It’s hotter in October than in August. And through the balmy air, the cloud spirits waft. They float in and out of my land as ethereal beings, brushing against my lips, stroking my arms. Sometimes as they cosset me, they speak.
“Don’t listen to anyone,” they say as they massage my heart. “Because no one knows.”
And there under the ash tree, I am resuscitated. The ranting of the world recedes. The inflated opinions and judgements slip underground. I feel my chest again and it tingles with recognition.
It’s the hardest thing for a human to do. We are programmed to absorb the ideas of our peers, to soak up doctrine and culture like flesh and blood blotting paper. The fingers are pointing at all of us now, guilt-tripping us, coercing us into tight pens.
The cloud sylphs weave higher and closer. I see their soft dewy faces smiling. “Don’t listen to to anyone,” they say. “Sense us. Feel us on your skin. Feel the water in your heart and the fire in your womb. Feel the earth beneath you. Holding you. Holding you. Only then can you listen. Only then.”
A thought cluster drifts into me, warm and true. There is no conflict within it, no panic, nor threat. No list of pros and cons. It is simply right. For me. At this particular moment. These are my words. My thoughts. An intercourse between my soul and the planet, birthing a path which is unabashedly mine.
“What can I do for you dear Earth. What? I have no idea how to act.”
“See me as you would like me to be, in your mind and in your heart. How do I look? What are we both aspiring to? Because we are both creating each other here.”
I stop and consider it. The exhaust smoke of the human world dissipates. The war, the grief, the environmental and social disaster. It falls from the planet like rank old clothes, and everything glows in its wake.
How would I like my Earth to be? Closing my eyes, I feel the cloud spirits drawing closer. I see great forests the size of countries dripping with life and colour. Jaguars, butterflies, rainbow iguanas, birds of paradise, parakeets, snakes, secret insects we don’t know exist yet, small mammals and big, our brothers and sisters, all thriving.
As if sensing my gaze, the Great Forest awakens. And I watch in wonder as the canopy spreads. Vines stretch outwards and upwards, while tree roots enmesh themselves below ground. Leafy hands reach into the barren lands, repossessing fields of tree stumps. The dirt squelches, stalks push through and flowers thrust their heads up to bloom.
All becomes pure power and light; a green tide pulling across the plains and hills.
As though hearing my vision, the ears of the forest creatures prick up. The jaguar stands by the river, throws back her head and roars. Life’s unstoppable power surges into everything, from the smallest lizard to the largest sloth. One by one each forest being becomes alert, standing in the light of Gaia. The forest hums as it joins the intention to flourish, to collaborate here on planet Earth. I feel that immense vitality too, pulsing through me, galvanising me.
“Now, what do I do next?” I call to the cloud spirits. “How do I make this happen?” Because I wonder how to get from here to there? From idea to reality.
The wisps gather round me, animated. “Don’t listen to the fearmongers and naysayers, or the media terror,” They boom. There is a swish and a woosh from the ash tree above. “Come to this space each day. Recreate the Great Forest until your imagination is so saturated with it, you are convinced it’s here. Then, only then, will you know what to do next.”
The days pass. It looks easy, but it’s a hard task I’ve been set. Distractions yank at my mind, and digital screens blind my eyes. Images of fires and plastic oceans fill my head, despair and confusion crouching behind them, rubbing their hands in glee. I’m told I should do something. This or that. That imagining does nothing. That visions are for the privileged. That I mustn’t drive, or fly, or move, or breathe, because everything is killing the planet.
An ash leaf flutters down from above, curled and orange. The tree is a wizard now, seeing things I cannot. Thankfully, I remember the pinch of salt. Because who are these ranting know-alls, telling me to do this and that? And what exactly do they know?
“Don’t listen,” the clouds murmur once more as they circle overhead. “Don’t listen.”
Standing in the centre of my land, I see an eagle drift above. My world is a glorious chlorophyll laden wonder. Mountains rise and fall with such grace it’s hard to believe the destruction they wreaked eons before to be here. A wren peers at me from a branch, and a bumble bee forages in a flower. Squatting in such formidable beauty cracks me open. I can hear the water trickling in the brook below. I see the woodland too, and three stone huts to play with. It’s a blessing this tiny world I’m creating. It’s an honour, not a privilege. It is the gift of being human to create lives and worlds.
As I stand in my mud and rock acreage, I remember imagining this. I remember when it was nothing but an idea; a vision of a more beautiful life. I remember back in the beginning, being lost on the road, searching for a new home, doubting at times it existed. I remember my paltry budget which everyone said was not enough. And then listening to the rocks and the trees until they brought me right here.
I remember wondering how I would make a road, connect water, or repair the walls and the roofs. How can we go from nothing to a new world after all? Yet here I am, in what was once only a figment of my imagination. Here I am.
The cloud spirits lift, and draw closer. I close my eyes and the Great Forests rise before me, a little leafier than before. A jaguar roars. Parakeets squawk. And Gaia shifts into gear.
The word Rune is derived from the root - run or runa meaning whisper or secret. In linguistic terms, runes are the symbolic letters of ancient Germanic alphabets, or even short Norse poems. Runes can be stones inscribed with magical symbols or 'spells too. Welcome to my runes. Are they symbols? Are they poems? Or are they spells? I'll leave it up to you.
Atulya K Bingham is an author, natural builder and lone off-gridder now lost in the hills of northern Spain.
"I consider myself a person who is connected to nature, somebody who respects the earth; this book has me walking through the world with all my senses opened." Emma Blas, editor Her Heart Poetry