Rediscovering the Sacred

I honestly believe that Humanity will only find a way to solve the current climate and ecological crisis and to thrive on this Planet, alongside Nature, when it rediscovers its own spiritual essence and that of everything that exists in this Universe. In other words, Humanity will only find a way to prosper in balance with the Earth’s needs and resources when it rediscovers its own spirituality and when it reconnects with the Sacred.

I heard Sir David Attenborough, the famous British natural historian, say that he believes Humanity will only commit to saving this Planet when it truly learns how to love it – and that we can only love Nature when we know it. But how can we know, and then love, that which we are not willing to accept? Right now, our vision is wrong. We look at Earth’s constitutive elements and we see only resources and things to use, exploit and consume for our own pleasure. We see Nature as something that is at our disposal, almost as if it exists merely to serve our needs and desires. Our collective imagination is so biased that we even treat other living beings, other animals and plants who share life on Earth with us, as objects or commodities. This is clearly the wrong world-picture and the greatest illusion we have fallen into, one brought about by the scientific and technological revolution (and by sociopolitical systems such as capitalism and ideologies such as liberalism and humanism) that put humans on a pedestal and made them believe they are the greatest species on this Planet, entitled to everything due to their undeniable superiority. This very belief may well be the one that ultimately drives us to our own extinction… Because, in believing that we are above everything and everyone else and that we are in control of Nature, we forgot the number one rule in the Universe.

Everything around us is interconnected and therefore interdependent. When we imagine humans’ standing in the world, we usually conceive of a pyramid where we are at “the top of the food chain”. However, in reality we are only one element among billions, part of a circle where matter and energy are constantly flowing among material and immaterial elements. We might have colonised and dominated much of the Planet, but ultimately this big endeavour has only led to an unsustainable way of a life and to a dangerous loss of balance that is threatening life on Earth and the very survival of our own kind. In our recent discovery (yes, because in natural history, it is very recent) of science and technology, we – in the West especially, and transferring these beliefs and knowledges to the rest of the world through globalization – have increasingly tried to give scientific and mechanistic answers to every natural process that takes place around and inside us. We try to find a “scientific” or a “technical” explanation for everything, and in doing so we lost sight of the bigger picture. In our attempt to be all-knowing and omnipotent, we forgot that there are many things science can actually not explain. This is the domain of spirituality, of the unseen, of the Sacred. This is the domain of energy instead of matter. This is the domain of humility, selflessness, empathy and compassion. That is why I honestly believe that Humanity will only find a way to solve the climate and ecological crisis and to thrive on this Planet, alongside Nature, when the balance between science and spirituality is restored.

When I was a child, I always believed in magic. I read stories, myths and legends, and I believed in dragons, fairies and elves. I believed in the power of the elements, in spirits and ancient mysteries. I had an open mind and I found that the world was much more exciting and fascinating if magic was real. Now that I am older, I discovered that I was not wrong. Unlike society keeps trying to tell us, that magic does not exist, that extraordinary phenomenona are not in fact real, I discovered that magic does exist. It is not perhaps in the shape of dragons, fairies or elves. But it is present in the amazing mysteries that connect life between species; that produce so many things that we cannot truly explain. It is the sort of magic you feel when you are walking down a valley and you feel the rocks around you, the same rocks that have existed on that very spot for such an incredible amount of time, indescribably vibrant and alive. How much have they already lived through? How much have they already witnessed, even if blind to what was happening around them? Yet, it seems undeniable that they are alive… This is the realm of spirituality, where we must accept that we don’t know all the answers and we must be open to see, hear and feel, in order to learn more.

Roald Dahl wrote a sentence that has been a guiding principle for me all my life. ‘Only those who believe in magic will ever find it‘. This, for me, is the answer to why so many people live unfulfilled lives, where they believe they know everything because everything is scientifically or technologically explained – but they are actually missing so, so much, because they are not open to accept what they might not know how to explain… at first sight. The trick is this: you must believe it so you are then able to find it. I sometimes think that this is some sort of test of faith on the part of the Universe or our ultimate source of life, whatever it may be. In some ways, I think it is testing us by asking: “Are you ready to put your faith in me, to believe in all my potential?”. If you depart from a position of scepticism, telling yourself that all extraordinary phenomena are just false, dubious or can otherwise be explained by science or technology, you will not really see the mystery. You will not, because you’re looking at it the wrong way. In your mind, you’re already dismissing the spiritual phenomenon by not believing it from the start. Instead, if you believe that these things are possible, if you believe that they can and do happen… Then you will begin to see them.

I feel this clearer than ever with forests – particularly with trees. Not long ago, I went to Belgium on a trip and I had the immense luck and pleasure of going for a walk in the woods with three donkeys. It was just me, two other women and three donkeys walking with us, deep into the forest. Throughout all the walk, as soon as I focused on everything around me, I strongly felt I was constantly being watched. I would look around and not see anything, but I could clearly feel that tingling sensation of when you are being watched. This feeling, however, was non-threatening. It was actually very pleasant and alluring. I could feel a sort of childlike curiosity from the forest around me, as the trees and its hidden beings were clearly wondering who we were and what we were doing there. But, as they felt that we were peacefully strolling along the trail and had not the slightest intention to hurt them, as they felt that our presence was harmless and our intentions positive, their response to us was very peaceful as well. I feel it too whenever I go for a walk in my local forest, which I have been doing for all my life (since I was a baby in my mothers’ arms), and almost every week, which means that I know this forest very, very well. I like to play and say that these trees know me since I was a baby, and that they always seem happy to see me. What I do know is that I can clearly feel them communicating with each other when I walk past them. It may just be the touch of the wind in their leaves… But it can also be a lot more. Scientists are now beginning to admit that there is an immensity of things we still don’t know about plants, and that they may very well be much more complex beings than we’ve ever thought. This doesn’t surprise me.

How can we expect to realise the full extension of life when we imprison ourselves in cities and metropolises, places where Nature is so restrained that it becomes part of a tale in a book or a film? How can we expect to see, hear and feel the endless connections and subtle communications between thousands of beings that take place everyday, all the time, in a mountain or a forest, a savannah or any other type of ecosystem? As we moved further away from Nature we moved further away from ourselves and from each other, and saying this will never get old. There are sites where we can rediscover the Sacred, but these are not in cities, not in villages, not in places filled with humans and their artificial constructions… You need to get away from the crowd to discover yourself and what is all around you, that which science and technology are yet far from understanding. And then, if you open your heart to the possibility of discovering the unknown, if you open your mind to the possibility of seeing, hearing and feeling that which society tells you cannot be real… Then you might begin to understand the true nature and beauty of this world.

Disconnect

A wise person I met several years ago once told me that, if she could, she would rid the world of three things: money, borders and religions. Sometimes, I ask myself that question too. If given the power to remove something from the world right now… anything… what I would choose to erase? Money surely comes to mind as one of the first options. Weapons too. But one answer that can be quite tempting sometimes is, to be honest, technology. Yes, technology brought a lot of progress to our world in many ways and it helped improve the lives of millions of people. But the discovery and evolution of technology also set us on a course from which, for many people, I’m afraid there may be no return… This is the path of estrangement and detachment from the Wild, from our roots and our essence. The path that led us to a virtual prison we choose to stay in.

