The forest garden communities of the ancient future

Many of us dream of another more abundant, sustainable, earth based world which may come into being after our industrial growth culture has run its course. What will this new world look like? Perhaps it would involve co-operation with the earth’s intelligence rather than struggle against it; it may involve abundant ecological economics, regenerative technologies and a return to our respect for our bioregional place-based relationship with our local ecoystems.

Perhaps we will move from the industrial growth culture to a world where much land is left to open to wild nature and many of us live in regenerative ecovillages or ecological housing co-ops linked by travelling caravans, where magnificient traditions of storytelling, ancestral connection, nature awareness, grief ceremonies, council, dance, song, trauma healing, gardening, wildcrafting, holistic science, communication with the non-human world and the sentient intelligence of nature, myth, ecobuilding, ceremony and conflict resolution can be rekindled. This process of transition has been called many names, Joanna Macy called it a Great Turning from empire to earth community.

It is of course completely uncertain if we will ever get to such a world. Right now it is like we are travelling across a narrow bridge above a perilous abyss. We may have to just put one foot in front of the other, to reach out and support the person behind us and to reach out to the person in front of us and allow ourselves to reach out to be supported

If we do reach the other side it will be not as individuals acting alone, but rather through individuals acting together as communities and communities acting together as collectives. In some ways this new world may also exist now, although it is more rarified, not just gathered in one location but spread out across people and places across the world.

In my life I have had many different relationships to this possible new world. Each new relationship has been precipitated by some terrifying inner death and rebirth process, which perhaps mirrors in a microcosmic level the entire macrocosmic historical process itself.

Firstly as a young activist I tried to PROTECT the growing seed of a new world by resisting and fighting against the people and socio-economic forces which maintained empire and ecological destruction and by advocating for and giving voice to people who’s voices were suppressed in some way.

Later I EXPERIENCED for many years in microcosm this more intraconnected abundant, earth honouring, playful wild way of living whilst I lived on eco-villages and produced food for the people there as a permaculturalist and organic gardener.

Then I went through a phase where I COMMUNICATED through writing and speaking to as many people as I could, synthesizing the most useful and effective means I had encountered in rewilding, regenerating local ecosystems, creating community and envisioning a new socio-economic paradigm

Then I went through a new, more satisfying and effective phase where I endeavoured to EMBODY this new world by creating ceremony in nature, helping people to find vision, to find the power and medicine within personal and social problems, to connect with the ancestors and the sentient intelligence of the earth as a direct visceral embodied sensory experience.

Over the last few months I have gone through a painful chaosmic vortex of inner forces, as some new way of being has tried to birth itself through me. The next stage which has been incubating in me for some time, and will come into being now, will be one where I help to CREATE THE PHYSICAL FORM of this new world in the form of co-creating a network of interconnected eco-villages which may form the skeletal infrastructure of the world to come, the forest garden communities of the ancient future.