When I was in Perú, communing with the plants in the jungle, I was told by one of the facilitators there, that all the shamans in the jungle came to the decision to make the plant medicine available to the wider world at the same time. The plants told them that it was time. How incredible is that? I became aware of how deep inside ourselves we need to drop in order to access and listen to the wisdom of our hearts and bodies, and the earth and the cosmos, of which we are a part, in order to respond creatively to life.

We live in an amazing time on planet earth when our very existence as a species is being threatened. And what makes it so poignant is that it is our own actions that have, if not caused the problem, at the very least accelerated it. Sadly, we are taking a lot of other life forms down with us in the process. Modern life is full of things to distract us from fully acknowledging to ourselves what we are both witnesses to and participants in, perhaps because it is such a painful, and as Al Gore said, inconvenient truth. If the threat were from outside of us, we would more easily martial our forces against the common enemy to combat it. But this is an inside job. We are doing this to ourselves.

From an evolutionary standpoint, we stand at the brink of extinction. But is there another way to look at this? From an astrological perspective we are in a transition from one age, the age of Pisces, to another, the Aquarian age. This is a mythic view that can perhaps guide us through these momentous times with more hope than the despair that the apocalyptic prophecies engender and that we seem so intent on fulfilling. The myth of the Aquarian Age first emerged into consciousness during the sixties and seventies of the last century, which were a time of great upheaval and idealism.

I came of age during those times and was greatly shaped by the idealism and hope that was carried in the social movements birthed in them. The fact that people came together to protest the Vietnam war, demand equal rights for women, people of color, and those of different sexual orientation was exhilarating and empowering. Many of the progressive changes happening today were seeded then. But so also were many of the opposing ones. Fearful reactions to these upsurges of populist power and the chaos that accompanied them has led to equally strong repressive and regressive political and social movements.

This division in the collective field of consciousness is a dramatic play on the world stage right now. What I learned from my experience with the plants was that although it can feel from an ordinary view that nothing we as individuals do matters, giving rise to apathy and feelings of helplessness, from this deeper perspective, it’s clear that everything we do does matter. In fact, the imperative now is for as many people as possible to wake up and live their fullest potential. We are the collective. You and I are essential ingredients in the collective consciousness, and whether we express ourselves fully in life is of upmost importance. It makes a difference.

One of the big things I see standing in the way is fear. This has been called the age of anxiety for good reason. While anxiety or fear may be a reasonable reaction to the current state of the world, it is not a healthy or helpful response. It clouds awareness, creating background noise, that makes it difficult to perceive the signal of one’s own inner voice and wisdom. I find that the people who come to see me, however, are not talking about the state of the world or viewing their anxiety as anything more than a personal flaw or condition. And truthfully, there is probably a very good reason stemming from their personal history that their nervous system is so dysregulated that they’ve come for help. But we are all affected by the collective fear whether we are aware of it or not, and our own fear adds to it if we don’t work with it and take responsibility for it.

My main intention in going to Perú was do just that, confront my own fear. In doing so I learned a lot about fear and my own mind. I came back intent on not allowing fear to derail me anymore. I also came back with such a larger perspective in which to hold the experience of fear, whether my own, or the people with whom I work. I will be writing a lot more about working with fear and anxiety in future posts.