Eilif believes in dreams, destiny, and intuition.
Eilif tells me about his name, firstly. The story behind his name is a Norwegian prophecy – a man called Elias is guided by spirit as he travels through the cold regions of Russia. On his way, he encounters some evil horses, who have power to destroy him – they stand in his path. The spirit guides him and tells him you will hit but not with force. So he puts his hands out in front of him and in one fell swoop, the horses vanish. This is something Eilif embodies now – fighting back, but not with force. In 2007, he had vision that somebody would come. Then, the police came to tell him to go to court.
He has two big dreams in his life, that are guiding forces for him even now. In the first, he dreams he is in water, breathing underwater and moving without effort, just observing. Seeing things as they are. Being present, calm. Then, he emerges from the water and sees a garbage truck leaving an enormous rubbish dump – perhaps a reflection of the failure of humanity, given that waste is the ultimate human embarrassment and that there is no such thing as waste in nature. The fact that he is in the water and not on land also suggests living in a different world to the rest – and, he tells me, dreaming of being in water seems to be a common indigenous dream, foretelling of all sorts of fascinating things – sustenance for life, vitality, purity, fertility, the subconscious, flow.
In his second dream, he is walking in the snow, which then suddenly all melts around him. Eilif has a sense of observing again but also being powerful and then arrives at his home, which is being bombed – all his beautiful home and pastures. He realizes this is not a physical bombing but refers to destruction of ecological house (oikos – home) and agriculture going on in world. Again, he is filled with a sense of being powerful and that the hard times will pass: keep walking through snow. ‘First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then you win.’ In many cultures, there is respect for dreams, prophecy and visions – we use so little of our brains these days and have so much stimulation that we are unable to access these other mental realms. The Dalai Lama, he informs me, is chosen through some kind of telepathy alone.
He is Jewish by family, but this was always a dark secret in the family, a culture denied to him. Despite being extremely moved by Taoism and its implications for Natural Farming, Eilif is a believer in the unifying nature of all religions – something I’ve found myself becoming increasingly cynical about. He does, however, concede it is possible to be deeply spiritual without being religious. Carola, his wife, is not interested in religion whatsoever.
He talks of visions and clairvoyance, words I had almost come to forget. I love the origin of clairvoyance – meaning, literally, to see clearly. Ancient cultures, he says, indigenous cultures were ruled by vision. Modern culture is ruled by authority.
I am reminded, suddenly of the Pachamama Alliance’s founding story, where the Achuar tribe in Ecuador – then-isolated from the rest of the world at large – dreamt of imminent threat and destruction to their environment and way of life, and sent out a call to the West to ‘wake up’ from the ‘dream’ of the modern world. These peoples, so the story goes, wake up every morning and talk about what they dreamt about. Based on their dreams, they decide what shall be done that day. Amazingly, Lynn Twist, meditating in San Francisco, heard their call in her own dream, and searched them out alongside her husband Bill and friend, John Perkins…and that’s how the whole body of work I facilitate even came to be.
He says, moreover, that dreaming of keeping a plant propagating throughout history is not enough. More science on the plant is not enough. Stories are needed to make plants last, so that they are not forgotten. I would, perhaps, add to this: stories and recipes, which are a kind of story anyway. Science helps, but the stories enchant. Secondly, he says, the plants we want to keep should be make sacred – there is no sacredness in modern science and its efficiency-driven / money-driven agricultural model.
And you? he looks at me through the candle flame, do you write down or remember your dreams? Have you had any particular dreams lately? I shake my head, sheepish. I once used to keep a dream journal but nowadays have barely been able to remember my dreams. It takes patience, and practice, I remember, to train oneself to awaken just the snap second before the dream ends, and go through a fast reflective process of annotating it all quickly, or at least re-visioning it all. All in all, when I connect with dreams it reminds me answers all within me already –I just have to tune into my subconscious and a different realm of mind/being.
A week or so later, I do, however, have three big dreams at the farm.
First, that I’m wandering through a house, a big one, and I realise it is a series of apartments. At some point, I wander through my statistician-friend’s rooms and it’s like an Alice-in-Wonderland walk through one fancy room to the next to the next – there’s full lounge area, a mahogany-wood study space, an uber hi-tech music space, and it all spills out into his balcony leaning. I arrive, disconcerted, at the balcony overlooking a thousand city lights, and feel a great sense of sadness rush over me – I feel we must now be living such different lives, that there is no way we can connect anymore. My friend emerges from one of the rooms, and the scene shifts – he’s still moving towards me but in a split second the setting has changed to Eilif’s farm. I am by the water pool that’s dirty and roaring with dragonflies, and simultaneously by the gate to the lower fields past the chickens, and simultaneously up on the hill past the nursery. I take a step back, and hold my hands up. He stops. I – I’m sorry, I say, I can’t embrace you. My hands are covered in dirt now.
In the second dream, I’m wandering through an empty house looking for the bathroom. I have a guide, but he seems to be leading me through a zigzag of ways as well, and I realise the house has no toilet. We take a steep walk down the hill at the back and I see a fence stretched out in front – I’m trapped. We follow the river down to the cabin just at the bottom by the fence and river, and I stop following him and walk automatically into a room full of instruments. I’ve been here before. I’ve been here in many dreams before. There’s a piano, of course, in the corner. I sit down to play it and try once, twice, three times. It comes out sounding awkward and stilted. The fourth time, I start again and realise suddenly: the river wasn’t flowing downhill. It was flowing uphill. A flood of water sweeps over the keys – but I’m not drowning, only the piano. I keep playing, on and on and on through the inundation and I realise even the music through the disaster of the flood sounds incredible – it has a roaring river quality to it. I haven’t played for years, in the dream. Maybe, I think, when shit hits the fan you won’t be picking up the pieces. Maybe you’ll be playing the songs of the heart.
In the third dream, I’m in a black theatre, a large one, seated centre and back. Parade after parade comes on, none of which are particularly of interest. Then, finally, the three musketeers – young kids dressed in onesies of animals facing extinction. They are blown up, huge, and talking. There’s music and a montage of images of the destruction of the world, social and environmental injustices. Some loudmouths with giant billboards flip them like posters up in front and I shift, suddenly, from being right at front, up close, to being back in the darkness. Before I know it, I’m bawling my eyes out. I cry so hard my ribs hurt. I cry into my hair, into the blackness, into the my knuckles. My body shifts from being between the audience to being in a yellow hall with lockers in the distance, and a line of people facing outwards. I fall into the arms of the last person down the line and we become tangled up – at the same time, I’m still bawling my eyes out in the black theatre. I realise I have been living in paradise lately, and I haven’t cried like this for weeks, months maybe. About little things, perhaps, randomly. But the gut-wrenching pain for the world, the kind I had reading Blessed Unrest? Not for months, not since Paris. I need this. I need to be emotionally awake like this, connected to my grief; I’ve only really been connected to my joy of the solutions, the silence, the deep silence within. I haven’t felt the need to embrace, not like this, not in this consuming, pour-myself-into-another way.
I wake up, and my face is completely dry.