There’s a blue plastic bucket that has been sitting under my parents’ apple tree for the past week. Each day, more ripe red apples fall to the ground and roll down the driveway.
The air is hazardous, filled with the smoke of forest fires burning only 12 miles away, so we dare not spend the time outside to collect the apples. In so many ways, these apples, coated with ash, represent our harvest as a people.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the prophets of old responded to catastrophe by calling upon the people to rend their garments, put ash on their heads, and wear sackcloth as a sign of entering a time of collective repentance and grieving for their transgressions against the laws of Life.
In place of our grief and repentance in the face of ongoing climate catastrophe, millions of acres of forestland are instead ablaze and rent by fire. Here, Gaia is arrayed in wildfire smoke, Her breath the sackcloth that scratches our lungs and reddens our eyes. In the absence of our heartfelt prayers for forgiveness and acts of reconciliation toward the natural world, ashes of lamentation rain down upon our heads from the heavens.
No matter where you live, these fires and this bitter harvest is yours as well.
But the scale and magnitude of this disaster also indicate that this is a liminal moment, a time out-of-time, a sacred summoning to stop, take stock, and change direction. Catastrophe calls us to conversion, to turn away from the path of error, and to face in the direction of Life once again.
To realize the great collective turning that is being called for by these times of COVID, hurricane, and wildfire, however, we must start small, beginning with ourselves, beginning by honoring the wisdom of our grief.
Bring something tangible to offer in the circle for the many who have lost their lives in one of the many ongoing catastrophes in our world.
Our intention will be to reunite with our true depth of feeling and kinship for the natural world.
We can ask for forgiveness from our mother, Gaia, and from our human and non-human kin—tree, deer, vole, salmon, hawk, raccoon, coyote, bear—who are losing their lives.
Let us witness, feel, and listen deeply to our larger family at this time.
This is a free, online journey circle offered by Gaia Shamanism on Wednesdays from 4-5:30 pm PDT. If you would like to join us, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. All skill levels welcome.