by Francis Joy
“The earth so say the Shamans possesses a structure that is related in essence to that of the Human body. Like us, it has breath – the air. Like us, is has a heartbeat – the fiery magma. Like Us, it has a skeletal system – the mountains and stones. Like us it has a musculature –the hills and forests. It has glands like us – its mineral wealth. And it has a consciousness –its own thought, of which we ourselves are merely one aspect…..” Marie Du Lorier.
I am Francis Joy a PhD student originally from England, but currently studying at The University of Lapland Faculty of Art and Design, Finland. My work for the PhD is concerned with Spirituality and Saami history as portrayed through art and nature. The content of this paper is relevant for what I have learned about spirituality and the sacred nature of the environment, especially here in the Arctic, which is literally located on the top of the world. This ‘sensitive’ landscape is under serious threat from the proposed extensive extraction of its mineral wealth, not only in Finland but throughout all the circumpolar regions around the world. These areas are where many indigenous peoples live. This article attempts to address a number of issues relating to the well-being of the planet in light of these threats.
In 2011, I visited the small town of Glastonbury in the UK, which is one of the spiritual centres of Europe. I was overwhelmed by feelings after entering two of the New Age shops that are located on the main street there, to find large collections of geodes and crystal formations for sale which had been harvested from the earth, possibly from South America. These were mainly amethyst and citrine, which for New Age healers and therapists have particular value. From outside the shop, there was a lifeless feeling which was reminiscent of the extraction of life from the earth, a kind of numbness which was accompanied by a feeling of grief and sadness.
A visit to another new age crystal shop to view some books was also met with surprise, as in the entrance there was a large basket advertising items for sale, such as clocks, book ends, candle holders, lamps all of which were made from geodes and crystals. The marked down prices suggested they items were of little value at all. Inside the shop, there was a large display of carved items and lot’s of jewellery all made from semi-precious stones.
The sad feelings came to mind concerning the impact of mineral extraction in relation to the plight of the earth at this time and what seems like the continuous and vast harvesting of the earth’s natural resources which at the present, is a universal trend because of the large financial profits gained from the mining industries world-wide. Once more, the feelings of anger and sadness at what was being offered for sale by the owners of the two shops arose. They were dressed as New Age seekers or spiritual people, apparently, living consciously and caring for nature, which by all accounts, is what the very essence of spirituality means.
On May 25th 2011, I attended a one day conference at The University of Lapland titled ‘People Belonging to the Land – Forced Relocation of Indigenous Peoples’. The event was attended by Pekka Aikio the former President of the Sami Parliament in Finland from 1996 to 2008, Indu Netam, President of Adivasi Samta Manch, Adivasi women’s Organisation, Chattisgarth, India, Elvia Contreras Espinosa, from Mexico- CACTUS (Centre of Community Support Working Together), and Bibiana Martinez de Jesus from the Autonomous Women and Resistance in San Juan Copala, the Triqui community, Oaxaca, Mexico. The conference was dedicated for the living memory of Jyri Jaakkola, a Finnish man who was working the rights of indigenous peoples in Mexico, and who was murdered on 27th of April 2010. There was a second person whose name was included in the roll of honour: Bety Carino who was also shot dead by paramilatary gunmen five months later. Bety was an indigenous anti-mining campaigner. Both Jyri and Bety were killed while they tried to defend the human rights of self-determination in the autonomous indigenous Triqui community of San Juan Copala. There were also reports of many other people being killed by paramilitary gunmen who were hired by mining companies to terrorise the native people as a way of removing them from their communities so they could harvest the mineral wealth on which their ancestral lands and deep spiritual traditions had originated.
At the top of this paper, the quote by Marie Du Lorier, has been used to emphasise what all indigenous peoples, spirit workers and sensitive persons have always known, concerning the relationship between the structure and function of the human body and its consciousness and both the structure, function and consciousness of the earth. These two organisms are intimately connected with each other. The alignment of the earth and the earth’s energy field has always been present with that of the human and animal bodies, plant, tree and mineral kingdoms, as each realm is intimately connected with one another. We see evidence of this in for example, through the legends and stories associated with ancient sacred stone circle culture in Britain, and Europe. These is also evidence of the sacredness of the landscapes at cultic sites and places considered sacred called Sieidi in Saami and Seita in Finnish language, throughout Fennoscandia and beyond into Siberia.
These sites have been, and in many cases, are still used for ritual and worship, as part of the rich and historical traditions of the native peoples, who at certain times of the year come together to attune their own personal rhythm to the rhythm of the earth, in order to show respect to, and value nature on which we are all dependent. The Native American medicine wheel’s that are spread out across the landscapes in the USA and Canada, like the stone circles, are as we know, also structured in a way which portrays the cyclical nature of life and the interaction between the different life forms within the cosmos that are bound together through a mutual inter-dependent relationship with each other. These life forms create what the Native American people call the Web of Life to which human beings are a part of.
