Elisabet Sahtouris ~ The Miraculous Evolution of Gaia


The Miraculous Evolution of Gaia

This interview is part of the Wild Hope for a New Humanity Series with Clare Dubios with Elisabet Sahtouris. It is a part of our Journey to a Billion Trees Campaign.

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Treesisters · Elisabet Sahtouris ~ The Miraculous Evolution of Gaia: Wild Hope for a New Humanity Interview Series

Thank you for sharing your love affair with this planet with us Elisabet! Wow – you turned our reality upside down. Thank you for your potent reminder that although we have thrown our Earth into a fever, nature is totally on our side, and we can make this shift into a Restorer Species, and fast, if we come home to nature's magnificence as ourselves.

ES2004Clare: Hello everyone and welcome to another in our series. I am here with an extraordinary woman. Elisabet Sahtouris is one of these creatures of this planet that has had about, I think, six or seven incarnations within this one lifetime. She has more stories to tell than just about anyone I know, and has a relationship with this planet that feels extraordinarily rich, deep, complex, and like a love affair. Elisabet is known as an evolution biologist and futurist. She has spoken on all five continents. She's the author of Earthdance: living systems in evolution, and A walk through time, and Gaia's Dance: The Story of Earth and Us. I can say very many things about Elisabet, but I will just simply say, I have profound respect for this woman, and we are very, very privileged to have her with us today. Elisabet, welcome, thank you so much for being with us.

Elisabet: Thank you so much Clare, for having me.

Clare: I would love if you could just introduce yourself a little, just let our listeners hear where did your love affair with this planet actually begin?

Elisabet: [laughs] My love affair with this planet started very, very early because I was very fortunate to have been brought up on the banks of the Hudson River, in New York State, in the United States. And I was free to roam nature as a child with no grownups watching- something that's almost impossible for children to experience any more on this planet. But trees were my first love, my first friends. I was able to especially relate to tall Hemlock trees, and if a woodpecker was too high for me to climb up and be with it I could take my mind up to where that woodpecker was. And so I was living in a seamless world where what we call matter and spirit are not separated from each other. So I guess I've known for a long time that we are spirit having a human experience as some people have put it. And to roam among those trees to collect those hemlock acorns...pinecones, the tiny little beautiful pinecones. And to sit inside a tree that had been hollowed out by lightening, a great Oak tree, and collect its acorns. These trees were my friends.

I sat under trees and pulled baby bunnies out of their nest and ran them through my sunsuit because they were so deliciously soft, and the grown-ups would say, "the mothers won't come back." And I knew the mothers came back, because the mothers knew that this child had no evil intentions, and that her children were safe with this little girl. So nature and I were not separated away from each other. It wasn't something...I never have liked the word environment. I prefer ecosystem, because at least we're part of our ecosystem. As I was so much a part of that tree-filled ecosystem of my childhood. So it starts way back then, and then I told my parents I wanted to be a scientist. And they said, "that's a boy's subject." And they made me study art first, and I'm not sorry about that because now I use my art to make beautiful slides when I talk about our planet Gaia, this living Earth that we're part of. And I think of myself now at the age of almost 82, as a planet person. I belong to the planet, the planet belongs to me, we're inseparable.

Clare: So tell us a little bit about the journey actually into science. Like when it actually became about evolutionary biology for you. And actually what that is so that everybody understands.

Elisabet: Yeah, well evolution biology is the story of the history, the life history of our planet, of Earth. And so it's what happens to Earth over time is all part of evolution. Whether it's about the big tectonic plates that formed on the surface of the Earth and that move around as we know. And I'm talking to you right now from the very middle of the biggest tectonic plate coating this planet like a turtle shell, right. And on the top of the highest mountains in the world anchored solidly in that big tectonic plate, at the very bottom of the Pacific Ocean which surrounds me, because I'm in Hawaii. And I came to Hawaii from Majorca in Spain, another island. And before that I lived on islands in Greece, and I really became addicted to island life. So, here I am sitting on this mountaintop surrounded by water almost up to its peak in the middle of the biggest ocean on this planet.

