Monthly Columns

As Above So Below (How the Stars Became Our Hearts)

Non Traditional Models of Intelligence and the Gaian Mind



Where are you? Right now? I don’t mean your physical body. I mean, if you’re using your physical body as reference, where are you in there? The easy answer would be the brain. Maybe if you look a little deeper your answer may be the heart. If you look even deeper though, the question becomes hard to answer. In the dream state for example, you have no connection to your physical body, except the silver cord, a popular concept in metaphysics that ties you to the body during astral travel. Sometimes, in your dreams, you’re not even you, but you’re still “I”. So, do you live in this body? Or are you somewhere remotely located?

There is no proof consciousness is even generated in the brain. The brain is a computer, meaning it processes information, but like a computer, it is not the source of that information. If this is so, then where does consciousness come from? Leading experts in the fields of cognitive science suggest that consciousness may be tuned into like a television station. The source of your perspective from inside your body could be nothing more than the screen you view your web address from.

So again. I’ll ask. Where are you? Maybe now your answer is weirder. Perhaps something like “”? Even a web address though has an actual location somewhere. Perhaps consciousness is stored on a universal server in another dimension. Perhaps, in the same way, our traditional model of intelligence could also be subject to the same scrutiny.

The brain of animals affords it the ability to perform various tasks related to its survival. It allows them to orient themselves in their environments. Find food, and escape dangerous situations etc. It also regulates various internal functions on a less conscious level. The brain’s purpose is to give the animal the ability to use its body, and to perceive and manipulate the physical world in ways vital to the continuity of their species, but what about plants and fungi? They’re capable of surviving the same conditions, but without a brain or the ability to move.


Eusociality is the highest form of social organization, and is found in many animals we would consider traditionally not as intelligent as humans. In eusocial creatures, the individuals act as parts of a superorganism. As most notably seen with ants and bees, the different types fall into their correct social casts. The queen is the queen. The worker is the worker. They act as one for the better of the entire society. So where is the consciousness of the ant? Does it lie in each individual? Or is the consciousness of eusocial creatures stored on a universal server? The question then, in the case of eusociality is obviously, whose mind is it? A honeybee hive can house as many as eighty thousand bees. Does the hive mind of the organism belong to the queen? Does it belong to the hive, or is it even higher? Is the mind of The Earth itself the mind of the hive? While all these questions seem obvious to ask about a mind we don’t understand, we must ask these questions about ourselves also. Is your mind at “” Or is it just The Earth?

This would explain how insects like bees are capable of complex tasks, such as making honey, and division of labor. It would explain how a virus knows how to hijack the cells of other organisms to reproduce. It would also explain how plants are not only able to make their own source of food, but provide us with food, oxygen, and countless medicinal factors. If we look at the earth as alive, this perspective could offer some keen insights into non-traditional models of intelligence. If the brain isn’t the source of consciousness, or intelligence, then brain size isn’t necessarily the only way to judge whether that organism has what we would define as a higher sense of intellect or not.

Each organism has evolved to survive its specific environment. The brain governs more than just conscious thought and cognitive reasoning. The inner functions of the organism are controlled by the brain as well. So not only perception, but our autonomous response to the universe as well. When a light is bright, you don’t have to tell your pupils to dilate, your brain takes care of that on its own. Same with animals with the ability to change skin color to camouflage with their environment. Every part of the organism is highly evolved to adapt to its environment. Therefore, our large brain size was necessary for our survival. Our ability to imagine scenarios before they happen, to animals could be seen as extrasensory perception. Our ability, to not only be aware of ourselves and our surroundings, but to understand the relationship between the two, and the consequence of action in time was necessary for our survival. We don’t have sharp claws. We’re not particularly large. We don’t run that fast. We can’t fly. Birds fly away pretty fast, so having a big brain, not as important to them in terms of survival.

Plants, fungi, and microorganisms had already survived the earth for thousands of millions of years before a brain was even thought of. (Pun intended.) Even more so, the gods themselves were clearly thinking with something other than brains. The plants, like us evolved from single celled organisms, and decided brains weren’t that important to them somewhere along the way. Who decided this though? What consciousness governs evolutionary steps? Is it even located somewhere? Or is it everywhere? If consciousness is tuned into, maybe it doesn’t belong to anybody.

