Straddling the Edge at the Fall Equinox

The Fall equinox is traditionally regarded as a time of reaping the harvest and also a time of balance between the dark half and the light half of the year. As is customary this time of year, I’ve been reflecting a lot on balance, and this idea of a balancing act.  What I find interesting about balance is that we can learn a lot about it from our own bodies. You don’t think so much about balance when you don’t really need to–you only think about your balance if you are going to trip and fall.  Every day, balance becomes something that we subconsciously attend to. But, if you are asked to walk across a balance beam, a tightrope, or icy stones in the winter, suddenly the lesson of balance comes into full force. You don’t experience balance once, but rather, balance is a continual practice, micro-adjustments to the body, arms, legs, and toes in different positions, all tried to stay upright and not lean too much in any one direction. When we are in danger of falling, we have to carefully attend to our balance. Today’s post explores the art of balancing–and feeling like you are failing.  It is a bit more raw than many of my other posts, but I also believe in writing from a place of honesty, so there you have it.

Geese swimming at the creek while I write this post!
Geese swimming at the creek while I write this post!

I’ve spoken to many people who are all feeling the difficulty of this age: of political and cultural strife, of feeling like life is getting worse and not better, and who are experiencing increasing demands on their time and resources, which is taking a toll.  A lot of people are worn out and exhausted, trying to navigate this post-pandemic age and realizing that the tools and balancing supports they used before maybe just aren’t cutting it any longer. For the last few years, I have felt like this sense of balance is very much at the forefront for me, and I’m constantly making micro-adjustments and some major adjustments to stay upright. I believe in being real on this blog, so I’ll share what I mean here on a more personal level. For the last 15 or so years, I’ve been living on the edge of two worlds.  Permaculture design tells me to value the edges and the margins, as that is where the most diversity occurs.  This is true, but what the permaculture principle fails to say is that perpetually living in a marginal space is difficult.

On one end, I live with my partner and a bunch of feathered and furred friends on a five-acre homestead where we are practicing permaculture, restoration agriculture, and land healing.  When we got here, this land had been abused and logged and now six years in, the land is abundant and healthy. As I write an early draft of this post, I’m spending time with my notebook by a small creek cooling off with our goose flock, We also went foraging for mushrooms and spent time in our abundant gardens.  There is so much life and energy here on the homestead.  We are engaging in deep habitation of our local land and healing of the land, even while around us, the land continues to be pillaged.  On this land, I feel the joy of this work every day: helping foster a healthy ecosystem, learning how to become a good ancestor, and generally, I feel very fulfilled.  As hard work as it is, I do feel like this is what human life should be.  And even if you aren’t living in the circumstances that I am, I feel that all of us can relate to going into the woods–for an hour, a day, a week, or going somewhere special where people are living sustainably, and just feeling like you never want to leave.

Garlic Harvest 2023
Garlic Harvest 2023

But on the other hand, I still have to exist out in the material, crazy, rat race of a world to pay for the privilege of the land and life here.  More and more people are now stuck in increasingly problematic work environments, and I am certainly no exception. And in my case, it’s not just my workplace, it’s my entire industry that has destabilized. There are less resources out there and more people fighting for them. Rather than doing the job I was hired to do, I’m now literally doing the jobs of 5 people–and that leaves me with less energy and time to live the life I want to live, the life described in the paragraph above. And having a firm foot in this world means I can’t create and build as many sustainable and self-sufficient systems as I’d like because I don’t have enough time for the life above–I have to still be working to pay for it all.  Everyone I talk to has similar sentiments from a variety of fields–most people’s work/life balance took a nosedive during the pandemic and despite our best efforts, it is not recovering.

For a long while, I saw the value in standing on the edge between these worlds.  The first world is inherently impacted by the second, and living in both worlds allows me to write from that liminal space, to reach a lot of others, and to relate to a host of people, while still being a spiritual being dedicated to healing and regenerating.

But every year that passes, I feel the opposition between these worlds stronger than ever before. For one, my beautiful homestead life is still being fueled by capitalism. As long as I am still participating, I’m still participating.  I’m still feeding the monster that is eating the world. And despite over 15 years of sustainable living, growing my own food, learning resilient systems and other sacred actions, my home is still too conventional due to laws or due to my own time/energy limitations. The more that I look at this whole situation, as long as you have any foot in the system, you are still dependent on it–you still need that system’s resources and what it offers. Maybe I’m just feeling like I don’t want anything it has to offer any longer because I can’t deal with the cost.

White currants from the land
White currants from the land

And of course, there’s the issue of feeling like you are going it alone.  In our case, nearly all of our good friends are at a distance, some quite far away so we only see them once a year or less.  We don’t have a strong homesteading or permauclture community in our vicinity (we have a few friends).  It would be so wonderful to share those kinds with like-minded people, but that’s just not happening where we are.