And when I became a scientist and started to study this history of the planet, I was taught the Darwinian story of evolution. The one that is taught to children in school if they are not in a religious school opposed to all notions of evolution. Evolution just means as I said life history of planet Earth. And most people will agree that we are on a timeline, and that things change according to that timeline. So when we go back to the very beginnings of the formation of Earth...if we could look at Earth like a movie. You know if you're standing on the Moon, and watching this planet evolve over almost four billion years, you would know it was alive. Because you would see it twisting and squirming, and turning different colours, and greening itself. And then having ice ages, where the ice-covered snowball Earth, and then melting all of that ice again so that there were no ice caps on the planet at all, and no lines on it the way people draw them when they make globes, right.

Seeing it from space that way, with its atmosphere hugging it, the original story of Gaia was that in her dance she whirls around and whips up this atmosphere around her and her sweat ends up forming the seas, and you know, it's a dance in the sky. And these ancient people that didn't have telescopes to look through to see wheeling galaxies and things, but they knew those images from within. So I kept thinking about things like that when I was being told about Darwinian evolution being about competition among individuals all through that 4 billion year history of Earth duking it out with each other, playing king of the hill; species just competing for space on this Earth. And I knew that something was wrong with that picture, something was so sorely missing from it. And finally after getting a PhD and being taught all this stuff about competition being the human nature because it was built in to us to fight each other for dominance, and all that kind of thing, I finally gave up. I just quit. I quit after I'd done a postdoctoral fellowship at the Museum of Natural History where there was a lot of interesting stuff about nature going on, and it was clear to me that most was about cooperation rather than competition.

But I just thought, you know science isn't answering my big questions, and I'm going off, and I started living on Greek islands intending only to do it for a while, and then staying thirteen years and going through writing novels to explain the human condition to myself. And then finally one day I was walking under these beautiful long-needle pine trees on my little island where I walked every day and picked wild mushrooms and greens and things and a walking stick [insect] fell onto the sleeve of my shirt on my arm, and I burst into tears because I hadn't seen one since I was a kid. And they look exactly like a twig that has tiny little legs, like a daddy longlegs spider that you hardly see the legs, and this stick is walking along like it's floating near the ground, or on your arm. And I hadn't seen one since I was a child, and I said I still want to know how evolution works. I know that this cooperation is going on. I see these cyclamen flowers blooming before the first rains comes in the fall because the trees are feeding their bulbs moisture under the ground, and if the trees are getting the moisture out of the air that means the rains are coming, and that the moisture is building up in the atmosphere. So the flowers are heralding the rains of fall, and all that cooperation. So I decided, okay I'm going to put together the story of Gaia the living Earth. And I started writing to people like Jim Lovelock, who had thought up at that word Gaia, to use for the living planet and Lynn Margulis his partner. And just decided I was going to write the story of evolution all over again for kids, to make it as simple as possible.

Gaias DanceAnd the last book I've published is called "Gaia's Dance: The Story of Earth and Us, a children's book for grown-ups. It was actually the first one I ever wrote, but I had to haul it out of my computer and update it with all the things we know now, to put it out again. And so far as only an e-book, but it's got a very low price on it, so it's very accessible to anybody. And I'll try to get it in to print. It has been printed in French in Paris, bit not yet in English. I'm sorry Clare I'm rambling along here, stop me.

Clare: Don't apologise, no! I'm sitting here...you're sending me off in so many different directions of questions that I want to ask you. I mean, I remember being at a conference with you, and I was talking about the Earth. And you turned around, and looked at me and said, "It's not the Earth, its Earth- she has a name, call her by her name."

Elisabet: Yes...

Clare:...and I've never forgotten it, the passion with which you said that...

