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Why Did They Kill 40,000 Elephants?

In my novel, The Children of Gaia, there is a chapter where teenage Sarah has returned from a visit to Africa with her scientist parents. She is sharing some of the experiences she had there with her soul mate and friend, Steve. There had been a long famine and large areas of land turned into desert and she was deeply distressed at the resultant suffering that she saw.

Our human capacity for arrogance, ignorance and stupidity astonishes me. Recently my husband, Rick, was watching a Ted Talk on desertification, the very subject of Steve and Sarah’s discussion I’ve just referred to. Dessertification happens when land that formerly sustained surface life such as vegetation and ‘wildlife’ of all kinds, becomes so degraded the once productive earth turns to desert. As you doubtless know, TED talks are not usually very long so take a look to discover why 40,000 elephants were slaughtered to ‘prevent’ large tracks of land turning from sparse grassland to desert. Did it work? NO, it didn’t and the elephants died for nothing. Does that dreadful saga have a happy ending down the track? Not for those elephants of course. Watch and see what was learned at their expense.

What prompted Rick to be watching a talk on this topic? Ecological matters are not normally his area of interest but the previous day, I had dragged him off to see a documentary called, The Biggest Little Farm. He didn’t think it was going to be his cup of tea but I pointed out that it had won many awards and accolades so should be worthy of the half hour drive there and back to the cinema.

An Inspiring Watch

Like me, he was most impressed and enamoured. The Biggest Little Farm is the extraordinary story of a young couple in the USA who wanted to have a small farm and do things the ‘old fashioned’ way, ‘pre-industrial’ you might also call it. The husband was a wild-life photographer and the wife a whole-foods chef. They eventually found a piece of land, and hired an ‘expert’. You’ve probably heard the joke, ‘X’ is an unknown quantity and ‘spurt’ is a drip under pressure. Not this guy. He had plenty of experience and deep convictions as to how to achieve their dreams. He became their mentor and friend.

At the outset, he told them it would take seven years of hard work and capital to turn the hilly, exhausted Californian land they had purchased into a thriving natural farm. They’d pretty much spent all their money on buying the land so they crowd funded the extra capital needed. Their mentor was right, of course, about all of it. This is one of the most inspiring stories I’ve ever seen or heard. It’s well worth watching and well deserving of the accolades it has received. It clearly demonstrates how, when we truly work with nature, it gives back a hundred fold but it requires a total willingness to observe how nature works and to fall in line with ‘Her’, allowing not imposing. Catch it on the Big Screen or anywhere you can find it.

Less Straight Forward

Our ecological challenges in New Zealand are a little different in that we have introduced predators that did not evolve here and against which there are no natural checks as there were in the Californian example. Hence, our generation is charged with devising ways to counter the harm caused by our forebears, seemingly without so many of the natural solutions that might be available elsewhere.

Another You Tube video I want to bring to your attention is from an Australian group, people who are battling regulations preventing them from using willow trees to conserve the water table. It seems our politicians are caught between a rock and a hard place sometimes and bureaucracy lacks the flexibility and nimble thinking needed to move to a place of better understanding and real solutions to our environmental issues. What should rightly be restricted in one area is the right solution in another. With so many planets in Capricorn right now, including Pluto and Saturn, we have a combination of energetic pressures that urge us to examine our structures at all levels of our society. Even at a personal level, it’s an appropriate time to ask ourselves some pertinent questions. Astrologer Shaune Lisa* suggests these two:

                       What do you need to let go of? 

                        What new structures do you need to bring into your life now?

Primal Forces

As I began to draft this email, Australia burned. We watched the television reports with a sense of chilling horror at the inferno engulfing everything in its path, an elemental force unleashed and seemingly unstoppable. It’s a stark reminder that the planet is an autonomous Being and the elemental forces the means of its changes and evolution. They are part of the huge Deva Kingdom, also known esoterically, as the greater and lesser builders.

That we’ve had the arrogance to think we know better than Earth how to create abundance is nothing short of astounding but then our definition of abundance has become extraordinarily myopic and self-serving. It’s an attitude that reflects our recent and still current economic and political ideologies and practices.

I’m optimistic enough to believe it isn’t too late and whether we approach it scientifically or spiritually, (preferably both) we need to do things differently. To paraphrase Albert Einstein’s famous utterance, if we keep doing the same thing, we’ll just get the same results. As courageous, brave people like the young couple in The Biggest Little Farm demonstrate, cooperating with the Earth is hugely more rewarding than assuming we know better than the planet’s millions of years of experimentation and refinement.

‘Pan consciousness’ is the idea that everything on Earth is interconnected and we act as if it isn’t at our peril. There are many ways we can understand this level of consciousness, one of them being through a study of the Deva Kingdom and that, my friends is a shameless plug for my forthcoming book!

The Way Forward?

I don’t think we need to rush off and buy a farm. The philosophy of Permaculture applies to small gardens as well as farms. Even without a big piece of land, patios, roofs, fences are all places where we can grow things and a quick search on the Internet will reveal some wonderfully inventive ideas. I’d like to see smart atriums mandatory in new commercial and civic buildings so they don’t need air conditioning and community food gardens, especially in less affluent areas. If we valued the plant kingdom much more than we currently do and found quirky and inventive ways to include it in our towns and cities, no child need go hungry.

Maori activist, Dame Whina Cooper, who came to prominence in the 1960s and 70s, reportedly chastised those of her people who complained about their poverty with, “Don’t tell me you’re poor until you’ve shown me the fullness of your vegetable garden!” In those days, (which are not so long ago) unlike today, homelessness was extremely rare in New Zealand and people had the time and opportunity to grow their own vegetables but that raises a whole raft of other issues. Whatever the reasons, we and our politicians should be deeply ashamed.

Go well,

Jacquelyn.

* Astrologer, Shaune Lisa can be contacted at:  shaunelisa@gmail.com

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