The wolf of the wind howls around my cabaña, and the ash trees shake like rattles. Constellations come and go as the sky races over them. It’s wild up here. It’s another world, a planet where human rules no longer apply. This is the real world that still waits for us beyond the lacklustre veil we threw over it so long ago. Why did we do that, I wonder. Did we think it would be easier? If so, we were wrong, because this planet entertains neither cowards nor the lazy, and in every gutless lane we choose to walk down, predators of the worst kind lurk. All these life roads are energy conduits, you see. Which trail are we following?
I’m supping a cup of tea, snug on my bed with the stove roaring like a flaming lion. Gusts hammer at my door. And of course, it is in the midst of this storm that I decide I’d rather fancy a snack.
So I pull on my hat and my head torch and open the hut door. Lo and behold, night and his snarling hounds of cold, rain, and gales pour in. Lord! It’s rough out there. I blink through the pitch. That this tiny rock dwelling feels so secure in this weather surprises me. And then of course I ponder, as I often do, just how much I really want a handful of peanuts.
Nonetheless, I head out into the open mouth of winter. All for a few nuts. Because in truth there’s a lot more to it than that. In truth I’m going because I love to rip up that dreary man-made security blanket and feel the planet on my skin and in my hair. I know when I step up to meet Gaia, she will infuse me with something every advertiser tries to con me into buying but that no corporation can provide. It’s why I’m happier on a tempestuous mountain hiking to my kitchen, than I am pushing buttons in a town flat. Or God forbid a suburb.
Stumbling along the ridge, gusts whip my hair. It’s so darn windy I have to dip my head and round my shoulders, pushing my way into it. Pausing before the kitchen hut, I stare out at the twinkling lights of the villages below. The woodland swings and whirls in the arms of the weather as though resuscitated, and I can sense the land’s energy reviving me, too. The ancient Dirt Woman within me opens an eye and growls.
There and then, I’m alive. So I take the opportunity to pee right there on the slope like some cruddy queen of the Picos, because hey, I still don’t have a bathroom. But really, is there anything quite so glorious as peeing outside, anyway? Stars and clouds blustering overhead, rocks and dirt all around, trees rattling and roaring, and little old me crouching in the middle of it all, fertilising the grass and nettles.
I know at that moment I have chosen the right energy road, because that energy is inside me and out, reverberating.
Energetic Roads and Turkish Soul
The English language is rich when discussing exterior concepts like botany or mechanics, but surprisingly inadequate when we turn inside. Inadequate compared to Turkish, for example, which has an emotional and energetic lexicon that makes even the most academic of modern Turks sound like sages. Take the English word ‘soul’, for instance. Turkish comprises an entire rainbow of words that could be used in its place*, some of which have Sufi origins, some shamanic, so when I’m writing in English about such concepts I find myself extraordinarily thwarted by my mother tongue.
One of my favourite Turkish soul words is ‘can’ (pronounced ‘Jan’). Can is life pulse, the part of the soul that carries the life force of any living entity. It’s literally the bit of you that is alive, that is life herself, that is energetic and dynamic. When you die, you don’t take can with you.
Okay, so what’s this got to do with the wild life, energy roads, and a stormy night on a windswept Spanish mountain?
As I stand on the hill feeling the can of the land rush into me, I sense this part of me that can best be described (in English) as ‘energetic’. And it doesn’t end at our fingertips. As the trees thrash and the air rolls down the mountainsides like cannonballs, it seems obvious because I can feel it everywhere. The surge of life. It’s amazing, and it’s Gaian.
The next morning when I step out in my pyjamas, another world is waiting for me. The sun is stroking the arms of the ashes, and the rocks are warming themselves like tourists on a grassy beach. Tiny birds twitter and flutter and rustle in branches. It’s the same land, and yet so completely different I’m a little awestruck.
