Yesterday was Earth Hour.
For those who don't know what it is, Earth Hour is an event that was started by World Wildlife Fund in 2007. The idea behind it is to get everyone to turn off their electricity for one hour in the evening in an effort to raise awareness about global climate change.
Although my household did participate in yesterday's event, it turns out that not many in the Toronto area did likewise. My understanding is that the estimated drop in electricity use during that hour (in this area) was only about 5 percent.
The purpose of this post is not to discuss the relevance, or irrelevance, of Earth Hour as an event. Rather, I'd like to share an unusual experience I had yesterday, because I believe it is very telling about what is really happening in our natural world.
Yesterday my son Kevin and I were up early to do some work in the shop, and on our way there we happened to see a Great Blue Heron gliding gracefully over our heads.
Although it's not uncommon to see these majestic birds in our area, what's unusual is that we saw it yesterday.
Great Blue Herons are large wading birds whose main source of food is the fish and amphibians usually found in the shallow waters of streams, ponds and marshes. These birds are also migratory for the obvious reason that these shallow waters are frozen over in Canada during our long winter months.
Although the calendar says that Spring officially arrived early last week, the climate reality in this area tells a different story. For one thing there is still snow on the ground in many areas. For another, at the time we saw the Heron yesterday the outside temperature was -8 degrees. Thurday's low was -10, and Friday's was -8. Even with today scheduled to warm up to +2 degrees, it's pretty obvious that this Heron is going to stand a snowball's chance in blast furnace of finding any food because every shallow body of water around here is currently frozen over.
Clearly this unfortunate bird's sense of timing and/or migration has gotten totally messed up, and he'll likely die because of it.
I told you that story to tell you this one.
Many years ago I had a vivid and powerful dream that ended up being painted to canvas. That experience is explained in greater detail in an earlier post.
At the time it happened this dream inspired me to learn as much as I could about various indigenous peoples and cultures, and in the course of doing this I learned a great deal about an unusual and reclusive tribe known as the Kogi.
The Kogi are an indigenous people living in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of northern Colombia, in South America. They are the only civilization to have survived the Spanish conquests and to have kept their individuality. They are perhaps the only indigenous people in the world who, because of the particular nature of their surroundings, have been able to keep themselves apart and sustain their culture in a manner that has been, more or less, uncorrupted by the ways of the Western world.
They have survived to this day by keeping their traditions and relying upon, and looking after, the mountain environment. They believe it is their duty to look after the mountain that they call "The Heart of the World". They call themselves the Elder Brother and refer to the newcomers as the Younger Brother. It is the Younger Brother of the Western world who they believe is destroying the balance of the planet.
The Kogi way of life is one of being content with the ways of old. This is a deliberate choice on the part of the Kogi, and their belief system is rooted in a profound sense of duty for carrying out the will of Mother Earth and insuring the well-being of this living planet. When the Younger Brother, with his vanity driven by greed and ambition, thinks that he is running things in this world, that is when the Kogi believe that the planet and our existence on it has become endangered.
Amongst the Kogi there are elders known as Mamas, who are traditional leaders akin to being shamans, or priests. These Mamas are seers, and as such they have the natural ability to penetrate higher planes of existence and hidden causes. They understand the vital truth of the maxim "as above, so below." It is my understanding that one of the responsibilities these Mamas have taken upon themselves is to pray for Mother Earth on a continuing daily basis.
All of our thoughts, intents and actions are a form of energy that spiral around in the invisible world that surrounds us all. These energetic patterns and intentions ultimately become manifest as the "reality" that we ultimately draw to ourselves, and come to create and experience in our day to day lives.
Through daily prayer it is believed that the Mamas are able to intercept and dissipate negative energetic thought patterns that emanate constantly from the greed and fear induced world that the rest of us unconsciously chose to live in. This tide of negative energetic thought, however, has been growing steadily and it has taken on overwhelming proportions. The Mamas are effectively burning out from this onslaught and this, in turn, has prompted the normally reclusive Kogi to speak out.
In 1990 the Kogi decided to communicate to the rest of the world for the first time. They had survived by keeping themselves isolated but they also realised that it was time to send a message to the Younger Brother. They could see that something was wrong with their mountain - with the heart of the world. The snows had stopped falling and the rivers were not so full. If their mountain was ill then the whole world was in trouble.
Their elders sent a member who spoke Spanish to contact a British filmmaker who was in Colombia at that time. They asked the BBC to make a film to tell the Younger Brother about their concern. The film was called "The Elder Brother's Warning" or "The Message from the Heart of the World". Alan Ereira, the producer, also ended up writing a book about the Kogi called "The Heart of the World". Despite the powerful message of both the film and the book, these efforts have unfortunately yielded little in the way of substantive change in the ensuing years.
In the Spring of 2001 I read in a local newspaper that two Kogi elders had decided to come forward yet again with another plea for the well-being of this planet. From what little I knew about the Kogi I was aware that they preferred to live in isolation high in the mountains, as far away as possible from the rest of mankind. Therefore, if they were coming forward to speak now, I knew there was an important message to be heard.
On May 9, 2001 I went to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, accompanied by my daughter. In a lobby outside one of the auditoriums approximately 100 people had gathered to hear the Kogi message. The buzz in the air was palpable as we all awaited the arrival of the elders.
Before long the Kogi appeared, accompanied by a small entourage that included an interpreter. But as soon as the Kogi entered the lobby they were mobbed like rock stars. Well-wishers of all kinds surged forward to give greeting, and within seconds the two terrified Kogi were all but lost in the phalanx of the teeming crowd.
Standing about 20 feet away I could tell from the distressed looks on their faces that these elders were not enjoying the experience of being touched by many strange hands in the centre of this crowd.
Leaning over I said to my daughter that we would stay where we were, and would not join in the madness of the crowd. As soon as this thought entered my mind one of the Kogi elders suddenly turned to face me, and looking through the sea of heads he locked eyes with mine, and held his gaze.
In that precise moment it seemed as if he had "heard" my innermost thought, as if telepathically, and in making eye contact he was giving his reply. Inside I could sense a powerful energetic vibration, and could literally "feel" him communicate something akin to saying "thank you for respecting my space".
Before long we all moved into the auditorium to hear what the elders had to say. Through the interpreter it was explained that for each of the last several years the Kogi have watched lichen creep progressively higher up the sides of their mountain - a sure sign that the warming trend of this planet is continuing unabated. But the incident that gave them the greatest alarm occurred the previous Autumn.
The Kogi described an annual ceremony they perform in which insect larvae is wrapped inside bundles of leaves, which are then suspended from tree branches as welcoming gifts to the migrating birds who arrive every year. The balance of Nature is such that every year the larvae transform themselves into flying insects at precisely the same time the migrating birds arrive - thereby providing a veritable feast at the very moment it is required by the hungry and weary travellers.
In the Autumn of 2000, however, the Kogi noticed for the first time a serious imbalance in this dynamic. The larvae transformed and dissipated into swarms several weeks before the birds arrived, creating first an infestation of insects, followed shortly thereafter by a decimated population of exhausted and starving birds.
This has signalled to the Kogi that the imbalance of the Earth has now accelerated to become a serious wobble, and if yesterday's experience with the Great Blue Heron is any indicator - the wobble has not gotten better.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If yesterday's Earth Hour was intended to raise awareness about climate change, then hopefully your awareness has been raised by reading this post.