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Petrichor, Bird Songs and Reclaiming Truth

Tulip Poplar flowers in watering can

I woke up early. A powerful dream seized my imagination. There was a bridge, lots of sand, a car, a number of people I knew, and my childhood home. The dream had plenty of fingerprints to decipher. As someone who helps guide others through the shadows and murky associations of the dreamtime, I take seriously the promptings from my own inner compass to navigate this world of the in-between.


Spending time with the characters as well as the feelings that keep me busy in the dreamscape, is essential if I hope to unravel the language of this other realm. I’m wondering, as I step outside the back door with a coffee mug in hand, about the old woman who appeared at the end of the dream. I’m silently asking her why she was in my way as I was running over the sandy dream-bridge. That’s when the distinctive aroma of the outdoor nature-scape snatches my thoughts away.


What’s the name of that aroma? Oh yes, petrichor. The distinctive scent of earthen oils released by dry soil suddenly saturated in rainfall. I love the musty essence that fills the air during these early summer downpours. Part of why I love this fragrance is that, like a dream memory, it grabs hold. All other thoughts seem to lessen in importance. Instead, I look up and breath in the earthy mist as though it’s a healing balm.


It's barely 6:00 am so the birds’ chirping, singing, and cawing easily echo in the otherwise intense quiet. I notice the early morning shades of green. The trees and the plants are lush, full, and dense. Crows proclaim themselves from somewhere in the woods. They’re not after MY attention but they call out to other parts of the landscape. There’s a sudden realization that I’m not the central part of what I’m experiencing. Essential yes, yet my being is only a single aspect of the multitude that longs to beat as one whole nature-body. It’s humbling…and a little hard to wrap my head around. Is the old woman in my dream trying to get me to slow down enough to see this conundrum?


David Bohm’s theory of Wholeness

I remember a documentary I recently saw about physicist and philosopher David Bohm. In his theory about “hidden variables” he set out to prove scientifically that together with the distinct, specific patterns of form which he called the “explicate order” is a deeper, hidden “implicate order” that is wholeness itself. In my oversimplification of his impactful theory, I understand this “wholeness” as a foundational energy – what I believe is life force, a kind of mystical intelligence. Bohm describes this connective tissue of nature as “non-local” or everywhere at once. Like my backyard experience of earth’s aroma, birds, and trees each of us reflects one part of the whole. We are a part of the earth’s largess, it’s psychic Self (to borrow Carl Jung’s term). That is, we participate in the totality of what is.


At a time when it’s difficult to decipher the clear difference between actual and fake information in our personal and global political lives – a nightmare you might say – it gives me hope that there is a truthful intelligence that weaves us together. It’s our skewed, fragmented sense of reality that keeps us apart. Allowing ourselves to tap into wholeness is a remedy to the isolation of living fragmented lives. I found a great summary of Bohm’s book on Wholeness and the Implicate Order here if you’re interested in reading more.


A few ways to reclaim the truth 

Wholeness is available to everyone. Dreams, visions, or inspired moments invite deep listening to help us reclaim our truth. Dreamwork suggests a willingness to open to other ways of seeing, i.e. what are our dream images saying to us versus telling the dream what we think it means. This kind of inner dialog is necessary to journey into the shadow, into the unknown, into what might be called the sacred ground of our inner wisdom. We assume the character of the ever-watchful explorer sailing toward uncharted territory not knowing what lies ahead.


Dreams are just one way we enter this realm, this non-local awareness. Opening to the voice of the natural world is another way to widen your perception of what appears in plain sight. Consider what the birds are saying, what the trees are experiencing, or imagining the underground world that the soil is hosting. There’s a multitude of interaction going on in the world of plants, trees, animals, and earth. We each play a necessary part in this flow of activity. Observe, listen, and consider what the other elements of the whole of nature are experiencing.


My own processing of this level of understanding involves passing through a threshold into the imaginal. My favorite portal for this work is my body where I can channel feelings and energy in the effort to re-imagine the truth of who I am in the world. For example, the thoughts, feelings, and emotions from my intuitive moments make themselves known through my body’s experience.


Minutes before he died, Bohm spoke to his wife Sarah (Woolfson) by phone. He was on his way home and wanted to speak with her. He was excited and said that he was “on the edge of something.” I wonder what he wanted to tell her, don’t you? It’s a bit like the bird song I heard as dawn was breaking. Or the old woman in my dream who was in my way. In order to understand the “edge” that beacons us, we pass through a portal from our thinking mind into a place where reality is bigger, broader, more inclusively connected to a prism of wholeness.

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