From a study of sacred natural sites in all cultures throughout the world, and also many made by human beings, such as Stonehenge in the south of England and the Medicine Wheels noted above one can also encounter the sacredness of the earth seen reflected through the value and importance of solar, stellar and lunar beings and their seasonal cycles which give richness to tradition and heritage. The stories associated with sacred time and place are well known to the Druids, Native American peoples and also the Saami and Siberian cultures, for example. In much earlier times, these are also known to the nations states as well. Today, we still find how value is placed on the spiritual energies-powers at these sacred sites which are vital for our survival and the survival of the planet.
At the present time, there is a revival of ancient traditions and ways of life in different cultures where, at special times people come together to pay reverence and respect to the traditions they have inherited from their ancestors, concerning culture and heritage which are all linked with identity. These sacred festival times occur during the moon and solar cycles each month, for example, the Mid-Winter and Summer Solstices and also the Spring and Fall Equinoxes’. Evidence of the inter-connectivity of the cycles of the earth with the cycles of solar, lunar and stellar kingdoms in the skies in relation to stone circles and medicine wheels shows how sacred sites made by human persons have been constructed at sun rise and sun set points as well as solar and lunar observance points throughout the year.
The function of sacred sites and forces from within the earth which lie above and beneath them, has always been known to be crucial for the peoples of the world, for example, for the psychic and spiritual well-being of humanity, the animal and plant kingdoms’; and the wellness of rivers and waterways, and forests and woodlands. These powers act as both bridges and conductors between different dimensions of reality such as the elemental kingdoms of the earth, elemental kingdoms of the water, those of the air and fire, as well as realms linked to the sun, moon and stars. These realms it could be said are what make up the universe we are a part of. It has been the sensitive people such as: dreamers, healers, artists, visionaries ect, who have held the knowledge of these spheres with reference to communication and the reception of the wisdom and information from the different forms of intelligence which flows throughout the cosmos. These individuals have had the capacities to work with these different spirits and then translate this communication into art forms. In addition, another dimension which is also present within the cycles of life is the knowledge which comes from those who are departed; from the world of the ancestors. In all cultures and spiritual traditions, the presence and guidance of ancestors and their memory has always been an essential factor in helping humanity with healing, artistic and visionary work and for maintaining relationships to other dimensions of life with great respect and reverence, as a way of maintaining balance, Cosmic Order and preventing sickness and disease.
The point I want to emphasise here is how, and because of the vast changes the earth is extensively experiencing as more and more of its mineral wealth and old forests are being harvested, and landscape being developed, as a result of sickness, desperation and the sense of unfulfillment brought about by material existence, something is happening. More and more people are beginning show interest in, and reaslise how, important the knowledge from the old shamanic traditions of the world are with reference to working on behalf of Mother Earth and her related Kingdoms. The very essence of this knowledge teaches that as human beings, we are not seperate or superiour to nature as some religions teach, but an essential part of nature, which is evident at the level of soul essence. Soul essence is the stuff we are all made of beyond the physical body which carries the same energy-intelligence as found in animals, trees, plants, ect, which have their own forms. It is sometimes through sickness and desperation that people may start encountering and communicating with their own individual, internal being – the God-Goddess aspect, the spirit of a star that lives within each one of us, which makes its presence known as we fight to stay whole. Through this sacred source of our Divine nature, it is possible to see how this nature relates to the rest of nature, which has a spirit, and therefore, we begin to understand the importance of how crucial it is to recognise our inter-relationship between the human realm and that of nature. Through this awareness, we are then able to understand the consequences of the vast harvesting of the earth’s mineral wealth and the loss of consciousness awareness of the earth where for example, mining and forestry is taking place and what this irreversible damage means in terms of preserving the earth and its resources for future generations?
There exists within the earth, what might be termed as illuminated societies, sometimes referred to as Ascended Masters, who govern the vortexes of spiritual energy on the earth. These beings can be found in the sacred hills and mountains around the planet, located as the energetic centres of the earth where geodes and crystal formations are to be found and in particular at sacred sites, and includes what might be best termed as power animal guides and archetypal powers. These spirits are also encountered in Lapland too and are known to the Sámi as Guffitar, which is a North-Sámi word meaning a gnome, and other life forms such as the Maahinen (Goblins). The Guffitar are just one of a number of races of spirit beings who live in the earth, and who are an integral part of Sámi, mythology, culture and identity.
