Climate Change

and the

Elemental World


Dolores J. Nurss



It=s hard not to think of global warming in the summer, especially here in the desert.  Birds pant with their beaks open, javalinas flop down in the shade and browse on whatever they can reach without getting up, even the heat-loving lizards cling to the screen door to feel some breeze on their bellies.  And what does it mean for the Fair Folk?  Considering their role in the natural world, that question might prove more important than we imagined.


I had a dream some years ago, after the scoffed-at warnings, the so-called Afearmongering@ of the environmentalists, came true: back when we started to see the first major increase in hurricanes from global climactic change.  In this dream I saw a beautiful air elemental, a male being, pale yet in a radiant way, with long hair that seemed spun from light, hovering high up in the stratosphere.  Drawing closer I saw the fever in him, the flushed cheeks, the wild eyes, the beaded brow.  In his delirium he spun and thrashed about, shooting off energy wildly.  And directly below him formed a hurricane.


What have we done to the keepers of the balance?  What do we do when we poison the earth?  How can it not poison them, drug them, disorient them, so that they can no longer serve the functions which have brought them so much happiness?


The good news is that we are finally waking up.  More and more of us find new ways to set things right in this world, or at least reduce our impact.  We do many constructive things on the physical level, from driving less, to recycling more, to finding a thousand things to change, great and small, in our lives and policies.  That=s wonderful, and I say, keep it up!


Yet the Indian side of my blood insists on one more thing, an important thing too often overlooked in this material society.  Medicine people always treat the spirit along with the body, for how can the body heal without a healthy spirit?  You can give a diabetic insulin, yet she will still stuff herself on doughnuts until you treat the emptiness that makes her hungry beyond her body=s needs.  You can operate on a man=s heart, yet he will have another heart attack unless you address why he clenches so much tension in his chest. Medicine people do not deny that a virus can give you pneumonia, or falling can break your armBbut they also want to know what crashed your immune system or what made you accident-prone.


How can we heal the earth without healing the spirits of the earth?


We don=t have a perfect planet.  It doesn=t always stay in balance.  Sometimes nature suffers blights, droughts, floods, plagues, tumors, eruptions, all manner of upsets.  Most of these eventually wind up serving the greater good in the long run (the Nile River valley, for instance, has lost a lot of its fertility now that dams prevent the yearly floods) but every so often things go so out of whack that ecologies collapse, in full or in part.  We have even come to rely on this in the making of beer and wine, as yeast predictably pollutes itself to death and we savor the pollution.


Yet every so often the planet tips so far off balance that an extinction wave follows across the globe.  We are, right now, in the midst of one of the top five extinction waves in the history of the Earth, and it shows no sign of slowing.


Folklore speaks of the Seelie Folk and the Unseelie Folk, the good fairies who revel in maintaining nature in its proper order, and those others who have somehow lost their mission and become corrupted.  Books tend to categorize them into separate races, but how do we know they really are distinct species?  Witnesses have described fairies changing shape and even size in a flash; in such mutable creatures, how could their state of mind and health not affect their appearance?  I have seen pictures of human beings, before and after they became addicted to methamphetamine, sometimes only months apart, and you wouldn=t recognize them as the same people.  How much more, then, would fairies suffer the outward effects of an inner disorientation?  How do we know that trolls, redcaps, and goblins do not display the ravages of a spiritual disease?


For folklore also mentions creatures transforming back and forth between good and evil.  Our forebears recognized Bogies as Brownies gone bad, for instance.  Yet we have records of a Bogie turned back to a Brownie for one beloved family, in the case of the Brownie of Dalswinton.


I=m not recommending running out and befriending every unseelie creature that you come across, no more than I would recommend that you hang out with meth-heads.  But if you present a spiritual entity that you already trust with your prayers, blessings, and good energy for the healing of all who need it, that can=t help but do some good.


And we can keep the damage from spreading, as well.  When you throw newspapers into the recycling bin, send a spiritual thank you to the dryad of the tree that made it.  When you accidentally waste water (as I did the other day, overflowing a pot while I answered an email) apologize to the watersprite in charge of bringing fresh, pure water, the same as you would if you absentmindedly bumped into a friend bringing you a homemade cake, sending the top layer sprawling to the floor.  Do all of those good things that you already do, yet mindfully.  Show love to those who gift us with so much.  A little consideration bears much fruitBsometimes amazingly much.


We know that love boosts the immune systems of our fellow human beings, sometimes miraculously.  How much more our still-more mutable neighbors!