As I walk along my ridge to heat a kettle of water for a wash, sunlight washes over my face. And I remember: solar power. As soon as I enter the kitchen cabin, I pull out my little solar panel. It’s a small unit I bought back in 2017 when I first hit the road in a campervan. And do you know what? It’s done me proud. It powers a light and my phone, which has sort of kept me going. I hoist it onto the kitchen roof and attach the battery/inverter to it. The sun hits the panel and power is sent into the battery. Some technological voodoo occurs in that device that turns the battery power pulse (12V) into a voltage my phone can cope with (5V).
It’s all power. The sun, the power stored in the battery, the power that runs along the USB cable and charges my phone battery. But without an inverter, solar power doesn’t charge phones, or cars, or fridges. The voltage is different. They are different bandwidths of the same electrical energy.
In the same way, the energetic life pulse within us is not only available at one voltage either. Just as light can be split into a spectrum of colour, life energy comes in different qualities and potentials. But the truly exciting thing is that we seem to be inverters, and batteries, and panels too. We are energetic systems. We can increase the power stored in our systems, change the pulse rate and refine the flow so as to power more incredible realities, or we can limit what we embody and dumb the pulse right down to a couple of sluggish volts, and then wonder why we can’t run a washing machine or a brand new vision. It’s all about energy, and the line we choose to follow. It’s all about our can.
No matter how we like to portray ourselves, it is actually via our can that we are usually perceived and via the same can that we make shit happen in the physical world. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the Turkish word can is written the same way as the English word ‘can’.
Can is the reason dogs and horses know we’re bullshitting when we pretend to like them and we don’t. It’s why some people are instantly likeable, and others just irritate the heck out of us, or drain us, or bore us. Often we simply can't put our finger on why. It's the root of charisma, for better or worse, and those who've worked out how to amplify it can potentially manipulate.
It ain’t what you do, it’s how you do it:
As you may have sensed, having taken a big leap of faith and jumping into a new reality, I have found happiness. And yes, I listened to the Earth and my gut to get here. But something happened long before I let go of my mud home in Turkey, something I didn’t really mention in the Mud Mountain Blog, because in those days I was more worried about what people thought. I remember meditating for days until my soul energy (for want of a better word in English) was pulsing in a very different way, and began pushing, just like a tree branch, in a very different direction. I smelt an invitation for a new life on a new energy road and I wanted to explore it. Because if we’re not exploring or creating or loving, then quite frankly what in hell are we doing here anyway? What’s the point?
Yes. It’s not just about jumping. It’s not just about risk taking or leaving the system or throwing yourself into a forest in tent. If the energy with which we do these things is based on fear or anger or loneliness or desperation, watch out. That energy line will follow you just as you follow it, and bite you in the butt wherever you are.
It’s not about plastic, or the economy, or old white men, either. Get rid of any of them and I guarantee not much will change. There are a million other corrupted entities to fill their places, because the energy source from whence they came is the same, and we’re all still riding it.
Does this mean I support the status quo and deny reality, or think sitting about in the lotus position all day is the answer? No. I believe in respect and honour for all beings (not just humans), and I see clearly that we don’t have enough of them. Yes, we must take steps in a better direction. But for me at least, most of the ways I see people trying to manifest these things fail desperately to inspire me. Righteousness, demonisation and sanctimoniousness have never created anything beautiful. If we really want to solve the problem, connect people and raise us all up (rather than strip us all down), then we need to embody a higher potential, and start following a more transformative energy line. Because the energy with which we act is far more important than the action itself. It’s something my Power Ash has been banging on about all month. It’s something Grandmother Olive used to whisper about too, in another way.
The solar panel is up and the battery inverter charging. It’s now I turn to stare at the great ash behind me. Her branches twist and coil, illustrating quite clearly the lines of energy they follow and the direction their life force is pushing in. Each branch is a road to a different reality. Some hold leaves, some are withered and dying, some bear fruit and seeds and keys, which in turn fly off on the back of a wind to settle and create a brand new ash tree reality somewhere else.
