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" Friendship is a sheltering tree "

Coleridge

The Life Cairn

April 9th, 2011

An interesting new project is being born here in Sussex, just up on the hill that overlooks Lewes: Mount Caburn. Members of the local community, and anyone who wants to join them, will be building a cairn on the top of the hill to commemorate all the species who have become extinct as a result of human activity. We create such monuments to remember humans who have died, so why not one that commemorates all creatures who are now lost forever?

The idea came to Peter Owen-Jones, who many will know from his television series Extreme Pilgrim and Around the World in Eighty Faiths, but as we explored another possible site today in Ashdown Forest, together with the landscape artist Chris Drury (also from Lewes, and an expert in cairn building) he explained to us that he is very much aware of the fact that this idea doesn’t ‘belong’ to anyone – and that it is indeed an idea ‘whose time has come’. As if to bear this out I learned today of ‘The Funeral for Lost Species’ – a theatre project working with the same idea.

There will be a meeting in Lewes at some time before the event for local people to get involved, a website will be going up for the project mid-May, and the hope is that – like a chain of beacons – this initiative will spur other communities to create their own cairns.

There will be a ceremony at 2pm on Sunday 22nd May at the highest point on Mt Caburn to mark the building of the cairn and everyone is invited. It will be a ceremony of ‘universal spirituality’ – of fellow humans, ‘Earth Pilgrims’, whether Christians or Pagans, Druids or Humanists – of any religion or none!

Bring a stone to add to the cairn, and if you would like to walk up from Lewes (40-60 mins walk) meet on Cliffe Bridge at 12.30 on Sunday 22nd May. Here’s a video Peter made about the event, and here is the Life Cairn’s Facebook page.

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