The Sun is the heart of our planetary system. It is a star, a super-heated cauldron that generates heat, light and energy through nuclear fusion. Within stars, hydrogen is transmuted into helium, and transformed into all the elements, including lead and gold. Everything we are composed of was created within the stars.
Planet Earth orbits the Sun, along with Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and Eris, many millions of asteroids and vast clouds of particles.
From our viewpoint, the planets that share our sun as their anchor move gradually across a multitude of so-called fixed stars. In fact, most of the visible stars are part of a single galactic system called The Milky Way. It is composed of billions of stars, with a dense core and spiralling plumes. The Sun is a small star in a cluster within the galaxy, and is subject to the gravitational and cyclical influences of the galaxy. Earth’s rotation and its orbit of the Sun are embedded within these greater cycles. Just as we are unable to perceive that we are hurtling through space at more than 1000 Km/hour, because the atmosphere and everything on the Earth’s surface is subject to this rotation, we are even less conscious of the galactic cycles implicit in our world.
From deep space, The Milky Way recedes to become a single source of light, pulsing in the distance. Although composed of billions of stars, it is only one of countless billions of galactic systems in the cosmos. How can we comprehend the scale? We use images like more stars in the heavens than grains of sand on the beach. But the truth is that the scale of the infinite universe is inconceivable by the human mind.
Solar systems are formed by the accretion of dust and gas, subject to vast gravitational and radioactive forces. During the early cooling of our planet, denser materials sank into the core, whilst the lighter compounds rose to the surface. After the surface had sufficiently cooled, the crust was formed and comets raining in from deep space deposited large quantities of water from within their icy tails. This sparked the cycle of cloud and rainfall, and resulted in more than two thirds of the Earth’s surface being covered by ocean.
The Earth’s centre is of molten iron, with a solid core, under immense pressure, and at a temperature of more than 4000C. The Earth’s mantle is 2900 Km in depth. It is comprised principally of magnesium and silica, and it is plastic in nature. The Earth’s crust is about 30 Km in depth, and is made up of the lightest elements, including Sodium, Calcium, and Aluminium-Silicate compounds. It is a brittle skin of rock, pitted with vents and open crevices, floating on a mantle of heavy lava. The surface of the Earth is subject to constant change.
Mountains rise from the depths of oceans, and islands sink into the mantle below. Continents shift like juggernauts; volcanoes discharge gases, which circulate the energies contained within the Earth, and regulate the atmosphere. Ocean tides melt the shorelines. Wind and rain erode the rock, turning it to soil, and dust. There is a dynamic equilibrium that is constantly adjusting and rebalancing, to maintain the order that we recognise as Nature.
The Moon orbits the Earth, whilst rotating on it’s axis, the duration of each lunar orbit being almost twenty-eight days. Lunar cycles regulate a rhythmic ebb and flow, throughout the entire planet, affecting the tides of the oceans, the sap within plant stems, and the menstrual, lymphatic and circulatory cycles in the animal kingdom.
The Earth has been shaped and formed by the rhythms of the Sun, Moon and stars. Its axis of rotation is 23o from the vertical. Each full rotation is an Earth day, and Earth’s orbit of the Sun occurs once every 365.242 days, which for us is one year.
Due to the Earth’s tilt, the northern hemisphere moves from minimum to maximum exposure to the sun between winter solstice and summer solstice. The reverse is true south of the equator. At the equinoxes, day and night are of near equal length everywhere on Earth. The pace of advancing or receding light is greatest at the poles. In Inuvik, in Northern Canada (68N), the sun remains above the horizon from May until July. The rate of advancing light at this latitude is 15 minutes per day. Midway between the North Pole and the equator (Portland, Oregon, Lyons, France, and Odessa, Ukraine, 45N), there are nine hours of daylight at winter solstice and sixteen hours at summer solstice. In Cairo, Egypt, New Orleans USA and Wuhan, China (30N), the yearly expansion and contraction of daylight ranges from eleven to fifteen hours. At the equator, day and night remain equal in length throughout the year.
There are many other forces and cycles that influence events on Earth. The precession of the Earth’s axis of rotation has a cycle of 26,000 years. Ice ages, persisting for millennia, return cyclically. Geomagnetic and polar shifts trigger dramatic transformations of the planet’s surface. Comets return to our skies, with rhythms that defy calculation. The planets in our solar system are all engaged in a complex web of interactions. The Milky Way also has its cycles.
This lengthening and shortening of daylight and the related seasonal progressions provide markers for a complex web of organic and environmental shifts within the ecology of the Earth. Vast ocean currents circulate heat around the planet. Ocean life is harnessed to and regulated by lunar rhythms. All the ecosystems of the Earth are delicately maintained in balance by these rhythmic patterns; they provide a template of rising and falling energy, a framework of cycles.