When you look at a lot of people who have gone fully off the grid–a huge part is to take a step well over that line and say, “no thanks” to the broader system. This means accepting that you will not have a lot of money (but the flipside of this is that you don’t need much money if you build your own sustaining systems). People I know who have done this have ample time and joy.  Why? Because things you build yourself from the land you know how to maintain and repair those things. The biggest challenge people have to fully step away is having somewhere to go that they don’t have to get in debt for and taking a gable on healthcare (as in the US, we have only private insurance, which basically enslaves you to work at a job that will provide it; one major illness/hospitalization could lose you everything you have). In other words, even the ability to step away is a position of privilege, and I know a lot of people who wish they could but have no way of doing so.

And how many people have that daydream, the dream of 50 acres you and your four besties are going to buy to escape it all? Like practically everyone I talk to, even some people who would surprise me (and who appear to never have gotten dirty in their lives). Maybe it is escapism, and certainly, for some, you could classify it as that.  But for people like me, I know the real hard labor it would take to create these systems–both in terms of building meaningful human connections and learning how to inhabit land with care and grace.

Thus, thinking about these things seems to me like an escape from the collective insanity that grows harder and harder to stomach.  I don’t want to support a culture–in any way–that continues to engage in ecocide against this planet, whose insatiable narcissism and greed breed only suffering and misery for all persons.  I don’t want to buy anything to support it, I don’t want to accept any of its trinkets or mind-numbing distractions, and at this point, I don’t want anything it has to offer.  In accepting anything from this culture, I buy into a system that I am never meant to never escape, a system that extracts from everything and anything tied to it, like a perpetually hungry monster. This system shows us all at our worst and asks us to give in to our lower selves, our fear, aggression, violence, hate, intolerance, and narcissism.

Painting as a human being
Painting as a human being

For me, I think the last straw that made me feel like I was losing my balance was the emergence of AI and how many people embraced it. Again with the collective insanity–most of the CEOs and high-level engineers who are literally creating this stuff also say it has at least a reasonable chance of destroying humanity.  Uhh..ok? So you keep pushing forward with it?  Not to mention how AI is outright eliminating or significantly altering in a bad way the work so many of us have to do.  But in the end, AI appears to be yet another technology privileging profit, efficiency, and progress to replace human skilled labor (including a lot of things people actually want to do, like writing and art).  I keep telling myself it is a good thing AI can’t grow pumpkins or raise geese.

More and more I hear people quitting the system entirely, getting out of crushing jobs, hitting the road in a tiny house, finding new income streams,  going off-grid and learning how to provide more for their own needs, people becoming nomads and dreamers moving from farm to farm to lend their labor, and so on. And others building incredible regenerative systems right in the urban areas in the center of it all.  I was particularly inspired by this recent video about Joe Hollis at Mountain Garden Herbs.  I’m so inspired by these people, these visionaries, who are blazing a path for us all.  There is no one right path, but I do think that paths that honor ourselves, the earth, allow us to tread lightly, regenerate the land, and give back are a way to start.

As I look to their inspiration, I guess I’m questioning how long I can keep straddling this line. It is a very delicate balancing act, and my muscles are very sore and tired.  There are a lot of days that I feel that I’ve lost that balance and will tumble down. I’m exhausted even from trying and the idea of doing this for years more is crushing. I had that balance once, when work was less demanding, when the world at least felt less frantic and frenetic when we weren’t dealing with increasingly difficult climate conditions that have made homesteading and land tending much harder. When I could breathe the air without wildfire smoke and not deal with a drought every season. I think what I am realizing is that what makes a good life in 2023 may not be what makes a good life in 2019. And what makes a good life now might not be what makes a good life in 2030.  That flexibility, adaptability, and resilience are sorely needed right now as we all look to the future we want to create.

I think about these models of intentional community that I have had the pleasure of visiting–Sirius Ecovillage when I did my PDC and Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage–and know that we need so much more of that kind of thing so that people do have places to go that will catch them. These ecovillages and communities are their own kind of refugia, a refugia for people, not just plants. Maybe that’s what we need to build more of–refugia on a community-wide basis. A refugia for humans and nature alike–as sheltered from the raging storm as possible, as resilient as they can be to withstand the ongoing collapse and chaos, and rooted in care-based ethics to create a better world. A refugia to raise young humans in a better way so that they can create a powerful vision of the future. I think we should all be looking to how we can create these places now, these refuges, to ride the currents of the future.

And so, I’m not here with any answers today. I’m here just saying that the struggle is real.  I struggle as much as everyone else, and maybe giving voice to these struggles and the difficulty in straddling this line and maintaining balance can help others.  My challenges with straddling the line may be different than yours, but I know so many of us are thinking these things, feeling these things, and wondering about how to craft something better.

As I wrap up these thoughts, I’ll also share some of my previous writings on finding balance in difficult times–maybe if you are feeling how I do, these will be of some help! They certainly are to me. I find retreat and solace always in my spiritual practices and connection to the living earth.  Rest, Retreat, and Balance at the Fall Equinox – finding balance in the challenges of the age.  Spiritual Practices to Finding Equilibrium in the Chaos: Grounding, and Flow through the Druid Elements – working to figure out the best approach to balance.  A 21st Century Wheel of the Year: Cultivating Receptivity at the Fall Equinox  – being receptive and open to the flow of life.

