Read about the origins of my first books in Part I of this post.
Following that, another unexpected collaboration with Natasha Hoffman, a woman I’ve never actually met, resulted in a book about teachings from the standing stones in Brittany, VOICES OUT OF STONE: Magic and Mystery in Megalithic Brittany. How we discovered each other, and why is a whole story in itself and is magic altogether. The stones have guided us both in ways neither of us understands, and probably even brought us together to tell our stories. The messages are definitely wisdom teachings, and to know how it happened and what we learned, read the book!
From Carolyn’s Journal, VOICES OUT OF STONE
I breathed. Rising to my feet, I went looking for the cat. I wanted to tell someone what I had just learned, but she wasn’t in sight. Instead, I climbed up the mound and put my arms around the standing stone there in a scratchy hug, remembering how we had danced together by the full moon just a week earlier. Then I searched for a place to sit in the welter of thorny brambles growing out of her base.
“You’re a lot more prickly than the masculine stone below you,” I told her in a murmur.
We take turns.
It felt like we were sharing a joke. Me and a very old stone. I was losing my mind, for sure.
I opened my journal to a clean page and, pen in hand, sat waiting. Crazy or not, this could hardly be more intriguing.
Love is the constant Wholeness.
Love is the Source.
Love is the unheard hum of the Universe.
This time I received the message in words. I wrote them down, word for word.
The megaliths tap into the love field and transmit energies for all the forms of the world.
Now my own mind took over. I wrote as quickly as my hand could get the words down on paper:
It’s transformation; that’s the key! In this whole process, the energy gets synthesized, changed in some way—just like food metabolism in the body: it is eaten in one form, released as energy in another form. In being used, it becomes something else.
There is a background of motion and change—that’s a given, that’s Nature. What we do is to lightly tap into it, placing specific intention and specific activity upon the natural state of things.
And what is this given state but Love, no matter where we are or when we live? So I find myself the woman I am, right here at Kercado, on this day in 1984, but I could be anyone, anywhere, any time, adoring this child, that man, that woman. The adoring is the constant—love is already there, no matter where the "there" is, no matter when.
As I read over what I had written, my hand continued writing—this time not my own words:
The most important question is, what is the ultimate Nature of Reality?
To understand the form and function of anything in the world—these stones included—you must ask the larger question, otherwise nothing makes any sense.
The ultimate Nature of what is real informs every single thing in the world.
The cat emerged from the trees and made her way unhesitatingly towards the mound. Lightly, she leapt up, trotted to where I sat, and draped herself on my lap, kneading my thigh with a velvet paw. I stroked and stroked her warm body, not sure whether she was in my imagination or actually on my lap.”
The next book that presented itself to me (yes, that is how it seemed to happen) was a How-To book called SERIOUS FUN: Ingenious Improvisations on Money, Food, Waste, Water and Home. It was a collaborative project with all the innovative people I know, who offered amusing, low-tech ideas about simplifying, preserving, slowing the ways we lived. The book took shape in a year. I had a blast writing it, and people laugh out loud reading it, even though it deals with some of the most dire issues of our time.
From Waste, SERIOUS FUN
When I was a student in France, one of my jobs as a nanny was to empty the children’s chamber pots in the morning. This was the 20th century, and the family could afford a servant to do the job – me – but less than one hundred years earlier I might have emptied those same chamber pots out the window, crying out Gardez-l’eau! Watch out for the water! Ever wonder where the word loo came from? Or why people, men and women, used to all wear high-heeled shoes?
In China, right after the Cultural Revolution, we shat into proper toilets, but their flushes went not to a sewage pipe and then into a sewer that took it all away, but right into a barrel beneath the apartment block where we lived. Every evening a ‘honey-bucket’ truck would come by and take our shit and piss away to the fields just past the houses, where much of our food was grown.
One day I took a walk out to the fields, wandering up and down rows of bok choys, all green and thriving, being hand watered by women with buckets balanced across their shoulders. With long-handled dippers they would patiently fill their dippers from the buckets, and water the roots of each individual plant, and when the buckets were empty, walk to the large cesspit at the bottom of each row for a re-fill. The cesspits were in various stages of fermentation, and of course the most fermented were used for the watering. Secretly, I wondered if any of the turds in the fresh pools might be mine.
If you have ever wondered why Chinese cuisine does not include salads, that is why; or why you have to heat the oil in the wok until it sizzles right out of the pan. But it is a system that has worked for four thousand years, and why their fields still have healthy soil even after four millennia of intensive agriculture. You just have to know how to do it safely. And Chinese food, as we all know, is superb.
China, I’ve been told, is fecal-filiac, or appreciative of excrement, while India is fecal-phobic, the opposite, and in China, the deity of the toilet is a beautiful lady. In India, the deity is the river itself, now deadly.
In the Arctic, there is a true story of an elderly man who, as a way of saving his life during a winter storm, defecated and when his shit froze, fashioned it into a blade with the help of some of his spit, with which he killed and flayed one of his dogs. From the dog’s ribcage he created a sled, and from its pelt he made a harness for the remaining dog and then, as ethnographer Wade Davis, who tells this story in The Wayfinders says, “he disappeared into the darkness.” Now that is fecal-phenomenal!
Of course, SERIOUS FUN had a sequel, and it started writing itself as soon as I put the last words to paper, and it is COURAGEOUS CHANGE, will be out next year. That’s the book that caps this lifetime of work and says straight out that we must shift our worldview in order to move on to the next stage of human evolution. It says it through personal story and metaphor, with humor and with urgency. The time is now, the turning point has been reached, the world is a wonder and our lives a gift. How lucky we are to be alive right now, doing the great work of the world and having the best time we can in the process!
I see now that all my work has been leading up to this moment in the world, and I am so happy that Red Room is here giving us all this platform to bring our particular gifts to the Turning. A sweet synchronicity was that Ivory Madison’s offer of this platform came, literally, the day I put the last words on my new manuscript, which told me that this was my next step and would lead to who knew what?
That book, COURAGEOUS CHANGE: Shifting Towards a New Worldview, will be out with Inner Traditions in 2012. How perfect is that?
You can find an excerpted chapter on my website.
Causes Carolyn North Supports
Daily Bread Project, which I founded in 1982 - see...