Elisabet:...always capitalise! Always a capital E for Earth. And you don't say The Earth any more than you say, The Venus, or The Mars, right? [laughs]

Clare: I know, I know, that's what you said, and its stayed with me forever. But I hear the love affair, I hear the gift of your childhood where you weren't severed the way the majority of us are from ...

Elisabet: Yes, such a gift.

Clare: ... the natural state of indivisibility, and that you followed your passion. And yet it doesn't sound like, you know as you say, science didn't give you your answers so, how have you learnt about the cooperative nature of Nature?

Elisabet: Yes, that's what's so wonderful. When I stated over, I had to start with the very first living creatures of Earth which were bacteria, right? And Jim Lovelock and Lynn Margulis have done such a great job. Especially Lynn on that early life of Earth where only bacteria existed. They had literally formed themselves from the available molecules of this planet back in its youth, in its childhood, infancy almost. And the bacteria then developed all kinds of fascinating life-styles. And they started to do exactly what Darwin had taught about evolution, they competed with each other. And they were very prolific, and they caused trouble. The bacteria had Earth to themselves for roughly half of the 4 billion years of evolution; 2 billion years, a very long time. And during that time they invented almost all the molecules that exist today, all the lifestyles, some interesting technologies including things like bacterial motors made of 40 different proteins, arranged in camshafts and rotors, and starters and ball bearings, and things like that. And these motors they are way more efficient than any motors we've invented. And the nano-tech people are trying to copy them, and they can't.

So it was exciting, because here I was in this world of bacteria that were so prolific that they had coated the planet as high as the atmosphere, the bottoms of the seas, the coldest parts of the planet- everywhere they were. And they caused global problems that are more like the ones we've caused than anything in between bacteria and us. So I actually wanted to write a children's book called "Bacteria are Us" because this is where the story is going, we are made of these ancient bacteria.

But the way the story goes is, that the first problem they caused was global hunger, because the fermenting bacteria were the first kind, they fermented the sugars and acids that had formed naturally on the surface of the planet. And they gobbled them all up, and there was no food left, and life was going to die out. But then they got clever and creative, and they figured out how to make food out of what was left, which was nothing but minerals, water, and sunshine. And they invented photosynthesis.

Debra Bernier Elisabet

So there was a new kind of bacterium on the planet, and I called the first ones, the ones that fermented, bubblers. Because when you see things fermenting they bubble, like beer and yeast and stuff. So I called those the bubblers. And then the new ones I called the blue-greens, because that's how you identified them in nature. They were blue-green in colour, they were photosynthesing, making food from what was left as I described. And they got so successful that they coated the Earth and the bubblers had to mostly go underground to get away from what was happening on the surface of the planet. Because the blue-greens were giving out this waste gas of oxygen, and it was a deadly gas, and it was killing things off so the bubblers had to start hiding in swamps and wherever underground. There were no real swamps yet, because there weren't any plants yet, right? But they went underground, basically.

And then the blue-greens caused this pollution, and then what are you going to do with this poison gas atmosphere that's polluting the whole planet? Well the bacteria get clever again, and they invent a third lifestyle which I call the breathers, because they invented respiration which uses oxygen to smash food molecules, in order to feed on them. Well where were they going to get the food molecules from? They were invading each other and whatever, you know, bubblers they could find. Eventually they all get together in these communities where the oxygen ones, the breathers, the newest ones - they're the high-tech ones that invent the motors. So they can speed around in water, wherever there's liquid. And drill into these big hiding bubblers and become, and start eating their molecules from the inside. And it's a phase I call bacterial colonialism. And then eventually what happens is they take aboard these blue-greens to make food for the colony, and the ones with the electric motors spin tails off the edge of this big bubbler colony, so that it can drive them into the light where the blue-greens can make the food, and everybody starts to cooperate. And they all start giving up some of their DNA into the central library of information we call the nucleus of the cell. And what they're forming is the kind of cells that you and I are made of; nucleated cells. And they're the only cells ever invented on the planet after bacterial cells.