How many of us can actually live without our computers and phones and televisions? How many of us actually manage to stay “off-grid” for one entire day or – maybe – one entire weekend? How many of us feel that we’re okay when we are offline for a long time? I could spend hours writing about the insane technology dependence so many thousands of people suffer from. I am one of those people too. Despite having grown up in a beautiful house with a big garden, playing outside during most of my free time and spending the rest of it reading and interacting with other beings, I too have fallen in the rabbit hole of the online world. It is incredible how I seem to be incapable of starting my day without checking my phone to do the usual routine: searching for anything new on Facebook, then Instagram, then my personal email, then my professional email, then possibly Twitter or Youtube or something else… And most people actually spend the majority of their days online!

I once wrote a text about how dependence on technologies – particularly online networks like social media – is actually a huge epidemic of the ego: we became so obsessed with the virtual world and with our image in it that we actually forgot we are living in a real one out here; that we’re part of a natural world where reality takes place… instead of all the fantasies, illusions and manipulations that happen on the other side of the screens. When you try to remove yourself from that position where you are too, constantly checking your online accounts, following other peoples’ news and everyday lives, wondering what’s happening right now across the world… when you manage to remove yourself from that very spot and look at yourself and others with a little bit of detachment, you begin to realise how insane this all truly is. How many people spend a day without taking “selfies” to post on Instagram and Facebook, as if they were advertising themselves for a massive virtual audience? It is, indeed, the cult of the ego. The pinnacle of egocentrism. It is almost impossible nowadays to go outside, sit in a caffe or even a city park and look around to see people reading a book, enjoying the sun silently or simply talking to each other. Most of them are head down, looking at their phones and tablets and other gadgets. We are now the prisoners and slaves of our own creation: the online world.

I see two enormous problems with this. First of all, it is dangerous, deceiving and unhealthy on a personal level. It is harming us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to spend so much time online instead of connecting and interacting with other living beings; instead of exploring and getting to know the natural world around us; instead of spending our time doing other things that actually contribute to the outside world’s improvement. And this is, essentially, the second (even bigger) problem. Imagine having one person obsessed with herself and her virtual world, completely glued to her screen and not caring the slightest bit about the outside (or should I say real?) world. Now imagine that by the billions. We have been zombified by the online world on a scale that means that more people spend time focusing on the world inside our screens than on the one that is out here – and that is going through a deep crisis, by the way. It’s like Mother Earth is calling out for help through storms and droughts and floods and hurricanes and widlfires, and her human children simply ignore her as they scroll down their Facebook page, searching for any news. Do you want some news? How about: the world is falling apart and you’re too busy staring at your phone while it’s happening?

I don’t mean to sound aggressive, but sometimes we need to shake ourselves out of our illusions… and this is certainly one of the most powerful and collective ones there is. The only way I can wake myself up from this dependence is if I constantly remind myself that I shouldn’t spend so much time online. If I don’t focus on mentally alerting myself to this, I will simply fall back into the habit of checking out my phone and turning on my computer… and before I know it, hours have passed. Yet, there is not one place in the world where I feel more relaxed, content, peaceful and replenished than outside, in the real world, and especially in the middle of Nature. Honestly: if I didn’t go for walks in the forest basically every week, I am sure I would go insane. Whenever, for some reason, I go without those hikes for a longer amount of time, I start feeling edgy, anxious and unwell. Of course, some people could tell me: “Okay, so you love going out for walks and spending time surrounded by trees and bugs. But that’s you. Not all of us are tree-huggers and Nature lovers. I never liked being outside very much… I hate camping!”. Haven’t you ever met people who said they weren’t really the “outdoorsy type”?

Obviously, you shouldn’t force yourself to do things you really don’t like to. But I am fairly confident that the people who claim not to like Nature and the outside world are those who are losing the most in their lives. They’re the ones who are missing out on a very important thing… Their connection to their inner Wildness, their connection to the Greater Source of all life, their proximity to our common, Earthly Mother. We are all wild beings. We are all animals. We all belong in Nature. It’s who we are, it’s where we come from. We’re not robots or machines. We’re not some superior, super intelligent form of life who evolved to master life in this world through science and technology to simply live in a world of concrete and stone and metal. We are living, breathing beings who are made of natural elements and who will one day disintegrate again into those raw elements. Not “being a fan” of Nature is simply proof that we are deeply disconnected with our true selves and the natural world around us. It means we’ve lost our connection to our Mother, to our source of life, to the Universe itself.

The online world of technologies is one of our own, human creation. Human minds and human hands invented and developed it. But our natural world, the Planet itself… that was not created by us. It either exists since immemorial times, or perhaps it has always existed because there is no beginning and no end. This depends on your personal, spiritual beliefs but, either way… Nobody can deny that the existence, the very essence of our world, of Planet Earth and of the Universe is something much greater, older, wiser and more special than us humans. We’ve been living here for a mere fraction of time, if we look at all the History of our Universe. And we’re losing the indescribable experience of exploring and knowing our incredible world and our Mother Nature for the sake of wasting time in an online world of virtual reality? Some would say we’re missing the whole purpose of life. So ask yourself… What do you think is more important: to make sure you are always connected to the online world, or to make sure you frequently disconnect from that so that you can be more in tune with the real world and with your inner self? In this sense, disconnecting (from the online, virtual world) is actually the key to connecting to the real, natural world all around you. We need to disconnect to become connected with each other again.

Go off-grid so you can dive deep into the immense network of relationships, elements and beings that is our Home. Did you know that scientists have for some time been talking about the Wood Wide Web? Perhaps the only one you know is the other WWW… But this one is actually far more real – it comes from trees. Trees are actually connected through an immense network of roots, which they use to communicate, to exchange minerals and energy and signals, to alert each other when there is some form of destruction nearby, and for other purposes scientists are still trying to discover. How much do we actually know about the Wild world around us? Everyday we are losing hundreds of species of living beings, many of whom we didn’t yet truly know, but the richness of life and Nature is far more priceless than any scandalous news we might come by on our phones. Your inner self will be thankful if you take yourself outside to inhale some fresh air, to walk under the sun, to swim in a river or to simply be in contact with other living beings around you… Because that’s where it gets its energy and its liveliness from. We thrive and prosper from contact with other life forms, not from spending time incarcerated in an artificial, technological universe that constrains our abilities, shortens our perspectives and strangles our Wild spirit. So instead of spending an infinite amount of time as a faceless piece of a giant online machine, try to be more in touch with yourself and the Universe around you. You’ll be surprised by what you will begin discovering.