As it goes with trees, so it goes with us. It’s the line of can we’re following, and the frequency of power we are embodying that matters. I think this is perhaps one of the most important life tools trees have taught me. They, for all intents and purposes, seem to do very little at all. But sit under them and feel their power. Feel how they transform you and the world around!
Upgrading my Power System
With any luck, by the time you are reading this I will have upgraded my solar system so that I can charge my laptop and my power tools too. With any luck the inverter will be throwing out a hefty 240V instead of 5V. I’ll be using the larger panels my neighbour gave me so that I can absorb more of the sun’s power, and have larger batteries so that I can now hold more of it for longer. The entire current(amps) in the system will increase and the resistance in the system will decrease. I’ll have massively upped my power potential and my ability to get shit done.
In the same way though, I wish to upgrade my other, more fundamental energy system; that of my can or my soul. Because it’s the key to making anything good happen. And while I chose a beautiful energy road for my land and community, I notice other areas where I’ve had less integrity. I haven’t always spoken kindly, for example, and impatience has sometimes got the better of me. I can be very resistant about letting people in, and hold onto past transgressions in a most ungracious manner.
But the times are special and the past is falling away at great speed. We can up our game now, choose new energy roads and start changing the how rather than the what, the means rather than the end. Because as one of my protagonists Harpagos wisely noted back in 500 BC: The end never comes. Never. We never reach the Promised Land. All we are ever left with is the means. The energy road. The can.
* other Turkish words for soul (or soul elements) include: ruh, tin, can, öz, nefes, gönül.
Over the past three years in Europe, I have privately thanked Turkey many times for so many things. One day I’ll write them all down. Here I just want to say that I am indebted to the Turkish language and culture for sharing its extensive and nuanced understanding of emotions and energy concepts with me. The concept of can is a Turkish concept. The energy roads were whispered to me by my ash trees.
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“We think of ourselves as ‘in’ landscape, but sometimes we forget that landscape is also in us,” Sharon Blackie, The Enchanted Life.
It had been little more than a week. A flying visit to Britain and back, to that old moneyed island so sure of itself, yet in fundamental terms as precarious as anywhere else. With the ageing seams of Westminster pulled taut, the tension was palpable.
For those outside the UK, I am of course referring to Brexit, which when you’re inside the country/ies is a drama of outstanding proportions, the Houses of Parliament now apparently a film co-directed by Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch. Yet, strangely, fascinatingly, as soon as you leave the British coastline, disappears into the Atlantic mist.
Blinking, I stepped out of the tiny Santander airport. The rain was hammering on the tarmac, a million sodden sticks rapping on the drum of the Earth. It was like stepping out of a dream. Or at least someone else’s dream. Because we are all dreaming, aren’t we? The question is what kind of dream?
As I drove along the back of Cantabria and Asturias, the familiar arc of the mountains reached inside me. Everything was recognized. The swerves of the A8 so beautifully irrational, the glimpses of the Cantabrian sea thrashing at the cliffs of my heart. The closer I drew to home, the more intimate the land became. Until each rock and ridge were mine.
My dog died in the folds of this dirt. I found my land within it too. I’ve cried tears of sadness and joy here that have seeped into the Celtic soil. This topography and I now share history. And I marvel at how beautiful this place is. How resilient this capacity for bonding we hold within us. This power that despite the onslaught of propaganda against it, despite all our losses and disappointments, pushes on out through the cracks of our defences like wild flowers breaking apart concrete.
This is life. And it cannot be stopped. It will not be stopped. No matter which devices are contrived to ‘control’ or destroy it, they will fail. Because those devices are based on illusion, the illusion that we are separate. The odd concept that we are somehow not all expressions of this life force, growing from the earth of this incredible planet, breathing the same air.
We forget, we are not simply in the world. The world is in us too. Literally.
