This episode of Living Myth begins with scientific studies of the ways that ants can be capable of incredible feats during times of crisis. A single ant will quickly drown in the turbulent floodwaters of a hurricane. Yet, a group of ants can instinctively create water repelling rafts that allow them to float for weeks without drowning. Flotillas of ants are an example of “swarm intelligence,” a collective creative capacity that allows ants and other species to solve complex problems.
In the strange way that facts and myth can meaningfully coincide, the Hopi First Nations people of the American Southwest have compelling stories of how the Anu Naki or Ant Friends were the saviors and original guides of the first people. When the entire world was threatened by fire and great floods, it was the Ant People who showed the first humans how to find refuge and sustenance and survive life threatening changes.
The Ant Friends also showed people how to create Kivas as underground spaces for community rituals and prayer. The old word Kiva has two parts with ki meaning ant and va meaning a dwelling place. A Kiva could be a place of refuge and retreat from the pressures of the daily world. It was also a place of connecting with Earth energies that can bring healing and centering to the entire community.
Indigenous peoples from all around the world typically learned about survival and adaptation in times of radical change by reading the texts of nature. Ancient myths and the resilience of other species can both serve as guides to how we survive the cataclysms occurring in the world at this time. For, both can be sources of essential insights into what was once understood as the Earth wisdom embedded in the living texts of nature.
Since we find ourselves, once again, facing both intense heat and great floods, we need to learn more about truly resilient systems that involve creativity as well as survival. That includes “swarm intelligence” as well as the kinds of Earth wisdom that can help us survive the uncharted waters, the hurricane seasons, and the rogue waves that currently threaten the ecosystems of nature as well as the social systems of human culture.
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