I would love to hear from you–how do these words resonate? Are you in a similar place? A different place? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Dana O'Driscoll

Dana O’Driscoll has been an animist druid for almost 20 years, and currently serves as Grand Archdruid in the Ancient Order of Druids in America. She is a druid-grade member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids and is the OBOD’s 2018 Mount Haemus Scholar. She is the author of Sacred Actions: Living the Wheel of the Year through Earth-Centered Spiritual Practice (RedFeather, 2021), the Sacred Actions Journal (RedFeather, 2022), and is the author/illustrator of the Tarot of Trees, Plant Spirit Oracle, and Treelore Oracle. Dana is a certified permaculture designer and permaculture teacher who teaches sustainable living courses and wild food foraging. Dana lives at a 5-acre homestead in rural western Pennsylvania with her partner and a host of feathered and furred friends. She writes at the Druids Garden blog and is on Instagram as @druidsgardenart.

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  1. SO many of the thoughts and feelings i’ve been struggling with in this post. i feel like i’ve removed myself as much as possible, and yet i’m still worried about inheriting the house i reside in where i take care of my mom (she’s resisting doing the documentation) and concerned about losing the garden and wildlife habitat i’ve recreated here. i worry about inflation, and whether or not i’ll have to raise my rates (massage) to afford the taxes if i DO inherit. i worry that every repair and improvement is more expensive, and the house needs a great deal of work. and yes – there’s the reality that every investment in more efficient, less energy-intensive technology is expensive in terms of cost and waste production as the old technology is discarded. trying to live with less is a huge goal. balancing that with the reality of participating in property “ownership” is precarious. and the greedy energy behind mega-corporations out to eliminate individual home “ownership”, to create a legion of perpetual renters and passive streams of income for these corporations, feels almost somehow WORSE than individual home “ownership”… the WORST expression of people coming together on a property, merely to suck out its energy. i don’t know how to explain it, but in many ways what’s going on right now with Blackrock and other corporations buying up land has made a part of me despair.

    1. Yes! So many of the thoughts and feelings shared today resonate deeply. This systematic indenturing where we own absolutely nothing and our precarious existence is at the whim of the tech overlords, mega corporations, and corrupt politicians is exhausting and dehumanizing. It’s not just housing, if you read what the car manufacturers have in store (, it’s outrageous. I don’t know what the answer is except to say that I too am searching for a way. If you are single or your partner has no interest, it’s even more difficult to create this balance, particularly as AI hysteria ratchets up. AI is NOT going to save us from ourselves and the consequences of our choices! The challenges of living in community that Lisa mentions are also very real and why many intentional communities never make it beyond the discussion phase. Due in part to the sourcing issues mentioned, I’ve decided to focus on bioregional herbalism and living in reciprocity with the plants I share my home with. While that may not be practical for practitioners from specific traditions, and I don’t mention it to be prescriptive, it’s one path.

      1. Hi Ellen,
        I love the path of reciprocity and living in place with the plants. I take this perspective as well. I have a huge community of plants and trees and stones–and as an animist, those relationships will always be present. Blessings to you!

  2. A thing to keep in mind re: “AI could destroy the world” – that’s advertising. You’re spot on to notice that it’s the people creating it and selling it who are putting forward that idea, and it’s a way of saying “this thing we’re making is incredibly powerful and effective, so powerful it’s dangerous even”. It gets then free press and talks up their product.

    In fact, the product is so far pretty useless. That hasn’t stopped companies firing staff and replacing them with AI, but it’s not because AI can do their jobs – it can’t and it isn’t. It was just an excuse to fire people.

    Anyway, I’m also feeling the “things seem to be getting worse and not better” (I’m in Australia, heading for what will probably be a catastrophic bushfire season). So this is a pretty minor point that doesn’t change anything you’re saying. But I think it’s still good to be aware of when you’re repeating propaganda points, it’s super easy to do.

    1. Hi McKinley,
      Perhaps and perhaps not. I have some colleagues at my university in computer science who have worked to build some of these AI systems. They are not CEOs, just simple scientists. They won’t profit from these systems. Their goal is to produce human knowledge. They are saying the same things that are being linked in these articles….so I tend to believe them. They don’t have anything to profit from. Hard to say where the tech will go. But regardless, I appreciate you sharing this perspective :). It is totally an excuse to fire people and make people’s jobs harder.

  3. Having just been fired-not fired, I am officially retired (new boss…). I am very glad to be at the end of my working career as I increasingly cannot tolerate the lack of common decency. Thank you for sharing your frustration. I’m one step in front of letting go, but several steps behind in being tied into this unhealthy system. Definitely an edge! The video is great- thank you for passing that along!

  4. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciated this writing! Your posts arriving in my inbox have been like hearing from a good friend over these last few years. Thank you! You’re absolutely right. Adaptability and constant rebranding seems to be the place we are at right now. I think many of us (myself included) thought there would be a more familiar landscape after the pandemic years. But I look back and think…how could there be? So much happened in so many places to so many systems! There was no “going back” because everything changed. I find myself both mourning and trying to rebalance each day. It’s really hard for me personally. I’m an avid forager and see the changes each season uo close in a way many people I know can’t understand. And it hurts! I’m trying to help my family and myself work with and not against what’s happening and what’s bigger than what I can fix on my own. It’s such a contradiction too. Here I am, out in the deep woods, carefully stepping to avoid the smallest creature and yet I’ve also had diabetes since childhood. So I’m wearing technology that keeps me alive and harms the planet too. I don’t have much wisdom to share ☺ Other than to say thank you for your words, honesty and giving all of us a place to share.