Embracing shadows

A fundamental part of any healthy life – and of any process of self-discovery and raising consciousness too – is learning to embrace your own shadows. In other words: accepting the fact that sometimes you are not well. If you ever feel tempted to tell yourself that life should only be about positivity and light and celebration, do not make that mistake. Yes, perfect, ideal lives would perhaps be that way, but real life is not – and there’s a lot to learn from shadows and darkness. When I was younger, open-minded people with spiritually rich lives, who were smiling and seemingly happy all the time, used to secretly annoy me. I don’t know what annoyed me the most: whether the fact that I thought they had to be faking it, because it simply isn’t possible to be positive and optimistic allll the time, or whether I envied them for apparently dealing so well with life’s hurdles. But the fault was mine: it was I who was wrong to believe that they were positive and happy all the time. Those people went through tough moments too – they had just learned how to deal with them better.

Life will always throw challenges at you. Likewise, any process of self-discovery requires some digging… and digging deeper in search of your true self, brushing and cleaning your inner landscape of all that is stopping you from reaching your true potential, from achieving freedom and peace of mind, is sometimes a dirty piece of work. It demands you confront those parts of yourself or of your life that you never felt comfortable confronting. It demands you speak the unspoken or dare to feel what you’ve long repressed. But there is incredible courage and strength in deciding to go through this, and even some form of celebration. To embrace your own shadows means celebrating the fact that you are not perfect, but that you do not let fear master you and that you want to become a better, freer, purer, kinder, wiser version of yourself. You cannot let go of that which haunts you before you admit that it is there; before you recognise that it has power over you, as long as you let it… Maybe, that those ghosts have had power over you for a long time. This is very hard: it is scary and sometimes even overwhelming, because it makes you feel vulnerable and exposed. But vulnerability is in no way weakness – this is a common misconception. Until you recognise and accept the presence of shadows inside you, you will not be able to change what needs to be changed in order for them to disappear.

In the last days I haven’t been feeling well. About a week ago, I was caught off guard by feelings of anxiety, fear, hopelessness and powerlessness. Whenever I was alone, either at home or in the middle of the street, I would suddenly burst out crying or feel that I was about to. I felt drained of energy, lethargic, like I didn’t have the strength or will to do anything besides getting up from bed, eating, lying down on the couch or going back to my room. This was all triggered by a chain of events that has to do with my ongoing research on the subject of climate change and my growing concern for the future of our Planet, as I dig deeper into the climate and ecological crisis that we’re going through right now. Being continuously up to date on the latest data, predictions and warnings by experts and the scientific and activist community, to hear the alarm bells ringing everytime I read a news article or a new story, started to have its toll on me… And to witness the majority of people around me living their everyday lives as if nothing’s wrong, neither changing their personal ways of life nor demanding their political representatives to change the system, made me feel even worse. For the last few days, I have felt like I was trapped in a bubble, watching the future crumble in front of my eyes as most people don’t seem to care the slightest bit. And this was a totally overwhelming feeling.

Dealing with feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness is a tough battle. It demands you accept that a lot of things in life are simply beyond your control. The only thing we can truly control, if we want to and know how, is what happens inside us – meaning: our thoughts, our emotions and the way we react to external events. However, this is perhaps the trickiest part: very few people actually know how to do this. In the end, every process of self-discovery and raising consciousness is largely a learning process on how to own and control your thoughts and emotions and the way you translate them into actions and behaviours. This is the key: even if you cannot decide what is going to happen in your life or in the near future, you can choose how to react to it. Even if you didn’t want for something to be happening right now, you can still decide how to face it as we speak. You are not as powerless as you think: your power lies precisely in the way you choose to respond to what is happening. But you’ll only begin to learn how to yield that power wisely when you accept that a lot of things are out of your control.

I think the process of embracing your shadows usually goes like this. Something in your life begins to trouble you deeply. Maybe it has been troubling you for a long time, maybe it’s something new or that has only recently been uncovered. It may belong to your personal life or to the outside world, but still affect you. At first, you might not even notice the shadow growing above your head. Storms usually start with a couple of clouds forming up in the sky, turning around and moving slowly, until they start getting bigger and thicker and darker. When it is impossible for you to deny the presence of those shadows anymore, then you can choose one of two paths: either you try to keep denying they are there and, when it starts to rain and the storm starts raging, you simply begin to run and try to escape them; or you look straight into them and decide to face them head on. The first path will lead you nowhere, because however far you may run, the shadows will simply follow. They belong to you, so you will always take them with you no matter where you go. If, instead, you choose to face them, that doesn’t mean they’ll go away all of a sudden. The first step is to face your shadows: recognise that they are there, look into them, try to understand what hides behind them. What is troubling you? What is the cause of your negative feelings? What is causing your fear, anger, distress?

In my case, to give an example, facing my shadows demanded recognising that what I was feeling was a panic reaction to climate change and the prospects of a dire future ahead of us. My feelings of dread, anxiety, powerlessness and anger towards conformist people, however, were not helping me in any way; on the contrary, they were only draining me of any energy and leaving me at the mercy of more fear and hatred. This is the next part: once you’ve identified what is troubling you, you need to tell yourself that it’s not bringing you any good. You need to look at yourself and your life objectively and see how those negative feelings have been affecting you in ways that they might not if you let go of those shadows. This is the second step: to embrace your shadows. Yes, I’ve been feeling very bad because of something that is happening in my outside world and that will possibly define my future life in many different (potentially negative) ways. But how is feeling bad because of this helping me live my life right now, in the present moment, and how is it helping me to cope?

“My shadows are not helping me right now. Yes, I see them and I understand why they’re here. They are a reaction to something that is happening that is ultimately beyond my control. And for that reason, I do not wish for them to control me. I cannot define the future and impose change on other people or the system itself. But I can define my own reaction to these feelings and I can impose change on myself”. Embracing your shadows essentially means rejecting denial, accepting the fact that you’re not well, trying to understand where those feelings are coming from, and then working to let them go. This last part may be a bit harder – you might need some sort of practice, meditation, reiki, circular breathing, yoga, tai chi, whatever it may be – to help you. But the most important thing is to talk to yourself: to engage in a dialogue where you search for the causes, you look for what’s troubling you, you try to understand how it is making you feel, you realise that you don’t like the way you feel and you commit to changing the way that is affecting you.

I realised that the people who used to annoy me for how positive and optimistic they always seem to be also go through hard times in life. The only difference is that they don’t waste time letting themselves be consumed by those negative thoughts and feelings. They quickly put themselves through this process of facing what’s wrong, understanding the causes, embracing the shadows and then letting them go. They can be sad and angry and afraid too: they simply don’t waste time staying that way. After all, it is you who decide how long you’re going to be feeling bad. It may sound strange, even unfair, to think this way, but it is true. It’s ultimately in our hands and in our heart and mind to make that decision. So be sure you make a good one. 😉

Awakening

I don’t know whether you slowly come upon spirituality, as a result of a conscious search for a more meaningful or fulfilling life, or whether you find it one day out of the blue. Maybe both can happen. In my case, I clearly feel that there was a moment in life when it seemed to suddenly appear, as in “my spiritual awakening moment”, but I also believe that my curiosity, my fascination with History and the world’s wonders and my open mind have created a path early on for a spiritual awakening to take place. I have never been one to deny that there are a thousand mysteries in this Universe and that Humankind can explain only a few; something which I undeniably have to thank my parents for, because they always encouraged this in me. So, in my case I usually look back on my past as a “pre-spiritual time”, when I was curious and open to the possibility of extraordinary phenomenon, and a “post-awakening time”, when I came upon spirituality in my personal life and I started experiencing these things myself. And I think this makes all the difference: we can hear other people or read their words on how a lot of things are actually possible, even when our scientific and technological society tells us otherwise, but it is an entirely different thing to live, see and feel them yourself. And this is why, whenever I talk to other people on these matters, I advise them not to judge or decide before they try it themselves.