Soon enough I’m back on my land, rake in hand, staring out at my new world. As I gaze upon the hills, sunlight from 93 million miles away strikes the mountain flank, and the grass shimmers emerald beneath its touch. Some of that light is reflected off the mountainside, travelling until it hits my eye and enters my cornea. It then passes through the lens onto the retina, which converts the image into an electrical impulse for the brain to create my visual reality with.
A similar type of invasion occurs when I smell the sea. Or breathe. Or heat is transferred via touch. Or sound waves enter my ear. Everything I eat and drink literally becomes a part of me. There is no point in our lives when we are not being transformed by the landscape in which we find ourselves. Separation is a physical impossibility.
People who don’t know me too well often misunderstand my love of independence as isolationism, and my love of solitude as a refusal to connect. People also often wonder how I manage ‘all alone’. This is because somewhere along the line, we have have confused independence with separation. And healthy boundaries with trench warfare. There is no alone. There is no isolation. What there is, is plenty of noise pollution, distraction, intolerant (even violent) opinion, empty babble, and dubious agendas when interracting with humans. So naturally I try to avoid those types of engagement, because they pull me out of the experience that I am a living branch of this miraculous Earth tree pulsing full of star light.
We inhabit a time (perhaps we always have) where words and concepts are bandied about without much analysis of their meaning. Thus somehow in the group mind, independence has come to signify securing the perimeter and installing a few machine gun nests. If people looked inside themselves a little more than they looked outside, they might become clearer. What we really want when we bang on about independence is sovereignty over our own lives.
Meanwhile, back in the hippy love camp, the concept of ‘oneness’ and connection has been equally bastardised. Oh the ‘We are all one,’ shtick. It usually cruises under our noses under the guise of a vapid meme, probably with a sunset attached, where connection equals becoming the human equivalent of a bunny rabbit.
Thus in this vein:
Independence = Building walls, sealing borders and buying artillery.
Oneness/Connection = Being ‘nice’ to everyone, having no boundaries, and letting everyone screw you over.
These two misnomers have been created (or at least exploited and cemented) by left/right liberal/conservative politics. And this is why I won’t throw my energy into that arena. Because no matter which political football team you choose to support, it’s not founded in truth. The game is not founded in truth. What it’s founded in, is the manipulation of words and ideas to create conflict – divide and rule power games where the masses fight about vague concepts they often don’t understand for someone else’s gain. It’s sad. And I can’t believe in a day and age where you can access this much information, so many people are willing to throw their valuable life energy into giving some alien group they’ve never met, and who probably (once they’ve nabbed their vote) wouldn’t even give them the time of day, that much power.
Back in my corner of dreamland, three stone houses cling to a crag. The sun dips under. The air thickens into a silver paste. I walk to my favourite rock. Each rut on her hide is familiar. Each nobble is transmitted onto my retina in pearly light before the image is inverted and recorded somewhere in my mind. When I close my eyes I can still see my rock. She has become embedded in my memories, and thus a part of who I am. I grapple with the idea that this space has even changed my neural pathways.
Do we really understand what affects what in this world? Can we be so sure of how we influence this dream we call reality?
As I hunch down, my body heat enters the stone. Simultaneously her coolness enters me. The wind brushes my cheek, and as I smile the warm air from my lungs mixes with the air of the land. The eye of the moon rises, blinking through the clouds.
The entire planet (and beyond) is both within us and without us. It's communicating with us every second of every day and night. It’s feeding us, energising us, purifying us, inspiring us with its beauty and intelligence, responding to us, and creating with us in every thing we do. When you know this in your bones, when you sense it with every step you walk and draw on its power, then you are truly sovereign over your life. You are free.
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Atulya K Bingham
Author, Lone Off-Gridder, and Natural Builder.
"Reality meets fantasy, myth, dirt and poetry. I'm hooked!" Jodie Harburt, Multitude of Ones.