The idea of individuality itself is a product of the ego. Not for one second do you take a single blade of grass to be the grass, but you believe you are DISTINCTLY different from other humans. Your brain sees you as separate from the universe. The ego is so big, it looks like consciousness. It looks like our true identity, but it’s not. Maybe in this way, less is more when it comes to brain size and consciousness. Have you ever considered the deep meditation of animals as they lie motionless, staring into infinity? During meditation, the mind seems to be the biggest obstacle, what would consciousness be like without it?

The human brain evolved to compensate for our lack of speed and strength. We have no claws, no sharp teeth, or horns, or camouflage. Every animal evolved to close the gaps in it’s evolutionary deficiencies. Our mind causes us to be curious, and to explore every part of our environment, and take it apart to analyze it. This allowed us to figure out how to close these gaps with the mind. We couldn’t grow thick fur, but the human ability for innovation allowed us to figure out how to use the fur of other animals. We learned how to communicate more intricately, in ways that allow for high levels of social organization, which allowed us to gain our position at the top of the food chain. That, plus our opposable thumbs made it possible to fabricate tools to compensate for our lack of physical weapons. Could you imagine how well you’d fair taking on a tiger unarmed in your birthday suit? You’d need more than stock hardware, and that is the edge that pushed the human brain to evolve.

Consciousness itself though, exists before this point. The true self is behind the mind. The mind is the machine we use to complete tasks, but the true self behind the ego, Atman, is the highest and purest state of being. It is the I in every being. So the less the ego is present in the being in question, perhaps, the more the base consciousness of that being already resides in the true self. 


This could possibly be a part of the reason plants and fungi provide so many useful medicines to the ecosystem. Gaia consciousness needs every plant and animal to sustain the web of life, so our desires are designed to meet this end. The fact that humans experience pleasure during sex, and the fact that birds eat berries and worms, are vital to the web of life. Perhaps a human’s cognitive ability to perceive the consequences of the future, and thus, being able to predict the detriment a baby posed to their survival would have deterred humans from having as many children, and the Gaian mind needed a way to override that. Plants need their seeds distributed through soil, and worms tend the soil. The bird excretes the seeds into the soil hunting for worms, a seed is planted, the soil is fertilized. Such relationships like this exist everywhere in nature.

The things we desire most as animals seem to be the way nature gets us to perform the tasks needed to add to the cycle of life. Every single animal and plant has eco-rent to pay to the environment. Everything is connected in ways that maybe the organisms themselves are unaware of, and we find stunning evidence of intelligence in places we would least expect. Leaf cutter ants for example have learned to grow fungus to feed their colonies. They feed the fungus, the fungus feeds them in an endless symbiotic cycle. Plants have an ability to complete complex tasks as well, but without a brain.


There are endless examples, but this begs the question though, are plants engaging in behaviors? Are their processes just automatic chemical responses? Or is it something more? Keep in mind, even chemical functions and automatic responses are governed by hormone release, which in animals is a job of the brain. Without a brain, plants are master pharmacologists. What is the mechanism that drives such complexity if not intelligence?

Many spiritual traditions understand that there is an underlying intelligence behind everything in the universe. Even rocks, sunsets, and intangible things, such as luck and mischief have a spirit that governs it. Perhaps our brain is just part of the animal, and the soul is the spirit that governs it. This would explain why the gods govern certain forces of nature such as weather, and important structures such as the sun and moon, and elements such as fire and water. Even these forces are alive. A wildfire has will and choice just like us. This would explain why more spiritually integrated cultures found the need to develop a relationship with these beings. In the same way the animals and plants interact, so do the forces of nature.

This would explain how psychedelic substances have the ability to endow the user with mystical knowledge. The spirits of plants understand they can’t move, so they have learned different ways to develop relationships with other organisms to ensure their survival. Not only that, but plants seem to have evolved an even higher spiritual relationship with the universe than animals. They also seem to have a psychic understanding of animal behavior. Not just as with psychoactive plants either. Flowers have evolved to dazzle all types of creatures into pollinating their flowers, and humans are not immune to this. They have no doubt evolved to appease human standards of beauty, as it helps to insure their survival. You’re more likely to pull up a rogue ivy as a weed than you would if you found a rose in your garden. Fruits and vegetables are also a way a plant ensures not just it’s survival, but it’s procreation. Psychoactive substances are of course part of this. Especially when you look at addictive substances. It seems that some plants have learned to outright enslave the user. It would be no surprise then if you look at the level of intelligence used in these tactics, a plant’s ability to be a psychic metaphysical teacher isn’t really so far fetched.