And guess what? We are coated with bacterial cells on our skins and in our guts, which is actually one surface of us. Because each of us in mathematics would be called a Torus, a T O R U S. And that's a doughnut-shaped mathematical form in geometry. Think of a doughnut with a hole in the middle, right? We have one whole going through our solid bodies. It starts with the mouth, and you all know where it ends up. And so bacteria that are in our gut, which number 10 times as many as all the cells in our body. Remember they're much smaller than the nucleated cells, so they can do that. And only weigh a matter of pounds in your gut. And they can actually crawl around out of your mouth, or the other end, and end up on your skin. So you know were technically coated with bacteria inside and out, and almost all of them are benign in helping us live. And we're just discovering that these guys who, after all those Darwinian hostilities, learned to cooperate as nucleated cells. Then, because they were new on the planet these nucleated cells, they had to go through their own life-cycle with a competitive youth, followed after another billion years, by a mature formation of multi-celled creatures-where they cooperated with each other to form multi-cell creatures like us. The rest of evolution you learned about in school. But that first three quarters with those two huge steps where life moved from the competitive phase into the cooperative phase are our heritage. And that's why nature is on our side as we go through our current adolescent crises as a human species, realising that cooperation is much stronger in us than that relatively brief youthful competitive mode. And that we can keep on competing in friendly ways, but we have to stop the hostile competition.

Clare: Oh my god! I'm just sitting here with my mouth hanging open, you just...what an extraordinary...I mean that is so multifaceted, everything that you've just said is like, yes we've got a template for evolution. I mean this is what is, this is what I find completely thrilling about your work is, on so many levels we're in a radical state of separation, dislocation, which is not true. Essentially, we don't understand what we are, we don't know what we are. We don't know what we are in terms of life's history, we don't know what we are in terms of our basic physiology, let alone our energetic capacities, really what our consciousness even is. But what I love about, when I listen to you, is I start to feel myself and us, as like part of this evolving swamp monster, if you know what I mean. We literally are part of a continuum of the physiology of this planet, discovering herself and moulding herself, and learning. And I have to say we're...it's easy to become extremely depressed about our destructive nature, but when you see it as a natural part of an evolutionary cycle, that has to shift from power over to power through, and power with...it has to go from its adolescent crisis into a mature phase where we respect life, and understand what we are. But it's so radical to think of it in terms of bacteria, and I... How did you discover all of that, how do you know, like, is it true looking at sort of specimens of rock, and bits of body from God knows when. Like how did you formulate that whole story?

Elisabet: Well really, I owe it to Lynn Margulis who figured out, you know she worked from earlier people who had this symbiosis theory of the formation of nucleated cells. But she's the one who really fleshed it out and showed exactly that kind of story of how you can attach the breathers onto the outside of the cell and move it along to get it into the light where the blue-greens can make food and stuff like that. So I found that such an exciting story, and to know that here we are, and there was a wonderful essayist named Lewis Thomas who was a scientist, he was head of Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute, and I think he was head of Yale Medical School for a while. And his first book was called "Lives of a Cell", and he pointed out that Gaia herself is like a giant cell. And when you say, she's the mamma cell, and then the smaller bacterial cells form on her body, and then give rise to everything up to us multi-celled creatures who can see ahead, you know, who have these beautiful consciousness's.

