselves quite recently…and both with the viewpoint that it is a gift. We relate on the level that we can feel ourselves having experiences that others don’t seem to notice having, if indeed they do, such as feeling energetic pulsations from the core of the planet or “the great unknown” out there in space, or feeling our bodies process food, our brains thinking as the sensation of “the electronic energy of synapses firing and the chemical releasing of neurotransmitters”…etc (I could be here all day with this list of what many would consider unrelatable weirdnesses that those like us experience).
In her thought-provoking post “Can you feel yourself think?” she quotes scientist David Sulzer’s study which “reports that neurotypical children experience synaptic pruning, trimming back some of the synapses, through a developmental process called autophagy. This pruning, the researchers believe, is inhibited in autistic children, resulting in brains with multi-branched synapses”. A topic that is also mentioned by Michael Jawer, whose book “The Spiritual Anotomy of Emotion” I read recently, “synaptic pruning” has given me much (disquieting) food for though. Why is it that, as a culture, we defer to “well-pruned” being better than having more branches than is typical. As rewilding gardener Mary Reynolds (whose book “The Garden Awakening” prominently graces my shelf…and who happens to be a good friend of Sharon Blackie, thus she is quoted in her “Enchanted…” book) would no doubt assert, we should make room for some wildness in our gardens; it keeps us mindfully connected to the earth and it leads to interesting, surprising and oh-so important new experiences. Some pruning, here and there, asking the garden what it needs, can be helpful; yes (just as we each work on the individual focus of the experiences we choose to have); but there is no place for dubiously motivated shears in the next phase of our human adventure.
Now, it seems, drugs are in the pipeline to “correct” this trend towards neurodiversity. Cathy points out, and I heartily agree, that a world hell-bent on introducing drugs to prune back that which some of us (they would say) failed to trim back for ourselves “seems dangerous and insidious”, not to mention heinously foolhardy and arrogant in the extreme. If those who are neurotypical are doing so well at making sense of this oh-so complicated world, why is our planet in the midst of such a man-created crisis?
So, as I sit here outside of all my typical markers of time, routine or even the most innocuous of domestic responsibilities; beside a water-noisy nature pool, beneath one of a pair of leaning willow trees, which seems quite determined to throw self-pruned fronds of its greenery onto my device screen (“put that away, get back to your nature immersion” it seems to say) I found I had to break my “retreat” silence to share these few interconnected thoughts. But then, I’m writing and in the flow…my very passion…so to suppress this urge feels contrary to my very nature; which is so minutely plugged into all the sockets of Nature itself (and I wouldnt have it any other way) that I’m quite sure I’m in “my place”.