An excerpt from The Druid Way, in which I suggest that the essence or archetype of every species might continue to exist whatever happens on Earth, and yet that does not negate the tragedy that humanity is currently causing a Mass Species Extinction. I then speculate about our unconscious desire to kill the mother that could result in humanity destroying much of Nature (whether that constitutes complete annihilation or partial seems a moot point).
The blackbird paused in his singing, looked directly into my eyes, and then began a song that rose and fell in a way that led me into a peculiar trance-state I had never experienced before. And there, in that state, I just knew his answer. He did not speak or tell me – his song simply took me there. And there was here only different. It was no other space, no other time. We were still in the Brookland basin, the sun still shone, the small white clouds still scuttered across the sky. But there were dragonfly and butterflies everywhere: chequered skipper, large blue and Adonis blue danced their way over flowers only my grandparents would have seen. Mother Shipton moths competed with pretty chalk carpet and dark brocade moths in the undergrowth of cowslips. Stone curlews, lapwings, hawks and falcons flew high and free in the sky above.
Then I understood! Just as modern man has the arrogance to believe his planet is the only one out of millions of planets to hold intelligent life, so we have the arrogance to believe that we perceive the only reality that can possibly exist. At some level, some inner, deeper, essential level, nothing can be destroyed. We can crush and break the forms but we can never destroy the essences of things. If the world were to be blown up by madmen in Washington, London, or Beijing tomorrow, I knew then that somehow somewhere none of the splendour of nature would be lost – it would continue to exist in the inner world until the time came for it to manifest outwardly again.
But then the rise and fall of the blackbird’s song drew me back to my everyday state of consciousness, and as this happened a great despair overwhelmed me, and I looked into the blackbird’s eyes and I knew why he looked so sad. This world, this everyday world exists too, and it is the only one of its kind. The essence of all that has lived here can never be destroyed and it will live forever in the inner world and perhaps on other planets and at other times, but here, now, it is unique and it can be destroyed and it is being destroyed. The world is mortal too, like us. And suddenly I felt like a child who finally realises that his parents will die one day….Suddenly the ground beneath you falls away and you are filled with a kind of dread. It doesn’t matter that you are small and weak – you just need to know that your parents, your mother in particular, will be there for you to cling to for ever and ever. It’s all very well saying that there will always be mothers – but you want this mother here, forever.
And we are the first generation to know this. To know that our Mother can die. Might die. For a child this realisation will, all things being well, lead to an increasing maturity. Let us hope that our understanding of our Mother Earth’s mortality will lead us to a sober maturity rather than a nihilistic despair or an insane attempt to actually ensure her death. Psychoanalysts, after Freud, have been obsessed with our unconscious desire to kill our father (through the Oedipus complex). How strange it is that so few have observed the deeper, more sinister urge in the human heart – the desire to kill our mother.