By the way I'd like to share my keyboard model of who we are. Most scientists will agree that the universe is all made of waves of energy, and Einstein showed us that energy is matter is energy, through his famous E=mc2 formula. So if the universe is all made of these waves of vibrations, which are frequencies, then we can use the metaphor of a keyboard, an endlessly long keyboard. Think no end at either end of a piano kind of keyboard. And so matter is the slow vibrations in the low keys, and then when you go up the keyboard you get into electromagnetic energy, which is what Einstein then showed was actually the same as matter. So you can transpose the music up and down the keyboard from the midrange to the low range and back. Now, as you go up higher on the keyboard you get into the non-matter parts of yourself, and the world, and the universe, which are mind, soul, heart, emotion, you know all of those things are up in the high keys. Now Western science only allows for things to be real if they can be measured. And they can only measure things using physical instruments. So they have a very hard time with the upper end of our keyboard-that is you. See you're not a body with a mind; you're a body, mind, spirit. You're the whole keyboard. You have the privilege as a human, of being able to play the whole keyboard, from the lowest bassist vibrations, to the very highest spiritual vibrations. And, all of this keyboard sits within, to me, a consciousness sea that is the origin of everything. And our quantum physicists got to that consciousness by digging down through matter to smaller and smaller parts, down through the cells, to the molecules, to the atoms, to the sub-atomic particles, and bwoop, they were in this quantum field of seething something, out of which these sub-atomic particles pop all the time constantly, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. You know, at an inconceivable speed. Now think inside your body every atom in your body is made of sub-atomic particles that are popping out of that quantum field and back in every moment, every instant of your life. Your entire body is being re-created. You were told long ago that cells on average replace themselves every seven years, your whole body is replaced. Yeah, but the cell replacement is slower than the molecular replacement. In every one of your hundred trillion cells you have 30,000 recycling centres. Just grok that for a minute. Every one of your invisibly small cells has 30,000 recycling centres in which the proteins, which is most of what you're made of (when you look in a mirror you're seeing protein; fat isn't visible on the surface of your skin, and there's only fat and protein, and carbohydrates making up your body). So when you think about this, your molecules are being twenty-four seven recreated much faster than the entire cell is recreated. And then you go down into the molecule and its atoms are replaced faster in the subatomic particles faster than the speed of light...

Clare: Oh my god!

Elisabet: ...you're renewed in every split second...

Clare: Wow!

Elisabet: ...you know there are cases of multiple personality disorder where one personality has a physiological body-wide disease, and the others do not. There's only one way to understand that, and that is that you do recreate yourself in every split second. Now think of what that means in terms of self-healing.

Look at trees and how they heal themselves when they're injured right? We too can do that. I went 40 years without seeing a doctor, and healed all kind of ailments. Knowing that I was being re-created. Having faith in myself to know what they're doing and trying to get my mind out of the way of their work. So anyway, when we know that we're body-mind-spirit, there are other sciences in the world- the quantum theorists when they've crashed into this field of consciousness, they knew that the things they had been taught as the basis of science...like, this is a non-living Universe running down by entropy; really kind of sad story... they knew that that worldview didn't fit what they saw is this constant creation, infinitely going on. And so they turned to India, to the Vedic sciences, which saw consciousness as primary for their explanation. Now think of my keyboard model, Western science starts at the low end of the keyboard. Eastern sciences, like Vedanta and Taoism and stuff, they start at the upper end, in the sea of consciousness looking down the keyboard. Same keyboard but looked at from different perspectives gives you a completely different view. And when you start with consciousness as primary, and then derive, slow the waves down into electromagnetic matter, and then slow them down further into the low keys of matter- ah electromagnetic energy and then down into matter, you can derive the whole keyboard from consciousness. While it's harder for Western science to grok the high-ends keyboard.

quote ESSo we need more than one science on the planet. Because science is about research rather than revelation, as in religion, that's how you distinguish between science and religion is one gets information through revelation, and then the other through research. And so if you get that, then you see that the basic worldview of a science determines what it studies and how. So you can have Vedic science, you can have Western science, you can have Taoist science, you can have all kinds of Indigenous sciences. I did one symposium in Islamic territory on Islamic science, to get them to write down what were their fundamental beliefs, in their science. And they have a living Universe, and Western science has a material Universe, and India has a conscious Universe, and Taoist Chinese have a Universe in which humans are fit into Nature. And so when we put all these things together we see that, Oh, this multi-cultural world, isn't it wonderful? Let's stop trying to do mono-culture. Just as it's deadly for trees, for only one kind to be planted you know, in neat rows for tracts of land, instead of having all their friends and relatives of different species together in their forest, it just doesn't make sense. Monoculture is never done by nature, never, ever. So we're trying to recreate whole ecosystems. Living ecosystems that we're a part of. There I go again, off on tangents...

