As 2021 starts, we are all – whether we like it or not – nearly one year in on our journey to Ithaka, the island home of Odysseus.
Odysseus, one of the conquering heroes of the Trojan war, should have been home within a few months but the voyage took ten years. And (figuratively) that was with the vaccine.
The vaccine is our customary human way of dealing with a problem after it has manifested and dealing with it only as it affects us, the humans on this planet. Yes it is wonderful. But it won’t and can’t sort the underlying problem. The journey to Ithaka is about healing the source of the problem in the first place and that can’t be done with two injections.
Constantine Peter Cavafy’s beautiful poem, Ithaka, is below.
I truly believe that Covid-19 is our karma. Not punishment for being ‘bad’ but a warning about the process of cause and effect. It is a warning from our beautiful planet who nurtures and sustains us without asking for anything in return. Yes, we all know about climate change; but climate change is also a symptom, not the cause.
The cause is our insistence that we, as humans, have more rights than any other living thing on Earth – or even in the universe.
Without the first lockdown, I might never have read Daniel Quinn’s book Ishmael which taught me something I had never realised before: that humanity is at war with the planet. For the last hundred years or so, we have accelerated that war and it has been so much fun – because it always is when you’re winning. What we have created is the equivalent of bungee-jumping – and the rope is fraying…
Covid-19 came to us from animals; because we misuse animals and nature. And it’s not just the Chinese with their exotic animal medicines, it is every one of us, including me. And I am including vegans in there too.
This planet is a place of diversity; it requires that diversity to thrive. All its creatures apart from humanity live in peace with each other. Yes, the predators kill to eat but when they are not hungry, they and their prey live comfortably together. We don’t. We keep on attacking.
- We kill the competitors who would also like to eat our food.
- We kill off competitors who would also eat the food sources of our own food.
- We kill off plants that compete with the food sources of our own food.
Everything that does not serve us is seen as an enemy. We have exempted ourselves from the one law that rules this planet – the law of limited competition – which means not being at war with other species. If the rest of creation didn’t live by this law, then the world would be a lifeless desert. That is where we are heading unless we humans either change or are annihilated. You see, it only takes one species who won’t play correctly for the system, to break down completely. It takes time … but that time is ever closer.
If you are vegan or vegetarian, you are not exempt. Even if you eat 100% organic, you are still contributing to the human war against the Earth because, unless you live in equatorial regions, you cannot eat sustainably nor seasonably and land must be cleared to create your food. If you don’t eat organically, you are supporting pesticides, fertilisers and other pollutions which destroy lives that we humans don’t view as important.
Even our kindness to those of us who are suffering is a war on the planet. We consistently try to assist fellow humans who are experiencing drought or famine and our kindness helps them to survive and reproduce and expand. Any other species facing famine or disaster allows itself to decline until the balance of nature is restored.
Now, we can’t do this; I know that. I can’t do it. I’m not abandoning those I love who are vulnerable to Covid-19 and I am protecting myself as well as my family as best I can. And I can’t not try and assist others such as refugees or the starving. But, as we are on the long, long journey to Ithaka, we could make a long-term change and slow down our rate of reproduction. We won’t because of the screams of outrage at our right to have as many children as we want; our right to be fulfilled; our right to be far more important than any other species living on this planet – species that we would cull without hesitation if they threatened our food or safety.
At the start of the Bible, it does say ‘go forth and multiply’ and religious folk often use that as a reason to continue our growing invasion of this friendly and supportive planet. It also allows slavery and much else that we have, gladly, overturned. But that one instruction seems to stick. I’m telling you now, with all the authority of one who listens to the love that binds the planets and the stars together that if you will sit, quietly, tune in to spirit/God and ask if that’s still a good idea for humanity to multiply, you will hear a resounding (albeit gentle) NO.
Enough of the bad news. What’s the good news? That we are still an intricate part of this beautiful World and She loves and supports us. Here’s a short list of ideas which may well seem trivial or stupid but aren’t. You already know most of them and you can do all of them. On our journey to Ithaka, we can change our view of the World and start supporting Her emotionally. One of the things we have learnt from lockdown is how important our mental and emotional health is. Let’s end the war on the World at that level at least and regain our own souls – the rest, the healing, will follow. It will take courage and it may take ten years but what’s that when it means survival of our species – and a whole planet?
- Thank your food; thank the plants and the animals that give their lives for you every day.
- Reciprocate. Leave offerings of oats or fruit when you pick something.
- Sing songs of blessing and love to water. Water carries love as well as pollution (See Suzi Crockford’s page on Facebook)
- Limit the number of children you have to two (that doesn’t mean that every third, fourth or fifth child is unwelcome – all are welcome and to be treasured – but it does mean changing the paradigm for the future for the sake of our children now).
- Start referring to plants and animals as ‘he’ or ‘she’ rather than ‘it.’ It’s much harder to cut down a tree with which you have a relationship.
- Talk to the devas while you garden; explain about pruning and weeding and listen to their view too – they’re quite happy about it; they just want to be a part of the plan.
- Plant trees.
- Stop using as much plastic as you can. Seriously stop using so much.
- Read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.
- Read Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. It’s the most beautiful love song of healing to the planet.
Please, may these be included in your new year’s resolutions for 2021? Thank you.
Ithaka by Constantine Peter Cavafy.
As you set out for Ithaka
hope your journey is long,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope your road is long.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbours you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.