Just back from a week’s retreat at Cae Mabon in Snowdonia, Wales. At the end of the week of storytelling, meditation, ritual, music, song, trekking, hot-tubbing and fabulous food, one of the participants said that it felt like a week at ‘The University of Revolutionary Love’. A few days earlier I had been given a copy of ‘Love and Revolution’ – a collection of poems by Alastair McIntosh, author of one of the best books on eco-spirituality and activism: ‘Soil & Soul’. I read the brief introduction to the collection in my little wooden cabin at Cae Mabon and was amazed by the number of powerful ideas the author had fitted into this short piece. Here it is:
I think Joseph Campbell was right when he said that all great stories share a common theme. There is the departure, when the fresh-faced hero sets out on life’s journey; the initiation, when she or he hits troubled rapids; and the return, bringing back gifts and blessings that help to sustain the community through the process of eldership.
Such is the path of any one of us who rises to vocation’s calling. We gradually open out to a life that is greater than our small, egocentric selves. As Campbell concludes: ‘The effect of the successful adventure of the hero is the unlocking and release again of the flow of life into the body of the world.’
This calls for nothing less than understanding the real nature of magic. It means seeing our activism, whether it is social or ecological, as spiritual articulation.
Guns are too callous, bombs too ruthless, and knives too blunt to cut the darkness of these times. Our activism demands a poetry that holds out for nothing less than poesis – a participation in the beauty of making and re-making reality.
Such calling is to an incarnate politics – to spirituality rendered carnal, being engaged with the flesh and fabric that forms our world. That is why love and revolution must be erotically inseparable. That is how we transcend the nihilism of Mark Twain’s observation that ‘familiarity breeds contempt.’ For this spirituality constantly renews the face of the Earth and of weathered humankind.
To work with such forces in a world that is largely oblivious to them inevitably makes one feel, as Ben Okri puts it, that one is transgressing. In writing Soil and Soul, I was somewhat able to protect myself behind careful wording and impeccable referencing. But that is less easy to achieve with writing poetry. Here, then, is the underlying naked passion unveiled. It is an offering for all who dare to tread life’s elemental ways. Lonely, perhaps, you roam the paths of love, but not alone.
To read more about Love and Revolution – Poetry of Alastair McIntosh see here.