A Deep Ecology of Consciousness by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee


Returning our awareness to a fully animate world.

As our world appears to spin more and more out of balance, darkness and divisiveness growing, there is a pressing need for each of us to find a place of belonging. In my own journey and daily life I have been drawn to rediscover an essential connection to the living Earth. It was in the early days of the pandemic, when for a few months our world slowed down and almost stopped, that I came to listen to a different rhythm, the silence and sounds of the natural world and the deeper pulse of the Earth. Those months soon passed, and the pandemic not only took us into fears for our health and an economic crisis, but soon afterwards into the fragmented, divisive dramas around masks and vaccines. But the memory of a quieter, clearer world remained, and an awareness of how this nourishes the soul. Over the next year as I walked the beaches and wetlands nearby, I became more and more immersed in this primal landscape, sensing it has a quality we need for a new human story.

As we stand at the edge of climate catastrophe there is much work to be done in immediate response: cutting carbon emissions and stopping our present pathological destruction of old growth forests, rewilding and restoring wetlands to halt loss of biodiversity. Also exploring more sustainable ways to live, regenerative agriculture, reciprocity and degrowth, to name a few. But there is also a different perspective that has seen through the cracks in our present way of life, and knows it is past its sell by date, that it is simply unsustainable and over. That all attempts at “green growth” are just patterns of avoidance.

Looking to a future seven generations or more this vision is an opportunity to lay the foundations of a new way of being with each other and the Earth, a new story for our journey together with the Earth—a life sustaining civilization that honors the patterns of interdependence that connect and support us all. Stories have the power to create civilizations, and rather than survival, resilience, or even sustainability, what are the seeds we need for this new story to come fully alive?

My own story has drawn me to reconnect my awareness with the living Earth, what I have called “a deep ecology of consciousness.” Whether watching river otters in the nearby wetlands, or seeing the shorebirds scurrying after the waves on the early morning beach, I sense how I am part of a landscape that stretches across millennia. From this primal awareness I can once again learn to walk together with the Earth and Her more-than-human inhabitants. Here we can co-create a way of being that is not built upon controlling nature, but collaborating with Her, learning once again to listen to Her, to “rejoin the Great Conversation” with the wind and the rain, the rivers and mountains. This future, although it seems so far away, is in the ground under our feet, and in the love we have for each other, for our communities and for the Earth Herself.

Over the months of the pandemic I wrote a series of essays which explores this primal connection and way of being. They are collected here and are available as a free download, Seeding the Future.