In Paradise, gems spring from the ground, trees blossom and fruit simultaneously, birdsong constantly fills the air, the water in pools and burbling streams is always fresh and sweet.
Paradise recreates the abodes of gods or Shambhala, peaceable, lost city of dreams. In Islam, which originated in the desert, the Qur’an describes Heaven, or janat, as a garden, a paradise. And — as in the New Testament — gardens appear in nearly every major religious drama to describe abundance, fertility, renewal and rebirth. (E.g., John 19:41: Now in the place where he was crucified, there was a garden.)
For many primal people, paradise, “Eden,” was the wilderness, the entire, unbound natural world. The ancient Celts, enthusiastically maintaining their animal natures, could transform into wild beasts. What “civilized” pleasure gardens exist in pre-Christian Celtic mythology belong to the sidhe, the fairy clans, whose homes were elaborate, luxurious affairs, complete with jeweled orchards situated in the Otherworld: The Lands of Eternal Youth or Ever-Summer, the Fortunate Isles, Avalon, the Blessed Isles. In early Celtic Christianity, despite church doctrine that eschewed Nature, the worshippers, saints and mystics remained attached to pre-Christian Nature worship and thus found the presence all around them.
It is in wilderness, in sensuous, generous magnitude, in tides and volcanoes, in passion and vitality that perfection — perfect for its imperfection — exists. (Perfection, after all, is really to be found only in death.) Nature is the “unspeakable name,” the “hidden face.” The garden is merely representative, a temple, a refuge, where we commune with the mysteries. A place within a place.
For eons, prophets have withdrawn “to the voice that cries in the wilderness” (Isaiah). Among the many wild men, saints and hermits of Ireland, the 12th-century recluse Suibne (Sweeney) — cursed by church fathers to wander homeless as punishment for some insult — recited:
…Though you think sweet
your students’ gentle talk in yonder church,
sweeter, I think, the splendid talking
of the wolves in Glenn mBolcain …
For Suibne, the curse was a blessing. In wilderness he could become. (That he was turned into a raven would only have helped.)
In countless myths and histories, revolution begins in the wilderness. The rebel flees into wilderness and eventually returns to civilization to claim righteousness and justice.
To raze the Earth — to plunder the wilderness — is to do battle against Nature and presume ourselves to be rulers of the universe. Why do we persist? From this minute forward, all of us (especially politicians and corporados) should spend time in the wilderness — alone on walkabouts — to return as revolutionaries against the powers destroying our oikos, our Earth household, the truest paradise we have.