Clare: [over-talking]...Oh, it's slightly impossible...

Elisabet: ...It all fits together.

Clare: It all fits together, but it slightly impossible trying to figure out where to go with you, because you leave this trial of brilliance which has got all these offshoots like tributaries, and I want to go down each tributary and flesh it out, and we don't have much time here. What I love about what you were just saying, well all these different sciences they're all arriving in different parts of the keyboard. There's truth in everything, and there's a deeper truth. And I actually had an experience earlier this year when I was trying to sort out a health issue. And I was told that I had a genetic issue. So I thought right, I'm going to nail this, like, I'm the creator of my DNA, I just decided, and so I started meditating...

Elisabet: that's right...

Clare: ...and I meditated down, and down, and down, and I got smaller and smaller, and then my DNA showed itself to me as a piano keyboard, which is so interesting that you say this. So here I was in this endless keyboard, kind of fascinated, and I was looking for the gaps; like where's the gap, where's this genetic issue. And sure enough there's this gap. So I'm sitting in the gap, because my perception is, is that everything is latent. And if it's not there, it's not because its broken, it's because somehow it hasn't been birthed into creation yet. So if you pay attention to it for long enough, your attention can help it birth into creation. And I sat in the gap, and I realised that there was a whole lot of garbage in there from the Witch burnings, and God knows what else. And I thought, well that's enough to switch any DNA off probably, that particular trauma. But then what happened as I sat there was the cosmos started forming in the gap. And I was spellbound, and I sat, and I watched this cosmos spinning, spinning, spinning. And what I was most aware of is, I have no idea what I am. If the very cells of my own creation are bigger...you know, can hold a cosmos, can hold a Universe. You know, what is the actual majesty of a human being? What is the complexity, the brilliance? Like, how do we birth into creation? It's like, suddenly we humans seemed like such blunt instruments to me, like going around sort of bashing ourselves up, and blowing ourselves up, and trashing the planet without understanding that we're these miracles, living in a miracle, living as part of a miracle, that has a complexity to its evolution that is more breathtaking than the most breathtaking piece of music, you know, symphony that you could ever imagine. And so, and that's what you're presencing me to. What you're presencing me to again, that we don't know what we are. That we just don't know what lives us, what breathes us, what forms us. You know, learning that we are recreated that much at a molecular and atomic level...I had no idea about that!

Elisabet: It's very empowering, isn't it?

Clare: Yeah, it's hugely empowering. It's like- wow, really? Yeah, I mean I'm sort of mind-blown. Because I've been stuck in the, Oh it takes this many days for your eye to re-form...and yet I also have this belief that if we can open, really, like drop enough of the bizarre separate state that we're in, to fully merge with nature consciously. I mean we can't merge with it because we are it, so we are merged, but we've done this thing with our mind that means that we're not. But if we can open surely it could flood in, in all its fullness and just lift out the stains of who we're not, and bring us into alignment with nature herself, with Gaia herself, as part of Gaia, do you know what I mean?

Amoeba and MapElisabet: Yes, exactly, exactly. And I think we are that immortal soul creating our bodies all the time form this quantum field if you want to talk science up, from the field of consciousness if you want to talk spirituality, whatever you want to call it- that's the reality of who we are. And here we are now as a whole species going through a crises. Now some of us, many Indigenous cultures went through their youth and got into maturity themselves. And one of the interesting things about that is that long ago Indigenous people, when they reached their cooperative maturity, they built the first cities on this planet. And they built those at crossroads where they were trade routes, where they crossed each other, and they met each other, and they shared information and goods and things. And they started building first ceremonial places there, and then inhabited them, and these cities grew like cells. And if you look down at the Earth from an airplane, and you fly over a city by day or by night, it looks like a living cell. And I have slides of that. How much they look like that with a nuclear hub in the middle, and the transportation systems going out.

