What do climate change, the novel coronavirus, and the Earth’s population explosion all have in common? They comprise a Biblically-sized Armageddon calling for an equal Biblically-sized rebirth of sacred consciousness, this time from the deep feminine.
Creation in Crisis
It’s now impossible to miss: The Earth is getting hotter every month. Heat trapping CO2 is higher than it’s been in 3 million years and the last five years have been the hottest ever recorded. This June was the hottest month on Earth in recorded history and then July broke its record. Arctic glaciers controlling Earth’s temperature are melting faster than scientists predicted and elevated temperatures are anticipated to continue for decades. The debate over global warming is over. More frightening is our rapidly approaching climate calamity, for global warming radically changes the weather all over the Earth, creating dangerous heat spells; ferocious hurricanes, tornados and forest fires; monsoon rains; sea level encroachment into coastal areas; spreading deserts; massive species extinction; an escalating tides of climate refugees, and the explosion of new superbugs, like the coronavirus.
Adding to this nightmare is the mounting pressure of population growth. When America was founded, there were less than one billion people on Earth. When I was a child in the fifties, the world had 2.6 billion people. Now it’s 7.7 billion. By 2050, the population will exceed 9 billion people. Because we lack the sustainable resources to feed this growing population, we borrow dangerously from the future – emptying aquifers, cutting down forests, over-fishing the oceans, and poisoning the future with pesticides. Earth’s growing overpopulation results in polluted water and air; heart and lung diseases; more superbugs and parasites; overwhelmed hospitals; rising crime rates; extensive deforestation and additional loss of wildlife; widespread food shortages; regional conflicts over food and clean water; increasingly-desperate migrations, and war. It’s all in the forecast. But there’s more.
Traditional capitalism itself is now literally unsustainable because it relies so heavily on continuing economic growth in a system of finite resources. The associated wealth Inequity means that the richest 10% of the world generates half the greenhouse gases. Last but not least, the greed and corruption of many lobbyists and elected officials now represents a horrifying obstacle to constructive action. For example, after Brazil’s president gave the green light to illegal land invasion, logging and burning, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon surged past three football fields a minute; and the U.S. president deregulates environmental protections everywhere and threatens to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.
It should be obvious that we are in terrible trouble. We have created a disaster with no quick or easy solution. Climate change, unleashed pandemics, overpopulation, and the resulting erosion of civilization now culminate in an existential crisis of enormous proportions that will affect every aspect of our lives. And, we need to realize that each new crisis, including the escalating coronavirus pandemic, is an invitation from Creation to wake up, recognize the world-wide interconnection of the entire human family, accept our responsibility for the suffering of life on Earth, and bear the deep grief we carry even in denial – we are 7.7 billion people secretly shivering in fear. I hurt for the world. We all do.
The Labor and Birth of a New Humanity
How can we, confused and chaotic human beings, a species still in its tumultuous adolescence, possibly understand and respond to the terrifying reality of the impending climate crisis? Is there a spiritual dimension to this insane Armageddon that can provide any comfort or guidance? I believe there is.
Archetypal psychology, world mythology, and mystical revelation have long suggested that human culture evolves in an ancient and recurring cycle of four stages, beginning with a sacred vision of Creation, its corruption and exploitation by the ego, the consequent collapse of civilization, and a divinely providential return of sacred consciousness amidst the rubble inspiring a new blossom of humanity. Our current climate crisis is the bill of sale for the anthropocentrism, cultural rot, and political venality of our latest round. The accumulated karma of recent history now breaks over us like a great silent tidal wave, portending vast human and wildlife destruction and suffering in its wake. Yet recognizing this age-old spiritual cycle, we sense something deeper if we try, something transpersonal, metaphysical, other worldly, supernatural, divine, mystical, transformational, life-changing, evolutionary, irreversible, supernal, necessary, awe-full, and reality-shifting. While the best description fails me, the spiritual intuition resonates nonetheless. A visionary transformation is at hand.
Humanity stands at the threshold of a chiros moment still imprisoned in its conventional chronos mind. What can we expect from such a transformational moment? While it may take many forms, the sensitive will notice these commonalities – panic and despair interrupt business-as-usual, ordinary time and its chronos calendar cease to be relevant, the world order disappears, mystical awareness replaces self-centered thought, and the divine mind begins to awakens in our consciousness to transfigure each other and the world. While climate change is life-threatening in conventional consciousness; in sacred awareness, it may unveil a radically new world, for apocalypse means revelation.
I also believe that the climate apocalypse encodes the mystical power, symbolism, struggle, and sacred consciousness of pregnancy, labor and birth. For most of us, if we pay deep attention, the birth process feels huge, prescient and uncontrollable; we sense mysterious forces acting within and without; and the culmination of this process will change our lives forever. Knowing things can go wrong, we prepare for anything, but in the end, acknowledge and trust the implicit quest of our labor. These dimensions also inform the climate crisis. More than a metaphor, I believe this global emergency signals a cosmic, divinely archetypal, transmuting miracle, profoundly feminine in nature, growing in the inner darkness of the human psyche, and bringing forth a consciousness, achieved through blood and pain, yet in the end scrubbed clean of ugliness and corruption. A new beginning.