Evidence of the relationship between the human person and the earth is also reflected in Chinese medicine and the understanding of the five elements in relation to the human body. Traditional practices such as acupuncture, shiatsu and acupressure, emphasises how the immune system-glands within the human body are linked together by the subtle energetic pathways called meridian lines. There is a great importance for understanding the critical function the glandular system plays with reference to treating illness and disease and maintaining well-being. This human bodily system is almost an identical one to the mineral wealth which is buried under the surface of the earth as crystal formations and geodes, in other words, they function as the glandular system of the planet. These formations are in a similar fashion, linked together by what are called Ley lines or Dragon paths which are like veins forming an intricate network of essential energy centres which the earth is dependent for its survival and well-being. In Australian Aboriginal terminology these are referred to as Song Lines. It is not uncommon to find pathways as such running alongside rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and waterways. They are also points where burial chambers and places on interment were created so the deceased cold travel back into the spirit world, as were churches. A good example of a site where these are present in Loima, south-west Finland where a number of cup stones can be found, close to where the church has been built. Ley lines on the surface of the earth have the same function as nerve pathways on the human body acting as vital energy circuits. It is not uncommon either, to encounter spirits on these networks.
In past times, these elemental and spiritual powers who reside in the earth were invoked by the shamans of the world for help. They were honoured as an integral part of each society on which humanity was dependent. This has been forgotten by most people because of the ways in which societies became industrialised and the displacement of indigenous peoples from their lands through colonialism and subsequent Christianization, which has been concerned with materialism and organised religion. In the bible, within the book of Genesis we can find reference to what is referred to as God’s dominion over man, and that of human beings over the earth and all its occupants.
“In the economic growth of human society, and in particular, the unquenchable desire for minerals, wood, water and land, poses a threat to the resources on which all peoples, including indigenous people and minority groups make their living and survive. In most cases, these physical resources are essentially the source of unique cultures, religions, customs and social relations, developed over hundreds or even thousands of years which are simply being harvested for economic prosperity without any understanding of the spiritual impact on the human realm and related kingdoms. One group of people’s desire for material prosperity at the expense or sacrifice of another will continue to cause conflicts”. Source: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/bizchina/2010-01/09/content_9293075.htm
Both the lack of awareness and understanding by political leaders as well as the industrialised societies, who are economically minded, of the spirituality of the earth and that the earth itself is a spiritual entity is one of the main reasons why this continued destruction of the natural world is on-going. We currently live in a time when we witness each day how we have lost or given our power away to institutions, and subsequently, how the planet has lost its power because of what has happened to it, thus the onset of climatic changes. It is a well-known fact that whatever human beings do to the earth, they do to themselves. The Renowned Native American Spiritual leader Chief Seattle spoke about this “The earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected”. Sadly, the education systems of the nation states do not teach children or adults their responsibilities towards nature.
Furthermore, it is known in tribal and indigenous societies that when the earth is decimated, the spirits who are killed and displaced and who lose their homes will seek revenge in the human realm. These consequences can be seen through alcoholism, suicide, accidents, disease-sickness and premature death as a response. People who abuse drugs and alcohol are depicting an internal spiritual crisis and are therefore, attempting to break out of a false self which has separated from nature.
In my opinion, it is an outrage that sacred mountains are blown up so their natural mineral wealth can be harvested and sold as commercial goods to corporate industries and spiritual seekers, by mining companies and private landowners. These organisations know nothing of the indwelling guardians and spirits who reside within the landscapes or the importance role that these sacred sites play in the life of the earth and the overall well-being of the earth populations. It is also a fact that as the human population of the earth increases, so does the sickness and suffering as the result of separation.
The film ‘Avatar’ by James Cameron (2010) is a classic portrait of what is happening to the lands of the indigenous populations across the earth. The story in the movie shows the war against a tribe called the Na’vi, whose sacred land contains a metal called Unobtanium, which is found on the moon and is priced at 20 million dollars a kg. Before the attack by the American military machine, Dr Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) speaks about the sacred tree of the Na’vi people where there is some kind of electro chemical communication between the roots of the trees, like the synapses between neurons, and each tree has connections to the tree around it. This is no less true for the mineral kingdoms here on earth who communicates with each other via the energetic grids pictured above. Furthermore, in 1995, Members of the Oglala Sioux, the Native American Indians from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota also figured prominently in a film called ‘Thunderheart’, with Val Kilmer and Sam Shepherd, which was a story about Uranium extraction in the Black Hills and the subsequent impact on the sensitive environment there. Another film which portrays the impact of de-foresterisation is John Boorman’s: ‘The Emerald Forest’ (2005), which shows the plight of the tribes from the Amazon. The portrait of the issues in these films can be seen as being crucially important for us to look at and understand before it is too late that the earth is not a limitless resource.