    1. Hello Christina,
      Thank you so much. I think when you are close to the land, be it through wild food foraging or homesteading or anything else…its like you are so close and you can see the changes. And others seem so blind to them. Even after this summer, more people are digging in their heels and saying “no, there is nothing wrong” and I’m just shaking my head. It does hurt. Solidarity! Blessings to you.

  5. Thank you! I have been feeling exactly the same way and believing myself to be alone in feeling so off-balance. I sit here with tears in my ears feeling both relief and sorrow – relief that I am not alone and sorrow that this struggle if very real. As fearful as I am for the future, I remain hopeful.

    1. Hi Cynthia,
      Yes to everything you are saying here! Struggling, feeling off balance, feeling fearful and hopeful. All we can do is keep on keeping on–and not only dream of that better future but work to create it.

  6. I very much relate to what your are feeling and thinking. 30 years ago I lived at Twin Oaks community for four years, where I met my husband. I have lived in several other communes for shorter periods. In a few years my husband will get his state pension and we are considering moving back to an intentional community at that point. But living in community is not easy. There is a lot of intense drama and I am not sure I am up for it honestly. It’s like having a marriage with a hundred other people instead of just one. A lot of people with a lot of wounds and their own agendas, which are not necessarily benign. I have always had a fantasy of homesteading and play at it with suburban gardening, canning, prepping, etc. But my partner is an urban guy who has no interest so that makes it difficult. This was my worst year gardening with the drought we had—just don’t have enough time to give it my attention. Plus even after he gets his pension we will still have to work (tho hopefully at a less intense pace). I think in the end there is no way to unplug from the system. Even tho I am self employed with a
    successful practice in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, I am very dependent on products produced in Asia. There would be no way for me as an individual to grow the hundreds of different herbs I use which come from very different geographic locations and climates. And while some of my colleagues are making advances in the u.s. farming of Chinese herbs. It’s very difficult to get the costs of domestic herb production down to a reasonable level to make it accessible enough for the average person. No easy answers.

  7. Beautifully summed up everything I have been feeling. Thank you for your honesty, I love reading your posts.

    1. Hi Teri, thank you for your comment and reading :).

  8. Wow. That one hit me right in the gut, because that’s what I’m struggling with too. We live on a wild property, and the more I turn toward my Druidry and nature connection practices, the more I just want to vanish into the forest. But the land isn’t paid for (yet) and I truly value my work in the outside world because it helps people, so I can’t quite punch out yet.

    There aren’t any easy answers to this. I very much appreciate it when you contribute to the conversation, and hope you’re able to take care of yourself in the ways that you need to.

  9. I have so wanted to live in harmony with the land but it is difficult with my age and my circumstances (I’m 66) and not in the best of health. My husband is pretty set in his ways and really responsive to the idea. No, my path is to do what I can and, live in society. It is painful for me, difficult, and in many ways isolating. I have few friends near me that feel the way I do. Somehow I need to find my path, do what I can, and remain a beacon in the world.

    1. Hello Ann,
      I feel what you are saying here–and having an unsupportive partner makes it so much worse!
      We all have to grow where we are planted and do what we can in our own ways. Blessings to you!

  10. I’ve been feeling this for many years. The fantasy of living in community is a strong pull, and has been for decades. When I was a young activist, single mom of 3 (1980s-1990s) it was an impossible dream because of the kids and my lack of funds. I had no clue from one month to the next whether my articles, honorariums, grants that sometimes included a stipend (that often got cut out), would enable me to pay the rent and keep milk in the fridge. Child support was not forthcoming. Then the kids grew up but I was living and caring for my disabled sister in the family home that belonged to me and my sister. No way would my sister flourish in an intentional community. At least not one I could imagine. Now she is living in an independent community and loves it, and I’m living alone. And the money from the sale of the house is mostly gone. I’m renting, and basically unencumbered, but too old to be of use to a community. Most seem to need people capable of lots of physical labor and at 71 with joint issues, etc. I do not fit that description. Plus I need solitude, and a studio for my perfuming that is not my bedroom or main living space. In short, my space needs are too much, and I can’t contribute adequately to pull my own weight. Nor do I have the $ to build even a tiny home. I am totally reliant on the system for everything. If the power goes out, I have no heat, no water, no lights, nothing. I’m more dependent on the system now than I have been in years. If (when) the money runs out, I’m on the street (unless a family member or friend decides to help). And money does not go far anymore. In fact, it seems that the things I need to spend money on have all nearly doubled in price over the past 18 months. The rise in infectious illnesses, that could trigger an inflammatory condition I have (I learned about it shortly before C. hit) means I have to think very carefully about anything I want to do that involves the public. It’s not just C. Any virus could trigger it, and there are so many more of them around now it seems. I need and want to do presentations, attend events, etc. I often feel that I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I trust my gut and so far have maintained health (physical health) but not so sure about emotional health, as I tend to err on the side of caution. I sense we are on the cusp of something very major – not only ecologically, but culturally as well. I also sense it could be either really awesome or really terrifying. Both likely, and I hope the awesome part is the culmination and the vision.