Like think of a single-celled amoeba, most people have seen like amoebas under the microscope in the fifth grade or somewhere along the line. And you can see that nucleus and the streaming protoplasm, and things of the cell in the city. So I recently wrote a book called The Tale of Cells and Cities, because when the Indigenous peoples formed these first cities it was identical to the first bacteria forming the nucleated cells, right. So we can look to Indigenous people for the mature version of ourselves, but it has to be translated into our high-tech world. So, knowing that we have those Elders to draw on for their values.

I for instance, got recruited in to teaching in an MBA program here, because I teach living economies. And I was asked to help redesign the MBA program, working with several native Hawaiians to develop new courses on sustainability and thriving for the future based on the ancient Hawaiian values kind of summed up in the word Aloha. And they're all about humility, and loving kindness, and taking care of each other and of our ʻĀina, our Earth. Gaia in Hawaiian is ʻĀina. And so my course in that series is called the ʻĀina course, the one about Earth. And here in Honolulu, speaking of a trail of brilliance a hundred years ago, or a little more than a hundred years ago, a group of women got themselves together calling themselves The Outdoor Circle. 

1476405309Here in this city, this living cell of a city, they decided many trees had to be planted in the city, for shade if nothing else. You know the sun is hot here in Honolulu. And so they built these gardens up and down the streets, it was planting trees that today are like cathedral arches up and down all of our avenues. Very beautiful. And they got all outdoor advertising banned for ever. So my night city-scape is only the white lights of homes and open offices and things like that, and some traffic lights in red and green little dots, but no neon flashing anywhere. And you walk down the street, you can pay total attention to the trees because there are no billboards, no advertising out on the sidewalk. So you appreciate this cathedral of trees overhead as you walk through the city.

Now I like to tell people, you want to change your world? Just find something you love doing, that inspires you, and whether you're a poet, or a gardener, or a computer technologist, or whatever you are, if you see it as being in the spirit of loving kindness, and sharing, and caring for Earth, you do it. Some of the Hawaiian's here got together and rebuilt the ancient Polynesia canoes, and our Hōkūleʻa canoe just came back from a three-year journey sailing around Earth with no navigational instruments. Around the entire planet teaching love of Earth and each other. It's a wonderful, wonderful story you can see on the Hōkūleʻa website (http://www.hokulea.com/). The whole story is told there. And again, this is showing that the Indigenous ancients could do things that our modern technology, you know, has done in clumsy ways in comparison in many ways, you know. Not so close to nature that you have to deal with every storm.

So I'd like to talk now about how we're navigating through the perfect storm of crises that we've brought on ourselves. And we've done it, in our heady adolescence we didn't pay attention to the mess we were making for Mamma Earth, or Grandma Earth. So now we have to clean it up, and we've thrown her into a fever, and how do we get that carbon back out of the air. And oh, I just read every day about new technologies that can clean up the planet, the plastic waste in the oceans, the carbon in the atmosphere. We can do this thing. All we have to do is realise nature is totally on our side. That we've had all this bacterial heritage experience of building our own selves as cities, that we can bring the green into our cities. That we must have the trees here in our cities. We're estimating now that 70% of humanity will be living in cities within the next two decades. So we must think green cities. It's great that we can reforest, and we must reforest outside of our cities, but we also need to think much more about bringing those dear, dear Elder trees into our lives, right in our cities.

Clare: Which brings us to our real call to arms here. Which is this evolutionary step for me. I mean you've outlined it so beautifully, this sort of adolescent state that we've been in with our blinging neon, and our clomping our way through our planet, and our going, look what I can make with this, without realising that we're sort of cutting off our own foot to make something out of it which we're then throwing away in a trash heap. The behaviours of an adolescent species...