The Blossom That Opens With Pain
Beautifully describing the birth of her first child, Laura Weldon, 2019 Ohio Poet of the Year, wrote, “Childbirth taught me it is possible to understand pain.” She recalled,
Labor with my first child progressed very slowly. All night I centered myself through contractions by staring at a chosen focal point – my husband’s green eyes. At 22, I had no friends who were pregnant or had given birth. What I knew came from books and childbirth classes. I’d found the only doctor in our area who practiced the gentle natural birthing method known as Leboyer. He was a gruff elderly gentleman who reluctantly snuffed out his cigarette when I objected to it during my first office visit. I’d been told by another obstetrician I was certain to require a cesarean section because I was too petite. Yet here I was mentally celebrating as labor intensified because it meant I’d soon meet my child. I barely noticed the birthing room’s white walls and its large black-rimmed clock. All my attention went to picturing the pain as urging a blossom open. In the morning a red-haired boy emerged weighing 9 pounds, 10 ounces.
All day I felt euphoric. It was revelatory to hold this new being. I wanted to do nothing but return his long liquid gaze. My own discomfort and hunger seemed irrelevant. That night as I held my baby, unable to sleep from wonderment, I heard the cries of a woman laboring in a nearby room. Perhaps it could be blamed on exhaustion or hormones, but for a moment the walls evaporated and I was with her, sharing her effort. Then time itself evaporated and I was with every woman who had labored to bring forth each previous generation, all the way from the beginning. Their struggle, their strength echoed in my own body. I could feel this resonate in the atoms making up every body ever formed. The moment ended but the feeling didn’t. I had never used drugs but afterward I was high for days.
At this moment of humanity’s new birth, we are equally unprepared for the necessary, powerful and painful contractions. Young, inexperienced in visionary transformations, attended by callow mates and gruff teachers, yet giddy with hope, we, too, seek to transmute our collective pain by urging the blossom open, rewarded then with unexpected euphoria, the grace-filled miracle of new tender new beginnings, the loving embrace of motherhood, deep compassion for the epic struggle of all life to survive, and numinous revelations of beauty, creativity, and cosmic abundance that arrive as we witness again the sacred dimension of being
But it’s rarely easy. When my daughter called to say she was pregnant for the first time, I was euphoric. More than that, I felt pregnant. I sensed a new life growing inside me as well and, unable to contain my joy, I danced crazily around the kitchen. And a new world was indeed born, though my daughter almost died in postpartum complications. We cannot minimize the possibilities of real suffering in this global transformation nor should we, but if we cling the past, we will surely be lost.
A Fuller Revelation?
Mystics, poets, and artists often remind us that the world is already sacred. In their awakened perception, they describe an exquisitely beautiful and enchanted world, lit from within, the divine essence and substance of all being. They insist that if we look deeply, intensely, in thought-free sacred consciousness, we, too, will discover the living divine fabric of existence hiding beneath the mental world we project onto Creation. As described as Mystical Activism: Transforming a World in Crisis, revelation is always about removing the filters of thought and belief to rediscover the divine ground of being, and there will be much more revelation to come this round. Faced with the possibility of extinction, our revelations will be equally Biblical. We wait in hallowed expectation.
Along the path back to Creation, we must surrender our attachments to the illusions and unsustainable conveniences of the “modern” world – self-importance, political narratives, undeserved wealth, endless food in grocery stores, abundant clean water, accessible medical care, gas on every corner, upward mobility, cruises and air travel. Recalling that sacrifice means to make sacred in Latin, we understand that great revelation follows great loss.
But likening her birth experience to our apocalyptic times, Laura observed, “The pain we are undergoing, relentless as any mother’s labor, may very well be urging a blossom open. This struggle and the strength required to get through it has been present each time history contracted, expanded, birthed a better reality.” While the unveiling of Creation has already begun, we must be its midwives and receive it tenderly in our loving hands.
The labor and birth of a new human consciousness is more than a metaphor. It beholds a new breakthrough of cosmic consciousness, this time profoundly feminine because that’s what has been missing for centuries in the patriarchal worldview. Loving, maternal, inclusive, natural, non-competitive, and non-hierarchical, this is the potential maturational blossom of our time. Humanity’s new birth also holds the promise of a new savior, who we will eventually discover is you and me.
Now is the moment of humanity’s greatest step forward or final step into extinction. We stand in the fire of our own individual and cultural transformation. It doesn’t matter what your personal history is or how you’ve lived, this new birth will redeem and renew the life you were given to serve the world, if you’re willing. Like all sacraments, this birth, too, is sacred. Indeed, the climate crisis is humanity’s own sacrament – personal, collective, and planetary. The angels watch in fear and hope. This is not the punishment of an authoritarian male God, it is the return of the deeply feminine power of unconditional love, offering at long last the sacred marriage of masculine and feminine, human and divine, Heaven and Earth. But it’s up to us.
John Robinson is a clinical psychologist with a second doctorate in ministry, an ordained interfaith minister, the author of nine books and numerous articles on the psychology, spirituality and mysticism of the New Aging, and a frequent speaker at Conscious Aging Conferences across the country. His new book, Mystical Activism: Transforming a World in Crisis, argues that a mystical awareness of life is critical to our survival in the rapidly approaching climate crisis. You can learn more about his work at www.johnrobinson.org.