Justine Huxley quote

After the Wildfire

Glastonbury Oracle, November 2020

I have just been listening to a series of podcasts called The Language Keepers, about those who are working to rescue and revitalise native languages in California. Some of them are being brought back from the brink, where only two or three people can still speak the language, and where white culture has deliberately attempted to stamp it out over the past generations. California was once one of the richest areas of the world in terms of language; most of its languages are now lost or endangered.

Rescuing these languages is healing. Along with the language comes culture, the people’s connection with the land and with Spirit. A point made by one of the ‘language keepers’ is that this is not something that can be done in a one-year language course, not even in fifty years. To do fully it’s going to take generations. In a very real sense, this is what all of us face, including us native English speakers. All of us are disconnected from a culture that is sane and in tune with the land, and from Spirit. ‘The Great Turning’, as Joanna Macy calls it, is going to take generations.

Justine Huxley, after leading an online retreat on Deep Adaptation and resilience, reflected on this new time frame that is required. “Focusing on our own lifetime no longer serves us,” she says. “We are one part of a chain that may take a century or more to bridge the era of collapse.” She sees her work as helping to build a psychic bridge to several generations hence, to “a time when the destruction has ceased, then perhaps our Earth can breathe again and begin to regenerate.” At the same time we can reach back, to the time when the ‘original instructions’ were given – to the ancestors of the indigenous people who are now seeking to reconnect through their languages.

If this makes it seem like there’s nothing for us to do here except hope for the best, I could recommend a book called The Children’s Fire by Mac Macartney. He spent time with Native Americans, and was then sent home to seek out the roots of indigenous culture in his own land, Britain. His book tells the story of his walk from the Malvern Hills to the Island of Anglesey, where the heart of indigenous Britain was torn out by the Roman army. Such pilgrimages are one way to begin a healing process. There are others. I am particularly impressed by an interview with the American writer Dahr Jamail.

He was drawn to a sacred mountain in Alaska, and by listening to the mountain he received the message that he should write – first as an independent journalist in Iraq, and then on environmental issues. He wrote a book about the climate crisis called The End of Ice, which earned him the nickname ‘Dahr Mageddon’. Now he has a new message: “It’s all about listening … We need to be really listening to the Earth, and to people who listen to the Earth as part of their culture … If we do that the right way, each one of us will get what’s ours to do in this time, and in that way the Earth is the organiser … Are we going to listen, and behave appropriately, now?”