The Consciousness Of Earth -- Review by CarrieAnn Thunnell
I have recently been privileged to read Esther Cameron’s book, The Consciousness Of Earth. This 238-page book is published by:
307 Birchwood Court
6311 Gilbert Rd, Richmond, BC V7C 3V7
It is priced at $14.95 in the US, ISBN 0-9733301-3-9
I learned of the book through a flyer that gave a very brief synopsis describing the work as a document of formal poetry on the topic of deep ecology. When it arrived, I was daunted to discover that the first 223 pages consist of a treatise on the evolution of our planet written entirely in blank verse, and pages 224-238 are devoted entirely to footnotes! What I had in my hands was an impeccably well-researched master-work! I felt a sense of awe mingled with profound intimidation!
The author has selected each word with pinpoint precision, and combines these with eloquent and fresh metaphor to create a work of exquisite poetic beauty.
“Till then our kind might live – a life so long,
our heretofore would be the sapling ring
within the trunk of an immense sequoia,
had we but wisdom equal to our knowledge.” P 11
Her grasp of the natural sciences on which this work is based is astounding for one who claims not to have an in-depth scientific background. Her ability to synthesize highly complex information from such diverse fields as astronomy, evolution, physics, social psychology and more, and weave it into a holistic pattern of global proportions is stunning! She combines data from diverse scientific disciplines into a holistic vision imbued with the soul of a visionary poet. I quote here from page 16, chapter 3:
“Nor are we simply
a product of the laws that set the force
of gravity, the tension in the atom,
devised the alphabet of particle
and quark, spelled out the elements, composed
the phrases of the molecule, the stanzas
and cantos of the chromosomes. The laws
of chemistry could not have been predicted
from physics, nor from inorganic forms
the laws of living things; the rules of grammar
do not imply, again the Shakespearean sonnet
of which they are foundation, but not cause.”
It is my conviction that the highest and most courageous calling of a poet is to write a new scripture and credo that is contemporaneous with our planetary needs. Ms. Cameron does just that.
“Thus Mystery rocked the cradle of our
inseparable the two, as form from message.
And there where mystery and logos meet
there looms, as if it were a shape that lived
within the heartwood of the human tree,
the Poet. Shaman, healer, storyteller,
lawgiver – sometimes one or more of these,
but always keeper of that rhythmic vocal
murmur that rose before articulate speech” p. 50
As she outlines the evolution and follies of humanity, she scrutinizes the history of our religious mythos dispassionately. She is unafraid to point out religion’s misuse and its implication in numerous tragic wars. But she does not stop there. She dares to do theology, by illuminating the thread of divine intelligence that is with us throughout our ascent from the primordial ooze. To do this, she draws on many sources which support her vision and are impeccably footnoted.
Then, in the fashion of a true poetess, she becomes something of an oracle, pointing out a possible future that is ours if we can tap into our poetic mysticism. By illustrating the direct relation between our beliefs and values on the one hand, and our technologies and orientation towards the Earth and her creatures on the other, she demonstrates how religions based on human supremacy and exploitation have given license to the global destruction of our ecosystems. She goes on to illustrate the need for a more comprehensive belief/value system that will enable humankind to cherish the global life support system, and all the creatures therein.
“Not to abolish
the old traditions, not to break the vessels
that hold ancestral memory, would the Mother
enter today on faith’s disordered stage,
but gradually to sort, to rearrange
and reconcile, as fits the careful housewife,
averse to waste.
Thus, opening some future
book of common prayer, where beside psalms
and hymns to God the Father we would find
words that invoke the Mother-form, now let
me try this instrument. Now, as a child” page 171
Whether or not one agrees with her conclusions, one should not discount the well-researched evidences she brings to bear on the topic. Nor should one discount the many points she raises concerning the globally destructive path humanity has trod that now endangers the continuation of life on the entire planet.
It is my belief that Ms. Cameron has a great love of God, and an equally great love of Earth and her creatures. Her epic poem is an attempt to unite these two loves by drawing on the strength of the one, to heal the other, and in so doing, to heal the human heart as well. It is my belief that this poetic work shall be highly controversial, but it will also impel people to examine the assumptions of their own belief systems, and how the misuse of religion has given license at times to activities that are in direct opposition to the intent of its founders. Hopefully out of such courageous interfaith dialogue, each faith system shall gain an opportunity to hold itself accountable and renew its commitments to assist humanity in its efforts to find hope, and meaning, and to create a better world.
This book requires deep study, perhaps within a group setting, to plumb its depths. Ms. Cameron invites each of us to join in the dialogue, and to add to a new global theology by contributing blank verse to her website. See Point and Circumference, located at www.pointandcircumference.com.