If you look at a plant biologically as a plant, maybe you don’t see much, but indgenous cultures the world over know the plants have spirits. The Scandanavian creation stories say that we were created by the trees. We know plants are older than us. What if the plants are higher entities? We can’t just determine the status of an organism by its biological function. If we look at our ego as a block between us and our higher selves, then it becomes obvious that maybe the least intelligent animals are the most spiritually wise.

Maybe it is that plants have NO ego. So they don’t care about themselves at all as individuals. Perhaps the Gaian mind lives fully through non animals, but because they don’t communicate in this dimension, their message is lost on most of us. In altered states of consciousness, people feel that they can communicate with plants. Even outside of trance states, people who develop relationships with their plants claim to be about to feel their needs. This is easy to be skeptical about if you’ve never had a mystical experience, but if you add up the data, it would seem likely. Plants communicate using their ability to synthesize chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Like a language, VOCs communicate different messages, as with words. A notable example of this is the Venus Fly Trap, who uses these compounds to lure in prey, but VOCs are all around you at all times. They help bees find flowers in bloom, they help communicate environmental hazards to neighboring plants. There is real evidence for plant intelligence. So why wouldn’t they attempt to communicate with the species who has the most environmental influence on the planet? We’ve obviously forgotten to pay our eco rent for some time, and the bill is now overdue. Perhaps that is the reason psychedelic plants have recently gained so much notoriety. Humans have fallen asleep at the wheel, and perhaps plants are the only beings on the planet intelligent enough to stop us.

Consciousness isn’t just something in the human brain. It’s intangible. It’s the one thing that DEFINITELY exists, yet we can’t explain it. It would make sense that the Self is God. Ever pervasive, yet in all things. Omnipresent. As the seat of consciousness itself, everything that is known is known by the Self. So omniscient. As every force in the universe, is omnipotent. Maybe consciousness is like an ocean. Vast, and amorphous. Like it’s waters, extending to every part of Earth, maybe even the entire universe. The Self is a timeless being, and it is us all. It is eternal, and beyond ineffable. This is the self to which we must identify to understand our place in the universe. We must understand that no matter how all encompassing issues in our personal lives may seem, we are part of a vast web. A circle within a circle. When we expand our consciousness, it is into this web that it expands to.

In this new age of enlightenment, the universe is pushing us to expand our identity further out into the web of life rather than  living egocentrically. Many parts of our  eco systems are in grave danger because humans don’t take responsibility for our effect on the environment. We’ve separated ourselves from the animals. We as humans pretend we don’t live in the same world or live the same lives, but we do. Everything we have comes from the earth, this is true for plants and animals alike. (Yes, we ARE animals.) Humans are behind on our eco rent, and we’re looking at an eviction notice. If we change the focus of our minds to the Gaian consciousness instead of the ego, then we will be able to look at the issues that plague humanity and engineer solutions that do not interfere with the natural eco balance of nature. We can create technologies that help to give back to nature instead of machines that just strip her bare. The implications of consciousness expanding into these higher domains is boundless, and what the human race could do with that knowledge is incomprehensible. It’s time for humans to wake up, and finally truly understand. We’re not the center of the universe.


About the Author:

Alexiel Raynes is a shaman, philosopher, and musician from Louisville, Ky. He has studied religion and science for over 20 years. His spiritual path focuses on self realization, the liberation of the constraints of the mind on consciousness. He also studies plant medicines and their use in indigenous cultures world wide. He is fascinated with exploring the world beyond the veil of mainstream western science, and postulates at what lies beyond general consensus reality. He, together with his wife Hallie Walker are the owners of Saol Bandia, a holistic herbal apothecary based in their hometown. They are also very active in raising pagan awareness in their community, and helping give witches the courage to stand up to a world that has forgotten our ways.


You can visit their store at

For contact visit

Or email [email protected]

Alexiel Raynes is a shaman, philosopher, and musician from Louisville, Ky. He has studied religion and science for over 20 years. His spiritual path focuses on self realization, the liberation of the constraints of the mind on consciousness. He also studies plant medicines and their use in indigenous cultures world wide. He is fascinated with exploring the world beyond the veil of mainstream western science, and postulates at what lies beyond general consensus reality. He, together with his business partner Hallie Walker are the owners of Saol Bandia, a holistic herbal apothecary based in their hometown. They are also very active in raising pagan awareness in their community, and helping give witches the courage to stand up to a world that has forgotten our ways. You can visit their store at For contact visit Or email [email protected]