The world is holding its breath. We are in lockdown, each of us caught somewhere along the spectrum between hell and heaven and the sense of waiting pushes down on my shoulders and steals my breath. If I go up the hill to ask What do you want of me? (I live on the side of a hill. I can walk amongst the celandines and under the oaks. I am aware of the breath-taking privilege this entails), then I am back in the vision, except it is brighter, tugging at my heart space, exploding in my head. I need to bring this out and all I have is words…
So, here is the vision. It is the winter solstice of 2018 and I am sitting with the fire. This is what we do on the solstice: sit and review the year just gone and look into the year ahead. My gaze folds into the flames until they fade, and I am out in the void, looking down on the wondrous blue pearl that is our home, soaring through the black-drop of space.
This image is not new: it arose in my childhood when humanity first walked the moon. But in the vision, it’s changing. With the wisdom of hindsight, I would say it’s evolving. At the time, my ears whine as I watch a fantastically complex web of light spring up, encircling – en-webbing – the earth.
It is night when I sit with the fire, and so the web-light is the frost-silver of the moon. At other times, on other days, it is sunlit. Either way, what’s most striking is the complexity of this web: the uncounted, uncountable array of filaments that counter cross in a weave of impossible intricacy.
Each node is connected to every other node —that’s the nature of webs—but what becomes apparent is that each is a node of consciousness. Some of these nodes are human, but most are not. Exploring along the lines, I meet trees, and rocks, dormice and red kites, mycelial networks, oceans and toads.
This is the web of life and I can feel it. I am a living part of it. I am empty and open, and I am here, fully conscious, fully aware and fully alive in ways that make my heart explode. This is what I am here for. This. To take my part in the web, so open, so clear, so connected that I can ask what do you want of me? and respond in real time.
So, this is my dream from the fire. And, because I have worked with it for 18 months, it has a context now: one of evolution and complexity, and a fierce, wild urgency.
Evolution: it used to be slow DNA tweaks down the generations. But we’re the generation that can shift to conscious evolution. We have the neuroscience. We have the skills of meditation, contemplation, of being-in-the-moment. We can shape our own neurology and so shape our own consciousness. We are evolution made conscious. We are consciousness able to shape itself. We are all potential.
Complexity: complex things are, by their very definition, unpredictable. Cells are complex, organs, organisms, biospheres, climates… All have feedback loops that maintain homeostasis within a narrow range of parameters and tip over into instability when those parameters are breached. Humanity is a hypercomplex self-organising web whose complexity just grew by orders of magnitude. And what we know about complex systems is that they reach a point of maximal complexity at which their timeline bifurcates. They either crash into chaos and extinction, or they emerge into a new system.
And that new system is entirely unpredictable from the perspective of the old system. The chrysalis cannot predict the butterfly. But somewhere in DNA soup of the chrysalis, amongst the imaginal cells that clump to form imaginal islands, that become imaginal organs that unite to become a butterfly…is a knowing.
And what I feel when I stand on the hill and do my utmost to reconnect with all the life around me, is that the web has this knowing. That we – humanity – need to take our part in this. We need to become conscious evolutionaries: urgently.
Urgency: let’s play a game. You are, I hope, sitting comfortably. You have enough personal space and quiet to be able to focus on how you feel. Really feel. Not how you think you feel, are afraid you might feel, have been told you should feel, or want to feel. This is how you actually feel.
And here’s the secret. Knowing how you feel depends on being able to rest in the present moment. Which, given the dopamine-drenched world we live in, can be hard. But it comes with practice.
So, in this solitary-enough, quiet-enough place, I want you to place a hand on your heart and breathe as if each breath came into your chest through that place. Let your attention rest there. Then bring yourself to somewhere you love, where the sun (or the moon) is bright and breathe in that light. Let it fill your heart space and then all of you.
Then ask yourself the question: what if we got it right hereafter? What if everything were perfect? How would I feel? You don’t have to know how we got here. You don’t have to know what it looks like. You just have to know how your heart space feels if the world becomes perfect.
Rest in this place. As you breathe in the sun-moon light, let it become saturated with this feeling. And then let it out to everything around you: the rocks, the plants, the earth, the sun, the rivers, the trees…the people.
Because this is the first part of being a conscious evolutionary: knowing how it feels when we get to where we need to be. Everything else arises from this. It’s how we take our place in the web.
And nothing matters more than this now: nothing.
Manda Scott is a podcaster, novelist, veterinary surgeon, sustainable economist, shamanic teacher, regenerative farmer…and conscious revolutionary. Her novels have been shortlisted for everything from the Orange Prize to the Saltire Literary Award, but she is best known for the Boudica: Dreaming tetralogy, which arose out of her shamanic dreaming practice. She is host of the Accidental Gods podcast and co-creator of the Accidental Gods website/project which aims to facilitate worldwide conscious evolution. When she’s not trying to change the world (and even when she is), she lives with her wife on a smallholding in the west of England.