    1. Hi Susan,
      Ohhh, I feel this story so deeply as you are sharing. So many difficult lines and balances you are attempting. The need for community and solitude, the need to balance expenses and take care of your health. It is such a challenging thing. Like you, I do think we are on the cusp of something major–and I think the pandemic may have been the initial catalyst for it. If enough people are fed up and choose to do something different–we all change the world! :). Even when I’m tired, it is this vision and hope that keep me going. Blessings to you! 🙂

  11. This really resonated with me. I live in an urban center and my biggest dream is to run away to the woods and never look back but sadly that would take money and resources I just do not have access to. As I age (44 at the time of this comment), I also know that living off grid somewhere by myself ( as I am also a happily single person) is also getting harder just from a health care and energy perspective(I also don’t drive). So, I am stuck here in a job that while not terrible, does not suit my neurodiversity or interests and I am surrounded by loud noises, bright lights, and the cacophony of urban living. I try and find respite inside my home and with my little balcony garden that I have but it is getting harder and harder to find that balance like you say. I have thought about intentional communities and living situation sharing but as I am neurodiverse, that is not always ideal. I too don’t want to play this capitalistic productive overstimulated game anymore but do not know the way to get off this crazy hamster wheel. As a person always in the liminal spaces, I feel like I am walled into it now and being crushed by it.

    Thank you for your vulnerable thoughts and feelings. May the Awen continue to bless you.

    1. Hello Melissa,
      Ohhh…I’m so sorry to hear how you are struggling with the balance. It is so difficult! I also don’t recommend solo off grid living to anyone. We need a community! Maybe looking to find a community right where you are can be helpful. Grow where we are planted :).

      1. Thanks Dana, finding community has become my top need these days. It is tricky when people are so polarized on so many topics that it can be hard to find one that is welcoming to diversity, even amongst self proclaimed left leaning progressive types.

        1. Hi Melissa, Thanks for commenting. I agree that it is veryhard to find community among all of these awful political polarizing issues and issues with supporting diversity. There’s a lot of talk vs. actual work in supporting diverse people and perspectives. But there ARE communities out there! Keep looking and/or build your own!

  12. Firstly, as you can see by the other comments, you are not alone.

    I am 80 years old and I’ve watched this coming like a slow train wreck for decades. That means I’ve done a lot of thinking (and reading) about it and, though this post won’t be elegant, it might give you Youngers some things to consider:

    We evolved from small tribes. I think that if we are to survive, we’ll have to revert to that. At the present state of social interaction which has deteriorated beyond the worst nightmares of thoughtful people, large movements are probably doomed. People appear to have lost the ability to cooperate and compromise; and the Society of Selfies and helicopter parenting reveals a level of self-absorption that cripples cooperative effort. Most people seem to think they are right about everything and that the rest of the world must follow their instructions and if it doesn’t they’ll leave the sandbox and won’t play anymore. If your tribe doesn’t live near you, and you want to join them, you’ll have to move.

    Debt: We’re going to have to look at cooperatives as a *serious* option. This might require a lot of social skills that have atrophied over the past couple of decades. I live on 2 acres–in this area approximately a $150,000 investment unimproved, meaning no well, no septic system, no housing, all of which would probably cost a minimum of another $200,000. This land could support, year round, probably 10 adults and 5 children if we all lived in tiny houses and devoted our days to the various necessities of survival preparation: food (gardens, chickens, and meat protein); fabric necessities: clothing for all seasons, bedding, and other things like towels and dishwashing cloths; and there are many other occupations that would have to be addressed, including medical knowledge, building construction and repair, etc., disposal of trash—which there *will* be wherever people gather regardless of their lack of commercial participation. And there would be no luxuries, no sugar, and little entertainment that wasn’t home made.

    Life Expectations: The life we’ve led up to now doesn’t permit effective survival. We’ve looked to others to provide survival necessities and most of us are in no way prepared to take on such a thing—most of us don’t even know how. A member of my family is a critical care nurse with 35 years of experience. I asked her the other day, “If you didn’t have antibiotics, how would you treat a badly infected cut on someone’s finger?” Because we all know that a bad infection from a cut foot or finger can grow to deadly levels without tetanus shots and penicillin. And we all know that if we’re engaged in heavy work, someone is bound to get a wound that in today’s conditions would be minor, but in survival mode could be deadly. We’re looking at drastically reduced life spans and the return of illnesses we thought we had overcome. I was at a museum once with a calculator where you entered your gender, your annual income, and your age and it showed you the number of people with those same demographics in something like 1850—and for me, a middle aged women with 2 children and a median income—***there were NONE*** ! Childbirth itself killed many women. So what we expect of life will be altered beyond the comprehension of people with climate controlled houses, running water, vehicles, and emergency rooms.