The process of awakening usually takes place when you feel a deep urge to change. Either something happens in your life that makes you want to change, or you begin to feel that there is something lacking and that you are starting to search for something else or more. Suffering is, also, frequently involved – as Buddhism would tell you, it is an inevitable part of Samsara, the eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth in this Earth. Although I don’t know enough about Buddhist precepts to understand this concept fully or to draw my own conclusions about it, I can certainly see that there is a lot of suffering in our world. It definitely seems to be a constant, be it among our human brothers and sisters, be it among other living beings. Suffering appears to be an intrinsic part of life; but that doesn’t mean we’re doomed to suffer all our lives without any choice. Maybe we cannot control the circumstances around us and prevent ourselves from ever suffering; we can, however, choose how to react to that suffering, and that will ultimately affect our perception of how much suffering we’re experiencing. Another thing that may lead to your spiritual awakening is a sense of nonconformity. You may begin to feel that you’re not satisfied with your life or how the world works; that society is unfair or that you’re not living up to your potential; that you’ve been chasing your dreams in vain or that there is an emptiness, a lack of meaning in your life that you feel the need to fulfill.

I was reading a post shared by Collective Evolution (a group that I much admire and about which I will write more in future texts) a few days ago, on “signs of spiritual awakening”, and I found it interesting how I could actually remember going through pretty much all of them at some point in life. Perhaps some of us go only through a few; perhaps some of us experience all; perhaps some of us experience something different. But I found them to be so accurate that I wanted to share them here, in no particular order. 1 – A desire for more solitude. This is a significant one. Almost every spiritual guide will tell you that you cannot go through awakening without spending time alone. Spending time alone means being with yourself, which is a fundamental requirement of discovering your inner world, through silence, thought or meditation. When you begin feeling the urge to spend more time alone, it is probably because there is a (possibly unconscious) need inside you to find something that is missing and that only you can find… a question that only you can answer. 2 – Seeing through the illusion of society. This one is obvious too, I think. Why or how would you want to change anything about you, your life or how the world works if you think everything is perfect about it and it gives you all you need… and therefore you don’t even question it? The problem is precisely that it doesn’t. The world we live in, especially in our Western societies, does not give us everything we need. After Enlightenment and with the rise of secularism, the evolution of science, technology and so-called rationality, people in the Global North collectively moved away from spirituality and other ways of seeing and experiencing life. But this creates a void in our lives that nothing else can fulfill, because we are intrinsically spiritual beings… just like any living being on Earth. Many of us try to fill this void by endless consumerism and permanent distraction, or we fall into more dangerous habits such as substance abuse. What we don’t realise is that these behaviours we engage in are actually the opposite of what we need. We need less, not more. We need to think, talk and do less; not more. We need to own less; to let go of more. Our continuous search for more will only cover us in layers of illusion and shallowness, and that won’t help.

3 – A desire for meaning and purpose. This, in a way, I have already referred to. Usually, when you begin to see through the illusion of society, you start to understand its flaws and its lack of something. That is why, despite most of them following the same repeating pattern in life (go to school; get a degree; find a job; work excessively to make money; buy a car; buy a house; start a family; work more to make more money; pay your bills; and so on), most people don’t truly feel happy or fulfilled in their lives. You can see it in their daily mood, in the way they become mechanistic workers, almost like robots. You can see it in their eyes and in their posture when they’re going to work. When we think about it carefully, our common way of life doesn’t seem to make any sense. To work tirelessly to pay your taxes and your bills, so you can buy stuff that makes you have to work more to make more money… Can life really be all about this? If you’re one of the people whose mind instantly and stubbornly says “No!” when you ask yourself this question, then you might need to start your own journey of awakening and try to find a meaning and purpose for your life. 4 – Feeling completely lost or alone. Again: quite self-evident. It is no surprise that if you start to pierce through the illusion of society, seeking meaning or an ultimate purpose, and you consequently begin to deviate from the road everybody takes and to break the pattern, you will feel lonely and lost. A spiritual awakening means going on a journey nobody else has gone on before you… and nobody else can go through. It is a journey inside yourself; to the greatest depths within you, to your very essence. In doing so, you will find everything else. It is by no chance that Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic (and an incredibly wise man), wrote: “You are a drop in the Universe and the Universe in a drop”. I used to find this a beautiful, inspiring sentence. But when I started realising how accurate it actually is, a whole new world opened up in front of me. Either way, if you begin feeling lost or alone – fear not. It might be a good sign. It might mean that it’s time for you to start doing your own digging; to start unravelling the secrets that lie inside you and discovering a whole new path ahead of you. Follow it.

5 – An increasing synchronicity. This can happen, for example, in repeating numbers or patterns that you start to come across. In my case, something surprising tends to happen that I have noticed a while ago. I already follow a lot of interesting pages online, the kind that shares life advice, spiritual, philosophical or metaphysical insights and simply beautiful sentences. Those can be rather inspiring on a daily basis. But what I started to notice is that, whenever I am going through a specific moment or challenge in life, I almost always and accidentally come across some sentence or some piece of advice that perfectly fits the situation I’m going through. It just shows up in front of me as I casually scroll through my timeline. Most of the time, it’s not something I haven’t thought about yet; it is, on the other hand, something that I might have already pondered on, but that by reading it in front of me becomes reasserted and strenghtened – perhaps validated. It is almost as if, because an external source is telling me exactly what I need to see or hear, it becomes as legitimate as it needs to be for me to act upon it. This leads me to that seemingly cliché statement that “there are no coincidences”. The truth is, I have stopped believing in coincidences a long time ago. Yes, maybe some things happen totally out of context. But when you become more conscious to patterns and synchronicites in your everyday life, when you’re going through your process of raising consciousness and awakening… you’ll start noticing some interesting things. Of course, it all depends on how in tune you are with yourself and the world around you. 6 – A change in sleep patterns. This one too appears to be quite frequent. Personally, I’ve always had somewhat fluctuating sleep patterns, but I think that’s mostly because of my busy lifestyle. What I do notice is that I sleep much better when I do my spiritual practices regularly, when I am in a state of peace with myself and others, and when I have a clear conscience. I do know a lot of people who suffer from insomnia, however, and I always feel like telling them that only if they did some meditation or calming exercises before going to sleep, I am sure that it would have a positive impact… But again, you can’t really tell people to do something they might not be ready to do. You might give them a hint, show them a path they can follow, but it must be their choice to do so. 7 – To have stranger and more vivid dreams. There is an entire universe of meaning and hidden messages regarding dreams, of course. I haven’t really given much thought to mine until I started reading Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ book “Women Who Run With the Wolves”, that talks about Freudian and especially Jungian psychoanalysis, although she adds her own contribution on the Wild feminine. As a woman, when I started reflecting on some of my dreams after reading what she wrote, I realised that the kind of dreams we have really does convey messages that we usually need to hear. So be attentive to your dreams and get informed on how to interpret them. Again, the best way to do so is to listen to your own intuiton, because when it is in tune, it will not deceive you. But – sometimes – I think it is also important not to take your dreams too literally, particularly when you’re not an expert on dream interpretation. I’ll write more on the subject soon.

