Literary Yard

Search for meaning

Saving the planet means remembering what the ancients understood

By: Simon Heathcote

‘You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.’ –John

There is a great nest of sorrows in each of us, yet tragically, it’s long abandoned and closed down.

We are a species that has shamed ourselves out of existence, forgetting the truth of our own nature.
Worse still, we are ashamed of our shame & so cannot admit the truth of our terrible vulnerability.
In doing so, we have shuttered the one doorway me must walk through.
Like old factories & redundant possibilities, we live in a time when heart & soul – the understandings of the Ancients – have been replaced by cold science and hard men.
Intelligence has become artificial. We are on the verge of giving ourselves over to machines. Compassion may have flown the world; leaving both corporations and bureaucracies conjoining to create a third, soulless entity. Large charities are corrupted & part of the same machine.
Few people now see life with an eye for initiation. We take no notice of the gaps, the vast spaciousness which underlies all; once the province of poets and artists, they have now been captured by trending ideologies.

We have been consumed by the seeking mind, ever rapacious and endlessly dissatisfied – the only game we know is ‘more’.
Narratives have replaced Truth even though the word itself should give them away, if the masses weren’t stupefied & sleepwalking.
The tyrant we call progress and the machinery of war moves towards their endgame without question or challenge from the majority.
To speak out against war and the march of evil is increasingly criminalized.
We have forgotten how to listen to both animals and Earth. The last bastion of the Celtic imagination – Eire – has been taken over by Google, Facebook & mass immigration.

The erasing of national identities marks the erasing of the very soul itself. Make no mistake, these unchartered waters are intended for our destruction.

Our leaders, educated not to feel but to conquer in compensation for failing to master themselves (which means to face their shame), have finally turned on their own people.
We badly need a return to ancient imagination and a wisdom we have lost.
Perhaps above all, we need to feel, to thaw the heart, to stop being ashamed of our humanness and to remember how to weep.
One of the great gifts of the soul is sorrow. Some years ago, archaeologists found a small basalt statue of a man seated; thousands of years old; it is one of the oldest sorrowing males ever found.

Grief is part of the landscape of our lives and to deny it cuts us off from the very source of life. To the Celtic imagination, sadness and longing were legacies of the land itself.
When everything was known to be one, to hunt and kill a fellow animal was both a necessity and an act of great sorrow. Loss and sadness were intrinsic parts of both inner and outer landscapes, which were barely distinguishable.

Everything in nature tips towards the divine and spreads between the dolmen that scattered the land with the vast sacraments of hallowed nature.

Father Sky and Mother Earth were in unison not in the midst of violent divorce.
In referring to the old statue, the late poet and activist Robert Bly writes: ‘It hints that grief has been for thousands of years a masculine emotion; men’s sorrow seems unusual in that it seems inexplicable.’
The medieval mind believed in lacrimae verum, that tears lived inside nature and things. The shape of the imaginal world was entirely different from mechanized culture, which can barely be called culture at all.

Instead of being scared of the road of tears, we should instead rush towards it, seeing our many losses as gifts that provide the portal to eternity.

As a toddler living with my grandparents after my parents separated, I would weep for my father and sit on the stairs at night waiting for him to come and for home to be restored.

Eventually, my sorrow gave way to a perilous pneumonia and death came calling. In hospital, I had an out of body experience that both saved and terrified me.

It was my one abiding memory for many years, but of course I did not understand I had undergone a shamanic experience that would change the course of my life and keep my soul pointed towards its own depths.
Yet the soul’s road is one of descent and we must go beyond human aid if we are to discover what really sustains us.

Melancholy, or Obscure Melancholia, as it was called in Victorian times, is to be embraced not dismissed, allowing it to carry us where it wants us to go.

This is beyond the mind’s ken and thus takes us out of the world with its limited and blunt understanding into a world that is neither linear nor rational.

As Joseph Campbell intimated, it is the place where only the gods exist, where mortals drown & become psychotic but where mystics swim. Since that time in hospital on my third birthday, I have lived between worlds and know something of liminal space.

In some ways, I am more comfortable there than in the day world, where I have never felt truly at home

As Bly said: ‘Masculine sadness then is a holy thing. Some men in middle age labor to find the holy star ‘right to the bottom of the night’.

There is a great well of sorrow & a wellspring of abundant possibility in both men & women, which we have mistaken for a place of shame & wrongly sealed off.

More than anything now, we need to break the seal & plummet to rediscover what we have abandoned & which may be the only thing that can save us.

To be schooled in darkness & disappointments, painful as it is, marks the graduation point of the soul as well as the chance to remind others swimming on life’s surface they must go down before they can rise.

In avoiding this descent & ignoring our own shadow, we doom ourselves to destruction and will have failed all those to come.


O! Cold wet skin of winter
wake me when the day
is warm & the swallows
back from Africa.
Catapult your spies into
seasonal weather.
Still the bitter winds that
raze the fields & flow
your love into our home.
The cantilevered arm of spring
will never stretch as far
as autumn & we are forced
to stay indoors, to gulp down
our sorrow. Yet I am naked
& remember what life was
before the world let out the
bristling dogs of Future.
Have you noticed each perpetrator’s
leash is always longer than your own?

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