    A lot of people might think that life under such conditions wouldn’t be worth living. A lot of people might think that if you’ve got food, they’ll just take it from you, and they might think killing you would be a good option if you object. There is a truckload of dystopic novels out there and you need to read them. Science fiction writers have accurately presented many realities and the authors of the end-of-technology novels have done some serious thinking about the conditions that would arise.

    There’s a website, Job One For Humanity ( That addresses many (**many**) related concerns, but I’ve found it badly organized and confusing, and when I signed up for notifications of their activities, I was spammed with several a day that referenced things I had no idea about and for which there was no explanation, and a number of them were welcoming new members—I guess on the theory that people like to be recognized and made to feel welcome (Selfie World), but which is pointless email spam when you have to filter through welcomes to people you don’t and never will know. I didn’t want a welcoming committee–I wanted an explanation of what they’re doing and why and some instruction on how to do it myself. That was far too difficult to find on their rambling website—but if you’ve got the time and patience, there actually is valuable information on this site.

    People are going to have to acknowledge the plain fact that human beings are a violent species and if you’re planning to succeed in surviving, you’re going to have to protect yourself and your property. You’re going to have to organize schools for your children that will leave behind curriculum devoted to supporting a commercial/consumer society and teach kids how to have clean water and how to grow food and how to treat infected fingers and how to conserve the soil so they don’t wind up with unproductive land. None of that is taught in today’s schools which are devoted to teaching students to pass tests that tell administrators how they can keep their jobs.

    I’m too old to last through much of this, but I wish everyone loving good luck and Blessings.

    1. I really appreciate your insights on this. Thank you!

    2. Hello Almiramay! I think we talked a bit on the Facebook post already–thank you for sharing your perspective and your beautiful story! I appreciate you sharing about the different aspects of the decline. I am always amazed at the fragility of people in my culture (in the US) who think they can’t survive without air conditioning. I think that these easy lifestyles have made us less resilient, and it is good to practice it for what is coming. I practice a lot of herbalism and I think that the more we can work with plants to heal, to provide us nourishment and strength, the more we are able to straddle the line. Thank you again for sharing your wisdom!

  13. I forgot to mention that if you didn’t have tetanus shots or penicillin the recommended treatment would be to poltice with yarrow and cover with a wet-to-dry dressing!

  14. Dana — are you ready to consider what caused the marginalised state-of-struggling-existence we inherit, and sustain — dark-and-light sides of the equinox-divided year — ageing and eventual death of every generation? We’re in the midst of everlasting life, but convinced death is a certainty.
    Longevity of Methuselah’s generation was around 1,000 years; it then rapidly declined to a low of 25-years during the caveman-stage. We’re back up to a hopeful hundred, with drug-induced existence, but with no noticeable awareness of the purpose-of-life, and certainly oblivious of life’s ascension-process demonstrated freely by Jesus.
    What happenned to Eden, when everything was balanced and created perfectly, fit for the purpose-of-life?
    For goodness sake, please get back to me ASAP, and let’s start somewhere with something we know for sure — such as the fact that the Way-of-Life — the same as before-birth, pre-Druidism, or any other religious-belief system, is present and available, here and now, inviting us to participate with life, and discover our true meaning-and-purpose while we’re still young and alive.
    With love, Peter.

    1. Hello Peter,
      Thank you for your comments! I think that Eden can be here and now, and I experience it every time I go into the forest and put my hands in the rich earth.

  15. We give of ourselves and ask the universe to empower us. To provide the courage and to shower us with the power this vision has for those of us who strive for purity; good health, good people!!
    We are stewards. We are druids.

    1. Hello Jude! Indeed! We are stewards first and foremost, and as long as we remember that, all is well :).

  16. Yes, you said it sister! We do need a sustainable refugia for people and we need it NOW! I was blessed to lose my job during the pandemic and made up the loss by gaining rental income. (Wonder if you could provide lodging/classes etc. on your farm and do that full time instead? Medical insurance through the marketplace? That’s where I get mine, not that it’s great, but I am “covered”.) You have so much to give and teach people. I love your blogs and admire all of your wisdom! I’m so grateful I found your website. Focus on this! Xoxo

    1. Hi Rhonda,
      I love how you talk about the blessing of losing your job during the pandemic! I almost lost mine, which could have encouraged such a shift–I ended up being able to keep it, and I’m still trying to figure out if that was a blessing or not. I do think that some classes, workshops, etc, are in the future here for the farm :).

  17. Hello Dana , thank you so much for your words and the effort in the way you live in the world. But I see what you’re saying that it is tiring doing everything and doing it mostly alone without community. I’m loving the works of Sobonfu Some , as she describes growing up in her community in west Africa, their culture holds so many ways of creating community that we have lost. I found it so inspiring and hope you will too because you inspire me and I’ve just forwarded your email to my sisters. Women ‘s wisdom from the heart of Africa in audible is beautiful in her own voice

    1. Hi Mollie,
      Thanks for the suggestion! I’m on a work trip right now in the Czech Republic, and I’m seeing something so similar–small villages of people, all growing food, all supporting each other. It is beautiful to see and I know we can have a better way :).