8 – A sudden desire or change in your professional career or personal habits. Also common. I know people who study or do many different things before finding their path. I know others who never quite found it. And I know others still who – especially as teenagers pressured by society to decide on their future – feel utterly lost and disoriented. It always surprised me how schools (at least in my country) demand fifteen and sixteen-year-olds to choose what they want to study: either sciences and technologies; either humanities and social sciences; or sports; or economics; or arts. I know there are other countries where you can mix the kind of subjects you like, but this kind of pressure so early on in life cannot be positive. It is as if we are forced to choose what we’re going to do for the rest of our lives when we are still discovering who we are and what we like. I was one of those people who made a wrong choice when I was in highschool. I studied sciences and technologies for almost three years before realising I should’ve gone to humanities to start with. Now… Here lies the difference. Many kids feel that they’re on the wrong track but they insist on staying on it, either because of parental or societal pressure, either because they think that is what’s expected of them. Luckily, my parents never forced me in such a way. They actually encouraged me, as soon as we realised that I wasn’t happy where I was, to change. And I soon learned this: that it is never too late to change and to make a fresh start. In my fourth year of highschool (one extra year that I spent in school, but that I am deeply grateful for), I did all my humanities’ exams and it allowed me to apply for the BA I really wanted in college. It was the best choice I could’ve made. This is a priceless truth, then: it is never too late to make a fresh start. The only thing that should matter to you is whether you’re feeling good where you are. If you are, perfect. If you’re not… then it’s probably time to change. 9 – An increase in self-talk. Remember how you were always taught that people who talk to themselves are the crazy ones? Maybe you haven’t been told this. I’ve heard it many times (not from my closest influencers, though). In truth, people who talk to themselves are very sane and healthy. This doesn’t mean you should walk down the street having a loud conversation with yourself – that would probably alarm some people around you. But keeping a regular dialogue with yourself (even if in thought) is a great way to check up on how you’re feeling, what are your desires and your fears, what you might be going through and your decisions about important things in life.

10 – A growing desire to eat healthier. Another very important point. You are what you eat, I’ve always heard. When you begin awakening, when you start getting acquainted to your spiritual self and you raise your consciousness to a higher, clearer, more peaceful frequency, you will feel the need to physically correspond to that clarity and purification. If you’re essentially cleaning your spirit and your mind of all the marks and bruises and stains that society, other people and yourself have tainted them with, you will feel like your physical body needs the same kind of treatment. This opens the path for a central discussion on plant-based diets vs. eating animals, which I will elaborate on soon. But, in either case, if you’re starting to feel the urge to eat healthier food, that is probably a sign that your body is in need of cleaning: and that something within you needs and wants to change. 11 – An increasing desire to connect with Nature and the natural world. This final point speaks for itself. The spiritual source of our beings lies in Nature: Nature is its home, its mothers, its nurturer and keeper. So when you feel the need to be closer to it, be it either through walks in the forest, Nature retreats, spending time with animals or outside gardening… these are all signs that your spirit is seeking for something that the mundane, everyday human world cannot give you. It’s like your spirit is thirsty for something more, and you can only quench its thirst by allowing it to recharge its batteries outside, in Nature. After all… it’s Home.

For lone wanderers

Throughout most of my life, I have felt like a solitary wanderer with thoughts and beliefs quite different from most of my peers’. One of the biggest differences I felt between others and me was my deep empathy and love towards animals and Nature. This proximity to the natural world was not born of nothing: when I was less than two months old I was already lying down on the ground covered with pine needles of a big forest not far from where my parents and I lived. As a little kid, I ran between trees and hid behind rocks and bushes, playing with my mother and my father and my pet dogs. I guess that is why, in a way, I feel like I’ve always been a daughter of the forest. I always feel good in forests and woods: they feel like home. Far safer than cities, actually. In a forest, a part of me that is usually buried under layers of socially-induced rules and ideas breaks free. I can breathe fully and quietly. I get goosebumps by feeling the soft wind caressing the leaves and my skin, by listening to the million voices of the birds above me. It is one of the places where I feel life more intensely. Everything around me is alive: everything from the dirt and the soil to the little plants on the surface; from the flowers and the trees to the rocks and the animals; from the Sun to the wind. There is no question that they are alive!

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t seem to think that way. And how could they? Do they even know what they are rejecting? How many people do I know – do you know – who have lived practically their entire lives inside a city? Growing up in a metropole, leaving only ocasionally on holidays or to go sightseeing? I have never understood how people can stay away from Nature for so long. In my twenty-two years of life, I have never stayed away from it for long. When I do so for a longer period of time, I begin to feel that there’s something wrong. A part of me longs for freedom, for pure air, for that touch of the wind and bird songs. A part of me longs for the Wild. I know that I am not the only one to feel this. But for a long time, I didn’t know. I felt alone and strange. I didn’t understand how people could look at animals and not see them as friends, brothers and sisters, like I did. I always had a harder time befriending people than animals, to be honest. Relationships with animals seemed far simpler and purer: there is no deceit, no manipulation, no purposeful cruelty. Animals are what they are. And if you give them affection and friendship, they will almost surely return it.

I’ve always found it interesting that when I look into the eyes of an animal, I constantly see something that I rarely, almost never see in human eyes. I think that because they are closer to their natural, spiritual selves, animals are as transparent as children: you see what they are inside. The eyes are the mirrors to the soul, I’ve always heard. On the other hand, as humans we have long been taught and pressured into molds and frames that take us far from who we are truly meant to be. Or could be, if we wanted to. But if we make the willing, conscious choice to recover what we have lost, we can. For a long time, my solitude came from preferring to be on my own, reading a book or playing with animals, or maybe in my garden or walking in a forest, rather than choosing to be with other people (especially people of my age). I didn’t understand how they saw Nature so differently from me, because I had been (thankfully) raised by my parents, and most particularly my mother – who has always loved animals -, to see them as friends and companions. What I also learned from early on was to see them as equals.

Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t mean that human and non-human animals are exactly alike, because I know there are differences. There is no denying that the human species has evolved to a point where it has actually learned to master and use natural resources, to build civilizations that over time became more scientifically and technologically advanced, and that are now being somewhat called into question. But I don’t believe that that makes us better, or rational as opposed to irrational, or even more intelligent. I believe we can think of it in one of two ways: either we believe that, because we have developed more than other species, that must mean we are superior to them or are somehow entitled to more; or we believe that, because we have developed more than other species, that must only mean that we have a greater responsibility to care for every life on Earth. I have always believed the latter. Not only because I believe that every living being has the same innate right to a peaceful, dignified life, but also because I see where our “advancement” has led us. When comparing industrialized, Western societies to others who we were quick to label as savage or underdeveloped, I am sure of who lived in greater harmony with themselves and the natural world. So, in a way, what we call progress can be seen as something very different.

This is not the place to develop my thoughts on the plights that Western civilization has led us to, but going back to my initial words, I have always felt quite solitary for questioning all these things that seem so obvious to our Western society. Until I started realising that what I saw as my “society” was actually just a bubble inside which I live. And even in this bubble, there are other people who think like me. To discover this was an immense relief to me, as it made me feel sane and… well, not alone! Just like there are hundreds of people who live contentedly inside their bubbles, there are others who are willing to ask questions and step outside. To burst the bubble. To walk out of the cave, just like in Plato’s allegory. Just like there is a societal pattern where tendencies and presumptions are formed, there are also those willing to break the pattern. My problem when I felt lonely and completely outside the norm was only that I hadn’t yet found other people who thought and felt like me. It meant – like I have been told by a very wise source, not long ago – that I hadn’t yet found my tribe.

In fact, as that wise counselor told me, the fact that I hadn’t found my tribe was a real hardship for me when I was a young girl and a teenager. But I do believe that it only made me stronger, to have to own my beliefs – even if I was not always brave enough to share them with the outside world, to stand up for them loudly and confidently in public – and stay true to them. So, please keep this in mind: feeling like you are the only lone wanderer in a deep forest doesn’t have to scare you – you probably just haven’t crossed paths with other wanderers yet. One day, you will turn the corner on an old trail covered with pine needles and you will come by a clearing where other travelers sit around a camp fire. You will find your tribe, as long as you keep on walking and don’t give up. You will find your tribe, as long as you search for their tracks and be attentive to any signs around you. Today, I know that I am not the only one witnessing the liveliness and the wonders of forests and Wild places. I know there are many, many more people who see it and who feel it and who cherish it too. And I know that those people are, they too, confronting the bubbles they were born in. But we all have to choose between staying in the same clearing where we were born… or waking up one day and deciding to take the trail, wherever it may lead us. Nothing can be more magical than that.

Knowing your Path

There is a painting in my bedroom which I’ve had for many years and have always loved. It is all in shades of grey, from the faintest color of ashes to the darkest grey that is almost black. It shows a road fading into the distance, a road flanked by two rows of trees that are half naked from the end of fall. The trees stretch their arms in every direction, forming a web of branches and crackling leaves. Beyond the trees you can see grey fields and the diffuse edge of a forest far ahead, its ethereal line almost erased by a cloud of fog. But there is no room for mistake in this painting: it is all about the road. The road that goes ever on and on, as J. R. R. Tolkien liked to write. Personally, I’ve always thought of this work of art as the “road of life”, even though I don’t even know whether it has a name of its own. To me, it is more than a simple black and white photograph turned into a painting; it is a powerful and mesmerizing reminder of the path we must all follow through life. Our own road.

This is a challenge we must all face, regardless of our origins, time or space we inhabit. We all must wonder, even if only once, what will be our path through life. Some people believe it is defined from the start and call it fate. Others believe there is no such thing. I’m not sure about the idea of fate; sometimes I deeply feel like life is pulling me in a certain direction, even when I’m not sure where I want to go. There were times in my life – especially throughout my teenage years, when I was trying to find my voice and my place in the world – when I had no idea where I might end up going. There was an obvious difference between those times and another moment in life – around the time I went into college – when I clearly started to feel that there was a path for me to follow, one that I was slowly starting to uncover. Even if I don’t know whether, in the end, we are the absolute rulers over our own road or whether some sort of route is already defined for us, there is one thing I wholeheartedly believe in: we must build our own path in an evergoing process. We build it every step of the way, and this is why (even if there is some sort of ultimate being, source or entity with a certain plan for us to fulfill) we are the ultimate rulers over our road: because we can always choose to go left or right, forward or not. If we truly are the builders of our path, choosing our course through the journey of life, then it is only normal to get lost sometimes; to make a mistake; to stray away from the road a little. The most important thing to keep in mind is to stay true to yourself and loyal to the Universe which gave life to you.

Especially in current times, when the fate of our Planet itself is increasingly under question, remembering this rule is of the utmost importance. Sometime ago I talked to my father about our complete ignorance of when we’re going to die; about how, in truth, we never really know how much time we have left. We talked about how this can be a scary thought, sometimes quite overwhelming, or how it can be sad or discouraging. However, knowing this only leads us to another conclusion: that we should assign a meaning and purpose to every moment of our present life; that we should make the most of every moment we have. This isn’t about one of those “you only live once” mottos that try to justify reckless, careless or selfish behaviour – an excuse not to give a damn about anything but yourself and your good time. It is only about being honest to yourself, to those around you and to life itself while you’re here. It is about being present in every moment; being aware of what is happening around you and in your life; making decisions to make the most of every moment, to make sure that you have the best possible experiences to learn, grow and enjoy life on this Earth, and help others achieve the same while you’re at it. It is not about seeking happiness in what you do or who you’re with, but deciding to be happy independently of the circumstances, working for it and sharing that feeling with those around you… because we cannot truly be happy and well when others around us aren’t. It’s hard to vibrate on a higher frequency when everyone around us is on a lower one: and that’s also a choice we have to make. That’s why it is so important to understand that our well-being is intimately connected with others’.

When it seems easier to be indifferent, choose not to be. When it seems easier to be petty, choose not to be. When it seems easier to be selfish, choose not to be. Instead, try to understand others and to understand yourself too, because that is the first step in trying to find out what your path must be. After all, we’re the ones who have to build it. How can we build a good one if we don’t even truly know who we are or what we want from life? So, remember this: to discover your path you must start by discovering yourself. Ask yourself these questions, think about them and answer them with all your honesty… Who are you? Who am I? But who am I really, in my heart, deep inside? What do I want of this life? What do I want for this world? What do I want for others’ lives? What dreams do I have? What forces and principles guide my journey? How do I imagine my future life to be, or the world in ten or twenty years? There’s no point in trying to discover the most suitable life path for you if you don’t know these things, or if you don’t have even the slightest clue. Of course, it’s always a work in progress: that’s why the road we take is rarely a straight line. Instead, there are crossroads, curves and parts that simply disappear under the fog of unfamiliarity or doubt.

Sometimes we may feel like we’re wandering away from who we are, moving away from our course. There are powerful forces in life pulling us in different directions – people, relationships, jobs, opportunities, distractions -, a series of life choices demanding us to decide where to go and what to do. It is okay to move away from our course a little if only we see it and try to correct it. We mustn’t let others decide where we’re going, unless we feel like that’s the right way for us as well. It’s like driving a boat in unknown seas; it is only natural to come upon a storm sometimes and to lose your course. You find yourself lost, perhaps even going in circles. What matters most is taking back the helm and (re)orienting your course; going back out there, (re)questioning yourself and working hard to discover the direction that feels right. Keep this in mind: don’t be afraid of getting lost while trying – it’s all part of the journey. Some even say that getting lost is an inevitable part of the process; after all, how can we truly discover what we’re made of except when we’re thrown out of our comfort zone or when we decide to step out of it ourselves? For me, stepping out of my comfort zone has – until now – appeared in my life as many different challenges. It included having to interact more with people I didn’t know or didn’t immediately feel comfortable with. For many years I tried avoiding these situations; sometimes I still do. But when I finally pushed myself to do it, I always discovered there were some amazing people out there that I was glad to know. Or it was starting a new activity, like taking dance classes. At first I didn’t want to do it because I was shy and didn’t feel like embarassing myself. But dance has become one of the biggest passions of my life. Or it was applying for a scholarship when a part of me told me I didn’t have what it took to get it – and then I got it and found out that it was one of the best decisions of my life so far.

Getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to mean putting yourself at risk or forcing yourself to do things you don’t really want to do… in a way. In the end, our intuiton always tells us whether a choice feels right or wrong. Our problem, most of the time, is learning (or relearning) how to listen to our inner voice and how to interpret its – sometimes – ambiguous messages. But that is something we can train. Ultimately, getting out of your comfort zone might simply mean doing what you wouldn’t have imagined yourself doing a while ago; doing what you feel like you need to do, instead of what others tell you to do; doing what makes you feel happy, independently of what society taught you or pressured you into. In the end, there is something that can always reassure us: when you are following a path that is right for the real you, you will know it deep inside. Our path is that in which we are loyal to ourselves and to the Universe and nothing else. And that is why, when we’re following our own course, we will know that it is the right one. The Universe is definitely not plotting against us when we’re trying to stay true to ourselves and to it too. We mustn’t follow anybody else’s steps or try to replicate anyone else’s journey. We must leave our own footprints on the trail. Or, who knows, bear claws, wolf claws, the hooves of a horse or the fallen feathers of an eagle…

Yes, it is great to have role-models and to look at others as examples whom we admire and respect. It is even, I think, fundamental to have some. To me, people like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Buddha, Jane Goodall and many others have been some of my biggest inspirations in life and I feel that they have had a great impact in the way I am and the path I am choosing to follow in life. Still, our road is our own and there is no use in following worn out trails. The magic happens when you create your own, rummaging through the bushes, cutting across the trees and shades of a dense forest, walking deeper into the valley or the unknown slopes… So, I guess the most important part of all this process of trying to know your path is recognizing that you most likely don’t really know it in advance. Instead, you build it as you go, or you uncover it each step of the way, whatever you prefer… You are constantly making choices throughout life that define the road ahead, the kind of challenges you’ll face and opportunities you’ll be given. Discovering your path is also a central part of any process of self-discovery and self-empowerment. Nonetheless, you can’t really start that process without raising your consciousness. I see it as three stages of the journey of life: you raise your consciousness to begin your process of self-discovery, and your process of self-discovery will help you work for your self-empowerment.

I will write more about these three stages in future texts, but for now I just wanted to share these thoughts on the exciting (and sometimes very difficult too) challenge of discovering your path in life. Ever since I was a very young child, I’ve moved from a point where I had no idea what I was supposed to do in the future to one where I have figured out clear steps to follow, steps that have led me to unpredicted and gratifying personal and professional achievements. Looking at the bigger picture, I still don’t know where life will lead me. I probably never have. But I have gradually learned to trust my intuiton and the signs that the Universe gives me every now and then. This learning process, of course, never stops. I still make mistakes. I still feel lost and confused sometimes. I still question some of my choices. But when I trust my intuition and do what truly, intimately feels right to me, I am never disappointed.

Ever since I was a very young child, the only constant in my life has been my firm and unbeatable belief that I was not born for nothing; that my life’s “mission” is to contribute in some way (whatever way may be) to make this world a better place for those who aren’t as lucky or privileged as I have been. I’m not as privileged as many other people, for sure. But I am deeply fortunate, I think, to have been born in a peaceful country, in a loving family who has always provided me with good homes and the opportunity to play, to grow, to learn, to study and to do what I like. Unfortunately, millions of beings on this planet do not have the same opportunities. I’ve always felt that it was my duty to try and repay this gift that the Universe has given me by contributing to make others’ lives a little better, in whatever way I can. So even though I have never truly known my path in advance, I have always felt that I was being guided by this inner belief, one that has always strongly pulled me in particular directions. So far, I am excited about where it’s taking me. And I know that I only started to see this journey for what it is – incredible and unpredictable and challenging and rewarding – when I started trusting my intuiton and following it as best as I could. So that’s the best advice I feel I can give. Learn to understand your intuition and follow it. It will not lead you astray.

Saving the Wild

In her incredible book Women who run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estés writes: “Wildlife and the Wild Woman are both endangered species. Over time, we have seen the feminine instinctive nature looted, driven back, and overbuilt. For long periods it has been mismanaged like the widlife and the wildlands. For several thousand years, as soon and as often as we turn our backs, it is relegated to the poorest land in the psyche. The spiritual lands of Wild Woman have, throughout history, been plundered or burnt, dens bulldozed, and natural cycles forced into unnatural rhythms to please others. It’s not by accident that the pristine wilderness of our planet disappears as the understanding of our own inner wild natures fades. It is not so difficult to comprehend why old forests and old women are viewed as not very important resources. It is not such a mystery. It is not so coincidental that wolves and coyotes, bears and wildish women have similar reputations. They all share related instinctual archetypes, and as such, both are erroneously reputed to be ingracious, wholly and innately dangerous, and ravenous.”

Never has it been more important to save the Wild around us and within us than at the present time. Never have these words been more relevant. I speak both of the Wild Nature of our world and of our own inner wildness. Indeed, the two of them are so intimately connected that the disappearance of one is both cause and effect of the other’s demise. We live in a moment when the fate of our Planet – and consequently our own – has never been under more of a universal threat. As Women, we should be well-aware of what humans are doing to Mother Earth. Both of us, we the human feminine and she the Earthly feminine, have long suffered the attempts of the patriarchy to silence us, to scare us into submission, to strip us naked and to exploit our bodies and subdue our spirits. Earth, our planetary Mother, our home, nurturer and keeper, has been ravaged and destroyed throughout centuries, and most extensively and relentlessly since the rise of the capitalist patriarchal system. Her body has been violated as brutally as Women’s bodies have: her forests ripped off the soil; her rivers contained by barriers and dams; her mountains blown up. She has continuously been the target of attempts to control and conquer her, and to abuse her until she can take no more. She can take no more. I have read one day that weather is the Earth’s emotions – now she is clearly enraged.

Having also been persecuted and silenced and repressed, we as Women should, more than anyone, recognize a feeling of solidarity and compassion towards the Planet and unite for its protection. And after all, it is not just the future of Wild Nature that is on the line. Ours is too. Because what many of us have failed to understand… or have forgotten, as further away from Nature we’ve moved, gone into our cities and metropoles and our worlds of steel and stone and concrete… is that all the harm we’re doing to Mother Earth, we are doing to ourselves. As our industrial societies evolved, especially in the so-called “First World”, and as we went deeper into our urban prisons, we have simultaneously moved away from ourselves. The further away from the Wild we’ve gone, the further away from us. And when I say us, I mean the spiritual, instinctual nature that lives inside each of us. I speak of our very essence. The animal we are. We have forgotten our roots and origins, our ultimate and eternal source of life, and we have forgotten how dependent on Nature we truly are in order to survive and prosper.

Doesn’t it sound strange to you that I wrote “the animal we are”? There may be a voice inside you that laughed or scoffed when you read those words. If it hasn’t, congratulations: you are more in tune with your inner self than most. The problem is that most people in our so-called modern societies are precisely out of tune. Because we’ve strayed away from Nature, its wildlife and its wildlands, we have forgotten that we too are animals. That we too possess instinctual natures and a very Wild spirit. In our constant search for more and better, and in our rise towards a self-destructive world system and a draining way of life, we have arrogantly considered ourselves superior to all our Earthling brothers and sisters – and to our very own Earth Mother. Most of us don’t really acknowledge that we are animals too. We think that, since we are rational and “more intelligent”, we must be something more. We have valued reason over emotion far too much. But our rationality and intelligence seem very questionable to me when all we’ve done so far is create a system that is ultimately unsustainable and has done more harm than good… to the natural and the human worlds alike.

Climate change, global warming and ecological breakdown are proof of the imbalances we have caused on Planet Earth. But this global imbalance that we’ve created is not only manifesting itself in the outside world, in the environment that surround us. It is also deep within ourselves. Never before have there been so many of us suffering from depression; stress and anxiety; burn outs; mental illness; substance addiction; multiple health problems; and many more ills that deep down show us that there is something profoundly wrong with our contemporary, Western way of life. The common factor in cultures and peoples who are so often struck by such malaise is the progressive industrialization and urbanization of our societies; the progressive move away from Nature, and the consequent destruction of the places where it still barely thrives. It is by no chance that people are often advised to go on Nature retreats or take a walk through the forest when they’re not feeling well. It is by no chance that we often feel better just by being outside, under a tree shade, sunbathing by the ocean or simply breathing some fresh air. All the harm we’ve been causing to our natural world – to the climate and the Earth’s ecosystems – we have been causing to our physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual health too.

Historically, wildness has been connoted with madness; a dangerous lack of control; unpredictability; even hysteria, savagery and bestiality. Women in particular have suffered most from accusations of being wild – look at all those who were burnt in the fires on suspicion of being witches! Our Western culture has long depicted Wild Women as voraciously sexual; dangerous; hysterical; uncontrollable; or simply crazy. The patriarchy doesn’t like women out of control – or out of their control. Society has seeked to silence and repress us; to render us passive, to make it easier to contain and control us. And although women have clearly been the main targets of this persecution, this attempt to control our bodies and minds, men too have suffered the consequences. Patriarchy is not made of every man on Earth: there are those who oppose it, and many men suffer the negative impacts of the same pressures and demands that society wants us to fulfill. So at the same time that strong, confident, independent women have been deemed Wild and mad and in need of containment, men who are sensitive, passive and compassionate have been deemed unmanly, weak, and in need of hardening. All of this is not in harmony with our Wild natures. Our spiritual essence is always in search of harmony. To acknowledge the Wild within, one does not need to become uncontrollable or unpredictable; disproportionately emotional or ravagingly mad. Not at all.

To acknowledge our Wild nature means essentially three things. To free ourselves from society’s pressure to hold back our emotions and our spiritual selves. Women and men alike have been pressured to hide or restrain their emotions. Again: reason over emotion. As children we express them naturally and spontaneously (and animals too), but as we grow up we’re taught to be controlled, quiet, “well-behaved”. As we push back our emotions and even lose our ability to breathe fully and deeply in trying to do so, we become tense and stop the energy within our body from flowing. We silence an important part of ourselves, which needs to be set free through emotional expression. Crying, laughing, jumping up and down, singing out loud, or simply being calm and peaceful are all natural needs that we should be free to express. Because they are part of our nature. And just like Nature manifests its emotions through the weather, through impressive storms, heavy monsoons, beautiful sunny days, soothing mornings and sunsets and strong gusts of wind, we too must learn how to express and own our emotions. This is to free our spiritual self: to no longer repress it and to breathe properly again. To get the energy flowing. A constant balance between reason and emotion is what we have long forgotten how to achieve, but it is so important to be in tune with ourselves and the Wild.

To not be afraid of who we truly are inside and to gain strength and confidence through that, for this is how the Universe and Nature have carved us. Just like we must learn how to own our emotions, we must learn to accept ourselves the way we are and not be afraid of showing it. Especially for us Women, society has long tried to determine what we should be like: how our bodies should look, how our personalities and our behaviour should be… There are guidelines for everything we do and so much pressure to fulfill society’s expectations that we often feel insecure and feel like we’ve failed if we don’t correspond to what we think the world wants of us. But this is not the real, natural world. Nature doesn’t want anything else than for us to own who we are and feel good in our body and mind: because she’s made us the way we are for a reason. Each of us is unique in some way, for we can bring something unique to the world… but only if we accept that part of ourselves that we’ve learned to hide and even be ashamed of. Always remember: as long as what you’re hiding is not going to hurt anyone else (or yourself), why are you hiding it? To own your inner self is to be in harmony with your Wildness and with Nature herself.

And finally and most importantly, to recognize our deep connection and interdependence with the Wild Nature of our Planet. Remember that we share the same origin and essence with our natural world, with its wildlife and wildlands, and that its fate is therefore ultimately connected to our own. This is why it is so fundamental to protect Planet Earth from what Humankind has been doing to it. From what we‘ve been doing to it. A world where Nature and the Wild are not thriving is a world where we ultimately cannot thrive either. What we do to Nature we do to ourselves. What we do to the Wild landscapes of our Planet we do to our inner Wildness, to our inner landscapes, to our untamable spirit that institutions, cultures, religions and people have for so long tried to tame. Remember that “it’s not by accident that the pristine wilderness of our planet disappears as the understanding of our own inner wild natures fades”. I’m deeply convinced that finding the motivation and strength we need to act towards saving the Planet requires us to develop a greater understanding of ourselves. Going back to the roots. When we understand how connected our core and our life is to the natural world, we will definitely understand how much we stand to lose. This is why I believe that saving the Wild of our beautiful, powerful and suffering Planet also means saving the Wild of our own unconquerable spirit. For one is alive as long as the other lives… and if one disappears, the other will soon follow.