Earth Day 2023 – A Day of Honouring
Earth Day (22 April) holds a lot of meaning in White Lion territories. Not only is it a day set aside for honouring Mother Gaia, but it also marks the anniversary of the passing of two great Lion mentors in my life: Maria Ndlovu (Khosa), the Lion Queen of Timbavati, and Jan Si Ku, honoured figurehead of the First Nations Khomani people.
I spent countless hours under the river of stars with both of these LionHearted Leaders, but this year I am flooded with memories of moonlit discussions with “Oom” (“uncle”) Jan and his family. I met Oom Jan more than two decades ago, and was introduced by another of my Lion mentors, Credo Mutwa, who gave him his ancestral name: Jan Si Ku, which means first person of the First People.
Over the years, Oom Jan became more than just a mentor – he was also my dear friend – and I treasured the pilgrimages I would make to the Kalahari desert to visit him and his family. Around the burning embers of a small fire, under the inky night sky, they shared stories of how they could hear the song of the stars, and we spoke about the first word in the First Nations language: “Tsau” – meaning both “Star” and “Lion”.
The golden embers of a wood-burning fire always serve as a physical reminder of the contract that humanity entered into with Nature – to uphold the Flame of Life through the day just as the Lions have always done as nocturnal predators through the night. In my LionHearted Leadership™ training, I explore in depth how humanity has manifested two leadership traditions dating back to this Promethean contract with Fire: one which honours the generosity of Mother Earth and serves the flourishing of all life thereby handing the flame over to future generations, and the other which takes more than necessary, and plunders the paradise for short term personal gain.
Oom Jan, a profound medicine man who held ancient feline interspecies knowledge, exemplified the consciousness that upholds humanity’s contract: living a life that represents the correct use of the knowledge system of good governance that The Lion, as the apex animal in the ecosystem, handed over to humanity: how to ensure the Flame (the continuum) of Life. His lifelong commitment to respectful engagement with Mother Nature was an exemplary expression of the time-honoured art of the Khoisan First Nations hunter: to take only what is needed from Nature, and only with Her permission and in reverence.
This profound inter-relationship of respect and reciprocity is what lies at the heart of the difference between predation and consumerism. (I will be exploring this topic at length in my upcoming articles, and how we go forward in our current timeline to restore this ancient contract). It is also what lies at the core of LionHeartedness: that quality of fearlessness, inspired by Love and Respect for our natural world, which enables us to change our human world.
Today, we honour this great LionHearted Leader, and all that his legacy stands for in the remembrance of humanity’s sacred contract with Mother Nature.
In support of Oom Jan and his legacy as an inspirational LionHearted Leader, the Global White Lion Protection Trust has had a long-standing project of protecting and reviving the first language (Nluuki), an extraordinary achievement in modern times. It is now well understood (from many different perspectives) that words and language hold deep significance, and in the context of the remembrance of humanity’s ancient contract with Nature, the preservation of the first word(s) is vital.
After all, if humans truly understood that Lions and the Stars are inherently connected (“Tsau!”), the consumptive and exploitative practices that are currently being perpetuated against these luminaries would be inconceivable. From this viewpoint, the preservation of indigenous languages and knowledge is key to the ushering in of a new conservation paradigm, based on ancient wisdom.
Jan Si Ku was a hunter with the heart of The Lion, and upheld the primordial relationship of embracing Nature with Love and Respect, rather than bound up in the ego-struggle of wanting to be The Lion. It is that self-important ego-struggle that has led men of inflated delusions of grandeur to remove the King from his own natural Kingdom – exemplified through the misdeeds associated with today’s commercial trophy hunter and “canned lion” hunter. As opposed to the rampant consumerist model that is facing its own demise in our times, the true heart of the hunter is revealed in the key codes of predation: taking no more than that which Nature offers freely – only with permission, and only granted through reverential thanksgiving ceremony.
The Gift of Fire throughout humankind’s history has been associated with the use, or misuse, of power. So, what faces us all today is the timeless question: will we hand over the Olympian Flame of Life to ensure the continuum of all species, our own included?
The answer is: Yes! Provided we relearn the timeless lessons of good governance, and thereby restore our ancient contract with Earth. This contract binds us both collectively individually. How do you use Fire Power in your own life? Responsibly, or irresponsibly? In service, or self-service? No better day than today, Earth Day, to re-set that intention – and reignite the true flame of Earth Service.
Written by Linda Tucker
CEO: Global White Lion Protection Trust and Linda Tucker Foundation
Author: Mystery of the White Lions (2001) Saving the White Lions (2013) LionHearted Leadership™ (2016)