Planet Earth, our home, orbits the Sun, along with Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and Eris, and many millions of asteroids and vast clouds of particles.
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. Comets raining in from deep space deposited water, which precipitated into cloud, rainfall and oceans.
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 and it is composed principally of magnesium and silica. 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.
At winter solstice exposure to daylight is at a minimum, whilst summer solstice is the longest day. At the equinoxes, day and night are of near equal length everywhere on Earth. These seasonal progressions provide markers for a complex web of organic and environmental rhythms within the ecology of the Earth.
Lunar cycles regulate a rhythmic ebb and flow, throughout the entire planet, including the tides of the oceans, the sap within plant stems, and the menstrual, lymphatic and circulatory cycles in the animal kingdom. All the ecosystems of the Earth are delicately maintained in balance by these overlapping and interwoven rhythmic patterns.
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 Earth has been shaped and formed by the rhythms of the Sun, Moon and stars.
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 originated within stars. Our Sun is a small star in a cluster within a galaxy that we call The Milky Way, that is composed of billions of stars, with a dense core and spiralling plumes. The Sun, and its planetary system are 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.
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.
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 and respond. Larger organisms have evolved nervous systems, with specialised sensory receptors, and endocrine and immune systems to optimise vital health.
Homeostatic adjustments maintain health and balance in a continuously changing environment. This life force with its formative intelligence 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.
Humans have developed many and varied ways to respond to the environment, and to each other, including emotion and 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.
The agency that maintains balance 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. Individual adaptations combine together to secure the health of whole systems. The adjustments are finely tuned to maintain rhythmic balance.
Every individual life is unique, but not autonomous. There is a 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, each individual life force is an aspect of the life force of the Earth. 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. This is what is meant by the aphorism from alchemy – ‘As above, so below.’ However, what is referred to by the ‘above’ is not merely distance from our earthly plane; the life force is a spiritual energy. These two realms, the temporary and the eternal, the relative and the absolute, the physical and the spiritual are interwoven, each within the other, and who we are and the whole natural world is the result of this tapestry of energy and substance. The universal creative force is implicit within all beings, and in a very real sense, you have the divine source, or the universal force of creation within you.