A popular song from recent years exhorts you to “Fight the Power.” And, yes, the men and women who rule politically, financially and culturally on behalf of only the human-created world—yes, they must be fought, if you will. But the coming battles will ultimately be won not by fighting false power, but by aligning with true power.
The greatest power is Love, we hear. And, yes, it is. But love for what? If your love doesn’t include the natural world, your love is pale and incomplete.
Feeling and expressing this love is more than just saying, Oh, I love nature. It is more than pausing to regard a sunrise or sunset, or kneeling on the earth to admire a tiny flower, or even a tiny beetle, although this is done all too infrequently among you these days. Loving the Green World is a calling, a practice, a tapping into who you really are. It is, simply, loving your whole self—which includes loving your human family and friends, and also your non-human relatives who share your place with you. Do you feel less real, less yourself, as you move “out” from loving your parents, your wife or husband, your children or friends, and into the non-human realm? Perhaps you love your dog or cat authentically. What about the birds? I assure you that the birds in your place deserve and need your love and caring, your attention and delight, just as much as your spouse or children do, as much as your pets do. The forest—whether it is a wild place of tall trees or a patch of moss on the bricks of your patio—also needs and deserves your love. To believe otherwise is to subscribe to a deficient, insubstantial version of who you really are.
If you don’t feel the essence of the natural world loving you back, this confirms that your “love muscle” needs to be exercised and trained in some new directions. For Gaia loves you unceasingly, by her very nature. This love is no sentimental love accompanied by little flitting fairies. No, it is the most powerful force, the Green Force that created and creates all life on the earth, in endless, ever-changing patterns that are strong, resilient and beautiful. This love is a huge, deep inclusion, which humans (except for the few and admirable indigenous people still alive today) have pushed away, over and over, and now need to relearn and re-earn.
Think how a dog would quickly come to cower at the sight of you if you beat it a few times. Then think of how virtually all wild creatures run from humans in terror when they see you. To be sure, you wouldn’t want wild creatures to come close and fawn over you, or become your pets, as that is not their nature. But the vast majority of humans worldwide have a millennia-long history of fearing and hating wild animals—not only hunting and killing them, which, when done with respect, is part of your human heritage—but indiscriminately shooting, trapping and poisoning them, exploiting and enslaving them, and even torturing them for things as insignificant as improving women’s perfume and makeup, or supposedly enhancing men’s sexual powers. You may well say, Oh, the poor animals! And so do I. Yet I also say, Oh, the poor humans—to be so perversely out of balance with both the beings of nature and themselves that they are barely part of the larger more-than-human world anymore.
It was not always so. Every human alive had ancestors who honored the animal and plant realms as part of everything they did, especially eating. Indeed, stalking and killing animals to eat was considered, by ancestral people the world over, to be part of a vast communion ritual with Gaia. Ceremonies, many of them elaborate and demanding, accompanied the hunting and butchering of animals as well as the harvesting and preparation of plants. The word Communion is from the same root as Community. Ancestral peoples knew themselves as living in a vast interconnected community of human and non-human beings, of places and eco-systems. Within this community, getting food for oneself was an honorable act shared by every being of Gaia, plant, animal and human. And, for the humans living in this community, expressing gratitude to the animals and plants, the sun and the waters, for all of life’s gifts, was as natural as breathing.
So when you feel that you have to fight the power, you must be sure of which power you are fighting. The unbridled destructive powers of the human-created world do call you to fight them. But in truth, the largest power there is—the Green Power of Gaia, my Mother—is constantly calling you to align and attune with it. Learning how to participate again in this power requires you to love—and your heart’s love needs to include the natural world, because it is your world, in the wilderness, in your front garden, and in the authentic depths of your being. When you begin to fully know and live this truth, you will become warriors with powers beyond measure.