In living organisms, balance is regulated by continual re-adjustments in response to the environment. In single cell organisms, the epidermis is a sensory shield, able to perceive the presence of individual atoms, and take appropriate responsive action. Larger organisms have evolved nervous systems, with specialised sensory receptors, and the endocrine and immune systems to maintain order.
These homeostatic feedback mechanisms provide a complex navigation system to protect against threat, and embrace positive influences that is already fully functional in the fertilised egg or germinating seed. It guides the development of an embryo into full maturation, and maintains healthy function in harmony with the environment. It is the unconscious intelligence of life, that learns from experience, and remembers for the future.
In humans, our large brains provide more capacity for personal memory, and therefore greater levels of individualisation, or self-awareness. We have developed many and varied ways to respond to the environment, and to each other, in the form of emotion, and our ability for problem solving has led to the capacity to reason. Yet the greater part of our brain is engaged in unconscious, or autonomic activity. All of our vital functions are maintained sub-consciously, outside of the awareness of the thinking mind, just as in the protozoan, or the aphid.
When an organism is temporarily overwhelmed or destabilised by a physical or psychical agent in the environment, a response is crafted to expel the threat, and purify the system. This is the nature of an acute disease. If however, the strength of the disturbance is beyond the capacity of the organism to fully restore balance, then a permanent pathological adjustment will be the price of survival. These adaptations are remembered at the cellular level, and they surface in future generations as tendencies, or susceptibilities to chronic disease.
The agency that guides us at the autonomic or unconscious level, from the smallest to the largest, is not the discreet property of the tree, mammal or mountain range. A flock of starlings, or a swarm of locusts attest to this. This quality is also in evidence in the mineral realm. The complex but uniform structures of crystal formation demonstrate that this intelligence belongs to the inanimate as well as the animate world.
From a school of mackerel to a spiral galaxy, everything is a part of something greater. An ecosystem is maintained in equilibrium by functional adjustments in its component organisms and micro-systems. These individual adaptations combine together to secure the sustainability of the whole system. The adjustments are finely tuned to maintain a rhythmic balance.
The grain of sand is part of the beach and the shore is part of the Earth. The solar system is part of the galaxy and the Milky Way is part of the Cosmos. The entire universe is implicated in all things.
Every individual life is unique, but not autonomous. There is an unconscious guiding force that animates each form and being, and maintains its alignment within nature. From a volcano to a neutrino, and a virus to a human being, this life force is an aspect of the life force of the Earth. It is at once creative and responsive, and originates in and links us to the source.
Grandmother Earth was born from the body of the Sun. She began as a ball of molten gas and dust that spilled out of the solar vortex, and congealed to form her body. She became anchored in her orbit, and stabilized her cycles of rotation. She was bombarded from afar, and she absorbed more raw ingredients, nutrients required for creation.
Deep in her womb, forces stirred. The iron within her molten body formed a dense magnetic core. The polarity of her being was set in place. She gestated for eons as her surface cooled. Accepting the gift of water that arrived in comets, more memories were added to her being.
Through volcanic release she created the atmosphere, and her skeletal shell of rock and crystal became covered in a porous membrane of soil. Mountain ranges pushed up into the skies. Nutrient rich waters circulated throughout her body. It fell from dense clouds onto the mountains, cascaded down valleys, and concentrated into great ocean pools, pregnant with potentiality.
To hasten her growth, she evoked the spark of life, ever present throughout the universe, wherever conditions allow, and algae developed in the oceans, to filter and purify the atmosphere. Lichens, plants and trees grew upon the land, and corals lined the ocean floors. Working in harmony, they served the Grandmother, and circulated the waters of life.
Through the cycle of birth and death, she expanded and contracted in rhythm with the universal heartbeat. Spinning around the Sun, she conceived of a myriad of life forms, each a unique aspect of her nature, and the polarity at its core. Great forests covered the terrain. The oceans filled with plankton, crustaceans and an abundance of fish. The soil was rich with invertebrates, and insects of all varieties. Reptiles flourished and receded, and mammals hunted and grazed throughout the world.
At times, she cloaked herself in ice and snow, and retreated into dreamtime. Then with renewed vitality, she wove and spun her nature once again. Through successive cycles, she grew older and wiser. Her memories were passed from life to life, and with her deepening consciousness, the life forms she created became more self-aware. When humans were born, they thrived on the generosity and abundance of her spirit. She instilled in them a strong and free will, and a deeply polarised nature. With these gifts, they had the potential to complete her work, and transform the Earth into a beacon of consciousness, resounding the song of creation throughout the cosmos. As they grew in number, they tested her strength and her patience. On more than one occasion, she intervened to remind them of their purpose.
“Remember who you are, and where you come from” she would whisper on the breeze, and in the crashing surf. “And remember why you are here.”