Singing the World into Existence

Its not often that you hear the BBC talking about a project to create and cast spells to protect nature…
Listening to this towards the end of the clip made me think of indigenous beliefs that we sing the world around us into being.

“Why does it matter though, why do names matter? Why does telling the difference between a blackbird and a starling matter? Or a cherry tree and a hawthorn matter?
It matters because we are losing nature as well as the names for nature in this country. We’ve got more than 50% of species in decline, many of them common.
We’ve got starlings going, we’ve got skylarks going, we’ve got newts going, hedgehogs going. And names, good names, well used, help us see and help us care.
We find it hard to love what we cannot give a name to. And what we do not love, we will not save.

Do we not have a duty to sing the names of the more than human lives around us?

As the commentary says, as we are forgetting the names of the other beings that we share our world with, they are being lost to the world as well.

Materialism says that the two are not connected, but the world I inhabit is not materialist.

All the technology that gets invented has names. It has history, a timeline. A copyright. It’s song is sung and genealogy recorded and preserved. It all has a creation story that is preserved.

It is well known that part of the bardic tradition from the iron age was to record and remember, to recite or sing the genealogies of the tribes. Holding them together, keeping bonds and ties strong. Singing the families and connections into existence. Today, this is still maintained in a sense, as births, marriages, deaths, blood lines are all recorded and stored in official documents. This also applies to the pedigrees of the animals that we keep and breed.

But what of nature?

Many of us are gardeners, and know the names of the plants we grow. But do we know the names of the weeds that we pull up? Do we know the names of the plants in the hedgerow, or beyond? Do we know the names of the insects and animals that live hidden around us? Do we even see them?

Think of the hedgerow – or somewhere we pass every day without thinking. Often we take no notice of the lives that inhabit it. If we do, we will tend to notice first the ones we can name. It takes a harder inspection to even see the ones we do not know the names of.

I think we have a duty to learn the names of the beings that live around us. The names of the plants and the animal life. To see them, to know they are there. To know them and speak them. Keep singing them into existence.

(photo credit Khfalk from

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