Elisabet: That's right, but it's time to grow up now.

Clare: ...but it's time to grow up now, and here we are. And I do so believe that we are encoded, because we are life we have the solutions inside of us. So this offering that we're creating for everybody going forward here next week which is the inner journey of awakening. This is a profound experiment journey that we're going on, to see whether we can bow to the greater intelligence of ourselves. From the inside out, and the outside in. Can we open our hearts to each other, can we merge with creation, with life, to actually activate what I'm calling our restorer DNA. I've no idea whether we've got restorer DNA, but what I know we've got is intelligence encoded in us that knows how to live in right relationship with all things because we're part of all things.

So this is a journey that is offered to everyone for free, to come on together, to see whether we can shift our awareness into profound respect for, to be informed by our greater body, by Gaia. Out of whom we've all arisen, and who we will all go back to being part of when we croak. And also as we wrap up this call, and Elisabet I'm so grateful to you, the call to grow your own forest, to see whether you are now ready to move beyond this pattern that we've all been in of taking all the time, taking, taking, taking from Gaia without giving her back. Are you willing to start re-robing our planet in the forest that she needs to cool herself down? Can you understand the privilege of that generosity that we can, we can make a huge difference by reallocating our funds. Please help us make it normal for every single person to start giving back. Elisabet, my dear incredible warrior woman, if you were to end this call was a message of hope to everyone that is sitting here hanging on your every word, what would it be?

Elisabet: Well I want to before I go, give a real big kneeling nod to technology, because that's what's making this possible for us to talk to each other this way. And we have such wonderful collaborative platforms now on the Internet, that we can get together like those ancient cells, and every one of us doing what makes our own heart sing in a beautiful, beautiful diverse culture together; an ecosystem of trees and other plants, and funguses that know what each tree needs, and can distribute among them, and all that. That is what we are becoming more and more like nature, because we're learning more and more from her. And our technology can be used to do wonderful things, as long as we simply don't put any toxins in them, and make them all fully recyclable, we need our technology. So I don't want to go out as though I'm a tree hugger who hates technology. No, I love it, bring it into our lives in the best possible way, in service to Gaia all of us together.

Clare: Thank you so much for ending us with the forest floor, which is my greatest love, and my greatest inspiration. I do believe that if we can learn from the forest floor and learn to lift each other up, to live in unconditional generosity and resilience borne of mutual care, we have a chance.

Before we complete I just want to let you know about our final interview with two extraordinary warrior women. Atossa Soltani, who is the founder of Amazon Watch and Lynne Twist who is the co-founder of The Pachamama Alliance. Their talk is called "Embracing the Forest Heart of the World." This is where we step together into the Amazon. A forest that is as large as the face of the moon. That is the heartbeat of the hydrological cycle of this planet. But we are going to step into Indigenous knowledge; we're going to step into an understanding of how to live with this forest. We're going to understand some of the science. This is extraordinary, it is important, it is beautiful, and I so look forward to both sharing the transmission of these two extraordinary women, but also the knowledge and the experience that they are a transmitter for.

So Elisabet thank you so much for being with us. I'm just, I'm quite high from this conversation, I feel like I've had this intravenous blast of Elisabet brilliance...

Elisabet: Me too Clare.

Clare: ...and I hope everybody else has too. Let's think, the bacteria managed it, so why the hell can't we?

Elisabet: That's right they did it without the benefit of brain, surely we can. Blessings on everybody out there.

Clare: Thank you Elisabet, thank you so very much.

Elisabet: We can do it together, TreeSisters.

Transcription by TreeSisters Heartwood Volunteer Michelle

Photo credits: 
Wood Sculpture: by Artist Partner Debra Bernier
Amobea: Roland Birke Getty Images
Aerial Map: Max Boettinger Unsplash
The Outdoor Circle: logo from www.outdoorcircle.com



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