Animists like me believe the world is alive. It goes beyond an intellectual idea, but it’s more than just a feeling, too; many traditions from around the world recognise the possibility that consciousness flows through the universe, that intelligence is a property of the physical world. It shows in the way animals are born to move, knowing what to look for in their environment and where to go from birth, even across the planet sometimes, then back to breeding grounds regardless of the ebbs and flows of their life and without maps or signs. At its most primal, the intelligence of life is expressed in the way that plant life lifts out of soil and trust its face towards the sun, even that way tides shift in accord with lunar movements.

Taken to its logical conclusion – even though some people, trapped in ‘the iron cage of reason,’ as German sociologist Max Weber, called it, think that logic has nothing to do with it – this means that the planet is alive. This is what most traditional societies understood, native Australian populations included. More scientists now claim that “The Earth is Just As Alive As You Are”, following the controversial Gaia Hypothesis made famous by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis. The sticking point was always sentience; does the Earth want to give birth to and sustain life, or does it just happen by coincidence? As Climate Scientist Professor Will Steffen explained to me during the filming of Nature Calling pilot episode, it’s not necessary to be so concerned about this that we either embrace or dismiss Gaia: we live on one earth system, where everything is connected and everything matters.

This is a neat piece of writing by Ferris Jabr, of the New York Times.

Here’s a song that accepts this perspective and dances its truth, out in the open, with intuition and the poetry of the earth built in. As Will has long said, we need the humanities and the social sciences, including psychologists and media analysts, to change human behaviour in accord with the requirements made of us by runaway, anthropogenic climate change. Songs of the Earth are part of this response; inspiring tunes that make us think in new ways or align with our wishes for a safe and flourishing planetary home. Planetary Rumpus, by my band Severins, brings animism alive in a modern sense; it is informed by scientific thinking sparked with Nietzsche’s idea of Dionysian frenzy, asking us to drop into that realm with all of our senses intact – and the recognition that we need a new compass for these wild and changing times.

Planetary Rumpus expresses the instinctual drive within, our genetic coding, which we feel surging through our bodies and veins like a double helix rising out of the primordial soup towards the heavens. It asks us to feel the sun on our skins at dawn as if we are being awoken to a brand new day, as if sunrise were a ritual of rebirth and another chance at realising the great fortune of our lives, as consciously self-aware primates on a living planet … this is the archetypal music of the cosmic serpent in our double helix DNA body/minds, right now. Turn it up and let rip.

Planetary Rumpus: Lyrics

Can you feel the way your DNA spirals in control? 

Cosmic serpent, double helix, ancient lore

Building power from deep within the psychic core

Raising consciousness like the sun calling you at dawn.

Can you feel the invisible thread around which we surge?

Fractal dancing as the emanation of the universe

The drive to grow makes us want to lift against all the odds

But the order gets rearranged according to chaos …

The animals are dancing, I hope they’re not running out of time

The plants are all dancing, they’re reaching from the soil to the sky

The planet is dancing, it gyrates in elliptical orbs

The galaxy is dancing on the wings of the Milky Way. 

Can you feel the way your DNA spirals in control? 

Cosmic serpent, double helix, ancient lore

Building power from deep within the psychic core

Raising consciousness like the sun calling you at dawn.

The animals are dancing, I hope they’re not running out of time

The plants are all dancing, they’re reaching from the soil to the sky

The planet is dancing, it gyrates in elliptical orbs

The galaxy is dancing on the wings of the Milky Way. 

Don’t resist the frenzy, fall into the frenzy

Don’t resist the frenzy, fall into the frenzy

Planetary rumpus, don’t forget your compass

Planetary rumpus, you’ll need a new compass

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