  18. Dana, your thoughts deeply resonate with me. I’ve been living on a homestead for 12 years and teaching herbalism for many more years. Before that I traveled to environmental campaigns to work in herbal clinics, which still happens occasionally. Although the interwebs would have me convinced that more people are interested learning foraging, herbalism, sustainable living, and land healing, I am seeing fewer people come out for in-person learning (for now) and not many more for online learning (for now). I say for now in both cases, because I think that many of us are still trying to establish some kind of balance. Although capitalism marches on, those of us seeking balance are finding it harder and harder to achieve (for now). I have hope that they will begin reaching out again. One of my goals is to teach regional herbalism to as many people as possible before I step from this layer of reality. So I’m here waiting, reaching out, and ready to share the knowledge. I appreciate that you are also doing these things.

    1. Hi Leah,
      I had almost 65 people at my free plant walk last month–perhaps the largest number to date. The walk before that had only 15 (advertised in the same way, through our local Friends of the Parks organization, and shared at our state parks)…I don’t know how the numbers ebb and flow so much, but I’m grateful even to reach one person. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  19. I feel your pain! This past weekend I was at my Druid school for training and we had a Divinity Ceremony. The God I met asked what was bringing me down and how do I want to grow? My reply was your blog today. I too feel out of balance between the two worlds. I want nothing to do with the material world. I would love to have more land (right now we live in a neighbourhood within a small city). I crave the life I live at Dreamland in Vermont on my Druid training weekends. My problem is my partner does not share the same vision. We could go live in a conscious community but he does not want it. I am the Druid in training, he is just along for the ride with me. This is my daily struggle and I feel it is manifesting in my body as fibromyalgia. I empathize with you and you are not alone!

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story! It is so hard when you are fighting for that life on multiple fronts–both in the body and in your relationship. Finding a balance between those quiet moments where you are able to just be with nature in community is priceless. It is why so many of us put such energy into running druid orders, druid events, etc. Because it is a balm to the soul!

  20. Dana, thanks again for a thought-provoking blog. I live much like you do, and not that far from you, so I think to some degree I have similar experiences. Not only am I hemmed in by the urban-rural divide, but there is a rural divide that somehow seems more difficult to traverse. One of the things I do to maintain my balance is teaching others how to work with plants. Mostly through herbalism. Whether we all trudge along through a long emergency or if things become strikingly worse, I feel that herbalism will help many. I appreciate your words during these times.

    1. Hi Leah,
      I know exactly what you mean about the rural divide that is difficult to traverse. Like you, I’ve found that reaching people through herbalism and foraging is a good approach. I offer a number of herbal classes and plant walks (always rooted in my ethical system:

      It helps. I have seen changes in my community. But it is sooo slow and small. Permaculture tells me to embrace these small, slow solutions but it just always seems like I am fighting upstream!

  21. Thank you for sharing your struggles. Too many of us feel the same way, and while there are no easy answers, it’s at least comforting to know that we are not alone. My wife and I live on a typical suburban lot that we have packed full of gardens. We love to share the flowers, food, and medicines that we grow on our property. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder every year to maintain a full time job that provides the income and benefits required in today’s world while continuing to maintain our landscape with advancing age and the challenges that accompany it. Your posts have provided a welcome respite, and I truly appreciate the wisdom and inspiration you impart with your writing.

    1. Hello Kevin! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I think about the joy and the beacon of light that your gardens must be providing to others. The struggle is real, but the path is worth walking!

  22. One of your most powerful posts yet. Screaming into the void is something many of us struggle with. I am feeling exhausted these days as well, with one foot in both worlds. Spending my days as a modern person, while attempting to restore this land (“mine”, but I hate that term) and learn related & necessary skills that I can use to help others (eventually).

    It’s too much. And it is lonely. When does push become shove and you either give up entirely or leave the System behind (with all the financial uncertainty that comes with that)? I don’t know, but it helps to be immersed in the truth that, truly, many of us are in this together.

    I have recently become involved with the Design School for Regenerating Earth, which has several active centers focused on bioregional regeneration. There isn’t one in my region (or yours), but I’m hoping to connect with like-minded others and start one here and it’s been so helpful to meet the people & see the activities taking place. Helps me feel less alone. Just wanted to mention it.

    1. Hi Janet,
      Thank you for sharing! I’ve seen the work of the Design School for Regenerating Earth–I think they have a lot of similar philosophies to those of us practicing and living permaculture design. These are the things that give me hope every day!

  23. As I do, I have been thinking about this latest post of yours for a few days. There is much I could write, but I am going to keep this as short as I can.

    When I was a full-time academic, I did a balancing act like yours for many years. It is exhausting 🙁 You are, though, helping many people with the tightrope you choose to walk. What I will share here is that the efforts you are making have helped me on several occasions. In fact, your writings led me to find AODA and to become a Candidate where I’ve found an extended tribe of my own. But that said, I still worry for you and the energy you ask of yourself in the work you have chosen to do. I hope some of the energy you need can come to you through channeling so that you don’t always have to draw upon personal reserves.

