We are at the cusp of empires falling and worlds colliding. While this may be a bold statement. In the seeming chaos of collapsing economies, unprecedented and endless wars, unpredictable weather patterns and huge animal die-offs, our most appropriate response appears to be some sort of foundational re-structuring. We find ourselves at the foundations of a new reality, a New Earth.
Recently I attended a composting workshop run by a very informed and competent woman; in fact she is the first organic olive farmer in South Africa. It was provocative to say the least. Here are some of my discoveries.
9 times more aluminium contamination in soil
The soil today is massively depleted worldwide: of minerals, humus, carbon and essential nutrients. There is nine times more aluminium contaminating the soil than a few generations ago.
There is an intimate connection between us and the soil. This relationship is so fundamental that in Biblical terms it is said we were created out of the clay, and will return to it also. We are made of the same stuff that the earth contains. We mirror each other, but do we even begin to understand what that means? How can we expect to have good health if the source of all our food, organic or otherwise, is toxic and empty of real nutrients?
People in some countries refer to soil as “dirt”: what kind of relationship with the earth does that signify?
Lasting culture is underpinned by – not agriculture – but horticulture. The difference is significant. Since the Industrial Revolution agriculture has dominated food production. It has since developed into agribusiness, which needs recurring inputs, is systematised, implies the efficiency model of crop monoculture, and eventually leads to soil degradation after a relatively short period.
Horticulture is holistic and self-generating by nature
Horticulture, on the other hand, derives from the Latin root hortus, or garden. It includes complex and interlocking ecological systems, diversity, and is holistic and self-regenerating by its nature. Some gardens have lasted thousands of years. (We’re talking about edible and medicinal (mixed) gardens here.)
This difference between thinking that deals with our immediate needs, but cannot vouch for future abundance is the pertinent difference between simply being sustainable for the medium-term, and becoming pro-actively regenerative. The latter approach involves improving a system with unending endurance into the future.
Regenerative development starts at the soil
How do we go about regenerative development? How can you develop people without developing the soil alongside them? For they belong together. And so we need to start at bed-rock level, literally. And the soil is our Soul.
And this is also the image of the Garden.
The garden has many paths, timelines and levels of growth. It supports and accumulates stories around planting, harvesting, cooking and eating food, which is the making of a culture or civilisation. It becomes personal, attracts groups of association, and is infused with myth and Spirit: fairy-folk, undines and sylphs, micro-organisms and the magic of earthworms. It is conducive to imagination, flights of fancy and wonder. It will always escape complete definition and control.
Compost heap is sculpture of our time
The compost-heap is to my mind the best epitome of a sculpture for our time, a modern shrine to be revered for the secrets and alchemy hidden in its living layers. And the most appropriate gesture to the Earth Herself is gentle: putting Her to bed, covering Her with loving layers of compost, teas, leaves and mulch. Not scarring, tilling and ploughing, but laying on duvets, and co-operating with the millions of most effective micro-organisms that know better than we what to do under cover in the dark primal material.
This very old approach represents the essence of the New Reality. Except this time round we are practising it consciously and voluntarily, as the most sensible – if not the only – option for our survival, literally, but also for our further evolution as a species. So reach your arms out WIDE to embrace and include your re-connection to the Earth, the soil, the seasons.
Collaborate with Nature, and with others, at the deepest levels, right into the micro-world in the soil below you, and into the extended Spiritual worlds above and around you. Invoke your freedom of imagination, and dare to dream.
Foundational re-structuring of the soil reflects our own selves to us, and it’s what is happening to many many people at a Soul level in this time. Many are undergoing foundational re-structuring in their lives, and many are experiencing this re-structuring at the most painful physical level.
Reality is elastic – what do you want to create?
What it’s telling you is this: “If you can’t change your body, change your MIND about it.” Because Reality is elastic, and this time the choice and challenge are up to us as to what world we wish to create. For ultimately Eden is a garden, not a massive farm with mega-machinery, and we need to find our way back. The compost-heap can show us the way.
At Hearth & Soul we are passionate about the Earth, Art and the Heart. On 23 April we’re hosting an inspirational weekend of discovery, experience of Self and Soul in the exuberance of Nature in free-form on our beautiful farm.
By Sybille Nagel