Enchanting Evolution: Art as Momentum Beyond Religion or Science
One ambition close to my heart is to inspire and enchant your world. Featured above is a still from Disney's Fantasia, in the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies."
When I was a child, my older sister used to read to me a wonderful book called, "Flower Fairies." The book sparked my mind and imagination, and i easily took in the notion that magical beings interface with, and reside in, flowers. Moreover, I wasn't at all troubled by the difference between the fairies in the book, and their flowers, and the flowers in our garden. Somehow i knew we lived outside the zone of enchantment. I don't know about you, but I've always been very sensitive to environment. I have been to many places and a rare few carry the fragrance of enchantment.
About now, you're thinking, what in the world does this have to do with the "evolution" word in the title? Or maybe you didn't even want to read it because evolution is too big, or too boring, to contemplate. I'm on the other side of that fence saying, wow, it's thrilling to contemplate bold leaps and small shifts that ripple into large waves of new creativity.
So here's what i'm going to say. I don't believe that evolution is random. And I don't subscribe to creationism, either. Stepping into that debate is, well, not so useful. What i want to put forth now is that perhaps evolution is a dance between our awareness, and some Higher Ordering Principle that i believe to be loving. In other words, what if our own thoughts, feelings and even the focus of our attention, our moods and actions, are naming the direction of evolution itself? Or should i say, herself? I discovered recently that the great poet Goethe was preoccupied by similar ideas. In fact, about 40 years before Darwin coined the phrase "evolution," Goethe had proposed a similar theory he entitled, "morphology." It was never boiled down into a survival-of-the-fittest catchphrase, but it did speak to the way living things are shaped by their conditions. What then, is our role, in creating those conditions?
I only like theories for a little while, and then i like to apply them, but today our evolutionary potentials are speaking. We have the opportunity to become co-creators of the future. I have really pondered and pondered this, as i have had many strong reactions to the way people are on earth today (sometimes that includes me). I love the dream that there will be free, universally accessible clean energy for all. I love the dream that our waters will be pure, clear, and abundant. I love the dream that financial services will be like a utility - a right to currency - without predatory speculations. I love the dream that sharing will be more easily available as a skill set to all. I love the dream that we will return to a kind of Eden state, recovering our love and appreciation for nature. And of course, there will be fairies.
The question is, how can i use my dreams to contribute to a more life-enhancing future for all of us? That's the big question. I sometimes experience so much frustration. I can't stop the armies or the wars. I can't stop the government. What can I do to contribute to a more favorable future for all of us? This is the question, this is the quest. We are more connected to the rest of creation than we realize. After all, we now know that changes in cellular behavior in one person translate forward up to seven generations.
In "The Secret Life of Plants," Peter Tompkins describes decades of research by scientists in the US and Russia into the specific sensitive reactions of plants to various encounters with passing events - just like us. They have high and low experiences and neurophysiological reactivity, just like us. So i wonder, how does my little houseplant feel when i forget to water it? How does it feel if i am using negative self talk? Do you ever notice the waxing and waning of your plants' health based upon how your life is going?
Tompkins describes even reactions that plants showed to the passing of Ursa Major in the sky. It's amazing to conceive that everything could be connected everything in ways we just don't see, but are beginning to envision. As Deepak Chopra said when talking about quantum mechanics, "Science isn't just stranger than you think; it's stranger than you can think." What the plant researcher discovered, when they attached electrodes from lie-detector technology to plants, is that plants showed not only reactions to aversive events -- like having their leaves burned -- but they also show even greater reactivity to simply the intention to do harm. One researcher hatched a plan to investigate if the reactions were real. As he considered getting matches to burn the leaf, the recorder showed a massive jump in the plants sensitivity meter.
Plants, it seems are very in tune with us, often more in tune than we are with ourselves. A group in Italy at Damanhur have even worked interactively with plants so that they are able to produce music. Over time, plants' sensitivities have been gently broadcast as audio recordings. As the plants learn from sounds that are made in varying states, they are now beginning to take advantage of the instrumentation to sing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUTjCPiCTw0. It has taken about 40 years to develop the instrumentation and work with the plants to achieve these degrees of expression. This, for me, is a wonderful example of co-evolution: us discovering and developing capacities in plants, and new results and potential being acted upon as a result. Now, plant concerts!
The open door in my heart and mind is, how can we contribute to a joyful and spirited planet, since she is covered in water and plants. Are there specific ways, or actions, that might contribute to some optimal co-evolution? The truth is, I don't know much. I can, however, share a few examples. We might beribbon Gaia, like Christo does:
Or we might give her songs, like the Earth singers do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDdhd96QxVU
The very act of making sound has healing properties. It also has a healing effect on the environment. And yet I would challenge you, how often have you come together with a group of people and sung, outside? In times past, the churches all had perpetual choirs - it was a very special church office - groups of people who literally sang 24/7, in shifts, to sustain the sacred quality of those buildings. Indigenous people's traditions are uniquely geared towards these "unpolished" arts - i.e., singing as an expression of a quality, rather than a specific song with tunes and lyrics (also healing!).
Finally, some groups of people have taken to honoring and even decorating water wells and ancient trees that are fantastic custodians of timeless elements. This image is from a Beltane celebration in the UK; but in Japan also, they celebrate trees by placing small strips of white paper on them, and putting prayers and blessings messages on them.
In other kingdoms of nature, we can see amazing advances in human-animal interactions, in using minerals for healing, and generally raising our sensitivity to the relationships among all living things. Is this not a more fulfilling relation, that we are all in this together? What an array of lines of connection, visible and invisible, color our lives with their weaving! I wonder, how would our earth be if we all took up one practice to express our love for nature? For instance, a girlfriend of mine confessed that she sings to her chickens in the mornings, and she feels sure they love it! I believe her.
So I would simply ask you, can you envision three personal passions, three sparks you can offer as your artistry to embody your song to creation?
The magical potential is tremendous; but just as Disney's sorcerer's apprentice got in over his head, We need to be mindful of our intentions before undertaking some kind of role in evolution in a conscious way.
I don't have answers for anyone other than myself; but in considering these matters, i thought, well, if there is a divine Ordering Presence why don't i ask to be simply a servant of that presence. Since that time, I've been guided to bless crystals, and drop them in bodies of water, blessings to be conducted in there. I've sung a few songs with my crystal bowl in the forest. I've visited some sacred sites and offered my thanks and songs. I have walked by waterfalls and tree circles and said, fairies, i'm listening. I'm beginning to understand that what you focus on, grows. What are we growing? What is your evolutionary magic?