Currently, there is an on-going threat in northern Finland, including Lapland where, with government backing, mining companies are awaiting decisions as to whether or not seven mines will be allowed to open. The threat of massive harvesting of natural resources, which have triggered widespread outrage and condemnation of the government and its policy of mineral extraction, has to potential, especially in the case of uranium mining in Kuusamo, cause irreversable and widespeard devastation to the rivers, forests and wild life in the areas. This in turn may have a serious impact on nature that will eventually filter into the human realm.
The proposed mines are as follows:
In Kuusamo, in the Ruaa area, there is a current environmental assessment underway in the Kitka River and National Park, where gold deposits have been found. This is a former Sami place.
In Kittila, there exists a gold mine where cyonide is being used to seperate the gold from arsenic deposits.
In Sodankyla, a large nickle mine is currently being built which will open this year. There is a current investigation underway to assess the impact this will have on the Kemi River.
The Sokli mine in eastern Lapland; is awaiting the decision to open the mine, which will come either this year or next, which if opened, it will destroy the Norti River which has pristine clear water, and the surrounding wilderness which is a natural reindeer breeding habitat. The mine contains phosphers and Uranium.
A very large mine in the Kolari municipality, close to Ylas; decisions about the mine opening will be made this year.
There are also claims made on areas around Rovaniemi for gold and uranium, and areas in eastern Lapland have been considered to contain diamonds, Utsjoki is one of these areas.
Go to Google.co and search for ‘New Mining Projects in Lapland’, there is a map of the areas in a pdf format.
When a forest is cut down for timber, it will grow again in time, but when minerals are dug out from the earth, there is no renewal, the holes in the earth stay. The minerals are in the earth for a reason and they have always been there, and act as the earth’s defence systems against illness and disease. It is uncomfortable to imagine how, and if a human person would have a many of their glands surgically removed, what impact would this have on the physical body concerning its function and well-being?
In these troubled times, and as a matter of urgency to recognise the damage being done in Lapland and further afield throughout the world, it could be said there is a need to change the vision of the material consciousness into a spiritual one. In our times, our spirituality must be earth centred, as is has been in the past before the arrival of Christianity and the Industrial Era. It is also important to understand that our hearts and minds cannot be won with money and material wealth.
Another sad reality concerns the cultural and political history in Finland. One would think that the past struggle for independence from Russia and Sweden and the two dreadful wars with Russia which cost the lives of tens of thousands of men, who fought to protect the land and their families would be taken into consideration regarding the war against nature and the landscape by the mining industry. Furthermore, when discussing cultural history in Finland and the subsequent losses, it is important to take into consideration the loss of 10,000 km of land along the eastern border of Karelia and destruction of Lapland within the outcome of the war, would help to increase the value of the cultures in Finland, and the importance of their maintenance and preservation, instead of letting political leaders sell it. In addition to the aforementioned, the impact that the 1986 meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor had right across Finland, in terms of radiation sickness which led to cancer and the premature deaths of vast numbers of people and animals as a consequence. Instead of taking these facts into consideration with regard to developing in particular Uranium mining, the past is overlooked and therefore, the culture is being sold and valued in terms of its economic worth, which brings a false sense of material security at an enormous cost to the future generations. Landscape and culture are intimately linked with art and identity. In order to preserve and maintain culture and landscape for future generations, prevent disease and sickness, the drive by the mining industry has to viewed in its true light, it is a phenomena that will cause irreversible environmental damage on a scale and will have severe consequences for the health and well-being of future generations to come.
In Finland, the water has been sacred for thousands of years. Its importance is found in the ancient hunting, trapping and fishing cultures which preceded the end of the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago, and also the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala Mythology. Waterways have also been vitally important for the Saami in terms of culture, identity and their nature based religion which is thought to be some 9000 years old.
The expansion of the mining industry and the harvesting of the earth’s natural resources, and the impacts these have on the earth, merely reflect the separation and subsequent division of both male and female within the human realm from nature, meaning that instead of working to respect and balance one another, it seems they are in constant conflict with each other. In conclusion, the protection, reverence and respect for the spiritual values within nature is being constantly compromised for economic development, progress and profit, which in turn, will have long term and devastating consequences for us all, unless people are prepared to come together and act to stop this economical madness. In the history of the world, never has such deep destruction into the inner layers of the earth and natural world taken place, in the name of economic progress and development. The illusion that a man-made material millennium built upon material bliss lies just ahead of us is an illusion which will destroy the home we live on.
The earth is a sacred being which has a soul, a consciousness just like all other life forms. It is our choice as to whether or not we let our governments destroy it or not?
Below are links to web pages where more information about the proposal to open new mines in Lapland, can be found.
Francis Joy 2015.
I would also like to pay special thanks to Juan Ruiz Naupari for his help in writing this article.
Artikkeli on julkaistu suomeksi lyhennettynä Seita-lehdessä 2/2015