There’s a video making the rounds right now, causing quite a stir. It’s a promotional piece for something called “Ecto Life,” an “artificial womb” facility that could grow up to 30,000 babies per facility per year in AI managed pods. The facilities don’t exist yet: the video is a slick, sterile, and cavalier commercial for the facility and the making of children without the mess and hassle of pregnancy and birth with all of its pesky human variables. There’s even an elite package where you can genetically modify your baby’s skin, hair, and eye color, and their IQ level.
It is the nicest representation of the Matrix’s “fields where human beings are no longer born, we are gown” that could be rendered by AI animation and soundtracked with evocative techno music.
Oh, where to begin.
It would be easy to dive into the video and dissect it frame by ghastly frame, and many will do that. Many have done that in the week or so since it premiered.
But I see in it a perfect invitation to something more important and far more powerful than analyzing that sick fantasy;
I see a grand invitation to turn my attention elsewhere.
Towards the murmurations and rhapsodies of the wild earth from whom I already feel too far in my animal body.
Towards the fertile darkness and transcendent wisdom of the soul.
When the madness of the human endeavor seeks to tie so strong a bondage around the sanctity of our being and the scope of our imaginations, what better thing could there be to do than to say with the whole of our lives, “I am not going that way. My path goes towards the dancing of the blush of spring and the shrivel of winter, and only there do I travel.”
The ancients say about the Kali Yuga, the epoch we now occupy according to their reckoning, that the maya, or the illusion in which we are compelled to live, will be so thick and odious in that time that enlightenment, awakening to our true nature, and liberation is most readily available.
Readily available does not mean easily gained, of course. It just means “right there.”
In a time so steeped in hallucination as this one, the truth shines with a clarity as brilliant as a galaxy, if one has the eyes to see it. One must be willing to let it shatter the tower of our conditioning and guide us along truer paths. And there is a requirement that we reclaim our energy, life force, and attention, that we “own our ride,” from the yugas mad thrashing. Which is no mean task.
I don’t believe in the techno-dystopian fever dream, and I won’t feed it. I’m not available for it. I have spent more time with All The Bad News than would be healthy for me, so I am speaking to myself here, and also to anyone else who needs the reminder and the encouragement to withdraw your support from it by withdrawing your attention from it.
The adversarial stance empowers the enemy.
It’s important to know what the enemy is doing, and there is certainly an enemy of Life here on the planet right now. The global elites who want us all sterile, compliant to their agendas, and eating bugs by 2030 are definitely not our friends, and they must be tracked and navigated.
But I want to empower myself, and that which I wish to see thrive in the life of the world and the human endeavor more than I want to fight some deranged lunatic who thinks growing babies in pods is the way to go.
I am here to live a life of full color, flesh and bone that will someday die after a life of delight and regrets, wonder and sorrow, joy and pain, beauty, violence, brilliance, and the quiet miracles of the mundane. I’m an animal mystic, a fragment of the eternal totality of being suffused into a temporal chariot that sings and laughs, bleeds and cries, sleeps, eats, shits, zones out and wastes time, dissolves back into the mystery by diving into the swath of moss on a cedar trunk, sinks into rapturous bliss in the arms of the sun and welcomes the extension of my beloveds heat into my temple with the eager anticipation of ecstasy.
A well carved poem can carry me for years.
I love to dance.
I love to hold people as they crack the cocoons of their fear of flying and spread moist wings into the welcoming light of their greater horizon (I am still prying the fibers of my own cocoon apart).
I love to love.
I honor the pain of living, with all its messy glory, because it is Life, teaching and forming and enchanting and frustrating me at every turn. Haven’t we all shoved and jostled at the door to get in so we could continue the work and play of evolving through experience even though we knew that it was a serious fucking undertaking to be here? I have endured years of trauma and hardship that bent me to the ground over and over again, lost everything including my belief in my own right to live, had it all spiked with a chronic illness that stole sleep from me for many years and made everyday living feel like a suit of shredded wire, and more. And I have risen up from those things again and again with broad and soft wings of luminous fire. I am still rising. I am still learning, growing, being forged, evolving.
I have been initiated by life.
I do wish a lot of things had been different, but I have grown into the ability to not just accept but truly love them the way they were and are.
