Fire Dragon!

What differentiates human people from non-human people? It’s a question that was triggered in a group that I subscribe to and one that I thought it might be interesting to explore more on this blog. Particularly with regard to the damage we are doing to Nature.

Non-human animals fight for resources, for example robins will fight to the death over territory. Non-human animals show emotion, just look into a dog’s eyes. They are intelligent, the great apes can talk to us if they have learnt sign language, parrots have been taught to speak and have demonstrated the intelligence of a 6 year old and dolphins know a thing or two.

Earth – physical being; Air – thought and intelligence; Water – emotions; we share all of these in varying amounts with non-human animals.

But Fire… Creativity and passion are firmly in the realm of human people along with its destructive side which is hurting the world around us.

There are few animals that use fire, but it is humans who have really harnessed it, from keeping warm to cooking and to flying to the Costa Brava. We started with burning wood, moved on to fossil fuels and then found nuclear fission, each source of fuel more destructive than the last.

The Fire Dragon, I like to think of the four elements as elemental dragons, has grown in stature and power throughout our history, we have nurtured it and it has nurtured us. But at what cost? White’s Law states that “culture evolves as the amount of energy harnessed per capita per year is increased, or as the efficiency of the instrumental means of putting the energy to work is increased” which suggests that we would not have the level of culture or society that we enjoy without us using the Fire Dragon to the level we have. Of course you can equate culture with creativity as well as society. The fire brings creativity too.

We can’t do without the Fire Dragon but it is damaging the other elements. Just look at the Australian wildfires earlier this year for an obvious example. But realistically, the impacts of energy use are far greater. The biggest impact, climate change, is starting to be felt and will see destruction beyond anything anyone can really imagine – the Fire Dragon’s impact on air has further impacts on earth and water. Our energy habit has triggered the sixth mass extinction – humans are directly responsible for the sixth extinction event…

The fire is responsible for passion and creativity too. Passion, like energy is a double edged sword. For example, we can see the downside of passion being played out in gender politics and BLM. Trump is passionate… There are people who refuse to listen to the view points of those who hold opposing views.

I spoke to Tony Benn once. I asked him whether I should go into public debate with racists or whether it was better to “no platform” them, i.e. refuse the debate and deny them the oxygen of publicity. He was unequivocal, debate them.

It saddens me every time I see someone saying “If you believe X, then defriend me.” This is the fire of passion burning too hot. It has to be better to try to persuade them to your view point rather than dissolve your circle into an increasingly tiny bubble.

Creativity is the highly positive side of fire. It is a part that needs nurturing and expressing. We need to be able to express ourselves. Fire is not all destructive.

So what is the answer? How do put out the fire or at least clip that dragon’s wings?

Water of course: empathy, emotion, connection. Deep connection through the water dragon who swims silently beneath the surface. Honouring the sparkling spring, the quiet river and deep blue sea. Understanding that we are 80% water and that all life depends on water. Reforming our relationship with the Water Dragon.

Earth, being grounded, stable and dependable. Deep connection with the earth, touching the soil in the morning, knowing that we come from the soil and will return to it. Understanding that as we walk on the earth, we must do so lightly. The Earth Dragon is a vital part of us.

And using less energy too helps… but we do this as our connection to earth and water grows.

But Air, not really. Air fans the flames, it gives a rational response to the passionate and unlistening Fire Dragon. Rational arguments are weak in comparison to emotional ones as anyone in advertising will tell you. Using emotional language is magic, rational arguments are not. The Air Dragon is too clever for his own good sometimes!

These can be expressed in Yin and Yang terms too. The world has an imbalance of yang energy (I equate fire and air with the masculine yang) and not enough yin.

Time of The Tower

Firstly a hat tip to John Beckett who inspired this post in his latest commentary about Tower Time.

Disaster striking, chaos, collapse and destruction are the meanings generally attributed to 2020, sorry I meant The Tower card in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot. We have certainly seen the start of this with the current covid pandemic, the oncoming economic collapse that will shortly follow, and of course the climate cataclysm that the pandemic has hidden from view. The Tower is falling and will continue to fall for some time to come.

The Tower

The climate crisis and the covid crisis are connected at many levels. The pandemic spreads through people travelling. Here in the UK the first cases came from Italy where people were on holiday skiing. It is the reason that Wales has taken the sensible step of restricting travel to 5 miles. Our desire to travel has driven the spread of covid and exacerbated climate change.

How sad it is that the UK government has failed to stop incoming flights, only just stating that people arriving should self-isolate for 14 days as if they are going to do that! It has very publicly flouted its own rules by defending the PM’s advisor who decided that he was exempt from the rules he created.

The lifting of lockdown has triggered awful behaviour from large sections of the country. Beaches overflowing with people and litter, a stampede for holiday flights and high streets becoming crowded again. And only about 10% of people bothering with a facemask.

Poorer people, BAME people, those in areas of high air pollution and of course those working in health care are all at far higher risk that the rich and powerful in society. Division has never been more stark and perhaps that has helped fuel the BLM protests, protests that I welcome.

We are in for a tough few years and it is time to prepare ourselves. Some of us won’t make it – the second wave of covid will hit soon and take more of us out – and many of those who survive will be poorer than before.

So what do we need to do? The answers are very similar to those in both the fight against climate change and the adaptation that is needed to cope with it.

  1. Build communities. Look after your neighbours, your family, your tribes. Work together on solutions. Grow food, keep your neighbourhood safe, work out what you collectively need.
  2. Get out of debt as fast as you can. The added resilience of not having debt around your necks will be essential over the coming year. If you can’t get out of debt then reduce your outgoings and save money where you can. Do you really need all those subscriptions, all those new bright shiny things, a new car, a bigger house – of course not.
  3. Learn practical skills. Gardening and food growing are essential. Being able to fix things will be increasingly important as new things become more scarce and more expensive.
  4. Keep an eye on what is happening. Educate yourself about covid, climate change, economics, Nature, and so on. You will make better decisions if you understand the facts.
  5. Connect with the world around you. Spend time in Nature every day and if you can’t get outside much remember that Nature is as much in your living room as in the wild lands.
  6. Connect with the world in you. Work with your deities, with the universal consciousness, with your spirits and soul. Spend time alone if you can.

Above all, stay safe. Wear that face mask, particularly in shops and public transport, continue to socially distance and don’t be tempted to go wild.

Rebounding carbon emissions

Letter to the Guardian:

Sir, The severity of the rebounding of carbon emissions post lockdown demonstrates yet another failure of governments to take the decisive action required to prevent climate catastrophe. If they remain only worried about the Covid peak and the economic dip, they will have truly failed humanity as well as Nature.

In response to: