An imaginary journey through the Universe

Nature and Astrology video

Nature and Astrology: Two Questions

I worked hard on this piece of writing and decided to make it a video for a more immersive effect. Enjoy!

Essay Transcript:

2 questions underpin my experience of astrology: Are humans apart from Nature? And two, should we include, not just stones, animals, plants, etc in our definition of “Nature,” but also the planets? In other words, does Nature include the terrain beyond our atmosphere?

First, to reconcile humans as part of or separate from Nature. In my mind’s eye, the story of Earth unfolds like a ribbon of time, dipping and swirling through history.. As humans we feel separate, on our own path, but everything we see and touch is an equal part of that unfolding.

Now imagine a single spot along that ribbon of time, and imagine slicing through it. Inside that specific moment, every rock, animal, emotion and thunderstorm, is a unique manifestation of the character of that moment. Everything in that second is inextricably linked, as if an entire garden grew from a single explosive seed; a seed described by the character of its place in time.

I sense—from years of work with plants and people—that we are enmeshed in ALL of the world around us. Defining “Nature” as separate from humans is cutting us off from our source. The “built environment,” while human-made is, if you take one step back, also nature-made. We are birthed from the Earth, and it was an innate nature that spawned our civilizations and technology. A beehive and a skyscraper are part of the same unfolding. Plastic is problematic to the health of many species, and—in my view—also “natural."

All plants and animals are cohabitants. We share the same patterns of growth, disease, death, and life, just on different scales of time and size and shape. These natural patterns are inside us, as well as out. We can look inside our bodies for clues about how we feel and function, AND we can look outside, at the rest of our nature, and use patterns of ecology to teach us about the functions and feelings inside our bodies. In my experience, a better understanding of a forest leads directly to a deeper understanding of a human.

Imagine a specific slice of time in which you are standing outside; your feet on the ground; the great sky above you. Imagine the world that you share with that ground—the hills, the trees, the mosses and the sand. Maybe animals such as the beaver, the ant, the whale, the human, and the owl. Whether massive or tiny, we all cling to a ground that spins repeatedly through space, with the regularity of a tide.

Now, descend from the forests and seas and dive into the micro-landscape of your own body. Within the confines of your skin, imagine the rolling muscles, the flowing blood, the forests of towering proteins rooted into the fatty surface of cell membranes. And just as fallen trees and rotting animals erode on the forest floor, imagine the riotous decay of food in your intestines, digested by a trillion bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. And just as mountains and continents are re-shaped by the heat of the Earth, stand by and watch your vitality manifest in the excavation and rebuilding of your bones, piece by cellular piece, for an entire life. Imagine the violent spiral pulsing of your heart and the millions of mitochondrial power plants in its muscles, keeping you going, every second, hour, day, decade.

Do you see the connections between the large landscape of the Earth and the tiny landscape of your body? Similarities abound between what’s living inside your skin and what you see out the window, it’s just the time scales that are different. Intestinal digestion is short-term forest floor decomposition. The wearing of bone is a faster version of the dissolution of stone. The Earth is not static, but grows and contracts, just like you do. New, molten crust pours out of the ocean faults, literally pushing continents together, shifting the courses of rivers. In your cells, proteins are grown, shaped, and pushed out into the body, reshaping muscles and organs and the watersheds of blood flow.

At both scales of time and space, there is an ecosystem of connected parts, exchanging, living, dying, birthing. The same erotic drive to live bleeds into seemingly infinite forms—both macro and micro—deeply relating us all to each other and everything.

When I realized these connections, my professional practice truly began. My work with clients flowered as I took our bodies out of the clinical exam room and mentally placed them in their interconnected natural environments. I started to let our ecosystems be my teacher. I allowed my understanding of the human body to shed the clinical jargon derived from cadavers and instead robed myself in the motion and cycles and vitality of life.

Which brings us to the second question… Are the planets in our sky also part of these meaningful patterns? If so, could we look to their Nature for clues about ourselves? Astrology is a thousands of years old observational science that looks for connections between people and planets. Could it be that the large swings and orbits of these planets are reflected within the cycles of our body and our lives?

If Humans and Nature are entwined in a ribbon of time, and the character of each slice extends far beyond the Earth, then Nature does not end at our atmosphere, because Time includes everything in the Universe.

In fact, the astrological zodiac is a system birthed from the natural relationships among our seasons and the sky; a science based on a thousand years of systematic, careful observations; three thousand years of testing and refinement. When, for example, the Egyptians noted that the rising of the star Sirius meant that it was the season of flooding for the Nile, they noted the natural relationship between the sky and their daily life.

Let’s return to your imagination, and, this time, leave the Earth’s crust and expand to a cosmic scale. Likely, outer space feels unfamiliar. Take in the spiraling, spinning vastness of our solar system: the sun’s spiraling currents of impossible heat and electromagnetic waves pulsing outward; the spinning of the planets and moons creating geometries of light and tugs of gravity. They all dance, using a language of reflection and nested elliptical orbits.

And separating these celestial phenomena, there exists a LOT of empty space. The lush verdant connections of a forest or an ocean or a human body seem absent. Outer space seems foreign; it seems “other.” Is it really Nature? Can it really teach us anything about “us?”

I contend that the seemingly empty, seemingly “other” world of outer space is actually deeply, deeply us, reflecting an equally vast inner space.

To see what I mean, zoom back in. Collapse your vision from the solar system to the Earth and its forests, seas, and deserts. Then collapse further into a single human. Zoom in through the bands of muscle, the blood vessels, the cells. Then further and further, smaller and smaller…beyond the architecture of proteins and sugars and into a single atom; an element, such as Oxygen.

Suddenly, everything is quiet, except for an electromagnetic hum, reverberating through almost unfathomable amounts of seemingly empty space; the micro-equivalent of light years of outer space, with a huge dense nucleus at its center, and an electron cloud, mimicking 8 separate orbits.

Quite simply, our bodies are a massive collection of tiny solar systems.

When I imagine this journey, it brings a feeling of awe. From outer space to inner space, a trip to the deepest interior of ourselves collapses the planetary system and flips it, “outside in” into an atomic one, with strikingly similar features.

Can you hold all of this in your vision? It’s overwhelming in both complexity and beauty. Your human body nested in the Earth’s ecosystem, and then bookended by the solar system on the outside and the atomic nuclear system on the inside. And it’s all humming along, like an intricate clock, unfolding with each breath; a woven thread of time spooling out like a cosmic River. With each part—whether minute or massive—connected to every other.

Are we a part of Nature? “Of course!” is my answer. And should we include, in “Nature,” the planets and the science of astrology? Well…How could we possibly not?