    Even retired I find there is still a balancing act to negotiate. As I grow older I am recognizing that it is not the number of people I help that matters. Instead, it is the depth and richness of the connection I sometimes encounter that means the most, especially when the communication and the energetic exchange flows back and forth between two people. Both of us are regenerated. Both teach and both learn.

    I won’t pretend not to be terrified by what is unfolding on our beautiful planet. Often it feels like the earth is fighting back. We humans have asked too much of this place. Have assumed we deserve too many gifts. And, ironically, humans have some of the most narrow environmental condition requirements. We will be hit harder and faster by what is unfolding than other species. Even those who think their financial resources will protect them are finding that chunks of wealth can be wiped out in an afternoon. And more wiped out in a subsequent afternoon. And so on until their artificial and lifeless ‘nest egg’ is no more. What’s that saying? Doing the same thing over and over again while hoping for different results is an excellent definition of madness?

    The number of extreme variables in play is so great that I cannot hope to know what the ‘best’ or ‘most effective’ choices can be for myself or others at this time. When most lost, I go outside and pay attention to the plants and animals that seem able to weather drought, or who bounce back after a raging rain, or who manage to bloom in spite of a pall of wildfire smoke. And when the house wren who lives outside my bedroom window starts chattering in the morning, I roll myself out of bed and go outside. These days especially I will never find answers inside human-made structures. I need the sky for such answers.

    You live in relationship with five acres and a dear partner. When I worry about you, I remind myself of your ducks, your mushrooms, your garden and woods. You care for all of that and they care for you 🙂 And in doing all of that, you are able to offer care to us, too. Amazing for this to be true at this crazy time. You have my thanks. And my respect.

    1. Hello waterandstream, thank you so much for your wonderful comments. I’ll be ok! I think just sometimes life feels like a lot. I don’t like to sugar coat things, because I don’t want to project a reality that doesn’t exist for others. Even interacting with others on this post, here on the blog and on Facebook, has really shown me that this struggle is being felt by so many–we are not alone! We are all bringing these ideas and challenges together, and finding a better way. It is that better way that keeps me going and brings me joy!

  24. I really appreciate your honest and vulnerable words here! Thank you. As a city dweller unable to keep anything buy houseplants alive, I have been idealizing country living. It’s a fantasy that clearly has no basis in reality as I currently haven’t the skills or the funds to make it happen. The knowledge that it isn’t necessarily an easy path helps put things into perspective for me. The grass isn’t always greener.

    1. Hi Pamela, thanks for your comments. Yes! I talk a little about this in my book “Sacred Actions: Living the Wheel of the Year through Earth-Centered Sustainable Practices.” In a nutshell, I share the idea of the “free range fantasy” where everyone thinks their best life would be living on 10 acres homesteading, etc. But really that’s not the best life for everyone. It is idillic but so much more work, and never as it seems! I talk about “Growing where you are planted” and I think that metaphor is apt here.

  25. Oh my! Such a powerful post and varied and reflective-of-diverse-reality comments. I’ll start with this: “We are born for the times we live in”. I read that somewhere once and it resurfaces as an encouraging truth often…especially when I read of the struggles younger folks express. I offer it here as encouragement for those of you giving thought to these issues and attempting to live in a natural, ethical way: YOU have what you need to do it. Yes, it’s not “fair” to have to deal with all these things, but, it hasn’t been fair much all along for most of humanity: wars, famine, etc have always happened. The survivors were the ones who used their skills in their times and rose to the occasion.

    I am 76, lived in a wilderness area, mostly off-grid, for 30 years. I moved to a rural area to care for my father for 8.5 years, and now I live in a “small” town that is exponentially becoming a “city” extension of a nearby large metroplex. And I am almost completely dependent on government financial help at this point. But…BUT…I grow vegetables and herbs in my apartment flower beds, can what I can, dehydrate what I can, sew what I need to, etc. THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY, and ‘we are born for the times we are in’…just needing to figure out the things we CAN do and doing them…amidst recognizing the things we can’t. Adapting is key. I cannot change/control the insanity running rampant in our country (the world), nor even the hostility of my immediate neighbor…but I try to do what the I-Ching says (paraphrased): “Do not take up arms against evil (it feeds it), but, instead, make energetic progress in the good”. This can seem a real challenge looking at the immensity of the juggernaut of ills happening now, but it is required if ‘we’ are to survive.

    The first part of my wilderness experience (in the 60s) was a couple of communes. It IS the way to go. Many cultures understand this…either through village living, or at the least having multiple generations living in the same house/on the same land. If this is not possible, I encourage all y’all to create what you can where you are: start where you are, using what you have. Continue to look for like-minded supportive others.

    And one more thing: whatever belief system we have, in mine, when connected to the Spirit, I recognize that the ‘ills’ are manmade and that Life is bigger than that. When I let this in, it softens my fear, lifts my fatigue, and even allows me to laugh sometimes. I may be compromised, hurt, even killed, by the dangers in the world these days (as an elder, I feel more vulnerable every day), but until then, I chose LIVING in each moment as much as possible. I hope there are some words of encouragement in this comment…that is my intent. And I am so grateful to have found you, Dana. You give words to truth…and beauty…and hope. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story and your powerful words, MTWoman! There is always a way!!!

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