That’s a souls journey. An opportunity in the human endeavor. And it matters.
This rapturous, exquisite, terrifying, beautiful, tender, ravaging mess is holy ground. You, we, all the life, animate and still, manifest and not, are holy. Manifest experience is the holy itself, and needs no technological augmentation to be “perfect.”
The presence of the terrible is a part of the perfection of natural life, because it is the initiation that refines our souls, solves the lead from the gold. We cannot be made “pure” or golden by bypassing the rigors of the initation through technological intervention. I don’t want to suffer, I don’t want for there to be suffering, but I have also discovered the profound reality of being initiated by suffering and it has changed my life for the better in more ways than I can write about.
Every trial that is handed to us is a gift and an opportunity. It holds a key and a treasure.
I don’t mean that it is scripted or ordained, I don’t think we choose it or “god” crafts it out for us, I’m not that kind of zealot or new ager. But I have recognized that there is a path of power through every difficulty, that the longer I walk the more relevant to the moment every challenge becomes so that I cannot help but recognize an intelligence and intentionality throughout the over-story, and that choosing to discover and walk that path of power is how we come home to ourselves as creation ever more deeply.
This is not a belief that was given me: it is one I grew into after many years of hardship and a lot of feeling victimized by life and circumstance.
There is a story about a woman who goes to see Jesus to heal her of the leprosy that has afflicted her all her days. She’s hideous in countenance, children cower in fear when she passes, she has never been touched with love, she is a beggar and a pariah.
When she asks Jesus to heal her he asks her what has she learned in her ordeal.
She becomes furious.
“What have I learned? What are you talking about? My life is hell!! Children shrink from me, I have never known love, I am an outcast, I am in horrible pain always, this is the most terrible thing imaginable, I haven’t learned anything from this, I’ve only suffered! Cure me now!”
And he declines to cure her.
He declines to cure her because she hasn’t received what the initiation of the illness had handed her. She hadn’t learned. She hadn’t let it alchemize her all the way down to the soul.
I’ve been that woman: bitter, furious and resentful at everything that had happened to me and been done to me. And that was legitimate: it was valid to feel that way. It was understandable. I have compassion for all the years that I felt that way.
But there was no power in it. Being the victim didn’t change anything, it just made it harder for me to deal with everything. Not only that, but feeling victimized by life that way also severed me from the beauty of life in a lot of ways that had to be healed alongside the pain of whatever I was already dealing with.
I had to learn how to walk with the sometimes awful things that happen and ask “How does this serve me? What is being given to me here? How does this deepen and grow me?”
That’s the soul path.
A life full of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune is already perfect; to deprive ourselves of the shaggy or mortifying conundrums of life would be to stunt our own evolution, to reject the feast with which we have been symbiotically designed. It would be choosing severance from life for synthetic safety, which would only bring different problems forward.
Who really knows how it is that we are embodied beings imbued with eternal soul and full of imagination and wonder alongside madness and chaos? From this side of the veil we are for the most part wondering, but one thing that I think we can rest on is that to stay close to our natural state is important.
We are animal. Living is a complex weave of beauty and horror and every other shade of experience imaginable until we finally end the journey in death and start anew in another round. Each one of us is a whole world, and the closer we get to the living earth the more we realize that each and every manifest thing in the natural world is also that, a whole reality unto itself, all of it felted into deep relationship and all of it on some journey that we can feel the immensity of but never fully behold from this perspective, for we are meant to walk humbly and with deep curiosity, letting it open and teach us along the way.
And for almost every flesh and blood being, that begins from the fusion of the egg and the sperm, and in the holy sanctuary of the flesh and blood womb.
We do not need to be protected from life. We need to stay close to life and stay brave with life, and let life shape, form, and forge us into ever greater orders of beauty. We need to reclaim our attention and energy from the hallucinations and machinations of the techno-dystopian agenda and root ourselves, body and soul, into the embrace of life: surprises, discomforts, and all.
Because this is a holy journey, and a feast that has been prepared solely to nourish our own flourishing as beings. That feast deserves our attention.
Let us come back to the table as animal beings in love with the earth and our own exquisitely fleeting lives, and avail ourselves of the mysteries many gifts and blessings anew.