We’ve lost many worlds.

Photo by Mishal Ibrahim on Unsplash

Several indigenous peoples around the world have this saying “We’ve lost many worlds.”
I’ve been sitting with this potent saying for some time now. First, it stung like hell, for its texture was of tragedy, death, and loss. It came as an ancestral warning of life itself — a lesson of the deep past, a cautionary tale of disaster.

Here in the west, we live immersed in a limited view of history and reality. Our stories are about the conqueror hero — the one who won.

Kings and emperors that lived for military campaigns, defending and attacking, conquering and slaughtering. Harnessing wealth for themselves, severing the enemy’s head, annexing their land, forbidding their gods and rituals.
Keeping within the narcissistic hero story, the one who kills and conquers out of a whim, who lives out of fear of diversity and life itself, all the conquered and subjugated places become irrelevant. So, worlds are never lost, only appended and vanquished. There is even a narrative pushing further, where these conquests, ecocides, and genocides are to bring peace, to save the savages and their habitats. To educate them, giving them opportunities in the modern world. In this world view worlds are not lost, just normalized in ever-expanding progress. These conquered lands are just fulfilling their mission of serving the technological mass culture.

When something is lost, it is to be subdued as a resource, destroyed meeting its destiny of assisting the modern way of life.

The pluriverse of life becomes narrow, collapsed, and simplistic. We come to worship the monolith, mono-thought, mono-crop, mono-god, as the only possible truth.

When connecting to this timeless warning, the first impression hurts. Having to acknowledge we have indeed lost many worlds. Multifold wisdom has been forgotten. Many languages were forbidden, many gods were annihilated, the land has been neglected. Abstract laws-truths replace contextual knowledge. We, too, have lost many, many worlds.

The second impression aches. When we realize we are almost losing yet another world, this time at the edge of extinction’s precipice. In a complex world, problems require complex responses, multidimensional ones.

But in collapsing diversity for millennia, we’ve lost possibilities and response-abilities. We forgot the myriad of contextual knowledge patterns, their flow, and rhythms. The uniqueness and singularity of each particular place, in its multivocal form. The loss of many worlds is the loss of variety and difference, but also transformational and solutions abilities. Although (eco)-living-systems depend on contrast and difference to thrive.

The third step, the one after the initial shock, is to recognize one of the ultimate patterns of creation; many worlds were and will be lost. Over and over again, expanding and contracting, folding and unfolding. The ever-mutating and expressing pluriverse, creating and destroying.

Connecting to this large pattern, with its own pulsating beat, we are able to feel hope in this sacred sentence. We’ve lost many worlds before.

This means communities managed to survive before and regenerate ecosystems throughout, creating the conditions for life to thrive again. Communities in cooperation could transform and adapt, not by taking more and more, but by understanding their place in the system.

This cautionary phrase is an ancient and sacred call to our responsibility as life’s guardians, restoring and recreating our humble position in the complex web of life.

Gratitude for its keepers, may we hear it with our hearts!

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[Disclaimer: all these words and weaved concepts are birthed through my lived, biased, and always limited perception of things, not supposing to bring any absolute truth.]

By Sofia Batalha
Mammal, author, woman-mother, question weaver and dismantling global-colonial-technological-capitalism one day at a time. Awkward prose-poet with no grammatical knowledge. Pilgrim through inner and outer landscapes, remembering ancient earth practices, in radical presence, active listening, ecopsychology, art, ecstasy, and writing. Author of seven books, editor of the free online magazine, Wind and Water, Re-member the Bones Podcast, and Beyond the Sea Conversations — all in Portuguese.
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Sofia Batalha

Sofia Batalha

Journeying 🌿 between inner and outer landscapes, remembering ancient earth practices, radical presence, active listening, ecopsychology, art and writing.